Millennium Bridge, London

BIMM Cities / Freshers Guides

A Freshers Guide to London

9th August 2023

Music is part of London’s DNA: in the clubs, pubs, venues, and even the streets. From the Swinging ’60s, Sex Pistols and the punk movement of the 1970s and 80s, to today’s thriving grime and rap scenes with Mercury Prize winners Little Simz and Dave, London caters to everyone’s tastes.

The City

In London, you’ll be able to experience other cultures in everything from fashion to food to film. Few other places can rival London’s ability to travel a few stops on the Underground but change your surroundings completely.

London is often seen as more of a collection of villages than a coherent city, a collision of different communities. Spend any amount of time in Brixton’s electric atmosphere or the charm of Dalston, and it’s incredible to realise that you’re just a few miles away from the glass towers of Canary Wharf or townhouses of Kensington. But best of all is when all these varied people come together and share each other’s passion as the house lights dim at Camden Koko or Amazing Grace.

If you’re looking for a studio in London, BIMM University has a standing partnership with Pirate Studios in Earlsfield, which allows students discounted bookings for studio and practice spaces. Matrix Studios is near Parsons Green (although these rooms are only available to rent monthly), and Ritz Rehearsal Studio in Putney has fantastic facilities too. 

Cultural spots in London are aplenty. South Bank (near Waterloo) is known for its buskers and the Tate Gallery. Head towards Chelsea for the V&A and the Science Museum. Or venture to Shoreditch for pop-up events and independent creative spaces.

London by night with Christmas lights overhead

The Nightlife

When it comes to music in the capital, anything goes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hip-hop head, a jazz fiend, or an all-out tech metal fan. This city has something for everyone. 

With a legendary club scene, intimate acoustic showcases, late-night jam sessions, and a kaleidoscopic range of gigs happening all over London on any given night, you can be sure to find a musical fix to suit your tastes. Try Soho’s 100 Club, The Jazz Café, Old Blue Last, or Camden Assembly. The Colour Factory in Hackney Wick always has something good on, not to mention Fabric, Unit 58 and The Pickle Factory. Failing that, Steam Down at Matchstick Piehouse is a legendary jazz jam spot, running to the early hours. These are all must-visit places. Talking of jazz, Ronnie Scott’s is a world-renowned jazz club which you simply must visit. Some of their nights can get quite expensive, but others are more affordable, so check before you go.

You’ll often find yourself at Under The Bridge and Half Moon Putney. These bigger venues sometimes hold BIMM showcases, so look out for these names on the gig posters plastered around the college.

London and its surrounding areas are known for hosting some of the best annual music festivals. These include Field Day, All Points East and Cross The Tracks, which all focus on underground sounds. Then there’s Lovebox, Wireless Festival, Hyde Park’s British Summer Time, Barn On The Farm and Hidden River – all of which BIMM London has professional links with. 

These provide a wealth of work experience, networking and performance opportunities for students and graduates, and they pull big-name artists into the city each year, further fuelling its thriving music scene.

The Food and Drink

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking in London. A few of our favourite places include Farmacy Kitchen in Westbourne Grove, Purezza in Camden, Phở and Pizzeria Santa Maria, are all just a short hop away from our campus in Fulham. 

Further afield, there’s a wealth of incredible spots to get your foodie fix. Ramo Ramen specialises in Filipino noodle soups, and Dusty Knuckle creates some of the most incredible sandwiches, or you can hit up Bleecker Burger, Rack City Ribs, and Crisp Pizza for all your fast food needs.

Around the corner from BIMM London is the Whole Foods Market, which has all manner of quick and tasty options to suit any dietary requirements. And, of course, our college even has its own cafe, so you can grab a bite to eat between lectures without leaving home turf.  

Elsewhere in London, you’ll find fantastic food markets. Borough Market near London Bridge is heaven for foodies who like their produce fresh, and Tooting Market is full of bursting with delicious street food from all over the globe.

Bright coloured shopfronts in Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, London

The Shopping

London is known for offering a plethora of options when it comes to the bustling world of retail. 

Places like Oxford Street, Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford offer quintessential tourist shopping locations, such as the Westfield shopping mall, one of Europe’s largest. If it’s vintage clothes that you’re after, head to Brick Lane or Deptford Market or one of the thousands of charity shops in London. 

Music retailers can be found throughout the city, with large and independent instrument shops being easy to find in places like the famed Tin Pan Alley, Denmark Street, and a wealth of vinyl shops at your fingertips. Try VDS, Honest Jon’s and Flashback Records for well-rounded stores covering many genres, or Rise Above and Crypt of the Wizard for all your metal needs. With so many options available, a quick search online should reveal the best place to get your local music fix. 

The Outdoors

For those looking for a break from the busy streets of London town, there are lots of green spaces to escape to, many of which are just a short hop away on the tube. Around the corner from the college, you’ll find Eel Brook Common, Normand Park and South Park, Fulham. 

Whilst further afield, you can easily escape to Battersea Park, Hyde Park and Holland Park with its Japanese Kyoto Garden. And to the south west, there’s the beautifully picturesque Richmond Park, which is famously home to hundreds of deer. North is the iconic Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood or Waterlow Park, all beautiful in their own ways. 

It’s easy to forget that there’s stunning countryside just a short train or car journey on London’s outskirts, such as the Surrey Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Kent (aka the Garden of England) and the wide-open spaces of Essex, East Anglia and Sussex.

Check out more about this amazing city on our Life in London page.


BIMM University

BIMM University provides an extensive range of courses in modern music, performing arts, filmmaking, and creative technology to over 8,000 students across 14 schools in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. We have a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality in creative industries education, allowing students to maximise their career potential in an inclusive community built on a culture of shared passion, creativity, and collaboration. Berlin | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Dublin | Essex | London | Manchester