Free And Cheap London Events This Week: 26 November-2 December 2018

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Free And Cheap London Events This Week: 26 November-2 December 2018

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Last chance to see Lauren Baker's neon artworks

FANTASTIC BEASTS: Immerse yourself in all things Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts at this free exhibition of graphic art from the new film. See copies of The Daily Prophet newspaper, advertising posters and product packaging designed specially for the film set. Two other floors are dedicated to props from the original Harry Potter films, currently with a festive twist. House of MinaLima (Soho), free entry, just turn up, ongoing

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS BY BUS: Love London's festive illuminations but hate the crowds that go with them? See the Christmas lights by bus instead — here's our guide to the route to ride to see as many of Central London's Christmas lights as possible. It'll only cost you your bus fare and there's no need to book, so your only trouble may be bagging the top front seat. until early January

NEON ART: "Everything is going to be f*cking amazing" is Lauren Baker's best-known neon artwork. This week's your last chance to see it — and some of her other neon pieces — in her Electric exhibition. Box Galleries (Chelsea), free entry, just turn up, until 30 November

FOODIE PHOTOS: Get up close and personal with food at Maisie Couson's macro-photography exhibition, Dipping Sauce. The close-ups show food in all its gloopy, sticky glory, making for a show that's both delicious and disgusting. It's the inaugural exhibition at this new gallery, and this is its final week. Elephant West (Wood Lane) free entry, just turn up, until 2 December

For more exhibitions — both free and charged — in London at the moment, take a look at our guide to the best exhibitions in November and December 2018.

Monday 26 November

EXAM ABOLITION: Should we abolish all exams in secondary schools and find an alternative way to monitor students' progress? Hear both sides of the argument at this debate evening, followed by a chance to air your own opinions on the matter.  Conway Hall (Holborn), £5, book ahead, 6.30pm-8.30pm

COMEDY OPEN MIC: Lewis Schaffer, Blanche Cameron, Rose Ives and Lisa Moyle are on the bill at this informal weekly comedy night — watch others perform their sets, or have a go yourself. The King's Arms (Borough), £3, book ahead, 8pm-10pm

Tuesday 27 November

The V&A's 2016 Christmas tree by StudioXAG © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The 2018 tree is unveiled today.

CHRISTMAS TREE: Today's the day the V&A Museum's Christmas tree is unveiled. Don't expect a bog-standard conifer though — past V&A trees have included a red velvet offering as well as last year's singing tree. Architects Studio Weave have designed this year's installation, which we're told will be a "21st-century architectural gateway in the Museum’s Grand Entrance". V&A Museum (South Kensington), free entry, just turn up, until early 2019

TIME TRAVEL: Not a chance to experience time travel, but rather a lunch hour lecture about a fascinating population study, which uses data about people born on four days throughout the year, on different years. What can it tell us about Back To The Future-style time travel — and where do Jedis come into it? Darwin Lecture Theatre (Gower Street), free, book ahead, 1.10pm-1.55pm

SPEECH PROCESSING: The difference between a nice speech and a nice peach is in the way we humans process language, something which machines still struggle to do. This talk goes into why it's so tricky for machines to get the hang of speech processing, and what the future holds. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 6pm-7pm

RNLI WOMEN: Women have been involved with the RNLI since the service began 180 years ago. Sue Hennessy, author of Hidden Depths: Women Of The RNLI, talks about the way in which women have shaped the rescue service. Chiswick Pier, £3, just turn up, 7.30pm

AA COMEDY SHOW: Designing a comedy show like an AA-style confessional is an interesting choice, but that's the set-up for tonight's Angel Comedy Club starring Jordan Brookes, Sarah Callaghan, Jeff Innocent, Russell Hicks and Thanyia Moore. The Bill Murray (Islington), free entry (or pay £5 to reserve your seat when booking in advance), 9.30pm-10.30pm

Wednesday 28 November

Science Museum stays open late. ©Science Museum

THEATRE CENSORSHIP: Senior Curator Simon Sladen talks about the V&A's current display, Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50. It marks half a century since state censorship of the stage was abolished in the UK, giving theatres more freedom to use swearing, nudity and other 'obscenities' in their productions and promo material. V&A Museum (South Kensington), free, just turn up, 1pm-1.45pm

CAROL CONCERT: Christmas carols sung by the London Choir are interspersed with readings from former prisoners at the Prisoner's Education Trust Christmas concert. St Paul's Church (Covent Garden), free — although donations are encouraged, book ahead, 6.30pm

BEING DISABLED: What is disability, and how have interpretations and understandings of it changed through time? How is disability presented in the arts? Should we even be using the term 'disabled'? All topics to be discussed at this LSE lecture. Clement House (Aldwych), free, just turn up, 6.30pm-8pm

SCIENCE LATES: Our sun is the theme of tonight's Science Museum Late, which ties in with the current solar-themed exhibition. Find out more about how the sun works, learn about animals that thrive off its heat, and boogie the night away at the silent disco. Science Museum (South Kensington), free entry (charge for some activities), just turn up, 6.45pm-10pm

CREATE YOU OWN COMIC: Moroccan artist Mehdi Annassi leads a workshop guiding you through making your own comic, whether you're a complete beginner or a bit more experienced. Annassi is a founding member of Morocco's first independent comics magazine, and is working on a graphic novel too. Bush Theatre (Shepherd's Bush) £3, book ahead, 6pm-7.30pm

LOUD AND QUEER: Inspired by a single word from the audience, comedy improv group Backstreet Boogaloo make up a show on the spot, knitting scenes together and creating characters from scratch. The Miller (London Bridge), free, book ahead, 7pm-10pm

Thursday 29 November

Christmas begins on Chiltern Street

CHRISTMAS BY THE RIVER: Against a backdrop of the (fake) Northern Lights, this Christmas market opens today, bringing frosted cabins and food and drink stalls to the riverside. Look out for special workshops and events taking place throughout December. More London (next to City Hall), free entry, just turn up, until 2 January 2019

CHILTERN STREET CHRISTMAS: The festive season kicks off in Chiltern Street, which is pedestrianised for the Christmas shopping evening. The focus is on having a 'conscious Christmas', with workshops and events in various shops demonstrating how to use empty packaging and other leftover items to create decorations for your home. Chiltern Street (Marylebone), free entry, just turn up, 5.30pm-9.30pm

WILLOW WREATHS: Learn how to make a willow wreath and decorate it using dried flowers and seed heads — sounds odd, but it'll last longer than a fresh wreath. Lower Marsh (Waterloo), free, advance booking required for groups of 4+, otherwise just turn up, 12pm-2pm

ACOUSTIC LATES: No need to don a pair of skates to enjoy the atmosphere of Natural History Museum's ice rink. Get a free ticket to this acoustic late and spend the evening listening to live music in the cafe bar alongside the rink, while others do the hard work on the ice. Natural History Museum (South Kensington), free entry, book ahead, 7pm-9.30pm

Friday 30 November

Natural History Museum stays open late.

LUSH FILM FEST: There's no soap-sudding at this film festival — organised by cosmetics brand Lush — which promises to "tell the stories that need to be told". Topics as diverse and knife crime and animal extinction feature in the film, alongside workshops for budding filmmakers. Lush Studio (Soho), free, book ahead, 30 November-1 December

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: See the lights switched on in Putney, at an event featuring gift and craft stalls, children's rides and street food stalls. St Mary's Church Square, free entry, just turn up, 3pm-8pm

MUSEUM LATES: Your Planet Needs You is the theme of tonight's Natural History Museum late night opening, with talks from scientists and experts trying to save the planet in various ways, plus a chance to explore the exhibitions after dark. Natural History Museum (South Kensington), free entry (charge and booking required for some events), just turn up, 6pm-10pm

Saturday 1 December

A celebration of all things Keats, at Keats House

KEATS 200: A series of events marking the life of poet John Keats begins today. The launch event includes a guided walk, discussions, tours of the house, readings, and plenty to keep children occupied. Keats House (Hampstead), free, booking required for some events, 10am-5pm

ELF ON THE SHELF: As most parents know, today's the day a certain cheeky Elf puts in an appearance. Go one further by meeting Santa's official Scout Elf at Hamleys and taking part in storytelling, colouring and Elf-themed games. Hamleys (Regent Street), free, just turn up, 12pm-4pm, 1-2 December

THAMES FROST FAIR: Find out what it was like when the Thames used to freeze over at these family-friendly storytelling sessions, all about when frost fairs were held on ice thick enough for an elephant to cross. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 1pm/2pm/3pm

Sunday 2 December

Frock Me! vintage fair comes to Kensington

VINTAGE FAIR: You might just find the Christmas party outfit you've been looking for at this vintage fashion fair, which brings 60 vintage fashion dealers together in one room — plus a jewellery fair upstairs. Kensington Town Hall, £4, just turn up, 11am-5.30pm

SALVAGE YARD: Retro and vintage furniture, homeware, clothes and collectables are all on sale at this salvage yard event, along with reclaimed electricals, and no doubt a surprise or two. Bussey Building (Peckham), free entry, just turn up, 11am-6pm

MENORAH LIGHTING: Everyone is welcome at this ceremony to light Islington's nine-branch Menorah, marking the start of Chanukah. Free traditional Jewish food is available, with performances of live klezmer music and traditional songs. Islington Green, free entry, just turn up, 5pm-7pm

Last Updated 23 November 2018