Autumn – a time of festivals, explorations – and walking! As the season begins to change and children go back to school, thoughts inevitably turn to (or try to avoid) talk of Christmas. There is though, plenty to enjoy in these intervening months. So, I am kicking off our list of 6 best things to do in the City this Autumn with an event that has been running with huge success for a number of years:
1. Open House Festival
Organised by Open City, the aim is to make London and its architecture more open, accessible, and equitable. Each year many places which are normally closed to the public open their doors and welcome visitors, revealing the hidden gems within. This year it runs for 2 weeks from Thursday 8th September to Wednesday 21st September. There are also numerous free walks which you can book online and Six In the City will be taking part once again in support of this great festival. We’ll be offering the Queens Walk, Queer City, River Walk, Immigrant London, Medieval London and Slavery and the City, as well as helping to guide at the Old Deanery in the City. Check out the Open House Festival website for more details.
2. Sculpture in the City
For art lovers, the City of London has its own wonderful Guildhall Art Gallery, but there is also a wealth of art to be found on the city streets. For the City of London’s annual Sculpture in the City event you’ll find eleven new pieces joining the seven still on show from last year. The event is on now and runs until Spring 2023. Download the map available online and you can locate the sculptures yourself. Even better though, there are free guided walks available as part of Sculpture Week London from the 13th – 18th September, and our very own Six in the City guide Courtney Plank will be taking part.
Here’s a video of the sculpture which was part of last year’s Sculpture in the City, some of which also feature in this year’s event.
3. The World Reimagined
A new and thought-provoking street exhibition, The World Reimagined is a national project exploring the history, legacy, and future of the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans. A topic we talk about on our Slavery and the City walk. There are 10 trails across the country, with one in the City of London, the heart of the financial centre of Great Britain, which has its own controversial legacy connected to slavery. The trail is made up of individual globes created by a variety of artists.
The founder Artist Yinka Shonibare believes that art has the power to be transformative and to inspire. The exhibition ends on the 31st of October. You’ll find more information on the link below and you can see all the globes in our recent Insta post
4. Totally Thames
The river has been the lifeblood of the City of London. It was because of the Thames that the Romans chose what became Londinium for its trading port. The Thames festival was started in 1998 and, until 2012 ran a programme of events which took place largely between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge. This year there is even more to enjoy including a programme of street art, dance sessions and riverside crafts. But the highlight no doubt will be a celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which takes place on Saturday 24th September from 7.15pm-9pm. A flotilla of over 150 boats will take part including the Queens barge, Gloriana. It begins in Chelsea and ends at Tower Bridge. The boats will be illuminated with light, as will the bridges with their own special light displays. The event itself is called Reflections. For more details of the Totally Thames festival which runs from 1st to 30th September check out their website.
5. Party Time!
The City of London is throwing a party on the 15th of October. The Destination City Street Festival will transform the streets with immersive theatre featuring over 100 performers, carnival inspired fairs at the Guildhall and the Museum of London, plus a massive treasure hunt! It’s all part of a plan to regenerate the streets and redefine the City of London post pandemic. I wonder if the streets will be paved with gold…
6. The Lord Mayor’s Show
The Lord Mayor of the City of London is one of the oldest continuously elected civic offices. There has been a lord Mayor since 1189 although it was in 1215 that King John granted a Royal Charter that allowed the City to choose its own Mayor every year. There was one condition – that every year the newly elected Mayor would be required to travel to Westminster and swear an oath oath of loyalty to the King – and this is how the Lord Mayor’s Show began. Today he travels from the Guildhall via St Paul’s to the Royal Courts of Justice and then back to Mansion House. It is a grand affair and he travel in style in his gold coach. There are thousands of participants in the show, including horses and musicians. This year it takes place on the 12th November. The Lord Mayor is the leader of the City Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, and the main function of the role is to be an ambassador for the City and to promote the City abroad. He is sworn in on the 2nd Friday in November in a time-honoured ritual known as the Silent Ceremony, so called because not a word is uttered throughout until the new Lord Mayor makes his oath. If you’d like to attend, you can apply for tickets from the City Corporation website. In the afternoon free walks are provided by City guides – now that’s definitely worth checking out.
Here’s our video of the Lord Mayor’s show in 2021
So, as you can see there’s plenty of action going on in the city this Autumn. Look out too for London Guiding Day and Black History Month coming up in October. Get ready for festivals, fun – and walks!