Autumn is well and truly here now but that’s no reason to hide away indoors. London lights up this month as the Christmas lights are switched on and shopping becomes an important activity. But, as ever, London has a lot more to offer so here are my recommendations for November in London.
Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…
The 5th of November is Bonfire Night and we remember when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament over 400 years ago. Large public firework displays take place across London so you will have no problem seeing some pyrotechnics in the sky that night.
I also think it would be a good time to book a tour at the Houses of Parliament which is open to the public on Saturdays. Saturday 7 November still had tickets available when I checked.
Day of the Dead
The month also starts with the Day of the Dead which is the Mexican time for coming together to remember loves ones who have died.
The British Museum has a free festival of art, performance, storytelling and talks on 30 October to 2 November. Following the late night on Friday 30 October, there’s a family festival over the weekend which will include some fun performances and new self-guided trails.
The following weekend sees the Day of the Dead Festival open at Tobacco Dock on Saturday 7 November. Mexican food brand Wahaca has organised this festival and the music includes The Horrors, Crystal Fighters, Savages and Mexrrissey (Latino covers of Morrissey and The Smiths).
It’s not just eating and dancing though as there’s also an art exhibition and daytime talks exploring the subjects of life and death, as well as issues that affect Mexico today.
There’s more for foodies at Tobacco Dock with the Taste of London: The Festive Edition on 19-22 November where you can sample the signature dishes and wintry specials of the capital’s finest restaurants. Packed with food stalls, demonstrations, talks, tastings and live music, visitors can indulge in everything from chocolate, wine and cheese sampling to cooking masterclasses with renowned chefs.
The Lord Mayor’s Show
Spend the day in The City of London on Saturday 14 November as it’s the 800th Lord Mayor’s Show.
There’s a flotilla on The Thames at 9am and the popular parade from 11am featuring everything from samba dancing to military marching bands. Free guided walks are on offer at 3pm before the day’s finale of fireworks over The Thames at 5.15pm. And if all that wasn’t enough St Paul’s Cathedral is free to visit all day.
The Kenneth Branagh season at the Garrick has a real treat for us this month as he is starring with Judi Dench in a reimagined production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It’s open now and runs until 16 January.
The National Theatre has a version of Alice in Wonderland for the online generation. wonder.land opens on 23 November (and is on until 28 February). The story follows Aly, age 12, in her extraordinary virtual world where she can escape from her unhappy real life.
Opening on 11 November, Tate Modern presents the UK’s largest ever exhibition of Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture features around 100 works to demonstrate his pioneering kinetic sculpture.
While you are at Tate Modern do see the new Turbine Hall exhibition by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. Empty Lot involves raised platforms with lots of wooden planters filled with soil collected from parks across London. During its six month stay we can see what grows.
Cycling is big news in London whether it’s the cycle superhighways (cycle lanes right across town), watching cycling events like RideLondon or hiring a ‘Boris Bike‘. The Design Museum’s latest exhibition embraces this trend in riding bikes with its latest exhibition, Cycle Revolution, opening on 18 November.
Cycling is more than a form of transport: it’s style, passion, health, sport and identity. Celebrated cyclists including Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Paul Smith have contributed to this new exhibition reminding us riding your bike is more than a cheap commute.
Tower of London Ice Rink
And if that gets you thinking about being more active why not go ice skating in the moat at the Tower of London? It opens on 20 November and stays until 3 January. It’s a wonderful location and a lot of fun.
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in November 2015 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.
I’ve tried to resist mentioning Christmas too much this month but by the end of November you won’t be able to avoid it.
On Thursday 3 December the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree lights go on and start a season of carol singing in the Square.
Book ahead for A Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward Theatre starring Jim Broadbent as Scrooge which opens on 30 November. And Goodnight Mister Tom is on at the Duke of York starring David Troughton with previews from 11 December.
Don’t forget, tickets are already on sale for the London New Year’s Eve fireworks.
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 the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.