GO TO A CONCERT: Barbican
A world-class arts and learning centre, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms, especially dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. It’s very easy to while away an afternoon or evening here, but the vast Brutalist complex 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 Holly Herndon, Hannah Peel and Iggy Pop. Elsewhere on site, there are two galleries (current exhibitions include Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art), a cinema, three restaurants and a trinket-filled shop – perfect for Christmas presents.
Silk Street, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS
HAVE AFTERNOON TEA: Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
A firm favourite with fashionistas, Prêt-à-Portea puts a contemporary twist on afternoon tea with its collection of bold catwalk cakes. This season’s ‘cakewalk’ features a ‘Moschino’ velvet pistachio and mascarpone cream delice with a salted crumble base. Fendi is represented by a lemon sablé biscuit piped with glossy royal icing, to portray the buttercup yellow raincoat from Karl Lagerfeld’s last collection for the fashion house. A Molly Goddard gown is transformed into pink spun sugar encasing a cinnamon financier filled with Pink Lady apple mousse and apple compote. Finally, Jacquemus’s ‘Le Micro Chiquito’ handbag has been honoured as an almond and blackcurrant cake with chocolate garnish, finished with a cassis mirror glaze.
Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL
GET IMMERSIVE: The Crystal Maze Live Experience
The Crystal Maze Live Experience opened a second, much larger site in the West End this spring. Grab 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!
22-32 Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly, W1D 7EU
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
DO AN ESCAPE ROOM: 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 they must complete within one hour, step by step, clue by clue, using their logic, imagination and common sense. Along the journey, your team will have to solve mysteries and overcome obstacles. Groups can choose from three different challenges: Submarine: Mission Wavebreak; The Million Pound Heist; and School of Witchcraft & Wizardry (one for 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 cafés, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium has 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. For a really wild fix, there are 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. 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
PLAY CRAZY GOLF: Swingers
After successfully launching in the City in 2016, crazy golf club Swingers opened a larger site in the West End last year. This venue has taken on a British seaside/1920s English Riviera theme and there are two quite 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 & 15 John Prince's Street, Marylebone, W1G 0AB
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 artist. It’s only 12 students per teacher so you can expect plenty of individual attention, with classes covering both hand-building techniques and wheel throwing. When students ‘graduate’, they can become a studio member, coming and going whenever they want to get making. Be quick – when new classes go on sale, they tend to sell out instantly.
Arches 361-362 Whiston Road, Hoxton, E2 8BW & 11 Argall Avenue, Leyton, E10 7QE
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