Culture After Dark: Best London Museum Lates

One of my favourite ways to visit a museum is in the evening, after the crowds have gone. You don’t need special access to enjoy after hours access as many of London’s cultural hotspots have regular late night openings. Often there are special talks, activities and music along with food and drink. Let me guide you through the best London museum lates.

Cecily Brown painting and glass ceiling light at the Courtauld Gallery Somerset House London

Best London Museum Lates Free


Ok, so Christies in not a museum or an art gallery it is an auction house. No matter it still puts on some of the best shows in town and they are always free. Christies also puts on some pretty spectacular lates, you need to book a ticket but entry is free. Once inside you will find music, workshops, talks and a pay bar.

  • Christies, King Street, SW1Y 6QT
  • Ad hoc Wednesdays
  • Admission: Free but you need to book a ticket

Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld has three lates a year in April, June and October. You get access to the galleries, there are workshops and a DJ in the courtyard. Tickets are free but you do need to book.

  • Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
  • Mid month Wednesday in April, June and November
  • Admission: Free but booking is essential

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Lates at Dulwich are ad hoc at the moment but tend to be on a Friday. You need to pay for entry to the gallery as usual but the DJ sets and workshops are free, there is also a pay bar. Check the Gallery website for details and to book.

  • Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich SE21 7AD
  • Ad hoc Fridays
  • Admission: Free but exhibition tickets still needed

National Gallery

Room 51 and the Wilton Diptych is where I would head on a Friday Night late at the National Gallery. Every Friday the Gallery stays open until 9pm and there are usually special events and tours. Check the website to see what’s on and book tickets.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
  • Every Friday until 9pm
  • Admission: Free

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum really goes to town on its last Friday of the month lates. There is always an array for free activities and sometimes paid ones as well. You can meet the scientists, go on special behind the scenes tours until 10pm.

  • Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road,SW7 5BD
  • Last Friday of the month until 10pm
  • Admission: Free but you need to book a ticket

Pitzhanger Manor

On the last Thursday evening of the month Pitzhanger Manor is open until 8.30pm. Each month there are different activities laid on. Sometimes a concert, maybe an art class or possibly a talk. Or you could just wander round the house. Events are free, although sometimes there is a suggested donation.

  • Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing Green, W5 5EQ 
  • Last Thursdays until 8.30pm
  • Admission: Free but booking recommended

Science Museum

Adults only at the Science Museum lates on the last Wednesday of every month. They are so popular that you need a ticket which is free. Or your can pay £10 for a VIP ticket which gets you in early (from 6.15pm), includes a drink and 15% off in the shop. Once inside you will find a bar, live music, a silent disco, you can meet curators or take part in Talkaoke where you can exchange ideas until late into the night.

  • Science Museum, Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD
  • Last Wednesday of the month 7.30 – 10pm
  • Admission: Free but you must book a ticket.

Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery

Three times a year Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery through their doors open at night. In the main courtyard there is a pop up street food market, along with workshops and artworks. In the Courtauld there are special curator tours and a series of pop up talks. Most events are free.

  • Somerset House, Strand
  • Three times a year in April, June and October
  • Admission free but a charge for some events

South London Gallery

Every Wednesday and the last Friday of the month the South London Gallery in London is open until 9pm. Keep an eye on the Gallery website for special events, the excellent Crane’s Kitchen is open until 8pm.

  • South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH
  • Every Wednesday and last Friday until 9pm
  • Admission free

Tate Modern

The last Friday of the month is the day to head to for Tate Modern Lates. Music, workshops, curator talks and pop up bars are scattered across the Tate Modern Buildings check the website for details of what’s on when you plan to visit. If you just want to visit Tate Modern without all the razzmatazz then it is open every Friday and Saturday until 10pm. I can vouch that the bar is fine place to watch the sun go down.

  • Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG
  • Open until 10pm every Thursday and Friday
  • Tate Modern Lates last Friday of the month
  • Admission: Free but you need to book a ticket

Tate Britain

Late at Tate Britain returns on July the first, after that lates are planned for the first Friday in September, December and March. Workshops and music are promised. In July Hew Locke’s installation The Procession will be the focus of the evening.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank SWiP 4RG
  • First Friday in July, September, December and March
  • Admission: Free

Two Temple Place

Cultural Wednesday evenings are a thing at Two Temple Place. Well sometimes. Usually when there is an exhibition on. Check their website before you head for the Embankment. Sometimes there is live music, there is always a pay bar, an exhibition and the amazing interior to look at.

Victoria and Albert Museum

London museum lates were invented at the V&A. The museum is open until 10pm every Friday but on the last Friday of the month things really come alive. Bands play, special installations are put on, talks are held. There is a bar. Check out the V&A website for details of the latest Friday Late.

  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
  • Open every Friday until 10pm
  • Last Friday of the month bands and special events until 10pm
  • Admission: Free

Whitechapel Art Gallery

The first Thursday of every month is the evening to head east. 150 galleries in East London band together for an evening exhibitions, talks and private views. There are walking routes round the galleries or you can meander on your own path. Maps are available either online or at the Whitechapel Gallery on the night.

Nocturnal Creatures is an annual late night festival hosted by the Whitechapel but spread across the East End and the City. Sculpture in the City will have artists such as Sarah Lucas, Marina Abramovic and Tracey Emin. There will be music, performance, video and soundscapes. Take a look at the Whitechapel website for the full programme.

  • Whitechapel Gallery
  • First Thursday of every month
  • Nocturnal Creatures Saturday 21 July
  • Admission Free

Best Paid London Museum Lates

Barbican Art Gallery

If you work in the City instead of staying tethered to your desk or heading for train why not check out what the Barbican Art Gallery has to offer. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday the gallery stays open until 8pm.

  • Barbican Art Gallery
  • Open late until 8pm every Thursday and Friday
  • Admission: Adult £18


Back in the day there used to be an Odeon cinema deep underground by Marble Arch now the site is occupied by Frameless and the huge auditoriums used to project art onto the walls. Immersive art can sometimes be lacklustre, not at Frameless which is excellent. On Friday and Saturday nights they are open late and have a bar to enhance the experience.

  • Frameless
  • Open until 10pm every Friday and Saturday
  • Admission: from £27 strictly adults only for lates

London Transport Museum

On selected Fridays the London Transport has lates themed around the special exhibition. There are special activities, curator tours and a pay bar. You need to book tickets rather just turn up. Check out the London Transport Museum website for dates and booking.

St Martin in the Fields

The Crypt under St Martin in the Fields is home to an excellent cafe and in the evening it becomes the venue for Crypt Lates. The cafe transforms into a caberet. You can buy drinks and food from the cafe before settling down to musical performances, the current programme features artists from the West End shows that surround the theatre. On some evenings the Crypt becomes the venue for a silent disco. Nothing as easy as every second Tuesday, take a look at the St Martin in the Fields website for full details.

  • St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ
  • Dates vary, see website for the full programme.
  • Admission: Tickets start at £8

Sir John Soane’s Museum

After dark is the best time to imagine yourself at home with Sir John Soane. His house, know known as the Sir John Soane’s Museum is lit with candles on the last Friday of the month. You almost expect him to wander in with news of his latest project at any moment. Experts are on hand to deliver interesting talks at key points in the house and you even get a glass of wine. You need to book a time slot, visits lasting about 90 minutes, the first is at 6pm and the last 8pm.

  • Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2A 3BP
  • Last Friday of the month until 9.30pm
  • Admission: £25, booking essential

More and more galleries and museums are announcing a return to hosting lates, I’ll add them here as I hear about them. If I have missed your favourite, let me know and I’ll add it.

Best London Museum Lates guide to regular late night opening in London's cultural hotspots

For a full round up of the best exhibitions on in London at the moment check out my London exhibitions post, if its food and drink you’re after try my Best London Museum Cafe’s post. Thinking about heading out of town take a look at my Exhibitions Worth Travelling For post.


1 Comment

  1. Pat
    April 23, 2022 / 12:32 pm

    Just visited the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth after reading about it in your blogg. Well worth a visit .

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