Don't let your cash flow, or lack of it, get in the way of having a banging weekend. Read our guide to free things to do in London this weekend and you can make sure that your Friday, Saturday and Sunday go off with a bang, without eating up your bucks. After all, the best things in life are free.
If that's whetted your appetite for events and cultural happenings in London, get planning further ahead by having a gander over our events calendar.
RECOMMENDED: Save even more dosh by taking a look at our guide to cheap London.
Now in its fifth year, The Breakfast Club’s annual Pancake Challenge is back. Order a plate of 12 pancakes from one of their 12 locations and a timer will be set to 12 minutes. Gobble the lot and you bag the meal (and indigestion) for free. Fail to clean your plate and you’ll have to foot the £20 bill (which goes towards helping pensioners combat loneliness and isolation). That’s not all, to celebrate the launch of their new ‘Breakfast Pub’ in Battersea (coming soon to Canary Wharf), The Breakfast Club has created five pancake specials that pay homage to throwback pub grub classics such as the lemon meringue mess and the ham, egg and chips pancakes. Flippin’ heck!
Bag up your unwanted clobber and get swishing at this clothes swaps in Enfield. Adult clothing and items for the kids will be available to trade, upcycle embroidery will run throughout the day.
An all-day market and library showcasing over 70 poetry stalls from both established publishers and smaller independent presses. There’ll also be loads of readings and discussions happening throughout the day.
Pick your way through more than 50 vintage stalls at the Big London Flea, held at the newly refurbished EartH. Market traders will set up shop alongside locals clearing out their attic to sell pre-loved clothes, kitchenware, oddities and accessories. You might find a designer dress, a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture or just a stack of old Bunty comics. It all depends on how sharp your eyes are.
Want to learn how to grow veg when you don’t have garden, or how to compost? Need some straightforward advice on how to stop killing your tomato plants? Try one of these free workshops at Timberland’s Carnaby Street store, which are all about nudging Londoners towards a more sustainable way of life. Each workshop lasts an hour and a half, so it’ll be a whistle stop tour of basic food-growing hacks. Every gardener has to start somewhere...
The ancient tradition of wassailing – blessing apple trees in midwinter – is re-appropriated for an urban setting in this procession. Now in its tenth year, it’s going to be bigger and better than before. Led by storyteller Rachel Rose Reid and other local talents, from Willesden Green tube station to Willesden Library. Those taking part will learn and chant an adaptation of an ancient wassail song, hear local choir singers and listen to spoken word and stories along the route.
This monthly music market also provides artisan produce and street food alongside its mega vinyl booty. Find records on sale from labels including Bella Union, Golden Lab Records, MahHouse, Castles in Space and many more. Find the full list here.
In the spirit of new year, new you, Deptford’s Castor has done some spring cleaning, built a big plywood box and stuck a load of art in it. It’s like a giant plan chest tipped on its side. You pull out the drawers to display the works, a few at a time. It’s a canny device, swerving the conventional, tired group show, where whoever shouts the loudest controls the room, and where you mentally calculate how much time you need to spend with any artist who isn’t your mate. It also makes you interact with the pieces in unusual, role-playing ways. If you’re the one pulling out the drawers, you’re put into the role of curator, doing the big reveal. If you’re sitting on the bench out front, you’re the critic or the collector. It’s like KidZania. For art. Like any bunch of stuff you shove in a drawer, some of the pieces fare better than others. So Grace Woodcock’s big earmuff-headphoney things look great against all the industrial-chic ply, while an intense, small, dark painting by Gareth Cadwallader gets a bit lost. But the best panels are really good. Nick Paton’s ceramic plaques with their odd protrusions, Amanda Moström’s spray-painted pants and Rafal Zajko’s cast of a vaguely medical-looking vent all cluster around Sara Anstis’s eccentric painting ‘Beets’ (it does have some beets in it), to everyone’s mutual benefit. Best of all, though, it’s fun, and a lot of the work is fun too. Because there’s an activity involved in seeing the art, it loses its chilly gallery mystique. It
In possibly the most Jordan Wolfson move ever, the American artist has made a new work that might physically injure you if you get too close. Made up of spinning LED filaments – halfway between a cooling fan and a weed whacker – the whirling strands in front of you spit out endless holographic images, but they could slice off your hand too if you’re not careful. The installation’s no less threatening from further away. The fans sync and unsync, displaying visions of animated love hearts and puppies, robot experiments, American police cars and 9/11 rescuers. Words come crashing down and split apart: ‘artists’, ‘friends’, ‘racists’, ‘anxiety’, ‘stress’. The fans hum loudly. It’s a tense, uncomfortable room. Wolfson has blended memes, animation and contemporary angst about police surveillance, callout culture and the AI singularity into one, big, coagulated mess. It’s nihilistic and negative. In a world that looks to art and artists for meaning, rebellion and progress in the face of growing right-wing extremism and a dying planet, this art is actively saying ‘so fucking what?’. He's showing you what it would be like to not care, to shrug at virtue signalling and identity and data and the media. He's showing you that nothing changes anyway. The other works here are pictures of Wolfson as a child mounted on big brass plaques. He’s elevating his own cute childhood to the level of renaissance sainthood. Because he can. Wolfson’s art might not be helpful, useful, or worthy, and
Delve into the world of Judith Kerr’s wonderful children’s classic at this fiftieth-anniversary exhibition. See Kerr’s childhood drawings, learn about her experience of escaping Germany as Hitler came to power, step into scenes from the book and tuck into tiger-themed treats.