9 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 30 January-5 February 2023

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

9 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 30 January-5 February 2023

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

Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline opens at the Imperial War Museum. © Anastasia Taylor-Lind

1. Catch a free gig at the Shacklewell Arms

A slew of up-and-coming bands play Hackney's marvellous Shacklewell Arms — and many of the gigs are free entry. This week alone, you can see Girl Scout, Circe and Sarah Meth (30 Jan), The Lounge Society, Miss Tiny and Teeth Machine (31 Jan), POZI DJ set (3 Feb) and Slow Dance's '22 Release Party (4 Feb) for nada. Just make sure you buy a couple of drinks to support the venue and acts!

2. See a new exhibition double bill

Every month, Lauderdale House refreshes the free exhibitions on display in its gallery space — and it's a double bill for February.

Local painter Ruth Sallon's show, Above the Blue City, focuses on London's undervalued park landscapes, including views of Waterlow Park, Regent's Park, Hampstead Heath and Kew Gardens.

Meanwhile, Andrew MacDonald Portraits is the former violinist's first solo exhibition; after being haunted by a photograph taken during the US protests over police brutality towards African Americans in, he turned to painting. The portraits on show here reflect MacDonald's fascination with what our history etches onto our features.

Free, 1-27 February.

3. Tour the Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians, located next to Regent's Park, is England's oldest medical college, founded over 500 years ago, and is still active today in shaping public health policies. It has its own museum, and every month there's a free introductory lunchtime tour around the building, led by a knowledgable guide.

Free, 1 February

4. Get yourself a free coffee

Fair Shot Cafe is a social enterprise coffee shop which supports young people with disabilities, by training them in customer service, organisation, cooking and coffee skills for a year, before helping them find employment elsewhere. It's relocating from Mayfair to The Yards in Covent Garden, opening its doors on 1 February — and is giving away brews to celebrate.

300 free coffees will be dished out on both 1 and 4 February; get down there early to claim yours, as it's first come, first served. That said, Fair Shot Cafe is a not-for-profit and is doing excellent work — in a year, it's helped 21 people into employment — so if you can, do treat yourself to a toastie or focaccia, to support the cause.

Free, 1 and 4 February.

Clown around in church on Sunday. Image: iStock/AmandaLewis

5. Take a virtual journey to the Himalayas

Simon Dell MBE is quite a man; former police constable, published author, and Everest explorer. It's his latter achievement that's the subject of a free talk, in which he discusses his time trekking across the Himalayan Plateau, visiting Tibet and Nepal.

Dell was one of the first western visitors to enter Nepal after the deaths of the country's Royal Family in 2001, and he shares some of his photos from the country. Many of the sites he visited were destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 2015, making his pictures even more poignant.

Though the event is organised by the Royal Geographical Society, it takes place online.

Free, 2 February.

6. Enjoy new performances at an open mic night

Kickstart your weekend with a free open mic session at Poplar Union. The Mixer features music and poetry by a selection of up-and-coming artists, and you can put your name down for a slot too. No pressure if you're not a performer though — just book a free ticket to sit back and watch others strutting their stuff on stage.

Free, 3 February.

7. Witness photographs from Ukraine

The Imperial War Museum opens a new, free exhibition of photographs from the frontline in Ukraine. English/Swedish photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind has been documenting life in Ukraine since Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014. Her photos from the past eight years show how everyday life in Ukraine has been affected by the conflict, including a young family feeding a horse in a garden just 50 metres from the frontline. Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline is sure to be a moving, at times harrowing, exhibition.

Free, 3 February-8 May.

8. Visit the Sewing Machine Museum

And sew it goes. Photo: Londonist

Did you know London has a museum dedicated to sewing machines? It only opens once a month — including this Saturday.

You'll find the London Sewing Machine Museum on Balham High Road, and it's home to 600 machines, a highlight of which is a machine from 1865, presented to Queen Victoria's firstborn daughter as a wedding gift. We visited in 2018 — here's what you can expect.

Free (though donations to The Royal National Lifeboat Institution or Leukaemia Research are appreciated), 4 February.

9. Attend a clown church service

Forget clowns in a Mini — this is a chance to see how many can pack into a church. After two years of online services, the Annual Grimaldi Clown Service is back at All Saints Church in Haggerston. Some seats are available for the non-clowning public, but you'll need to get there early to nab one.

Free, 5 February.

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 06 February 2023