By: Andrea Jane Pearce

The temperature is dropping, the days are getting shorter and the leaves are turning orange. Autumn has arrived in London but that’s no excuse to hibernate indoors as it has brought with it some exceptional festivals, exhibitions and events! Read on to find out more about all the fantastic things happening in London this October.

CHIHULY: REFLECTIONS ON NATURE

UNTIL SUNDAY 27 OCTOBER 2019

The capital’s major celebration of Seattle-based glass artist Dale Chihuly is coming to an end so make sure to squeeze in a visit to Kew Gardens before the last Sunday of the month to see his masterpieces in person.

London’s most famous botanical garden is an exquisite backdrop to Chihuly’s colourful sculptures, many of which are being shown in the UK for the first time. The brilliant installations—from the celestial Sapphire Star to the Chartreuse Hornet Polyvitro Chandelier—transform the Gardens into a contemporary outdoor gallery space where art and nature intertwine. Visit during the day or snatch up last-minute tickets to Chihuly Nights to view the dazzling sculptures in a different light. Not only will there be plenty of food and drink options to see you through the evening but your wander around the artwork will be accompanied by beautiful music commissioned by Guest Artists.

Kew Gardens, TW9 3AE | Website 

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

WEDNESDAY 2 – SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER 2019

One of the most important events in any cinephile’s calendar—the BFI London Film Festival—makes its return at the beginning of the month, boasting an impressive programme of exciting and innovative new works for the big screen.

Whether you’re keen to see the latest masterpiece from an established director or you want to discover new filmmaking talent from across the world, the 63rd edition of the annual film festival is the perfect opportunity to get a closer look at the films shaping our cinematic landscape. Highlights include the European premiere of Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Dreamwork’s latest animated tale, Abominable and Oscar-nominated Feras Fayyad’s documentary, The Cave, which follows the work of the extraordinary staff in one of Syria’s underground hospitals. Screenings of the latest and greatest films are taking place across the capital and the festival even has its own temporary, purpose-built venue—Embankment Garden Cinema—located in the heart of Victoria Embankment Gardens and overlooking the River Thames. As well as the unmissable Galas and special presentations there are plenty of Screen Talks with acclaimed filmmakers, family events and even DJ nights to keep you busy over this twelve-day showcase of cinematic excellence.

Various locationsWebsite

Interested in film? Click here to read about Taj 51 Buckingham Gate’s glamorous Cinema Suite, designed by acclaimed Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee in tribute to the history of film and motion pictures across the globe.

DISCOVER DOGS

SATURDAY 12 – SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER 2019

Perfect for dog lovers and prospective owners alike, Discover Dogs—The Kennel Club’s annual celebration of our canine companions—gives visitors the opportunity to meet and greet 3,000 dogs from over 200 breeds, from Labrador Retrievers to Bassett Hounds. Learn all about their distinctive personalities and traits then head to the Main Ring to see them take part in world-class arena displays and competitions. Young visitors are invited to take part in a special obstacle course with a ready trained dog at the Young Kennel Club (YKC) Ring and can enjoy face painting, competitions and arts and crafts at the event’s dedicated Kids Zone. Whatever you do, don’t forget to browse the shopping stands on your way out for a gift to take home for your own furry friend!

ExCeL Centre, E16 1XL | Website

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER 2019 – SUNDAY 31 MAY 2020

From a shot of a deadly encounter between a leopard seal and a Gentoo penguin to a wistful image of a brown-throated three-toed sloth resting in a leafy canopy, the fifty-fifth Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition offers an unwavering look at the natural world, immersing you in its breath-taking beauty and diversity. The competition’s winning entries, exhibited on stunning lightbox displays, tell important stories about our planet and the species inhabiting it in this time of environmental turmoil. Visit the Natural History Museum this October to see these incredible photos in person and learn more about the fragility of wildlife and complexity of animal behaviour.

Natural History Museum, SW7 5BD | Website

BRIDGET RILEY EXHIBITION

WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2019 – SUNDAY 26 JANUARY 2020

Following a hugely successful exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery in January 2018, Bridget Riley’s psychedelic masterpieces are making a triumphant return to the capital this autumn accompanied by her early figurative works and a collection of rarely seen drawings, studies and preparatory materials.

Developed in close collaboration with Riley—and in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland—the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition will span seven decades of the prolific artist’s work, giving visitors the opportunity to take a closer look at the pivotal moments in her incredible career and learn more about her working methods. As well as the iconic black-and-white paintings of the 1960s that shot Bridget Riley into the spotlight, the exhibition will feature her early representational paintings, large-scale wall paintings made specifically for the gallery and her only three-dimensional piece, Continuum.

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX | Website

PUMPKIN CARVING AND HALLOWEEN TOURS AT FORTNUM & MASON

SATURDAY 26 – SUNDAY 27 OCTOBER 2019 (CHILDREN’S PUMPKIN CARVING) & THURSDAY 31 OCTOBER 2019 (ADULTS’ HALLOWEEN TOUR)

There are few destinations better for getting into the Halloween spirit than Fortnum and Mason, home to London’s tastiest treats and spookiest ghost stories.

Join archivist Dr. Andrea Tanner on All Hallows’ Eve for a creepy edition of the ever-popular Delicious History tasting tours. Steady your nerves with a Bloody Mary on arrival before setting off on an exploration of the famous—and supposedly haunted—Piccadilly store, with Dr Tanner filling you in on all the eerie occurrences in Fortnum’s 300-year-old history along the way.

Meanwhile, younger visitors can put their knife skills to the test at Fortnum’s annual Pumpkin Carving event. They’ll be able to craft their own jack-o-lantern under the watchful eye of a pumpkin expert and may even win a prize if their creation is the creepiest in the class. Meet them afterwards and head to The Parlour for a scarily scrumptious Fortnum’s snack as a reward for all their hard work.

Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER | Website