Free And Cheap Events In London This Week: 9-15 December 2019

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Free And Cheap Events In London This Week: 9-15 December 2019

All week

Hunt out The Snowman on this sculpture trail

URBAN BODIES: Last chance to see Urban Bodies, a free exhibition about the immersive performance which took place in the City over the summer, and saw people dancing and free running through the area in surprising ways. New London Architecture (City of London), free, just turn up, until 14 December

THE SNOWMAN: For kids (and adults) who are fans of Raymond Briggs' The Snowman, there's a free festive sculpture trail by the river. 12 large sculptures of the frosty fellow have been unveiled, each one designed to represent a different day from the 12 Days of Christmas song. London Bridge City, free, just turn up, until 5 January 2020

WINTER CHOIRS: Starting Monday, visitors to Southbank Centre are treated to free, twice daily performances by Winter Choirs. A selection of community choirs have been chosen to serenade the crowds with carols, and sing along versions of classic Christmas tunes. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 9-19 December

Last chance to see the Urban Bodies exhibition. That's not Santa, by the way.

PORTRAIT OF A CITY: New exhibition London: Portrait Of A City opens this week. It brings together some of the millions of images of the capital held in the London Metropolitan Archives, showing the varying formats and mediums that artists have used to represent the capital, from the 16th century to today, from watercolours to engravings. London Metropolitan Archives (Clerkenwell), free, book ahead,  9 December-8 July 2020

CAROL CONCERTS: London's full of carol concerts at this time of year, but it can be hard to find one that you can attend on a budget (understandable, when many of them are for charity). However, we've managed to rustle a few up this week. The Idler's Christmas concert takes place in Hammersmith (free, Monday), and Aphasia Re-Connect holds its concert in Blackfriars (free, Tuesday).  Canary Wharf's Carols & Candles event takes place in the East Wintergarden (£2, Tuesday), while World Child Cancer holds a festive celebration in Chelsea (free, Thursday). Finally, the Bloomsbury Carol Celebration hosts the London International Gospel Choir (free, Friday). Although most of the events are free, donations are encouraged, especially when they are organised by a charity.

Monday 9 December

A Very Polari Xmas takes place at Southbank Centre

UKULELE JAM: Stretch your musical muscles at this free festive ukulele jam. Expect mince pies, games, and uke renditions of up to 50 festive songs. Don't worry if you've never played before — borrow a ukulele for the night and pick it up as you go. Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch), free, just turn up, 7pm

POLARI CHRISTMAS: LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari hosts its Christmas special, with Lisa Jewell as a special guest. Author Jewell has published 16 books including psychological thrillers, and tonight chats to Polari founder Paul Burston. Will Brooker, Ben Fergusson and Carolyn Robertson also read from their latest work. Southbank Centre, £5, book ahead, 7.30pm

WE ARE FUNNY: Comedy night We Are Funny Project hosts a Christmas party in the form of a variety show. Comedy features heavily, but other acts include dancers and Mexican wrestlers, so you should be in for an eclectic night. The Jago (Dalston), free, book ahead, 7.45pm-10.15pm

Tuesday 10 December

Meet Santa at the Winter Forest in Broadgate

MEET SANTA: Father Christmas makes many appearances in London this Christmas, but its rare that you can see him for free. However, he appears at Broadgate this lunchtime for free, to meet kids on their school holidays, workers on their lunch break, and anyone else who has a Christmas wish they want to share. Broadgate (Liverpool Street), free, just turn up, 12pm-3pm

WILDLIFE CRIME: ZSL London Zoo hosts an evening focusing on the use of surveillance technology and social science to prevent wildlife crime. Find out about advances in the fields of surveillance and vessel tracking in recent years, which are helping conservationists tackle issues such as poaching. ZSL London Zoo (Regent's Park), free, just turn up, 6pm-7.45pm

COMEDY: Spend a light-hearted Tuesday night at the Pleasance, where comedian Mark Watson tries out some new jokes. Pleasance Theatre (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7.45pm

Wednesday 11 December

Southbank Centre hosts a free tea dance

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS: The V&A Museum hosts a free lunchtime lecture about Christmas traditions that date from the Victorian era. Christmas cards, crackers and trees were all thought up in the mid-19th century. Rebecca Mitchell, editor of Fashioning the Victorians, also covers festive dresses and decorations. V&A Museum (South Kensington), free, just turn up, 1pm-1.45pm

TEA DANCE: Everyone's welcome at Southbank Centre's free social tea dance, whether you're an experienced dancer or a complete beginner. Expect a festive twist this month, and there's no need to bring a partner. The DJ plays salsa, swing, ballroom and jive tracks to guide you around the dancefloor. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 1.30pm

DRAG BINGO: It's bingo... but not as your nan knows it. Drag Bingo promises "a night of balls, wigs and satanic invocation", all hosted by some of London's top drag stars. Full house! Queen of Hoxton, from £1, book ahead, 7pm

Thursday 12 December

The National Archives covers Tudor Christmas traditions. Jester manspreading on the banquet table is one we don't need to revive.


VOTE: Today's General Election day, so if you're eligible to vote, remember to leave some time in your schedule for that today. Polling stations open 7am-10pm


12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: The National Archives hosts a talk about Tudor and Stuart Christmas traditions, including dressing up, the giving of gifts, and feasting. The National Archives (Kew), free, book ahead, 7.30pm-9pm

COMEDY: Comedian Rich Wilson offers a first look at his new work, Faces Down, Noises Off. Apparently he himself has no idea what it's about yet, so it could be a bit of a gamble... Pleasance Theatre (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7.45pm

FOLKLORE SOCIETY: South-East London Folklore Society's final meet-up of the year focuses on the folklore and magic of Christmas. The talk covers festive customs, food and music, including carols, yule logs, wassailing and decorations. The Old King's Head (Borough), £5/£3, book ahead, 8pm

Friday 13 December

See Nine Elms lit up from tonight

LIGHT UP NINE ELMS: A new light installation begins in the Nine Elms area tonight. See illustrations of the nine elms trees of the area by artist Pippa Taylor projected onto buildings nearby. The illuminations, commissioned by Wandsworth Council, come to life after dark. Follow a special route around the area, or simply wander round and see what you can spot. Nine Elms, free, just turn up, 13-21 December

SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE: Hear from author and history expert Dr Juliette Pattinson about the female members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). 39 women were part of the British wartime organisation that worked with the resistance in the second world war. Pattinson uses personal accounts, official documents and film to tell their stories. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, just turn up, 11.30am

LIVE MUSIC: Acoustic guitarist Ben Walker performs a free lunchtime concert at Southbank Centre. Spend your lunch break listening to his set, featuring tracks from his album, including original pieces, traditional songs and poems set to music. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 1pm

Saturday 14 December

The House of Illustration fair takes place in King's Cross

FAMILY SING ALONG: Kids all excited about Christmas? Take them to Westminster Abbey where they can make their own decorations, hear Christmas stories, see the Nativity crib, and join in carol singing with the Westminster Abbey Choir. Westminster Abbey Chapter House, free, just turn up, 10am-2pm

WAR HERITAGE DAY: If you have any stories, memories, objects or artefacts relating to the second world war, take them along to National Army Museum's heritage day. Volunteers are on hand to tell you more about them, take photos and add them to the museum's own records, as well as answering any questions you may have. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, just turn up, 11am-3pm

ILLUSTRATION FAIR: Have an arty day out at House of Illustration's fair. Browse and buy artworks by a range of artists, including limited edition prints and handmade cards. Granary Square (King's Cross), free entry, just turn up, 11am-5pm

Sunday 15 December

The 10th London Pantomime Horse Race has a Star Wars theme

CRAFTY FOX: Still got some Christmas shopping to do? Crafty Fox Market pops up in King's Cross for a one-day event, its biggest market yet. Over 100 traders sell items ranging from jewellery to plant pots to ceramics. The Crossing, Central St Martins, King's Cross), free entry, just turn up, 11am-5pm

PANTO HORSE RACE: The 10th annual London Pantomime Horse Race takes place on the streets of Greenwich, and there's a Star Wars theme this year. The day begins with a free, open-air Star Wars show featuring jedis, stormtroopers and Princess Leia, before over 30 teams don their horse Star Wars costumes for a route around Greenwich, with six pub stops along the way. May the horse be with you. Greenwich, free to watch, just turn up, pre-race ceremony 11.30am/race starts at 1pm

Last Updated 06 December 2019