Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 13-19 May 2024

Last Updated 10 May 2024

Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 13-19 May 2024

Budget-friendly things to do in London this week for £5 or less.

A double-decker bus bar parked in a field in the sunshine, with dozens of people sitting and standing around, eating and drinking
The Urban Village Fete has plenty of ways to entertain yourself without parting with your dosh. Image: Kris Humphreys Photography

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.

Sip tea for free in Bridgerton-esque surroundings

In a doff of the bonnet to its limited edition Bridgerton range, Lush on Oxford Street invites you to take a chair in its faux Regency dining room, and enjoy a good gossip over a free cup of tea, a la Lady Whistledown. With its hanging flowers, grand piano and flouncy candleholders, Bridgerton fans will indubitably want to get a selfie here too.

Free, until 23 May.

Admire stunning artworks of London's live music venues

James FitzGerald is a man of many talents — not only has he penned a number of Londonist features, he's a dab hand at mixed-media art too; right now, the Back to Ours cafe in Leytonstone is displaying his exhibition, Circuit — organised by Raw Canvas print studio — which pays tribute to a dozen of the city's small independent venues, including the Dublin Castle, the George Tavern and Ronnie Scott's. The artworks are for sale too, although many have already sold.

Free, until 25 May.

A faux Regency dining room
Tea for free at Lush on Oxford Street (though we've got a feeling that fire might not be real).

Explore lost Victorian London

The London Metropolitan Archives opens a new, free exhibition Lost Victorian City: A London Disappeared, which offers an insight into what the capital looked like in Victorian times. It uses watercolours, prints and documents from its stores to depict sights such as the 17th century Oxford Arms coaching inn, and the Crystal Palace settling into its Sydenham home.

Free, 13 May-February 2025.

Get an intro to the new Michelangelo exhibition

Seen the British Museum's new Michelangelo exhibition yet? It focuses on the last 30 years of the artist's life, when he'd left Florence to live in Rome. Get an introduction to it by way of a free online talk. The exhibition's curators, Sarah Vowles and Grant Lewis, explore the exhibition's context and themes, and showcase some of the highlight objects featured in it.

Free, 16 May.

A picture of Ronnie Scott's
Check out beautiful pictures of London's live music venues. © James FitzGerald

Listen to inspiring female photographers

Fiona Shields, head of photography at the Guardian; award-winning photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind; and
Aletheia Casey (course leader on the Masters of Photojournalism at UAL) are speaking this Thursday at the World Press Photo Exhibition in Borough — and it's just a fiver to listen to their exhilarating tales of adventures in global photojournalism.

£5, 16 May.

Three women gather at a natural fountain
Listen to inspiring female photographers tell of their adventures in global photojournalism. Image: Anush Babajanyan/National Geographic Society

Catch the final week of this dog sculpture trail

You've only got until Friday to see Paws on the Wharf, a free sculpture trail consisting of models of Guide Dogs, each one's coat individually designed by an artist or group. They're dotted around Canary Wharf and you can see them for free. After this week, they'll be auctioned off to fundraise for the Guide Dogs charity.

Free, until 17 May.

Delve into the life of Richard Haldane

The National Army Museum offers a free lunchtime lecture about the life and work of Richard Haldane, Former Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. Author John Campbell — who has written a biography about Haldane — talks about his legacy, from creating the Territorial Force (now the TA) to laying the foundations for MI5, MI6, the Royal Air Force, the London School of Economics and Imperial College.

Watch in person at the museum in Chelsea, or online.

Free, 17 May.

View rare British music posters and photos

Black and white poster advertising The Selecter's Pressure Tour
The Selecter Pressure Tour Poster, 1980

Twentieth Century Posters in Islington opens a new exhibition, British Beats: Rare Original Music Posters & Photographs, showcasing original posters advertising bands such as The Beatles, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. It includes a set of limited edition works by British gig photographer Ian Lillicrapp, whose photographs capture live performances by the Beastie Boys, Tina Turner and The Manic Street Preachers.

The exhibition is free to view, though all items are for sale, priced from £50-£3,000.

Free, 17-25 May.

Chug along to the Cheam Charter Fair

The London-Surrey border town of Cheam hosts the annual Cheam Charter Fair, a tradition believed to date back to 1259. It begins with the opening procession at 9am (!) followed by a day of stalls and activities.

Free entry, 18 May.

Eye up classic cars in Waterloo

The monthly Waterloo Classics takes place on Saturday, when owners of classic vehicles park them up on Lower Marsh in Waterloo for passers-by to admire. Head for the area in front of Scooter Caffe.

Free, 18 May.

Watch a ceremonial flotilla travelling down the Thames

Head for the banks of the Thames on Sunday morning to watch the Royal Waterman's Tudor Pull, a rowing event taking place between Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. It's a ceremonial event, with the flotilla presented to the Tower's Governor in a short ceremony on arrival, but you can watch the procession for free anywhere along the river.

Free, 19 May.

A woman with a Guide Dog and a young girl feeling a blue patterned Guide Dog sculpture
Last chance to see Paws on the Wharf. Image: Matt Crossick/PA wire.

Take your family along to the Urban Village Fete

The free-entry Urban Village Fete is back at Greenwich Peninsula on Sunday, offering a family-friendly afternoon of entertainment. Live music and DJs provide the soundtrack, and there's a programme of free talks, games at the free 'Allympics', and creative workshops — including an apartment where you're invited to draw on the walls.

Note that there is a charge for some of the workshops and events, though there's plenty you can do without paying a penny. Check the website for details.

Free entry, 19 May.

Watch free film screenings in Herne Hill all week

The Herne Hill Free Film Festival continues all week, with films being screened for free in venues around the area. 2022 Finnish historical action film Sisu is shown at Off The Cuff Bar, donkey-centric drama EO is at Herne Hill Baptist Church, Oscar-winning documentary Summer of Soul is at Edward Alleyn Club, and Peckham-based Rye Lane is shown in an open-air screening at Brockwell Lido.

Free (though donations are welcome), until 24 May.