Aching for a night out where you can hear yourself think and just… talk? Want some cerebral fun with your cider? London is cottoning on to the fact that not all of us want to spend our nights in sticky hipster bars and there are fun, peaceful nights out that make you think popping up all over the city. Here are some of my favourites…

1. Pub philosophy / pub science

Quiet London pub events: pub philosophy

Picture credit: Thinking Bob

Organised by London socialising community thinking bob, pub philosophy/science is exactly what it sounds: a good in-depth talk about the stuff that matters (in the pub, obviously). Each month there’s a different topic; no prior knowledge on the topics is required, just switch on your brain and join in.

The event is open to thinking bob members but, since it only costs £1 to join and the event is free, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal (and I should know).

When: Each night is on once a month: keep an eye on the thinking bob socials calendar for the next date.

Where: A pub in central London

More information: Find out more about thinking bob at thinkingbob.co.uk/about/

2. Late night talks and Tours

London Thinks event with Brian Cox at Conway Hall, London

London’s museums and interesting buildings are not just for perusing: many of them also hold fascinating (and sometimes free) talks on topics relating to their exhibits. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening, and usually means you get to see the museum in question after hours.

When: Various dates, usually during the week

More information: Visit the museum or organisation’s website for details about upcoming events: some museums that hold regular talks and special tours include:

3. Silent Reading Parties

Reading a book on the sofa

Picture credit: Jonatan Lindström on Flickr / Creative Commons

Yes, it’s a party where no one talks – they just read. No, it’s not a book club. Silent Reading Parties are just a chance to switch off your phone/iPad/other distracting electrical gadget and just read for an hour without distraction. They’re held in The Ivy House, a beautiful, spacious pub in Nunhead, and once the hour is up the social starts and there’s even a deal on a pie at the bar.

When: Once a month

Where: The Ivy House, Nunhead

More information: Visit the Facebook group

4. Knitting groups

Knitting: A Gudrun Johnston Pattern

Picture credit: apicturebookmind on Flickr / Creative Commons

In London it seems like you can do just about anything with a drink in your hand/nearby, and that includes knitting. There are tons of different groups offering everything from classes for beginners to spinning and a Sunday roast.

More information: Knit, crochet and drink your way across the city by searching Meetup.com or take a look at I Knit London.

5. Poppy Loves Book Club

Poppy Loves Book Club

Picture credit: Poppy Loves

There are book clubs, and then there are global book clubs where the author joins in. Poppy Loves Book Club is the latter: every month, women all over the world read the same book at the same time and then come together to discuss it. The author often also participates, and if you can’t make it to the London location then you can join in online instead.

When: Every month

Where: Find your nearest location, or join online via Facebook

More information: Visit Poppy’s blog

6. Cross me if you can: Cryptic Crosswords in the pub

Cryptic crosswords in the pub

Picture credit: Thinking Bob

Another thinking bob special: each month they meet in the pub to attack a cryptic crossword. There are also experts on hand to teach you the basics of solving them for beginners, and a growing table of members who meet every week to hone their skills.

When: Once a month: keep an eye on the thinking bob socials page for the next date

Where: In a central London pub

More information: Find out more about thinking bob at thinkingbob.co.uk/about/

7. Museum Lates

Natural History Museum Late

Another gem of an idea from London’s museums: visit after-hours, buy a drink and enjoy the exhibits without the kids getting in the way. The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A, Leighton House, Sir John Soane’s Museum and even the London Dungeons all host their own Lates evenings.

Some (like the Science Museum) hold special talks and stands during their Lates evenings, whereas others (such as the Natural History Museum) put a bar on and are just a lot less crowded than a normal day.

When: About once a month in each museum

More information: Search for your chosen museum followed by ‘lates’ and you should end up where you want to be.

8. Escape games

time run escape game in London

Picture credit: Time Run (click the image to visit their website)

Ever wanted a go at The Crystal Maze? Escape games give you a chance to try. These interactive games are exceptionally detailed, themed and devilishly difficult: you get an hour to try to get yourself out of a locked room. An absolute must for puzzle fans!

More information: View a full list of the best escape games here

9. Jamboree Celtic sessions

Celtic session at Jamboree in Limehouse, East London

Jamboree is a small, independent music venue featuring music from all around the world, Celtic sessions, Cretan folk, Turkish tango, Gypsy swing, African and Caribbean music, Balkan brass and more, seven nights a week. On Tuesdays they hold their weekly celtic sessions, promising to be ‘like a little pub at the top of the village, bustling with locals and friends’. Sounds good to me.

When: Celtic sessions every Tuesday

Where: Cable Street Studios Courtyard, 566 Cable Street, Limehouse, London, E1W 3HB

More information: jamboreevenue.co.uk

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