You’ve only just arrived, you are insomniac- or perhaps you are hyperactive-, and London has a magical appeal at night. When the sun sets, people look different, the streets turn golden and the city’s parks turn dark. When the lights dim, the friendliest of places seem to be engulfed in an atmosphere of sheer danger. There are extraordinary experiences to be lived in the wild shadows of the English capital. Here are 8 things to do for a bit of fun…
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
A fun and unique way to spend a night in this city is to head down to the Tower of London and witness the Ceremony of the Keys, which takes place every single night without fail. This re-enactment of the locking of the gates involved big locks, cryptic passwords, and beefeaters. It is a free event but you’ll have to book, as the full-on London flavor of this unique experience attracts tourists en masse.
The highest point in downtown London, Hampstead Heath, is one of the best spots for stargazing in town. This is the place to be if you are looking to have a quiet night. Sit right across the Vale of Heath for the best views.
Have you considered visiting the city’s museums at night?
Tate Britain and the V&A have open late events on selected Fridays, hosting exclusive talks and shows, movies, and debates. Your unique chance to see some of the best exhibitions without having to elbow your way through the crowds.
Polo Bar is a great little venue with a distinct Eastern London flavor. And if breakfast is your favorite time of the day, you have found your place of worship: any time is breakfast time at Polo Bar. Find it by the Liverpool St station at Bishopsgate. It opens every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and they’ve been specializing in fry-ups for well over 50 years.
You wish some nights never ended… and Brixton has the cure for that. You can start your Friday evening at Hootananny, on Effra Road. Dance until your feet can no longer hold you, stumble down the street to recharge your batteries with a bite to eat, and hit the next club. Then repeat. Things gradually come to a halt with the sunrise but fear not! You can join the after-party at Club 414 on Coldharbour Lane. By noon you’ll be back out in the street, fresh as a rose. Put on your sunnies and head down to The Windmill, where it’s always night time. You can then watch the sunset and start off the night from the top of Brixton hill.
Drink like an Englishman
Leave the usual touristy things aside: say no to its double-deckers, Big Ben and London Eye, and experience London like a true local from the comfort of its boozers. Alternative London offers a tour of London’s East End pubs to get you well acquainted with their best craft beers (learn everything ale and lager) and with Brick Lane’s booming art scene. The four pit-stops and the many complimentary drinks will keep you dancing all night.
Dinner on Kingsland Road
Are you the helpless victim of sudden (and frequent) hunger pangs? If so make your way to Kingsland Road and have a little wander. Start out at Arancini Brothers for a plate of fried risotto and delicious ragout. Top that up with a slice of scrumptious pizza at Voodoo Ray’s. Next, move on to Mangal 1, a Turkish chain that whips up some of the best kebabs in town- not to mention their delicious spicy kofta and their chicken with yoghurt. And don’t forget to order a to-go box of their fresh made baklava.
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, internationally known for their lively, spirited hearings, can be visited for free. You can sit up on the side and watch live parliamentary debates as they unfold. It could seem like a bit of an odd choice in this list of nighttime activities, but both Commons and Lords are often in until late in the evening. If you are on a bit of a budget, this could well be something for you.