Things to do in London for £5 or less between Christmas and New Year.
1. Discover your new favourite walking route
Need to get out the house and blow the cobwebs away? Browse our collection of weekend walks — it's a selection of walking routes in (and sometimes beyond) London, through parks, past canals, and along the Thames. You might find a walking route in your local area that you never knew about, or maybe you can use it as an excuse to explore a whole new part of London. And if you find yourself in a pub along the way for a revitalising bevvy or two... well, it is Christmas.
2. Explore a free exhibition
Many of London's museums stay open between Christmas and New Year (check specific venues for details, as most close on the bank holidays, and some have shorter opening hours the other days). Why not make the most of the downtime to visit a museum you've been meaning to go to for aaaages? Some of London's biggest museums, including the V&A, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum and Museum of London Docklands are all free entry — though there's often a charge for some of the bigger current exhibitions within the museum. That said, there are some excellent free exhibitions on in London right now, including:
DIPPY: This week is your last chance to see Dippy Returns, the free exhibition focusing on the replica diplodocus skeleton's tour around the UK. FREE, until 2 January
THE LOST RHINO: While you're at the Natural History Museum, visit new art installation The Lost Rhino, centred around a video installation of a northern white rhino, a near-extinct sub-species. More widely, the exhibition questions our attitudes towards conservation, and whether we should be using technology to bring back extinct species at the expense of protecting the species we still have. FREE, until 19 March
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Wellcome Collection's free display In Plain Sight explores how we see, and how we are seen by others, taking into consideration the different experiences of sighted, partially-sighted and blind people. FREE, until 12 February
3. Count down to 2023 with the kids
If your kids are keen to join in the New Year's Eve celebrations, but you don't think they'll make it until midnight (or you have plans to party without them!), Southbank Centre has the solution.
Kids' Countdown with Ida Barr is a NYE party with singing, dancing, a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, and the all-important countdown... to midday. That's right, this party wraps up by early afternoon, meaning nobody has to miss bedtime. Genius!
Free, 31 December.
4. Familiarise yourself with London's queer history
Head the Clermont Hotel (next to Charing Cross) and look for the guide with red umbrella to join a Queer History of London LGBTQ+ walking tour. It visits Soho and the surrounding areas, with stories of 18th century drag queens, 20th century gay soirees, and the history of one of the world's best-loved queer neighbourhoods. Celebrate the people and places linked to the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights over the past 50 years.
The tour runs on a 'pay what you think it's worth' basis, which makes it accessible to everyone, regardless of their budget. However, bear in mind that your tour guide works on a freelance basis (and is working on New Year's Eve!) so do tip generously if you can afford to do so.
Pay what you like, 31 December.
5. See in 2023 at the New Year's Day Parade
If you're up bright and early (well, before midday) on 1 January, head to central London to watch the New Year's Day Parade. A procession wends its way from Piccadilly (outside the Ritz) down to Westminster — and what a procession it is. Horse riders, a Samba band, traditional Chinese lion dancers, American high school marching bands, and pop rock groups Scouting For Girls and Toploader are just some of the acts on the programme this year.
The whole thing takes three hours, but you can drop by for as little or long as you like. It's free to watch from almost anywhere along the route, though you might need to get there early to get a front row spot. Read our complete guide to the London New Year's Day Parade for everything you need to know.
Free, 1 January.
6. Have a New Year's Day Boogie
If you've somehow got a second wind, and are champing at the bit for more partying, The CLF Art Lounge & Roof Garden in Peckham is hosting All About Da Boogie, its monthly blowout of funk and soul floorfillers, on New Year's Day. DJs Perry Louis (Jazzcotech), and Aitch B (Soul360) are bringing the choons.
Free, 1 January
7. Catch up on the best London shows and videos
This slow (and no doubt chilly) week is perfect for snuggling up on the sofa/under the duvet, and catching up on some top notch London content. That might mean bingeing on Londony shows on Netflix, iPlayer and Amazon Prime. So long as you've got a subscription/licence fee, these counts as free — but one thing that certainly won't cost you a penny is watching Londonist's own YouTube channel, where recent additions include an art deco trip down the Northern line, and a Christmas quiz you can play with friends and fam.
8. Get a final glimpse of the Christmas lights
In many parts of central London, this is the final full week to see London's beautiful Christmas lights. Whether it's the Oxford Street stars, the Regent Street angels or the Bond Street crown jewels, they're well worth seeing in person if you can — and best of all, they're free to visit. Take your time wandering the West End, or if you can stretch to the cost of a bus journey, hop on board and watch them from the comfort and warmth of a double decker. Read our guide to seeing London's Christmas lights for more information.
Free, until early January.
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.