Things to do this week for £5 or less.
1. See east London illuminated for Hackney Revealed
A brand new illumination arts festival opens this week; Hackney Revealed is the result of local people working with professional artists, and consists of projection shows, an origami garden, a portrait display and more. It begins on Tuesday with Revealed, a show of colourful, moving projections beamed onto the exterior of Hackney Church.
Free, 15 November-8 December.
2. See the light at the Greenwich Lantern Parade
Christmas begins in Greenwich on Wednesday, when a lantern parade wends its way through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, past the Cutty Sark and into Greenwich Market, where the Christmas lights are switched on. Five local schools take part in the parade, with children showing off colourful, handmade lanterns that they've created themselves.
Free, 16 November.
3. Uncover the universe At Tower of London
After touring the UK, light show About Us pitches up at the Tower of London for four nights — and it's free to see, no need to book.
Projection mapping, music, poetry, animation and live performances combine for a 25-minute show exploring our connections to the universe and everything around us. Expect to see scenes and sequences projected onto the Tower's walls, paired with a dramatic soundtrack.
The show is family-friendly, and starts every half an hour, 5.30pm-9pm, across all four nights.
Free, 16-19 November.
4. Warm Up for winter at Seven Dials
Head to the Seven Dials district of Covent Garden for an evening of festive activities and events, seasonal workshops, and discounts in several of the shops, bars and restaurants. Learn how to upcycle your clothes at COW Vintage, have an artist create a silhouette of you at Astley Clarke jewellers, and try complimentary samples from food, drink and cosmetic brands. You just need to register for a free ticket in advance.
Free, 17 November
5. Investigate Tiny Science at Imperial Lates
A few times a year, Imperial College keeps its South Kensington campus open late, inviting the public inside for an evening of talks, workshops and other events.
The theme for this month's Imperial Lates is Tiny Science: we're promised "tiny talks, small stands and wee art workshops delivered by life-size scientists". Learn about everything from the microplastics in our environment (and lungs), to what's next for the Large Hadron Collider.
Free, 17 November.
6. Make the most of a free bar at Simmons Holborn
Cocktail bar chain Simmons opens its largest venue yet this week on Kingsway in Holborn — and it launches with a... FREE BAR. Between 6pm and 8pm on Thursday and Friday, it's drinks on the house all round — but make sure you sign up in advance.
Free, 17-18 November
7. Chill out at this Winter Ice Festival
Ice ice baby! Head over to Canary Wharf this week for the area's inaugural Winter Ice Festival. Follow a trail of 15 ice sculptures around Jubilee Park, and find out how they're created, with expert ice sculptors giving live demonstrations of their craft using chisels and chainsaws. You can even have a go yourself (minus the chainsaw!), taking part in a free masterclass to sculpt a polar bear.
Free, 17-19 November
8. Bag a bargain at a charity book sale
Calling all book lovers! One of the highlights of the London literary calendar is the Amnesty Book Sale, organised by the Blackheath & Greenwich branch of Amnesty International. Head to the Church of the Ascension in Blackheath to browse table upon table of second hand books on all manner of topics — and pick up some new reads at a bargain price, knowing you're supporting the human rights charity at the same time.
9. See London's Christmas lights before they get too busy
If you've been into central London recently, you'll have noticed that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas already, with light displays on in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden and Carnaby, and even more festive illuminations are due to be switched on this week.
The beauty of Christmas lights is that they're free to see, which makes them very popular. If you plan to spend an evening wandering around looking at them all, you'd do well to go sooner rather than later, as central London's shopping areas get very busy as Christmas gets closer.
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.