Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 22-28 January 2024

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Last Updated 15 January 2024

Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 22-28 January 2024

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

An illuminated artwork, in the shape of a giant slinky, in rainbow colours
Battersea Power Station Light Festival returns. Photo: Janus van der Eijnden

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.

Take a magic lantern mystery tour

Head to the Royal Geographical Society on Monday afternoon for a magic lantern mystery tour. Speaker Nick talks about the set of 87 magic lantern slides which he bought with no idea about the images they contained. They revealed the story of Willie Read and his 1912 unknown expedition from Srinagar, over the Pamirs and across Central Asia to Siberia

£5, 22 January.

Listen to a lunchtime concert

Head to Dulwich Picture Gallery on Wednesday lunchtime for a free lunchtime concert inside Christ's Chapel. Students from local schools perform, and the concerts are a regular occurrence — check the programme for upcoming events.

Free, 24 January.

A field of wheat
Discover how climate change impacts food security, at Science Museum. Image: Melissa Askew via Unsplash

Get to know an interstellar visitor

Wednesday's free Gresham College lecture sees Professor Chris Lintott, a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, talking about Oumuamua — an object which visited our solar system in 2017, deemed our 'first interstellar visitor'. Lintott discusses what we learned from it, whether we might discover more unusual objects in our solar system, and (importantly) how we can protect the Earth from asteroids.

You can watch the talk in person at Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn) or online — both are free.

Free, 24 January.

Find out how climate change impacts food security

As part of its series of climate events, the Science Museum hosts a panel of experts to discuss how climate change is affecting global food supply chains. Severe weather including heatwaves, droughts and flooding is increasingly causing crop failures across the world, and the panel looks at what needs to be adapted to make our food supplies more resilient.

It's a livestreamed event, to be watched online from your own home.

Free, 24 January.

Volunteers in Royalist costumes marching with staffs and flagpoles
Look out for a full-costumed march down The Mall on Sunday

Get jealous of Mark Knopfler's guitar collection

With a career spanning 50 years, Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler has accrued quite the collection of axes — so many, in fact, that he's now flogging a bunch at Christie's. Though you'll need at least a few grand to take any home, you can have a jealous gander at Knopfler's guitars for free at this Christie's Late.

Free, 24 January.

See the City's Shakespeare exhibition before it closes

You've got until Thursday this week to see the free Shakespeare exhibition in the City of London Heritage Gallery at Guildhall Yard. The centrepiece is one of the most complete copies of William Shakespeare's First Folio in the world, and other objects including a deed for a property in Blackfriars which bears one of only six authenticated versions of Shakespeare's signature in existence.

Free, until 25 January.

Celebrate Robert Burns at the National Portrait Gallery

Thursday is Burns Night, and though we know of plenty of ways to celebrate Scotland's most famous poet, they're not all that budget-friendly. However, the National Portrait gallery offers a free talk about the life and work of Robert Burns, taking place in front of the portrait of him painted by Alexander Nasmyth.

Free, 25 January.

A glowing blue elephant and glowing red elephant sculpture side by side in the dark
Canary Wharf Winter Lights begins on Wednesday. Photo: Canary Wharf

Attend a lunchtime lecture to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday, the V&A Museum offers a free lunchtime lecture about surviving the Holocaust, with particular focus on the aspect of psychological survival, including inmate physicians in Auschwitz who trained as psychoanalysts. It's inspired by Felix Gluck's image, depicting four of his fellow prisoners in Mauthausen concentration camp gathered around a makeshift menorah to celebrate Hanukkah.

Free, 25 January.

See the lights at Battersea Power Station

For the second year running, a light festival comes to the area surrounding Battersea Power Station, with glowing artworks in situ for a whole month. The seven installations include a giant diamond, illuminated butterflies, a playable light piano and a cycling light battle. Keep an eye out for free live entertainment and music performances as you wander round.

Free, 25 January-25 February.

A green beret laid out flat on a purple table, with colourful buttons and sequins being sewn on.
End your week with a mindful afternoon of crafting.

Get involved with conservation via the Big Garden Birdwatch

Help the RSPB keep an eye on the numbers of wild birds in London by taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. If you're lucky enough to have a garden or outside space, spend an hour counting and recording the numbers and types of birds that visit it, then report back to the RPSB. The charity uses the data to spot any patterns, anomalies, or any species that may be in danger.

Free, 26-28 January.

Catch the final days of Winter Lights

In addition to Battersea Power Station Light Festival (above), the free Canary Wharf Winter Lights continues until Saturday this week. 13 temporary glowing installations are lit up every night, completely free to visit, with a map available online to help you find them all.

Free, until 27 January.

A woman in yoga pose flanked by two young girls
Various wellness workshops are being hosted in a Croydon shopping centre this weekend

Get stuck into wellness workshops in a shopping centre

Croydon's Centrale shopping centre hosts a slew of free wellness workshops across the weekend, featuring yoga, pottery painting, bath bomb making, and head & shoulder massages. Kids are welcome to join in with some sessions. Booking is available, or you can take your chances and show up on the day.

Free, 27 and 28 January.

See a Royalist Army parading down The Mall

One of the more unusual once-a-year sights in London is the Royalist reenactment along The Mall. On the Sunday closest to 30 January (the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I), a royalist branch of the English Civil War Society commemorates what they call "His Majestie's horrid murder". Dozens of volunteers in royalist costumes, with mounted troops and weapons, recreate his final short final journey from St James's Palace to the execution scaffolding at Banqueting House on Whitehall, before retracing the route back to St James's Palace.

It's free to watch — just turn up somewhere along the route.

Free, 28 January.

Get creative at a mindful crafting session

Finish your week with a mindful crafting session for adults. Londonist contributor Momtaz Begum-Hossain leads a creative workshop, encouraging you to forget the stresses of life for a while as you focus on a craft project. All materials are provided and no experience is necessary. This is a monthly event, with a different project each time — you could be working on anything from painting and collage to mindful sewing and embroidery.

Tickets available in exchange for a donation to suicide prevention charity CALM.

Donation (for charity), 28 January.