Things to do this week for £5 or less.
1 . Let off steam in a playground
It's half term, and our guide to half term events in London has plenty to keep you occupied. But for free, family-friendly fun, you can't beat a good playground. We've mapped all of the playgrounds we know about in central London — and we've had our Mini Londonists road test a fair few of them too. Ideal for getting out the house, or for letting off steam en route to a museum, theatre show or other family excursion.
2. Get stuck into Family Film Week at Barbican
Throughout half term, Barbican has a Family Film Week going on, screening kid-friendly films for the same price as its usual Saturday morning film club. It's a celebration of new films from all over the world, including French animation Kirikou and the Wild Beast, and Brazilian work Perlimps. Short films, workshops, storytelling and quizzes are also on the programme.
Family Film Week. Each event £3.50 for over-18s/£2.50 for under-18s. 22-29 October.
3. Use a new train station
If you've got a travelcard, or can chuck a couple of quid on your Oyster, you can be among the first to use the new Bond Street Elizabeth line station. Though Elizabeth line trains have been running through Bond Street since the line opened in May this year, they haven't stopped here, due to delays in completing the station. 24 October is the launch day, from when you can use the new station and platforms.
Bond Street station, from Monday 24 October.
4. Scoff free cupcakes at the new Hummingbird Bakery
We're huge fans of The Hummingbird Bakery, and really miss the Soho branch since it shut last year. So it's great news that a new branch opens in Victoria this week — and they're giving away cupcakes, pies, cookies and 'crownies' (their own take on a brownie) to the first 1,000 visitors. To be in with a chance of guzzling the freebies, you'll need to be there when (or soon after) it opens at 9am on Tuesday.
The Hummingbird Bakery, 40 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0RE. From 9am, Tuesday 25 October.
5. Look out for a partial solar eclipse
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and seeeee... a partial solar eclipse. If you're lucky. It's visible from most of Europe — including the UK — provided the skies stay clear. During the eclipse, the moon covers part of the sun, looking like it has taken a bite out of it. If you're keen to see it, don't do a Donald Trump: swot up on how to view a solar eclipse safely.
10.08am-11.51am (peaking around 10.59am) on Tuesday 25 October.
6. Sip your way through free whiskey
We had you at free whiskey, didn't we? Award-winning bartender and Yellowstone Select Bourbon ambassador Michele Reine hosts two tasting masterclasses (25 and 26 October), where you'll learn how bourbons are barrel aged, and you get to taste three American whiskeys along the way.
7. Admire some criminally good art
Charitable organisation Koestler Arts celebrates 60 years of the annual Koestler Awards, with a free exhibition at Southbank Centre. All works in Koestler Arts: Freedom were created by people incarcerated in prison or the criminal justice system in the UK. Respected artist Ai Weiwei curated this year's exhibition from more than 6,500 entries, and it's presented in a space designed to highlight how humanity responds when put under extreme circumstances.
Koestler Arts: Freedom at Southbank Centre. Free entry, 27 October-18 December.
8. Get free entry to a museum you'd normally pay to visit
London Bridge's Old Operating Theatre is celebrating 60 years as a museum, so for one day only, you can visit for free (normally £7.50 for an adult).
The museum is located in the attic of a church, where herbs were once dried for medicinal purposes. The main draw is the old operating theatre, built in 1822, and the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. Get an idea of what it was like to operate (or be operated on) in the days before anaesthetic or antiseptic.
It's first come first served for freebie entry, and there's no guarantee you'll get in if it's really busy, so arriving earlier is better.
Free entry to The Old Operating Theatre, 10.30am-4.15pm, Thursday 27 October.
9. Catch a glimpse of the Lord Mayor
As the current Lord Mayor's tenure comes to a close, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress take part in a horse ride around the City, raising awareness and funds for the Lord Mayor's Appeal. Over a couple of hours they tour the City to raise awareness for various causes supported by this year's Lord Mayor's Appeal, with the public invited to Guildhall Yard to watch them depart at 9am or return around 11.15am.
See the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Free, Friday 28 October, 9am-11.30am.
10. Take your pooch on a Howloween dog walk
North London canine charity All Dogs Matter kicks off the Halloween celebrations early with a 'Howloween' dog walk across Hampstead Heath. Take your pooch along and join other dogs and their owners for an autumn stroll. There's a fancy dress competition with categories for kids, adults and dogs too.
Halloween dog walk. Tickets £5, 10.30am-1pm, Sunday 30 October.
11. Marvel at Magnificent Maps
The oldest surviving map of London has been on display at London Metropolitan Archives for a few months now — but don't worry if you've not seen the Magnificent Maps exhibition yet, as it's now been extended until next year.
Civitas Londinium — also known as the Woodcut or Agas map — is just one feature of the exhibition, which also displays the Ruins of London survey, commissioned by the City of London Corporation following 1666's Great Fire, to help rebuild the city, and 19th century maps charting the spread of then-fatal diseases like typhoid, cholera and smallpox
Magnificent Maps of London. Free entry, now extended until March 2023.
12. Change your clocks
Alright, so it's not the most fun activity we've ever suggested, but consider this your reminder that the clocks go back an hour at 2am on Sunday 30 October. You're welcome.