11 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 17-23 April 2023

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Last Updated 14 April 2023

11 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 17-23 April 2023

Budget-friendly things to do in London this week for £5 or less.

Free and cheap events in London this week:  a display of Weasley-themed artworks at House of MinaLima
The Weasleys are the subject of a new exhibition. Image: House of MinaLima

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.

1. Bank on having a good time at this museum late

The Bank of England Museum stays open late on the third Thursday of every month, for a free evening of talks and events on a certain theme. This time, it's the past, present and future of banknotes, exploring the role cash plays in our society at a time when so many businesses are going cashless. Hear from Lead Banknote Designer Debbie Marriott, and Will Lovell, the Bank's Head of Future Technology.

Free, 20 April.

2. Visit the reopened Old Operating Theatre for free

An old 19th century operating theatre, with wooden benches and a skylight
The Old Operating Theatre is open again.

After being closed for a few months for renovations, the Old Operating Theatre Museum by London Bridge reopens on Friday — and there's free entry on opening day. It's Europe's oldest surviving operating theatre, located in the attic space of the 320-year-old St Thomas's Church, where medical students could watch operations in the flesh, so to speak. It's open from 10.30am on Friday, but you can't book in advance and it's likely to be popular, so don't leave it too late in the day if you want to swing by (last entry is 4.15pm).

Free (for one day only — usually £7.50 adult/£4.50 child), 21 April.

3. Start your Saturday dancing to Afro Beat Fusion

This is the penultimate Saturday of Greenwich Park's Afro Beat Fusions sessions; skip watching Saturday Kitchen with a hangover, and get your body pumping to music from across the African Diaspora, in this fun al fresco one-hour session. And no, you don't need to be a good dancer to take part. It's free, but you must book your place.

Free, 22 April (and again on 29 April)

4. Celebrate Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square

Free and cheap events in London this week: a woman performing on stage at Vaisakhi festival in Trafalgar Square
Celebrate Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square. Image: Greater London Authority

Vaisakhi Festival — a Sikh and Punjabi cultural festival — is celebrated with a huge free event in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. Everyone's welcome at the family-friendly gathering, which includes live music performances, martial arts demonstrations, cooking demos, kids' activities, and educational talks about Vaisakhi for anyone who wants to learn more.

Free, 22 April.

5. Watch an IMAX film for £3

For one day only, IMAX cinemas up and down the country are offering £3 tickets to watch the likes of Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, and Everything Everywhere All at Once. That includes the IMAX cinemas in Leicester Square and Enfield. Booking is now open.

£3, 22 April

6. Join Londonist Art Critic Tabish Khan

Londonist's own art critic Tabish Khan is the host and moderator of a discussion between contemporary artists Prachi Gothi and Tong Wu — and it doesn't cost anything to go. Head to Gallery M Platform on Portobello Road — which currently hosts the Dreamscapes exhibition featuring work by both artists — to attend the event.

Free, 22 April.

7. Go to a St George's Day Festival

Following the Vaisakhi celebrations on Saturday (above), Trafalgar Square is back in action for the free St George's Day celebration on Sunday. Celebrate the Patron Saint of England (and Catalonia, Ethiopia and various other regions) with live music and other performances, activities for kids, food stalls, a silent disco, sports zone and more — all hosted by radio presenter Zoe Hardman.

Free, 23 April.

8. Watch the London Marathon

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones taking part in the 2014 London Marathon on  a road on part of the course in the Isle of Dogs, with a second wheelchair racer close behind her
The London Marathon is on Sunday. Photo: Julian Mason

For the first time since 2019, the London Marathon is taking place in spring — this Sunday to be precise. You're most likely too late to bag yourself a place to run in the event yourself (*sigh of relief*) but it's free to turn up and cheer on the participants from the sidelines. Read our guide to the London Marathon for details on timings, the route, and places to watch which might be a bit quieter.

Alternatively, if you're running the London Marathon — and hats off to you — several places offer free food and drink once you cross the finish line (you'll need to flash your medal to claim them):

  • Meat Liquor is offering free burgers or Impossible Nuggets to runners and volunteers;
  • Clay's bar in Canary Wharf will serve you a free cocktail;
  • Bill's offers a free burger and Peroni (or soft drink) at any of its London sites.

Free, 23 April.

9. Admire works by Nigeria's 'scribble queen'

Ayanfe Olarinde in a studio surrounded by paintings
Ayanfe Olarinde uses coffee grounds in her 'jagajaga' artworks.

Self-taught Nigerian artist Ayanfe Olarinde makes her London debut with In The Beginning And So It Goes… at JD Malat gallery. Viewers are promised "a journey of discovery and enlightenment" as they take in Olarinde's  'jagajaga' (scribble) technique artworks, which incorporate coffee grounds as a form of paint. Themes include Yoruba folk tales, Nigerian political struggles and slavery.

Free, until 6 May

10. Indulge in magical mischief with The Weasleys

Free and cheap events in London this week:  a close-up of colourful posters on display in the Weasleys exhibition at House of MinaLima
See the design of a joke shop at House of MinaLima.

House of MinaLima — the Soho gallery/shop which specialises in designs from the Harry Potter franchise — has a new, free exhibition, and it's all about the Weasleys.

MinaLima is the name of design duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, who are responsible for much of the design work in the films.  The new exhibit is a curated collection of 20 limited edition art prints from the graphic designers' favourite artworks created for the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes film set in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. If you haven't seen the film, that's a joke shop in Diagon Alley, set up by the Weasley twins, Fred and George.

Free, until August 2023.

11. Go barking mad for this Kennel Club exhibition

Free and cheap events in London this week: a dog-themed exhibition at The Kennel Club
View a special 150th anniversary exhibition. Image: The Kennel Club

Earlier this month, The Kennel Club in Mayfair — home to Europe's largest dedicated dog library — celebrated its 150th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it has opened a special exhibition depicting the evolution of The Kennel Clubs, and its achievements, with original paintings, historical artefacts, vintage photographs and more on display.

Free, until January 2024. You need to book your visit in advance — email [email protected] or call 020 7518 1064