11 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 20-26 February 2023

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11 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 20-26 February 2023

Things to do in London this week for £5 or less.

Mannequins modelling outfits, surrounded by oversized toadstools and flowers
Stella McCartney is one of the artists featured in a free Vogue X Snapchat pop-up.

1. Explore Hogarth's London - from home

Unfortunately, tickets to attend Guildhall Library's talk about the great satirist Hogarth in person have sold out, but you can still book yourself a free place to watch online. Hear from historian and qualified guide Guy Rowston about the real-life London locations featured in the paintings and engravings of Hogarth. Spanning the City and the West End, they offer an insight into the noisy (and noisome) life of the 18th century metropolis.

Free, 21 February.

2. Celebrate Pancake Day on the cheap

A man in a suit flips a pancake inside the ornate Leadenhall Market
Get a free pancake at Leadenhall Market.

21 February is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, and although London's frying pan overflows with restaurants serving top-notch pancakes year-round, they aren't always a budget-friendly option.

Enter London's Pancake Day events, including several pancake races, which are free to watch. Of particular note is the Leadenhall Market pancake race, where the first 100 spectators can bag themselves a free pancake courtesy of the market's Lamb Tavern.

21 February.

3. Check out Janette Beckman's photos of youth subcultures

Sade leaning against a cop car
Sade, New York City 1983 © Janette Beckman

Acclaimed documentary photographer Janette Beckman displays a selection of her own photos, at the Pilgrm hotel in Paddington. Among the subculture heroes she's snapped over the years are Sade, Run DMC, Slick Rick, Salt-n-Pepa, Grand Master Flash and LL Cool J. Beckman opens the exhibition personally on 21 February, where she's also introducing her latest book Rebels: From Punk to Dior.

Free, 21 February-late May

4. Study letters from the Holocaust

An old postcard covered in writing
Image: Wiener Holocaust Library

If you've not yet been to Bloomsbury's Wiener Holocaust Library, its latest exhibition, Holocaust Letters provides yet another reason to do so. Delving into its own archives — as well as private collections — the library pores over letters written by persecutees at the time, showing what they knew about the horrendous events unfolding around them, and how they cleverly swapped information in defiance of censors.

Free, 22 February-late 16 June

5. Learn some Stonehenge history

Gresham College hosts archaeologist and writer Mike Pitts for a free talk about the history of Stonehenge. The mystery of how the stone circle came to be has always been considered through our view of the past as times of empire and war, but this talk uses new archaeology and science to present a more positive and inclusive story. The talk takes place at Barnard's Inn Hall in Holborn, but you can watch in person or online.

Free, 23 February.

6. Find out what's happening in Ukraine, one year on

As the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears, Chelsea's National Army Museum brings together a panel of experts to discuss the ongoing conflict. Get their views on how and why the conflict started, the events of the past year, and potential implications for other countries — including Britain — in the coming years.

The panel includes former Kyiv correspondent Anna Reid; Chair of War Studies at the University of Warwick, Anthony King; Maria Shagina, a Senior Research Fellow for Economic Sanctions, Standards and Strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies; and Daniel Cowling, a Historian at the National Army Museum. You can watch in person at the museum, or online.

£5, 23 February.

7. Stay late at Dulwich Picture Gallery

People admiring artworks on the wall at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Have yourself a cultural Friday night. Image: Dulwich Picture Gallery

As Dulwich Picture Gallery's M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds exhibition comes to a close in a couple of weeks, the gallery hosts a special late opening to celebrate the artist's Lithuanian heritage. Spend a civilised evening enjoying interactive art performances, DJ sets, creative workshops, a pop-up bar and more.

Note that if you want to visit the exhibition itself, you'll need a separate paid ticket.

Free, 24 February.

8. Visit Lauderdale House's Heritage Weekend

Highgate's Lauderdale House throws open its doors for a free Heritage Weekend, celebrating the history of the house itself and the local area. Visit on Saturday for a Heritage Fair which brings community groups together to share local stories, and history talks. Sunday is family day, with free activities including craft sessions, storytelling, a trail to follow and more.

Free, 25-26 February.

9. Make a final visit to Wembley Park Art Trail

We're in the final few days to see the Winter's Wander additions to the Wembley Park Art Trail. Seven commissioned pieces including digital art, lighting installations and cartoon-like illustrations can be seen for free at sites such as Olympic Way, the Spanish Steps and Arena Square.

Free, until 28 February.

10. Strike a pose at the Vogue X Snapchat pop-up

A room covered in black and white polka dots and blue flowers. Inside are two mannequins wearing clothing in the same patterns.

Social media platform Snapchat and fashion magazine Vogue have teamed up for new immersive AR exhibition Vogue x Snapchat: Redefining the Body.

Curated by Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful OBE, it consists of several rooms, each showcasing the work of a renowned designer, including Dior, Richard Quinn, Stella McCartney and Versace. The AR aspect of the experience includes a chance to virtually try on certain designs.

It's free to visit (though you'll need to book), located at 84-86 Regent Street.

Free, until 5 March.

11. Get a £3 ticket to London Zoo

Two giraffes outside the giraffe house at London Zoo
Some people can get tickets to London Zoo for £3. Image: Richard Cook via Unsplash

For a limited time, London Zoo is offering admission tickets for just £3, available to anyone receiving Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance.

You'll need to book your reduced price tickets in advance, as they have, predictably, been in high demand, particularly over half term last week. You'll also need to show proof of eligibility when you arrive at the zoo.

The Community Access Scheme currently runs until the end of March. Other reduced price tickets are available to people with disabilities or additional needs, refugees, and those over 60 who are at risk of social isolation. Full details on the London Zoo website.

£3, until end of March.

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.

Last Updated 24 February 2023