Published by the Great British Mag content team on 30 August, 2019

As summer draws to a close, we Brits start to feel a little nostalgic for days gone by. Many of September’s best events are historic ones – vintage racecars at Goodwood Revival, explorations of history and culture through the Heritage Open Days and an annual gathering of Tolkien fans at Oxonmoot. But it’s not all misty-eyed history. September is also when cutting-edge events like London Fashion Week take place. Whether you want to indulge in yesteryear or charge headfirst into the future, this month has something for you. 

Photo of the Blackpool Ferris wheel illuminated at night
Blackpool Illuminations. Photo credit: Rob Osborne

Blackpool Illuminations 

When: 30 August – 3 November

Where: The Tower Festival Headland, Blackpool 

Cost: Free to watch the illuminations

Known as “artificial sunshine,” the Illuminations mark the transition between summer and autumn in the seaside city of Blackpool. While other seaside havens are preparing for hibernation, Blackpool will continue to buzz (literally!) with excitement and offer a dazzling lights display that extends all the way from the southern district of Starr Gate to the northern village of Bispham. 

If visiting you will see why it is nicknamed the “greatest free light show on Earth,” as one million light bulbs are used to transform the city every evening. 


When: 13-15 September 

Where: St Antony’s College, Oxford

Cost: Day tickets start at £35

Oxonmoot is an annual event put on by the Tolkien Society. It pays homage to J.R.R Tolkien, the British author who is best known for his fantasy novels The Hobbit and its sequel The Lord of The Rings. Join Tolkien scholars, students and fans from all around the world for a weekend of all things Tolkien.

The event is held as close to Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday (22 September) as possible. There will be lectures, quizzes, singing, costumes – and of course it wouldn’t be a proper Hobbit birthday party without lots of good food, drink and conversation! The weekend concludes with a visit to Tolkien’s grave in Wolvercote Cemetery, where many notable British figures are buried.

Goodwood Revival 

When: 13-15 September

Where: The Goodwood Estate, West Sussex 

Cost: Tickets start at £59

Got a need for speed as well as a need to dress up? Why not combine both urges at the best vintage motor sport event of the year?

The Goodwood Revival is three days of motor sport and unadulterated nostalgia - a celebration of motor racing in the golden era of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (1948-1966 to be precise). 

Throughout the weekend races will feature a fabulous collection of classic 1950s sports-racing cars in the spirit of the Goodwood Nine Hours races, such as the Jaguar C-type, Aston Martin DB3 and DB3S, Austin-Healey 100S, Ferrari 750 Monza, Allard and HWM. 

Many visitors get into the spirit of the event by wearing period clothes. If you’re more interested in trilby hats and double-breasted suits than fuel-injection systems, you’re still sure to love this event. 

Photo of a female model in a pink dress walking down the catwalk at London Fashion Week
A model walks the catwalk at London Fashion Week. Photo credit: Dan Sims/British Fashion Council

London Fashion Week

When: 13-17 September 

Where: The Store Studio – 180  the Strand 

Cost: Tickets start at £135

If you are a fashionista and want to know what the big trends are then make a date in your diary to attend the London Fashion Week Festival. There will be for catwalk shows by leading UK and international designers and the chance to pick up exclusive designer pieces at great prices. 

Heritage Open Days 

When: 13-22 September 

Where: Across the UK 

Cost: Free 

Do you know the history, local culture and the stories behind the people and buildings in your city, town or village? Well Heritage Open Days – a collection of over 5,000 events across the country – is a great way to learn 

Whereever you are in the country you will be able to find free local talks, tours and events that will give you interesting insights.

Open House – London 

When: 21-22 September 

Where: 800 buildings across London 

Cost: Free 

If you are the nosey type and would love to take a walk around some of the London’s most important and iconic buildings – most of which are not open to the public – then feast because Open House sees 800 public and private buildings open their doors to the public. 

Some of the buildings you can visit include 10 Downing Street (understandably this is a very popular one and you have to enter a ballot for a ticket) the New Scotland Yard and the BT Tower. 

Photo of two Pearly Kings wearing fancy jackets siting and watching a crowd.
The Pearly Kings of Finsbury and Highgate rest for a moment. Photo credit: Julian Osley

Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

When: 29 September 

Where: Guildhall Yard, London

Cost: Free 

The tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival goes back 140-years when an orphan called Henry Croft, who was a road sweeper around the markets in the East End of London, started raising money for the poor. He embellished his clothes with pearl buttons to attract attention. 

His endeavours were successful and he enlisted the help of the market traders, who were a close-knit community that had a long tradition of helping each other. The market traders that helped Henry Croft were known as Costermongers, who went onto become the first Pearly families. 

The tradition is still going strong and Croft’s great-granddaughter is the Pearly Queen of Somers Town. Many Pearly Kings and Queens are carrying on Henry Croft’s charitable work. Their efforts are marked every year with a Harvest Festival at the Guildhall in London. 

The Harvest Festival is a time in the UK when people give thanks to a bountiful crop and the Pearly Kings and Queens use this as a time to remind people that there are people in every community that need help. 

The event, which starts at 1.30pm, includes traditional entertainment, such as Morris dancing, maypole dancing and marching bands, in front of the Guildhall. The Pearly Kings and Queens will be dressed in their traditional dark suits covered in hundreds of bright pearl buttons. 

Lead image credit: David Merrett