Many of London's major museums and galleries open late on specific evenings of the week, some laying on extra entertainment like jazz bands and a bar. At the Science Museum, you might even be lucky enough to catch the silent disco, which unfolds in the marvellously surreal setting of the rocket silo.
On Thursday, major attractions Whitechapel Gallery, Somerset House and the National Portrait Gallery open their doors till around 11.00pm at the latest; the latter is also open late on a Friday. The Wellcome Collection, a museum on Euston dedicated to curios from the medical trade – as well as several used guillotine blades and Napoleon's toothbrush – also open late on Thursday and often features interesting talks. In East London, an assortment of galleries spill out onto the streets and put on music and entertainment alongside the art.
The British Museum, a London institutions, opens late on Fridays. Its current major exhibits are The Horse: Ancient Arabia to the Modern World, (which feels slightly like it has been sponsored by Ascot, tracing the lineage of the thoroughbred racehorse through pictures and paintings) and this season's event Shakespeare: Staging the World. The V&A, the Tate Modern (Edward Munch and the inevitable Damien Hirst retrospective), and its often overlooked cousin the Tate Britain also feature special events and talks late on a Friday. Check out the latter's exhibition on the Romantic painters – turns out the movement extended far beyond Turner and Constable. Most emblematic is one of their satirical paintings of a fellow artist who didn't make it big, starving to death in a garret. The Royal Academy's summer exhibition, a medley of members' works and random submissions, can be viewed late too, for a price.
The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum only hold a late night once a month, but it is not to be missed. At the latter's special event there was magnetic badge-making, exhibitions on indestructible plastic, a bath-bomb making session and speed dating, on top of the aforementioned silent disco. Free entry.