September is here in London and whilst the days are now getting shorter, and the mornings are more ‘fresh’ it’s still so beautiful. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the warmest summer in the capital this year but September can be a pleasant month - and with any luck, we could have an Indian summer!
But whatever the weather, there’s still so much to do - art and music and exhibitions and food events….not to mention long walks in the Royal Parks, over in Richmond and - of course - on Hampstead Heath, near to us, where you can enjoy the gorgeous colours of the leaves and marvel at the greenery (there is a benefit to summer rain in England…)
September is also a popular month for tourists in London - now that school holidays are over, there will be fewer queues for the ‘big attractions’ but still we’d advise you to book ahead for anything special, to avoid disappointment.
In the meantime, here are some of our ideas for enjoying London at this fine time of the year.
Open House London - 9th to 10th and 16th to 17th SeptemberOpen House London is back and there’s so much to look forward to in this extraordinary festival where buildings all over the capital open their doors to a curious public. Because of its ever-increasing popularity, it now runs for two consecutive weekends, giving you even more opportunities to explore London’s hidden gems.
Even better, it won’t cost you a penny although - be warned - there are long queues for certain attractions so be prepared to wake up early! From the iconic - the Gherkin, the Bank of England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - to the relatively unknown (the Royal College of Surgeons, Senate House, Trellick Tower) this is your chance to peek through some very unusual keyholes!
So put on some comfy shoes, set your alarm clock and make the most of these two weekends!
Totally Thames - 1st September to 1st October
The River Thames is England’s longest river - it runs for 215 miles (346 kms) in total - its source near Kemble (in the Cotswolds) and its mouth at the estuary at Southend-on-Sea (where it meets the North Sea). Of course, anyone who visits London is likely to see it, whether they’re down at Westminster (home to Big Ben and the famous Abbey), exploring Richmond and Kew or strolling the docks of Wapping.
Anyway, for all river lovers, back by popular demand is ‘Totally Thames’ which is an annual event that runs throughout September, it will be hosting all kinds of activities that take place on, along and underneath the River Thames - working with artists, local businesses, and communities, visitors will be able to enjoy boating events, live performances, art installations, talks, workshops, river clean-ups and pop-up performances.
It’s a great way to learn about the history of this river, not to mention its surroundings and the marine life in it too.
London Landmarks Skyscraper Challenge - 9th to 10th September
This one’s for those who like a challenge (and aren’t afraid of heights). It actually might be one of the most thrilling (or terrifying, depending on your perspective) things to do in London at the moment.
The London Landmarks Skyscraper Challenge involves either taking a zip wire between two iconic buildings in the City of London - the ‘Cheesegrater’ and the ‘Gherkin’ or abseiling down the side of the Cheesegrater!
The Cheesegrater (officially known as the Leadenhall Building) is where you’ll put on your harness and take a breath before you zip down the line, across the sky, and into the Gherkin (officially known as St. Mary Axe). If you’re not up for extreme activity, don’t worry because you can also take part by running up the 42 floors of the Cheesegrater - all proceeds go to charity!
And, of course, you’re also free to watch - just catch the tube down to Liverpool Street, in the heart of the City of London, and enjoy hearing screams of terror as you stand on the pavement, looking up…
DIVA at the Victoria & Albert Museum - ongoing
You can always count on the V&A to pull out the stops when it comes to blockbuster exhibitions, and their latest - DIVA - is no exception.
Historically, ‘diva’ was used to describe female opera singers who had the voices of angels but today it’s much more, referring to icons of popular culture who can do much more than hit the high notes. And this is done by showcasing some beautiful photographers and ‘wow factor’ costumes worn by stars through the ages - including Vivien Leigh, Elton John, Billie Holliday and Grace Jones (and plenty more besides).
The Valentino ‘haute couture’ dress worn by Bjorn on tour in 2021, Cher’s ‘Egyptian Goddess’ outfit donned by her in 1987 at a Music Awards event and an outstanding Christian Dior creation, which Vivien Leigh stunned the world with, in the 1958 play ‘Dual of Angels’ are all breathtaking, this is an exhibition well-worth seeing - and the V&A is so beautiful, that you can easily spend more time afterwards, wandering its galleries or sitting in its lovely outdoor courtyard.
The Hampstead Heath Duathlon - 3rd September 2023
Back for the 24th time, this north London community event has become increasingly popular ever since it was set up by the Hampstead Rugby Club secretary - and it’s perfect for those who want some serious exercise (and a bit of fun too).
The Hampstead Heath Duathlon (or ‘Pondathon’ as it is endearingly known) is your chance to burn off some calories and to swim in all three of the Hampstead Ponds in the same day!
You can enter individually or as a team (between 3 and 5 participants) and the event kicks off at the Parliament Hill Lido, on the Heath. You run between the Hampstead Ponds and then in each pond you will swim one lap. All in all, you’ll do 1.5 kms in the water and a 4.5 km run, which is enough to put roses in anyone’s cheeks.
And - just so you know - La Gaffe is not far from the Heath, so if you’re up for a coffee or a glass of wine afterwards, feel free to pop by! Or if you need a place to stay in London the lovely team at our hotel in Hampstead, near the Heath, would love to welcome you!
Have a great September, everyone…