With around half the day bereft of sunlight, it's a good job London has as many things to do in the dark as it does when the sun's up (even if it is hidden behind clouds for much of the time).
Read on for just a few ideas of what you might like to do in the dark, in London.
1. Eat in the Dark at Dans le Noir
Dans le Noir offers an experience quite unlike any other. A unique experience that aims to help diners zone in on their sense of taste and smell, the entire event is held in complete darkness. The menu isn't revealed until after you've finished eating, with an array of dishes created by chef Olivier Romain designed to tease your mind and tantalise your taste buds. Find out more about the extraordinary Dans le Noir experience here.
2. Stargaze from Hampstead Observatory Hampstead Observatory offers a fabulous chance to explore the night sky thanks to its powerful six-inch Cooke refracting telescope. Astronomers at the observatory help you pick out various stars, planets and constellations of interest, while regaling you with extraordinary stories from outer space. If you time it right, you might even get to see a meteorite sweeping by. Check the observatory's website for information on upcoming events. Entry is free, though donations are welcome.
3. Enjoy a Drink in London's Pub of the Year You probably already have a favourite London boozer, but why not give the SPBW (Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood) London Pub of the Year 2012 a try? You'll find the Royal Oak on Tabard Street just off Borough High Street (nearest tube stations Borough or London Bridge).
4. Take a Ride on the London Eye Going on the London Eye in the nighttime offers a completely different experience to going on in the day. When darkness falls, the lights of London twinkle majestically as far as the eye can see, creating a beautiful awe-inspiring scene for you to marvel at from 135-metres up. The 35-minute ride isn't cheap, but if you can scrape the pennies and pounds together, it'd make for a romantic date with your other half, or a wonderful birthday present that couldn't fail to impress.
5. Go on a Bat Walk
Yes, you read it right: bat walks. You probably didn't know it, but London is home to around six different kinds of bat, some with wingspans of up to 40cm. So, for something a little different, how about joining a bat walk led by the London Bat Group. This organisation exists not only to protect and conserve these nocturnal creatures, but also to teach the public about them. The guided walks (some of which are free) take place in various locations – check out its calendar page for more information. The London Wetland Centre also organises bat-based walks. Click here to learn more.
6. Go on the London By Night Sightseeing Tour
Enjoy London by night from the comfort of an open-top bus (or closed if it's winter). The tour takes you past lots of London landmarks "at their floodlit best", including St. Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. The ride costs £19 for adults and £16 for children and takes 90 minutes, though you're free to hop on and off as you please.
7. Join the Jack the Ripper Walk
London Walks operates many fascinating tours of the city, one of the most popular being the Jack the Ripper Walk. Aiming to "evoke that autumn of gaslight and fog - of menacing shadows and stealthy footsteps", the guide takes you, under cover of darkness, to the Ripper's various murder sites, telling the sinister story of those notorious crimes committed over 100 years ago. The daily walk starts at Tower Hill tube station at 7.30pm. Click here for more details.
8. Try Nighttime Photography
London after dark is a source of inspiration for many a photographer. If you've never explored London at night with your camera, how about giving it a go? To help you get the most out of your photographic adventure, consider joining Frui'sAn Introduction to Night Photography course, promising a "hands-on and informative evening photography workshop" based around St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.
9. Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
Another event best enjoyed at night, the Ceremony of the Keys, which has taken place every evening for the last 700 years, is open to the public between September and January. If you're lucky enough to secure a ticket for this popular event, you'll be able to watch the formal locking up of the Tower, involving plenty of pomp and, as its name suggests, a whole lot of ceremony.
London is one of the busiest, most exciting places on the planet. Twenty-four hours exploring this place means you'll be in need of a decent kip to get your mind and body back in shape. Stay off the tea and coffee for a few hours before you retire for the night, take a relaxing hot bath and put your head down for a deep, restful slumber – in the dark, of course.