Free & Cheap London Events: 5-11 May 2014

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 54 months ago
Free & Cheap London Events: 5-11 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.

Belair House hosts a free exhibition as part of Dulwich Festival. More 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.

FREE FILM FESTIVALS: A rich programme of free films in unusual venues characterises  the Herne Hill Free Film Festival. You can just turn up and enjoy the film in most of the venues. Free, until 31 May

FREE FILM FESTIVAL: Genesis Cinema on Mile End Road is having a free film festival to celebrate reaching the grand age of 15. Free, prebook, until 11 May

ARTS FESTIVAL: Wandsworth Arts Festival + Fringe animates the borough for quite a long time with a rich programme of free and cheap events. Expect physical theatre, plays, comedy and poetry, music, storytelling, art performances and so on. Until 18 May

DULWICH FESTIVAL: Grade II listed Belair House in Dulwich opens to the public just for a few days, as part of the Dulwich Festival. The historical building hosts a one-off art and design exhibition curated by arts duo Cavaliero Finn, featuring works from up-and-coming artists and designers. Themed connected events will take place: artists’ talks, a workshop for children and a Q&A with interior designers. Free, just turn up, 9-11 May

RETAIL HISTORY: John Lewis’s new exhibition, Stories of a Shopkeeper, launches at the Oxford Street store on Saturday to celebrate 150 years of the business. Free, just turn up, until June

Monday 5 May

AFRICAN MARKET: The African Market returns to Old Spitalfields, in association with Open The Gate. The cultural event will give visitors a chance to buy traditional African food and fashion products, but there will also be events such as live Zimbabwean music, two catwalks, a head wrapping demo, storytelling and a mosaics workshop. Free, just turn up, 11am-5pm

MAYFEST: Head to Markfield Park for Tottenham Ploughman’s Mayfest, an event organised by local people with live music, food, drink and family activities. Free, just turn up, 11am-5pm

FUN FAIR: The Alexandra Palace Fun Fair's final day is today, with rides for all ages, plus prize stalls, food and more. £1, just turn up, 12pm-7pm

SPANISH CULTURE: For the second year, Campo Viejo Streets of Spain cultural market returns to Southbank Centre. Take part in cultural events, food tastings and more. Free, just turn up, 12pm-10pm

PUREGOLD: The annual festival of music from Goldsmith’s College students begins at Southbank Centre today. With music from all genres, and past students including James Blake and Katy B, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Free, just turn up, 3pm

Tuesday 6 May

NEW EXHIBITION: Southbank Centre has a new exhibition, looking at Poetry In Collaboration, with work from the Saison Poetry Library on display. Free, just turn up, until 6 July

GRESHAM SHIP: Gresham College hosts a talk about the 2003 discovery of the Gresham Ship, the first public event about the discovery, following five years of research. Free, just turn up, 1pm

FILM SCREENING: Join an evening of film and discussion presented in conjunction with students and staff from the MSc in Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway University of London. The event takes place at the Jetlag Bar in Fitzrovia and features a screening of the 2013 award-winning documentary Dirty Wars. Free, just turn up, 6pm

MUSEUM BY CANDLELIGHT: Sir John Soane's Museum has its monthly candlelit evening opening tonight. Places are restricted, but no bookings are taken, so arrive early to get in. Free, 6pm-9pm

LIVE MUSIC: The Social in Oxford Circus hosts an evening of free music called The Fix. The line-up includes performances by Ballet School, VadoInMessico and Caitlyn Scarlett. Free, just turn up, from 7pm

MORE LIVE MUSIC: The Windmill in Brixton presents an evening of post-punk music featuring Tides, Housewives, Introverts and DJ Kaoru Deathline. £3, just turn up, from 8pm

Wednesday 7 May

OPEN GARDENS: Lambeth Palace gardens are open to the public, giving a rare glimpse into one of the largest private gardens in London. £4, just turn up, 2pm-5pm

MILTON'S POETRY: Guildhall Library hosts a talk by Dr Liam Haydon about the poetry of Milton and his links to 17th century mercantile activities. Free, prebook, 2pm

ART EVENT: Artbox returns to The Prince’s Foundation Gallery in Shoreditch, with Outside the Box exhibition celebrating outsider art and the creativity of London-based artists with learning disabilities. Free, just turn up, 6pm

JOURNALISM WORKSHOP: Journalist Danielle Batist shares her experiences from her overseas journalism work, at this free journalism workshop taking place at The Savoy Tup. After the talk there will be a Q&A time. Free, prebooking essential, 6.30pm  

MEDITATION TASTER: Ever wanted to try meditation but not sure it's for you? Will Williams Meditation is offering a free taster session in Greek Street. Free, prebook, 7pm

HIP HOP QUIZ: The Queen of Hoxton hosts Supa Dupa Fly's Hip Hop Quiz for truly 90s nerds. Entry is free to the venue, £2 per player to enter quiz: email your teams by 4pm on the day (2-5 people per team, prizes for winners). £2, prebook by email, from 7pm

RICHMIX: Celebrate and explore the work and life of Russian poet and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky at Richmix in Shoreditch. The evening will be a mix of poetry, prose, music, discussion and film — donations welcome. Free, just turn up, 7.30pm

Thursday 8 May

CHINESE ART: 15Curators students collective presents a one-off exhibition of Chinese photographer Hao Xu, as part of the Chinese Visual Festival. The exhibition takes place at the King's College and explores the sentiment of being a stranger, along with the notion of identity within a globalised world. Free, just today 3.30pm-8.30pm

WAPPING INSIGHT: Wapping used to be known for multiple murder, piracy and poverty, but has now become an area of good pubs and luxury housing. This London's Villages talk discusses the area in detail. Free, prebook, 2pm

WAGES DEBATE: The Institute of Economic Affairs holds a debate about the cost of living, with experts from various backgrounds forming the panel. Free, prebook, 6.30pm

RUSSIA DEBATE: The Calvert Gallery hosts a panel discussion, From Stalin To Sochi, about political homophobia in Putin's Russia, which overshadowed the recent Sochi Winter Olympics. The panel is led by Dan Healey, Professor of Modern Russian History at Oxford University. Free, prebook, 7pm

MUSIC: Listen to Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez introducing their new opera album Love Duets at The Gallery at Foyles. Free, prebook, 6.30pm

WOMEN ON FOCUS: This one-off workshop taking place at the Oxford House in Bethnal Green gives participants an opportunity to reflect on the new abortion law in Spain through examining Cristina Cuevas’s work about women and identity. £5, prebook, 7pm

POETRY NIGHT: Enjoy a free and BYO evening of music, poetry, stories, reflection and creative interaction exploring the theme of freedom. The event takes place at Kahaila cafe in Shoreditch. Free, just turn up, 7.30pm

COMEDY: Comedy Back Rub show takes place at the Camden Head: on stage are Sarah Campbell and Matthew Highton. £1, just turn up, 7.30pm

MUSEUM IN A PUB: South East London Folklore Society has teamed up with the Cuming Museum for this month's Museum In The Pub. Although the museum burned down last year, many artefacts were saved, and items from the South Sea and Pacific collection will be on show. Talks take place at The Old King's Head in Borough. £2/£1.50, prebook, 8pm

Friday 9 May

NEW ART: From Bow to Biennale displays the East London Group’s works at the Nunnery Gallery in Bow. A collection of paintings and archival material that explores the transformation of a group of working class East End painters, firemen and basket weavers into a group of world renowned artists. A way to discover a part of East London’s history. Free, until 13 July

MORE ART: I Scream Factory is a mixed media exhibition inspired by 1966 film Down by Law. The artwork showcased spans fashion, street style and manipulated photography, to video and sculpture and draws on these themes. Takes place at A-Space in Angel. Free, until 15 May

IMPERIAL FESTIVAL: Imperial College's Festival has science experiments, music workshops, comedy, cookery and more, for people of all ages. Free, just turn up, only until tomorrow

NATIONAL THEATRE: Lesley Sharp and Kate O’Flynn, playing Helen and Jo in  A Taste of Honey, discuss the mother-daughter relationship at the heart of the play. The event aims to focus on the familial relationship played by the characters. £5/£4, prebook, 3pm

VIKINGS: If you liked the British Museum's Vikings exhibition, head along to Here Come The Vikings, an evening of Viking-themed music, performance poetry and standup comedy. Free, prebook, 6.15pm

BRITISH LIBRARY: Travel back in history and explore the perils of writers and artists, often described as struggling, and their life stories intertwined with The Royal Literary Fund. The Fund was set up in 1790 to provide aid to authors in financial difficulties and tonight its president Sir Ronald Harwood introduces the discussion. £5/£4, prebook, 6.30pm

WOMEN WORKSHOP: Ceramics are historical documents that often contain stories about migration and women’s lives. Listen to stories about women, migration and clay at the Oxford House in Bethnal Green. Free, prebook, 3pm

Saturday 10 May

LONDON BUSES: Catford Bus Garage has a free open day to celebrate the Year of the Bus, and the garage's centenary year. Visitors can ride on vintage buses, sit on a bus while it goes through a bus wash, see the garage maintenance area and more. Free, just turn up, 10.30am-4pm

LEYTONSTONE: Absofabvintage holds its monthly vintage market at Lister Hall in Leytonstone. £1 entry fee, just turn up, 11am-5pm

NIPPLE TASSELS: The Book Club in Shoreditch hosts Jumble & Pearls Vintage/Designer Fayre. As well as the chance to buy vintage items, we’re promised a nipple tassel workshop, live DJs and the chance to get your portrait done on the spot — great if you’re going with a group of friends. Free, just turn up, 12pm-6pm

FREE CITY WALK: This Occupy London tour of the City talks about the history of the financial district, and why the Queen has to ask for permission before entering the City of London. Free, prebook, 2pm

WINDMILL: Upminster Windmill has an open day this weekend. Free (donations welcome), 2pm-5pm (also Sunday)

Sunday 11 May

ANTIQUES FAIR: The Royal Horticultural Hall Antiques Fair returns to Victoria, giving bargain hunters a chance to get their hands on some goodies. £4, prebook, 10am-4.30pm

CELEBRATION: Clerkenwell Vintage Fair celebrates its fifth anniversary, with fashion items dating back to the 1800s. £4, just turn up, 11am-5pm

FAMILY WORKSHOP: Parasol unit in Islington has a family storytelling workshop, with a theme of 'My Brother the Alien'. For children age 5-15 years. £5, prebook, 2.30pm

CLASSICAL CONCERT: London Symphony Orchestra plays a free open air concert in Trafalgar Square, featuring music by Prokofiev. Free, just turn up, 6.30pm

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 04 May 2014