A guide to the best autumn festivals in London

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There’s nowhere better than London to immerse yourself in one of the most eclectic and vibrant cultural scenes in the world. The Olympics and its accompanying events might be seen by some as the highlight of the year, but there’s plenty going on after the Games have ended.

Here are our picks of some of the best!

Trafalgar Square by night - 1Liberty Festival, Trafalgar Square (September 1st and 2nd)

This is an excellent festival to take in if you’re on a bit of a tight budget and staying in a low cost hotel in London as a result. The free annual event is always great fun for the whole family, with a host of disabled and deaf performers and artists putting on shows and displaying their works around Trafalgar Square.

While a lot of the participants will be local to London, plenty of others will come from elsewhere in the UK and the rest of the world, so this is likely to expand your cultural horizons quite a lot!

London Design Festival, various venues (September 14th to 23rd)
London Design Festival-The TournamentThis huge event attracts 350,000 people to venues across London every year, making it a must-visit festival if you have any kind of passion for the visual arts. It’s perhaps best known for its Landmark projects, which will this year include an impressive sculpture entitled Flowing Glass at Somerset House and the BE OPEN Sound Portal installation in Trafalgar Square.

Other highlights will include Keiichi Matsuda’s Prism installation at the V&A, as well as a large-scale piece by Rolf Sachs, which will be displayed at the museum’s Henry Cole Grand Staircase – a part of the building that isn’t usually open to the public.

Darbar South Asian Music Festival, Southbank Centre (September 27th to 30th)

Bollywood films are pretty famous for its bouncy song and dance routines, but the best way to get a feel for Indian music is by learning more about the country’s classical scene. Head to the Southbank Center for the Darbar South Asian Music Festival and you’ll be able to do just that.

There’ll be lots of performances to choose from, including a show by the only Indian female classical solo player of the pakhawaj, which is an incredibly old percussion instrument. A tribute to famed sitar player Ustad Vilayat Khan, who died in 2004, will also take place during the festival.

Battle of Ideas, the Barbican (October 11th to 14th)

The Barbican, LondonThis is a little highbrow, but well worth attending if you’re fascinated by the sight of experts debating hot topics in their respective fields. Around 350 speakers will discuss everything from art and politics to education and the economy over an amazing 75 sessions, so there’s sure to be something to suit your own interests.

The 2012 edition of the event will mark the first time the Institute of Ideas has held the debates at the Barbican, making this a particularly special few days – and offering a great opportunity to combine seeing a heated discussion with taking in a film, play or concert!

Frieze Art Fair, Regent’s Park (October 11th to 14th)

If you don’t fancy the Battle of Ideas, the Frieze Art Fair might be more up your street. Taking place at the same time as the aforementioned event, this incredible fair collates works from some of the most talked-about galleries in the world across many separate exhibitions.

You’ll also be able to hear artists and experts talk about specific art movements and pieces in lectures, seminars and panel discussions, offering a great experience for anyone who wants to learn all about contemporary art.

Are you planning to attend any of these events? Which festivals would you recommend to visitors to London? Let us know in the comments!

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