The Best Spots For After-Hours Culture In London

We love nothing more than trip to a gallery, but sometimes the crowds can be a bit much – whether it’s hordes of children on school trips or coach-loads of day-trippers. Enter the museum ‘late’, where kids are banned and alcohol is served. Here are our favourite London spots to spend a night at the museum...

Natural History Museum

On the last Friday of every month, visitors can descend on the Natural History Museum to enjoy exhibitions, talks, science demos, food and drinks by night. Exhibitions such as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year are available to view without the usual crowds, and museum members will gain access to a secret bar and behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s fascinating Spirit Collection of preserved animals, such as Archie the giant squid – less gory than it sounds!

Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, SW7 5BD; last Friday of every month; FREE entry


Science Museum

Staged on the last Wednesday of the month, each event is themed around a new scientific subject. And these events really are aimed at adults – its upcoming June night is themed on ‘Sexuality’. 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 peek at all the best bits, plus items not usually on display to the public. Screen Grab will see different printmakers help visitors make their own souvenir poster of the evening.

Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, SW7 2DD; last Wednesday of every month; FREE entry



This arts hub caters for the after-work crowd – it’s open until 9pm every Thursday and Friday. On these occasions, the revolving big-name exhibitions will stay open later than normal, as will the all-important gift shop (one of our favourite places to buy birthday presents). Aside from the art, its cinema screens some of the best independent films, while its concert hall hosts everything from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet to classical symphonies. The lakeside Italian restaurant Osteria and the Martini Bar are must-visits.

Silk St, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS; open every Thursday and Friday until 9pm; FREE entry


Sir John Soane’s Museum

This museum is the house of architect Sir John Soane, which has been kept as it was at the time of his death nearly 180 years ago. It displays his collection of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings – including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto – and over 30,000 architectural drawings. If you fancy a visit, make sure you do so in the evening. Why? Because they turn out the lights and you view the entire collection by candlelight. An excellent shout for dates.

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP; keep an eye on the website for upcoming dates; £35pp


Tate Britain

You only get a handful of opportunities to spend the evening at the home of British art each year. And if you’re planning on going this year, you must check out All Too Human, which celebrates the works of Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon. Aside from food and drink, the evening offers a relaxed, immersive mix of sound and visuals, hands-on making activities and intriguing discussion all curated exclusively by 18-25 year olds from Tate Collective London.

Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 4RG; 1st June, 3rd August, 5th October and 7th December; FREE entry


Tate Modern

On the last Friday of the month, the modern art gallery hosts its Uniqlo Tate Lates. Here, visitors can explore emerging and established DJs selected by NTS Radio, world-class exhibitions (such as the current Picasso blockbuster), and discover pop-up talks, artistic activations and hands-on workshops. We like the Collection Conversation: got an opinion about the art in Tate Modern? Here you can join lively conversations around key artworks in the museum. If the weather’s nice, a drink of something cold on its rooftop terrace is a must.

Bankside, SE1 9TG; last Friday of every month; FREE entry


National Gallery

While the National Gallery no longer hosts ‘lates’ as such, the gallery is open until 9pm every Friday. Do keep an eye out for one-off events, though – on 4th May, author Ali Smith will be giving a Q&A and discussing power, meaning and the lasting appeal of still life. Sketching is welcome throughout the gallery (when it’s not overcrowded) – you can turn up with your hand-held pad of paper, pencil, graphite stick or felt-tipped pens. Plus, the National Café serves up a cracking set menu.

Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN; open every Friday until 9pm; FREE entry


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