We’ve reached the end of LN Review’s fresher’s survival guide, but we’re going out with a bang! You’ll need to bookmark these. This, as you’ve guessed correctly by the title, is your guide to free things to do in London.
It’s a boring Sunday afternoon, you’ve got no money, nothing to do and there’s no way you’re tackling that essay now…
Warning: this might just turn you into a big culture nerd.
1. London has free comedy nights
There are a few places that do free comedy nights. The Theatre Royal Stratford East does one every Monday and the Angel Comedy club have free ‘flagship nights’ as they’re called. These are roughly weekly too! Go along and become a social bod.
2. London has free lunchtime concerts
Classical music just happens to be my niche so I’m going to hold back as much as possible (though expect an entire post on this at some point). Visit one of the London conservatoires or any of the surrounding church venues and they’ll happily give you information on all of their upcoming free concerts featuring future world-class musicians.
3. London has free film viewings
Amazing first date alert! It’s called BFI Mediatheques and they have a vast archive of British media favourites from film to TV, even home video footage. Head down to the Southbank for free viewing, you’ll definitely find something you didn’t know you’d love.
4. Do the museums
Generic! But… very worthwhile. The London museums exist in their masses and they’re all totally iconic. You can join the masses of tourists at the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum, but that can be a drag. Some of the more unusual venues I’d recommend are the Royal Air Force museum, London’s Zoology museum, Sir John Soanes or the Welcome Collection museum. Bet you haven’t heard of all of those?! Check them out!
5. Do the art galleries
Again, generic! But… very worthwhile! And again, steering away from the tourist masses, Whitechapel, Somerset House, Serpentine and the Saatchi Gallery all have very niche, unique collections. To stay mainstream, you can’t beat the unbelievable installations at the Tate!
6. Do the markets
London’s market scene is one of the fragments from historical London times that has just grounded itself as a famous tradition. Choose from Borough, Portobello, Shepherd’s bush, Brixton, Marylebone, Greenwich or Lewisham markets? Ooh, or Colombia Road Flower market? I don’t want to spoil you for choice… Find them all, wander around, don’t buy anything (though actually some of the foody ones do really good fruit and veg deals), and just enjoy!
7. Walk around (the good bits)
Get out of the lecture theatre for once and go for a walk! The crowded nature of London often means that when you do stumble across somewhere good to walk, it’s an absolute gem. Hampstead Heath is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, as is Richmond Park (spot the deer!) Or you could go beachy and walk along the Thames or the Strand? Finally, for something a little more alternative, the Japanese Kyoto Gardens are also a thing of beauty, and you’d never know they’re there…
8. Be a TV audience member
Those people in the audience of pre-recorded television programmes are actual real people (groundbreaking fact of the day). Exciting though – sign up to the BBC for the opportunity to watch your favourite shows live! The BBC mailing list and twitter will let you know when tickets become available and then it’s a scramble to become one of the chosen few!
9. Become an educated being at a public lecture
Do some research on this because if you find something that interests you, or something close to your field it can be absolutely fascinating. I recently went to see a lecture by Christine Sun Kim (artist) at the Tate Modern talk about her relationship with sound. She’s deaf and as a musician, this was absolutely fascinating for me to learn about. UCL, Kings College, The Guildhall Library, The Natural History Museum and the Royal Society are some of many that will fill your diary with free lectures to enrich your mind!
10. Go to a farm
No, I don’t immediately scream ‘ooh London, I can’t wait to visit all the farms’ either. But London has them! And when the city gets a bit too much, what better way to spend your time than with the pigs, donkeys and bunnies at Hackney City Farm? Cute first date idea?