The Tower of London will a foreground of fallen leaves
Ian Packham

What to do in London in November

Fall is kind to the British capital, and London in November isn’t short of local color. In addition to its year-round historic attractions, the Royal Parks are a swirl of oranges and reds as the London planes lose their leaves.

The start of the month sees Diwali and Guy Fawkes’s Night ignite the sky with fireworks, followed quickly by Christmas light switch-ons and shopfronts dolled up for the festive season.

Wondering what to do in London in November? You’ve come to the right place!

Cruise along the Thames

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The River Thames has been at London’s heart since the Romans converted a humble Saxon village into a city worthy of becoming the future British capital.

Its banks are the location of an array of major landmarks, from the Whispering Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral to the contemporary form of Tate Modern’s $360m Switch House, expanding the gallery’s floor space by 60%.

Bringing together the rival north and south of the Thames, its bridges are some of the most recognizable structures in the world, with Tower Bridge a symbol for both London and the UK.

Slipping beneath them on a Thames river cruise adds a new dimension to hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours. Hop on and see the sights in comfort. Hop off to explore attractions such as the Cutty Sark and historic dockyards of Greenwich. Time it right, and you’ll capture the capital at its most romantic, as dusk settles over its parks and monuments and lights flicker on along its banks.

Celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Night

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The grisly origins of Guy Fawkes’ Night (or Bonfire Night) are intricately linked to several London attractions, not least the Houses of Parliament and Tower of London. One of the biggest nights of the cultural calendar, the festivities now extend from Halloween until the big day itself on November 5.

Neighborhoods large and small mark the event with organized fireworks displays and the lighting of bonfires. Some of the biggest and most spectacular take place at Battersea Park and Alexandra Palace.

Topping many bonfires will be a representation of Guy Fawkes himself, whose band of Catholic rebels attempted to blow up Protestant King James I in the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

If you’re wondering where the Tower of London fits in to all this – the plot was discovered, and Fawkes arrested. Imprisoned in the tower, he was tortured on the rack before being hung, drawn and quartered. His head ended up on a spike on London Bridge.

Take in a show

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London’s West End is probably only second to New York’s Broadway when it comes to its shows. Whilst you’ll find theaters dotted right throughout the capital, Shaftesbury Avenue continues to be the place to head.

It stretches from Piccadilly Circus and the Statue of Eros to New Oxford Street and the Georgian townhouses that lead towards the British Museum. Shaftesbury Avenue, together with the cobblestone streets around Covent Garden, are home to all sorts of characters – on and off the stage – who seem to come to life beneath the twinkling Christmas lights of late November.

New shows are opening all the time, although some have serious staying power. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is one, holding the record for the longest theater run in the world. It’s first night was back in 1952.

For festive fun and a huge dose of British custom look no further than the annual pantomimes (or pantos) at theaters like the Palladium. A mix of fairy tales and folk legends – from Cinderella to Peter Pan – they see British audiences at their most boisterous and gleeful.

Explore Westminster Abbey

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In a city of historic structures, few beside the Tower of London can compete with the heritage of Westminster Abbey. Hidden from the riverside by the Houses of Parliament, this royal church has witnessed the coronation of every British monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066, and was the setting for the marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.

Site of the grave of the Unknown Warrior and center of the capital’s November memorial services, the cathedral contains over 3000 burials, with kings accompanying prime ministers and notables such as physicist Stephen Hawking.

The abbey’s soaring gothic edifice is home to many treasures including the Coronation Throne, a simple chair of English oak, dating to 1296. But when it comes to hidden gems, this title has to go to the Jewel Tower, built as a treasure house for King Edward III in around 1365. Few Londoners have even heard of it, although it’s one of only two buildings to have survived the fire which engulfed the original Houses of Parliament in the early 1800s.

Tour the capital’s markets

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When the weather holds, the capital’s markets are attractive propositions for any list of things to do in London in November. Often situated in some of the capital’s most interesting neighborhoods, a smooch around their stalls acts as the perfect gateway to experiencing life in Britain’s biggest city. They’re also sure to never be far from a historic pub with a cozy fireplace serving the nation’s famously warm beers.

Borough Market, for instance, has been reborn from a sorry spot between London Bridge and the Globe theater to a destination well worth seeking out for its own merits. On its edges you’ll find several noteworthy pubs, including The George Inn, which dates back to the 17th century. Delve a little further, and you’ll encounter flavorful foods from every corner of the globe, as well as traditional British favorites from fish and chips to pie and mash.

Alternatively, make your way to the pastel shades of West London’s Portobello Road, whose weekly antiques market is a great place to pick up quirky mementos. But wherever you find yourself in London in November, it’s likely there’s a market somewhere close.

Save on London November attraction admission

November in London can be glorious. Although the year might be coming to a close, there are arguably more places to visit in London in November than at other times of year.

What’s more, you can explore many of the British capital’s top attractions with Go City, giving you flexibility whilst saving in one of the world’s most evocative yet expensive cities.

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