If you think the City action tends to wind down soon after the London Stock Exchange closes for the day, you’re probably someone who heads home at rush hour. Sure, you know about the cool bars and rooftop restaurants, but what if you’re actually hungry for a bit of culture?
From live music to cabaret, or dance performances to arthouse films, the City has it covered after hours.
Listen to live music
As Europe’s largest multi-arts venue, the Barbican Centre is a cultural space like no other. As a big name it pulls in a diverse range of talent – from international orchestras to emerging stars from both the classical and contemporary music scenes. Check out the events programme which ranges from Barbican residents the London Symphony Orchestra to indie-folk musician Aldous Harding.
You can also catch public performances from orchestras, jazz bands, opera singers and soloists at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Attracting talent from the UK and around the world (Guildhall is in the top ten of performing arts institutions globally), you could be watching one of the next big names in music.
There’s live music on every night of the week over at Eastcheap Records, where gigs make way for drinking and eating into the early hours. Old school, new school, funk, soul, RnB, jazz…whatever your vibe, you may need to be WFH after one of their legendary Thursday nights.
If you want to slow down in style, swing by St Stephen Walbrook church for Rush Hour Jazz, a relaxed monthly performance in a beautiful church setting from a selection of London’s notable jazz artists. It’s free but donations are very welcome.
Watch outstanding theatre
When Shakespeare moved to the City he began one of the most fruitful periods of his life. Many of his plays were written and performed for the first time here, marking the beginning of London’s long theatrical history – one that continues today in the City’s contemporary performance spaces.
Bridewell Theatre, a thriving off-West End venue which is built over the City of London’s first swimming pool, plays host to production companies throughout the year – catch evening performances of comedies, popular musicals and Shakespeare (it also happens to be fairly close to the site of the old Blackfriars Playhouse, jointly owned by Shakespeare and considered one of the most important sites in English theatre history).
Back at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, you can enjoy contemporary retellings of the classics or brand new works written, directed and performed by final-year actors. The School’s acting alumni include the likes of Orlando Bloom, Michaela Coel, Daniel Craig and Lily James, so you may be watching the early work of another new star.
The Barbican’s theatre and dance programme offers the chance to see award-winning international productions, contemporary dance, poetry and spoken word.
Enjoy glamorous cabaret
Looking for a night out with a little edge? The 1920s speakeasy glamour of Proud City promises an evening of food and cocktails with a side helping of decadent fun. Fancy dinner with a seductive burlesque show or will it be eyes down for some cheeky drag bingo?
View fascinating exhibitions
It feels kind of special to stroll around a gallery after hours and two exhibition spaces in the City give you the chance to view the displays after the 9-to-5. Explore the Bank of England Museum on a Museum Late (until 8pm on the third Thursday of every month) when you can discover the history of banknotes, hear fascinating talks and handle real gold bars (security is tight, don’t even think about it).
You could also visit a real Roman temple before dinner at the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE. The remains of this 3rd century Temple of Mithras are brought vividly to life in a multi-sensory, immersive experience beneath financial news company Bloomberg’s European headquarters. Doors stay open until 8pm on the first Thursday of every month.
Watch critically-acclaimed films
Showcasing new releases and supporting work by emerging filmmakers, you know that whatever you choose to watch at Barbican Cinema, you’ll be in for a treat. Check out the programme for news of upcoming film festivals, screenings from the archive, and talks by leading names in independent cinema.