Now that they’ve got over the fact that I no longer work for a living, my friends have started to express concern for how I manage to fill my time. I think they have visions of me sitting blank-eyed and wild haired, alone on my sofa at home all day, just waiting for everyone else to finish work so I have someone to play with.
Look away now if you don’t want to hear this, but there is a whole world of stuff you could be doing, if only you had the time to do it. And the best part, loads of it is free or under a tenner, so even us salary-dodgers can get involved. You just need to know where to look…
Here’s my roundup of where to find free fun (as opposed to fun free: I’ll pass on that, thanks all the same) and general goings-on in London:
Londonist: has a permanent “Free London” section on its site and also does a weekly roundup of all things cheap and cheerful. Usually my first stop when looking for something to do, as it has a really eclectic mix of listings, from exhibitions and talks, to festivals and geekery. I love the fact that it doesn’t just cover the well-known events, but lots of smaller, local happenings too and it’s well-edited, so you don’t have to search for what’s on.
Look out for: the “Things to do in London this Weekend” section, published each Thursday and the “Week in Geek” section, for curious types.
le cool London: sign up for their weekly email (every Thurs) to get your cool fix. Their recommendations are usually on the quirkier side of average and it’s set out as a day-by-day guide: le monday, le tuesday (you get the idea).
Look out for: their guides to other European cities (Barcelona, Paris, Istanbul etc.) and their blog, to read about what you’ve missed out on doing!
Thrillist London: sign up for their daily email or check out their website, where you can search under categories. Best for new restaurant and bar openings, although they do also feature some unusual events (zombie evacuation race, anyone?). If you love pop-ups, this is your guide.
Look out for: their same-format US city guides. London is the only non-US city featured (lucky us!), so if you’re travelling stateside and want to find the coolest hangouts, check them out.
Scout London: a newish listings magazine and website. Covers all of the categories you’d expect: art & culture, comedy, film, food & drink, music, sport etc. The editorial is a little lacking, but think of it as a less cluttered Time Out and you won’t go far wrong.
Look out for: their free weekly magazine available from selected London tube stations every Tuesday.
Time Out: deserves an honourable mention, particularly now that the magazine is free (available from selected zone 1 – 2 tube stations and museums/galleries) and is an edited version of the old style magazine, so much easier to find what you’re looking for. They have critics’ choices and detailed reviews and they highlight those events that are free. My only criticism is that the listings are so comprehensive that sometimes you lose the will to live sifting through to find the good stuff.
Look out for: their ipad and mobile apps, when you’re on the move and need a recommendation, fast.
Lastly, if you can’t quite let go of some of your lavish habits (spa days, cocktails, fancy dinners), make the most of the ever-increasing spamathon of voucher deals (livingsocial, groupon, amazonlocal, wowcher, wahanda). Being able to do things during the day gives you many more options for fun. And it feels way more decadent.
Oh, and if anyone has any other suggestions for where to find cool stuff, please share in the comments section. Thanking you.