Features

15/06/22


Free Things To Do In London

Some people say the best things in life are free.

And generally, we don’t believe them.

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 – SUMMER 2022

Summer by the River

London Bridge’s riverside festival is back to make a few waves this summer. Expect a lengthy calendar of free events including music, movies, theatre, comedy, yoga, you name it – events this month include the likes of a gig by Fat Brass, a screening of West Side Story (2021), and a rousing bout of Gospeloke

Details: Until September 2nd | The Scoop, London Bridge, SE1 2AA

Free Minigolf at Canary Wharf and Greenwich Peninsula

Turns out, technicoloured, artist-designed, free pop-up minigolf courses are like buses – this summer you can find a nine-holer designed by Craig Redman & Karl Maier in Canary Wharf, and a six-holer by Yinka Ilori in Greenwich. You don’t need to book either in advance, just turn up and they’ll furnish you with clubs & balls – and in Greenwich, Camille Walala’s equally colourful free ping pong tables are just nearby.

Details: Greenwich Peninsula | Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 | Greenwich weekends, Canary Wharf daily, 12-6pm

Summer Sessions at Greenwich Peninsula

Greenwich Peninsula is running its Summer Sessions right now, including live jazz; the aforementioned minigolf & ping pong; community carnivals; sports screenings and more – all for free.

Details: Throughout summer | Greenwich Peninsula

Marylebone Summer Festival

Eager that Greenwich (South London?? Ugh.) doesn’t hoover up all the acclaim, Marylebone is putting on its own summer festival too. And yes, you can expect live music too. And a dog show.

Details: 18th-19th June | Marylebone

The Great Exhibition Road Festival

You know Exhibition Road? The one with what might be the greatest concentration of world-class museums (the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and the V&A) anywhere on earth? Can you imagine if they all collaborated to put on a comletely free festival, featuring activities, talks, workshops, music, games, events, experiments, and more? Well, wonder no more…

Details: 18th & 19th June | Exhibition Road, SW7

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: Throughout June | 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: From 21st June | Across The City

Summer Lights

In the summer months, the light is mostly provided by the sun. So the Summer Lights displays dotted throughout Canary Wharf are designed to make the most of all that natural light, which allows them to sparkle, glimmer, and throw out many rainbows-worth of colour.

Details: 21st June – 20th August | Throughout the Estate, Canary Wharf, E14

Summer Screens at Canary Wharf

summer screens

The upside: this outdoor cinema is totally free. The downside: there are no chairs, and it’s first come first served. So be early, and enjoy the fact that they also show a lot of sporting events, including cricket, tennis, and horse racing as well as films (Pride specials include Brokeback Mountain and Carol) and family classics like Finding Nemo, Encanto, The Incredibles, etc.

Details: Until 27th August | Canada Square Park & Union Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14

Tango in Spitalfields Market

spitalfields tango

They may have had the last tango in Paris, but it’s still going strong in Spitalfields Market,where – throughout the summer – Tango Fever are hosting free al fresco classes and milongas (social dancing) under the shade of the market’s canopy. There’ll be DJs taking care of the music, and there are beginners classes at the start of each session to show you the ropes.

Details: 23rd June, 3rd, 17th & 28th July | Amphitheatre Canopy, Bishops Square, Spitalfields Market, 37 Brushfield Street, London E1 6AA

Dance with Little Amal

Little Amal is a 3.5m high puppet. She’s named Amal because she’s a Syrian refugee (literally, she was made in Syria and has travelled from there to here) who you can dance with on the Southbank this month while learning a little about the plight of the millions of refugee children separated from their families. Why she’s called ‘Little’ is anyone’s guess.

Details: 25th June | The Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Everyman Screen on the Canal

These free screenings are particularly great, thanks to the fact that the seating is all situated on the grass-covered canal-side steps leading up to Granary Square, which means that e everyone gets a good view. They’ll play movies, plus Wimbledon and the occasional live music show. And? You can order from the Everyman cinema’s menu, too.

Details: 27th June – 7th August | Canalside Steps, Granary Square, King’s Cross

Tour de Cuvée

Cave Cuvée are preparing for their annual 100km jolly down to Brighton by bicycle. There’ll be limited edition merch to pick up at the bar before starting (Martini and Temple Cycles are involved, so it’s going to be good) and a whole lot of free beer waiting for you at the end, courtesy of Brighton’s Unbarred Brewery…

Details: 3rd July | Top Cuvée, 250A Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AA

Soho Village Fete

soho village fete

Soho’s annual neighbourhood shindig involves all your typical fete activities, including morris dancing, dog parades and racing snails.

Details: 10th July | St Anne’s Churchyard, 55 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6HW

River Stage

The National Theatre‘s pop-up river stage is making waves again with a programme of free cabaret, drag and music performances. And this summer, there are lobster rolls.

Details: Weekends from 15th July – 14th August | Outside the National, South Bank

International Busking Day

The people at Wembley Park are setting up a huge gig space to give both a literal and metaphorical stage to some of the city’s best buskers, including musicians, acrobats, comedians and, er, bubbleologists, for one day only.

Details: 16th July | Wembley Park

Festival 14

Susannah Fields

This inaugural al fresco festival in Canary Wharf is putting on a pretty amazing show for free – the main stage will host sets by heavyweights like Grandmaster Flash, Jocelyn Brown, and the Ronnie Scott‘s Jazz Orchestra; as well as workshops; comedy; theatre and cabaret in the atmospheric Crossrail Garden.

Details: 21st – 24th July | Canary Wharf, E14

Nocturnal Creatures

The fourth edition of this late night arts programme spills out beyond the walls of Whitechapel Gallery to pop up in various venues in the area – this year, visit something between a meditation tent and a disco in Jennie Moran’s glowing installation; watch a play and eat dinner in a Spitalfields Huguenot house; listen to pop up choirs in Aldgate Square; and more.

Details: 23rd July | Across Shoreditch & Spitalfields

Summer Terrace at Islington Square

summer terrace islington square

It’s the time of year when Islington Square gets bedecked with – well, deckchairs. They’re free to just tip up and settle into, and they’ve also set up a couple of pop-up bars to keep you hydrated in the face of the extreme summer sunshine. They’ve also got a programme of free events in the pipeline for the summer, including acoustic live music on Saturdays – watch this space.

Details: Throughout June & July | Islington Square, 116 Upper Street, London, N1 1AB

GDIF

Greenwich Foam

Later this summer South London is going to get a completely free festival of outdoor theatre and performing art.

And it’s going to include futuristic Afrobeat dance troupes, a 32ft-high skeleton-filled zoetrope, and a mountains-worth of rainbow coloured foam, which you’re invited to dive into and gleefully mess around with…

Details: 26th August – 11th September | Across Greenwich

Symbiosis: Living Island

Inujima translates in Japanese as “Dog Island”, so no points for guessing what they’re famous for. Art. While there are apparently no actual dogs on the island, its population of 47 people has enjoyed an ongoing collaboration with artists, architects and creatives for over a decade, who are working with the natural landscape and decaying buildings to create unique art in a bid to boost tourism. This exhibition at Japan House displays models of the artwork, testimonies from local residents and a full-size, walk-through replica of Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes’ Yellow Flower Dream.

Details: Until 4th September | Japan House, 101-111 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA

Turning Tides Festival

turning tides festival greenwich

Want to hear the new wave of music artists? Greenwich Peninsula’s annual late summer weekender brings together an eclectic line up of cross-genre performers, and the whole thing’s backed up with pop up bars and food stalls.

Details: 10th & 11th September | Greenwich Peninsula

 

FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON ALL YEAR ROUND

Check Out An Exhibition

There’s a host of new exhibitions to check out, many of which won’t cost you a penny – they include a collection of fascinating letters, posters and newspaper ads from the 1920s; a pop up high street celebrating migrant entrepreneurs; and not one but two exhibitions looking at how we can solve the problems of climate change…

SEE THE BEST EXHIBITIONS RUNNING IN LONDON RIGHT NOW

Take A Tour of London Museums

London is completely spoilt for free museums. There’s the V&A (focussed on art and design 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 collection 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

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 the view is totally worth it.
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.
Details: Open daily from 8.30am (closing times vary) The Pergola, Inverforth Close, NW3 7EX

Take Yourself On A Brick Lane Street Art Tour

Brick Lane

Street artists from all over the world come to Brick Lane to showcase their work, and with that, it’s constantly changing, meaning you can come again, and again…and again, and still be delighted every time.

Details: Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL

Visit The Terrapins At The Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican

They also have tropical fish, and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees.

Details: it’s open selected Saturdays and Sundays between 12 and 5pm | 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: June 2022


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