From a top restaurant to a night at the opera: what to do if you don't want to see the game

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The Independent Online

The eyes of tens of millions of rugby fans will be fixed on television screens this evening as England's World Cup campaign culminates with the final against South Africa.

But, for thousands of families who could not care less about the pursuit of sporting glory, an unusually hassle-free Saturday night is in store if they take the opportunity to grab seats in restaurants and theatres which would usually be fully booked. Yesterday, there were still tables to be had tonight at Gordon Ramsay's Savoy Grill in London, Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, and Marco Pierre White's Yew Tree Inn in Highclere, Berkshire. Places were also available at other distinguished eateries, such as The Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, and Le Gavroche and Hakkasan in London.

At Kettner's restaurant and champagne bar in Soho, the reservation clerk was clear about the impact of today's game. "We certainly won't be empty but the rugby has had a huge effect on our reservations," she said.

Film and theatre fans have no shortage of options either. The London Film Festival swings into gear today, with new movies from around the world showing throughout the capital. Tonight, for example, there is the hit Syrian animation The Thread Of Life at the South Bank Studio, or the South Korean road movie Let's Finish!!! at the ICA.

Matthew Vaughn's new film Stardust, starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, goes on general release.

Plenty of seats are available at the Lowry Theatre, Palace Theatre and Opera House in Manchester tonight. At the Theatre Royal in Brighton, one box-office attendant admitted: "We have got loads of spare seats and, unless we get a bigger-than-normal surge on Saturday, that's how it will stay. It's probably because of the rugby."

For music-lovers, all tastes are catered for. Folk festivals are taking place in Leeds, Preston, Carlisle, Halifax and Perranporth in Cornwall, while Newcastle is hosting Oxjam – Oxfam's free music gathering. A 45ft stage and 4,900 sq m arena has been erected at Times Square in the city's Centre for Life, with voluntary donations from the event going to the charity.

Today also marks the start of the first Manchester In The City weekend since the death of the Factory Records owner Tony Wilson, who set up the festival. More than 60 acts will appear at various venues over the three days until Monday.

Wilson, who died in August, founded the event in 1992 to provide a platform for up-and-coming but unsigned artists, who will perform in the bars and clubs off Peter Street.

Those in search of good food, meanwhile, may enjoy the Brogdale Apple Festival in Canterbury until late into the evening.

For television viewers who cannot bear sport, channels other than ITV have alternatives. Dale Winton presents BBC One's hour-long National Lottery: In It to Win It, while Julia Roberts is in Stepmom on Channel 4. If none of that appeals, the US naval crime-fighting series NCIS on Five just might. Enjoy.

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