So you’re in London and on a tight budget but want to experience what the British capital has to offer. Not to worry, we have put together ten things you can do for free from enjoying some live entertainment to exploring this city’s great history.
1. Art Galleries
Galleries such as the National Portrait Gallery in London provide free entry and attract audiences from all over the world. The gallery was founded by Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope (1805-1875) in 1856 thanks to the support of Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) and Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). The gallery has gone on to promote the “appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture”
The National Portrait Gallery is just one of many art galleries offering free entry. For those of you who are a little more adventurous then you may want to take a look at The Crypt Gallery at St Pancras Church, the Tank Gallery at The Ladywell Tavern and the South London Gallery in Peckham.
London is full of famous markets and for good reason. Each market is a unique experience with plenty of charm and charisma. You will no doubt be able to find a market that suits your interests.
Portobello Road sells antiques, jewellery and second-hand clothes.
Camden Market sells Arts and crafts, jewellery, vintage clothing and has a large selection of food stalls.
Borough Market sells gourmet food under the railway.
3. British Library
Filled with 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, 3 million sound recordings and experiences designed for adults and children there is certainly a lot to do here. The library holds regular exhibitions on a large range of subjects from Sci-fi to Unknown novels. Many (but not all) of these exhibitions are free so it is worth having a look on their website to see what interests you.
4. National Theatre
For those of you who enjoy some nice music or art then the national theatre may be of interest to you. The theatre is a hub of creativity from writing, plays, music and art and is known internationally for the high standards it holds. The venue regularly holds free events for all ages and tastes.
5. Changing the Guard
Held at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, Changing the Guard or Guard Mounting as it is also known is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard. This is a historic event in British culture and is held in high regard. The foot guard have been guarding the palace in this manner since the 17th century and though the details of what they do have changed slightly the symbolism is upheld.
6. Speaker’s Corner
For 150 years, Speaker’s Corner has been a unique attraction allowing anyone who has an opinion to stand in front of a crowd and have their say. The voluntary experience happens on Sunday mornings at the place where Oxford Street and Hyde Park meet. Any issue can be discussed and the experience is an honest and historical one that is slowly dying out due to the advancements of the internet. So catch it while you can.
7. Watch a live TV show from the Studio
Shows in the UK often use live audiences to help build the atmosphere the show desires. Whether its comedy, light entertainment or debates the shows need to get their audiences from somewhere and you can be it. By applying for a ticket from http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tickets/ you could find yourself enjoying a free night out and getting to see some of the great shows Britain has to offer before anyone else. Keep in mind however that for this experience you may need to book your tickets in advanced as they are very popular.
8. Street Performers
Of course you don’t need to go to a studio to get entertained. London’s streets are full of street artists and performers. The acts vary from day to day, one moment you could be watching a performer on the top of a giant unicycle juggling flaming clubs and the next you could be serenaded by traditional music. The acts are free to watch but if you enjoy them then the majority of these performers have a hat or bucket for you to place some change in. Some popular places for street performers are Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square.
9. Comedy Clubs
Britain wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the great British humour but experiencing the pros at work tends to come at the price. We’ve found two venues that offer a night full of laughter for free. Firstly the Theatre Royal Stratford East who provide a dynamic line up of comedians every Monday from 8pm, and the comedy café near Liverpool street who’s free festive night happens on a Wednesday.
London offers an array of spectacular sights to see, most of which are walking distance from each other. However if you fancy something a bit different then why not try London’s Muggle Tours, sadly for adults you have to pay but kids under 12 go free.