Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 24-30 September 2018

All week

Live painting and orchestral stylings in Canary Wharf

BADGES, BROTHERHOOD AND BLING: Badges aren't just for school kids — masons have been adorning  themselves with symbolic bling for centuries. Discover over 150 masonic badges, or 'jewels', each coming with its own fascinating story. The Library and Museum of Freemasonry (Holborn), free, just turn up, until 24 August 2019

ART BEHIND BARS: Families with loved ones in prison helped curate this diverse exhibition of work by ex-offenders, secure patients, and detainees entered into the 2018 Koestler Awards. Keep an eye on the Koestler Trust website for details on ex-prisoner led tours of the exhibition and other related events. Royal Festival Hall (Southbank Centre), free, just turn up, until 4 November

SCIENCE GALLERY: A brand new gallery space where science and art intersect has arrived in London Bridge, and its inaugural exhibition looks like a right corker. From gambling to gaming, and smartphones to social media, Hooked features work enmeshed in the complex world of addiction and recovery. Science Gallery London (London Bridge), free, just turn up, 10am-6pm, until 6 January 2019

NATURAL ORCHESTRATION: Watch performance artist and painter Pauline Amos create a large scale masterpiece over the course of four days in a Canary Wharf roof garden. She's joined by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, whose late 18th century stylings will inform her work as the week progresses. Don't miss the unveiling of the final product on Friday. Crossrail Place Roof Garden (Canary Wharf), free, just turn up, 10am-6.30pm, 24-28 September

Monday 24 September

Can you spot the naughty optical illusion hidden inside St Paul's Church. Photo: Les Butcher via the Londonist Flickr pool

HARVEST MOON ILLUSION: According to the Covent Gardener, for just one hour a year a rather risque optical illusion can be spied within a 17th century central London church. If that's piqued your interest, head down to St Paul's in Covent Garden at lunchtime and take a peek through the keyhole. St Paul's Church (Covent Garden), free, noon-1pm, until 25 September

GOTHIC LONDON: Why have generations of film-makers insisted on making London look so darn creepy? Find out with Professor Ian Christie, who explores the ubiquity of Gothic or 'gaslight' visions of the Big Smoke on the silver screen. Museum of London (London Wall), free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

SOHO THEN AND NOW: Discover the surprising and often scandalous secrets of Soho's past with the help of local historian Antony Robbins. His one-hour talk covers everything from the district's former life as a royal hunting ground, to its most famous residents. China Exchange (Soho), free, book ahead, 6.30pm

Tuesday 25 September

Be inspired by the extraordinary life story of suffragette Minnie Lansbury

MINNIE LANSBURY: As part of their excellent Echoes of Holloway season, Islington Museum hosts a series of talks on some of the remarkable inmates housed in the famous women's prison. Tonight, the remarkable life of East End suffragette, socialist, and rebel councillor Minnie Lansbury is in the spotlight. Finsbury Library (Clerkenwell), free, book ahead, 6.30pm-7.30pm

GUHA ON GANDHI: As the author of not one, not to, but three books on Gandhi, it's safe to say that esteemed historian Ramachandra Guha knows what he's talking about when it comes to one of the world's most famous freedom fighters. Join him as he tells the epic tale of Gandhi's life and work. Old Theatre, LSE (Houghton Street), free, just turn up, 6.30pm

SARA BARRON: In her debut stand-up hour, storyteller extraordinaire Sara Barron proves she's not above poking fun at herself (or her husband and kid, for that matter). There's talk of her tweenage 'sex script' making an appearance. The Bill Murray (Islington), £5 to reserve at seat/pay what you want OTD, 6.45pm-7.45pm

Wednesday 26 September

Work from Jon Baker on display at Trinity Buoy Wharf

OH BUOY: Trinity Buoy Wharf waves goodbye to its teenage years and celebrates its 20th birthday with a free party. There's a documentary screening, photography exhibitions, and loads of tours dedicated to the East End arts quarter. Trinity Buoy Wharf, free, just turn up, 6pm-9pm

BIRTHDAY LATE: The Science Museum's series of monthly evening shindigs turns 10. And there's a massive birthday bash to celebrate. Come along for a noughties dance party, a pyrotechnics show, and all your favourite Lates highlights. Science Museum (South Kensington), free, book ahead for some events, 6.45pm-10pm

BRIXTON WINDMILL LECTURE: Learn about how renewable energy is being used today at the 2018 Brixton Windmill Lecture. Hear from Derek Taylor, of Open University Energy and Environment Research and Altechnica, and Repowering London's excellently-named Agamemnon Otero. Suite 16, Lambeth Town Hall (Brixton), free, book ahead, 7pm-9pm

GENDER'S A DRAG: You've heard of drag queens, but what about drag kings? Instead of skewering stereotypes of femininity, drag kings take on traditionally masculine traits  in their performance art. See some of London's finest perform as part of the City of London's Women: Work And Power programme. The Nursery Theatre (Broadgate), £5, book ahead, 8pm

WATERMELON SLIM: Just try not to tap your feet to this bluesman's Mississippi Delta stylings. It's free entry, so treat yourself to a £5 cocktail while you're there — we recommend something bourbon-y. The Blues Kitchen (Camden), free entry, book ahead for a table, 9pm

Thursday 27 September

Clown around with House of Q Cabaret

MEDIEVAL ATHEISTS: Even at a time when most aspects of life in western Europe were dominated by the church, there were still plenty of sceptics. The difference is, back then, expressing a lack of religious belief could land you with a blasphemy charge. So why did people do it? Find out with Professor Alec Ryrie — the answers may just surprise you. Museum of London (London Wall), free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

SOHO SESSIONS: Joncan Kavlakoglu comes to Yamaha Music' flagship European store for an acoustic session. His signature blend of solo flamenco-funk pushes the boundaries of what an acoustic guitar can do. Yamaha Music London (Soho), free, book ahead, 6pm-8pm

HOUSE OF Q CABARET: Burlesque, magic, and clowning are all on the menu tonight at Theatre Deli. See their resident cabaret troupe, House of Q, make their triumphant return from the Fringe. Theatre Deli (Broadgate), free, book ahead, 7pm-10pm

SOUTHBANK SINFONIA: In the most technically ambitious Concert Lab to date, Southbank Sinfonia's daring young musicians draws from Ravel's Mother Goose to illuminate the darkest corners of your favourite fairy tales. St John's Waterloo, free, book ahead to guarantee seats, 9pm

Friday 28 September

It's European Researchers' Night at the Natural History Museum

PLANET 2.0: Find out how scientists are working to tackle some of the Earth's biggest challenges at the Natural History Museum. Over 200 clever clogs will be revealing how their research could transform our relationship with the planet. Natural History Museum (South Kensington), free, just turn up, 6pm-9.30pm

QM RECORDS: Brighton based label QM records presents a night of performances from the most exciting acts on the seaside city's scene. Expect soul, hip hop, and socially-conscious tunes. Pop Brixton (Brixton), free, just turn up, 7pm-midnight

ARICIA MESS: Get ready for a night of funk, soul, and righteous black pride from Afro-Brazilian sensation Arícia Mess. Judging from her previous performances, expect some seriously impressive headpieces. Grow (Hackney), £5, just turn up, 7pm-2am

Saturday 29 September

There's plenty of freebies at the UK's largest freshers festival

MID AUTUMN CELEBRATION: It's time to celebrate Ngày Hội Trung Thu (that's a mid-autumn festival, in case your Vietnamese is a little rusty) at VLT social enterprise Centre 151. Dive into Vietnamese culture with homemade food, lantern making, sound healing and much, much more. Centre 151 (Hackney), free, just turn up, 10am-5pm

FRESHERS FESTIVAL: Started uni in London? Lucky you! Not only are you studying at the best city in the universe (not that we're biased) — you also get access to the UK's largest freshers event. Get your hands on literally thousands of freebies and meet new people in the heart of one of London's hippest 'hoods. The Yard (Shoreditch), free, book ahead, 10am-5pm

THEATRE ON FOOT: Dig out your best buccaneering boots, because The Walking Theatre Company is taking on Treasure Island. It's their first ever open-air production, and it's set to be a swashbuckling good time. Begins at Percy & Founders, Fitzroy Place (Fitzrovia), free, book ahead, 10am/12pm

POP ART: Experimental pop meets trippy scenes in Benjamin Tassie's audio-visual set. His music draws from sources as diverse as computer games and orchestral music to create rad new sound worlds. MOCA London (Peckham), free, just turn up, 8pm-9pm

Sunday 30 September

Dapper chaps on the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride

DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDE: Over 120,000 people don their fanciest attire and whizz through the city on some seriously snazzy motorcycles. They're putting the pedal to the metal on their vintage and classic rides in aid of the Movember Foundation, so pop in to Printworks and cheer them on. Begins and ends at Printworks, free to spectate, just turn up, all day

BIT SHEEPISH: If us Londoners don't have our wacky traditions, what do we have? See Freemen (and women) of the City of London lead sheep across London Bridge because, well, why the hell not? Swing by the wool fair at Monument on your way home and pick up some knitted goodies just in time for autumn. Monument, free, just turn up, 10am-5pm

UPSTART CROW: There's nothing but original music at this alfresco festival dedicated to exceptional up-and-coming singer-songwriters. This year's line up includes Ashley Eriksson, who cartoon fans will know from the Adventure Time theme music. Bishops Square (Spitalfields), free, just turn up, 12pm-8pm

Fun things to do with our friends and sponsor Funzing...

Lost London Walking Tour


London is a city of incredible transformation. With structural remains that date back to ancient history still in existence, this unique walking tour takes in Lost London in all its former glory. From the Titanic booking office to the graveyards of man's best friend, you'll discover the weird and wonderful places that used to exist in the capital but are now only committed to memory. Using old photographs, newspaper cuttings and stories from the past, you'll be amazed at what has largely been written out of our history books...   Get tickets

The London Cheese Crawl


Whether you’re a pre-grated cheddar sprinkler or mimolette fan, this cheesy walking tour will delight your senses. Starting off at a cheese counter in Mayfair that has been serving for more than 300 years, you'll tour the city's best dairy delights - including Fortnum & Mason, where the royals get their fix.   Get tickets

The British Museum Tour - Ideas That Made Our World


Track the journey of humanity through this tour around the British Museum. The tour aims to help you understand why the world is the way it is, and show how humans learned to question absolutely everything. Get tickets

Step on Board the Haunted Tube Express


The Underworld collides with the Underground in more ways that one -- from the angel that saved a tube worker from death to the ghosts of King's Cross, discover the ghoulish history of the Undergound on a tour around the city. £10 Get tickets