Features

Hattie Lloyd 30/10/22


Free Things To Do In London

Some people say the best things in life are free.

And, in all likelihood, those people are probably trying to sell you something.

HOWEVER… it turns out there actually are a great deal of extremely fun, informative, relaxing, fascinating, and endlessly entertaining things going on in London that actually will cost you no money whatsoever. From concerts, to buried temples, extraordinary museums & art galleries, lush tropical conservatories, and a warehouse full of extraordinary neon, these are the very best free activities the capital has to offer…


FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON – November 2022

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Given Wes Anderson’s love of symmetry, he’d probably be delighted if we gave this new pop up exhibition 5/10. Unfortunately for him, it’s a little better than that. It’s called Accidentally Wes Anderson, and it’s named after the now very famous Instagram account of the same name, which collects scenes from around the world of pleasing, pastel-coloured equilibrium that look like they’ve been ripped out of a Wes Anderson movie…

Details: Until 13th November | 100 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JQ | Free

 

The Ever After Garden

The Ever After Garden is a charity initiative by designer Anya Hindmarch and writer Camilla Morton – it’s a sprawling display of over 25,000 illuminated white roses, representing loved ones who have passed away, making for a beautifully moving installation. It’s even possible to dedicate one of the roses in someone’s honour for a £10 donation, which will go towards supporting The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. But to see it is completely free.

Details: 23rd November – 20th December | Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6LD | Free

 

Frieze Sculpture 2022

Frieze

Pepper, Curvae in Curvae, 2012, edition 2 of 3 – George Tatge

For the 10th year now Frieze Sculpture is turning the English Gardens in Regent’s Park into “a museum without walls” by filling the place with sculptures from 19 of the biggest names in modern art. This year, the display features large-scale works by artists including John Giorno, Ro Robertson and Ugo Rondinone (in the sculpture world, they’re like the Beatles), and it’s all completely free to explore.

Details: 14th September to 13th November | Regent’s Park

Between the Bridges

between the bridges

Between the Bridges is London’s 4,000 sq ft festival of fun – which can most boringly be described as a “really big beer garden” but should more accurately be described as “a massive, mostly free to enter al fresco adult playground which fuses a smorgasbord of bars, street food, DJs, live music and crazy golf with themed markets, drag brunches, and more.”

Details: Open Tues-Sun | Queen’s Walk South Bank SE1

Sculpture in the City

If there’s one thing you can be sure of at Sculpture in the City, it’s that nothing in the show will be a bust. After all, it’s a completely free sculpture trail, with works dotted around between Liverpool Street & Aldgate from artists like Eva Rothschild, Victor Seaward, and Jocelyn McGregor. And if none of those names mean anything to you, it’s because you just haven’t been to a sculpture show yet. Which makes this one all the more convenient.

Details: Until spring 2023 | Across The City

Wonder Hotline

So in their efforts to create an eye-catching, inventive pop up that people write about, Glenmorangie whiskey have created the Wonder Hotline: a bright orange phonebox next to a bright orange giraffe in Spitalfields Market. Step inside and pick up the phone, and you’ll be asked a series of questions. Depending on your answers, you’ll be directed to a nearby bar (the Cocktail Trading Company, Coupette, Milroy’s, Seed Library, etc.) where you’ll get a complimentary cocktail. So, basically, Glenmorangie have succeeded.

Details: 15th – 19th November | Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch | Free

 

FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON ALL YEAR ROUND

Take In Some of the World’s Most Famous Art

National Gallery

It’s wild when you think how much art you can see for free in London. The old Victorian philanthropic ideals of free access for all have stuck around, and now you can head into the National Gallery, the V&A, Tate Britain, Tate Modern and dozens of other smaller galleries like the Wallace Collection without paying a penny…

LONDON’S BEST ART GALLERIES | SEE THE BEST EXHIBITIONS IN LONDON NOW

Take A Tour of London Museums

London is completely spoilt for free museums. There’s the British Museum (which contrary to its name is filled with fascinating objects from around the world); the Natural History Museum (home to animatronic dinosaurs, an earthquake simulator and a dimly-lit library of preserved Victorian worms in jars); and the Science Museum (rockets, steam engines, iron lungs). There’s more unusual ones, too, like the Horniman Museum (which wins points for name alone, if not the overstuffed walrus) and the Wellcome Collection’s unsettling array of 18th century surgical instruments.

SEE LONDON’S BEST MUSEUMS | SEE UNUSUAL MUSEUMS IN LONDON

Go Swimming Outdoors

open water swimming london

You know what the best bit of swimming outdoors is? Even if it rains, you’re already wet. So take advantage while you can, and check out the best spots for open-air bathing in the capital, broken down into heated, unheated, and wild categories… COME ON IT, THE WATER’S FINE

£1 Comedy at The Top Secret Comedy Club

£1 for a whole night of comedy?

You must be having a laugh.

Because it’s here that you’ll find line-ups of top-quality comedians off the TV and stand-up circuit – plus drinks so well-priced for London that you’ll find anything funny by the end of the night. And you’ll end up saving enough to make up for your technically-not-free entrance fee.
Details: Every Monday, Saturday & Sunday night The Top Secret Comedy Club, 170 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PD

Free Concerts at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin in the Fields free things to do in London

Just your typical free concert in an insanely palatial church, from haunting violin solos to improvised 17th century dance music on a lute.
Details: Thursday-Sunday St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ

Pay What You Can For Theatre Tickets

Every Tuesday evening, Hackney’s Arcola Theatre sells Pay What You Can tickets on a first-come, first-served basis – and you fork out whatever you can, no judgement. Find more cheap theatre hacks here
Details: Every Tuesday from 6pm (but aim to queue before then) Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL

Dance To Live Music at Hootananny Brixton

Brixton’s perennially packed live music dance hall, with street food outside and a stage inside, where you can bop along to anything from Balkan gypsy folk to Bhangra hip hop.
Details: Free entry most weekdays and before 9pm on weekends 95 Effra Road, SW2 1DF

Learn Something Niche on a Lunchbreak

V&A Lunchtime lectures - free things to do in London

Swap actual food for food for thought at one of London’s many lunchtime lectures – pick up a bit of art history at the National Gallery, attend a philosophical debate at Conway Hall or hear about the latest discoveries on Mars at Gresham College. READ MORE

UCL | V&A | National Gallery Conway Hall | Gresham College | The British Academy

Catch a Free Lunchtime Concert at the Royal Academy of Music

Totally free weekly concerts from some of the city’s most talented musicians, from guitar trios to accordion chamber music.
Details: Every Tuesday from 1pm, just turn up Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HT

Explore London’s Secret Gardens

Secret Gardens - free things to do in London

A guide to greenery in London: 1) Hyde Park. 2) Regent’s Park. 3) Hidden walled gardens, canal boat rooftops and an urban community garden on a former railway track…

FIND LONDON’S SECRET GARDENS

Browse London’s Food Markets

Borough market - food market London

@aaronmello_

They’re all free to enter, and there’s usually samples to be had if the sight of mountains of cheese is too much to resist.

READ ABOUT LONDON’S BEST FOOD MARKETS

Get A Free View Over London

One New Change View - free things to do in London

The One New Change shopping centre in St. Paul’s has a huge viewing platform that manages that rare combination of being both free and relatively uncrowded – head up for a great view of the cathedral dome and sunsets over the Shard.
Details: Open daily, 6am-midnight 1 New Change, EC4M 9AF

Free Events at Pop Brixton

Dancing in a village of shipping containers.

It’s a crate night out.

And surprisingly for a night at such an atmospheric, al fresco venue – packed with pop up street food kitchens and bars – you won’t have to part with any pennies to catch the live musicians and DJs taking to the Pop Brixton stage. And if you’re in need of some restoration the morning after, there’s also regular free tai chi and urban gardening classes.
Details: Mondays 12.30-1.30pm, Thursdays 10am-12pm, Friday & Saturday nights Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ

Get Lost In The Sir John Soane Museum

Sir John Soane Museum free things to do in London this month

The eccentric home of 19th century architect Sir John Soane has been kept exactly the way he left it – with moving walls, a 3000 year old mummy in the basement, and a gothic hideaway for his monk alter-ego, Padre Giovanni. READ MORE
Details: Open Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP

God’s Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

Essentially the modern-day equivalent: a huge, glittering warehouse space crammed with neon signs and artwork collected over decades.
Details: Friday 11am-10pm; Saturday 11am-10pm; Sunday 11am-6pm God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12 Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, E17 9HQ

Visit London’s Silver Vaults

A subterranean treasure trove occupied by expert silversmiths, where you can browse through everything from contemporary jewellery to flamboyant Georgian salt pigs.
Details: Open weekdays 9am-5.30pm, Saturdays 9am-1pm The London Silver Vaults, Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QS

Fitzrovia Chapel

Fitzrovia Chapel - free things to do in London

Colin/Flickr

Oh, just a secret chapel hidden amongst some Fitzrovia apartment blocks with a completely gold ceiling.
Details: Open Wednesdays 11am-4pm Fitzroy Place, 2 Pearson Square, London W1T 3BF

Admire The Work Of Victorian Britain’s Most Influential Designer

William Morris Gallery

Designer, writer, poet, campaigner: William Morris was a Victorian Renaissance man. And his Walthamstow childhood home is now a free-to-enter museum dedicated to the many facets of his work.
Details: Open Tues-Sun William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PP

Bask In A 13-Acre Botanical Garden

Fulham Palace, the official residence of the Bishop of London since the 11th century, has a history stretching back a casual 6,000 years. You can wander round its historic rooms for free, before picknicking in the enormous gardens outside, many of which have been quite beautifully designed.

Details: Open daily | Fulham Palace, Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA

Stepney City Farm

Stepney City Farm - free things to do in London

You can cuddle rabbits, baby goats and lambs. For free.
Details: Open 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Sunday Stepney City Farm, Stepney Way, E1 3DG

Freemasons’ Hall

Freemasons Hall - free things to do in London

Surprisingly for one of the world’s most famously secretive organisations, you can have a snoop around the grand art deco Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden whenever you like.
Details: Monday-Saturday; check ahead HERE | 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ

Kenwood House

A grand stately home atop Hampstead Heath, filled with priceless artwork, insanely beautiful rooms, and no less than 112 acres of gardens.
Details: Open daily, 10am-4pm Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market - free things to do in London

If you can resist the urge to buy multiple succulents, you can enjoy all the bustle of London’s biggest flower market for free.
Details: Sundays 8am-2pm Columbia Road, E2 7RG

Queen Elizabeth Hall Rooftop Garden

The perfect spot to take a picnic, the rooftop garden and bar atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank is free to enter, and offers a leafy oasis amidst the brutalist concrete jungle of the Southbank Centre.

Details: Open daily Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Take A Stroll Along The Thames

Free things to do in London

Martin Hesketh/Flickr

By a convenient fluke, many of London’s most interesting sights can be found along the river – take the Nudge’s walking tour here.

Head Underground To Roman London

London Mithraem

James Newton

It’s an ancient Roman temple. In London. Plus you can see how much lower the ground was 2000 years ago.
Details: Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm 12 Walbrook, EC4N 8AA

See London From 500ft In The Air

Sky Garden - free things to do in London

Granted, you need to be fairly organised booking tickets for Sky Garden (they’re only released a few days in advance) – but it’s totally worth it to get up to one of the best viewpoints in London for free.
Details: Weekdays 10am-6pm, weekends 11am-9pm – must book ahead HERE Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF

Perambulate the Hampstead Pergola

Hampstead Pergola - free things to do in London

As elevated walkways built by the aristocracy out of rubble from the Northern Line go… this is probably one of the loveliest. Follow our Hampstead Heath Itinerary to carry on from here and find a free miniature zoo, too.
Details: Open daily from 8.30am (closing times vary) The Pergola, Inverforth Close, NW3 7EX

Visit The Terrapins At The Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican

They also have tropical fish, and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees in a very literal concrete jungle.

Details: Open most days, book in advance | Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

Toe-Tap To Live Blues At The Blues Kitchen Camden

Blues Kitchen Camden

Entry’s free most nights of the week.

Details: Free entry Monday-Thursday | 111-113 Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 7JN

Walk Your Way Through London’s Best Walks

Epping Forest

From the Jubilee Greenway to Epping Forest.

 

Last Updated: August 2022


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