Advent is upon us. Hanukkah starts on Wednesday. Office parties are already everywhere. Tis the season to be jolly, jolly, jolly but we know this can be draining, emotionally and financially. Don't let the state of your wallet throw you over the edge. We can't afford to buy tickets to the BFI IMAX all-nighter next weekend and we're not allowed to enter our own competition. But we can do the following splendid things for practically nothing at all.Monday: Start the week with silly jokes, surrealism, cake on tap and a whole host of marvellous stand up comedians at the After School Club, upstairs at the Liberties Bar, Camden High Street. Hosted by sometime Londonist comedy blogger, Chris Coltrane, it's a snippety snip at just £5 for an evening of weird and wonderful, friendly and funny stuff. We've been several times to test drive it and it works.
Tuesday: Chill out with poetry by candlelight in Newington Green at 19.00. OK, there's a risk of religion intruding on your meditative experience but it's only for 45 mins and might just be the still time you need to reinvigorate yourself for the rest of the week.Wednesday: If you've time over lunch, Michael Palin's signing books at Stanfords at 12.30 whilst Ranulph Fiennes is over in Leadenhall Market Waterstones doing the same. We suggest you steer clear of Suga in Soho where entry is £3 and groups of girls get free jugs of cocktails. Thursday: Time to light the Christmas trees. In Trafalgar Square we have the Mayor of Oslo doing the honours; in Wembley we have McFly. Posho Jermyn St will be closed to traffic for its luxury Christmas shopping event till 8pm. Nip along to blag some mince pies and mulled wine and check out the revamped Fortnums (open till 9pm) while you're there. If you prefer something more cultural and anti-traditionalist then it's the Xmas Cabaret from performance poetry people Apples and Snakes at Whitechapel Gallery from 6-9pm (free but RSVP) - "a freewheeling night of comedic, gritty and slightly worrying wordplay in East London’s artiest café bar". Friday: With the Terracotta Army in residence, the British Museum is showing the opulent yet thought provoking Chinese film Raise the Red Lantern at at 18.30 in the Stevenson Lecture theatre. It's time for Late at Tate Britain again, with the gallery open till 22.00 with an English garden lounging soundscape. Saturday: The Great Christmas Pudding Race kicks off in Covent Garden at 11.30am. It's free but in aid of Cancer Research so be prepared to part with some loose change. Then get your green creds on, the National Climate March assembles at Millbank at midday. The political action will be rounded off with an after party at Oval which is just £3 to get in and features hot veggie food, an organic bar and the world's largest bicycle powered cinema.Sunday: Meet Rudolf at Spitalfields City Farm Christmas Fair between 12-3pm. Then get along to the Lock Tavern in Camden for Andrew Weatherall and David Holmes on the decks all afternoon for nought pee. Or, you could stay in practising your Strictly Come Dancing steps and fantasise about bumping bits with Alesha and/or Gethen.
Photo from Jason Rogers' flickr stream.With many thanks to the London Freelist. Check the websites for more information.