Things To Do This Week In London: 2-8 October 2023

All week

Two men posing on a giant hanging microphone.
Show off your music knowledge in Famous First Words on Friday

CHINA'S HIDDEN CENTURY: Last week to see the British Museum's exhibition, China's Hidden Century. It's about the violence and turmoil the country faced during the 19th century, at a time when the modern republic of China came into being. Until 8 October

FAKE ART: Also closing at the end of this week is Art and Artifice: Fakes from the Collection at the Courtauld. It showcases artworks including drawings, paintings and sculptures which are not what they seem, including plenty of forgeries. Until 8 October

ICONS IN DENIM: Jake Gyllenhaal's Brokeback Mountain costume, a 60s Lesbian Black biker club vest, and Elton John's jeans go on show, as part of Queer Britain's new exhibition, From the Levi’s® Archives: Icons in Denim - A Queer Perspective. It's only on for a couple of weeks, though, so hurry! FREE, Until 12 October

RUGBY WORLD CUP: All four Home Nations play in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday — including the Ireland vs Wales match — and other matches take place throughout the week. Take a look at our guide to where to watch the Rugby World Cup in London and book your seat in advance. Until 28 October

Tables laid at a smart looking mi century style restaurant
Portobello 177 opens its doors on Wednesday.

MONTH OF THE DEAD: Ghoulishly good festival London Month of the Dead gets properly underway this week, with talks and tours focusing on the theme of death. Take a guided tour of death in Westminster, or take part in a live seance in a cemetery, among other events. Until 1 November

OKTOBERFEST: Dust off the lederhosen/dirndl — it's Oktoberfest season, and London has plenty of beer-centric parties to celebrate. Get booking from out pick of Oktoberfest events in the capital.

EAT OF THE WEEK: On Wednesday, Portobello 177 opens its doors in Notting Hill; the restaurant focuses on contemporary, sharing-style dishes with a nod to Caribbean and Japanese barbecue culture (think braised oxtail served with burnt padron pepper puree, and caramelised banana bread pudding). It's from the team behind the Trailer Happiness cocktail bar. Book a table via the link on their Instagram account. From 4 October

MUSEUM OF THE WEEK: We recently had a snoop around the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's museum not far from Tower Bridge, discovering cherry toothpaste, electric hairbrushes and some seriously creepy Rupert artwork. It's open Monday to Friday and is free to visit.

Monday 2 October

KEHINDE WILEY: V&A Senior Curator Zofia Trafas White gives a free talk about the museum's new acquisition, a portrait by Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley. 'Portrait of Melissa Thompson’ marks the first time the artist has worked solely with women, and explores themes of feminism, identity, and representation FREE, 11am-11.30am

HAPPY MONDAYS COMEDY: Tom Ward, Barbara Fernandez, Robert Gilbert, Bas Rahman and Edd Daggers are among the comedians on the line-up at this week's Happy Mondays Comedy, along with a special guest tbc. Sion James hosts, at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. 8pm

BESKYDY: Embracing the music of Moravia, Bohemia, Slovakia, the Hungarian plains, the Danube basin — and all the way down to the Black Sea — Beskydy promise to take you on a musical journey through Central and Eastern Europe and beyond, at Cellar Upstairs Folk Club, on Grays Inn Road. 8pm

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for something else to do, today or any other week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday — we've gathered together live music venues, comedy and cabaret clubs which keep going on what is usually the quietest day of the week, along with guided walks and tours scheduled on a Monday, and a few special offers too.

Tuesday 3 October

A group of seven dancers, mid-performance on stage.
Dance Umbrella gets underway on Friday.

DECORATIVE FAIR: 135 specialist dealers descend on Evolution in Battersea Park for the Decorative Fair. Browse and buy antiques, design and art pieces dating from the 1700s to the 1970s, with a particular focus on 20th century design. 3-8 October

GEORGIAN ILLUMINATIONS: Sir John Soane's Museum launches a new exhibition, Georgian Illuminations, telling the history of the light shows of the Georgian era through surviving designs, drawings and prints. A new commission by artist Nayan Kulkarni will illuminate the front of the museum on Lincoln's Inn Fields each evening too. 4 October-7 January

GHOSTSIGNS TOUR: Footprints of London guide Jane Parker offers a walking tour around Willesden Green, focusing on the area's ghostsigns — faded advertising signs from years gone by. Handpainted ads dating back as far as the 1890s can be found in the area. 11am-1pm

BEING HUMAN: Find out how haemophilia brought down the Russian royal family, and scurvy gave rise to the Mafia in a talk at Conway Hall. Astrobiology researcher Lewis Dartnell discusses the flaws of human evolution, and the fragility of human biology. 6.30pm

AS FRIENDS RUST: "Thought-provoking melodic punk music for the modern age" is on the menu at Tufnell Park's Boston Music Rooms, courtesy of As Friends Rust, with support from Calling Hours and Stay in Nothing. 7pm-11pm

Wednesday 4 October

Silhouette of a witch flying against the moon
Delve into the history of witchcraft and witch hunts. Hint... it didn't look much like this. Image: iStock/DNY59

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: The 67th incarnation of the BFI London Film Festival takes place at various venues on the South Bank and in the West End, with some events also screened on BFI Player after the festival, for those who can't make it in person. The public premieres of Emerald Fennell's Saltburn, futuristic The Kitchen, and One Life, starring Anthony Hopkins, are the festival's headline events. 4-15 October

PUB QUIZ: Orpington GPO bar hosts the Bring Your Baby Pub Quiz, aimed at parents and carers with little ones in tow. It's a typical pub quiz, but at a slower pace, allowing plenty of breaks to feed, change and take care of your child. Maximum six (adults) per team. 12pm-2.30pm

CHINESE FOOD: As well as being one of the most popular cuisines in the world, Chinese food is also one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated. Food writer Fuschia Dunlop gives a talk about the history of Chinese food, from origins right up until the present day. Hosted by the British Museum but takes place online. FREE, 5.30pm-6.30pm

WITCHCRAFT: Delve into the history of witchcraft and witch hunts with Marion Gibson, author of new book, Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials. In this online event, she talks about some of the most famous with trials in history with Jess Nelson, Head of Collection Expertise and Engagement at The National Archives. 7.30pm

Thursday 5 October

Close up of someone knitting something - they're wearing a blue knitted jumper
Get kitted out for knitting at Ally Pally. Image: iStock/LukaTDB

KNITTING AND STITCHING SHOW: The Knitting & Stitching Show is at Ally Pally, with hundreds of exhibitors selling supplies including yarn, fabric, buttons, fat quarters, sewing machines and more. Get inspired in the galleries, which display works by textile artists and groups. 5-8 October

FAKING BAD: Unauthorised Breaking Bad parody 'methsical' Faking Bad opens at the Turbine Theatre in Nine Elms. We're promised "one of the stupidest and best pieces of musical theatre to ever grace a stage", starring actor-musicians who whizz through the whole TV show in a couple of hours. 5-28 October

POETRY WALKS: Join Lambeth tour guides for poetic walks around Waterloo. Starting at the Windrush Monument on Waterloo station and its passionate accompanying poem and finishing on Westminster Bridge, where William Wordsworth wrote some famous lines, this 90 minute tour ties in with National Poetry Day. 11am, 2pm and 6pm

BALLROOM DANCING: As the new series of Strictly heats up, get in the mood for all things sparkly with the International Ballroom Dancing Championships, taking place at the Royal Albert Hall, and starring the world's best professional ballroom and Latin American dancers. 5.30pm

HARLEM RENNAISSANCE: In the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, African Americans created new platforms to promote their work and learned to navigate white gatekeepers who controlled America’s publishing and cultural industries. Professor Kate Dossett looks at some of the prominent female authors of the movement in a Gresham lecture. FREE, 6pm

LATE NIGHT KEATS: Keats House in Hampstead stays open late for an evening focused on Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein. Hear a talk about 18th-19th century literature and culture, with a particular focus on Romanticism and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The event also includes poetry readings, a craft workshop, and a chance to explore Keats House after hours. 6pm-8pm

COMEDY TRY OUT: Up to 16 new and established comics are on stage at the King's Head in Crouch End tonight, for the Legendary Comedy Try Out Night, MCed by Carey Marx. With that many folks on the bill, a few are sure to tickle your funnybone. 8pm

Friday 6 October

Five chefs wearing chef's whites and aprons, posing against a brick wall
Five renowned chefs work together for Spice in the City

DANCE UMBRELLA: International festival Dance Umbrella returns to venues across London, for contemporary performances spanning hip hop culture, performance art, audio-visual experiences and operetta, with a particular focus on intersectional, diverse, innovative, international and national female dancemakers. 6-31 October

CRAFT OKTOBERFEST: We're in the midst of Oktoberfest season (or at least London's take on it), and this weekend, German Kraft at Elephant and Castle is getting in on the action, with its Craft Oktoberfest. Expect 12 German-style beers on tap, live oompah, sausages, pretzels and a Schlager playlist. We're also told there'll probably be "some drunk city boys in terrible fancy dress lederhosen", so there you have it. 12pm-12am (also happening tomorrow and Sunday)

FAMOUS FIRST WORDS: Live singing gameshow Famous First Words comes to The Folly by Drake & Morgan, challenging you to get up on stage and sing along to well-known songs. You're judged on your timing and commitment as well as knowledge of the lyrics, so don't be afraid to belt it out! Ticket includes a welcome drink. 6pm

AFTER WINDRUSH: A free Gresham College lecture in Holborn by Dr Malachi McIntosh looks at the work of Caribbean emigrant authors, such as Samuel Selvon and George Lamming. FREE, 6pm

SPICE IN THE CITY: Five of London’s most spice-obsessed chefs come together for an evening of flavourful food at Cinnamon Kitchen near Liverpool Street. It's part of the restaurant's 15th birthday celebrations, with the restaurant's own chefs  Vivek Singh and Raju Ramachandran each cooking up a dish, along with Will Bowlby of Kricket, Adriana Cavita of Cavita and Gavin Malleappah of Rambutan. 6pm-10pm

NEON WALTZ: Scottish four-piece Neon Waltz have just released their second album, Honey Now, and play their larger-than-life indie rock anthems at Hackney's MOTH Club tonight. 7pm

DRINK AND DRAW: Head to Leighton House for an evening of art inspired by live animals. Drink and Draw with Zoolab allows you to create drawings and take photographs of real-life creatures including snakes and giant snails. Your ticket includes all drawing materials and a drink on arrival, and no art experience is necessary. 7pm-8.30pm

PARK NIGHTS: The Serpentine Pavilion stays open for Park Nights, an evening of music and performance with artist and filmmaker Christelle Oyiri. It's one of your last chances to see inside this year's Pavilion, as the temporary structure disappears at the end of October. 8pm

Saturday 7 October

A man posing in front of a replica TARDIS while someone takes a photo
Get your head around new tech and research at New Scientist Live

NEW SCIENTIST LIVE: Archaeology, solar power, telescopes, lab-grown meat and AI are just some of the topics covered at this year's New Scientist Live. Experts from all manner of fields give talks on their topics at ExCeL London, including BBC Strictly winner and wildlife photographer Hamza Yassin, and neurologist and author Suzanne O’Sullivan. 7-8 October

TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE: One of most anticipated West End openings this year is The Time Traveller's Wife, a new musical based on the book and film of the same name. It's about a man with a genetic disorder that allows him to travel through time, who meets the love of his life while doing so. David Hunter plays Henry and Joanna Woodward is Clare. From 7 October

TEA EXHIBITION: Pour yourself a cuppa and have a read up about Horniman Museum's new exhibition, Chá, Chai, Tea, which tells the story of the much-loved drink, including its productions, and traditions around drinking it in different countries. Have a little swot up on the history of tea in London before you go. FREE, 7 October-7 July

NFL EXPERIENCE: No tickets to this year's NFL in London games? No problem — you can still get in on the American football action with the NFL Experience at Battersea Power Station. The event includes performances by mascots and cheerleaders from the teams taking part in this year's NFL in London, plus a chance to show off your own skills, and NFL merch and vintage memorabilia for sale. FREE, 10am-6pm

LA DISCOTHÈQUE: Drumsheds in Edmonton (until recently flogging flatpacks and meatballs in the guise of an IKEA) officially launches as a venue today — and they're doing it in style. Their La Discothèque all-dayer features world class global house and disco DJs including Norman Jay, Giles Peterson, Afrodeutche — and many, many more. 12pm-10.30pm

TOKYO BRUNCH: Saturdays mean sumptuous Japanese food and bottomless cocktails at M's Tokyo Brunch. Dig into three delicious courses — including the likes of wagyu bao buns, Japanese pancakes, and matcha tiramisu — plus free-flowing drinks such as plum highballs and yuzu meringues. Upgrade options include Veuve Clicquot on tap, Nintendo gaming packages, and private karaoke rooms! Every Saturday 1pm-4pm (sponsor)

CONKERS: The celebrated (and pretty ruddy brutal) Peckham Conker Championships is back. Last year over 300 (!) people took part, with Harry aka 'Harry Hard Nut' bathing in ultimate glory. If you think you and your conker have got what it takes to win, sign up — otherwise, just come along to see some serious conker conquering. 3pm-6pm

A LITTLE LIFE: Missed A Little Life at Savoy Theatre? A recording of the live show is screened at Barbican Cinema tonight. It's the story of four college friends in New York, and how they all revolve around one member of the group, lawyer Jude, and his secrets — it's a stage adaptation of the novel by Hanya Yanagihara. 7pm

UPBEAT BEATLES: Watch the career of the Fab Four flash before your eyes, courtesy of top tribute act, the Upbeat Beatles, who play songs from She Loves You right through to Come Together — at the Broadway in Barking this evening. 7.30pm-10pm

Sunday 8 October

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race.
RuPaul's Drag Race sashays into London.

ROYAL PARKS HALF: The Royal Parks Half Marathon takes runners on a route through four of the eight Royal Parks (Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park, Kensington Gardens), and closed-off roads around central London. You've missed your chance to take part this year, but why not turn up on the day to support the runners. From 9am

FAMILY RAVE: Take the kids along to Big Penny Social in Walthamstow for the Hotsy Totsy Family Rave, where the whole clan can dance together as a live DJ spins tunes. There's also face painting, and a chance to reserve a table or Sunday lunch afterwards. Aimed at children aged 8 and under, and their families. 10am-1pm

LONDON MEMORY WALK: Not quite up to tackling a half marathon (above)? Instead, sign up for the London Memory Walk, and walk either 2km or 5km through London, raising money for Alzheimer's Society. Starts and finishes at Potters Fields Park, next to Tower Bridge. From 11am

ROOFTOP BRUNCH: Fancy an indulgent Sunday breakfast? Madison has just launched its NYC-inspired rooftop brunch, featuring the likes of Belgian waffles and lobster and truffle mac & cheese. You can also go bottomless with bubbles for an extra fee. Whatever you go for, the views of St Paul's from up here are sublime. 12pm-3.30pm (Sundays, also Saturdays)

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE: RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World sashays into The O2 as part of its UK and Ireland arena tour. Bimini Bon-Boulash is the only UK queen taking part in the show, which is described as the "largest drag show on Earth" and also stars Jaida Essence Hall, Aquaria, Vanessa Vanjie, Angeria, Bosco, Daya Betty, Kandy Muse and Ginger Minj. 7.30pm

PINK FLOYD EXPERIENCE: For one night only, the Dominion Theatre hosts the UK Pink Floyd Experience, a tribute to the legendary band, celebrating 50 years since The Dark Side of the Moon album was released. 7.30pm

Good cause of the week

A foodbank volunteer in green clothes
Image Hackney Foodbank

Hackney Foodbank needs your help. Each month, they distribute around 14 tonnes of food to people in crisis. And it's getting tougher. Demand is up 70 percent, while food donations are down 23 per cent. They're already feeding an average of 650 people per week, and the high cost of fuel will bring huge extra pressures come winter. The team are working flat out but need more donations. You can donate food at many locations across the borough (including supermarkets), or consider making a money donation either as a one-off or monthly donation. Any cash will be used to buy food for those who need it. Alternatively, give up a little time to join the foodbank's team of volunteers.

Of course, what's true for Hackney is also true across the other 31 boroughs, so do keep an eye out for your local food bank donation spots, wherever you are.