What to Do In London At Night
This post covers things to do in London at night, with a top 10 list, as well as free things to do, things to do at night and with kids. This post also gives ideas for late night museums and art galleries and of course nightlife. London is a fabulous city 24-hours a day. When the sun goes down, the fun begins, so read below for our guide to enjoying London after dark!
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
Below is our list of the top 10 things to do at night in London. There are so much more than just 10, of course, so we also include links to our pages within our blog as well as external resources.
1. See a Show in the West End
London has one of the most vibrant theatre districts in the world. A true experience to the West End of London includes a trip to the theatre. With discount tickets easily available and a selection of shows as varied as it is impressive, there’s always a way to enjoy the West End on your trip to London. (See our Discount Theatre Tickets guide on how to secure a good price!)
2. Tower of London (Ceremony of the Keys)
Every night the Tower of London comes alive with a centuries-old tradition: the Ceremony of the Keys. This is the official locking and securing of the Tower of London – complete with large rings of keys, secret passwords, Beefeaters, and military music. A totally free event, the Ceremony of the Keys is an awesome and unique London experience. Tickets are required, though, so check out our guide on the Ceremony and how to get your tickets.
You’ll find plenty of information in our post about the Ceremony of the Keys, including a video promo of the ceremony.
3. Visit the Houses of Parliament
Whenever the House of Lords or the House of Commons (two of our three-part Parliament, based at the Palace of Westminster) are in session, it is totally free for visitors to sit in the public gallery, and watch the parliamentary debates. It may seem strange to consider this a night activity, however, both Houses of Parliament often work late into the night…sometimes even until 11 pm! So if you’re looking for something to do after dinner and you’re on a budget – consider a visit to Parliament. Check their schedule ahead of time to check if they’re in session, though, to avoid disappointment.
Learn more about how to visit the Houses of Parliament.
4. Ride the London Eye
The London Eye operates throughout the day and into the night hours on a seasonal basis. Due to the very late sunset in the summer months, the London Eye’s last revolution ends before dark, but for the remaining seasons, you will have the opportunity to ride the wheel after sunset. Tickets can be bought specifically to see London lit up at night from one of the best vantage points in the city. For those who really want to splash out, it is possible to buy a ‘Day and Night Experience’ which gives the holder TWO rides on the Eye – one in the daylight, and one when the sun has gone.
Read our post on how to get London Eye tickets.
5. Night at the Museum
London’s museums don’t always operate from 9:00-5:00! Many museums here have late night openings to help you squeeze in, even more, culture in your visit to town! The British Museum, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, and even the Transport Museum operate after the sun goes down on selected days. Most of the museums open at night are free of charge.
6. Take a Jack the Ripper Tour
An activity that is a uniquely London nighttime experience. Help solve this century-old mystery as you walk the creepy backstreets and alleys where Jack the Ripper committed his grisly murders and try to unmask this killer. Several companies offer Jack the Ripper Tours including us, Free Tours by Foot. There are even bus tours. You can even walk on your own with our free self-guided tour.
We compare and review all of the best Jack the Ripper Tours available to you. There are many other evening and night tours of London that offer great experiences, including ghost tours and River Thames walks.
7. Enjoy the Lights at Piccadilly Circus
Famous the world over, Piccadilly Circus is a large traffic junction in the middle of London, linking Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly and Regent’s Street. And it was here just over 100 years ago that the first electric lights in the capital were put on display. The bright lights here still draw visitors from all over the world who have come to enjoy some of the most famous lights on earth.
Learn about what’s to see in this most central of areas. Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by other areas that you will likely enjoy a free stroll through, including Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown.
8. Dinner and Champagne on the Thames
Just imagine cruising down the Thames with a glass of wine or bubbly in hand, listening to a jazz band play away, all while enjoying a 4-course meal. London’s skyline as seen from the River Thames is one of the world’s most striking. Cruise pass Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Read our comparison post on Thames dinner cruises.
9. See London from the Sky Garden
At the top of London’s “Walkie Talkie” building sits a restaurant, bistro, bar…and free public garden! The views from this building are almost unrivaled in London and even though the outdoor viewing balcony closes around 5, the atrium stays open until the late hours of the night. Watch the sunset from the garden and enjoy the sights of London as it lights up the night. Guests MUST pre-book but there is no cost to do so.
Learn more about how to reserve your free spot at the Sky Garden. Alternatively, you could visit the observation deck of the Shard as well some great free views of London, some of which you can enjoy at night.
10. Join a Pub or Club Crawl
A time-honored tradition in London is the pub crawl (and the club crawl). A great option for solo travelers looking to meet new friends or those looking to discover hotspots. There are crawls geared toward the backpacker, crawls geared toward those interested in visiting historic pubs, as well as those for craft beer enthusiasts. There’s even a Harry Potter themed pub crawl. Likewise, London also offers a large and vibrant club scene. Sometimes, these pub crawls also include entry to one or two nightclubs. There’s even a flat-rate nightclub card.
Check out our comparison post which reviews many of the best crawls in London.
As mentioned in our top 10 section, several of the listed nighttime activities are also free, such as the Ceremony of the Keys, watching a live night debate at Parliament, visiting the Sky Garden observation deck, spending a night at a museum, or walking around Piccadilly Circus. Below, we add a few of our other favorite free nighttime activities. For more ideas, check out our post, 100+ Free Things to Do in London, which includes many things that can also be experienced at night.
Take a Double Decker Bus Tour
OK. Technically, this one isn’t free, as you will need to have either a travelcard or you will need to pay a fare, but that is just splitting hairs. Climb to the top deck and sit back and enjoy the illuminated London sights. There are several routes that you could do, but we recommend taking the 11 Bus. With this self-guided public bus tour, you will see many major icons such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England and more.
There are actually several other free, do-it-yourself double-decker bus tours that run in the evening.
Walk Across Tower Bridge
There is a price to enter the Tower Bridge Experience, but it costs nothing to cross Tower Bridge and it’s spectacularly illuminated in the evening. This is a particularly good option if you are planning on attending the Ceremony of the Keys. Sometimes, the bridge is scheduled to open is drawbridge at night. Find out more information on our Tower Bridge post.
See a Free Comedy Show
Angel Comedy runs comedy shows 7 nights a week – and every single one is absolutely free. Featuring well-known acts and those new to the scene, and Edinburgh Fringe Award winners, it’s almost always a guaranteed great night! It’s located just off Upper Street in Islington (a stone’s throw from Kings’ Cross). Shows start at 8:00 pm but people start queuing early so make sure you give yourself time to grab a spot!
See the Night Sky at Hampstead Observatory
Hampstead Heath is home to the highest point in central London and is a great place to see the London skyline either day or not. However, for those wanting a real treat, consider visiting the Hampstead Scientific Society. They open their telescopes for public use from 8 – 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays from Sept until mid-April for a truly memorable star-gazing experience.
Go on a Bat Walk
London Zoo isn’t the only place in London where you can see animals! The London Bat Group is a charity that works toward the well-being and preservation of bat species living in London. As part of their work, they organise free ‘Bat Walks’ at random days throughout the years where guests are taken to various different locations, taught about bats and their place in London, as well as a great chance to see these fascinating little creatures! Find out when the next walk is on their website.
Many of the activities mentioned in the previous sections (Top 10 and Free Things) are also applicable to families, such as the double-decker public bus tour, the Ceremony of the Keys, walking through Piccadilly Circus, spending a night at the museum and heading to the Sky Garden. Below, we add a few more family-friendly night activities.
For more family-friendly ideas for any time of day, check out our post on free things to do in London with kids.
London is full of people making a living by performance art! Head to places like the Covent Garden Piazza, the north side of Trafalgar Square, or the Southbank near the London Eye to espy human statues, break-dancers, musicians, magicians and even some of your children’s favorite cartoon characters come to life! Nearest Tube: Covent Garden, Charing Cross or Waterloo.
The Ghost Bus
A spooky sightseeing tour that takes place on a black double-decker bus. The commentary is creepy but also amusing and takes guests past some of the most famous icons in the city, exploring the dark and grisly past of this ancient city. Overall, this tour gets 4.3 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. One recurring comment is that the tour really isn’t that scary, and it’s not advertised as such. It’s advertised as a spooky comedy ride, which makes it a great fit for families. Learn more and watch the promo video. Check out our review and comparison post on London ghost tours, which includes our own pay-what-you-like ghost tour.
You might also consider taking a night sightseeing bus tour, which is a great option for families.
Hamley’s Toy Store
Hamley’s is a two-centuries-old toy store with a few locations in London, one on Regent’s Street and one at St. Pancras International. The St. Pancras story remains open until 21:00 (9 pm) and is simply a fun place to spend an evening with your children. http://www.hamleys.com/
Go to the Roller Disco
The 80’s are still alive here in London! Listen to some great music (with live DJ’s spinning the cheesiest of 80’s music and the best club beats of today) and relive your youth by roller skating throughout the night. These parties start late and end in the early hours – and people really make the effort to make sure to dress up in your 80’s best! See what’s coming up at Skating Haven.
Visit Platform 9 3/4
If your kids are Harry Potter fans, you might consider going to Kings Cross/St. Pancras Station to visit the most famous platform in the world. The lines thin out in the evening, so the wait for a photo is much shorter. You can also visit the Harry Potter Store, which stays open until 21:00 (9 pm) on most nights. A Hamley’s Toy Store is nearby, so you could make this a double visit.
Read our post on how to visit Platform 9 3/4 as well as other Harry Potter locations in London. We also run our free Harry Potter Film Locations Tour several evenings each week starting at 19:30 (7:30 pm).
For more family-friendly ideas for any time of day, check out our post on free things to do in London with kids.
From live music and cabaret performances to boozy art classes and 3-story clubs, London’s nightlife has it all. Below you will find a list of some of our favorite after-dark activities in the city. Save money on club nights with the night club pass.
Enjoy Live Music
London is stuffed to the brim with music venues for every budget and taste. From jazz to classical, pop to rock, there’s nothing quite like grabbing a drink and listening to some tunes to while away the night time hours. There are a plethora of venues to choose from but here are a few of our favorites: Koko, Roundhouse, St. Martin-in-the-Fields (a 17th-century church with candlelight concerts!) and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Go to the Cabaret
Get drinks, dinner and an award-winning show all at one venue! The Black Cat Cabaret is a London institution bringing the finest cabaret, live music, circus performers and bon vivant entertainment to the capital. They run shows all throughout the year and each one is pure glamour that’s sure to please!
Explore Your Inner Artist
Paint Jam London operates pop-up painting events throughout the year – including events for night owls. These nighttime parties incorporate paint, music, and drinks to create a fabulous and fun evening. Part painting class, part pure party, see what’s coming up on their schedule by clicking here.
Skate Down to the Roller Disco
Though many of the original roller discos in London have now closed, you can still find roller disco pop-ups around the city throughout the year. These are fun roller skating events that play funky, disco music and feature flashy lights. Sometimes the nights have themes, so be sure to look up the details ahead of time!
Check Out One of London’s Famous Clubs
London has one of the best nightlife scenes in the world, so it should come at no surprise that there are many fabulous nightclubs that party on until the wee hours of the morning. Some of the most famous include fabric, which spans 25,000 square feet, and Heaven, which is known for it’s G-A-Y nights on Saturdays.
There is no shortage of things to do at night in London. Every evening you can find special events, theatre performances, late-night museum openings, pop-up bars, nightlife and entertainment, and much more! As noted above, we offer several evening walking tours. If you want to know which are running tonight, check out our full calendar.
The best place to learn more about everything that is happening each night is through one of the many local media websites. They publish news and reviews about events happening in London every day/week. Below are some of our favorites: