Free And Cheap Things To Do This Week In London: 28 August-3 September 2023

Budget-friendly things to do in London this week for £5 or less.

Free crazy golf at Swingers City on bank holiday Monday.

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.

Go ‘shopping’ at the zany JOYMart

Well this isn’t Lidl. Image: JOY Bomb

The spiffy new Birch (Selsdon) is currently hosting a zany JOYMart installation; the idea is to grab a basket and go ‘play-shopping’ in a whimsical store full of stuffed toys, balloons etc, overseen by Store Manager Panda. You don’t actually buy anything, but it’s playful fun for adults and kids alike — and it’s supposed to leave you feeling rather elated. Birch is a members club, but anyone can visit this free pop-up (and dine at one of the restaurants if you like too).

Free, until 3 September.

Tee off with some free crazy golf

Indoor crazy golf club Swingers City celebrates its 7th birthday on Monday, and is marking the occasion with free crazy golf sessions — ideal if the weather’s a bit iffy, as is often the way on bank holidays.

Unfortunately, there’s no advance booking for the freebie sessions — just turn up at the venue, located opposite the Gherkin, between 12pm and 10pm. It’ll probably be popular, so it’s worth getting down there earlier in the day. The offer is only valid for smaller groups (up to four people), and there are various food and drink offers on the day too.

Free, 28 August.

Dance in the streets at Notting Hill Carnival

On how many Mondays of the year do you get to dance? Image: iStock/lovemax

Sunday is family day at Notting Hill Carnival, but bank holiday Monday is when the party really gets going. The free street festival takes over vast swathes of Notting Hill and the surrounding areas, with carnival processions, dancers, sound systems, food and drink stalls and loads more besides. Read our guide to Notting Hill Carnival for everything you need to know.

Free, 28 August.

See a performance art piece about the world population

Two tonnes (!) of rice are in situ at Royal Festival Hall for performance installation Of All The People In All The World. There’s one grain of rice representing every human on the planet, and across the six days of the event, they’ll be weighed and distributed in different ways to represent various population statistics. The show has been done at various venues in the past, but different statistics are used each time to keep things interesting — and often shocking and surprising.

Free, 28 August-2 September.

Catch a free Shakespeare performance

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a collection of his plays including world-renowned works such as Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest. The Fleet Street Quarter has been marking the anniversary with free lunchtime performances throughout this month, and into September and October.

Head to Apex Temple Court Hotel on Tuesday lunchtime for a tale travelling through the forests of Arden, Athens and Roussillon, the high seas of Illyria and the castles of Glamis and Elsinore — all performed in the streets where Shakespeare himself once walked.

Free, 29 August (and various dates until October).

Go along to an open mic sesh

Ram Jam Records in Kingston hosts its open mic on Wednesday — featuring short sets from musicians, magicians, comedians… anyone with a talent to show off. Either turn up to watch, or bite the bullet and sign up to perform (1-3 songs, or a tight five for non-musical acts).

Free, 30 August

Get your chops around a free margarita lolly

Rock up at Boxpark Shoreditch on Thursday, and you can get your chops around a free Altos tequila ice lolly. A truck will be handing out flavours including classic margarita, watermelon margarita, chilli and coriander, and —for the brave — tequila worms & crunchy grasshoppers. They’ll be there from 12pm-6pm, or until lollies run out. P.S. these are tequila lollies, is it goes without saying they aren’t for little ‘uns.

Free, 31 August.

Marvel at an historic London event revived

The Bartholomew Fair last took place in the City in 1855 — at the time it was considered too raucous, and was banned. But now it’s been revived, in the form of a free, family-friendly spectacular taking place around the City over three weeks.

It’s coming back in style: the opening event is RESURGAM, an aerial dance performance on top of St Paul’s Cathedral by US based vertical dance company BANDALOOP. Not only that, they’re doing the daredevil stunt across three different nights, 31 August-2 September.

Free, 31 August-16 September.

Head to a free sing-along outdoor cinema

London’s outdoor cinema season isn’t over yet. One place it’s still going loud and proud is Lower Marsh in Waterloo, which holds another of its free-entry outdoor sing-along screenings on Thursday. This time it’s 2007 musical film Hairspray, set in the 1960s about an up-and-coming TV celebrity who finds herself facing racial discrimination on the way to the top.

Street food traders are set up alongside the cinema to keep you fed and watered throughout the show.

Free, 31 August.

Soak up the atmos at Camberwell Fair

It started in 1279 and ran until 1855, so it’s fair to say there’s a decent bit of history to Camberwell Fair. The event was restarted in 2015, and runs again this year, with live music and DJs, a market, mask-making workshops and other entertainment on Camberwell Green on Saturday afternoon.

Free, 2 September.

Watch a performance on a roof

A previous performance of Sliding Slope in another location. Photo: Ben Nienhuis

As always, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival has an eclectic programme this year, but one event which has really caught our attention is Sliding Slope by Dutch theatre company Vloeistof. It tells the story of four people fighting for survival in the face of climate change and rising sea levels, through a performance on the roof of a house — the rest of which is submerged in the Royal Docks.

It’s inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953, and aims to highlight why we need to stop living in denial about what’s happening to the planet. See it at Royal Victoria Dock at 1.30pm and 6.45pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Free, 2-3 September (festival runs until 10 September).

Celebrate Wembley’s history

Head to Wembley Park on Sunday for family-friendly festival and performance Wemba’s Dream, celebrating the Anglo-Saxon Wemba who founded the area, and everyone who has since journeyed to Brent to make it their home. Music, dance, poetry and carnival performances take place throughout the day, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra taking part.

Free, 3 September.

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