A Curated Guide to Autumn in London, 2019

“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s that wistfully-magical time of year again, when the streets of London are transformed into a golden mosaic of oranges and yellows, peppered with burnished red autumn leaves. The city is flushed by an amber glow and it’s the simplest things, which bring the greatest joys – be it the cosy comfort of a soul-stirring soup or the gratifying-crunch of fall foliage beneath your feet!

As tempting as it is, to spend an evening in – enjoying all those hyggefied touches to your home – chances are that you’ll be out and about on the town. Truly, there’s quite a lot to look forward to this autumn…

Walks to Remember

… Starting with autumnal ambles through London’s picturesque parks!

The rustic meadows and woodlands of Hampstead Health are particularly inviting, braced as they are with a salubriously-fresh and earthy air. The sweet Spanish chestnuts speckled across the avenues of Greenwich Park epitomise the flavour of the season; while a hybrid strawberry tree is a highlight at Battersea Park, cloaked with a red bark and sheathed by fruit and white flowers.

The plethora of flora and fiery foliage at Kew Gardens are always absurdly-enchanting, as are the avenues set across sprawling Hyde Park, canopied by the shifting hues of beeches, limes and chestnut trees!

Art Attack!

The art event of the year, Frieze, returns to Regents Park this year, headlined by an awe-inspiring line-up of artworks from leading galleries from across the world.

Set across two titanic tents, Frieze Masters is an ode to Past Masters; while Frieze London spotlights cutting-edge contemporary art. Look out for the new themed section this year, Woven, which seeks to explore the intricate entanglements between textiles, weaving and legacies of colonialism. [3 – 6 October | https://frieze.com/fairs/frieze-london]

Frieze Week also coincides with PAD – the hopelessly chic fair in Berkeley Square showcasing a heady cocktail of modern art, photography, glass and ceramics, fine art and jewellery. Brush shoulders with the world’s leading collectors, interior designers, art consultants and experts, as you soak in the dazzling brilliance around you! [30 Sep – 6 Oct | https://www.pad-fairs.com/london/en/]

As for the must-visit exhibits this season, Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey has transformed Tate Britain’s galleries with a life-size installation of a motorway bridge, setting the scene for a new audio-play inspired by his own pre-adolescent experiences, as well as folklore and stories of changelings and “fairy raids.” The theatrical results are electric. [Until 5 January 2020, Tate Britain]

Since you’re at Tate Britain, you may as well as peek in on one of the most-talked about exhibitions this year, William Blake. The radical personality counted painting, print-making and poetry among his multitude of talents, channelling his personal struggles and convictions in a time of political terror and oppression. With over 300 of his original works on display, the new exhibit shines a light on some of the most iconic images and masterpieces from British art history. [Until 2 February 2020, Tate Britain]

Meanwhile Hayward Gallery will soon celebrate one of the U.K.’s greatest living artists, Bridget Riley, with a retrospective of her hypnotic black-and-white paintings from the 60’s, alongside colossal canvasses in colour, early figurative works and recent wall paintings. [23 Oct 2019 – 26 Jan 2020]

The triumphs of the British art scene continue with sculptor Antony Gormley’s series of experiential installations at The Royal Academy, featuring use of industrial and elemental materials (including iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater and clay). Highlights include Clearing VII – an immersive ‘drawing in space’ made with endless kilometres of coiled aluminium, which craft a path for visitors to find their way through! Meanwhile you’ll find another of The R.A.’s halls crowded with 24  life-size cast-iron figures suspended from the floor and ceiling,  challenging our perception of which way is up! [21 Sep – 3 Dec, 2019]

On The Foodie Front

From an all-day brasserie channelling the exuberant 60’s glamour of Paris in Soho (led by a restaurateur who’s worked with the Costes brothers in Paris and Casa Cruz London), to a restaurant built on a zero-waste ethos – keenly-anticipated openings are in no short supply. #WatchThisSpace for more detail.

A key trend this season brings the thrill of outdoor markets in, with a new crop of food halls and indoor food markets popping up all over the city.

Housed in an ex-banana warehouse, Seven Dials Market (neighbouring Neal’s Yard) promises a delicious blast of fun with it’s foodie line-up featuring the world’s first cheese conveyor belt. That’s right. Think 40m of expertly-chosen cheese pairings jubilantly making the rounds, with the likes of Berkshire spenwood in the offing, paired with poached truffle potatoes!

Over in Mayfair, the Grade I listed St Mark’s church is about to transform into Mercato Mayfair – a community food market operated by the team behind Mercato Metropolitano. Expect four levels of ‘cuisine counters’, a coffee and gelato bar, patisserie, cocktail bar, restaurant, deli, brewery, flower shop, cookery school, community space and a rooftop area too!

Oh, and there’s Market Hall West End opening sometime in November. Taking over the old BHS building, it’s set to become the largest food hall in the U.K. with 37,500 sq ft championing independent food vendors, a demo kitchen, a children’s play area and more! 

More Dates For Your Diary

London Restaurant Festival

From restaurant-hopping tours across the city’s most exciting food neighbourhoods, to transporting dinners hosted by leading chefs from London, as well as from around the world – gear up for a month-long epicurean extravaganza this October, with over 70 events hosted across more than 250 venues. Chefs involved feature everyone from Monica Galetti and Mark Hix to Anne-Sophie Pic and Andrew Wong. 

[1 – 31 Oct | https://www.londonrestaurantfestival.com/]

London Cocktail Week

There’s plenty to whet your whistle at the annual celebration of London’s spirit-bolstering cocktail scene. Expect £6 signature cocktails served in 300 bars across London, an entire Cocktail Village complete with 30+ pop-up bars, street food and DJs, pop-ups, parties and masterclasses across town! [4 – 13 Oct | https://drinkup.london/cocktail-week/]

London Literature Festival

Held in Southbank, this year’s edition of the London Literature Festival explores fairy tales for our times, led by leading contemporary writers, thinkers and cultural observers from Elizabeth Day and heather Morris to Fatima Bhutto and Nikki Giovanni. Bibliophiles can look forward to 11 days of talks, readings, poetry and performance! [17 – 27 Oct | https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/london-literature-festival]

Secret Cinema

And if you’ve ever fancied emulating your inner Hawkins resident, Secret Cinema are hosting an immersive Stranger Things experience with a chance for guests to play a key role and uncover untold storylines! It’s still some time away, but I have a feeling that tickets are going to be snapped up fairly soon for this one… [Nov 2019 – Feb 2020 | https://tickets.secretcinema.org/stranger-things/]

Of course, there’s a lot more to look out for this season. I’ll be updating this guide regularly, so do bookmark it as one to refer back to! | You can also stay updated with the latest news from The Foodie Diaries, by signing up to our monthly newsletter here.

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