50 free things to do in London [2023]

Big Ben in Westminster London

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Although the British capital may have earned itself the title of one of the most expensive cities in the world – and yes, rent and accommodation can be on the pricey side – any local will tell you that there are actually plenty of fun free things to do in London to stop you from breaking the bank completely.

From the coolest free London attractions to the city’s top free museums, markets, parks and events, here are all the best things you can do to keep costs down when exploring one of the world’s most exciting cities.

Top Free Attractions in London

1. The Sky Garden

Sky Garden London at night

Located on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie building in the City of London, the Sky Garden is the capital’s highest public garden and one of the coolest places to visit in London for free.

The garden’s large plant-filled atrium has floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing panoramic views out over the city below and is open throughout the day and into the evenings on weekends – making it one the best free things to do in London at night too! There’s also an open-air covered terrace on one side.

If you do feel like splashing out a little, the Sky Garden is also home to two luxury restaurants, which need to be booked in advance, and three bars that are open for walk-ins or can be pre-booked.

How to visit the Sky Garden:

While the Sky Garden is completely free to visit, you do need to book a date and time slot in advance. You can book up to 3 weeks ahead of the date you’d like to visit.

Check out more of the best free views of London.

2. Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace

Queens Guard in London

Another one of the most iconic free things to do in London is watching the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace; the ceremony in which one regiment of the Queen’s Guards is replaced by the next.

In the historic ceremony, the new Guards are led down The Mall and into the palace grounds while parading their regiment’s flags and accompanied by a large marching band. The new Guards then take the place of the old Guards and the keys to Buckingham Palace exchange hands.

How to watch the Changing of the Guards:

The Changing of the Guards doesn’t need to be booked in advance.

In May, June and July the Changing of the Guards takes place daily, then from August to April every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The ceremony starts at 11am (or 10am on Sundays) and lasts for around an hour in total.

Being one of the most popular free things to see in London, the area around the palace can get particularly busy (especially during peak times) so it’s best to get there sharp.

Instead of attempting to get a spot right next to the palace gates, try watching the ceremony from the Victoria Memorial opposite the palace (which offers an elevated view) or The Mall leading to the Palace.

3. The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London

3. The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London

While visiting the historically important Tower of London does require a paid entrance ticket, the daily Ceremony of the Keys – the traditional ‘locking up’ of the Tower – is completely free to watch.

At exactly 21:53 each evening, the Chief Yeoman Warder (or ‘Beefeater’) marches through the Tower carrying the Queen’s Keys. Escorted by four armed guards, he performs a series of specific rituals as he locks the gates to the Tower for the night before returning the keys to the Queen’s House at 10pm.

While it may be short, the intimate ceremony is truly unlike anything else you will ever experience.

The ceremony is said to be the oldest surviving military enactment in the world, dating back over 700 years. It has never been cancelled and was only ever once delayed during WWII when a bomb hit nearby.

How to watch the Ceremony of the Keys:

Although the ceremony is free to watch, only a very small group of people are admitted into the Tower to see it each evening, therefore tickets need to be booked in advance.

Tickets are extremely limited and the ceremony is so popular that it’s often booked up many months in advance so make sure to book as early as you can if you’re only in London for a short amount of time.

You must arrive at the Tower before 21:30 as latecomers aren’t admitted into the ceremony.

4. Leake Street Grafitti Tunnel

Leake Street Tunnel London

One of my favourite free places in London to visit is the Leake Street graffiti tunnel.

Located in the railway arches next to Waterloo station, Leak Street is London’s largest legal graffiti area which was opened by Banksy himself (hence why it is also known as the Banksy Tunnel) in 2008.

The tunnel has become somewhat of an unofficial open-air art gallery, with street artists from all across the city coming daily to add to the ever-changing tapestry of colourful murals, with everything from light-hearted, comedic designs to social satire and political statements.

No matter what day you visit Leake Street, you’re bound to find someone at work on their latest piece. Don’t feel bad standing and observing for a while, the artists are used to people watching them.

Leake Street is also the entrance to the Vaults (a quirky underground performance venue), while the neighbouring railway arches are now home to a handful of independent restaurants and bars.

5. Barbican Conservatory

Barbican Conservatory London

Hidden away inside the harsh brutalist buildings of the Barbican in the City of London, the Barbican Conservatory is a large botanical garden that houses more than 2,000 species of plants and trees, as well as birdlife and exotic fish.

One of London’s real hidden secrets, the tranquil garden oasis will have you feeling like you’re wandering through a tropical rainforest rather than the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world.

How to visit the Barbican Conservatory:

Admission is completely free, you only need to book a time slot ahead of time.

6. St Dunstans in the East

St Dunstans in the East London

Another hidden gem in the City of London, St Dunstans in the East is the ruins of an impressive Gothic church which has been turned into a peaceful public garden unsuspectingly nestled between the much busier attractions of London Bridge and the Tower of London.

The church has a long and interesting history, having been built in the 12th century, severely damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666, rebuilt and upgraded by Sir Christopher Wren then finally severely damaged again in the Blitz of 1941 before falling to ruins.

7. Abbey Road Crossing

What’s a trip to London without a photo on the famous Abbey Road crossing which featured on the cover of the Beatles’ 1969 album of the same name?

The crossing can be found in the north London neighbourhood of St John’s Wood close to Abbey Road studios, one the world’s most famous recording studios which has not only been used by the Beatles but also by many other famous names including Pink Floyd, Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran and more.

Other London posts you might find helpful:

When is the best time to visit London?

Important things you should know before visiting London

Mistakes tourists make in London and how to avoid them

8. Speakers Corner in Hyde Park

Speakers Corner in the northeast corner of London’s Hyde Park is an area where open-air public speaking, debate and discussion are allowed and encouraged.

While Hyde Park isn’t the only speaker’s corner in the world or even London itself, it is the original and is often referred to as the “home of free speech“.

Anyone can turn up unannounced to speak on any subject they want, with speakers discussing everything from politics, religion and world conflicts to healthy lifestyle choices and more.

While you might not feel comfortable speaking yourself, grabbing a coffee and sitting for a while to listen to the enthusiastic speakers discuss their various topics so passionately is definitely one of the most unique things you can do in London for free. You might even learn something new!

9. Gods Own Junkyard

One of the best free attractions in London for lovers of the weird and wonderful is Gods Own Junkyard.

Located in a large warehouse in the North London neighbourhood of Walthamstow, Gods Own Junkyard is a ‘neon wonderland‘ full of bright neon signs and artwork, old movie props and colourful retro displays that you can visit for free to take a wander around and snap some cool photos.

Built from a 40-year collection of old salvaged signs, the unique space is now without a doubt the capital’s coolest art store and one of the most popular free places to visit in London.

10. The Seven Noses of Soho

Nose shaped statue on the wall in Soho London

The Seven Noses of Soho are a quirky art installation in Central London and one of the city’s most unusual free attractions.

The strange little statues are plaster reproductions of artist Rick Buckley’s nose and were installed around Soho as a prank provoked by the controversial introduction of CCTV cameras throughout London during the 1990s – the noses were installed under the noses of the cameras. 

While 35 noses were originally installed, only 10 still remain today and searching for them all certainly makes for one of the most unique free days out in London.

Free Places to Visit in London

11. Shoreditch for street art

An afternoon spent strolling around the streets of Shoreditch is one of the best free things to do in London for street art lovers.

The cool east London neighbourhood is known for its edgy, up-and-coming vibe and colourful murals adorning many of the walls and buildings. You can barely turn a corner in Shoreditch without stumbling across a new piece by one of London’s most established and talented street artists.

Although the best way to find street art in Shoreditch is to simply wander around and allow yourself to get lost down side streets and alleys (the artwork is changing and adapting all of the time). You never know what you might find.

12. Greenwich for its maritime history

King William and Queen Mary Courts, Greenwich

Located in south-east London, Greenwich is home to some of the best free sights in London.

Free things to do in Greenwich include:

  • Admire the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College
  • Gaze up at the Cutty Sark from outside
  • Walk under the unique Greenwich foot tunnel
  • Take a stroll to the top of Greenwich Park for one of the best views across London
  • Explore the National Maritime Museum
  • See historic artwork in the Queen’s House Art Gallery
  • Visit the Weller Astronomy Galleries at the Royal Observatory

Greenwich certainly makes for one of the best free days out in London.

13. Trafalgar Square for the sculptures

Trafalgar Square London

Trafalgar Square is a large public square in Westminster built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross.

As well as being home to The National Gallery, one of London’s best free art galleries (see below for more), you’ll find a number of important sculptures and landmarks too.

Free things you can’t miss in Trafalgar Square include:

  • Nelson’s Column which honours Admiral Nelson after his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805
  • The bronze lions that were built to protect Nelson’s Column
  • The Fourth Plinth which is home to a changing selection of contemporary artworks
  • Two large fountains in the middle of the square
  • The Smallest Police Box in London

14. Covent Garden for street performers

Covent Garden Entertainer

Previously home to London’s most famous fruit and veg market, dating back to 1654, historic Covent Garden is now one of the city’s most popular attractions with both locals and tourists alike.

Located in London’s West End, the original market buildings sit on a large pedestrianised piazza and are now home to a number of shops, restaurants and bars.

But one of the things the area is most well-known for is its many street performers and living statues.

The road leading from the tube station to the main square is where you’ll find classic bronze Victorian nobility and novel floating yodas posing for photo ops.

While the West Piazza outside St Pauls’s Church plays host to jugglers, comedians, daredevils, contortionists, escape artists, magicians, and acrobats that are certain to entertain both kids and adults.

You’ll often also find live bands or singers performing inside the central market hall itself.

The shows are free for anyone to watch. But if you have a little cash to spare, you always can leave a tip at the end!

15. Leicester Square for window shopping

MnM World Leicester Square

While hitting the shops certainly sounds like an unusual thing to include on a list of free activities in London, just hear me out for a second.

Leicester Square is another important pedestrianised square in the heart of London’s West End and one of London’s key entertainment hubs, with numerous cinemas and casinos lining the large piazza.

But most importantly, Leicester Square is also where you’ll find some of the city’s coolest and most elaborate flagship stores which are still fun to visit without spending a penny.

M&M World sits on the corner of the square and is the world’s largest sweet shop at 35,000 sq feet spread over four colourful floors of fun, with the world’s largest pick n’ mix wall and life-sized figurines of M&Ms posing as Queen’s Guards or reenacting the Beatles crossing Abbey Road.

Then when you’re all chocolated out, head just across the street to The Lego Store where you can sit in a full-size Lego tube carriage next to a Royal Guard and Shakespeare, check out the interactive underground map and marvel at the 2 stories high lego Elisabeth Tower (Big Ben to most).

16. Chinatown for the decorations

Chinatown lanterns and gate, London 4 day itinerary

London’s Chinatown can be found in the West End between Leicester Square and Soho and is one of my personal favourite free places to visit in London.

Wander through the ornamental gate with traditional Qing Dynasty designs, then take a stroll down the vibrant streets lined with traditional lanterns, authentic East Asian restaurants, bars and cafes and plenty of quirky little shops.

Don’t forget to pop in somewhere for a bubble tea, fish-shaped puff pastry or mermaid tail ice cream.

17. Westminster for its famous sites

Big Ben in Westminster London

Not only is Westminster home to many of the most famous free tourist attractions in London but it’s somewhere that shouldn’t be missed on any London itinerary.

On a stroll through Westminster, you’ll be able to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks.

You can also catch a glimpse of gothic Westminster Abbey, which has hosted many of Britain’s most significant historic moments over the past thousand years, including the coronation of every King and Queen since 1066 (although you will have to pay if you’d like to take a look inside).

Plus don’t forget to take a walk down Whitehall, one of the main roads in Westminster.

The road is full of important and historical buildings including:

  • 10 Downing Street
  • The Cenotaph War Memorial
  • Banqueting House
  • Winston Churchills former War Office
  • Dover House
  • Admiralty House
  • Household Cavalry Museum, leading to the Horse Guards Parade

18. Southbank for an afternoon stroll

London Eye

Once you’re done seeing the sites of Westminster, cross over Westminster Bridge and turn left onto the Southbank and its riverside walkway filled with trees, restaurants, pubs, and attractions.

A stroll down Southbank will take you past the famous London Eye, as well as a number of other attractions including SEA LIFE Aquarium, The London Dungeon, Wonderground Fairground, Southbank Centre, National Theatre and BFI film theatre.

While most of the attractions on the Southbank do require an entrance fee, enjoying the long riverside walk and its beautiful views down the River Thames is a priceless experience. It’s one of my favourite free places to go in London to take in the city’s best sites.

It’s also where you’ll get the best free photo ops!

19. Little Venice for peace and quiet

Little Venice is a charming and tranquil area in London’s Maida Vale, just north of Paddington and centred around a triangular basin where three canals meet.

The pretty canal-side district is home to many colourful houseboats (some of which serve as cafes and tearooms), relaxing walks down the tree-lined waterways, lush gardens and even a floating puppet theatre. It is also home to London’s biggest annual waterways festival each May bank holiday weekend.

Little Venice is one of the capital’s real hidden gems and one of the best free places to visit in London to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

20. Stratford for London’s Olympic Park

ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide

Located in East London, Stratford is an area which is often overlooked by visitors to the capital, but it certainly shouldn’t be.

Stratford is home to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Since the tournament finished, London’s Olympic Park has been transformed into an exciting sporting, entertainment and art hub, with plenty of free things to do and see.

Explore the park on one of its free walking trails which allow you to relive the thrill of the 2012 games, discover the park’s many artworks or explore the diverse parkland and wildlife.

The ‘Children’s Adventures in the Park Trail‘ is one of the best free things to do in London with kids, with ‘secret missions’ for children to explore and interact with the exciting park.

Plus don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll down the many historic waterways, enjoy the colourful fountain show outside London Stadium, relax with a picnic in the parklands and let the little ones run wild at one of the amazing free play areas around the park.

Free London Museums

Below you’ll find 8 fantastic free museums in London, but for even more, check out my full article ‘22 of the best free museums in London‘.

21. British Museum

The covered square of the British Museum London

Founded in 1753, The British Museum is the largest museum in London and was the first national museum in the world to cover all fields of human knowledge.

The impressive museum now has a collection of over eight million artefacts which span two million years of human history, art and culture.

And if the museum’s substantial free collections aren’t enough to draw you in, then its architecture certainly will.

At the centre of the museum, you’ll find the largest covered public square in all of Europe – the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court – a two-acre space enclosed by an unusual glass roof.

22. Natural History Museum

Free Museums in London - Central Hall with Whale skeleton in Natural History Museum London

London’s free-to-visit Natural History Museum is an immense museum dedicated to the study of life and earth science and is one of the leading centres of natural history research in the world.

Inside you’ll find the always popular dinosaur exhibition, with a number of dinosaur skeletons and a huge animatronic T-Rex, a working earthquake simulator and a collection of specimens collected by Charles Darwin himself, plus so much more.

The museum is also located inside one of London’s most beautiful and architecturally impressive buildings, making it one of the most popular free tourist attractions in London for numerous reasons.

23. Science Museum

Another of the best free museums in London, and one of my personal favourites, is the South Kensington Science Museum, covering various aspects of science and human achievement, from the exploration of space to the invention of modern digital technologies.

Spanning multiple floors, the museum has a collection of over 300,000 items, including some amazing world-famous objects such as the Apollo 10 command capsule, Helen Sharman’s spacesuit (the first Briton in Space) and Puffing Billy (the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive).

There are also a number of interactive exhibits such as a 3D IMAX cinema showing science and nature documentaries throughout the day.

24. National Gallery

Pillared building of National Gallery London

Located in a beautiful Grade I listed Neoclassical building on the edge of Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is one of London’s most important art galleries and is completely free to visit.

The museum contains over 2,300 works from between the mid-13th century to 1900, with famous pieces by artists including Michelangelo, Velázquez, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh.

25. Tate Modern

Modern Art at the Tate Modern London

If you prefer contemporary art to classical works, head to the Tate Modern on the south bank of the River Thames instead, another of London’s top free galleries.

The Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art, housing a huge collection of contemporary artworks from 1900 to the present day, with artists including Picasso, DalÍ­ and Warhol.

You can also pop into the public restaurant and bar on floors 9 and 10 of Tate which has some of the most fantastic free views over the London skyline.

26. Victoria and Abert (V&A)

The V&A can be found in South Kensington close to the Natural History Museum and Science Museum. With free entry, the large gallery is the world’s leading museum of art and design.

The museum houses a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects spanning 5,000 years of art, design and sculpture from cultures all around the world, with exhibitions on textiles, costumes, jewellery, furniture, drawings, printing, photography, ironwork, ceramics, and more.

27. Design Museum

Interior of Design Museum London

Located in a new ultra-modern building on the edge of Holland Park in West London, the Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design and, in my opinion, one of the coolest and most underrated free museums in London

The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design, looking at everything from the original design of the London Underground and interior design from around the world, to how new technologies are shaping our everyday lives and a look into the future of design.

While the main galleries in the Design Museum are free to visit, there are also paid ticketed exhibitions.

28. London Mithraeum

Also known as the Temple of Mithras, this small museum is centered around the remains of an ancient Roman temple in the City of London, left from the days of Roman rule, and is one of the lesser-known free museums in the capital.

Named one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites, the museum showcases the ancient temple with a unique multimedia display, letting you experience first-hand the type of ceremonies that may have taken place there over 2,000 years ago.

There is also a selection of interesting Roman artefacts found during excavations of the site, including fragments of writing tablets which feature the first known reference to London and the earliest hand-written document in Britain.

The museum is free to visit. But only a set amount of people can enter the temple each session. So you will need to book your time slot in advance.

Free London Markets

A trip to one of the capital’s many exciting markets is one of the best things to do in London for free and a great way to spend a cheap day out in the city.

Below you’ll find a few of the top free markets that are worth visiting. For further information and even more recommendations, check out my full guide to the best markets in London.

29. Borough Market

Borough Market London

Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in the capital and certainly one of the most fun and famous places to go in London for free.

The large covered market is a great place to simply wander around, taking in the vibrant atmosphere and passing by colourful stalls full of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, bread and alcohol, as well as speciality traders selling artisanal products from all across the world. Grab a few free samples if you can!

There are also stalls where you can pick up a hot lunch to go, freshly squeezed juice or even a cup of Pimms or Prosecco to enjoy wandering around the market on a sunny day.

Don’t miss my full guide to what to eat at Borough Market.

30. Camden Market

Camden Stables Market

Attracting over a quarter of a million visitors every week, sprawling Camden Market is not only one of the best markets in the city but also one of the most popular free attractions in London.

Famous Camden Market actually refers to several adjoining indoor and outdoor markets that take up the majority of Camden Town, with over 1,000 stalls selling everything from clothes and homeware to food and alcohol, and just about anything else you can think of.

Camden is also the meeting point of many of the city’s more alternative subcultures and you’ll notice that many of the stalls and shops in Camden Market cater for the area’s unconventional clientele, with plenty of alternative fashion such as cybergoth, steampunk and grunge.

31. Columbia Road Flower Market

Every Sunday between 8am and 3pm, Columbia Road in East London is transformed into the capital’s biggest flower market, with many independent growers selling flowers, plants and more.

Even if you’re not out to buy any plants yourself, the market is still a great free place to visit in London – a colourful oasis filled with the scent of florals and the sound of bargaining traders.

32. Portobello Road

Alices Portobello Road Market London

Located on a colourful street in Notting Hill, Portobello Road is the world’s largest antique market.

The famous market has over 1,000 traders selling a huge range of amazing antiques and collectables. And for those who aren’t interested in antiques, the market (which runs Monday to Saturday) also has a variety of other traders selling clothes, jewellery, tourist nicknacks, household goods and plenty of food.

33. Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market London

Last but certainly not least is the large Spitalfields Market in East London.

Historic Spitalfields Market is somewhere that you could easily spend a few hours wandering around perusing the many pretty stalls and unique traders.

The market has two main areas:

Old Spitalfields Market, which is a quirky covered market with plenty of fashion and food traders housed inside one of the best surviving Victorian Market Halls in the capital.

Spitalfield’s Traders Market, which homes a range of independent traders selling unique, artisan and hand-crafted goods.

Free London Parks

34. Richmond Park

Richmond Park, London

The largest of London’s Royal Parks and one of the most important places in the country for wildlife conservation, spawling Richmond Park covers an area of 2,500 acres on the edge of the capital and is one of the best places to escape the noise of the city and spend a day out in London for free.

You can take a long walk through the lush woodlands and around the numerous ponds, cycle along the off-road Tamsin Trail, spot the park’s famous deer and abundance of other wildlife, and climb to the top of King Henry’s Mound for views back over central London.

35. Hyde Park

Hyde Park is the largest park in central London and another of the capital’s important Royal Parks.

There are plenty of free things to do in Hyde Park, including:

  • Taking a stroll through the colourful Rose Garden
  • Visiting the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (or one of the park’s many other statues and memorials)
  • Stepping inside the free Serpentine Art Gallery
  • Listening to the speakers at Speakers Corner
  • Sitting beside the large Serpentine Lake to watch the swans and pedalos

36. Kensington Gardens

If you’re visiting Hyde Park, don’t forget to head to the adjoining Kensington Gardens to the West.

Previously the private gardens of Kensington Palace, the royal residence which still sits on the edge of the park, Kensington Gardens is a beautifully maintained green space which is home to a number of famous moments and statues, including the towering Albert Memorial, a large statue of Queen Victoria outside the front of the palace and a bronze statue of Peter Pan surrounded by little animals.

Plus don’t miss the area in the northwest of the park known as ‘The Italian Garden‘, with four grand fountains and a number of classical sculptures.

37. Battersea Park

Battersea Park Peace Pergola

One of the lesser-known parks in London, a visit to Battersea Park is one of my favourite free things to do in London no matter what time of year.

Battersea Park can be found in South West London and sits on the south bank of the River Thames.

The beautiful park, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858, has a boating lake, duck pond, kids zoo (ticketed), beautiful floral gardens and even a large Japanese Peace Pergola.

The park’s riverside walk also gives you amazing views down the Thames and over Chelsea’s impressive Albert Bridge.

38. Regents Park

Regents Park Rose Garden

Moving a little further north now, Regents Park is another of London’s Royal Parks just a short walking distance from other attractions including Baker Street and Camden Market.

The huge park is the largest green area for sports in Central London so you’re bound to see teams training or games taking place.

There are also plenty of free things to see and do, including the beautiful floral displays of the Avenue Gardens, the famous Queen Mary’s Rose Garden with over 12,000 roses, a large boating lake and numerous children’s play areas.

For those looking for paid activities, Regents Park is also home to London Zoo and an Open-Air Amphitheatre which hosts regular performances throughout the year.

39. Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill London free viewpoint

On the northern edge of Regents Park, you’ll also find the raised area known as Primrose Hill.

Primrose Hill is one of the best free viewpoints in London to take in the city skyline and the perfect spot for an evening picnic to watch the sunset over the capital.

Free London Events & Entertainment

40. London Museum Lates

One of the best free things to do in London at night is to explore the city’s many world-class museums after dark at the special Museum Lates.

Take a step back in time and walk with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum (last Friday of every month), attend fascinating themed evenings at the Science Museum (last Wednesday of the month), stroll around the impressive covered square at the British Museum (every Friday) or see one of London’s largest art collections after hours at the Tate Modern (last Friday of the month), at their free evening events.

Many of the Museum Lates also have pop-up bars where you can grab a drink to take around with you and other free events such as special lectures and workshops, live music and of course the Science Museum’s famous silent disco.

For more, check out my post on the best things to do in London at night

41. West End Live

West End Live London
Photo credit: West End Live

West End Live is a fun free weekend of musical theatre held in London’s Trafalgar Square each summer.

The annual festival sees the cast of some of the West End’s leading musicals put on special performances on a large open-air stage which is free for anyone to simply pop by and enjoy.

The exciting summer event is the best way to experience London’s most iconic West End shows without having to pay expensive West End ticket prices.

West End Live usually takes place around June but the exact dates change each year so you’ll have to check the website nearer to the event.

42. Free Cultural Events and Celebrations

As well as being the location of West End Live, Trafalgar Square is also where many of London’s free cultural events and celebrations are held throughout the year.

Some of the free London events include:

  • The biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China
  • Beautiful Diwali festivities
  • Eid Festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan
  • St George’s Day foodie festival
  • A festive Christmas Market throughout late November and December

Depending on the event, you’ll find the likes of parades, live music and entertainment, food stalls and plenty more.

Plus all of the exciting events in Trafalgar Square are completely free for everyone to join, no matter what your religion or nationality.

Keep an eye out for what free cultural events are coming up on Trafalgar Square here.

43. Free London Lectures

Being home to so many academic powerhouses, it’s unsurprising that you can find fascinating lectures and talks happening almost every day somewhere in London.

Politics, law, medicine, science, anthropology, art… you name it and you’ll probably find a free lecture, conference or talk happening at one of London’s top institutions.

But did you know that many of them are completely free for absolutely anyone to join?

All you have to do is sign up online in advance and head along to learn something new for free.

Check out this portal which keeps track of free upcoming lectures in London or browse individual university or museum websites for more.

44. The Lord Mayors Show

Lord Mayors Show London

Taking place on the second Saturday in November, The Lord Mayors Show is one of the most exciting free events in London and something you definitely shouldn’t miss if you’re in the city for the autumn.

Dating back to the 16th century, the Lord Mayor’s Show is an important annual event consisting of an elaborate parade through the City of London, with decorated floats, live music and plenty of dancing, followed by a large fireworks display over the River Thames.

The purpose of the event is to inaugurate the new Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Local tip: On the day of the Lord Mayor Show you can also visit St Pauls’s Cathedral for free.

43. Top Secret Comedy Club

Another of the top things to do in London at night for free is heading for a night of free laughs at the Top Secret Comedy Club in London’s West End.

Top Secret Comedy Club hosts stand-up comedy performances by some of the world’s top comedians.

But for those looking for a free night out in London, the unique Comedy Club also offers completely free performances by up-and-coming comedians or those sampling out new material.

46. Notting Hill Carnival

Man in colourful costume at Notting Hill Carnival London

August bank holiday weekend sees the colourful London neighbourhood of Notting Hill become home to one of the world’s largest free street festivals.

The world-famous Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean heritage, arts and culture, with elaborate parades, brightly coloured costumes and street parties taking over two action-packed days.

With plenty of music, food, drinks and fun, Notting Hill Carnival is certainly one of the best free events in London each year.

47. London Pride

Regent street with lots of people and rainbow flags during pride celebrations in London

Another of London’s best free street parties and celebrations also takes place each summer in the form of Pride in London – London’s annual LGBT pride festival.

Taking place annually over a weekend in June, the huge London Pride celebrations include a colourful parade with over 300 floats, many special free events showcasing LGBT+ culture, including theatre, dance and art, and of course exciting street parties all across Soho and the West End.

If you’re out in Central London this weekend it’s pretty hard to miss London’s massive Pride celebrations.

Free London Tours

Last but certainly not least, here are the best tours in the capital for some free sightseeing in London.

While these companies below do offer free walking tours of London, they actually operate on a pay-what-you-can basis which means that at the end it is customary to leave a tip – big or small – depending on what you can afford and what you feel the tour was worth.

48. Strawberry Tours

Strawberry Tours runs some of the best free tours in London, with both traditional tours of the city’s most famous landmarks along with plenty of themed tours to pick from.

Some of their top free London tours include;

49. Wonders of London

Wonders of London is another great company offering free London walking tours.

As well as many similar free tours as above – London’s most iconic sites and themed tours – Wonders of London also offer these more unique specialised tours;

50. New Europe: Free London Tour

Finally, this 3-hour tour of London with New Europe is one of the best you’ll find for ticking off most of the city’s most famous sites in one fun and informative free walking tour.

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Free things to do in London
London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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