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Five ways to cheer up this winter (without breaking the bank)

Beth Leslie

After all the glitz and glam of Christmas and New Year's Eve, the first month of the year usually finds us fat, hungover, bummed and broke. But now that we're a few weeks in, it's time to pull on our boots and brave the winter chill. There's still a whole heap of fun to be had in this town to get you in a cheery mood and it'll hardly cost you anything. Check out this frugal fivesome. 


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If you're not ready to let go of Christmas yet, try the Southbank Winter Festival 

Ladies and gentlemen, there is such a thing as a cider lodge. Get excited. Roaring fires and riverside views make this free pop-up the place to be for those wanting to ward off any winter chills. If that’s not enough to get you hot-footing down to the South Bank, there’s also a roller disco, a circus, a cacophony of Christmas lights and some gnome-like-things called Gonks which you can hunt out and take photos with. Endless fun. 10am–11pm until January 25.


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If you want to add some sparkle to your day, try the 
Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, until January 27

Everyone knows it’s mandatory to spend at least one winter day falling repeatedly on your arse via an ice rink, so why not do the honours on one that’s illuminated by a multi-coloured light show extravaganza? The free Canary Wharf Winter Lights show has got it all: light-up benches, glow-in-the-dark graffiti and even giant rainbow angel wings that you can stand in front of to be revealed as the celestial being that you are. 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB. 4pm–9pm.


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If you want to exercise your brain, try the 
Love, Sex & Marriage… With a Robot? event, February 3

If you’re the sort of person who's convinced Siri is Skynet in disguise, the 'Robotics, AI and Society' series at the British Academy will be perfect for you. There’s a whole bunch of free lectures and talks, but the pick of the crop is this weird and wonderful workshop on the down-and-dirty of robot relationships. Promising speeches, debates and performances (oo-er), this Friday night late allows you to appear intellectual, all while being rather silly. The British Academy, 10–11 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y 5AH. 6.30pm–9.30pm.

If you're looking for your new year wardrobe, try the 
Frock Me: Vintage Fashion Fair, February 5

Happiness, surely, is having the wardrobe (although not the storylines) of the 'Downton Abbey' cast. Or maybe 'Mad Men' is more your style? Either way, duck into Chelsea Old Town Hall for just £4 next month and you’ll find more vintage treasures than you can shake a sable stole at. Chances are that you’ll have to elbow some costume designers and TV producers out the way to get at the best goodies because this fair is a big deal for serious vintage hunters. Chelsea Town Hall, King's Road, SW3 2EE. 11am–5.30pm.


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If you're in a wacky mood, try the Mighty Boosh Exhibition at the Book Club

In Shoreditch, a free Mighty Boosh exhibition lifts the lid on life behind the scenes of the world’s most surreal TV show. Made up primarily of never-before-seen photos taken by the chap who played Bollo (a gorilla, if you missed that link), there are also sketches by Noel Fielding and a few props. Unfortunately, though, no Baileys is being offered. Old Gregg would not approve. 100 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH. Ends January 29. 

Wanna save more pounds? Check out these free art shows in London.


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