London tourist: Nightlife edition
September 14, 2016 3:22 PM   Subscribe

We are a couple in mid 20s first time visiting London for 6 nights (Sept 18 - 24) and looking for recommendations for things to do in the evenings. More details below the fold.

We are traveling to London and have our mornings and afternoons planned out but have left things up in the air for evenings. Looking for recommendations for things to do after dinner that take into account the following:

1) No pubs/clubs/restaurant recommendations please
2) We are open to almost all other experiences we can enjoy as first time visitors (any particular theater/show to watch, neighborhoods to walk around in the evenings, etc.)
3) Any specific events/festivals happening during our time there
4) Popular tourist destinations that are better to visit at night as opposed to during the daylight hours

posted by Danniman to Travel & Transportation around London, England (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is a tough one because a good majority of attractions in London close in the evenings. However, I've heard that the evening views from the London Eye are fantastic (weather permitting), and evening lines are fairly short. The London Eye closes at 8:30pm in September.

Maybe Les Miserables? Evening showings start at 7:30pm. The theater is close to Chinatown.

My boyfriend and I enjoyed just walking along the Thames in the evening, but admittedly we spent much of our evenings in London playing card games :P
posted by curagea at 3:52 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

London Design Festival
Design Junction is super cool.
Late Museums
Donmar Warehouse (you'll have to queue for tickets)
Prince Charles has second-run movies and late night film festivals
Park Nights

Billingsgate Market (if 4am counts as night and you like fish)
Smithfield Market (if 2am counts as night and you like meat)
New Covent Garden Market (midnight if you like vegetables; 4am if you like flowers)

In terms of neighbourhoods at night, they're all interesting... here's a few routes:

West London
Sloane Square > Chelsea > South Kensington > Hyde Park (open late) > Notting Hill

East London
Shoreditch > up Kingsland Road > Stoke Newington

North London
Camden Town > Kentish Town > Highgate Road

South Bank
Borough > Bermondsey Street (south end) > London Bridge > Thames path > Waterloo
posted by nickrussell at 4:20 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Catch something at the Royal National Theatre!
posted by thomas j wise at 4:26 PM on September 14, 2016

I really enjoyed the London Walks I took. Some evening walks do hit a pub, so read the description.
posted by Duffington at 4:34 PM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Shows at the Globe start at 7:30 PM. I'm still mad they gave me Lipton tea at the cafe. Brits don't actually drink that stuff do they?
posted by cnc at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you can see good theatre, do it: try the Royal Shakespeare Company or, as cnc mentions, Shakespeare's Globe. I've never really been into theatre---I keep trying more out of a desire to participate in the larger cultural conversation than anything else---and I was blown away by the Globe's Macbeth. It was tremendous. There's nothing like it in LA, where I live (and I keep asking knowledgeable friends were to go for good theatre: they have no answer).
posted by golwengaud at 5:37 PM on September 14, 2016

You could do worse than The Barber of Seville at the Royal Opera.
posted by rhizome at 1:09 AM on September 15, 2016

Catford Free Film Festival is running while you're in London, if you don't mind travelling to South London.
posted by Polychrome at 6:08 AM on September 15, 2016

Check out a film with Nomad Cinema - screened in different cool London locations every showing.
posted by oneaday at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2016

Silent Night at Dennis Severs' House?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 9:26 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

A couple of my favourite experiences in London last year were random talks!

I found the two I went to by looking at bookstores for specific interests I was interested in, and at Time Out London, and looked at what was on when, and then arranged my days around those things so I would be in the right area in plenty of time even if I misjudged how long it took me to get somewhere.

(The easier one to explain was a presentation on the Egyptology in the Tom Baker Doctor Who episode "Pyramid of Mars", in the Petrie Museum, with occasional bits of "And if you wander over to that case after the talk, you'll see..." which was awesome. And totally not something I could do at home in the same way.)

One thing I'd recommend is considering how complex it will be to get home after evening things: I found I was really happy that the two things I went to were within blocks of my hotel (I was staying near the British Museum) and I didn't have to think about which bit of Tube I needed, or how to get home, or that it took very long, because by that point in the day my feet hurt and I was out of ability to cope with the unexpected. Alternating more complex things out with a night in or that's very low-demand in terms of logistics was a smart decision on my part, personally.

I also recommend the London Walks folks.
posted by modernhypatia at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2016

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