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Friday Late Nights at the National Gallery

BY Boon Koh
Published 20 October 2009

Peace.     Quiet.     Leisurely.

Those are three important things required to enjoy art, but in London it is almost impossible to achieve all three at any art gallery during the weekend. For working professionals, the choice is either a Saturday or Sunday afternoon of rubbing elbows with tourists (and rubbing ankles with screaming children), or go super-early on a weekend morning. Neither is ideal and is quite a deterrent to enjoy the quality artwork that hang’s in the capital’s galleries.

National Gallery Guided Tour

However, with the Friday late night opening at the National Gallery, you can at least have all three and enjoy Carravagio and Rubens art that adorn the wall of this venerable institution. The museum is now open until 9pm in the evenings on Friday, and while it is still free and open to the public, you will see very few children and yet fewer tourists. These extended opening hours have been a boon to art lovers in London. One can enjoy top must-see artworks such as Rembrandt’s self-portraits or Van Gogh’s vacant chair, or take the time to explore some of the lesser known works in the gallery.

In addition to exploring the paintings, you can catch a temporary exhibition specially put on for Friday Lates, guided tours, talks, and events. There will also be soothing live music and the bar and café will be open throughout till 9pm to allow you to have a drink and a bite to eat. The National Dining Rooms inside the National Gallery is an attraction itself, and while I don’t know if it is open for the Friday Late Nights too, be sure to try some of their pastries from the famed Peyton & Byrne patisserie and bakery.

The free guided tours, an especially popular feature of the Friday Late Nights, runs every week from 7 to 8pm, starting at the Sainsbury Wing Information Desk. Other special events for the Friday Lates can be found on this page here.

Address: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

Nearest Tube Stations: Charing Cross Tube & Rail Station (5 minutes walk), Leicester Square Tube Station (5 minutes walk), Covent Garden Tube Station (15 minutes walk)