Autumn is a great time to visit London. While the mornings grow crisper and the days become shorter, there’s a wonderful sense of seasonal change in the air.
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Not only because the tree-lined streets begin to blaze with oranges and yellows, but because the festive season is just around the corner. Autumn and the festive that it brings makes it one of my favourite seasons in London.
Autumn in London is truly a magnificent affair. The season brings about spectacular scenery, as well as many exciting events.
For those visiting London in autumn, deciding on what to see and do can be daunting. To follow is a detailed guide on the city’s top attractions, as well as where to see autumn colours.
Before planning your visit, be sure to check out these London travel tips.
One of the best things about autumn in London is the colourful foliage. Throughout the city, the trees turn yellow and orange as they prepare to shed their leaves. Some corners also begin boasting bright red ivies.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit London. It begins in September and ends in November.
If you wish to be met with vividly coloured foliage, the best time to visit is between late October and early November.
During this time, you can expect a wide array of colours from yellows and oranges to a fiery red.
London has no shortage of green spaces; however, in autumn, these spaces take on a more russet or golden hue.
Throughout the city are a number of parks and hidden spots where you can observe some of the most breath-taking scenery. Some of these are detailed below.
Hampstead is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in London. It is often referred to by locals as Hampstead Village, as it has a delightful village feel with its small parks, narrow streets, and independent stores.
Hampstead has a romantic setting all year round, but add autumn hues, and it reaches new levels.
You can easily spend a day here strolling through the neighbourhood and exploring the grassy meadows and woodland areas.
The Kensington Gardens is one of the most picturesque areas in London, offering a beautiful landscape of manicured lawns, famous monuments, and tall pine trees.
It is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and sits nearby the Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.
In Hyde Park, autumn coloured leaves line the avenues along the Serpentine lake. The Hyde Park and Kensington areas are among the best places for autumn walks in London.
Given how rugged the space is, it will feel as if you’re walking out in the countryside.
One of London’s most popular autumn spots is Kew Gardens. This botanical garden is home to 14,000 trees, so you can expect lots of leaf-crunching as you walk on through.
While here, be sure to visit the Treetop Walkway. This 18-metre-high bridge offers stunning views of the autumnal leaves below. Note that the walkway may not be open if the weather is bad, so be sure to check the website before you go.
Other attractions at Kew Gardens include the Great Pagoda and the Sackler Crossing bridge.
Floating in the lake beside the bridge, you may notice some cute Christmas decorations. These look like folded paper boats and light up in the dark.
The Regent’s Canal is a peaceful oasis in the middle of London’s bustling city and is a popular spot amongst walkers and cyclists alike. It runs from Little Venice to Camden Lock and it’s a great spot for an autumnal treat.
Lining the canal is plenty of foliage, providing a mesmerizing display of colours. And complimenting the beautiful scenery are a number of Venetian-style boats, small coffee shops, and quirky clothing stores.
Richmond Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks. This beautiful space is a lovely spot to view autumn colours, as well as deer and other wildlife.
It’s also home to the Isabella Plantation, a stunning woodland garden with hidden paths and flowing streams.
Richmond Park’s autumn colours are truly spectacular, especially in the 40-acre Isabella Plantation.
Lining the ponds and streams are evergreen azaleas and other unusual trees and shrubs. These stand out beautifully against the red and orange hues seen throughout most of the park.
Holland Park is one of the most beautiful gardens in London. In the spring, the space fills up with pretty cherry blossoms and magnolias. Autumns here are just as stunning, boasting a marvellous display of fiery red ivy.
Nestled in Holland Park is Kyoto Gardens. This cute Japanese garden offers a refuge right in the heart of London.
This space is brought to life by the vibrant autumn foliage, tranquil waterfalls, and stone lanterns. There is also a pond full of colourful koi fish.
The best autumn colours the UK has to offer can be observed in many areas throughout London, including various neighbourhoods and parks.
But one does not always need to head out to the park to catch a glimpse of the colourful foliage. With over 9,000 trees lining the city’s streets, you’re guaranteed an autumnal display at just about every turn.
Autumn is often referred to as pumpkin season. Pumpkin picking has really taken off in the UK, with some of the prettiest pumpkin patches springing up throughout the country. Popular areas with patches near London include Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, Sussex, and Kent.
Whether it’s to pick your own pumpkins or simply to enjoy an autumn walk, here are some of the best places to go pumpkin picking near London.
Surrey sits just 20 miles southeast of London, adjoining the River Thames. The journey between Surrey and the capital is around 45 minutes by car and an hour by train.
In this town, you will find some of the best pumpkin patches in England. Here are some spots worth visiting to get your squash fix.
This was the first pumpkin patch to open in Surrey around 15 years ago. The popular fields are open to the public, allowing you to pick your own pumpkins.
You can also purchase ready-picked ones before heading back. The farm also hosts a lively pumpkin festival during October; however, dates are TBC.
Details: Crockford Bridge Farm is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 – 18:00; 10:00 – 16:30 on Sunday | Location: Weybridge, Surrey
This wonderful farm is renowned for the fresh local produce it has on offer. It is also renowned for being a great pumpkin picking spot.
In October, the farm welcomes you to its Halloween events. This includes picking your pumpkins, enjoying tractor rides, and strolling along a spooky Halloween trail.
Details: Priory farm is open Monday to Saturday from 09:00 – 17:30; 10:30 – 16:30 on Sunday | Location: Redhill, Surrey
Hertfordshire is one of the home counties of England and sits just north of London. The journey from Hertfordshire to London is around 35 minutes by train and 40 minutes by car.
Here you will find a variety of lovely farms and pumpkin patches.
During autumn, this farm puts on lots of pumpkin-themed activities in addition to the usual farm fun.
There is plenty to do for kids, including Peter Rabbit’s Adventure Playground, Mr Todd’s Lair, The Farmyard, and plenty more. Before leaving, kids are also given a free pumpkin to carve at home.
Details: Willows Activity Farm is open daily from 10:00 – 17:30 | Location: St Albans, Hertfordshire
Get outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air while you pick your own pumpkins at the Pop-Up Farm.
Grab a wheelbarrow and explore the patch in search of the perfect pumpkin or squash. There is a wide variety to choose from, with some being great for eating and others being ideal for carving.
Details: The Pop-Up Farm Pumpkin Patch will be open in October daily from 09:30 – 16:30 | Location: St Albans, Hertfordshire
For a fun autumn day trip from London, head to Essex just 1 hour away. Here you will find a wide range of farms and pumpkin patches, each offering something special for visitors.
The Marsh Farm Pumpkin Village is Essex’s premium pumpkin patch. At the farm, you can enjoy picking pumpkins in the fields or a pumpkin spice latte at The Courtyard.
There’s also illuminated pumpkin picking at night in anticipation of Halloween.
Near the end of October is the Marsh Farm’s Halloween Festival, where people can dress up and enjoy a night of spooky fun.
Details: The Marsh Farm is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00. The Halloween Festival will take place between the 16th and 31st October | Location: South Woodham Ferrers, Essex
The Foxes Farm pumpkin patch is the original pick-your-own patch in Essex. It has two locations, one in Basildon and another in Colchester.
The farm is open on selected dates for pumpkin picking leading up to Halloween. There is also the farm’s Mud Run, a fun and messy activity for the whole family.
Details: The Foxes Farm pumpkin patch will be open on the 25th and 26th September and most days in October. | Location: Basildon and Colchester, Essex
Each autumn, London comes alive with a number of festivals, markets, and other exciting events. To ensure you do not miss out on any of the fun, here’s a list of some popular events taking place in London.
The first major autumn event in London is Totally Thames. This is an annual month-long event beginning in September, celebrating the River Thames.
During this time, there are a number of art, heritage, and educational programmes that take place. There are also several concerts. Below are two Totally Thames events to look out for.
This event offers a unique chance to see some spectacular artwork made by children from six Greenwich schools and their partner schools in Ghana.
These pieces are made in response to their local environment and waterfront and in collaboration with professional artists. This is a truly wholesome outing, and best of all, entry is completely free.
Details: Rivers of the World will take place between 1st September and 30th September from 10:00 – 17:00 | Location: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
This is a lovely, uplifting riverside choral event that takes place annually to raise funds and awareness for WaterAid. The event involves around 20 choirs from across the United Kingdom.
Each of these choirs rehearses individually and have one collective rehearsal the day before the final performance. At this event, you can expect singing, dancing, and loads of fun.
Details: Sing for Water will take place on the 19th September from 14:00 | Location: The Scoop, London
After months of lying dormant, London’s galleries truly spring to life in autumn. During these months, particularly October, you can expect to find a number of awe-inspiring exhibitions throughout the city. Below are some exhibitions worth looking out for in autumn.
Frieze London is one of the world’s most influential art fairs which attracts an international audience of artists, collectors, students, and art lovers. The exhibition focuses primarily on contemporary art and live artists. In addition to the impressive galleries, there are also some insightful talks included in the programme.
A short walk from Frieze London is its sister fair, Firenze Masters. This exhibition focuses on the relationship between historical art and contemporary practice.
Both exhibitions are among the most popular in London, attracting over 60,000 people each year.
Whether you’re buying or window-shopping, Frieze London promises an exciting and engaging experience. Note that tickets will not be available at the door and need to be booked in advance.
Details: Frieze London takes place between the 13th and 17th September | Location: Regent’s Park, London
Featuring specialist galleries from over 19 countries, London’s 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair returns to Somerset House for its ninth and largest fair yet.
It will include work from 47 leading international galleries from Europe, Africa, and North America.
The programme for this event is stacked with a number of artist talks, panels, screenings, and performances.
But 1-54’s biggest draw is its wide and diverse range of artworks. Tickets to this event can be booked online and range between £10 and £25 ($14 and $34 USD).
Details: The Contemporary Art Fair will take place on the 16th and 17th October from 10:00 – 20:00 (Day 1) and 10:00 – 18:00 (Day 2) | Location: Somerset House, London
London is home to some of the best museums in Europe. One of the best ways to experience these museums is after dark once the school parties have gone.
Many of London’s museums keep their doors open after hours for talks, workshops, performances, and more. Many of the museums are free to visit, making it a fun and inexpensive evening outing.
From an evening botanical tour at Kew Gardens to a multisensory experience at the Saatchi Gallery, here’s our pick of the best Museum at Night events in London.
The Saatchi Gallery runs a series of events throughout the autumn months. The first is the RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show, which runs between 18th September and 3rd October.
This unique exhibition features over 200 botanical artworks and photographs from 34 competing global artists.
Later in the month is the Start Art Fair, which runs between the 13th and 17th October. This is a popular exhibition among artists, collectors, and critics. It’s also a great spot for people to start their contemporary art collections.
Details: The Saatchi Late will take place on the 2nd September between 18:00 and 21:00 | Location: Saatchi Gallery, London
The Royal Academy of Arts goes above and beyond in terms of hosting after-dark exhibitions. At the Royal Academy lates, art, music, and theatre come to life across two historic buildings.
Each of these unique underground events is inspired by a current exhibition and accompanied by a themed programme.
Recent themes have included Summer’s Night in Montmartre and the Electric Forest. These programmes include talks, workshops, performances, and plenty more.
This is a great spot to mingle and meet new people. You can also enjoy food and drinks from an array of pop-up bars and some of London’s top street food traders.
Details: Enquire on the Royal Academy website for more on dates and times | Location: Burlington House, Piccadilly, London
Japan After Hours at Kew
In October, Kew Botanical Gardens invites you to a blissful evening comprising Japanese plants, art, culture, and dance – all as part of their autumn festival.
From live music performances to traditional flower arranging and sake sipping, there’s plenty to explore.
Best of all, the entire experience takes place within the vividly coloured botanical gardens. If you’re looking for a fun and romantic outing, Japan After Hours is a great option.
Details: Japan After Hours at Kew takes place on the 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th October between 18:30 and 22:30 | Location: Temperature House, Kew Gardens, London
The EFG London Jazz Festival is the city’s largest pan-city musical festival, taking place annually in November.
Each event has seen a heady mix of talent from across the globe. By showcasing world-class artists and rising stars, the festival continues to attract large audiences and guarantees a memorable time.
Over the years, the London Jazz Festival has steadily spread from north London to London-wide. Today, it is a multi-faceted 10-day music event that takes place across a number of locations.
During this time, the city truly comes to life with music being heard in bars, clubs, and concert halls throughout London. Some popular venues include the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Kings Place, Omni Theatre, and many more.
The festival has seen noteworthy acts like Emma-Jean Thackray, Nathaniel Facey, Georgia Cecil, and Linda May Han Oh, among others.
Details: The London Jazz Festival runs from the 12th -21st November | Location: Various locations throughout London
Autumn will also see the London Film and Comic Con event. This is a three-day event that provides fans with a unique opportunity to meet various celebrities. This includes actors, voice actors, authors, artists, cosplayers, and more.
Throughout the three days, there will be a number of celebrity guest appearances, stage panels, talks, and photoshoots.
There will also be lots of cosplaying! Guests are encouraged to cosplay, so dress up as your favourite movie or comic book character and pay this event a visit.
Celebrity guests for this year’s event include Harry Potter’s Robbie Coltrane, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Doctor Who’s Christopher Eccleston, and many more.
Details: The London Film and Comic Con will take place from the 19th -21st November | Location: Olympia London, Kensington, London
Guy Fawkes, also known as Fireworks Night or Bonfire Night, is one of the most popular London autumn events. It commemorates the arrest of Guy Fawkes and the failure of the ‘gunpowder plot’ to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in 1605. The annual celebration involves food, drinks, and of course, lots of fireworks.
Throughout London are various firework displays. Most Guy Fawkes events are ticketed and can be bought in advance.
Popular venues to view colourful firework displays include Wimbledon Park, Ravenscourt Park, Wembley Park, Gunpowder Mills, and many more.
Many of the venues offer much more than just a firework display. You can expect lively music, entertainment, and other fun autumn activities, sometimes starting earlier in the day. Guy Fawkes is a fun outing for the entire family.
Details: Guy Fawkes will take place from Friday the 5th November | Location: Various venues throughout London
In autumn, London’s Syon Park hosts the Enchanted Woodland, which sees the 600-year-old gardens transformed by a splendid display of lights and music.
Guests are guided through the autumn trees by an array of lights ranging from high-tech lasers to little candles.
There are also a number of pop-up street food vendors from London’s best food markets at the event. See the Syon House and its surrounding gardens lit up in a rainbow of colours while enjoying some delicious food, music, and good company.
Details: The Enchanted Woodland event will take place on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th, and 28th November | Location: Syon Park, Brentford, London
Open House is an annual festival celebrating London’s architecture and urban landscape. It is staged by the Open City charity, which campaigns to make London a more equitable, accessible, and open city.
For locals and tourists, this is a unique opportunity to go inside buildings, up skyscrapers, and down tunnels that are usually off-limits to the public.
There are multiple tours exploring a variety of community buildings, libraries, galleries, pubs, and other interesting spots.
Some popular Open House attractions include Southwark’s City Hall, the Water Segal self-build houses, Trellick Tower, and many more.
Details: The Open House Festival event will take place from the 4th – 12th September | Location: Various buildings and venues throughout London
The Lord Mayor’s Show is perhaps London’s oldest and most popular event, dating back to 1215. That’s more than 800 years that the city has managed to uphold this tradition. The main attraction at this event is the Lord Mayor’s State Coach.
Over 500,000 people line the streets of London to take part in the celebration and watch the three-mile (4.8 kilometre) procession take place.
The procession includes over 140 performances and 8,000 people. This comprises marching bands, the Honourable Artillery Company, the Royal Fusiliers, and many others. It also features Gog and Magog, two giant wicker figures representative of London’s pre-Roman past.
To view the parade, you can stand anywhere along the procession route. You can also book a seat in the grandstands on either side of the parade by St Paul’s Cathedral. Tickets to these stands cost around £40 each ($55 USD).
Details: The Lord Mayor’s Show will take on the 13th November | Location: Throughout the City of London
Throughout the season, there are many opportunities to enjoy some delicious food and drinks. From flamboyant restaurants to pop-up street food stands, there are plenty of flavours to try.
Taking place in the iconic Tower of London moat is one of the city’s most popular food festivals.
The festival features dozens of food stalls, cookery demonstrations, tastings, live music, and a variety of kids’ activities. It’s also a good opportunity to try foods from a number of celebrity chefs.
Beyond the food, visitors are also welcomed to explore the Tower of London. Built in 1066 near the River Thames, it is one of England’s most iconic structures. With so much to see and do, the Tower of London Food Festival is a great spot for some family fun.
Details: The Tower of London Food Festival will take place from the 12th – 15th September | Location: Tower of London
London Cocktail Week is the biggest city-wide celebration of cocktails in the world. While the event usually lasts a week, the 2021 edition is a month-long celebration of the capital’s spectacular cocktail scene.
Included in the extended schedule are a variety of cocktail events and pop-ups hosted in some of the best bars in London.
To join in on the celebration, you will need to purchase a wristband online. The wristband is your key to the city and costs around £15 ($21 USD).
With your wristband, you will have access to over 250 bars throughout London. At the bars, flash your band and the staff will make you their signature cocktail created especially for London Cocktail Week.
Details: London Cocktail Week will take place from the 1st – 31st October | Location: Much of the action centres around Cocktail Village on Brick Lane. However, your wristband gets you access to cheap cocktails at bars throughout London.
Another great city-wide celebration is the London Restaurant Festival. The month-long event has been running for over ten years.
During the festival, over 250 restaurants across the capital run special menus. There are also many special events, including tastings, masterclasses, and restaurant-hopping tours.
Coinciding with the previously mentioned London Cocktail Week, locals and visitors are in for the ultimate gastronomical experience.
Details: London Restaurant Festival will take place from the 1st – 31st October | Location: Various restaurants throughout London
Autumn in London also means that the festive season is approaching. As such, there are plenty of Christmas markets, decoration displays, and lights throughout the city.
Below are some popular Christmas activities and events in the English capital.
You cannot miss the Christmas markets in London as they’re often lit up with bright lights and other incredible Christmas decorations.
These are fantastic spots to pick up a special gift or enjoy a hot chocolate with your friends and family.
This is a charming traditional market located in Hyde Park. It is lined with beautiful wooden chalets selling unique gifts, Christmas decorations, and tasty culinary delights.
It is also located right next to the ice rink and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, so there is plenty of fun to be had.
Details: The Hyde Park Christmas Market will take place from the 19th November to 3rd January | Location: Hyde Park, London
Leading up to Christmas, one of London’s most famous squares will be getting a festive makeover. Throughout the square, there will be a number of stalls selling handcrafted gifts and tasty eats.
The entertainment line-up is also stacked, featuring the La Clique circus, an “All Senses Christmas Cabaret”, and so much more.
Details: The Leicester Square Christmas Market will take place from late November to early January (official dates TBC) | Location: Leicester Square, London
The festive season also brings about one of the most scenic Christmas markets, as the London City Bridge is illuminated with lights and Christmas decor. Bringing their own glow to the market is a variety of boutique vendors.
Among these, you can expect a mouth-watering assemblage of delicious pop-up food and drink stalls. This stunning riverside market ensures an unforgettable Christmas experience under the stars.
Details: Christmas by the River at London Bridge City dates are TBC | Location: Queens Walk, London
Christmas at Kew
Visit Kew for their annual after-dark festivities with your family and friends. Each year, the gardens are transformed into a magical winter trail.
Throughout the trail are colourful sparkling lights sitting amongst the beautiful foliage. Head to the Fire Garden, and you will find mesmerizing flickering flames.
Along the way, you will pass by independent street food vendors, each offering something unique and delicious. And if you’re visiting with kids, be sure to look out for Father Christmas as well.
Details: Christmas at Kew will take place from the 17th of November 2021 – 9th January 2022 between 16:00 and 22:00 | Location: Kew Botanical Gardens, London
Apart from Kew Gardens, there are plenty of places to view Christmas lights and displays throughout London. And best of all, it’s often free.
Even if you are not going to be in the capital over Christmas, the festive decor will be out in full swing from late autumn. Below are some of the best spots in London to view Christmas lights.
Regent Street is one of the most renowned spots to view Christmas lights in London. This is because it was the first place in the city to be lit up with Christmas lights back in 1954.
Since then, Regent Street has hosted a large switch-on event each year in the middle of November. During this event, people flock to the streets in celebration to view the colourful light display.
Details: The Regent Street Christmas Lights will be on display from mid-November until early January | Location: Regent Street, London
Another one of London’s most popular Christmas light showings is on Oxford Street. Walking down the street, you can expect to see plenty of dazzling lights, as well as pretty seasonal window displays. 2020 saw the streets lit up with 27 LED light curtains.
Made up of over 200,000 bulbs, the curtains displayed a poem for the city’s unsung heroes – namely the healthcare workers who fought on the frontlines throughout the pandemic.
Details: The Oxford Street Christmas Lights will be on display from early December until January | Location: Oxford Street, London
Carnaby Street is one of London’s coolest shopping areas and also boasts spectacular Christmas lights.
There are also a number of smaller boutiques along the pedestrianized street, each with its festive window displays. If you’re looking to pick up a lovely Christmas gift or souvenir, this is the place to visit.
Details: The Carnaby Street Christmas Lights will be on display from early November until early January | Location: Carnaby Street, London
There is no better way to commemorate the festive season than with a warm glass of mulled wine.
For thousands of years, mulled wine has been a popular celebratory drink during the festive season. Below are some of the best bars in London where you can enjoy some mulled wine and Christmas spirit.
The Trading House on Gresham Street is one of London’s best-kept secrets. The venue is truly stunning, boasting a high ceiling, spiral staircase, and mezzanine. It also has a lovely atmosphere as there is nightly live music.
But most importantly, it offers some of the best mulled wine in London. The special blend is made with mulling syrup, orange juice eager, BIB wine, orange, and lemon. And for a unique twist, the addition of a cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
Details: The Trading House is open Monday to Wednesday from 11:00 – 23:00 and Thursday and Friday from 11:00 – 00:00 | Location: 89-91 Gresham Street, London
The stylish 28º-50º Maddox Street is a great spot for couples looking for a romantic night out. Here you can choose from over 30 wines by the glass, carafe or bottle.
There is also a wine workshop that offers the kitchen’s signature low-sugar mulled wine, created by their master sommelier.
This is a lovely option if you would prefer something lighter. And to accompany your drink, choose a meal from a lovely European food menu.
Details: 28º-50º Maddox Street is open Monday to Saturday from 12:00 – 01:00 and Sunday from 12:00 – 23:30 | Location: 96 Draycott Avenue, London
If you’re looking for something truly unique, head to Les 110 de Taillevent to try their amazing, mulled wine hot chocolate.
The delicious, sweet drink is made with Sangria jelly, orange zest, cinnamon, and Christmas spices.
And to top it all off, it is served with rich Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate (70% cocoa). There is no combination quite like it.
For more sweet treats, here are some of the best desserts in London.
Details: Les 110 de Taillevent is temporarily closed and will reopen on the 16th of September 2021 | Location: 16 Cavendish Square, London
If you’re looking for some exciting autumn things to do, the city of London offers plenty. With beautiful autumn foliage, pumpkin patches, museum nights, and other activities, there is endless fun to be had.
And with the festive season quickly approaching, there are plenty of festivals, markets, and Christmas displays to enjoy with your friends and family.
While there are plenty of things to do in autumn, the UK is a great place to be during the warmer seasons too. For some summer fun, here are some of the best beach day trips from London.