Fun things to do in London in autumn

Now that peak tourist season is over, these shows and attractions all across the city make perfect autumn outings for your family, friends, or just yourself.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

As we head into the colder months, it’s a great time to start planning lots of autumn activities – theatre trips, tours, theme parks and more. Luckily, the London theatre is really heating up, so whether you’re after a play or a musical, a comedy or a family show, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Autumn is also a good opportunity to take advantage of London’s many attractions without quite so many tourists around. From the city’s rich historical sites through to newer additions like the London Eye, it’s amazing how much there is to explore and how easy it is to leave these activities on your to do list. Make this the year you actually do them!

Follow our guide to all the great autumn shows and attractions you can book for now on London Theatre.

Autumn shows in London

The West End comes alive with all sorts of exciting premieres each autumn. Check out some of the must-see shows on West End stages and beyond this season.

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Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

Nicole Scherzinger is ready for her close-up! The former member of The Pussycat Dolls plays faded silent film star Norma Desmond in Jamie Lloyd’s hugely anticipated West End revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton’s Hollywood fable.

Scherzinger follows in the hallowed footsteps of Patti LuPone and Glenn Close, taking on the deluded diva whose relationship with a young screenwriter leads to murder. Superfans of the show can also catch West End and Broadway leading lady Rachel Tucker in select performances during the run.

Book Sunset Boulevard tickets on London Theatre.

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Hamnet, Garrick Theatre

Lolita Chakrabarti adapts Maggie O’Farrell’s best-selling novel for the stage, brought to vivid life by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play premiered in Stratford earlier this year and now transfers to the West End.

Hamnet dramatises a terrible loss: the death of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son. The story follows the playwright’s grief and how it affects his marriage to Agnes – and also feeds into his increasingly profound and moving plays. That makes theatre the perfect place for O’Farrell’s book to find a further life.

Book Hamnet tickets on London Theatre.

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The Time Traveller’s Wife, Apollo Theatre

This autumn sees the West End premiere for a new stage musical version of Audrey Niffenegger’s beloved novel. The adaptation, with a book by Lauren Gunderson, had a promising run at Chester Playhouse; now, London audiences get a chance to see it.

David Hunter and Joanna Woodward star as Henry and Clare, the beloved couple who are constantly torn apart by Henry’s uncontrollable time travelling. See how this heartfelt tale comes alive on stage, aided by astonishing theatrical illusions and music from Joss Stone and Dave Stewart.

Book The Time Traveller’s Wife tickets on London Theatre.

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Pygmalion, Old Vic

Richard Jones’s bold, stylised revival revolutionises George Bernard Shaw’s enduring tale (also known as the source material for the musical My Fair Lady). This is Shaw’s study of class, language, and gender as you’ve never seen it before. Read our four-star review.

The Old Vic production stars the exciting pair of Patsy Ferran as Eliza Doolittle and Bertie Carvel as Henry Higgins. Ferran wowed audiences when, at the last minute, she stepped into the lead role of A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Paul Mescal, while Carvel’s varied roles include Donald Trump in The 47th, detective Adam Dalgliesh, and Tony Blair in The Crown.

Book Pygmalion tickets on London Theatre.

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Lyonesse, Harold Pinter Theatre

One of the most intriguing premieres this autumn is Penelope Skinner’s new play Lyonesse, led by two Hollywood stars. Kristin Scott Thomas is reclusive actress Elaine, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Now, 30 years on, she’s ready to share her story with the world.

Lily James plays a young film executive summoned to Elaine’s remote home in Cornwall to hear her tale – and perhaps assist with her comeback. This timely piece, directed by Ian Rickson, is all about who gets to control their own story, whether in the film industry or in day-to-day life.

Book Lyonesse tickets on London Theatre.

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Private Lives, Ambassadors Theatre

Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge, two legendary actors in their seventies, are surprisingly brilliant casting for Noel Coward’s toxic exes. They led a 50th anniversary U.K. tour of Coward’s gloriously witty comedy last year and now headline the must-see West End revival.

Amanda and Elyot are both on honeymoon with their new spouses in the South of France – but, unluckily, they’re staying at the same hotel. Passion brings them back together, but are they doomed to repeat the same mistakes? You’ll have to book to find out!

Book Private Lives tickets on London Theatre.

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Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, Gielgud Theatre

Talk about good Company! Producer Cameron Mackintosh assembled an astonishing cast of musical theatre greats to pay tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim. This autumn sees a full West End run of the revue, following the sold-out one-off last year.

Broadway icon Bernadette Peters makes her official West End debut, and the stellar cast also features Lea Salonga, Clare Burt, Jason Pennycooke, Christine Allado, Damian Humbley, Bradley Jaden, Gavin Lee, Bonnie Langford, Janie Dee, Jac Yarrow, and Joanna Riding.

Book Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends tickets on London Theatre.

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Autumn attractions in London

Autumn is the perfect time to finally check London's most popular attractions off your bucket list — the weather's perfectly cool and the summer tourists have gone. Grab your family and friends or just take yourself on an outing to London's most exciting experiences.

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Up at the O2

Feeling intrepid this autumn? Why not scale a world-famous London landmark? You can actually climb the O2 arena, led by an expert guide who will give you a full briefing and safety equipment, and will share interesting facts about the architecture as you make your way to the top.

Once you’re up there – 52 metres above ground level – you’ll get incredible 360-degree views of London, from the iconic skyline through to the hustle and bustle below. Autumn is a great time of year for this, as we often get clear days but it’s not too hot. You can do your climb during the day, at sunset or at twilight.

Book Up at the O2 tickets on London Theatre.

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Warner Bros Studio Tour

It’s back to school time, giving you the perfect excuse to head off to a magical educational establishment: Hogwarts! The spellbinding Warner Bros Studio Tour immerses you in the world of Harry Potter, via the incredible sets, costumes and more from the hit film series.

Potter fans of all ages will love the re-creation of Platform 9 ¾, where you can climb aboard the Hogwarts Express. You can also enter the Great Hall, seek out hidden treasures in Dumbledore’s office, shop in Diagon Alley, visit the Ministry of Magic, ride Hagrid’s bike, and relax with a cup of butterbeer.

Book Warner Bros Studio Tour tickets on London Theatre.

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Theme parks

If you’re looking for a thrill this autumn, then head for the famous roller coasters of Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, and Legoland. Each of these theme parks is a great outing for all the family, or just for those of us who want to escape grown-up life for a day. There’s nothing quite like the delirious fun of a brilliant ride or meeting one of your favourite characters.

Get drenched on Thorpe Park’s 85-foot super-soaking drop Tidal Wave, or try the U.K.’s fastest coaster, Stealth. Brave the heart-pounding Oblivion, or check out the latest additions to CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, and get your very first licence thanks to the LEGO City Driving School at Legoland.

Book Alton Towers tickets on London Theatre.

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Book Thorpe Park tickets on London Theatre.

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Madame Tussauds

No other attraction in London boasts quite so many stars as the legendary wax museum. From royalty and celebrities to sporting champions and more, it’s your chance to rub shoulders with A-listers – and compare them to their real-life counterparts. If you’ve never been, or haven’t visited for a while, join the fun this autumn.

You can walk the red carpet with Zendaya, gets modeling tips from Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne, hit the stage with Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, save the world with the Avengers in the Marvel Universe 4D experience, and revisit the capital’s amazing past with an iconic black cab ride through history.

Book Madame Tussauds tickets on London Theatre.

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Sea Life London Aquarium

Whatever the weather this autumn, it’s always a beautiful environment down at the Sea Life aquarium. This amazing space is teeming with marine life – more than 5,000 fin-tastic inhabitants total, giving you jaw-dropping encounters with a huge range of underwater creatures.

Commune with the charming sea turtles, discover penguins in the Polar Adventure zone, trek through the Amazon rainforest, be dazzled by colourful coral, and enter the U.K.’s largest jellyfish experience. You can even stroke a starfish or a sea anemone.

Book Sea Life London tickets on London Theatre.

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