Ah September. Bittersweet transition from short sleeves to frost, and from barbecues to conkers. But London always puts on a last flurry of events and activities and happenings before the nights draw in for October, and we're all invited. Here's my weekend by weekend guide to free September delights, because it's never too soon to plan ahead. [permalink]
Weekend 1: September 4/5 » E17 Art Trail (continues next weekend): An independently organised extravaganza of 100+ installations in and around Walthamstow. Make sure you take a copy of the Art Trail Guide with you, because you may not be able to find anything without one. » Liberty (Sat, 1-6): Celebrating the contribution of deaf and disabled people to London's culture, in Trafalgar Square. » Thames Barrier Closure (Sun, 3:30am-2pm): Annual all-day maintenance closure (peaking around high tide at 10am). Come and see water piled up on one side only... while it's only a practice. » London Skyride (Sun): Family-friendly cycling event aimed at the less confident rider (and potential satellite dish purchaser), as all four-wheeled traffic evacuates the roads between Buckingham Palace and the Tower. » Epping Forest Festival (Sun, 11-4): Exhibitors and events on Chingford Plain, including the daredevil Red Barrows. » Underground Maps Unravelled (until Sep 24, but not Sundays): Remember Max Roberts' exhibition of tube maps, which you missed seeing when it was in Southend earlier this year? It's back... at the Minories Gallery in Colchester.
Weekend 2: September 11/12 » Thames Festival (Sat & Sun, noon-10): An extensive programme of riverside entertainment along the South Bank, no doubt over-overcrowded, including a bridge-top feast on Saturday, and culminating with a huge firework display on Sunday. » Heritage Open Days (Thu-Sun): 100s of buildings that aren't usually open, are open. Most of them are outside London - the Home Counties are swarming - but there are plenty open in Kingston (which is spending the weekend pretending it's in Surrey). » Battle of Britain Weekend (Sat, Sun): 70th anniversary event, plus Spitfire/Hurricane flypast, at the RAF Museum in Colindale. » Abbey Gardens Harvest Festival (Sat, 12-4): Calling all would-be Newham gardeners, bakers and flower arrangers. » Illumini (Thu-Wed): A journey through the history of subterranean London, hosted beneath Shoreditch Town Hall.
Weekend 3: September 18/19 » Open House London (Sat, Sun): The grand-daddy of architectural festivals, with hundreds of weird and wonderful buildings throwing open their doors across the capital. Most of the really special events have been fully booked for weeks, but you're not too late to sign up for the BT Tower raffle. There'll be tons to see over the weekend, in fact far too much to choose from. Be there, or regret it for the next 52 weeks. » Tour of Britain (Sat, from 2pm): The final stage of this cross-country bike race is a lycra-tastic sprinty circuit along the Royal Docks in Newham. » Hackney Wick Festival (Sat, Sun): Arts-inspired fete out E9 way (the website's not much help yet). » Bermondsey Street Festival (Sat, noon-5): Food, Fashion, Film and Fun (I wonder if Zandra will be there again this year). » London Design Festival (continues until next weekend): Hundreds of design-er events will be taking place across the capital.
Weekend 4: September 25/26 » Malaysia Night (Fri, 3-10): An Trafalgar Square evening event celebrating Malaysian culture and cuisine. » The Great River Race (Sat, 12-5): A spectacular paddle down the Thames from Richmond to Docklands. » Eid in the Square (Sun, from 2:30): The Mayor celebrates the end of Ramadan, more than two weeks late, in Trafalgar Square. » Great Gorilla Run (Sun): Dress up as a gorilla and run 7km to raise money for charity (or just come along and watch sweaty knackered apes) » Regent's Street Festival (Sun): A pedestrianised day with street performers and food stalls, for those who like their sponsored entertainment to be very close to some expensive shops. » Autumn Ambles (Sat, Sun): Guided walks around London's strategic footpath network. Enjoy peripheral bits of the capital you'd never normally dream of visiting, or get beneath the skin of central London. Recommended.
And at the start of October... » Story of London (1-10 Oct): Boris's second attempt at a heritage and history festival (the website's due to go live today) [Friday pm update: it's finally up]