The days might be getting shorter and the weather might be taking a turn for the worse, but London doesn’t slow down in October. The sun is fast disappearing, but there are plenty of activities and events scheduled throughout the month, although most of them have by now moved indoors.
You can find food and drink festivals across London during October, from the London Restaurant Festival to London Cocktail Week, while the British Film Institute holds its annual film festival this month. Of course, you can’t forget Halloween, and the city also goes all out for the German Oktoberfest too.
If you do want to get outside, then London’s parks are resplendent in their autumnal shades of red, brown and orange, and it’s a beautiful time of the year to explore – just remember to take a jumper and a raincoat along.
To inspire your trip to the capital, here’s our complete guide to visiting London in October.
The Weather in London in October
Summer is officially over by October, but although the weather is never the best this month, don’t let it put you off visiting the city, as there’s still so much to see and to do. The days are getting shorter and the clocks go back at the end of October, as the time shifts away from British Summer Time.
You can expect mild weather, with things turning decidedly cold through the month. There will be the odd day of sunshine, but don’t expect temperatures to be higher than the mid-20s, if you’re lucky. What you can expect is lots of rain, so be prepared with a raincoat and umbrella at all times. In the evenings you might need to start wrapping up warm too. While you can get away with a jumper during the day – as long as it’s not raining – you’ll want a big coat by the time the sun sets.
Festivals and Events in London in October
In October, there are some wonderful events and festivals scheduled across London. Locals are beginning to move inside and so most of these events are found inside too, with a huge focus on food and drink. It’s a great chance to immerse yourself in the multicultural nature of the capital, and you’ll find great food festivals and awesome film events to visit.
London Restaurant Festival
Every October, London hosts a citywide event that celebrates the enjoyment of dining out. The London Restaurant Festival is held over the entire month and sees hundreds of restaurants across the capital putting on special menus and giving big discounts to draw in the public.
You can eat out at some of the best restaurants in the city, and you’ll find great deals at some of the fanciest and most expensive venues, giving you the opportunity to delve into London’s culinary scene like never before.
London Cocktail Week
London has a big reputation when it comes to drinking, and the London Cocktail Week is a celebration of the more refined side of the city’s drinking culture. The October event will see bars across London putting on excellent deals and mixing some new and unusual cocktails, alongside the classics too.
While the festival is citywide, the hub of the action is found at the Cocktail Village, which is hosted by the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. You’ll find pop-up cocktail stands and plenty of drinking through the week here.
London Frieze is an annual festival that’s held in Regent’s Park at the start of October. It’s an international event, and through the year there are other Frieze festivals held in the likes of New York and Los Angeles too, although the one in London could be considered the best.
This is one of the biggest displays of contemporary international artwork in the world, and temporary exhibition halls are set up in the park to accommodate hundreds of different artists’ work from across the world.
British Film Institute London Film Festival
For two weeks in October, the BFI – British Film Institute – host their annual film festival in the capital. Hundreds of films are screened during the event, at many different venues across the city, including iconic locations such as Leicester Square.
The festival has a huge focus on international and foreign language films, as it aims to highlight lesser-known productions that would otherwise not make their way to the UK. It’s a great chance to see alternative documentaries and powerful films, while there are also Q&As, lectures and glamorous opening and closing ceremonies.
London Literature Festival
If you’re more of a book lover than a film lover, then don’t fear because the Southbank Centre hosts an 11-day literature festival during October. The festival features many of the world’s most renowned authors, with past speakers including such novelists as Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.
There’s a big focus on poetry too, and you’ll be able to listen to readings from top poets, including the Poet Laureate. It’s a great chance to be immersed in the literary world, and to meet likeminded people and, perhaps, your favourite writers too.
Trafalgar Day Parade
Trafalgar Day is the annual British celebration of Admiral Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. On the Sunday closest to the anniversary a parade is held in Trafalgar Square, where you can see the armed forces and other institutions marching.
It’s a decidedly British celebration and a great chance to be patriotic or to learn more about Britain’s quirky traditions.
Also held in Trafalgar Square, the annual Diwali Festival is a rather more international event and one that is a testament to the modern, multicultural nature of London. Thousands of people fill the square at the end of October, as London’s Asian community celebrate one of the biggest events on the calendar.
Diwali is a celebration of light, so you can expect this to be a joyous occasion, including shows, cultural performances and live music alongside great food, that continue late into the night.
Africa on the Square
Africa on the Square is a great event that’s also held in Trafalgar Square in October. For one day, the iconic London square is transported across continents, as a celebration of African culture and heritage is held here by local communities.
It’s another great tribute to London’s multiculturalism, and you’ll find an array of different stalls and stages set up across the square that will give you a real insight into the wide variety of African people who have moved to the city over the years. There will be cultural displays of dance and music, alongside some excellent food from across the continent.
Tequila and Mezcal Fest
Another great international event that’s held in London during October is the increasingly popular Tequila and Mezcal Fest. Held over a weekend in October for the last few years, the festival is going from strength to strength, as Londoners become more enamoured with Tequila, Mezcal, and Mexican culture and food.
There will be plenty of tequila and Mezcal to sample, as well as an insight into Mexican culture, and plenty of after-parties too.
While Oktoberfest might be a traditional German festival, London, with its international flair and love of beer has in recent years been hosting its own version in the city. From the end of September into the first week of October, you’ll find bars and pubs across London putting on deals and German-themed nights, but the real highlight is the huge event that’s held at Finsbury Park.
There’s an enormous recreation of a German beer tent, offering you the chance to drink great beer and enjoy great food in an authentic Bavarian setup.
The 31 October is Halloween, and the city goes all out to celebrate this ghoulish tradition. You’ll find plenty of events happening in the week leading up to Halloween, while the day itself is usually celebrated with fancy dress parties.
You can take ghost tours through the capital, find special events being held at the London Dungeon and Tower of London, and enjoy screenings of horror movies at local cinemas.
Things to See and Do in London in October
As well as all these excellent events and festivals, there’s much more to see in London throughout October too. It’s a great time to visit the museums and galleries, as they begin to put on special exhibitions, while if you love the outdoors you can enjoy the autumn scenery in one of London’s many parks.
With Halloween at the end of the month, there couldn’t be a better time to visit the London Dungeon than October. As well as all the regular spooky rides and attractions found here, adults can visit the popular Dungeon Lates, when the gates open after dark
As well as exploring the dungeons, you have the chance to enjoy dungeon-themed cocktails and visit a pub frequented by Jack the Ripper. It’s an unusual evening out, and one that will terrify and enthral you in equal measure.
The Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is one of the best history museums in London, and entrance is totally free. October usually sees the museum putting on different exhibits and displays, such as artistic poppy memorials in the lead-up to Remembrance Day Sunday in early November.
You can learn more about the wars fought by Britain and the Empire across the world, and learn more about the armed forces too.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is a great London institution that displays some of the finest portraiture from across the world, including photography and artistic works, both historic and contemporary.
October is a great time to call in, not only to escape the cold weather but because there are some intriguing exhibitions on, culminating in the incredibly prestigious BP Portrait Awards, which are held here. The exhibition showcasing the winners and contenders usually runs until the end of the month, so get in now to see some of the most captivating portraits in the capital.
Six Days of Cycling
London hosts a unique cycling event in October, as the six-day cycling series heads to the capital for epic racing. This is track cycling at its best, as teams of two compete for six days straight – yes, for six days – as they race all through the day and the night to be crowned champions.
It’s more than just a cycling event though, as the arena has a party-like atmosphere with DJs playing loud music over six days while the athletes compete on the track. It’s an incredible sporting event to watch, and quite unlike anything else you might see in London in October.
London Ice Rinks
It might only be October but already the city is beginning to gear up for the festive season, which begins with the opening of London’s iconic outdoor ice-skating rinks. While you might associate these with Christmas, by the last week of October many of the most famous ones are already ready for business and you can get a head start on the crowds by skating at the end of the month.
There are ice rinks across the capital, with some of the most well known being found at the Natural History Museum, Oxford Street, and Canary Wharf. It might seem early, but it’s a lot of fun!
Autumn in London’s Parks
The weather might be colder than it has been in previous months, but embrace autumn in London by visiting one of the city’s many great outdoor parks. As summer ends, the trees begin to change from green to shades of red, orange and brown, creating beautifully colourful scenes across the capital, before they shed completely come winter time.
There are some wonderful parks to choose from to catch the autumn scenes, from Richmond Park in the suburbs, which echoes to the sounds of deer rutting, to Hyde Park in the centre.
If you’re planning a trip to London during October, check out Premium Tours’ great range of London tours.