London has long had a culture of festivals. From the huge crowds at Hyde Park’s British Summer Time to the Waterloo Vaults Arts Festival, the city caters to all varieties of entertainment tastes. It’s not just entertainment either, with historic and cultural exposes and lectures, alongside workshops and seminars, you could see your life being enriched after your visit to the Park Grand Paddington Court afternoon tea rooms.
The main problem during a trip to London will always be expenses. If you’re on a budget trip, you’ll no doubt want to count the pennies during your stay. That’s why we’ve amassed a list of the best cheap and free festivals that take place in the city. Whatever your age and however long you’re staying, this collection of multi-season must-visit festivals promise everything from child-friendly workshops to late-night parties.
With London’s long history of and love for music, it’s no surprise to find that the city is teeming with unique music festivals. Whilst many might be expensive for the average person, there are plenty of free or cheap experiences that could actually lead you to some of the most enriching and cultural experiences in London.
Run by Music Promotion Company Bird on the Wire, tickets for this East London day festival start at only £30, a real bargain for the lineups they programme. Exploring the best from the fringes of international music, and showcasing the emerging acts who are sure to hit it big soon, Visions Festival is a budget festival for those who like to keep their music palette alternative, fresh and exciting. Based in multiple venues around Hackney, there’s plenty to enjoy from this early August gem of a festival.
All Points East
Keeping on the subject of East London, All Points East is a Victoria Park-based music festival that might come with a hefty price tag for its weekend headliners, but sees a range of free events throughout the weekdays of its runtime. With community focused workshops, gigs and events, this festival takes place in the last week of May and apart from its stellar lineup killer international acts, also has a more intimate and local heart.
Lambeth Country Show
Celebrating the rural might not seem like the natural fit for an inner-city London park, but Brixton’s Brockwell Park gives guests the chance to see horses, rodeos and much more on the weekend of July 18th this year. Expect dancing, local musicians and a lot of haystacks making their way into the idyllic park. For guests at the Park Grand Hotels who are looking for something a little different this summer, then try this budget weekend of rural celebration.
Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival traditionally takes place on the bank holiday weekend between the end of August and the beginning of September. Celebrating London’s Afro-Carribean culture and the music that makes West London so influential, guests at the nearby Park Grand London Paddington Court Hotel can expect stunning carnival atmospheres, DJ sets, parades and street food overrunning the streets of West London – and all for free too!
Totally Thames Festival
Taking place over the month of September, the Totally Thames Festival gives visitors to London a chance to celebrate one of the best rivers in the country through art, talks free music events and much much more. With lots of amazing speakers and workshops, the focus is often on sustainability and history, all topped off by a wide-spanning programme that’s accessible to all ages.
Turing Tides Festival
Based in Greenwich, Turning Tides Festival is a yearly showcase of the best in alternative and up and coming music, alongside cabaret performances and workshops. This buzzing event takes place in the pristine elevated park of the Greenwich Peninsula – The Tide and is the perfect festival for London visitors to get to know Greenwich.
Based in Croydon’s Wandle Park, the Mela Festival is a celebration of British Asian culture, melding music, dance, food and events into a beautiful July Sunday. The third annual outing takes place this year on July 14th and gives visitors a chance to get in touch with Asian culture. The name Mela itself derives from India, where it means “meeting” or “meeting place”, so the Croydon Mela, naturally, always proves to be an inclusive and sociable festival that gives visitors a chance to learn and experience new and diverse cultures.
West End Live
Taking place every summer in June, West End Live is a showcase of some of the best West End shows for free. Based in Trafalgar Square and so easy to reach for guests at Park Grand restaurants and hotels in West London, you can see some of the best dance acts, musicals and theatre performance for free and right in the heart of the city. After an afternoon at West End Live, you’ll no doubt be racing to find a ticket for the high-level performances being showcased.
Whilst cinemas can be pricey, there’s plenty of free showcases and cheap events that take place in London that will no doubt give you a chance to witness the magic of the silver screen on a budget.
London Film Festival special events
Whilst tickets for the London Film Festival can reach £20 a ticket, there are plenty of one-off events and Q&A’s that are free on a first-come-first-served basis. With the LFF for free, guests at the prestigious film festival every October will get a chance to see talks, films and even late-night music events for no money at all. Sign up at the BFI reception and do it quickly, these events are highly popular with local cinephiles.
Herne Hill Free Film Festival
Based in Herne Hill, the Free Film Festival is a year-long programme of movies and talks that encourage a community spirit in the South London area. Spanning much of Herne Hill and Brixton, these inclusive and accessible events give children and adults alike a great way to explore the artistry and magic of cinema, whether that be through family favourites or talks with local filmmakers, and all for no price at all.