Budget-friendly things to do in London this week for £5 or less.
Snaffle an 80p salad in Soho
Believe it or not, Soho delicatessen Lina Stores has been going for 80 years, and to celebrate it's selling salad boxes for just 80p this Monday and Tuesday. Turn up at the deli at 18 Brewer Street from 12pm, and grab a box of Insalata di Antipasti e Tartufo (fusilli, artichoke, mushroom, semi-dried tomato, basil and truffle), or other such posh salads. In theory, the deal happens runs till 2pm, but bear in mind there are only 80 salads going at this price each day — so we'd recommend getting there early.
12 and 13 February.
Take a virtual trip through Bolivia
No need to grab your passport to get a glimpse of Bolivia — the Royal Geographical Society offers a free online talk by Shafik Meghji, author of Crossed Off the Map: Travels in Bolivia. Hear about the country's turbulent history, including how it helped to kickstart globalisation, and find out what it's like to live in or near the world’s highest city, largest salt flat, richest silver mine and most biodiverse national park.
Free, 13 February.
View a replica megalosaurus skeleton
200 years ago this month, William Buckland, Professor of Geology at Oxford University, submitted a paper featuring the first scientific description of a non-avian dinosaur. That dinosaur was a megalosaurus, and a replica megalosaurus skeleton is on display at The Geological Society on Piccadilly from Tuesday this week.
Free, 13-29 February (Tuesday-Thursday).
Here be dragons
From dinosaurs to dragons, as Gresham College offers a free lecture about the history and mythology of the fire-breathing beasts. Why have so many people throughout time believed in dragons, and which real-life creatures could they have been mistaking them for? Is there a difference between Eastern and Western depictions of dragons? All of this is discussed by Professor Ronald Hutton, Professor of Divinity — you can watch in person at Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn), or online.
Free, 14 February.
Get the lowdown on lesbians in Agatha Christie's work
Several Agatha Christie novels, including A Murder Is Announced, and Nemesis, depict lesbian relationships. Hear from senior lecturer in criminal law Caroline Derry about how the portrayals vary in each of her novels, and how this reflects changes to the legal approach to women in same-sex relationships at the time. Watch the free lecture in person at LSE, or online.
Free, 15 February.
Take the kids along to free creative workshops
Though they usually take place on Sundays, Dulwich Picture Gallery offers a special Friday edition of its free family art workshops for half term. Aimed at 7-12 year olds and their families, the workshops are inspired by the Rubens & Women exhibition, with all art materials provided. It's free, but advance booking is recommended, though some tickets will be available on the day.
Free, 16 February.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month at the National Maritime Museum
As part of its LGBTQ+ History Month celebrations, the National Maritime Museum hosts Out At Sea, a family-friendly festival exploring LGBTQ+ stories through workshops, talks, live performances and storytelling. Highlights include a zine-making workshop celebrating people assigned female at birth who lived as men at sea.
Free, 17 February.
Keep the family entertained at Imagine Children's Festival
Southbank Centre's Imagine Children's Festival runs all the way through half term, offering performances, workshops, trails and other activities for kids of all ages. The programme includes plenty of free activities, ideal if you're trying to entertain the family on a budget, such as a free disco dance party, a sketch comedy workshop, and an interactive poetry gig. Browse all free events.
Until 17 February.
Take part in family Lunar New Year celebrations
Museum of the Home in Hoxton hosts a day of family activities to mark Lunar New Year, including a reading from Eva Wong Nava of her book I Love Chinese New Year, and a chance to make animal puppets using recycled materials with The Orang Collectif.
Free, 18 February.
Immerse yourself in Croydon's magnificent music heritage
Get yourself to Rewind: This is Croydon's Music — a new exhibition at the Museum of Croydon charting the area's immense contribution to music, from classical composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, through to grime artist Nadia Rose, via Desmond Dekker, The Damned and Mad Professor.
Free, until 7 September.
See a free Beatrix Potter exhibition
The V&A Museum currently has a free display about children's author Beatrix Potter — or, more specifically, about actor and collector Leslie Linder, who bequeathed his collection of about 2,400 Beatrix Potter drawings, manuscripts and books to the museum after his death.
The display marks 50 years since that gift, and looks at how he painstakingly deciphered Potter's secret code-written journals, so that we now know more about her life before she created Peter Rabbit.
Free, until 15 September.
Let off steam at one of London's free playgrounds
It is of course half term, and we've got plenty of ideas for ways to keep kids and teenagers busy, some of them free. But sometimes — weather dependent — you can't beat letting off steam in a playground. We've mapped all of the free outdoor playgrounds we know of in central London, ideal for visiting on their own, or perhaps on your way to or from another event or day out.