Free And Cheap Events In London This Week: 16-22 March 2020

Note: all listings are subject to cancellation at short notice, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please check with the event website before attending. We'll be aiming to keep our listings approach in line with government advice as the situation evolves.

All week

An exhibition of Pablo Picasso's ceramics opens today

ST PATRICK'S DAY: Sadly, the parade has been called off, but smaller events may still go ahead. Take a look at our guide to St Patrick's Day in London for all manner of ways to celebrate the Emerald Isle here in the capital.

PICASSO CERAMICS: An exhibition of ceramics by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso opens today. Female muses, faces and curious animals all feature in the unique designs and unusual shapes, all recognisable as Picasso's style. Huxley-Parlour (Mayfair), free, just turn up, 19 March-16 May

Visit the camellia show at Chiswick House and Gardens

CAMELLIA SHOW: Chiswick House & Gardens showcases its rare and historic plants at the annual Camellia Show, now in its final week. 33 different varieties can be seen in the listed conservatory, and you can enter a raffle for a chance to name an as-yet-unlisted species. Chiswick House & Gardens, free entry to gardens (donations welcome), just turn up, until 22 March

MOTHER'S DAY: Consider this your reminder that it's Mother's Day on Sunday, so perhaps swing by your nearest florist or chocolate shop this week. Whether your mum's into culture, food, or the great outdoors, we've got plenty of ideas for things to do with her on Mother's Day.

Monday 16 March

Take part in Bajingo Bingo

PETERLOO: Seen 2018 film Peterloo? Learn more about how it was made at this talk by Dr Jacqueline Riding. She acted as a consultant on the Mike Leigh film, and offers an insight into the process of defining, organising and processing the film’s research. She subsequently wrote a book expanding on the history portrayed in the film. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

BAJINGO BINGO: Play bingo while learning about the vagina at (where else?) The Vagina Museum. Bajingo Bingo is similar to regular bingo, with chances to win prizes — except this time, some knowledge of the misunderstood body part would come in useful. The Vagina Museum (Camden), £3, book ahead, 7.30pm-9.30pm

COMEDY TRY OUTS: Watch the shortlisted acts compete for one of four places in Pleasance Theatre's Edinburgh Fringe line-up. Expect to see some exciting and original comedians perform, then vote for your favourite to give them a chance of getting to Edinburgh. Pleasance Theatre (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7.45pm

Tuesday 17 March

Enjoy a free lunchtime concert at Lauderdale House

LUNCHTIME CONCERT: Lauderdale House's resident pianist Stephen Hose performs a free lunchtime concert, open to anyone who wants to do something different on their lunch break. It takes place in the rather lovely Long Gallery, with views over the gardens of Waterlow Park. Lauderdale House (Highgate), free, just turn up, 1.15pm

FIGHTING KNIFE CRIME: Stephen Addison received the British Empire Medal in 2019 for his work fighting knife crime and gang culture in London, after seeing many of his friends go to prison. Tonight's a chance to hear from him, as he's interviewed by Trevor Pearce, about his mentoring and sports organisation Box Up Crime. All Souls Langham Place, free, book ahead, 7.30pm

CORAM'S FIELDS: Local resident and former lecturer John Mason gives a talk about Coram's Fields, a seven-acre park that's off-limits to unaccompanied adults. Find out how the park came to be what it is today through a history of philanthropic effort and campaigning. Holborn Library, £2, just turn up, 7.30pm-9pm

Wednesday 18 March

Whistler's Peacock Room is the subject of a free lecture

PEACOCK ROOM: Ever heard of Whistler's Peacock Room? Businessman Frederick Leyland hired Thomas Jeckyll to create the room, but when he fell ill, James McNeill Whistler stepped in... and changed it completely, triggering a series of events that sent Jeckyll mad and made Whistler bankrupt. A replica of the room is currently on display at the V&A, and today's free lunchtime lecture offers further insight into the turbulent history of the room. V&A Museum (South Kensington), free, just turn up, 1pm-1.45pm

FLYING ROBOTS: Raphael Zufferey is a research scientist in aerial robotics, and part of the Aerial Robotics Lab team at Imperial College London. Spend your lunch break hearing him talk about biologically inspired robots and the role they can play in medicine and disaster responses. Wellcome Collection (Euston), free, just turn up, 1pm-2pm

COURT IN EXILE: Today's Gresham College lecture focuses on the 'unknown royal palaces' of King Charles II. After the execution of King Charles I, the royal courts were exiled to France, but to maintain splendour, Charles II rented a string of mansions to use as royal palaces. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

Thursday 19 March

Gresham College offers a history of the stomach

LIVE MUSIC: Dose up on culture on your lunch break, at LSE's free concert. Pianist Simon Callaghan performs, along with Hanna Bachmann. LSE (Holborn), free, just turn up, 1.05pm-2pm

STOMACH HISTORY: Not one for the squeamish, this Gresham College lecture looks at 19th century fads involving the stomach. Tapeworms were often prescribed as a weight-loss aid, as they were believed to eat the food on the person's behalf, and the lecture also touches on ideas about links between a person's stomach and their personality. Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn), free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

LOST RIVERS: Author Tom Bolton is at Stanfords to talk about his new book, which focuses on one of our own favourite geeky topics, London's lost rivers. His second volume covers nine more of the capital's disappeared waterways, whose paths can be traced through the marks they left on the landscape. Stanfords (Covent Garden), £4, book ahead, 7pm-8.15pm

Friday 20 March

Delve into public records about Margaret Thatcher

WATERLOO CONTROVERSY: For two centuries, a debate has raged around which regiment (or regiments) defeated Napoleon's Imperial Guard at Waterloo in 1815. Hear from Gareth Glover, an ex-Royal Navy man with no regimental affiliations, who's examined all the evidence to draw his own conclusions. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, book ahead, 11.30am

MARGARET THATCHER: Find out what the public records relating to Margaret Thatcher can tell us about her time as prime minister. Particular attention is paid to the hand-written comments found in the margins of her letters and documents, which offer insights into her approach to the job. National Archives (Kew), £5/£4, book ahead, 2pm-3.30pm

OLD DIRTY BRASSTARDS: South London based brass band Dirty Old Brasstards perform their own take on classic party tunes. Dance the night away to old-school funk and modern pop, and keep the party going when the Atlantic Soul Orchestra take over the stage at 12.45am. Blues Kitchen (Brixton), £5, book ahead, 9pm

Saturday 21 March

Lambeth Sounds Music Festival comes to Southbank Centre

CREATURE CREATIONS: The Grant Museum of Zoology has some weird and wonderful objects in its collections (trust us — we've had a good look). Take the kids along to a free craft afternoon where they can invent their own new animal based on what they can see in the museum. Grant Museum (UCL), free, just turn up, 1pm-4pm

LAMBETH SOUNDS: As part of Lambeth Sounds Music Festival, enjoy a free performance by young musicians from Lambeth. Hear jazz, Afrobeat, pop and rap music by a mixture of live bands, singer-songwriters, DJs and multi-instrumental ensembles. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 3pm