Things to do this week for £5 or less.
1) Get a last glimpse of the Ever After Garden
Until Tuesday, Grosvenor Square in Mayfair is full of 20,000 glowing white roses, illuminated each evening (3pm-9pm) for anyone to visit. Although The Ever After Garden is free to view, it's organised on behalf of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, so do consider making a small donation if you can.
Free, until 20 December.
2) Get LIT! in Lewisham
As the year comes to an end, so does Lewisham's tenure as London Borough of Culture, with Croydon poised to take up the reins next. Lewisham's last hurrah is LIT!, a series of festive events taking place in Beckenham Place Park 15 December-8 January... including free illuminations across three evenings this week.
See a large-scale illuminated puppet moving through the park, and on Wednesday — the shortest day of the year — it leads a parade including a live band. Other illuminations are dotted around too.
Free, 20-22 December.
3) Attend a free carol concert
There are many carol concerts going on in London this week, and some of them are pretty spendy. However, there are also plenty of free carol concerts and Christmas services if you know where to look.
On Wednesday, St James's Church Piccadilly holds two free carol services, with young musicians from the Royal College of Music singing carols accompanied by brass fanfare and drums — all fuelled by mince pies, of course. On the same day, London International Gospel Choir, The BASSnote Collective and Camden Voices perform in Choral Winter Warmers at Southbank Centre, also free.
If you can't make those, why not check with your local church to see what's on this week?
Free, 21 December
4) Track down the Greenwich Advent Windows
The closer we get to Christmas, the more there is to see on the Greenwich Advent Windows trail. Every day, 1-24 December, another business, school or house near Greenwich town centre unveils its advent window, featuring festive displays. It's free to do, and is a great way to explore streets you may not otherwise visit.
Free, until 24 December.
5) Jive your way through Christmas Eve
As part of Southbank Centre's Winter Festival, there's a free festive jive event in the Royal Festival Hall on 24 December. Everyone's welcome at Five Go Jiving, with a dance class, live musicians and a DJ getting Christmas off to a lively start. Take place in person or online.
Free, 24 December.
6) Watch the Peter Pan Cup
Christmas Day is London is an odd one. Not much open, but still some things going on — though the events which do take place are not necessarily budget-friendly. What is free is watching the Peter Pan Cup, a Christmas Day swimming race in the Serpentine in Hyde Park. You can't take part unless you're a regular member of the swimming club, but spectating is free.
The catch? It starts at 9am so you'll have to be up and at 'em early doors, added to which there's no public transport in London on Christmas Day to get you there. (Hire bikes will be working, though.)
Free, 25 December.
7) Celebrate Christmas by the River
Free-entry festival Christmas by the River continues apace, open to the public every day except Christmas Day (though check for varying opening and closing times over the Christmas and New Year period).
Wander among a fairy-lit Christmas market by the river, or catch a free film screening — The Grinch is shown on Tuesday and The Muppet Christmas Carol on Thursday this week.
Free, until 2 January (closed 25 December).
8) See the Christmas lights
The West End is likely to be a teensy bit busy this week, but if you can dodge the crowds, get into the festive spirit by going to see London's Christmas lights. They're free to view (unless you're willing to stretch to the cost of a bus ride) and are looking spectacular — this year we've got stars on Oxford Street, angels on Regent Street, jewels on Bond Street and... well, a bit of everything on Carnaby. Read our complete guide to London's Christmas lights for your need-to-know.
Free, until early January.