Discover activities and events in London this Autumn, from picturesque nature walks to bustling art fairs. Explore our guide to the perfect autumnal day out.
Every year, somehow, autumn sneaks up on the city. One day, evenings feel endless and filled with light right up to the edge of night, and the next it’s suddenly getting dark at half seven. A sure sign that autumn has arrived. Still, this year London is being treated to prolonged pleasant weather with days happily playing summer still while rain is, magically, somewhat at bay. It’s a beautiful time of year. A walk through any park shows yellows, oranges, and browns trying to displace the green.
It’s possibly the best time of year to visit the city or appreciate what it has to offer if you already reside here. The streets are noticeably emptier – especially around the most popular landmarks, school is back in session, and it’s just that little bit easier to get a reservation at some of the most coveted restaurants. Many of the activities in autumn are simply more pleasant than during the summer months.
In autumn, the charm of the city abounds. There’s plenty to do whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a resident looking to try something new. Join us to explore the notable autumn activities in London to enjoy alone, with friends, a partner, or the whole family.
London’s Autumn Events
While summer seems like the busiest season in London – and there’s always a lot to do – autumn is a close second, especially for lovers of food, culture, and nature.
Art and culture in London
Every October, The Regent’s Park plays host to Frieze London, a contemporary art fair that was founded in 2003. This year, it’s on from the 11th to the 15th of October. The art fair is one of the most influential fairs globally and its focus is solely on contemporary and living artists. This year, the fair will mark its 20th anniversary with a special programme. Every year, Frieze London shines a spotlight on the most exciting emerging and established artists working today. Within walking distance, you can also visit Frieze Masters where the relationships between historical and contemporary art is explored. Here, you’ll see work made before the year 2000. Frieze Sculpture is the fairs’ free counterpart and can be viewed in the Regent’s Park English Gardens where outdoor artworks can be viewed by anyone. Every year, the Frieze fairs attract around 60,000 people including art professionals, art novices, and art enthusiasts.
The Royal Academy is worth visiting any time of the year. It’s home to Britain’s longest established art school and much of its collection is always on display. The building itself deserves to be seen; the 17th-mansion on Piccadilly was recently linked with the 19th-century former university building allowing visitors to wander freely between the two. Stop in to see the permanent collection or to enjoy a coffee surrounded by art and architecture. Currently, the Royal Academy has a few temporary exhibitions like ‘Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec’, and a major exhibition of Marina Abramovic’s work presenting key moments from the artist’s 50-year spanning career of performances, video, sculpture, and installation.
If that’s not enough art, there are multiple other galleries worth a visit, including private and public ones. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are both conveniently located around Trafalgar Square while a little further afield in Millbank, in the City of Westminster, you will find Tate Britain. Just a stone’s throw from The Ritz you’ll also find galleries like Thaddeus Ropac, Gagosian Gallery (on Grosvenor Hill), Halcyon Gallery, and Hauser & Wirth; all of these display modern, contemporary, and fine art. Anyone with an interest in antiques should make a stop at the Mayfair Gallery on South Audley Street which displays a wide array of 19th century art and furnishings.
Shopping in London
There’s no better way to mark the start of a new season than with a spot of shopping. Make your way to Saville Row where a plethora of exclusive tailors are on hand to create truly bespoke garments. The stores on Savile Row are only let out to businesses that continue the tradition of hand-tailoring. Only a few steps away, you’ll find the opulent Burlington Arcade featuring 46 boutiques, many of which are world exclusive, like the Manolo Blahnik men’s shoe boutique. In the Arcade, you’ll find an edited selection of designer brands offering cashmere, leather goods, fragrances, and antiques alongside exquisite jewellery and watches. Your shopping options are vast as the Mayfair area is globally-renowned for its selection of designer stores, all set in a historic London area.
Food and drink events in London
London is one of the world’s most exciting cities when it comes to food. Chefs from all over the globe have made the city their home, bringing with them the very best tastes of Italy, Japan, Mexico, France, Spain, Turkey, Peru, and many, many more. The restaurant scene in London is diverse and impossible to define, with some restaurants working to establish their style combined with the presence of culinary stalwarts that have perfected their craft over decades, like The Ritz Restaurant.
One way to celebrate the creme de la creme that London restaurants have to offer is by attending the autumn edition of the London Restaurant Festival. The festival was established 15 years ago as a way to uplift and celebrate the city’s food and drink scene with a mix of masterclasses, special dinners and dishes, and restaurant tours popping up city-wide. This year, it officially starts on the 30th of September, running throughout the month of October. The celebration will begin with a special evening at Market Halls Oxford Street, a street-food hotspot that brings together multiple global flavours under one roof. Restaurant tours, offered as part of the festival, are a great way to get a taste for a selection of restaurants in different areas of London. The first one is the Islington tour that will visit the neighbourhood’s tapas spots. Next is the Belgravia tour which will showcase a few meat-centric locations. The final tour is of the up-and-coming Kings Cross food scene where the food will have a contemporary flair.
It’s not just food that’s getting a dedicated festival this autumn – cocktail lovers should mark the 12th to the 22nd of October for London Cocktail Week. Yes, a whole week dedicated to the art and craft of cocktail making, showcasing classics and mixology experiments alike. Launched in 2010, it’s the world’s original Cocktail Week, billing London as the ‘cocktail capital of the world’. The celebration takes across the best bars in the city and it will see them create special ‘signature’ cocktails to mark the occasion. There will also be a full schedule of one-off events, masterclasses, immersive pop-ups, special menus, and international takeovers.
You can taste the magic and craft of mixology any week at The Ritz’s own Rivoli Bar where our mixologists have been working on a new and seasonal cocktail menu that’s sure to impress. Come and experience one of the new tipples in the bar’s sumptuous surroundings this autumn to see what our master bartenders have concocted. Or you can opt for something classic, which we will always gladly make for you. The design of The Rivoli Bar is based on the Orient Express; expect to be enveloped in rich tones of gold, red velvet, and luxurious shine.
Autumnal parks and nature in London
One of the beauties of this season in the city is seeing how different it looks when the sun sits lower in its zenith and the vegetation has taken on that golden-orange hue. Nowhere is this better to observe than in one of London’s green spaces. Visitors are spoiled for choice since London was named Europe’s greenest city in 2022, boasting over 3,000 parks and gardens.
Perhaps London’s most famous park is Hyde Park. Visit for the acres of lush land and the Serpentine Lake, which is perfect for a stroll around or you can even opt for a pedalo ride. Inside the park, you’ll also find the Serpentine Gallery should you wish to combine a day out in nature with something cultural too.
Anyone staying at The Ritz will be familiar with the beauty of The Green Park, the park that our suites lookout on, as if a private garden. It’s always a beautiful option for a stroll, especially after breakfast and at lunch.
The Regent’s Park may already be on your radar if you are planning to visit the Frieze fairs, but it is also a must-visit for the views on display. The park has two different gardens, Queen Mary’s Gardens and Avenue Gardens, full of floral displays that highlight historic fountains and pretty planters, plus a lovely lake. Keen and amateur ornithologists should be on the lookout for the park’s 120 species of birds. There is also a population of hedgehogs and 5,000 varieties of tree.
A little further afield from The Ritz is London’s Richmond Park. Though less than an hour away from Mayfair, stepping foot there feels like somewhere entirely new. The open golden woodland sees fallow and red deer populations roam freely at all times of the day. Landscape of trees and low grasses makes way to wild wetlands where even more wildlife can be spotted. It’s a big park so it’s worth giving yourself a good amount of time to take everything in. Please refer to our informative guide to London’s best parks for more inspiration.
One of London’s most spectacular autumnal outdoor activities is Bonfire Night. In 1605, Guy Fawkes hatched and failed to execute the Gunpowder Plot, and unwittingly started a tradition that’s known in Great Britain as Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night. It’s celebrated on the 5th of November every year and marked with spectacular firework displays. In London, you can see the displays in a few different areas including Alexandra Palace and Richmond Park.
Autumn celebrations at The Ritz
Autumn is also in full swing at The Ritz, especially in our Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant where expert chefs have been carefully redesigning the menu in step with the season’s change. Our Executive Chef, John Williams MBE, is meticulous about using only the best seasonal British ingredients for a true taste of seasonal dining. The restaurant is open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its lavish interiors – ornate furniture and a classic decor – make it the ideal spot for autumn celebrations. While dining you’ll experience Escoffier-inspired cuisine that balances on the line between food and art. You have a choice of menus including our signature five or seven-course Epicurean Journey tasting menus. What’s more, every Friday and Saturday you can experience dancing alongside your dining experience, all while accompanied by live music at ‘Live at The Ritz’, a unique evening filled with glamour from a bygone era.
Sunday lunch at The Ritz is a unique experience and might be one of the best in the whole of London. Though steeped in tradition, the dishes take on classic and contemporary influences which are interpreted through organic, seasonal experiences. Choose from an à la carte menu option or entrust your lunchtime experience to a set menu, of which there are a few exquisite options. The Ritz Restaurant offers an experience of dishes under the category of ‘Arts De La Table’, a timeless dining tradition of table-side service that pays homage to classic dishes and displays the perfect harmony between the kitchen and service. Why not try dishes like Hay Aged Bresse Duck with Cassis and Almond or Beef Wellington with Hen of the Wood and Périgord Truffle to see how they’re finished table-side. For a complete gourmand experience, opt for the wine pairing of carefully selected wines that will complement and enhance every course.
Whether you’re visiting London for the first time, returning again, or exploring your own city, autumn is an undoubtedly magical time to experience everything that’s on offer. It’s the perfect season for long walks in the city’s numerous and extensive parks and gardens, soaking up culture in museums and galleries and, of course, tasting the best of the season’s food on offer.