Budget-friendly things to do in London this week for £5 or less.
Head to a lunchtime concert
Harold Gordon-Smith of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance presents a concert of chamber music for guitar at Queen’s House in Greenwich on Wednesday.
The performing arts college offers a regular programme of free performances, allowing its students to gain experience in live performance. On Wednesday, there’s a second free lunchtime concert at St James’s Piccadilly, with various other events this week — keep an eye on the programme.
Free, 13 December.
Be entertained by clowns at a relaunched comedy night
After a bit of a hiatus, monthly oddball-clown-comedy night Stolen Table Comedy Party is back — rocking up at the Love cocktail bar on Portobello Road. The evening stars seven clowns and alt comedians who’ll be vying for your giggles in some seriously silly ways.
Free, 13 December.
Learn about Shakespeare’s First Folio
For its final free talk of 2023 — the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio — Guildhall Library hosts City of London Guide Lecturer Jonathan Wober. Hear about Shakespeare’s life in London, how the city influenced his writing, and why the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays was, and still is, so important. You can watch in person at Guildhall Library, or online via Zoom.
Free, 14 December.
Hear It Live at Horniman Museum
Forest Hill’s Horniman Museum has an impressive collection of interesting and unusual musical instruments, which it shows off at its regular Hear it Live! sessions — a combination of talks and performances. This week, Sarah Deborah, (baroque violin) and Masumi Yamamoto (harpsichord) of the London Obbligato Collective perform a programme of music from 18th-century London, written by Felice Giardini, Carl Friedrich Abel and Johann Christian Bach.
Free, 14 December
Simmer Down at Southbank Centre
Every month, Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre hosts Simmer Down, a free reggae meet-up that’s open to everyone of all ages. You’re encouraged to get up and dance along to a soundtrack of reggae music, with the aim of sparking joy and positivity.
Free, 15 December
Stay late at the National Gallery
The National Gallery stays open late for its final free-entry Friday Lates of the year, with various activities and events going on around the building. Contemporary artists Sharon Walters and Rana Begum give talks, musician Hannah Catherine Jones performs a live improvised soundscape, and there’s comedy inspired by painting. It’s also a chance to explore the usual galleries without the daytime crowds.
Free, 15 December.
Catch free live choir performances at Winter by the River
Winter by the River is in full swing, with a free-entry Christmas market, plus various pop-up bars and the like. For an added bonus, time your visit to coincide with one of the free choir performances taking place inside Hay’s Galleria (opposite London Bridge station). Mind and Soul Choir, Popchoir and Tongue & Groove all perform this week.
Free, until 16 December.
Get your toes a-tappin’ at a country Christmas concert
Yeeee-ho-ho-ho! The Windmill Brixton welcomes The Rebel, Frank Lloyd Wleft, Misty Miller and others, for a country-style Christmas hoedown on Sunday. Sets are interspersed with choons from the likes of Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton.
£5 (+£1 service charge), 17 December.
Wander through the Ever After Garden
Since November, Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square has been aglow with thousands of white roses every evening. It’s the Ever After Garden, an illuminated installation designed as a garden of remembrance, and raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity via donations and dedications. Time’s running out to see it though, as it’s only in situ until next Monday. Why not catch it as part of a walk through all of central London’s Christmas lights?
Free, until 19 December (3pm-9pm daily).
Find the Greenwich Christmas Nightlights
A small, free interactive trail across 12 windows in the Greenwich area, The Christmas Nightlights trail features books on display in certain windows. Once you’ve found one, answer the online question corresponding to that window; get it right and the book lights up.
Free, available 4pm-10pm weekdays and 10am-10pm on weekends, until 1 January 2024.