Does London even need an introduction? It probably does, and any assumption that it doesn't probably contributed to this whole Brexit situation. That's not to downplay the British capital in its cultural significance, for it is undeniable that both nationally and internationally, London is a leading force within contemporary art and visual culture.
This might account for why ArtRabbit is based here. It's where we experience the most art, and it's where each of us at ArtRabbit fell in love with art, some for the first time and some for the millionth. And after all these years, London still never ceases to amaze us with its cultural offerings. We hope we can help you fall in love with art as well, and in so doing, love this city just a little more.
With London being an endlessly walkable city and so chock-full of inspiring art venues, we’ve created some art trails throughout London to get you acquainted with each neighbourhood. We'll be launching a new London trail every month or two, so be sure to watch this space to explore a new part of London through art on the regular. They’ve been meticulously field-tested, with each trail taking no more than an hour max (excluding time spent inside venues), so they’re guaranteed to be a perfect way to explore different parts of town.
The order of venues are only suggestions, so feel free to curate your own itinerary. While we wanted to highlight our favourite non-profit spaces and museums in this edition, there are lots more spaces and galleries nested in the different areas. For the most comprehensive gallery hopping experience, make sure to download the ArtRabbit app.
Hackney Art Trail Part 1 - Haggerston, Hoxton, Shoreditch
One of the best things about art is that you can experience it freely no matter how little you have in your savings account. When you’re experienced enough, you’ll be able to organise your social calendar around the free refreshments at exhibition openings. Until then, use this freebies guide to find all the art that you can consume without costing you anything.
Most commercial galleries will have rotating exhibitions that change every few weeks/other month, and they’ll be free to attend. Depending on the particular gallery, exhibition openings tend to fall on Thursday and Friday evenings, and those are great times to network with like-minded individuals while sipping free drinks. Want to stay in the know? Be sure to subscribe to our location-specific weekly newsletters to get all the must-attend events near you beamed right to your inbox.
Project spaces tend to have artist-led initiatives rather than in-house curators. While the events that happen at such spaces vary in their scope, they’re largely free admission (or some by donation), and they house some spectacularly interesting projects that are experimental in nature.
Regular collections at several larger museums and galleries will often offer free admission, while their special exhibitions tend to have pricey entrance fees. Venues that fall under this camp are the Tate, the National Gallery and V&A.
Other freebies include public art, which is a great way to navigate through any city. The City of London is home to an extensive collection of public artworks – from statues and memorials of historic significance to contemporary pieces by some of the world’s most renowned artists.
More fun freebies can be found with Tate Lates, happening the last Friday of every month at Tate Modern; at other less frequent times at Tate Britain; and Friday Late at the V&A, also happening every last Friday of every month (except May and December). With a perfect concoction of endless art and delicious cocktails, Lates are the perfect events to give a first date impression of being both cultured and fun.
If you prefer some (sort of) fresh city air over (wine-infused) artsy venues, Sculpture in the City is an annually rotating programme of sculptures scattered across London, each by internationally acclaimed artists. You can forge your own walking path from one to the next to create a make-your-own-art-adventure type of game.
Sweet study spots
Library air getting stale? 2000 words still outstanding on that paper due next week? We know that a change in environment can help get those creative juices flowing, so we’ve found a few sweet spots scattered around the city to help reinvigorate your will to study. Most of them offer WiFi and good coffee AKA just about everything you need to get your uni work done.
Free WiFi in the foyers.
Free WiFi available in the Library's London and Boston Spa Reading Rooms, and in all their public areas.
Coffee Shop, Venue, Free WiFi.
The Barbican Library
Free WiFi and computers with internet access.
LADA’s Study Room
The LADA Study Room is the core resource of the Live Art Development Agency and is a free, open access research facility used by artists, students, curators, academics, writers, researchers, historians and the curious to look at the work of specific artists or wider cultural histories and themes. Housing over 8000 titles, the Study Room is the largest publicly accessible library of Live Art related documentation and publications in the world.
Royal College of Physicians
Founded in 1518 by King Henry VIII, the Royal College of Physicians of London is the oldest medical college in England and continues to play a pivotal role in shaping public health today. The RCP Museum looks after 500 years of history with library, archive, museum collections and temporary exhibitions open to the public for free.
Alternative and art cinemas
Sure, Marvel films have their mass appeal, but sometimes we’re in the mood for something a little less mainstream. When it comes to indie and alternative, with itineraries full of interesting documentaries and experimental films, these cinemas do it best.
Adornments for your calendar
In 2020, these important events are must-attends for every art student and (emerging) art professional. Keep this list with you throughout the year, or join ArtRabbit and save them to get reminders before they start so that your event calendar will never miss a beat.
Brent2020, London Borough of Culture, Jan - Dec 2020, Brent
London Art Fair, 22 - 26 Jan 2020, The Business Design Centre
Condo London, Jan - Feb 2020, Various Locations
Block Universe, May-Jun 2020, TBA
Degree Shows, between May and Oct 2020, Various Locations
Serpentine Pavilion, TBC, between Jun - Oct 2020, Hyde Park
Lift Festival, TBC, May/Jun 2020, Various Locations
Art Night, 20-21 Jun 2020, Various Locations
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF), 19 Jun - 4 Jul 2020, Greenwich & Docklands
Pride in London, 27 Jun 2020, Central London
London Festival of Architecture, 1 - 30 Jun 2020, Various Locations
Buckingham Palace Tour, 18 Jul - 27 Sep 2020, Various Locations
Notting Hill Carnival, 30 - 31 Aug 2020, Notting Hill
Deptford X 2020, TBA, Deptford
Turner Prize, 30 Sep 2020 - 3 Jan 2021, Tate Britain
London Design Biennale, 8 - 27 Sep 2020, Somerset House
London Design Festival, 12-20 Sep 2020, Various Locations
Emerge Festival, Sep 2020, TBA
Totally Thames, Sep 2020, TBA
Art Licks Weekend, TBA, Various Locations
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, TBA, Somerset House
Korean Film Festival, TBC, in cinemas across the city