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August bank holiday weekend: best free things to do in London

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Megan Murray
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There’s a lot going on in London this August bank holiday weekend. Here’s our guide to the best free events and things to do. 

It’s finally here: the August bank holiday is considered pretty much the best weekend of the year, with endless opportunities for fun in the sunshine. We’re talking BBQs at home (the perfect time to try your hand at a new spritz recipe), weekends away and making the most of all the events and pop-ups that spring up, especially for the occasion.

If you live in the capital you’ll know that the city comes alive at times like this, and this year is no different. There’s loads of fun, free things to do in London this August bank holiday weekend, ideal if you haven’t been paid yet. 

From dog-friendly days out and vintage markets to Victorian-themed entertainment and carnival-ready late night parties, in true London style the list of happenings are eclectic and creative. Because trawling the internet for something to do can be a bore, we’ve done the research for you and come up with a selection of exciting (but free) things to do in London this August bank holiday weekend. 

Enjoy!

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  • Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Fentimans tonic has taken over a beautiful, secret rose and herb garden in Farringdon for the end of the summer, serving up cocktails every evening 5 until 11pm in the week, and from midday over the bank holiday.

    Think live jazz music tinkling away in the background, fairy lights glowing as dusk becomes dark and, of course, lots and lots of flowers. 

    Enjoy it this bank holiday before it’s gone, as the garden shuts for good on 29 August. 

  • Pop Brixton

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Pop Brixton is a creative space that fuses the best of South London’s culture, music, food and fashion scenes in an exciting hub, which always has something going on. 

    Speaking of which, this bank holiday Pop Brixton will be holding a pre-carnival party on Friday 23 August called Just Vibez. The event runs from 7 until 11.45pm and tickets are free.

  • Vauxhall Pleasure Garden

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Vauxhall’s Pleasure Gardens are stepping back in time for the August bank holiday, holding a day of free, Victorian-themed frivolity on 24 August from 3-7pm. 

    Expect the grassy grounds to be alight with circus acts, ice cream and vintage games that you can get stuck into, no matter how old you are. There’ll also be a Victorian Strongman parading around near the bandstand, as well as a stream of live entertainment throughout the day including a jazz band, tightrope walker and stilt extraordinaire. 

  • Beckenham Place Park

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham is a gorgeous Georgian mansion that, thanks to the people who brought us Bussey Building in Peckham, has a social calendar packed with fun activities like arts and crafts classes, yoga and artists studios. 

    But although it’s worth a visit at any time of the year, this August bank holiday the house and grounds will be even more fun than usual, with as a Vintage market is setting up shop on 26 August from 10am-4pm. 

    There’ll be street food, live music, artist and craft workshops going on and lots of vintage treasures to look at. 

  • The Barbican Conservatory

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    The Barbican Centre is home to a maze of wondrous experiences. From the artsy cinema to the ever-changing range of exhibitions there’s lots to see, but our favourite corner of this cultural hub has to be the Conservatory. 

    Free to enter, with a cacti room, pond and over 2,000 species of plants, its a beautiful collision of both the urban and natural worlds that makes for a lovely to walk around or just sit and be. 

    Previously the Conservatory was only open on select Sundays, but recently the centre announced it will be not only opening on Saturdays, but a bar has been installed too.

  • Smithfield Street Party: A Beastly Adventure

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Curated by the Museum of London, Culture Mile’s Annual Festival will transform Smithfield Market into an urban jungle. This free summer party incorporates music, circus performances, workshops and games, and 10,000 human party animals. 

    There will be a huge variety of events designed for all ages, with marching bands, parades, history tours, fun fair rides, storytelling, and even a chill-out zone designed for pets! The majority of the event is free, except for rides on carousels, and it will take place on Sunday 25 August from 11am until 7pm.

  • Dog Days of Summer

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    Flat Iron Square is marking National Dog Day by throwing a dog-themed party. There will be an on-site bar and screening of the film Isle of Dogs, as well as health checks for your pets and an event called “The Dog Factor” that you can enter your dog in! 

    The event is free with some paid stalls, and it will take place on Monday 26 August from 12pm until 5pm. 

  • Hackney Flea Market

    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London
    August bank holiday: best free things to do in London

    If you have an eclectic taste and love hunting for treasure, the Hackney Flea Market should not be missed. 

    From costume jewellery to vintage fabrics and furniture and old maps, there is a huge variety on offer here. 

    The next event will take place in Abney Hall, Stoke Newington, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 of August from 11am respectively, and has free entry.

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Images: Unsplash - Matthew Miner / Courtesy of venues 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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