There’s no getting around the fact London is an expensive city. However, there’s a huge range of free activities if you know where to look, making for a great, cost-free day out. Leading the way in this respect is Canary Wharf, which has found a new lease of life over the last few years, and now has become a real cultural hot-spot. The good news is this includes a variety of high-end free attractions, some of which we’re going to take a look at here:
The full glory of Canary’s Wharf’s winter lights is so impressive, it almost has to be seen to be believed. A magical yearly festival, it takes visitors through a trail of spectacular installations and also includes the area's permanent light pieces. Assembled by some of the world’s starlight artists, it includes interactive shows, pop-up street food vendors and great hot drinks. There’s also toasted marshmallows and, of course, the open-air ice rink in Canada Square that will be in full swing. A truly special event.
One of London’s biggest botanical gardens, Crossrail Roof Garden is free to everyone and open until 9 pm each night or sunset in summertime. An amazing microclimate situated on the top floor, this expansive place is full of exotic plants and flowers, making it the perfect spot to take a relaxing stroll at any time of the day or evening. The theme of the garden is East meets West, meaning it’s populated by bamboo from Asia and ferns from the Americas, to name but a few. There are also regular live music events, and dance and theatre in an amazing outdoor amphitheatre. Inviting and immersive.
The Public Art
The public art on display in Canary Wharf is now famous for its brilliance, beauty and importance, and the fact that each year, thousands of people discover it for free. The pieces are commissioned from across the globe, and it means the entire district is dotted with incredible sculptures and mosaics that can be found in the most unexpected places. Made up of 100 works, the idea is to follow a trail, making this a hugely enjoyable way to pass a few hours. Bringing joy to everyone who either lives, works or visits Canary Wharf, it’s created a real sense of place for all to savour.
There are many wonderful free museums in the capital and The London Dockland Museum is certainly up there with the best. Here, you can take a deep dive into everything from the original Roman settlement to the development of Canary Wharf and London’s rich history as a port. Canary Wharf and the surrounding docklands were central to the British Empire, creating thousands of jobs and seeing thousands of tons of cargo come through each year. Over five floors, the museum is in the original West India Docks warehouse, the exhibits are comprehensive, and the activities and talks are fun and informative.
Overall, Canary Wharf continues to grow and thrive, something that’s integral to its charm. Its antiquity is rich and, having been known as principally a financial district, it’s now its art, sense of community, and great dining and retail scenes that have transformed into something genuinely special. Well worth a visit, there is something for everyone.
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