Free And Cheap Events In London This Week: 17-23 February 2020

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Free And Cheap Events In London This Week: 17-23 February 2020

All week

Last chance to see Top Secret at Science Museum. We took this photo of the Lego GCHQ model, and only just noticed the weird blur effect mid-way down. Some kind of anti-photo device?

HALF TERM: Already wondering how you're going to keep the kids occupied this week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London in half term, for inspiration in the form of shows, exhibitions, workshops, and family-friendly restaurants.

IMAGINE FESTIVAL: Keep the kids entertained at Imagine Children's Festival, a week of events celebrating art and culture. Some (though not all) of the events are free, including an eco-themed activity trail, a giant chalkboard which anyone can contribute to, and craft workshops. Southbank Centre, various prices, until 23 February

TOP SECRET: It's the final week of Science Museum's Top Secret exhibition, which looks at British codebreaking through the centuries, as well as the modern work of GCHQ. Learn about what the intelligence agencies do, as well as times when surveillance has failed. Science Museum (South Kensington), free, book ahead, until 23 February

Monday 17 February

Contribute to a cabinet of curiosities

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: The Garden Museum is opening a cabinet of curiosities, and it needs your contributions. Attend a family-friendly workshop, inspired by the 17th century gardeners and plant collectors who sought objects of curiosity for display in their ‘ark’, and make an object that you think will be considered 'curious' in 100 years time. The Garden Museum (Lambeth), free, book ahead, 17-20 February

BREXIT: When are we going to move on from Brexit? If that's a question that's plaguing you, head to LSE where a panel of experts discusses whether identities and allegiances will return to 'normal' now Brexit is complete, or whether the political landscape has shifted forever. LSE (Holborn), free, just turn up, 6.30pm-8pm

Tuesday 18 February

See Mark Watson's work in progress show

BUS TRAVEL: Bus Travel in South London is a book by Chris Roberts, telling the stories along the bus routes south of the river, and pointing out elements which are somewhat surreal. Attend the book launch, with readings, a discussion and a Q&A. Forest Hill Library, free, book ahead, 2pm-5pm

TUDOR DIVERSITY: Dr Alex Hildred of the Mary Rose Trust gives a talk challenging long-held perceptions regarding diversity in Tudor England. Find out what the remains of the Mary Rose ship tell us about the genetic and genealogical origins of the people who were on board when it sank. Senate House, free, just turn up, 5.15pm-6.30pm

COMEDY: Comedian Mark Watson is the latest face trying out new work in front of a live audience. At this time of year, many performers are honing their acts ahead of Edinburgh Fringe, so it's a chance to preview  — and hone — some of the biggest shows of the summer. Pleasance Theatre (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7.45pm

Wednesday 19 February

Enjoy cheap comedy at The Taproom

JAWDANCE: Spoken word night Jawdance returns, for an evening curated by host Yomi Sode. Watch up and coming and established acts perform, including storyteller Jan Blake, Barbican Young Poet Jeremiah Brown and north London-based musician, Gecko. You can also sign up to one of 10 open mic slots on the night. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £4, book ahead, 7pm

DRAG BINGO: It's bingo, but not as your nan knows it. Wednesday night is drag bingo night at Queen of Hoxton, with drag queens calling out the numbers, in a lively event featuring plenty of balls and wigs. Queen of Hoxton, £5, book ahead, 7pm

LAYERS OF LONDON: Love poring over old maps? Head to Stanford's to learn more about Layers of London, an online mapping project from University of London that overlays historic and modern maps with annotation. Now they're looking for help. Tonight's a chance to try out the new georeferencing tool, which allows members of the public to help overlay a fascinating collection of 1940s aerial photos of London. Stanford's Bookshop (Covent Garden), free, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm (and see 'Mapping the War' on Friday if this event appeals)

THE FERVOUR: Indie-rock band The Fervour grace the stage at the Water Rats, with their post-punk vibes, reminiscent of The Slits. celebrate mid-week by dancing in the back of this legendary pub venue. The Water Rats, King's Cross £5 on the door, 7.30pm

HUMP DAY COMEDY: Hump Day Happy Time is not as rude as it sounds (just us?) and is in fact a bargain evening of comedy entertainment. Lou Sanders, Ray Badran, Ben Cohen and Hannah Brissenden are lined up to brighten your Wednesday this week. The Tap Rooms (Islington), £3, book ahead, 7.30pm

Thursday 20 February

Go on a quest for a treasure chest at Southbank Centre

TREASURE CHEST: Aimed at ages 5+, The Quest For The Treasure Chest is an interactive performance hosted by non-binary drag artist ShayShay. Joined by fellow drag performers Sophie Brain and Mahatma Khandi, ShayShay leads singing, dancing and riddle-solving, all inspired by Pippi Longstocking. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 11am/1.30pm

CATO STREET: Find out about a group of conspirators who assembled in a stable to hatch a plot to assassinate the entire British cabinet. This free lecture, which marks 200 years since the Cato Street Conspiracy, looks at who the people were, their motives, and what would have happened if they'd succeeded. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

POETRY AND CONSUMPTION: Keats scholar Professor Damian Walford Davies gives a talk about pulmonary tuberculosis — the disease which killed the poet — and the effect it had on his life. Using writing and letters by Keats, we can get an insight into what he knew about the disease, and the contemporary theories about tuberculosis which were around at the time. Keats House (Hampstead), £4.50, book ahead, 6.30pm-8pm

Friday 21 February

See Yuriko Kotani's work in progress

MAPPING THE WAR: Find out how maps and aerial photography were used in military operations in the first world war. New technology such as aerial photography was employed for the first time during the conflict — find out how it was used to improve the accuracy of maps and change military planning. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, book ahead, 11.30am

YURIKO KOTANI: Japanese comedian Yuriko Kotani tries out new material at her work in progress show. She performed her first full length fringe show last year, having started out in stand-up in 2014, and has appeared on shows such as Russell Howard's Stand Up Central, so we're expecting good things. Pleasance Theatre (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7.45pm

BEATLES VS. STONES: Get Back to Satisfaction at this music night which pits The Beatles against The Rolling Stones. Hear several tracks from both bands, followed up by a live set of funk, soul and rock tunes. Blues Kitchen (Camden), £4.52, book ahead, 9pm-2am

Saturday 22 February

Watch a pancake race in Greenwich Market

PANCAKE RACE: Flippin' heck, it's almost pancake day. Greenwich Market starts the fun early with a pancake race around the area. It's free to watch and cheer the participants on, though if you do want to take part, you can book a place in exchange for a donation to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. See other Pancake Day events in London. Greenwich Market, free to watch, just turn up, 11am

CREATURE CREATIONS: One of London's best small museums, the Grant Museum of Zoology, hosts a free, family-friendly art workshop. Get involved with inventing and creating your own brand new animal, based on the weird and wonderful creatures in the museum's collection. Grant Museum of Zoology, free, just turn up, 1pm-4pm

HIP HOP ZOO: Club night Hip Hop Zoo is exactly what it sounds like — the pandemonium of crossing hip hop with a zoo, with actors and hosts dressed in animal costumes, and Jumanji-style decor. If that's your jam, you can dance until the small hours. The Book Club (Shoreditch), £5, book ahead, 8pm-3am

Sunday 23 February

Mark the 200th anniversary of the Cato Street Conspiracy

BEAR FEST: No, that's not a typo — we're talking bears rather than beer. The Hugglets Winter BearFest is aimed at teddy bear collectors and fans, with 10,000 examples of ursine stuffing on display, and most of them available to buy, with prices ranging from a few pounds to thousands of pounds. Accessories and clothes for your stuffed bear are on sale too, and there's a teddy bear hospital for any furry friends who need a bit of repair work. Kensington Town Hall, £5, just turn up,10.30am-4pm

HORSE-DRAWN TRAMS: Marble Arch marks 200 years since the Cato Street Conspiracy with a free community event recreating an 1820 street scene. Learn more about the plot to murder the prime minister, watch performers in period costumes, and take a ride on a vintage horse-drawn tram. Cato Street, free, just turn up, 12pm-2.30pm

FLEAS AND CHEESE: Finish off half term with a theatre show all about the plague and the Great Fire of London. One-man production Tales of the Plague is told from the point of view of Alfie, a 17th century peasant, and his pet rat, Robert Watts. Age 5-11. Lauderdale House (Highgate), £5, book ahead, 2pm

Last Updated 14 February 2020