Things to do this week for £5 or less.
1. Slide into a traditional frost fair
Back in the days when the Thames would completely freeze over, frost fairs were held on the ice. Now, a traditional frost fair has been recreated — albeit on dry land — using a series of augmented reality installations and artworks, alongside more traditional guided walks and other events. Get to Bankside Frost Fair for AR street art murals, animations, films and digital art depicting historical scenes — as well as real life events, workshops and food and drink experiences, including special frost fair menus at local restaurants and businesses, and themed music and club nights.
Free, until 31 January 2023.
2. Discover Ilford's photographic past
Did you know that Ilford had a factory renowned for making photographic film? Ilford Limited: Analogue Stories is a free exhibition delving into the history of the Ilford Limited photographic factory, featuring stories of its workers, and work by local photographers using Ilford products. Happily enough, Ilford is still making film to this day.
Free, 5 December 2022-12 March 2023
3. Sniff out an exhibition about bully breeds and their owners
Bulldogs, Staffies, bull terriers and the like are also known as 'bully breeds', and Rich Mix's Nannies and Fighters exhibition explores the relationship between such dogs and their owners. Often seen as violent animals, this show reveals how they were once known as soft, loyal 'nanny' dogs, and how they're beginning to be seen in this light again. Various workshops accompany the exhibition, exploring homes, protection, and class through making and self-publishing.
Free, 6 December 2022-30 January 2023
4. Be enchanted by a Christmas lantern parade
For all the blockbuster Christmas lights and decs strewn city-wide, sometimes you just can't beat the personal touch. Enter the annual London Bridge Christmas Lantern Parade, in which kids from local schools show off their own creations in a walk from St John's Churchyard to London Bridge station. Heartwarming stuff.
Free, 7 December
5. Go lunar loopy at Imperial College
It's 50 years since the last human footstep on the moon, and Imperial College's Look Up late marks the anniversary, with lunar-themed activities, including ornament crafting with illustrator Hana Ayoob, and a rendition of The Moons Symphony. There's plenty of other, less moon-some, fun to be had, including a fairground game of 'comet crashes' with scientists who work on the Comet Interceptor mission.
Free, 8 December 2022
6. Attend a free lunchtime recital...
The Royal Opera House puts on a lunchtime recital at its Paul Hamlyn Hall in Covent Garden, featuring ROH performers and special guests. No need to pay a penny, or even reserve your spot — just get there in time for the 1pm start.
Free, 9 December
7. ...Or a free evening brass band performance
Few things get us into the yuletide spirit like a brass band playing Christmas standards. This evening, London City Brass perform a Christmas concert at St. Mary-at-Hill Church in the City. It costs nothing to attend (though donations are gratefully accepted) and there are refreshments too.
Free, 9 December
8. Get festive for free
It's the first full week of December, and it's beginning to look A LOT like Christmas in London... but this can be an expensive time of year. We know that, which is why we've put together a guide to free things to do in London at Christmas — so you can fill your month with festive cheer, without blowing the budget (or, in fact, spending a single penny).
9. Feel the need for (free) mead
This time of year can get spendy with the various drinks and dos — but there's at least one glass of something with your name on it that won't cost you anything. London's only meadery, Gosnell's, is giving away 10,000 pints of its sparkling Wildflower mead before Xmas; you'll need to share your email with them, before calling in at their Bermondsey taproom to enjoy your honeyed elixir.
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.