After a long, hot summer, followed by a warmish September (warm enough that not a drop of rain fell, either for those queuing to see the late Queen Elizabeth’s coffin, or lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the funeral cortege), October is upon us.
Touch wood, Covid cases are dropping - at least at the moment - and before the clocks go back and the nights draw in, we can all take advantage of the endless opportunities to go out and enjoy ourselves in the fantastic city of London.
Whether you want to visit the West End, catch a fringe sho, grab nosh at a pop-up restaurant, take in an art exhibition or enjoy some live music, the capital has it. There are also endless neighbourhoods outside the centre that have things going on every day of the week, including ours in Hampstead.
Here are a few of our recommendations for enjoying yourself in October - in the meantime, wrap up warmly and carry an umbrella because, as we all know, the English weather is highly unpredictable!
1. Celebrate Diwali - 9th October at Trafalgar Square
The word Diwali originates from a Sanskrit term, meaning ‘row of clay lamps’ and this festival of lights is much loved by Hindus (and also Sikhs and Jains) across the world.
Lasting for five days, it’s a time for those celebrating to buy new clothes, cook (and then invite friends and neighbours around) and light candles and lamps everywhere, to banish the darkness!
Trafalgar Square’s annual celebrations begin at midday and will include food stalls, dance workshops, sari stands, yoga workshops, special childrens’ events and, of course, fireworks. All you need to do is jump on the tube and get to central London - the event itself is free.
Spread the light!
Diwali Celebrations Trafalgar Square, Central London
(nearest tubes: Leicester Square and Charing Cross)
2. Visit Frieze - 12th to 16th October at Regent’s Park
Frieze London is back and whether you want to browse the pieces, learn more about art or invest in what one day you think might be a masterpiece, there’s no better place to do it than here.
Frieze collaborates with over 280 galleries in 42 countries, to make all this possible, and prides itself on showcasing a wide variety of art - from ancient to modern.
Set in the beautiful grounds of Regent’s Park, there’s also a chance to see ‘Frieze Masters’ which brings you 600 years of art - think Old Masters and rare antiquities. And if you like sculptures, don’t worry, because they will be back too - dotted all across the grass.
Frieze Art Fair, 12th - 16th October
Nearest tube: Regent’s Park (Bakerloo line)
3. Get Spooky on Halloween - all of October
London’s an enormous city and so, unsurprisingly, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re looking for Halloween events in the capital. A few we’d recommend are:
- Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch is throwing a ‘disco with the dead’ on Saturday 29th October, complete with ghoulish cocktails and frightening DJs.
- Tower Hamlets Cemetery is holding a lantern-lit tour of the ground’s tombs, where you can learn more about some of the fascinating characters who were laid to rest here.
- HorrOctober at the Princes Charles cinema, close to Leicester Square, is a fantastic chance to watch some generally terrifying films such as The Shining, The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead, before heading out for cocktails in central London’s buzzy Soho streets.
4. Learn about Mexican culture at Kew Botanical Gardens
Kew is constantly outdoing itself, and not just with its annual orchid festivals and summer picnics, complete live music. This half-term, they’ve organised a Mexican-themed week of activities, with an astonishing array of horticultural and institutions. During the festival’s ‘After Hours’ evenings, you’ll even have a chance to sample a four-course Mexican meal!
The month’s events also include a ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration on 14th-15th October, complete with cocktails, cooking demos and live performances that honour dead ancestors - something Mexicans take very seriously…
Of course, as well as the Mexican-themed events, entry to all other parts of Kew, including the Temperate House, the Mediterranean Garden and special areas designed for kids is included in the ticket price.
Mexico at Kew Gardens
(nearest tube Kew on the district line)
5. Jazz at Hampstead Jazz Club
Our fabulous neighbour, the Hampstead Jazz Club, has a jam-packed programme this month but one event we’d really recommend is the performance by New York-based international jazz vocalist Aimee Allen.
As part of her very successful European tour, she’s going to be singing soulful and lyrical jazz compositions and on this evening presenting her latest album, named ‘Love and the Catalyst’ (addressing both large and small changes in the world).
The Hampstead Jazz Club is an intimate venue, and a lovely place to have an evening out - either book a table for four or just come alone and make some new friends. Food and drink are available upstairs in the Duke of Hamilton pub.
Hampstead Jazz Club, 23-25 New End, London NW3
Nearest tube: Hampstead (northern line)
Finally, if you’re looking for comfortable and affordable Hampstead hotel, whether you’re a tourist, visiting friends and family or here for work, don’t hesitate to contact us here at La Gaffe. We have a selection of single, double and family rooms and as well as a warm Italian welcome (and excellent coffee) our rates include a continental breakfast. And we’re only three minutes walk from the tube, or a quick stroll from Hamptead Heath, so whether it’s work or play you’re after, that’s sorted too!
Happy October to you all.