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.
Not familiar with new east London neighbourhood Barking Riverside? Get ready for it to be burned onto your retinas (in a good way). BAFTA award-winning artist Seb Lee-Delisle is bringing his interactive laser light show ‘Laser Light Synths’ to the Thames-side spot for a two-day public exhibition - and it’s up to you to lend a hand to make it sparkle. Shake off your gloves and tap away at one of the custom-made synth machines Seb has set up. Your efforts will release zinging lasers into the sky, covering the place with dancing lights. They’ll also be giant dancing illuminated puppets to watch and glow-in-the-dark cocktails to glug down. Beam me up!
Liberty is a two-day, totally free festival where deaf and disabled artists take over venues across Waltham Forest. And there’s a party vibe running through the line-up. Deaf Rave is a Saturday night out that’s full of sign-language rap by performers including hip hop star Signkid. Other highlights include two dance performances showcasing the power and potential of disabled bodies, Zimbabwean dancer Shyne Phiri’s ‘Outside In’ exploring ideas of finding comfort in nature in an installation surrounded by projections of Walthamstow’s green spaces.
Rotherhithe’s Finnish and Norwegian Churches provide the backdrop for this annual festive fair lined with stalls selling Scandinavian treats, decorations, toys and gifts. Tuck into hearty dishes and sip a warming mug of Nordic glögg.
Fed up of fast fashion? Get swishing and swapping at this festival celebrating forward-thinking fashion. Grab your unwanted clobber and exchange them for someone else’s garb you’re not sick of wearing at The Big Swish Clothes Swap hosted by Betsy’s Closet Swap Shop. Stay for eco presentations and upcycling workshops.
Explore the East London Printmakers' Copperfield Road studio as they open it up for this winter special. Rummage through the £10 proof sale, see demonstrations in screenprint, lino print and kitchen lithography, plus much on free mince pies and mulled wine.
Formerly Flea at Flat Iron Square, this weekly vintage and makers market has moved to Vinegar Yard SE1, bringing its heaps of antiques, clothing, homeware, books, bikes and cameras with it. It's hunting ground for treasures and pre-loved artefacts. Can't make it this weekend? Visit its range of pop-up shops, open every weekday.
Guzzle Christmas dishes from around the globe as the iconic food market’s finest traders set up their stalls after dark beneath Bermondsey’s fairy-light-festooned Victorian railway arches. There'll be carolling, hot mulled wine, mince pies, live wreath demonstration and responsibly source Christmas trees to buy. Get ready to feel like you've wandered into Dickens' ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Ever wondered how a science lab manages to breed, feed and store a million fruit flies for experiments? Well, prepared to be amazed. The Crick Institute is offering up a behind-the-scenes look at the methods and people driving the latest scientific advances. And it's not just flies either, with the lid lifted on laser guides, cell growers and tech fixers too.
Join Urban Makers for a weekend of festive frivolity and plenty of unique stocking-filler opportunities at their special Christmas market where you can buy directly from carefully curated, handpicked local and independent makers. Over 50 different designer-makers will be trading their beautiful wares from homewares, textiles, accessories, jewellery to ceramics, kids wear, original prints and art, festive decorations and a whole heap more.
Imagine one of those time-lapse videos from a nature show: clouds swirling past at Mach speed, tides ebbing, fruit rotting. And keep it in your imagination, because that’s where young English artist Hamish Pearch’s art happens – behind closed eyes, in the unconscious, in the dark night-time spaces we’ve all seen but can’t grasp. Stacks of charred, blackened toast dot the floor of the gallery, drooping daisies growing out of them. Huge pale mushrooms lie on stacks of paper or grow in the dark recesses of the room. Look up and you see the wall is corrugated iron. You’re in some anonymous storage unit, lit only by security-guard torches. Mini industrial units sit on the ground. There’s a tiny barn in one, a projection of images of fireworks in another. A sculpture of a sleeping receptionist faces it all. She’s dreaming of a gas station which has coalesced into a model of itself, spurting out of her head. It’s like walking in on a scene mid-time-lapse, with all this secret, festering stuff frozen in the moment. It’s eerie, stark, surreal, and brutally suburban, like Giorgio de Chirico in Slough. Pearch’s world is one where our ideas, memories and knowledge are stored away in boxes in lock-ups, left to decay on industrial estates that no one visits. All this humanity is left to grow slowly mouldy. Exploring all the dark, forgotten, empty places where we dump our crap, Pearch’s art is a psychological trip through the English subconscious, the mundanity of everyday life and the t
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