Free & Cheap London Events: 19-25 May 2014

By Silvia Baretta Last edited 56 months ago
Free & Cheap London Events: 19-25 May 2014

Interesting and unusual things to do for a fiver or less this week. For more free of charge London events, see our Free & Cheap page.

Anatolian Culture Festival takes place in Clissold Park, 23-26 May. Details below

All Week

Check the week ahead with our guides to market & shopping events, art exhibitions and theatre events around town. Plenty of free ones, too.

WILDLIFE ART: Are you a nature lover, dreaming of escaping into the wild? Then find your corner of heaven in one of these free exhibitions about nature and wildlife. They take place in different venues across London. Free, until July at latest

THEATRE: Incoming Festival at New Diorama Theatre has at least two different shows every day this week, and all tickets are £5. For information and to book, click here. Until July

JOHN LEWIS GARDEN: Visit the rooftop garden of John Lewis' flagship store in Oxford Street, which celebrates its 150th anniversary. The popular department store hosts a special exhibition as well. Free, until 21 June

FREE FILM FESTIVAL: A rich programme of free films in unusual venues characterises the Herne Hill Free Film Festival. No need to pre-book in most of the venues. Free, until 31 May

COMMUNITY FESTIVAL: Expect history, family fun and even fitness at the Hither Green Festival, which animates the whole area for this entire week. Most of the events are free or very cheap, tickets need to be collected at specific venues. Until 25 May

ART FESTIVAL: Birkbeck University presents its seventh edition of Arts Week. The programme includes lectures, readings, film screenings, taster courses, performances and panel discussions, all featuring Birkbeck students and researchers. Free, prebook each event on website, until 23 May

Monday 19 May

PUB SCIENCE: Spend an evening in the pub and learn some science at Pint of Science Festival, from today. Tickets for some sessions have already sold out, so book now for talks about earthquakes, blood, climate change and more, at various pubs. From £2, prebook, until 21 May

LAST CHANCE: Today is your last chance to catch the Sounds From The Park exhibition at Bishopsgate Institute, which displays a collection of images from Speaker's Corner. Free, just turn up, 9am-8.30pm

KING LEAR: Film and stage director Sam Mendes is at the National Theatre talking to Mark Leipacher about his production of King Lear. £4/£3, prebook, 5.30pm

AMERICAN POLITICS: The British Library hosts a talk by Professor Tony Badger about the future of American Politics. Free, prebook, 6.15pm

MATHS: Does learning maths change the way we think? This is the topic up for discussion tonight at The Royal Society, led by Dr Matthew Inglis. Free, just turn up, 6.30pm

PALESTINE: Head to Rich Mix for a new global film and poster exhibition from the Palestinian Revolution, with over 20 hours of film footage. The exhibition runs until June but the opening event takes place tonight. Free, just turn up, 6.30pm

LIVE MUSIC: Half Loon and the Tangerines play a free gig at The Social in Little Portland Street. Free, just turn up, 7pm

EUROPEAN POLITICS: Waterstones Hampstead hosts an evening with political commentator David Goodhart, author of The British Dream, in the run-up to the European elections. £5, prebook, 7pm

LONDON HISTORY: Historian Jerry White is at Waterstones Piccadilly to talk about his new book, Zeppelin Nights, exploring the effects of the First World War on London, in both the short and long term. Free, prebook, 7pm

Tuesday 20 May

FEELINGS: King's College philosophy department has its annual Mark Sainsbury lecture, in which Michael Tye discusses definitions of what it means to have feelings. Free, prebook, 6pm

PHYSICS HISTORY: Jon Butterworth, a leading physicist on the Large Hadron Collider, is at Waterstones Gower Street to talk about his new book, Smashing Physics, covering the past 20 years of physics research. £5/£3, prebook, 6.30pm

BEER AND CULTURE: Beer Here heads to Camden to learn how tech, money, power and design are shaping social change today. Listen to live music, play ping pong and drink beer. £3/£5, prebook, 6.30pm

SAVE SMITHFIELD: The campaign to Save Smithfield Market holds a discussion about the future of the historic market buildings. Free, prebook, 6.30pm

FREE OPERA: Head to Trafalgar Square for a free screening of the Royal Opera House's performance of La Traviata. Free, just turn up, 6.30pm

FILM QUIZ: You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat at Hackney Attic is a two-hour film quiz projected on a big screen. £4, prebook, 6.30pm

SUBURBAN POETRY: Enjoy an evening of poetry dedicated to the suburbs, especially Hampstead, at Keats House, with readings and performances. Free, prebook, 7pm

OPEN MIC: Poetry Unplugged is an open mic night at the Poetry Cafe. £5/£4, just turn up, 7.30pm

FILM SCREENINGS: Short Sighted Cinema is at Ritzy Brixton for an evening of short films with a theme of 'Commuter'. £4/£3, prebook, 7.30pm

Wednesday 21 May

NATURE EXHIBITION: The Grant Museum of Zoology has a new exhibition starting today. Subnature explores the relationships between nature and its representation, with artwork created from regenerating fish bone into contemporary phantom creatures. Free, just turn up, until 19 July

WAR STORY: Well-known author Tim Butcher talks at Waterstones Piccadilly about his new book, The Trigger, about the assassin who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand to trigger the First World War. £5/£3, prebook, 6.30pm

AUSTERITY: Richard Seymour, author of Against Austerity, talks at Housmans bookshop about the economic recovery. £3, prebook, 7pm

NEW NOVELS: Charlotte Mendelson and Sathnam Sanghera discuss their latest novels at Keats House, courtesy of Daunt Books. £5, prebook, 7pm

SCIENCE STORIES: The Story Sessions runs its first evening in its new location, The Cafe Of Good Hope in Hither Green. Go along to hear stories about science, from headliners and emerging acts. £3, just turn up, 7pm

SPANISH WAR: Local author Cecil Jenkins is at Waterstones Hampstead to talk about his new novel Dora Versus Picasso, set in the Spanish Civil War. £5, prebook, 7pm

FREE FITNESS CLASS: Barrecore is a new type of fitness work out, and the first 10 people to register here can attend a class in Cavendish Square. Free, prebook, 7pm

BRASS BAND: London-based Balkan brass band The Trans-Siberian March Band returns to Rich Mix. Free, just turn up, 7.30pm

FREE FILM: Kennington Bioscope has a free screening of Enchantment (1921), with a live piano improvisation by John Sweeney and Cyrus Gabrysch, resident pianists at the BFI South Bank. Free, prebook, 7.30pm

TALL TALES: Natural Born Storytellers at Camden Head is an evening of storytelling from both experienced performers and members of the audience. This month's theme is True Tall Tales. Free (donations welcome), just turn up, 8.15pm

SCIENCE IN A PUB: Mingle with scientists and a pub. Today Radmila Topalovic & Edward Bloomer from the Royal Observatory Greenwich give a talk about general relativity and quantum mechanics, at the Old King's Head in Borough, as part of PubSci. Free, just turn up, 7pm

Thursday 22 May

ART UNDERGROUND: The Vaults Gallery in Waterloo opens its new exhibition The Museum House of Death. Experience an out-of-the-ordinary exhibition in a unique underground venue. Tonight is the private view, which includes a special live performance from 7.30pm. Free, until 21 June

LUNCH BREAK: Learn about the history and treasures of Guildhall Library, join expert librarians and tour one of the most historical building in town. Free, prebook, 2pm

BOOK & ART: The Royal College of Art celebrates its Science & Fiction Photography Programme with a one-off event at Work Gallery. The event includes a one-night-only exhibition showcasing works by international artists. Free, prebook by email, 6pm

GRANT MUSEUM: Enjoy a fun night of exploration at the Grant Museum. The evening is all about the animal species you'd like to see go wild in the UK, with an open debate followed by a private view of the museum. Free, just turn up, 7pm

ALGERIA: The Mosaic Rooms gallery hosts the panel discussion Perspectives on Algeria. Led by field experts, the discussion focuses on Algeria today, looking back at the country's history and social development. Free, prebook by email, 7pm

MUSIC NIGHT: The basement of The Book Club in Leonard Street turns into a dance floor for an evening of music and fun. Enjoy deep house, house and electro music. Free before 10pm/£5 after 10pm, just turn up, 8pm-2am

Friday 23 May

ANATOLIA: Anatolian Cultural Festival takes place in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, and runs for a few days. This free entrance festival includes live performances such as shadow puppet shows, an ottoman marching band concert and oil wrestling. Free, just turn up, until 26 May

STREET DISCOVERY: Explore London streets and discover secrets of the city with Big Street Wisdom: after subscribing to the event, you'll be told the exact location of your start point. Then, a street leader will guide you to discover a selected area. Free, prebook, 10am-1pm

GUIDED WALK: CoolTan Arts presents the themed walk War in Walworth, meeting point is Newington Library. Free, just turn up, 12.30pm-3.30pm

CINEMA HISTORY: The British Library hosts a talk about the 1914 film In The Land of the Head Hunters, 'the first ever film to feature an entirely indigenous cast'. Marking the centenary of the film’s release, there will be a screening of the restored film, led by expert researches. £5/£3, prebook, 6pm

TALK: Join the UCL Student Engagers for an evening exploring aspects of movement in its various expressions, inside UCL’s gallery and museum spaces. The talk ends with discussion and free drinks. Free, prebook, 6.30pm

COMEDY: See comedians Lou Sanders and Rachel Stubbings performing at the Camden Head pub. £3, just turn up, 7.30pm

Saturday 24 May

CULTURE FESTIVAL: Wandsworth Heritage Festival kicks off today with a rich programme of free events, bringing back to life the history of the borough. Expect guided walks, talks, family activities and so on. Check website for events and prices, until 8 June

LOVE THE TREES: London Tree Week celebrates all the woodlands and green spaces in town. Expect guided walks and cycle tours, wanders in the woodland and even pop-up forests in town. Check website for events and prices, until 31 May

FOOD FESTIVAL: The Morden Hall Park Food Festival has artisan food traders, cookery demonstrations, children's workshops and talks. Free, prebook, until 26 May

GARDEN PARTY: The Charles Holden pub in Colliers Wood opens its garden for the summer and celebrates the event with special live entertainment across the whole bank holiday weekend. Expect barbecue treats, products from the pub allotment, family fun and even charity raffle. Free, just turn up, until 26 May

FAMILY FUN: Enjoy a weekend of family activities on board the HMS Belfast, to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the role of HMS Belfast during the historical event. There will be free family workshops: making medals and tattoo t-shirts. Free, just turn up, 11am-4pm until tomorrow

MORE FAMILY FUN: The Whitechapel Gallery has organised a family day connected to its current exhibition about filmmaker, writer and photographer Chris Marker. Use words, sounds and images to make your own film. Free, prebook, noon-4pm

Sunday 25 May

ART EXHIBITION: Graphic artist Kev Munday presents his first solo show at Artsdepot in North Finchley. With a background in graffiti, Kev’s work features a variety of mediums including aerosol paint, laser etchings and digital illustration. Free, until 31 May

CIRCUS EXTRAVAGANZA: Head to Proud in Camden for an evening of circus themed entertainment, with acrobatics, fire acts and live music. £5/£3, just turn up, 10pm

BEHIND THE SCENES: The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley has a Behind the Scenes tour, where you'll be able to see how the cinema works. Tours last 45 mins. £2, prebook by email, 11am-11.45am-12.30pm

ZINE FAIR: Head to Rich Mix for DIY Cultures 2014,  a day-long festival of zines, artist books, comics, artist-run spaces, talks, films, animation, poetry, video art, exhibition, workshops. Free, just turn up, 12pm

KEATS POETRY: Head to Keats House for an afternoon of poetry and spoken word with an open mic, performances from the Keats House Poets. Free, prebook, 2pm

ROLLERSKATING: The Sunday Stroll is a relaxed slow-paced skate open to all roller skaters and rollerbladers able to stop, turn and control their speed on hills. Meet at Serpentine Road in Hyde Park. Free, just turn up, 2pm

Check out our map of free things to do in London for more frugal fun. Or pop over to who also have plenty of great ideas.

Last Updated 18 May 2014