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Concerts for cheapskates

Free concerts, performances, plays, and lectures in London

Church concerts and other free recitals

I've said it before: London is odd in that its major museums are free, but its most famous churches (Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's) charge admission. No worries. Most other churches don't, and there two particularly worth visiting not only on their own merit but also because they frequently offer free music concerts.

Anchoring the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square near the (also free) National Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a perfect little 1726 church that hosts a lunchtime series of free concerts at 1pm most days except Wednesdays and Sundays. (Before the performance, nip down to the cheap cafe in the crypt, where the tables are balanced atop worn tombstones). » Full Story

London's flamboyantly Victorian Catholic cathedral Westminster Cathedral—not to be confused with Westminster Abbey, where all the famous dead blokes are buried—hosts regular free organ recitals. » Full Story

There are dozens more venues like those. Programs are listed at,,,, and the insanely detailed

More free concerts, plays, lectures, workshops, and performances in London

Churches haven't cornered the market on free music in London. The secret to finding gratis entertainment lies in trolling the events calendars at performing arts schools and institutes. The following is merely a sampling of what was on offer in the fall of 2006 (so details may have changed).

The Royal Academy of Music (011-44-20-7591-4314,, one of the world's finest conservatories, gives free lunchtime and evening concerts several times a week. The offerings, which range from classical to experimental, are held in performance spaces at the campus and across London.

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama (011-44-20-7628-2571, hosts multiple free performances and dirt-cheap theater productions throughout the academic year. On any given night, you might have your choice of a free concert—string ensemble in one hall, jazz trio in another, brass band in a third—or the option to splurge £7 for a double billing of Shakespeare (in October it was "The Tempest" and "Macbeth" back-to-back).

Morley College (011-44-20-7450-1889,—one of England's oldest adult education centers, founded in 1880—holds free Tuesday lunchtime concerts at 1:05pm, plus free lectures and art workshops.

Lauderdale House (011-44-20-8348-8716,—an arts and education center in a gorgeous 16th-century building in Waterlow Park—also offers free lunchtime concerts as well as inexpensive (£7-£12) cabaret, jazz, poetry, and classical performances.

As if you didn't already have enough to listen to at lunch, the Royal Opera House itself (011-44-20-7304-4000, also stages free lunchtime recitals: chamber music and arias Mondays at 1pm, jazz Tuesdays at noon.


Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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