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London: What’s coming up in September

By: Virgin Atlantic

August 30, 2019

London, River Thames © Shutterstock

London, River Thames © Shutterstock

Here in London we like to stretch out summer as long as we can, so come and join us as we work our way through all of September's awesome happenings

There’s plenty to keep you occupied if you’re heading to London this September. The UK capital knows exactly how to throw a few late summer showstoppers, so get ready for a month of open-air fun on the river, in parks, on the streets and squares, and beyond.

Totally Thames 2019: 1–30 September

Running for the whole of September, the Totally Thames festival is an annual celebration of the River Thames. The programme includes a distinctive range of art, workshops, live performances, installations and cultural events along a 42-mile stretch of the river, showcasing how the river is, and has always been, an inherent part of London’s rich tapestry. This year’s centerpiece is the Ship of Tolerance, an international art project already displayed in cities around the world, including Venice, Havana and New York. The 60-foot-long, wooden, handcrafted ship aims to inspire young people through the universal language of art, and features silk panels painted by children from forty London primary schools, as well as from refugee centres in the UK and Calais. See her on the river by Tate Modern from this weekend until 6 October.

Ship of Tolerance, an international art project featured at this year's Totally Thames festival

Greenwich Comedy Festival: 4–8 September

Returning for its eleventh outing, and with a big-hitting line-up of heavyweights from the world of British comedy, the Greenwich Comedy Festival is one of the highlights of London’s cultural calendar. Set mostly in the Big Top and Apple Top tents in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum, this year’s programme includes headline sets from the likes of Adam Buxton, Sara Pascoe, Josh Widdicombe, Nish Kumar, Rosie Jones and Rich Hall. Outside the shows expect a laid-back festival vibe, with cocktails, craft beer bars and an eclectic range of street food stalls offering everything from Venezuelan arepas to Lebanese wraps.

The Great River Race: 14 September

Otherwise known as London’s River Marathon, the Great River Race dates back to 1988, when more than 20 boats took to the river to battle it out, including a Hawaiian outrigger war canoe, a Chinese dragonboat and a Viking longboat. Appealing not to professionals, but to a bunch of hardy enthusiasts from local pubs and organisations like the Fire Brigade, the debut race was a great success with only one starter failing to reach the finish line. Fast forward to today and the event is now four times as large, featuring ever more spectacular river craft each year. It’s also attracted an impressive line-up of celebrity cannon firers to get the race underway over the years, including Jerry Hall, Sting and and Sir Steven Redgrave. Running upstream from Millwall Slipway opposite the Docklands Sailing Centre, to Ham, near Richmond, expect to see more than 330 boats carrying over 2,400 competitors from around the world.

The Great River Race is London’s River Marathon © Shutterstock

London Design Festival:14–22 September

A major fixture on London’s arts calendar since 2003, the London Design Festival has become one of the world’s foremost design events, attracting makers, architects and designers from across the planet. The annual happening cements the capital’s reputation as a global centre of creativity, with more than half a million visitors from 75 countries last year. Famous former landmark projects include the Endless Stair at Tate Modern in 2013 and the bright red Es Devlin lion in Trafalgar Square last year, while this year’s highlights include Please Be Seated by British Designer Paul Cocksedge in Finsbury Avenue Square, and Sam Jacob’s Sea Things installation at the magnificent Cromwell Road entrance of the V&A.

Endless Stair, Tate Modern, from the 2013 London Design Festival © Garry Knight/Flickr Creative Commons

Wolf of Wall Street Immersive Experience: 19 September–19 January 2020

The capital has earned something of a reputation for incredible immersive theatre, and this production is no exception. Kicking off in mid-September and running all the way through into early next year, the Wolf of Wall Street experience is based on Jordan Belfort’s infamous memoir and subsequent film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and takes place in a 2,000 square foot landmark building in central London, transformed into the prestigious offices of Stratton Oakmont, Inc. Ready to make some dough? When you arrive, it’ll be your first day as a fully paid-up trader, or if you prefer, an FBI officer, so have a good hard think about what side of the law you want to be on before you arrive.

Japan Matsuri: 29 September

This one-day celebration of Japanese culture takes place in the heart of the capital in Trafalgar Square. A free, family friendly event, the festival presents a morning-to-night timetable of riotous colour and rhythm, from ancient Shinto theatrical entertainment and dance shows to traditional daikagura (an elaborate form of juggling) and boisterous taiko drum performances. Alongside martial arts, calligraphy, Manga art and origami workshops, you’ll also get to sample all kinds of Japanese delicacies from sushi and sake to sweet treats.

Fashion show at Japan Matsuri at London’s Trafalgar Square in 2018 © Garry Knight/Flickr Creative Commons

Head to Visit London for more things to do in the UK capital.

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