Features

18/08/21


Lectures & Talks In London

So, this year Life has decided to give us all a quick crash course on virology, epidemiology, and the apparent difficulty of wearing a mask over your mouth and nose simultaneously. Attendance was compulsory, and it wasn’t fun.

But as life returns, so too do the city’s guest speakers, research professors, illustrious poets, artists, and social activists who regularly take to the stage in London to share their insights with the masses. Whatever you want to brush up on – whether it’s politics, tech, or just the role of monkeys in science fiction, there’s a lecture, candlelit evening, or mind-broadening salon to suit you.

And so to buoy you forwards on your quest for intellectual enlightenment, we’ve picked out not only the best places that are putting on regular talks, but also the best events coming up in the imminent future.

So without further ado…


BOOK NOW: Annie Leibovitz at The Barbican, November 29th


TOP UPCOMING PICKS:

Chewing the Fat with Jay Rayner & Jo Brand

Jay Rayner is possibly the nation’s most famous food critic, and possibly the most entertaining too, and those two things are not a coincidence. In this talk, he’ll be in conversation with Jo Brand, chewing the fat with her about the decades he’s spent literally chewing the fat on the frontlines of England’s dinner tables.

Details: September 6th, 7.30pm | Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 7EZ | £29-£34 (Tickets priced at £34 include a copy of the book Chewing the Fat: Tasting Notes from a Greedy Life)

Sally Rooney: Beautiful World, Where Are You

After publishing her debut novel Conversations with Friends, the New York Times described Sally Rooney as the “first great millennial author”. After publishing her second novel, Normal People, The Guardian called her “the literary phenomenon of the decade”. And on the very day she’ll be publishing her third novel, she’s holding a talk at the Southbank Centre…

Details: September 7th, 7.30pm | Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX | £10-£20

Ben Fogle: Tales From the Wilderness

Take a map of the world, put on a blindfold, and throw a dart at it, and you’re likely to hit somewhere that Ben Fogle has been to. He’s rowed the Atlantic, crossed the Antarctic, conquered Everest, spent a year as a castaway, and that’s not to mention the various desserts, jungles, and cave systems that he’s explored. But he will be mentioning them at his talk in London this September.

Details: September 7th, 7.30pm | London Union Chapel | £33

HowTheLightGetsIn 2021

Having established a pretty decent reputation for themselves as Europe’s answer to TED Talks, HowTheLightGetsIn has managed to enlist a pretty impressive and eclectic lineup of minds to share their bountiful thoughts – this year, you’ll hear from speakers like Peter Mandelson & Vince Cable; trailblazing feminist Laurie Penny; award-winning journo David Aaronovitch; theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder; and bad boy ‘firebrand philosopher’ Slavoj Žižek, to name but a few.

Details: September 18th-19th | Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, Highgate, NW3 7JR | £118

Mars Missions 2021: Early Discoveries

Professor Andrew Coates will talk about the three successful missions that landed on the Martian soil in February of this year (from the UAE, China, and NASA) and what they discovered. Because there’s some small chance that they might soon be able to answer literally the biggest question in the history of our species: are we alone?

Details: September 20th, 1pm-2pm | Barnard’s Inn Hall, Holborn, EC1N 2HH | Free (registration required)

Apes in Science Fiction

From King Kong, to Planet of the Apes, to Ross Geller’s pet monkey that starred in Outbreak, there have been a lot of primates throughout the history of sci-fi. And, as professor Jim Endersby notes, they happen to look an awful lot like a strange reflection of ourselves…

Details: September 27th, 6pm-7pm | Barnard’s Inn Hall, Holborn, EC1N 2HH | Free (registration required)

An Evening With Staley Tucci

If you’re not already convinced that this is going to be a great event by the name itself, then allow us to expound on who Stanley Tucci is. He’s been in movies like Spotlight, The Hunger Games, Captain America: The First Avenger, and dozens more. He’s published two cookbooks, and he married Emily Blunt’s sister. He’s won Emmys & Golden Globes, and he’s lived an extraordinary life. And he’s definitely worth spending an evening listening to.

Details: October 3rd & 4th | The London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, W1F 7TF | £40-£50

Blacks Britannica: Diversity in Medieval and Early Modern England

“Africans have been present in England for more than two thousand years, but we rarely see them or hear about them”. Peering back through the distorted, fractured lens of time, while simultaneously nimbly sidestepping the double-edged sword of political correctness, Dr Onyeka Nubia will attempt to show the fundamental importance of African people to the nation’s history, and to the culture we know today.

Details: October 6th, 6pm-7pm | Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN | Free (registration required)

An Evening With Bruce Dickinson

Sure, we all know Bruce Dickinson as the lead singer of Iron Maiden… but did you know he also moonlights as a pilot, beer brewer, motivational speaker, film scriptwriter, best-selling novelist, radio presenter, TV actor, sports commentator and international fencer? Well, he’ll tell you during the course of his thoroughly interesting talk…

Details: October 16th, 6.30pm | O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, W12 8TT | £41-£47

Tim Peake: My Journey to Space

You know how at every dinner party, there’s someone who tries to one-up your cool story? Well, Tim Peake has developed a surefire way to deal with those people by simply going into space. No-one can top that. And he’ll tell you all about it, from training to touchdown, at his talk in the Southbank Centre (along with some breathtaking photographs and never-before-seen footage).

Details: October 30th, 7.30pm | Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX | £20-£45

 


REGULAR LECTURES & TALKS:

The Culpeper Astronomy Nights

The Culpeper talks

The Culpeper‘s rooftop astronomy nights have attained near-mythical status. Not just because they’re great, but because tickets are rarer than gold dust. Conducted with an intimate crowd of around 15, you’ll start your evening with a feast in the Culpeper’s dining room before a short lesson on the constellations, before heading up to the roof to take a peek at the moon, stars and planets through a professional telescope.

Details: 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP Sign up for ticket releases here

Nicer Tuesdays

A regular evening curated by It’s Nice That, during which four speakers from creative industries discuss their most seminal projects to date, and reveal the processes behind them in short, snappy presentations. They also sell out quicker than hotcakes, so subscribe to their mailing list to stay updated on ticket releases.

Details: Oval Space, 29–32 The Oval, E2 9DT Last Tuesday of every month

V&A

V&A Lunchtime lectures in London

Tucked away from the museum’s busier rooms is the V&A’s princely lecture hall, lined with some of history’s great thinkers (which, very shortly, will also include you). They offer free lunchtime lectures as well as ticketed evening talks, variously inspired by current exhibitions; prized objects; and even the process of collecting itself.

Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | What’s On Listen to previous lectures here

The London Art Salon

The London Art Salon like to frame things a little differently. Committed to breaking down barriers to art, they cut out any pretentiousness with accessible one-off lectures and tours around the best current exhibitions in London.

Details: Various locations What’s On

Fane

The people at Fane specialise in getting big name speakers (we’re talking Dame Judi Dench, Graham Norton, Margaret Atwood, etc.) and giving them some of the finest platforms in London to speak about their cause/life/new book/pet peeves/and so on.

Details: Various locations What’s On

How To Academy

Striking the tricky balance between talks that aren’t overly broad and vague, but aren’t university-level specific either, the How To Academy host lectures across London with a range of speakers. You can listen to in-depth discussions from historians, professors and researchers; learn business skills from some of the world’s most experienced consultants and coaches; and hear from famous figures from Rory Stewart to Al Gore.

Details: Across London What’s On

National Theatre

National Theatre London

Get a peek behind the scenes at the National Theatre, where you can hear about out how theatre is made from the directors, actors, set designers and even wig-makers working on current productions.

Details: Upper Ground, SE1 8XX What’s On

National Gallery

The National Gallery is essentially an art school, with free lunchtime lectures on various paintings; longer lectures on broader themes; ‘Talk and Draw’ workshops, where you’ll hear from an expert on a particular painting before creating your own take on the piece; and their 10 minute talks, taking place every weekday at 4pm at a different painting in the gallery.

Details: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | What’s On

The British Museum

British Museum - talks and lectures in London

Curators, historians and archeologists take to the stand at the British Museum, where you can score everything from free gallery talks to Latin classes. There are regular free lectures linked to current exhibitions, as well as study days on weekends that combine talks, tours and screenings for an intensive introduction to some of the world’s most interesting places, people and eras.

Details: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG | What’s On

The School of Life

How to Make Love Last. How to Fail. The Meaning of Life. Just a couple of the breezy, light-hearted topics the School of Life are tackling with their near-daily lectures, hosted by speakers, philosophers, thinkers, creatives and psychologists drawn from around the world. Settle in for an evening class, all-day workshop or 5 day course – you know, depending on how dedicated you are to finding eternal serenity and stuff. READ MORE

Details: 70 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AB | What’s On

The British Academy

British Academy talks and lectures in London

Set in the grandiose surroundings of William Gladstone’s former mansion, the British Academy is a century-old society dedicated to tackling the big questions in the humanities and social sciences. Drop by for discussions on loneliness or the future of romance, while taking a peek at one of London’s most opulent buildings.

Details: 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y 5AH What’s On

University College London

UCL has over 100 different academic departments, which together make for an insanely varied calendar of both free talks and ticketed lectures, on topics as wide as artificial intelligence to Latin American street art. Held in the University’s own lecture rooms, it’s all the useful bits of uni (learning about what you want) without any of the bad bits (essays, exams, jägerbombs).

Details: Across the UCL Campus What’s On

Conway Hall

The Conway Hall Ethical Society has roots going as far back as 1793, and is now the only remaining ethical society in the UK.

Essentially, it’s there for moral support.

And it’s achieving this not only through courses, photography workshops, film screenings, free concerts, comedy nights and language classes, but also by lining up a roster of esteemed activists, writers and academics who speak on topics like the societal impact of big data and the technocracy, political extremism, and the significance of corridors.

Details: 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL What’s On

Gresham College

Gresham College has been hosting free lectures for Londoners for over four centuries, so it’s fair to say they’ve got the formula down. They host around 130 lectures throughout the year on topics across the arts and sciences, while the 2,000+ lectures that have been recorded there since the ’80s can be found on their website, too. Ideal for a classic evening of “How To Be A Shakespearean Atheist” ‘n’ chill.

Details: Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH What’s On

The Last Tuesday Society

Last Tuesday Society Talks and Lectures in London

The Last Tuesday Society is not your average bar. And the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities is not your average museum. So the events held amongst the stuffed two-headed animals and voodoo dolls are just a touch unusual too; from absinthe tastings to taxidermy classes; and gothic storytelling to séances round the sarcophagus. They’re restricted to digital events for the moment, but expect that to change imminently…

Details: 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP What’s On

Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy has been training and promoting artists since the reign of George III. Now, it’s promoting art appreciation, too, thanks to both the 15 minute mini-talks that take place around its galleries, and the more in-depth discussions covering both the history and future of art – not to mention the celebrated Lates; colourful parties filled with after-hours gallery openings, immersive performances and talks.

Details: Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD What’s On

The Old Operating Theatre Museum

Old Operating Theatre Museum

Tucked away in a church attic, The Old Operating Theatre Museum was once the venue for surgery performed on female patients from the neighbouring St. Thomas hospital. Now, it’s home to film screenings, secret concerts, quirky historical talks and the occasional after-hours Victorian surgical demonstration.

Details: Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY What’s On

 

Last Updated: 18th August 2021 | Main image: Royal Academy Lates

 


Thirst for knowledge still not quenched? Pay a visit to the most Unusual Museums in London




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