GO TO A CONCERT: Barbican
A world-class arts and learning centre, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. It’s very easy to while away an afternoon or evening here (especially in the summer, when you can sit on the huge terrace), but the vast Brutalist building comes into its own in autumn when you can slide into one of its cosy seats in the wooden auditorium and watch a band – upcoming acts include Low, Slow Club and Connan Mockasin. Away from its concert hall, there are two galleries (current exhibitions include Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde), a cinema, three restaurants and a trinket-filled shop – perfect for Christmas presents.
Silk Street, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS
GET IMMERSIVE: The Crystal Maze Live Experience
With the fresh announcement of a new site launching in the West End next spring, there’s no better time to give the live version of The Crystal Maze a go. Grab a group of five friends and all six of you will don matching 90s-style bomber jackets as different groups run amok in the maze without ever bumping into each other. The games mirror those on the show: some require mental agility, while physical tasks see participants clambering over net ladders to grab a gem. But nothing beats the feeling as the wind machine fires up in the Crystal Dome, where you’ll compete for gold tokens. Start the fans, please!
10-14 White Lion Street, Islington, N1 9PD
WATCH A FILM: Edible Cinema
Taking place at Soho House’s Electric Cinema, Edible Cinema is a unique way to experience a film: through aroma, texture and taste. Each guest is supplied with a tray of numbered mystery boxes containing a bite-sized tasting menu tailored to specific moments in the film. From Japanese anime and cult classic to sci-fi fantasy and Brit-flicks, the Edible Cinema experience crosses all genres – much more exciting than a trip to the local Odeon.
Electric Cinema, 191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2ED
ESCAPE ROOMS: Enigma Quests
Escape rooms have blown up over the last few years, but we still think Enigma Quests is up there with the best of them. In each game, teams of between three and five are given a mission that they must complete within one hour, step by step, clue by clue, using their logic, imagination and common sense. Along your journey, your team will have to solve mysteries and encounter obstacles. Groups can choose from three different challenges: Interstellar; The Million Pound Heist; and School of Witchcraft & Wizardry (one of Harry Potter fans, we reckon).
2-12 Wilson Street, Moorgate, EC2M 7LS
HANG OUT WITH ANIMALS: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Cat fans should head to Brick Lane for a high tea surrounded by felines. A modern take on Japanese cat cafes, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium offers a range of non-boozy offers for feline fans, as the venue’s seven resident cats wander around this cosy, book-lined spot. Each Wednesday night, activities from yoga through to bingo and book launches take place – make sure to book ahead. Elsewhere in town, there are city farms in Hackney, Vauxhall, Kentish Town and Spitalfields, and – for a really wild fix – there’s always the monthly lates at ZSL London Zoo.
152-154 Bethnal Green Road, Brick Lane, E2 6DG
HEAD TO A GALLERY: Science Museum
On the last Wednesday of the month, the Science Museum hosts a ‘Late’ event, with each themed around a new scientific subject. Now is an excellent time to pay a visit, as the museum’s newest exhibition The Sun: Living With Our Star is now open. While the exhibitions, talks and hands-on pop-ups change month by month, live music and a silent disco are mainstays. Our favourite staple is the Highlights Tour, where a volunteer will take guests on a whistle-stop tour at all the best bits, plus items not usually on display to the public. If you don’t fancy a night trip, make a day of it by taking in the sweep of the Natural History Museum (its annual ice rink is about to open), the V&A and the Science Museum.
Exhibition Road, Kensington, SW7 2DD
CRAZY GOLF: Swingers
Following a successful launch in the City in 2016, crazy golf club Swingers opened a new larger site in the West End this summer. This time, the venue has taken on a British seaside/1920s English Riviera theme and there are two different nine-hole golf courses – perfect for repeat visits. Street food vendors located in beach huts include Patty & Bun, Made of Dough, Breddos Tacos and Hackney Gelato – a great alternative to the usual cocktails. Other crazy golf options across the city include Junkyard Golf, Plonk and Puttshack.
8 Brown's Buildings, City, EC3A 8AL and 15 John Prince's Street, Marylebone, W1G 0AB
TRY IMMERSIVE THEATRE: The Trench
The latest show from award-winning immersive theatre pioneers Les Enfants Terribles (Alice’s Adventures Underground), The Trench takes its audience on a journey to WWI. Blending live music, puppetry and physical performance, this immersive show is inspired by the true story of a miner who became entombed underground in a collapsed tunnel during the war. As the horror threatens to engulf him, he finds that not everything in the darkness is what it seems. The line between fantasy and reality blurs as he embarks on an epic journey for survival questioning what’s real, what’s not and whether it even matters?
Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6BD
MAKE YOUR OWN CERAMICS: Turning Earth
Super-stylish ceramic community Turning Earth has a range of evening masterclasses for beginners. Across its two sites in Hoxton and Leyton, courses run year-round and everyone is taught by an experienced Turning Earth artist. Each class has only 12 students per teacher so you can expect plenty of individual attention, and classes cover both hand-building techniques and wheel throwing. When students 'graduate', they can become a studio member and come and go whenever they want to get making. Get in there quick – when new classes go on sale, they tend to sell out instantly.
361-362 Whiston Road, Hoxton, E2 8BW and 11 Argall Avenue, Leyton, E10 7QE
GO TO A NON-BOOZE BAR: Jarr Bar
A bar with a difference, Jarr Bar in Hackney Wick doesn’t serve booze, it sells kombucha – that’s the fizzy gut-friendly drink that Californians go crazy for. Europe’s first Kombucha tap room, at Jarr Bar visitors can learn more about the non-boozy beverage and taste it fresh from the tap. It’s also right next door to Crate Brewery, which serves some of the best pizzas in town. Extra bonus: there’ll be zero hangovers in sight the next day.
8a Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN
AFTERNOON TEA: Balthazar x Flowerbx
Skip the optional champers and really focus on the blends on offer at one of the capital’s afternoon teas. Our current pick of the bunch is Balthazar’s collaboration with Flowerbx. This autumn and winter will see Balthazar’s highly skilled Head Pastry Chef Régis Beauregard transform winter blooms into cakes. Expect redcurrant and kirsch ‘petit gâteau’ (molten chocolate cake), with Chantilly icing and topped with an edible chocolate leaf; and ‘The Balthazar Rose’: French financier filled with sweet raspberry jam and vanilla yoghurt mousse.
4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HZ
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