20 things to do for free in London this summer

Feeling a little cash-strapped after too much fun even before summer has properly begun? Or started the festival circuit before your bank balance was prepared for it? Well, we know the feeling.

But you needn't stay in for weeks watching Netflix while you wait for pay day. We've researched and compiled the 20 best free things to do in London this summer, from art exhibitions and whisky tastings to glam makeovers and more. In fact, it's fair to say the city's positively oozing with secret delights you can enjoy completely for free. So bin that credit card (or maybe just put it to one side) and get footloose and fancy free as you check out these fabulous freebies...


    Where: Somerset House

    When: Until August 25

    Get a groove on with this original exhibition created and curated by photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favourite Harris Elliott. Showcasing a sartorial subculture through a series of portraits, installations and set pieces.


    Where: The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead

    When: Saturday 12 July

    Forget Crufts, every dog will have its day at Pup Idol. The event takes place at a pooch-­friendly pub famous with dog-walkers across the Heath and judges include Michelle Collins, Bill Oddie, Emmerdale’s Georgia Slowe, Downton Abbey star Peter Egan and TV vet Marc Abraham. Dog entries are £5 but being a spectator is completely free of charge.


    Where: Covent Garden’s Piazza

    When: June 28 – July 13

    Not got a getaway planned and missing the beach? Well do not fear, Brazil is landing in Covent Garden with a beach pop-up this summer c/o "The Grill from Ipanema" (see what they did there... ?)

    Providing a slice of Rio beach life with a classic Brazilian hut in the centre of the West End, this beach boasts 15 tonnes of sand and its very own beach grill, meaning you can get away from it all, at least for a little while...


    Where: Nancy Victory Gallery, 6 Charlotte Place, W1T ISG

    When: Thursday 19 June, 10am - 5pm

    For anyone who believes eco-consciousness doesn’t mean being unstylish, Works of Wind (organised by RenewableUK) will convince you otherwise. This event features a range of sustainable and renewable inspired fashion and art from designers including People Tree among others. Alongside the stalls, grab yourself a glass of free Prosecco and some nibbles.


    Where: EC1 addresses, squares and rooftops around London

    When: Every day from Monday 23 June - Sunday 6 July, from 12-10pm

    Tune in to see Murray crowned victor once again (fingers crossed) at these outdoor screenings of Wimbledon all over the capital. Bring your own strawberries and cream and settle in for some serious tennis action.


    Where: Gabbi’s Head, (Prince of Wales), Drury Lane, Covent Garden

    When: Until 13 July

    Benefit Cosmetics has launched its very own beautiful pub for the beautiful game, a haven of football and beauty for women to enjoy the summer’s greatest sporting event. All set within the ultimate football haven for women, highly trained ‘Bene-babe’ beauty artists will be on-hand offering complimentary brow waxes, skin care sessions and make-uppers. Whether you’re a football fanatic or football widow, check out this unique, fun and feminine pub.


    Where: Aqua Kyoto roof terrace, 30 Argyll Street, W1W 3BR

    When: Sunday 6 July 2-9pm

    Londoners can experience a slice of Japanese culture when Suntory Japanese whisky bring star festival, Tanabata, to life at Aqua Kyoto. Take part in the custom of tying wishes to a bamboo wish tree whilst enjoying Japanese canapés and beats by DJ Koichi Sakai...


    Where: Parks across London including Wimbledon, Peckham Rye, Twickenham, Barnes, Wandsworth, Putney, Greenwich and many more

    When: Every weekend apart from Bank Holidays

    An easily accessible, non-shouty Bootcamp ideal for all levels, especially those returning to exercise after injury or a break. Groups meet in parks in boroughs around London, providing the perfect natural outdoor exercise in your local area.


    Where: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA

    When: Throughout the summer until Dec 2014

    Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti visited more than 50 countries to create portraits of children with their most prized belongings and this exhibition tells the story of 21 kids from all different backgrounds. Different tastes and economic statuses mean that the toys hugely vary, but the subjects' common love of play shines through in every picture.


    Where: Portman Village, Marylebone

    When: Wednesday 23 July from 4pm

    A Bake-Off and Street Fest that will see head chefs at some of London's most esteemed restaurants and hotels (such as Donostia, Home House and The Lockhart) compete to be named Best Baker.

    Join Frances Quinn - reigning champion of the Great British Bake Off -who will head-up the judging panel, and of course take advantage of the opportunity to sample the entries. They'll also be live music , games and entertainment as well as an array of freebies, offers and prizes.


    Where: Pure Evil Gallery, 108 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, London

    What: An exhibition full of contemporary art by Pure Evil and other street art artists

    Visit the Pure Evil Gallery in Shoreditch, where you can hang out with artist Charley aka Pure Evil and if you’re lucky you can follow him to a NEW spot everyday to watch him to create a piece of street art every day for the year...graffiti well and truly in the making.


    Where: All across London (and the rest of the country)

    When: Mostly Saturdays but event timings vary for each area

    Free, weekly, 5km timed runs, these park runs are easy to take part in - normally in a pleasant park pretty close to your front door. So if you're looking for a new personal best or just want to improve your fitness, register online before your first run, bring a printed copy of your barcode and get set, go!


    Where: The Refinery, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 OTF

    When: 21 June to 13 July (Wimbledon, the World Cup final and film)

    Championing the best of British summertime on Bankside, an outside terrace will be transformed into a holiday hot spot complete with striped deck chairs, white picket fencing and screens, so tune in here to watch the season’s most exciting sporting events and classic films such as Grease, Top Gun and Back To The Future.


    Where: Observation Point, Queen’s Walk, London’s Southbank

    When: Thursday 19 June until Sunday 22 June, 10am-5pm

    See more than 2,000 plants including a diverse and vivid range of Begonias, Fuchsias, Petunias, Geraniums, Hibiscus, Clematis and Bay trees to name a few of the many species in this pop-up garden created by Piriton especially for allergy sufferers.


    Where: Jazz at Pavilion Café, Greenwich Park (right next to the Royal Observatory)

    When: Fridays in August from 6.15pm until 8.30pm

    Unwind on Friday evenings with jazz at the licensed Pavilion Café, where each week a jazz duo will perform in the garden. BBQ, stone baked pizzas, sharing platters or traditional English cream teas will cost you but the music is free.

  • Urban Forest

    Where: Kopparberg Urban Forest at Abbot Street Car Park, located off Kingsland High Street, Dalston

    When: Wednesday 2 July – 3 August

    Kopparberg Urban Forest - a bespoke woodland bar inspired by the beauty of the Swedish pine forest – will be hidden away behind the city streets of Dalston. Bringing a magical mix of live music, street art and mouth-watering food and drink to East London, Londoner's can expect live music, DJ's, vlub nights and graffiti showcases.


    Where: 110 Cannon Street

    When:12pm to 3pm on Friday, 27 June & Saturday 30 June

    This new Italian, Scarpetta, are offering hungry Londoners authentic Italian pasta completely on the house to celebrate opening their new Italian in the City.


    Where: Central Criminal Court/Old Bailey

    When: Ongoing, Monday - Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm

    Watch justice in the making at one of the world's most famous courts. Offering a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the British legal system, anyone can take a seat in the public galleries at the Old Bailey, and courts are open every week day for viewing of trials in session - click on the link below for listings.


    Where: All over London

    When: Anytime of year

    From Regents Canal to Little Venice and the Thames to London Docklands, check out the capital's treasure trove of scenic cycling routes.Wile away an afternoon for free by hopping on your bike. If you've no wheels hire a Boris bike (OK, it will set you back a few quid but nothing too eye-watering).


    Where: Major transport hubs across London

    When: Every Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning

    Want the latest in travel, fashion, beauty, current affairs and more, all rolled up in one fabulous freebie? Then get stuck in with your latest issue of Stylist; simply grab a copy, find your perfect reading spot - be it train, plane or a sunny patch of the park - and enjoy!

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