Tourists Visiting This Iconic City Will Want To Know About The 'London Lates'

London is a place that every traveler should visit at least once in their lifetime – and for many, it becomes a destination they long to return to time and time again. The bustling and beautiful city has been continuously inhabited for nearly 2,000 years, and it remains one of the world's largest and most iconic cities. On a trip to London, you'll be able to experience the city's rich history every time you leave your hotel. Over the millennia, the city has undergone countless changes, creating a unique architectural melting pot that blends the old with the new.

Whether you're in the mood to party all night at the pubs and clubs, visit historical sites, dine at world-famous restaurants, or walk in the footsteps of some of your favorite writers, actors, and musicians, London delivers. History buffs will be delighted to see epic sites like The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace up close. The lively streets of Soho have some of London's best nightlife, while the markets of Portobello Road offer incredible vintage shopping. Visit Abbey Road, where the Beatles recorded, or hop on the Tube to check out locations from movies like "Harry Potter." Of course, no trip to London Town is complete without visiting some of the fantastic museums and art galleries. For a fun-filled cultural experience, plan your museum visits during the "London Lates," which allow locals and tourists access to some of the best attractions after the sun sets. 

Experience London culture after dark

The city offers so many attractions you won't want to miss that it's almost overwhelming. If you're lucky enough to visit on London Late days (which vary by museum), you must add them to your itinerary. Museums and art galleries are always amazing, but visiting at night is particularly magical. Plus, you can avoid the day crowds! Many participating locations offer extra-special bonuses like food, drinks, workshops, movie screenings, lectures, special exhibits, and live musical performances.

Imagine spending an evening wandering around some of the most famous museums in the world as you sip on a glass of wine, surrounded by stylish Londoners engaged in conversations about art, music, and culture. Feast your eyes on exhibits while grooving to a featured DJ's performance. The Lates are a total vibe, and they often feel more like a party than a visit to the museum. For lovers of art and culture, they're a highlight of any trip to London. Almost all of London's major cultural institutions offer extended hours at some point throughout the year — and for many popular spots, it's a monthly occurrence. 

The Lates offer more than just an opportunity to visit museums after hours — they open up cultural spaces to a larger audience, making art more accessible and fun for people from all walks of life while celebrating London's diversity and amplifying voices that are often overlooked in such spaces. For travelers, they offer an opportunity to enjoy London's best tourist attractions alongside the locals.

The best London Lates

London's West Kensington neighborhood is home to not one, but three world-famous museums that stay open late once a month. The Victoria and Albert Museum was one of the pioneers in making the London Lates what they are today. It's London's premier museum for art, design, and performance. The Lates take place on the final Friday of each month and last from 6:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Expect special programming like live performances, talks by emerging artists, debates, and more. The event is completely free to attend.

London's Science Museum is incredible, and the monthly Late is an ideal time to visit for a kid-free educational experience. The event is open to anyone over the age of 18 and runs from 6:45 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month. Each month focuses on a different theme with unique events and offerings. There's also a silent disco, which costs couple extra dollars. It's free to attend, but you'll need to secure a ticket ahead of time by visiting the museum's website.

The Natural History Museum's Lates (you'll have to search the events page) take place on the final Friday of each month and feature special events like science talks, exhibitions, movie screenings, and guided tours. Events usually cost money and frequently run from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Afterwards, there is a silent disco in Hintze Hall, which requires purchasing a separate ticket ahead of time and sells out months in advance.

More evening events to consider

For even more fun at the Natural History Museum, you can attend an adults-only sleepover called Dino Snores several times a year, which includes dinner, cocktails, tons of special activities, morning yoga, and breakfast. 

Tate Modern offers late night admission on the final Friday of each month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You can sign-up for a free ticket ahead of time online or drop-in. Activities include DJ performances, films, workshops led by artists, movement workshops, and guided discussions about art. There are also alcoholic beverages available for purchase. The British Museum stays open late until 8:30 p.m. every single Friday and admission is free, but you're encouraged to book a time slot ahead of time. Keep in mind the last time slot is at 7 p.m., but you can drop-in as late as 8:15 p.m. The National Gallery also remains open late every Friday throughout the month until 9 p.m. often offering special events, dance performances, activities, and exhibitions. 

We've only included a small sampling of the London Late fun. Most museums and galleries in the city offer after-hours events throughout the month, so ensure you check the website of the museums and galleries you plan on visiting. Since most of the events are free, they're the perfect way to enjoy a vacation in London on a tight budget and a great way to meet people if you're exploring the city alone.