What are the best free things to do in Stratford London?

Christmas is now behind us and if, like us, you’ll be tightly budgeting and generally spending less, here are some great things to do for free – or almost free! - in the buzzy area and surrounds of Stratford, London, to help get you out and about without it costing a fortune, all year round!

Entertainment & Leisure
  • 18 Jan 2024
Entertainment & Leisure
Walk, run, or cycle through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Nothing beats some fresh air, and there’s an abundance of it in Stratford, London. After being cooped up inside post the festive season, the nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park gives you a chance to breath in and enjoy the views that's on offer.  With over 550 acres of parkland and waterways, there are endless places to explore for free on foot at a slow or fast pace.

Why not enjoy the scenery on wheels? With Santander Cycle docking stations located throughout the park, you can hire a bike for just £1.65 for the first 30 minutes of your trip! To discover some of the trails in the Olympic Park check out their guide here.

Also in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a unique collection of 29, world class artworks that rival many of the works showcased in galleries across London. You can follow the Art in the Park trail for free and discover these gems, both large and small. 

Explore culture & innovation at East Bank

The UK’s newest culture and education quarter at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, recently welcomed its partners UCL and London College Fashion, UAL. London College fashion hosts a cultural programme all year round and is open to the public and free to visit – visit their upcoming list of events here.

UCL East is also open to the public and visitors are welcome on any weekday between 10am–4pm with self-guided tours of the campus available at entry. As you first enter, you’ll encounter the art installation “Gaia” and the mesmerizing “Treow of Time 2023” – both projects are led by UK-based inspirational artists. Plus there’s a café that’s open to all - it's well worth a visit!

Explore a street market

Each week, Stratford sets up bustling markets selling fresh food and other goods. Stroll down the streets and enjoy the ambience around you, or look for bargains that won’t break the bank.     

With a selection of local East London markets nearby, there is something different for everyone. Lively Columbia Road Market is the oldest flower market in London and, is open every Sunday morning from 8am to about 3 pm. Famous for its colourful abundance of fresh flowers, bulbs and plant stalls, independent stores and vintage shops, it’s also a great place to watch street musicians entertaining passersby.

Victoria Park Market is another Sunday market which is full of life and creativity.  Found within one of the most beautiful parks in London, the market is open between 10am and 4 pm and is filled with wonderful food aromas. Explore the delights of the 213 acres of London’s oldest public park for free and then browse the market’s many stalls and hot food trucks, and enjoy a coffee, sweet treat or snack while listening to live music!    

Free events at Here East 

The Here East innovation campus holds regular events in Stratford encouraging innovators, visionaries, and disruptors to have a space to grow their ideas. There’s a growing list of well-known organisations who now call Here East home, including Sports Interactive, Loughborough University London and UCL.

Here East also hold regular events that are open to the public, including yoga, mindfulness, content creation workshops and university open days. Some are paid for, others are free. Their next free Future event is just a few weeks away on February 27, 2024. You can register for this here.

Discover Stratford's Olympic Park venues 

The Aquatics Centre and Copper Box Arena are both great venues to experience the thrill of the Olympic Games from an athlete’s point of view. A general swim for an adult plus two children can be booked for under £10 at the Aquatics Centre and a wide range of low cost monthly gym and fitness memberships are available at both centres.  

Find other things to see and do in Stratford this winter.