London Literature Festival

From 5 to 16 October, it’s the Southbank Centre’s 10th annual London Literature Festival. The theme is ‘Living in Future Times’ and highlights include a celebration of science fiction writers including HG Wells with a specially commissioned live reading of The Time Machine marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Bestselling author Margaret Atwood launches and discusses her new novel, Hag-Seed, and we can celebrate the life of David Bowie in a free panel discussion with his biographer Paul Morley.

Further highlights include an exclusive in-person Q&A screening with Louis Theroux for his first theatrical feature documentary My Scientology Movie,. And comedian Sara Pascoe hosts this year’s Man Booker Prize Readings, as the 2016 shortlisted authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation.

Throughout October, Literary Footprints is a month-long festival of literary walks of London. There are lots of guided walks available and there’s a season ticket option if you plan to join lots.


It’s hard to know where to start as there is so much going on at the Barbican Centre this season.

New Foyer Commissions

The Barbican’s series of foyer commissions continues this autumn with new work from five innovative artists. Visitors to the Barbican can enjoy spectacular light installations, listen to two new audio works exploring the iconic interiors of the Centre, and power films by pedalling on bicycles. The new series of installations, which extends the artistic programme beyond the walls of the Barbican’s venues, is free for audiences to explore and engage with any time the Centre is open.

  • 44 by Omer Arbel is an intricate light installation descending from the main foyer ceiling
  • Numina by Zarah Hussain, is a site-specific, sculptural installation that will accompany Transcender – the Barbican’s season of ecstatic, hypnotic and psychedelic music
  • I hope this finds you well by Bedwyr Williams, is an audio commission for the foyer playfully imagining the internal dialogues of the people who use the Barbican’s public spaces as their office
  • let’s take a walk by non zero one, is an interactive audio experience around the Barbican’s public spaces that looks at the process of decision making
  • NowhereSomewhere by Rosalind Fowler, is a bicycle powered film installation inviting the public to ponder ecological themes and imagine a future London


Visit on Saturday 8 October and there’s a free day of art, entertainment and inspiration. OpenFest encourages us to explore the Barbican’s building and get a taste of everything it has to offer, from art installations to live music, architecture tours to pop-up theatre – all for free. Across the afternoon, the Barbican’s free stages offer a full programme of performances including dance, spoken word and music, whilst audiences of all ages can take part in creative workshops. Installations, screenings, tours and stalls throughout the Barbican’s spaces await visitors in a day bringing together international acts with the local artists of today and tomorrow.

Barbican Open Fest

New Curve Show

Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams also has a solo show in The Curve called The Gulch. On until 8 January 2007, the 90-metre long Curve is free to visit.

The gallery has been transformed into a series of theatrical installations conceived to transport and disorient the viewer. Gallery visitors descend into the space, navigating from one seemingly disparate scene to the next on a journey that summons surreal visions and imagined plots.

From a pair of singing running shoes to a depressed hypnotist and a talking goat, visitors are confronted by various protagonists and in turn find themselves invited to stage their own performances.

Bedwyr Williams. Still from Flexure, 2016

Bedwyr Williams. Still from Flexure, 2016. Courtesy the artist

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined

In the Barbican Art Gallery The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined opens on 13 October.

Potent, provocative and sometimes shocking, the word vulgar conjures up strong images, ideas and feelings in us all. This is the first exhibition to consider this inherently challenging but utterly compelling territory of taste. It both questions notions of vulgarity in fashion while revelling in its excesses, inviting the visitor to think again about exactly what makes something vulgar and why it is such a sensitive and contested term.

Conceived by exhibition-maker Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, the exhibition takes fascinating literary definitions of ‘the vulgar’ as a starting point and includes a wealth of over 120 stunning exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century.

Weaving together historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film, this carefully crafted installation illustrates how taste is a mobile concept: what was once associated with vulgarity is reconjured by designers to become the height of fashion. Encompassing a 500 year timeframe, The Vulgar showcases historic works alongside a roll call of contemporary fashion.

Walter Van Beirendonck Hat: Stephen Jones, Autumn/Winter 2010 – 2011. © Ronald Stoops`Walter Van Beirendonck Hat: Stephen Jones, Autumn/Winter 2010 – 2011.

Walter Van Beirendonck
Hat: Stephen Jones, Autumn/Winter 2010 – 2011. © Ronald Stoops`Walter Van Beirendonck
Hat: Stephen Jones, Autumn/Winter 2010 – 2011.


The Michael Clark Company performs New Work 2016 in the Barbican Theatre from 6 to 15 October.

Awarded an honour by the Queen for ‘services to dance’ in 2014, a somewhat bemused Michael Clark staggered out of Buckingham Palace into an extended period of introspection.

This autumn sees the evolution of the company and Clark’s own dance technique, as he embarks on his second decade as a Barbican Artistic Associate.

Winning rave reviews for his technical rigour, experimentation, intense and fine-tuned choreography, Clark remains an innovator and defining cultural figure. He often collaborates with artists, designers, writers and musicians, introducing dance to new audiences in unorthodox settings.

Michael Clark Company - New Work

King Lear

A quarter of a century after she gave up acting for politics, double Academy Award-winning legend Glenda Jackson returns to play King Lear in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy.

Opening on 25 October (and on until 2 December), Glenda Jackson is joined by an outstanding company including Jane Horrocks and Rhys Ifans.

Written during a period of great social upheaval, Shakespeare’s brutal masterpiece is arguably the greatest tragedy ever written. The fatal consequences of a foolish decision are explored in haunting poetry to create one of the most moving works in the English language.

The Old Vic - King Lear


Bank of England Museum

27-29 October 2016 is the annual UK-wide Museums at Night so there are opportunities to see museums after dark.

On 28 October you can see the Bank of England Museum in the evening (5.30-9pm). As well as the Museum displays, there will be presentations on banknotes, gallery talks and Bank staff will also be on hand to answer questions about gold.

Bank of England Museum


Turbine Hall Installation

On 4 October the new Hyundai Commission opens in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. This space has hosted some of the most memorable new works of art of the 21st century.

French artist Philippe Parreno has the honour this year with the second in the new series of annual site-specific commissions by renowned international artists.

Philippe Parreno works across film, video, sound, sculpture, performance and information technology. A key artist of his generation, Parreno explores the borders between reality and fiction and is known for investigating and redefining the gallery-going experience. Parreno sees his exhibitions as choreographed spaces that follow a score, during which a series of different events unfold. By creating kaleidoscopic environments, he treats exhibitions as one coherent whole rather than a series of objects within a space.

Exhibition view, Philippe Parreno, H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS , Park Avenue Armory, 2015 © Philippe Parreno. Courtesy Pilar Corrias, Barbara Gladstone, Esther Schipper

Exhibition view, Philippe Parreno, H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS , Park Avenue Armory, 2015
© Philippe Parreno. Courtesy Pilar Corrias, Barbara Gladstone, Esther Schipper
Photo credit: Andrea Rossetti


Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in October 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.



The Tower of London Ice Rink opens on 16 November in the dry moat providing one of the country’s most atmospheric skating destinations.

Also at the Tower of London there are Twilight Tours throughout the winter. Join the Tower’s Yeoman Warders and take in the world famous sights such as Traitor’s Gate, the Bloody Tower, and be appalled and amazed by tales of prisoners and past residents.

Opening on 3 November at the National Maritime Museum, Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity explores the remarkable yet tragic life of the mistress who captured the heart of the Nation’s hero, Horatio Nelson, and in turn became one of the most famous international celebrities of her time.

And on 12 November it’s the annual Lord Mayor’s Show with a special fireworks display for the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.


Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.