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London after dark: 9 things to experience at night in London

Feb 28, 2022 by Kara Kramer

When the sun goes down over the River Thames, the things to do in London start picking up. With nighttime programming at the British Museum, zoo nights at London Zoo, and midnight matinees at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in London at night. Read on for nine activities to experience at night in London. Then, see the city sparkle for yourself on a tour of London.

9. Take a candlelit tour of the Sir John Soane’s Museum

Entering Sir John Soane’s Museum feels like you’ve stepped into the eclectic home of a wealthy art collector in 1847—and you have. The museum was the home of Neoclassical architect John Soane, and looks exactly as it was at the time of his death. This densely packed treasure trove is still lit only by candlelight and is one of the most interesting things to do in London at night. Visit the museum in your free time on our London: The City Experience tour.

For a fun night in London, catch a Soane Lates event, which highlights a specific theme within their curated content. Find their next event here.


8. Attend Zoo Nights at the London Zoo

Every Friday in June and July, the London Zoo offers adult-only access to their exhibits. This just so happens to be one of the best things to do in London at night! This event gives visitors the rare opportunity to view nocturnal animals in their element and on the move. This is one of the most fun things to do during your free time in London at night, as you have the freedom to roam the park and see more than 18,000 animals living their lives. Don’t miss the Sumatran tiger exhibit, these big cats get more active after the sun sets. Find zoo tickets here.

7. Walk the halls of London’s oldest museum

For cultural activities in London at night, look no further than the British Museum. Every Friday evening they offer lectures, film screenings, and live theater in London’s biggest—and oldest museum. Have dinner onsite at the Great Court, the largest covered public square in Europe. After dinner, embark on a tour of the museum before the night’s programming. Don’t miss The World of Stonehenge exhibit. It features fascinating objects from the Stone Age, including the Nebra Sky Disc, the world’s oldest surviving map of the stars.

The museum is free to the public any time of day and is open every Friday until 8:30pm. Book a time slot and find exhibitions here.

See our London, Paris & Amsterdam tour →

6. Get tickets to a midnight matinee at Shakespeare’s Globe theater

Experience London at night and Shakespeare under the stars at Shakespeare’s Globe, an open-air performance center that’s a recreation of the original 17th-century Globe Theatre.  “One of my biggest recommendations for activities in London at night is to visit Shakespeare’s Globe to see a show,” said staffer Merisa. During the summer of 2022, two famous Shakespearian plays are coming to the Globe. On Saturday, August 13 Julius Caesar is hitting the main stage. If comedies are more your speed, grab a ticket to see Much Ado About Nothing on Saturday, August 19. Pretend you’re a member of British high society and get seats in the Upper Gallery, or Lords Rooms, where nobility would enjoy covered seating and upgraded comfort.

Learn more about Shakespeare’s Globe here.

See our Grand Tour of Europe: London to Rome →


5. Explore new heights at the Sky Garden

Visiting the Sky Garden is one of the top things to do in London at night. As the city’s highest public garden, it features lush greenery, observation decks, and a bar and restaurant on-site. Access to the Sky Garden is free of charge on weekends until 9pm. “I recommend visiting the Sky Garden in London,” said staffer Merisa. “It’s an amazing place to get a drink, dinner, or just visit to see an amazing view of the city—day or night!” Take in these great views during free time on our Grand Tour of Europe: London to Rome.

4. Grab great seats to a West End show

Known for its exclusive shopping districts and professional theater performances, catching a show in the West End is one the best things to do in London at night. “I went to see a West End show during my free night in London,” said staffer Merisa. “Tickets are sold right in the tube stations near the theater district and you can score last-minute deals on great seats. I was able to see Rebel Wilson in Guys & Dolls in the front section for under 40 British pounds. It was a highlight of my trip,” she said.


3. Get spooky on a Jack the Ripper walking tour

What to do in London at night? “Walk the same streets where Jack the Ripper terrorized London in the Victorian era,” said staffer Jim. “The tour of London’s East End is sure to be informative.” A Jack the Ripper tour is part of our Haunted Halloween tour of Dublin, Edinburgh & London. Explore the dark, narrow streets of the Whitechapel and Spitalfields neighborhoods as you retrace the steps of the 19th-century serial killer and his victims to find out more about the crimes that captivated the world.

2. Order a pint at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

If you’re looking for historic pubs to visit while out and about in London at night, look no further than Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It was the stomping ground of British literati, like Charles Dickens, and is sure to inspire you, too—even if it’s just in the form of a clever Instagram caption. “A pub that is super fun to visit is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese,” said staffer Merisa. “It’s one of the oldest pubs in London, and it has two or three levels of seating underground, so it feels like you’re in a wine or beer cellar. The atmosphere is awesome,” she said. You won’t find any big name beers here, just local offerings from the Samuel Smith brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, which was founded in 1758. Order a pint during free time on one of our London tours.

8 brilliant ways to pass the time in London →


1. Take a ride on the London Eye

The London Eye at night will take your breath away. Experience sweeping views of London after dark, and even get a glimpse of the London Bridge at night. According to Go Ahead staffer Amanda, the top of the London Eye is also the best way to see Big Ben. “I suggest going twice,” she said. “Once in the daytime and once to see the London Eye at night, because each view is different and great in its own way.” Want to see more iconic landmarks? Our Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland tour brings you to the top landmarks of the United Kingdom, all on a guided tour so you don’t need to plan a thing.

7 things you probably didn’t know about Big Ben →

What’s your favorite locale in London? Let us know on our Facebook page!

About the author | Kara Kramer
Growing up, Kara’s backyard was the Sonoran Desert where her love for exploration was ignited by dirt roads leading to petroglyphs and family road trips to sleepy Mexican fishing villages. Kara’s enjoyment for charting new territory continued with teaching abroad in Thailand, roaming wine cellar caves in Portugal, and swimming in the bioluminescent waters of the Caribbean. She’s always on the lookout for dive bars and a bowl of Vietnamese Pho (lime, basil, and jalapeño is the holy trinity).

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