When it comes to showing off London’s natural gloom and haunting hideaways, autumn does it best- though summer is the most popular time to visit England’s capital, a fall foray may prove even more memorable. Once October rolls along, the whole city gets into the Halloween spirit, complete with performances, tours and other spooky sensations. Going hand in hand with visits to some of London’s most iconic destinations, the following autumn recommendations are guaranteed to round out your off-season getaway.
Known as the Lane, this historic London Theatre invites you to an exclusive nighttime tour, the first of its kind to be held at the venue. Over the course of an hour, visitors will traverse the theatre as expert guides share the building’s lore. Dating back to the early 19th century, the space hides plenty of stories in its darkest corners. Ghost stories await, and you may even be lucky enough to spot the Man in Grey, The Lane’s most iconic apparition. And, if the mere thought of exploring the theatre after dark gives you chills, you’ll have the chance to warm up with a cocktail at the Cecil Beaton Bar and Lounge before the start of the tour.
Tours at the Theatre Royal run nightly until October 31st, and tickets are available here.
A public garden set inside a skyscraper, London’s Sky Garden is one of the city’s premier venues for fine dining, events, and panoramic strolls. This season, guests can celebrate in costume at the Garden’s official Halloween Party, which is set to include live music, DJ sets, and themed cocktails, served 35 floors above the city. VIP table options are available for those who plan to attend with 5 or more friends. Craving more than cocktails? Book a table at Darwin for a 3 course dinner or head to Fenchurch for a 5 course tasting menu. Both venues are part of the Sky Garden and offer an elegant complement to what’s sure to become a funky and festive night. The event will take place on Friday, October 28th.
Halloween Pumpkin Trail- Belgravia
The best thing about London’s Belgravia Halloween Pumpkin Trail is the fact that it can be a self-guided tour of one of London’s most walkable- and popular neighborhoods. Starting at Peggy Proschen, Tomtom Coffee House, The Lanesborough Hotel or any of the other destinations featured on the list, make your way through Belgravia’s creative Halloween and autumn- themed displays. Seeking out participating locations on the list is a great way to navigate the neighborhood, especially if you leave enough time for boutique hopping and a bite to eat along the way.
Afternoon Tea at the Convent Garden
Halloween Afternoon Tea at Mariage Freres returns this year, serving a brand new Halloween-inspired tea, set against the backdrop of the shop’s Salon de The. Featuring innovative uses of tea in every product, the venue will also be serving a number of handcrafted baked goods. The Mariage Freres shop is a household name offering the widest selection of teas in the world, from exclusive, far-flung varieties to homey classics. While shopping for tea at Mariage Freres is a must-do of its own, actually sampling a few sips within the legendary space elevates your experience. This year’s exclusive Halloween Afternoon Tea will be served until November 6th.
“Blue for Dracula” at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
Reimagining a part of Philly-Joe Jones’ album “Blue for Dracula,” this one of a kind performance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is your ticket to an unforgettable Halloween soundtrack. Dating back to 1958, Jones’ album is known for the artists’ rendition of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, who comes to life via a carefully chosen sextet ensemble. Keep your ears peeled for other spooky Halloween favorites and Miles Davis arrangements. With vintage vibes, dance hits and a classic jazz club atmosphere, Ronnie Scott’s can easily be the highlight of any upcoming visit to London- especially one that needs spicing up.
“The Woman in Black” at The Fortune Theatre
Adapted from Susan Hill’s book, “The Woman in Black” has been thrilling Londoners and visitors alike for over three decades. The play, spearheaded by Stephen Mallatratt, follows a lawyer attempting to rid himself of what he believes is the curse of the elusive Woman in Black. The result takes the audience on a harrowing journey through the depths of the psyche, where fear and reality begin to mimic one another. The play is a West End fixture, and can be enjoyed year round (though its magic becomes especially potent around Halloween). Both evening and matinee tickets can be found here.
While London’s Frameless showcase isn’t necessary meant to bring out your spooky side, it offers a surreal experience guaranteed to exceed expectations. Translating digital landscapes into an immersive, interactive space, Frameless invites you to view featured artworks by walking right into them as opposed to viewing them from behind a barrier. Meant to subvert the function of framing, the exhibition forgoes the concept whatsoever, reimagining iconic works as environments. If you’re not looking for traditional thrills but still want to explore the otherworldly, Frameless is a must-stop, especially when wandering London’s West End neighborhood.
Bonfire Night Fireworks
In an annual ode to Guy Fawkes, London’s Bonfire Night is England’s most anticipated celebrations. On the 5th of November each year, bonfires and fireworks displays illuminate the London skyline, their glow sustaining one of the country’s beloved traditions. Ally Pally’s Fireworks Festival is the city’s premier family- friendly fireworks destination, featuring movie screenings, performances, city views and much, much more on the grounds of Alexandra Palace Park. Tickets are available here.
While autumn may not be the first season you think of when planning a trip to London, the city holds plenty of fall surprises that you wouldn’t be able to experience year round. With performances, arts showcases, and Halloween festivities, the city comes alive just as the warm weather begins to recede and hint at winter.