11 Free And Cheap Things To Do In London This Week: 16-22 January 2023

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11 Free And Cheap Things To Do In London This Week: 16-22 January 2023

Things to do this week for £5 or less.

A crowd watching a 'word waterfall' featuring the word 'subscribe'
Canary Wharf Winter Lights is back. Image: Canary Wharf

1. Be inspired by a Beacon of Hope

Charity Christian Aid has teamed up with Southwark Cathedral to install a Beacon of Hope in the church for two weeks. It takes the form of stained glass, created by Ugandan artist Matt Kayem, using light and colour to offer messages of hope on five topics: hunger, equality, health, climate, and injustice.

A small (also free) exhibition runs alongside the beacon, detailing some of the projects that Christian Aid has worked on. Additionally, special candlelight evenings of prayer take place on 18 and 25 January.

Free, 16-29 January.

2. Treat yourself to a 99p gelato

A cup of gelato with wafers
99p will get you one of these this January.

Shrug off the wintry weather by pretending it's the height of summer, and scoffing a thrifty gelato from Badiani Gelato. The chain is offering piccola cups of their scrummy gelato for just 99p, every day from 16 January right up to the end of the month. The deal's on at all nine chains across London: Notting Hill, Chelsea, Canary Wharf, Elephant Park, Angel, Elephant & Castle, Mayfair, Covent Garden and Wood Wharf.

99p, 16-31 January

3. Bask in the glow of Canary Wharf Winter Lights

Just as we're really missing London's Christmas lights, glowing cheer comes along in the form of Canary Wharf Winter Lights. The annual free illuminations festival sees glowing artworks dotted around the Canary Wharf area, lit up every evening after dark, and free to visit. If you've been before, some of this year's installations will be familiar, while others are brand new. Wrap up warm, as much of it is outside.

Free, 18-28 January.

4. Get clacking your needles at a social knitting class

Five women sitting on some painted blue steps, knitting
Image: Wembley Park

Whether you're an experienced knitter or a novice with the needles, everyone's welcome at the social knitting class at Wembley Park. Knitting tools are provided if you don't have your own, and there's as much focus on the nattering as there is the knitting, so it's a great way to meet fellow knitters and swap patterns and techniques.

Free, 19 January.

5. Tune your ears into a free concert

The Australian Scotch College Symphony Orchestra, London Youth String and London Children's String Orchestras combine for an evening of free classical music, performed at Holborn's Sepulchre Church. They're playing scores by Fauré, Sibelius, Shostakovich and others. Reserve your free seat.

Free, 20 January

6. Beat the blues at this comedy night

Pop art laughter
Image: iStock/drante

January dragging a bit? UCL Comedy Club has your back, with a night of comedy at Bloomsbury Theatre for just a fiver — including a drink. The exact line-up hasn't been announced, but it's a wallet-friendly way to start your weekend, whoever's on stage.

£5, 20 January.

7. Sample coffee for free

Ever heard of Redemption Roasters? It's a coffee roasting company, and a rather special one too — the world's only prison-based coffee roastery. Inmates at HMP The Mount are employed, and taught barista and coffee roasting skills, which help them to find employment once released, and hopefully stop them from reoffending. Head to Peckham Levels on Friday for a chance to sample some of Redemption Roasters' coffee for free, and hear more about their good work while you're at it.

Free, 20 January.

8. Hear photographers share their memories of Ukraine

A black and white image of a man holding up a photo of a younger man to the camera, with a crowd gathered around him
© Tim Smith

Two photographers documenting the stories of Ukrainians in Ukraine and Britain come together at the Migration Museum in Lewisham to discuss their work.

Tim Smith is a photojournalist who photographed Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and Maryna Sulym is a London-based Ukrainian documentary photographer and artist who has been collecting stories from Ukrainians who found safety in the UK. At this event they present both historical and contemporary photos to illustrate stories of Ukraine and Ukrainians, and discuss how these photographs frame the current conflict.

Free, 21 January.

9. Tour a Neo-Gothic church

These days, St Mary Magdalene Church in Paddington is best-known as Grand Junction, an events space which hosts regular live music, exhibitions, ceilidhs and the like. But the 1860s building itself is spectacular, and can be seen in more detail on a free lunchtime tour. Knowledgable volunteer guides point out the highlights of the Gothic Revival church, from Victorian craftwork to recent renovations.

Free, 21 January.

10. Celebrate Chinese New Year

Crowds watching and touching a Chinese lion dancer
Celebrate Chinese New Year at Museum of London Docklands

22 January is Chinese New Year, when we welcome the Year of the Rabbit, though celebrations are going on all this week (and beyond). Not all Chinese New Year events are budget-friendly, but there are a few free and family-friendly things happening this weekend, including at National Maritime Museum and Museum of London Docklands.

Free, 21-23 January.

11. See an exhibition inspired by Highgate Cemetery

Zurab Gogidze is a gardener and gravedigger's assistant at Highgate Cemetery. He also happens to be a talented artist who produces pen and pencil drawings of features of the cemetery, including detailed figure studies. Gogidze's artworks also venture into mysterious realms — with drawings of the moon, mermaids and fishermen. Some of his works are on display in a free exhibition, Peace on Paper, at Lauderdale House at the moment

Free, until 30 January. The venue also has a free exhibition of pet portraits by Mark Maier at the moment.

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 10 January 2023