Student Life: Enjoy London’s Wonderful Seasonal Traditions

One of the best things about studying abroad is the opportunity to experience some of the local traditions. The festivals, food and fun can really enhance your stay, and diving into this kind of seasonal culture is something I highly recommend.

As a student, I fell in love with London not only for its exciting nightlife and history, but also because of its many charming seasonal traditions that happen towards the end of the year. I think taking part in this sort of fun gives you a very good excuse to explore beyond the immediate area of your student housing. London never fails to offer me a surprise around every corner, and these traditions are just some that make this time of the year so very special.

Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival is held every year to celebrate London’s horticulture, agriculture and the small livestock of the many city farms and community gardens. With lots of animal shows, displays, craft activities and a huge array of food and drink market stalls, the locals get together to really celebrate the outdoor life. It’s not something many people associate with one of the busiest cities in the world, but it’s a really lovely tradition to be a part of. 

Conkers

Conker is one of my favourite British words, but unless you grew up in the UK you’ve probably never even heard it. This game of skill can really only be played during the autumn months, when the horse chestnuts drop their seeds. (By the way, these are not the edible kind, so don’t try roasting them!)

Create a hole through the centre of the chestnut and insert a string through the hole so that the conker can now be suspended from a length of string that is about 20-30cm. You will then try to break your opponent’s conker by swinging at it. This traditional schoolyard game has evolved into a competitive sport, so if you get really good you can enter the World Conker Championships.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

There’s nothing more British than a blackberry or apple crumble – and the best news is you might even be able to cook one in your student housing. London’s blackberry and apple season arrives in the fall, and I found some fantastic places not far from the city where you can go on a short hike to pick (and eat) fruit to your heart’s content. Hampstead Heath is probably my favourite for blackberries, but you can also find them along Regent’s Canal and around Putney Heath. Once you’ve eaten your fill and collected a few more, just Google a recipe for traditional British crumble. Believe me, it’s easy – if I can do it, anyone can!

October Plenty Festival

If you choose the Britannia Southbank for your student housing, London puts on a wonderful (and free) festival celebrating nature every year right on your doorstep. The October Plenty Festival is held around Bankside starting at the Globe Theatre and ending at the famous Borough Markets. Hosted by a group of actors called the Young Lions, it’s a fabulous excuse for lots of music, dancing, a street procession in traditional dress, celebration of seasonal produce, conker competitions and the finale, the stripping of the ‘Corn Queene’.

Apple Cider

By the way, even if you think you already know about the tradition of drinking apple cider in the UK, you really haven’t experienced it at its best until you’ve tried it steaming hot from one of the many stalls along the route of the October Plenty Festival.

If you’re spending the fall season in London you might also be interested in this blog post about some of the wonderful events I discovered during this lovely time of the year.

If you’re planning to study abroad in London, our fantastic advisors at Britannia Student Services can help you organise the perfect accommodation. With a wealth of local knowledge, we make sure we take care of the details so you can relax and make the most out of your experience in this exciting city.

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