London’s Must-See Cultural Events

London’s cultural calendar is packed full of cool events this autumn, from blockbuster art shows to brand-new gallery openings. Here are the best of the bunch for budgets of all kinds.

The Gherkin - Photo Credit: Clive Totman/VisitEngland
Photo Credit: Clive Totman/VisitEngland

1.  Open House London

Where: Various locations

When: September 17 & 18, 2016

How much? Free

This annual event lets visitors snoop around some of London’s finest buildings including those not normally open to the public. More than 700 buildings open their doors to visitors as part of a weekend celebration of architecture and design. All admissions are free but you’ll need to pre-book to enter some of the most popular buildings. Highlights for 2016 include the Gherkin, Brixton Windmill, City Hall and a tour of the Emirates Airline including a ride on the cable car. Alongside big-name buildings, you’ll also be able to explore stunning house renovations, architecture studios and government offices.

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Bjork Digital at Somerset House - Photo credit: Nick Knight/Somerset House Press Office
Photo credit: Nick Knight/Somerset House Press Office

2.  Björk Digital

Where: Somerset House

When: September 1-October 23, 2016

How much? £15

This otherworldly exhibition from the Icelandic icon brings together music, art and virtual technology. Set to tour Europe after debuting at Somerset House, this immersive show takes visitors to the highlands of Iceland, into inner space and even inside the singer’s mouth via a series of virtual reality videos. The exhibition features four new VR videos from Björk’s acclaimed album, Vulnicura, plus custom-made musical instruments and innovative apps.

The Saatchi Gallery, London - Photo credit: Laura Porter
Photo credit: Laura Porter

3.  London Fashion Weekend

Where: Saatchi Gallery

When: September 22-25, 2016

How much? £16

If you haven’t scored a ticket for London Fashion Week (September 16-20), take a seat on the ‘frow’ atLondon Fashion Weekend instead. This fabulous event takes over the Saatchi Galley in west London and the line up features runway shows, pop-up shops, hair and beauty salons, panel discussions and talks from top fashion editors and stylists. SIBLING, J.JS Lee and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi will showcase their AW16 collections this year.

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National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square - Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery
Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery

4.  Picasso Portraits

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: October 6, 2016-February 5, 2017

How much? £17

This major exhibition features over 80 artworks portraying Picasso’s family, friends and lovers including posed portraits, witty caricatures, classic drawings and pieces inspired by Velazquez and Rembrandt. Many of the masterpieces are on loan from international institutions and are being displayed in the U.K. for the first time. It’s the first large-scale exhibition devoted to his portraits since the Picasso and Portraiture show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1996.

Science Museum, London - Photo credit: Visit London/britainonview
Photo credit: Visit London/britainonview

5.  Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery

Where: The Science Museum

When: From October 12, 2016

How much? £8 (£6 children 4-16; free for under 3s)

This brand-new interactive gallery aims to bring science to life through a series of hands-on exhibitions and live demonstration areas to showcase experiments about explosions and rockets. The space will feature a giant orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system) and seven different zones covering subjects like sound and light. Visitors will be able to request live experiments at the Chemistry Bar and test out interactive sound displays.

Design Museum - Photo credit: Alex Morris Visualisation
Rendering of the Design Museum’s top floor. Photo credit: Alex Morris Visualisation

6.  London Design Museum

Where: Kensington High Street

When: From November 24, 2016

How much? Free to view the permanent collection. Some exhibitions may incur an additional fee

The brand-new Design Museum will open its stylish doors at the end of November following an £83 million refurbishment of the Commonwealth Institute building on Kensington High Street. It will be three times the size of its current home in Shad Thames on the South Bank and will offer free entry to its permanent collection which celebrates contemporary design, from architecture and fashion to graphics and products.

Tate Britain at Night, London - Photo credit: Visit London/britainonview
Tate Britain at Night. Photo credit: Visit London/britainonview

7.  Museums at Night

Where: Various locations

When: October 27-29, 2016

How much? Many venues are free to enter but some special events incur an additional fee

Explore some of London’s top museums after dark at this bi-annual event that encourages attractions to throw open their doors to showcase their treasures in quirky ways. Highlights for 2016 include a Halloween tour of the Charles Dickens Museum, a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the Museum of the Order of St John and Regency food demonstrations at Keats House.

School of Rock the Musical - Photo credit: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images
Photo credit: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

8.  School of Rock the Musical

Where: New London Theatre, Drury Lane

When: From October 24, 2016

How much? From £30

Based on the hit film of 2003, School of Rock the Musical hits London’s West End in October direct from a successful run on Broadway. The Tony nominated musical features songs by Andrew Llyod Webber and tells the story of wannabe rock star Dewey Finn’s transformation of a class of straight-A students into an ear-splitting rock band.

Reproduced with kind permission from Rachel Erdos’ blog on About London: