London is home to a vibrant film festival scene, with events taking place throughout the year showcasing some of the best in contemporary cinema from around the world. From the iconic BFI London Film Festival to smaller niche festivals, there is no shortage of opportunities for film enthusiasts to indulge their passion. Our guide to film festivals in London highlights some of the most exciting and noteworthy film festivals in London, providing insights into what to expect and where to go to catch the latest and greatest films, exciting new filmmakers, memorable documentaries and more.
The best film festivals in London
In this guide
Film festivals in London
- UK Film Festival – Finding the next Oscar winner
- Soho Horror Film Festival – Scary good
- London International Animation Festival – Animation is for everyone
- London Lift-Off Film Festival – The fastest-growing indie film festival in Europe
- Super Shorts Film Festival London – The best new shorts from around the world
- London Film Week – Re-imagining the cinematic experience
- South London Film Festival – The official film festival of South London
- London Short Film Festival – Shorts for all seasons
- London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival – It's a right laugh
- BFI Future Film Festival – The talent of tomorrow
- Crystal Palace International Film Festival – The world's coolest film festival
- BFI Flare – Europe's biggest LGBTIQ+ film festival
- Doc.London Documentary Film Festival – One of the top emerging film festivals in the world
- London International Student Film Festival – Career launchpad
- London Independent Film Festival – Low-budget indie specialists
- Open City Documentary Festival – One of the UK's biggest documentary festivals
- British Animation Film Festival – Up-and-coming animators from around the world
- Raindance Film Festival – The voice of British filmmaking
- London Music Video Festival – The most important film festival for music video makers
- London Fashion Film Festival – Style and glamour
- British Urban Film Festival – The UK's longest standing black-owned film fest
- British Horror Film Festival – Time to scream
- BFI London Film Festival – A globally acclaimed film festival
- London Greek Film Festival – Bringing together Greek films from around the world
Film festivals in London
Finding the next Oscar winner
Every November in Central London, the UK Film Festival takes place, showcasing the best of new filmmaking from across the globe. The festival has a strong emphasis on providing a platform for up-and-coming filmmakers who have not yet had the opportunity to screen their work publicly. This dedication to supporting emerging talent has resulted in a track record of championing films that have gone on to receive critical acclaim, including Oscar-winning films such as Stutterer (2015) and Ida (2013).
- Date: 21–25 November
A newish genre festival in the UK, the Soho Horror Film Festival aims to scare the living daylights out of you with a programme of some of the most terrifying independent films out there. Screened in an intimate setting in the heart of Soho, the eclectic mix of films from around the world showcases the breadth and depth of horror cinema. In addition to a physical event in November, the Soho Horror Film Festival organises Horror Pride, the largest online LGBTQIA+ horror celebration in the world, every June.
- Date: 23 November–2 December
Animation is for everyone
The London International Animation Festival is an annual event held at the Barbican Centre, featuring a diverse range of animation styles to challenge the common belief that animation is solely for kids. The festival presents thought-provoking and engaging animations from around the globe, including retrospectives and specialised sessions from lesser-known animators and countries. The event aims to promote the art of animation and expand the perception of the medium.
- Date: 24 November–3 December
The fastest-growing indie film festival in Europe
Established with the purpose of finding, showcasing and delivering opportunities for talented indie filmmakers from around the world, London Lift-Off Film Festival is the premier destination for highlighting the best in true independent filmmaking. The month-long event includes both screenings and networking events, hands out audience-choice awards, helps authors reach distributors, and also shows select works throughout its global film festival network.
- Date: 1–30 December
The best new shorts from around the world
The Super Shorts Film Festival London is an annual event that showcases independent short film talent and has won praise from the likes of Rupert Grint. The festival aims to create an intimate atmosphere for filmmakers, fans, critics, and producers to explore new cinematic styles and techniques, award excellence, and watch films from novices and veterans with medium and low budgets from around the world.
- Date: 4–6 December
Re-imagining the cinematic experience
London Film Week is a film festival held in December, with the aim of promoting international cinema from British, European and global territories. The festival's goal is to exceed expectations and provide a premium experience for the audience, film professionals and partners. London Film Week is unique in its approach, featuring only a few films and artists in order to give each selected project the spotlight it deserves.
- Date: 4–10 December
The official film festival of South London
The South London Film Festival was born out of a passion for encouraging creativity and a belief that every film watched shapes the future of the industry and the world around it. The festival welcomes filmmakers from both inside and outside the UK, promoting and celebrating their films within the diverse multicultural communities of South London.
- Date: 10 December
Shorts for all seasons
Across ten days each January, the London Short Film Festival hosts film screenings, live events, panels, workshops and more, presenting from 250 to 500 British and international films. Held at various venues around London, the London Short Film Festival has highlighted a multiplicity of independent filmmakers, visual artists and creatives for more than 20 years.
- Date: 19–28 January
It's a right laugh
The London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival showcases short comedy films from around the world to a discerning London audience. Curated by a team with many years of experience in promoting comedy shows, festivals and films both in the UK and abroad, the much-loved festival presents the best up-and-coming comedy filmmaking, handing out a variety of awards for outstanding films in different genres and from different geographical locations.
- Date: 20 January–3 February
The talent of tomorrow
BFI Future Film Festival is dedicated to young filmmakers aged 16 to 25, in fiction, animation and documentary genres alike. Held each February at BFI Southbank, the festival was launched in 2008 and provides emerging creatives and audiences not just with film screenings, but also with workshops, masterclasses, panels and other events. Each year, the festival also awards prizes to talented filmmakers in ten categories.
- Date: 15–18 February
The world's coolest film festival
The Crystal Palace International Film Festival is an annual event held in South East London since 2009. It features the best independent films from around the world, with a diverse program of genres and screenings in unique venues with great food and drinks. The festival has gained a reputation for being cool and attracting top comedians, with established filmmakers commenting on the high quality of films selected. The festival's mission is to showcase innovative work by global and local filmmakers and promote independent cinema to the public.
- Date: 1–24 March
Europe's biggest LGBTIQ+ film festival
Each spring, BFI Flare celebrates queer cinema over multiple days at the BFI Southbank cinema. The festival features the best new LGBTQIA+ cinema from around the world, as well as workshops, panels, DJ nights and other events for the general public and industry professionals alike. All of the screenings, including the gala premieres, are held at BFI Southbank, though certain films are also available online via the BFI Player.
- Date: 15–26 March
One of the top emerging film festivals in the world
Part of the Doc.World global film festival network, Doc.London is a new annual documentary film festival that welcomes all forms of documentary filmmaking, especially those that transcend boundaries and move fluidly between different styles. The carbon-neutral festival screens films by authors from around the world, showcasing innovative indie cinema that invites audiences to learn and ponder.
- Date: 25–27 March
The annual London International Student Film Festival provides exposure and publicity for new filmmakers, as well as professional networking and learning opportunities. All the screened films are under 25 minutes and the director must have been a student at the time of shooting. The festival takes place in Central London.
- Date: 11–12 April
Low-budget indie specialists
The London Independent Film Festival focuses on showcasing the work of first- and second-time filmmakers who tell captivating stories despite limited budgets. LIFF is held every spring at the Genesis Cinema, voted among the best cinemas in the UK, and features over 100 filmmakers from around the world, along with industry events for networking and collaboration.
- Date: 11–21 April
One of the UK's biggest documentary festivals
Taking place at several cinemas around the capital, the Open City Documentary Festival is dedicated to the art of non-fiction. The festival hosts short-, mid- and feature-length films, cross-platform project and short audio documentaries. It also organises keynotes, networking events, lectures and more. The festival also emphasises equality, diversity and inclusion.
- Date: 23–30 April
Up-and-coming animators from around the world
Founded in 2012, the British Animation Film Festival is an annual celebration of the best in British, independent and international animated films. Hosted by the Film Festival Guild, the one-day animation festival will take place at The British Museum and screen a varied selection of works, from short films and music videos to new TV pilots.
- Date: 10 May
The voice of British filmmaking
Organised by the London branch of the acclaimed international Raindance film school, the Raindance Film Festival is the UK's largest independent film festival, with selected shorts from its programme regularly qualifying for Oscar and BAFTA considerations. Over 16,000 visitors, including 500 industry professionals, converge in the West End each year to enjoy some of the best UK and international independent films. In addition to screenings, the Raindance Film Festival hosts talks, networking events and more.
- Date: 19–29 June
The most important film festival for music video makers
The London Music Video Festival holds paramount significance for both music video creators and enthusiasts. The extensively promoted festival is the sole event in the world that concentrates exclusively on music videos, irrespective of their financial constraints. Even securing a nomination or acceptance into the festival bestows considerable prestige. In addition to the physical event held at the only remaining independent cinema in the West End, the festival also streams the submitted works in a free worldwide online show.
- Date: 1 July
Style and glamour
The London Fashion Film Festival is devoted to commemorating the fusion of film and fashion in one of the world's most significant fashion capitals. The festival presents an opportunity to explore the subject matter through an array of lenses, including documentaries, fashion-related films, short fashion films, films influenced by fashion, and movies that have left a mark on the fashion industry.
- Date: 13–16 September
The UK's longest standing black-owned film fest
The free-to-enter British Urban Film Festival has established itself as a pioneering platform for all facets of diversity since first launching in 2005. The festival celebrates filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, screening and supporting films that embrace diversity, inclusivity and equality in their storytelling. The festivals programme includes short, feature and experimental films, including animation.
- Date: 12–18 October
Time to scream
The British Horror Film Festival is an annual celebration of all things gory, scary, and otherwise horrific. Held at The British Museum, the festival celebrates the horror genre by screening short and feature films, as well as handing out a number of awards, including the audience award for Best Scare.
- Date: 25–26 October
A globally acclaimed film festival
The BFI London Film Festival, established in 1957 and held in October, is a prominent annual film festival in the UK. With a vast selection of over 240 feature films and 150 short films from 70 countries, the festival showcases both well-known and emerging talents in world cinema while still retaining its festive ambiance. The festival draws in movie stars, the general public and global film professionals, offering opportunities to view films that may not otherwise be available in the UK, along with upcoming releases and gala premieres.
- Date: October
Bringing together Greek films from around the world
Launched in 2008, the London Greek Film Festival endeavours to exhibit and endorse contemporary Greek or international films and screenplays that encompass Greek-related elements, such as Greek cast/directors/producers, subject matter, or filming locations in Greece, among others. Additionally, the festival accentuates Greek culture in general, with a focus on contemporary creators, and serves as a global hub for Greek films from all corners of the world.
- Date: 2024