9 Free And Cheap Things To Do In London This Week: 12-18 December 2022

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9 Free And Cheap Things To Do In London This Week: 12-18 December 2022
Check out the free entertainment at Christmas by the River

1. Have a moment of reflection on the festive season

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be a bit of a struggle for some. If you're away from loved ones, have lost someone close, or are struggling with the costs of the festive season, you're not alone. Union Chapel in Islington hosts its first Blue Christmas service, an evening of music, poetry and meditation to mark the festive season, without the forced joviality that often accompanies such events. Union Chapel itself doubles up as a space for quiet reflection and contemplation for those who need it.

Free, 14 December.

2. Witness a Miracle on Leake Street

Head to Leake Street tunnel, underneath Waterloo Station, on Thursday for free annual event, Miracle on Leake Street. The celebration of Christmas is open to everyone, and brings together local businesses for an evening of entertainment. Wander among fake 'snowfall', catch a cabaret performance, get your face painted, and watch a free screening of The Grinch. For a small donation, you can take part in a wreath-making workshop, and there are also food and drink stalls to keep you fed and watered.

Free, 15 December.

3. Learn the origins of Lying-in-State

A lying in state queue sign
Image: Londonist

Until 'The Queue' became a thing, back in September, most of us had never given much thought to the idea of Lying-in-State. The last time it had happened was on the death of the Queen Mother in 2002, and that was nowhere near the scale we saw this year. Find out about the history of the Lying-in-State ceremony, from William Gladstone, through to Queen Elizabeth II at a free online talk by UK Parliament.

Free, 15 December.

4. Soak up the atmosphere at Carols by Candlelight

Celebrate Christmas at Union Chapel's Carols by Candlelight concert, which tells the story of the birth of Jesus in words, poetry and prayer. The Union Chapel Voices choir perform traditional carols and Gospel Christmas classics, with an opportunity for the audience to join in with some of them. It's free admission, and no bookings are taken, so we'd recommend getting there early to make sure you get in — and to give you time to admire the atmospheric building lit by candlelight.

Free, 18 December.

5. Dance the afternoon away at a daytime rave

Head to Southbank Centre on Sunday for a daytime rave. Music comes courtesy of DJs from Heart n Soul, a creative arts organisation which supports people with learning disabilities and autistic people. Bust out your best moves as they play their favourite tracks at this free party.

Free, 18 December.

6. Seek out these advent windows

If you go down to Greenwich this week, keep your eyes peeled for the Advent Windows, a tradition that's been going on in the area every December for 16 years. Every day a local house, business, school or pub reveals its own contribution to the advent calendar, with a display in one of its windows. Obviously, the longer you leave it, the more windows will have been revealed, so maybe bookmark this one for next week if you're a bit busy right now.

Free, until 24 December.

7. Bid a fond farewell to Dippy

© Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Time's running out to see Dippy Returns, the Natural History Museum's free exhibition about the replica diplodocus skeleton's tour around the UK. It's only there until January, accompanied by a closer look at the UK's biodiversity.

Free, until 2 January.

8. Watch Christmas films — for free

The Polar Express and Santa Claus: The Movie are on the free film screenings schedule at Christmas by the River this week. The whole site is free to visit, with a traditional Christmas market to wander through, food and drink stalls, and choir performances (Saturday this week) in addition to those film screenings.

Free, until 2 January.

9. Bask in London's festive glow

Image: Londonist

Angels on Regent Street, stars on Oxford Street, and jewels on Bond Street. London's Christmas lights are looking fantastic this year, so why not take some time out to see them? They're free to view, and you can hit quite a few of them in one festive walk (comfy shoes!) — or else hop on a bus and get a closer look from the top deck. Read our guide to when, where and how to see London's Christmas lights for full details.

Free, or the cost of a bus ride, until January.


Looking for more free things to do in London? Here are 102 of em!

We've also compiled this epic map of free stuff in London.

Last Updated 16 December 2022