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15 free things to do in London this weekend

Maximum fun, zero cost

15 free things to do in London this weekend
Tom Victor
19 January 2018

January can be an expensive month, what with all the credit card bills sneaking up on you after overdoing it around Christmas and New Year, so times will be tight.

Not quite ‘living off beans on toast’ tight, admittedly, but any opportunity to save a bit of cash at the weekend is not to be sniffed at, so here are a few options that won’t cost you a penny.

  1. 1.Lumiere London

    The light festival is returning to the capital for another year, running until Sunday night, with installations across the city. You can check it all out in King’s Cross, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Westminster & Victoria, Waterloo and the South Bank, or the West End. - All weekend, various locations

  2. 2.Winter Lights at Canary Wharf

    That’s not your only chance of a light show. Head on down to Canary Wharf for a series of installations accompanied by free live music, if you don’t fancy heading right into the centre of town.

  3. 3.Time’s Up Rally

    One year to the week after the 2017 Women’s March, thousands are expected to take to the streets outside Parliament to ‘renew the struggle for equality and justice’ in the face of repeated stories of gender based violence, sexual harassment and abuse. There will be a number of speakers throughout the day, but you can just turn up and show your support. - Sunday, 11am-1pm, Richmond Terrace SW1A

  4. 4.Jazz and Poetry on the Water

    Jazz and spoken word poetry, all within view of the Regent’s Canal around King’s Cross. Oh, and if you’re checking out Lumiere in Kings Cross you can get two free attractions for the price of one. Yes, that price is zero pounds. - Saturday, 6pm, York Way N1C

  5. 5.London Buddhist Centre open day

    You can find out all about Buddhism at this day of events, with sessions including ‘Why Meditate?’ and ‘The Mystery of Human Enlightenment’. It’s all free, with refreshments provided for anyone who fancies checking out the entire programme of talks and sessions throughout the day. - Sunday, 11am-5pm, Roman Road E2

  6. 6.Free Sunday Cinema, Café Cairo

    Café Cairo in Stockwell puts on free films every Sunday, and it’s as good a way as any to wind down the weekend. This week it’s Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a very good film that it’s worth you watching if you missed it when it was out at the cinema. - Sunday, 7.30pm, Landor Road SW9

  7. 7.Illuminating India at the Science Museum

    If you haven’t got kids, you probably haven’t been to the Science Museum since you were a kid yourself. Well, change that this weekend by heading along to the Illuminating India series, featuring free exhibits entitled ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation’ and ‘Photography 1857–2017’. The series, which began last year, was launched to mark India’s 70th year of independence and also features other exhibits, some paid. - All weekend, Exhibiton Road SW7

  8. 8.S.M.A.S.H., a comic, graphic, and novel talkfest

    Held at Artizan Street Library & Community Centre in Aldgate, this day of all-things-comics features four separate sessions including a comics workshop and three panel discussions on a wealth of different topics which don’t always get this kind of treatment. There’s free food and drink for attendees, with scope for networking at the end of it all. - Saturday 12-5pm, Artizan Street E1 

  9. 9.On Violence & Beauty exhibit

    If you head on down to the British Museum this weekend you’ll have a chance to check out this exhibit before it closes for good next week. It focuses on representations of war, with artifacts and art spanning several centuries and a variety of different cultures. - All weekend, Great Russell Street WC1B

  10. 10.New Word Order poetry evening

    It’s pay what you can for this informal night of poetry and spoken word entertainment, with open mic options if you fancy having a go at it yourself. And didn’t you always say you wanted to try something new in 2018? - Saturday, 7-8.30pm, Shepperton Road N1

  11. 11.Dough Society Opening with free vegan donuts

    We’ve all either gone vegan, thought about going vegan, or going sort of vegan this month. The problem is the lack of junk food on offer, but maybe you’re just not looking hard enough. Dough Society are opening this weekend, and there are freebies on offer for the first 100 donut fans through the starting gate. - Saturday, 9am, Dispensary Lane E8

  12. 12.Angel Comedy free night

    If you haven’t found yourself laughing enough in January, you should do something about that. Head on over to the Camden Head or the Bill Murray (or why not both) in Angel, Islington, to get a taste of professional comedians’ work without it costing you a single penny. It fills up fast, though, so show up nice and early. - Saturday and Sunday, various locations and time slots

  13. 13.U Suck

    If you feel like heading out in Dalston and dancing to music you pretend not to like, U Suck is promising another solid night of ‘break-up bangers and power anthems’. It’s at Birthdays, too, which means you can just head down for burgers from Nanny Bill’s before deciding if you want to stick around. The burgers aren’t free, unfortunately. - Saturday, 10.30pm, Stoke Newington Road N16

  14. 14.Wim Wenders 'Instant Stories' exhibit

    German director Wim Wenders has been prolific over the last few decades, making films as diverse as Buena Vista Social Club and Wings of Desire, and the Photographer’s Gallery is putting on an ‘Instant Stories’ exhibit featuring Wenders’ polaroids. It has been running since late last year, but you’ve only got a couple of weeks left to get an insight into his unique thought processes. – all weekend, free entry 10am-12pm Saturday and 11am-12pm Sunday, paid entry thereafter, Ramillies Street W1F

  15. 15.Daylight Music at Union Chapel

    It’s pay what you want, so if you can afford to chip in then the folks at Union Chapel would appreciate it, but if you’re completely skint and fancy some live music then pop along. This week they’ve got a line-up including Julie Dyble of Fairport Convention fame. Oh, and cake. Did we mention there’s cake, because there is. - Saturday, 12pm-2pm, Compton Terrace N1