It’s that time of year again – when Londoners get the chance to peek inside buildings that are normally off-limits. Taking place on 22-23 September 2018, Open House London is essentially a festival of architecture and design, where a huge range of buildings from homes to Government buildings to skyscrapers allow the public to step inside. Many museums which usually cost to enter are also taking part so you can visit for free. While it’s probably too late by now to enter some of the ballots or ticketed entry slots, there are tons of other places just waiting to be explored. This year marks the 26th year of Open House London, with over 800 properties taking place. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have long queues. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists a selection of reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, as well as tips and advice for making the most of the weekend.
Tips on making the most of Open House London
- Comprise a list of places you hope to visit and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long by searching Open House’s official website, buy a hard copy of the guide here or download the free app available on Apple or Google Play.
- Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
- Wear comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast to inspire suitable clothing. You will be walking and standing a lot.
- Start early – many of the sites open around 10am or 11am, but some even earlier. If you get there before they open, you could beat the queues.
- Make sure your phone and/or camera are fully charged and bring a portable charger if you have one so you can search online maps and share photos on social media.
- Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
- Go the toilet whenever you find one. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities or you could end up desperate while waiting in a very long queue.
- Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, as security searches are expected.
- Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it if you end up queuing.
- Share your discoveries on social media under the hashtag #openhouselondon. This is also handy for checking out where the long queues are.
- Follow Open House London on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Metro Girl’s reviews and photos of Open House buildings
Banqueting House. Only surviving building from Whitehall Palace, built in 1619. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER. Nearest stations: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment.
Billingsgate bath house. Roman home and bath ruins in the basement of a modern office building, dating back to 2nd-3rd century and discovered in the 19th century. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm (queues likely). 101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL. Nearest station: Monument.
Caroline Gardens Chapel. Partially-derelict Georgian chapel used as an arts and event space, built 1827. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SQ. Nearest station: Queens Road Peckham.
Charlton House. London’s only surviving Jacobean mansion, built in 1607. Open Sunday 10am-4pm (tours at 11am and 2pm). Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton, SE7 8RE. Nearest station: Charlton.
Crystal Palace Subway. Victorian subway connecting what used to be a train station to the site of the Crystal Palace, built 1865. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (queues likely). Crystal Palace Parade, Crystal Palace, SE19 1LG. Nearest station: Crystal Palace.
Dennis Severs House. Georgian townhouse and unique setting for a historic ‘still-life drama’, built in 1724. Open Saturday 12-4pm (queues expected). 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street.
Emery Walker’s House. Georgian terrace styled in authentic arts and crafts interiors. Open Sunday 2pm-5pm (queues likely). 7 Hammersmith Terrace, Hammersmith, W6 9TS. Nearest station: Stamford Brook.
Fitzrovia Chapel. Victorian designed chapel, designed 1891, completed 1929. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1T 3BF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road.
Granada Tooting (Gala Bingo Hall). Former Art Deco cinema with neo-renaissance interiors, now used as a bingo hall, built in 1931. Open Sunday 9am-12pm. 50-60 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9NA. Nearest station: Tooting Broadway. Read the rest of this entry
Autumn is coming. It feels like we’ve been treated to an extra long summer this year thanks to the blazing hot temperatures. However, with London not really cut out for the practicalities of an uber hot heatwave, the cooler evenings and not-so-busy capital is sure to be welcomed by many Londoners. Despite being autumn, there’s plenty of alfresco festivals throughout September, with foodies and booze fans well accommodated. Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the best events on in the capital this September.
- 31 August – 2 September : Meatopia
Weekend of meat, drink, music and fire. Featuring chefs from Smoke & Salt, Smoking Goat, Ox Club, Smokestak, The Lido, Foxlow, Patty & Bun, Hawksmoor and more. Music from The Cuban Brothers, John Fairhurst, DJ Pierre, New York Brass Band, Tom Findlay (Groove Armada) and more. Open Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-7pm. Tickets: £23.85-£93.28 (depending on package). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For information and booking, visit the Meatopia website.
- 1 September : Camberwell Fair
A long tradition of the Camberwell Fair continues, stemming back to the 13th century. Featuring market, games, two live music stages, food, drink and community events. 12pm-9pm. Free entry. Camberwell Green, Camberwell, SE5 7AF. Nearest station: Denmark Hill or Oval. For more information, visit the Camberwell Fair website.
- 1 – 30 September : Totally Thames
Totally Thames is a month-long celebration of our city’s main waterway. Among the many activities taking place are the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (7-9 Sept), The Great River Race (8 Sept), Billingsgate Roman Bath House open days, walks, mudlarking, art installations, live music, theatre, dinners, river relay, film screenings and many more activities. Many events are free. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.
- 1 – 31 September : Lambeth Heritage Festival
A month-long festival celebrating the heritage and people of Lambeth – stretching from the South Bank all the way to Streatham and Norwood. Featuring a local history fair, talks, guided walks, film, music, theatre, exhibitions, and workshops. At venues across the borough including West Norwood Cemetary, Lambeth Palace, the Cinema Museum, National Theatre, Brixton Library and Brixton Windmill. For more information, visit the Lambeth.gov.uk website.
- 2 September : Angel Canal Festival
One day festival in the City Road Lock, Basin and Regents Canal towpath. Featuring over 80 stalls, children’s fun fair, Punch & Judy, story-teller, boat trips and canoeing, art projects and galleries, live music and street theatre. 11am-5pm. Free admission. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.
- Now until 2 September : Spin Festival
Cycling festival featuring over 100 road, urban and lifestyle exhibitors. Expect plenty of stalls, workshops, talks and more. Tickets: Adults £13, Weekend pass £21. Printworks, Surrey Quays Road, Rotherhithe, SE16 7PJ. Nearest station: Canada Water. For more information, visit the Spin website.
- Now until 2 September : Painted Hall Ceiling Tours
The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College is undergoing a huge restoration. For a limited time only, visitors will be able to ascend 60ft to see the painted ceiling up close. Times vary. Tickets: Adults £10, Children £5. Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest station: Greenwich, Maze Hill or Cutty Sark (DLR). To book, visit the Old Royal Naval College website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the tour here.
- Now until 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre
Watch a live outdoor performance of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by the Thames. Performances from Wed-Sat at 6pm, Sun at 4pm. Free entry. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, London Bridge, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.
- 5 September : The Rum Off @ Bobby Fitzpatrick
Help find the world’s best rum in the first heat of the Rum Off 2018. Four leading rum brands – Havana Club, The Real McCoy, Gosling’s and Skipper – will compete through a series of cocktail making heats, with you getting to vote for your favourite. 7pm-10pm. Tickets: £8. Bobby Fitzpatrick, 273 West End Lane, Hampstead, NW6 1QS. Nearest station: West Hampstead. For tickets, visit Eventbrite. Read the rest of this entry
Coming to the Underbelly Festival Southbank for the end of the season is a tantalising and thrilling show. Combining cabaret, circus and performance in a dark and daring show from the Black Cat Cabaret. The company will be coming to the Spiegeltent to première their most ambitious show yet, Black Cat: Bohemia.
Opening on 22 August, the show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatics and toe-tapping music as the 12-strong troupe showcase their impressive skills. The production sees the smart and sexy cast bring the spirit of Bohemias past, from Montmartre to Weimar Berlin, from the Hotel Chelsea to the ’80s Blitz Kids, to the 21st century Southbank.
Among the dazzling performers will be flame-haired singer and host Miss Frisky (Frisky & Mannish); aerial daredevil Katharine Arnold; acrobatic duo Charlotte & Nicolas (Cirque du Soleil, Limbo); cyr wheel maestro Jo Moss; tumbler Leon Fagbemi (La Soirée); aerial feline LJ Marles; and burlesque goddess Missy Fatale.
- The Black Cat Cabaret is performing Bohemia at the Underbelly Festival from 22 August – 30 September 2018. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Performances at 7.15pm (Tues-Sat) and 9.15pm (Sat only). Tickets from £19. For tickets and further information, visit the Black Cat Cabaret website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.