April 12, 2021

From browsing Borough Market to exploring the Black Cultural Archives: 9 of the best things to do for free in south London

Jess is a relatively new Londoner, living south of the river in Brixton. She writes for local south London publications is the founder of In Pursuit, a newsletter focusing on creative career success stories. Here, Jess shares her insight into south London's best free offerings.

1. Brixton Yoga

This Brixton institution has been offering free yoga classes for a whole year now. At the start of lockdown, founder Gurpreet pivoted the group online and an international community grew out of it! I love seeing other class-goers for a bit of normality, plus Gurpreet’s parents might pop in for a chat if you’re lucky.

2. South London's parks

Green spaces for spring? It's hardly groundbreaking, but south London's parks are criminally underrated. My personal favourites have to be Brockwell Park for the skyline views and Peckham Rye for the Japanese garden. 

3. Brixton Life Drawing

Brixton Life Drawing

Yep, this is another Brixton tip – I just really like where I live! I did a Brixton Life Drawing session for my birthday this year, glass of fizz in hand, and it was so special. The group is run by two local designers, Bex and Anya, and every Tuesday and Sunday the duo run Zoom classes with different models and challenges.

To take part, you only pay what you can and 20% of all profits go to different charities each week. Catch me and my easel at their first event back in a studio too!

4. A South London Makers Market

A South London Makers Market is free to attend and couldn't be more accessible as it's via Instagram! The lovely Liv and Dais host the best selection of independent and often local businesses through their account.

Expect beautiful ceramics from artists like Harlie Briggs, delicious sweet treats like brownies from Hannah Bakes London and jewelry from unique brands like social enterprise Make Pivot, which sells jewellery made by homeless Londoners.

5. Borough Market

Obviously you could just visit Borough Market and meander around, but the market’s Instagram page has a host of masterclasses which are free to access and worth checking out too. Whether you fancy a step-by-step class in fermenting or an introduction to Indonisian meal prep, there's something for everyone.

6. Tate Britain

My favourite gallery in south London to mooch around for free is Tate Britain, and I already miss that light installation you definitely saw on Instagram.

Exhibitions past and present have moved to YouTube and since I’m a massive art nerd I’ll be off right after this to watch the video exhibit tour of renowned contemporary painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

7. Black Cultural Archives

I’m not even going to apologise this time for another Brixton-based mention. The Black Cultural Archives, located at 1 Windrush Square, are free to enter and contain a visual story of the history of African and Caribbean communities in the UK. I love a virtual event as much as the next person but this is where I’ll be headed (in proper real life!) as soon as it opens again this April.

8. Dulwich village

I like to wander around beautiful Dulwich village and the surrounding neighborhood on an afternoon, pretending I’m fancy. Dulwich is home to the oldest public gallery in the UK and hosts tonnes of artsy events you can access from anywhere, from talks with Women’s Prize-nominated authors to networking opportunities. 

9. South London theatres

South of the river is home to so much good theatre from the not-so-cheapskate National Theatre to the Old Vic. But my post-lockdown priority will be visiting the smaller independent theatres where the admission is generally a steal.

While patiently waiting for re-openings there are online showings ready to go from home – for free! My April picks are Obscenities, put on by the Blue Elephant, Dolly Trolley’s Drag Aerobics at Tramshed, and the award-nominated We Were Having A Perfectly Nice Time which is pay-what-you-can through the Omnibus Theatre.

For creative inspiration and more writing from Jess, subscribe to her newsletter here.

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