101 Free Things to Do in the UK

Free Things to Do

The UK boasts some of the very finest ‘free things to do’ to be found anywhere in the world. Most of the country’s museums, galleries and collections are free to enter; you can find a wealth of historic sites and properties that are admission-free; there are free festivals, celebrations and events across the country throughout the year; and the UK is a country blessed with beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, which can all be explored for free. This post brings together 101 of the best free things to do in UK – places, activities and events that can be enjoyed completely free of charge.

Museums and Galleries

British Museum

  1. Baltic, Gateshead – The Baltic is a landmark art gallery housed in an imposing industrial building on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead. The rolling programme of exhibitions has a strong focus on international contemporary art, new works and artist interaction with local communities. The gallery has no permanent collection, so instead has a constantly evolving calendar of exhibitions and events providing something fresh and free on every visit.
  2. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, known locally as BMag, opened in 1885 in a prominent building in the city centre, housing over 40 galleries and one of the UK’s most important art collections. Birmingham was a centre of manufacturing in the 19th Century, and many leaders of industry shared their wealth by donating to the museum. As a result, BMag is home to many important pieces of Victorian art, the world’s largest public collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, along with art and objects from seven centuries of world history.
  3. British Museum, London – The British Museum in central London holds a staggering eight million items from every continent – effectively telling the story of human history from the earliest times to the present day. There is so much to take in that visitors can always find new discoveries. Along with the enormous permanent collection there is also a programme of changing exhibitions and displays, many of which can also be accessed for free.
  4. Coventry Transport Museum – Coventry was the birthplace of the UK’s cycle and motor industry, and today is home to the Transport Museum. The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of British road transport with more than 240 cars, buses and commercial vehicles, 200 bicycles, 94 motorcycles, 25,000 models and 1 million archive items covering 150 years of transportation and invention.
  5. Discovery Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – The Discovery Museum reveals the history of Newcastle, Tyneside and North East England. The museum’s interactive displays cover all aspects of life in the region including science and technology, maritime and military history through to fashion and popular culture. Alongside the regularly updated displays, visitors can also enjoy many complimentary learning activities.
  6. Great North Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – Also in Newcastle, the Great North Museum has wide-ranging displays including a life-size tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, a large-scale interactive reconstruction of Hadrian’s Wall, items from Ancient Greece and mummies from Ancient Egypt. The museum also has major exhibits from the plant and animal kingdoms including models and live displays, tanks and aquaria.
  7. International Slavery Museum, Liverpool – The International Slavery Museum is a unique establishment exploring the history of slavery, its impact on UK and the world societies, and contemporary human rights issues. Liverpool has an unhappy history with slavery and was a centre for the transatlantic slave trade so it is fitting that today it is home to this museum, which since opening in 2007 has become an internationally important hub for human rights resources and education. Admission to all of the museum’s displays, temporary exhibitions, events and activities is free of charge.
  8. Imperial War Museum, London – London’s Imperial War Museum details the history of conflicts, particularly focusing on those of the 20th Century involving Britain and commonwealth countries and the impact on those who lived in died in these wars. There’s a fascinating collection of weapons and vehicles with large exhibits including a real Spitfire from the Battle of Britain. The museum free activities and galleries shed light on the experiences of normal people in warfare, with highlights including a walk-through recreation of the trenches of the First World War’s Western Front and a blitzed out London street in 1940.
  9. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester – Imperial War Museum North also explores the impact of war on real people and society with a particular focus on the north of England’s experience and involvement in conflict. Opened in 2002, the museum building itself is an award-winning piece of architecture designed by Daniel Libeskind with views over Manchester Ship Canal and Salford Quays. The area was a centre for the UK’s industry during world ward two, and was badly damaged during the Manchester Blitz in 1940, a history that is revealed in the museum’s galleries and displays.
  10. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow – Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow is home to one of the greatest civic collections in Scotland, and indeed Europe. The museum’s grand Victorian building is a brilliant example of the Spanish Baroque style rendered in Dumfriesshire red sandstone and houses arms and armour, natural history exhibits and a vast collection of European art. The museum’s refurbishment was completed in 2006 and it has since become Scotland’s most popular free-to-enter visitor attraction.
  11. Modern Art Oxford – Modern Art Oxford is one of the UK’s leading modern and contemporary visual art galleries. Entry is free of charge to the gallery’s evolving calendar of solo and group exhibitions from important international practioners, along with a rolling programme of family activities and live events.
  12. Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester – Manchester was at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution, and remains a leader in science and technology – a history and legacy that is revealed at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). The permanent galleries are spread across five listed buildings and include collections and interactive displays from early textile machinery to X-ray equipment and digital technology, all accessible free of charge.
  13. National Coal Mining Museum, West Yorkshire – Based at the site of Caphouse Colliery in Overton, near Wakefield, the National Coal Mining Museum provides free guided tours of the underground mine so visitors can experience the working life of Yorkshire’s miners. Caphouse Colliery was a working mine from the late-18th Century until 1985, reopening as a museum in 1988. The exhibitions in the over-ground visitor centre explain the work and life of miners and the social and industrial history of coal mining.
  14. National Gallery, London – The National Gallery is home to Britain’s national collection of Western European art. The gallery has rooms dedicated to various periods and countries, with over 2,300 paintings ranging from the mid-13th century to 1900, including some hugely important masterpieces. The gallery aims to care for and archive the nation’s paintings and provide the widest possible access to the public with no charge to view the permanent collection and many visiting exhibitions.
  15. National Maritime Museum Maritime Galleries, London – Set in the beautiful surroundings of the historic World Heritage Site at Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum Maritime Galleries explain the story of Britain’s maritime achievements and adventures. While some parts of the museum do charge an admission fee, the Maritime Galleries can be accessed for free and reveal a fascinating history.
  16. National Museum Cardiff – The National Museum Cardiff is one of Wales’ most popular admission-free attractions, revealing the art, archaeology, natural history and geology of the country. Located in the heart of the city’s civic centre, the museum hosts a programme of touring exhibitions, temporary exhibitions and educational and family activities alongside its extensive permanent collection.
  17. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh – The new National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh offers the chance to explore Scottish and world cultures, the nation’s history, wildlife, science and technology, art and design, with an enormously diverse collection of objects and archives. Admission is free to all the galleries and displays and the museum offers a programme of complimentary talks, events and activities.
  18. National Portrait Gallery, London – Adjoining the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery holds a collection of images of famous and historically important people from British history. When it opened in 1856 it was the first gallery of it’s kind in the world, selecting paintings on the importance of the sitter, not the artist. Today, visitors can enter free of charge and see an entertaining and informative reflection of the people, history and culture of Britain.
  19. National Railway Museum, York – York’s National Rail Museum tells the story of trains and railways, a transport revolution that transformed the UK and the world. The museum’s collection features over 100 locomotives, 200 other items of rolling stock, interactive displays, rail-related art and posters and a variety of ephemera.
  20. National Slate Museum, Llanberis – The National Slate Museum is housed in the Victorian slate workshops at Dinorwig Quarry, which ceased operations in 1969. The slate industry was an important part of life in Wales for many years, as shown by the museum’s displays, talks and demonstrations, which are all free of charge. The museum’s buildings are set in the beautiful surroundings of the shores of Llyn Padarn and the flanks of Snowdon.
  21. National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre – Another important industry in Wales has been wool, from the rearing of sheep to shearing and wool fabrication at mills. The National Wool Museum is housed in the former Camrian Mills in Carmarthenshire, set in the picturesque Teifi valley, which was at the heart of Wale’s woollen industry. The museum’s Textile Gallery holds the National Flat Textile Collection, while the Woolly Tale museum trail allows families to create their own woolly cloth, and the friendly staff provide complimentary demonstrations and answer questions.
  22. Natural History Museum, London – Holding one of the world’s most important collections of life and earth science specimens with over 70 million items, the Natural History Museum in London is one of the UK’s most popular admission-free attractions. The museum is particularly famous for it’s dinosaur exhibits, including a diplodocus skeleton and moving tyrannosaurus rex model, the model of a blue whale and the building’s imposing cathedral-like architecture. The museum also offers a wide-ranging programme of family activities and educational resources.
  23. Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson – Fort Nelson is a formerVictorian military base with strategic views the Meon Valley and Portsmouth Harbour. The fort has been restored to how it would have been in the 1890s and features the Royal Armouries national collection of artillery with over 350 big guns on display.
  24. Science Museum, London – The Science Museum in Kensington, London, holds an extensive collection with over 200,000 objects relating the UK’s and the world’s scientific heritage. The admission-free galleries cover all aspects of science and technology from agriculture, geography, oceanography and medicine to time measurement, psychology and space travel.
  25. St Fagans National History Museum of Wales, Cardiff – St Fagans is situated in the glorious grounds of St Fagans Castle forming a unique open-air living museum experience. The museum has over 40 buildings transported from various parts of Wales and rebuilt to recreate the lifestyle, culture, history and architecture of the Welsh people. St Fagans is one of the most popular heritage attractions in the UK and one of the finest open-air museums anywhere in Europe.
  26. Tate Britain and Modern, London – The Tate galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives encompass one of the world’s most significant art collections, with works from every medium and period of art history. Tate Britain on the banks of the Thames in London covers British art from 1500 to the present day, while Tate Modern sits further downriver at Bankside, displaying significant international modern and contemporary art including a programme of specially commissioned installations in the cavernous Turbine Hall.
  27. Tate Liverpool – Tate Liverpool at the city’s Albert Dock also displays modern and contemporary works from the Tate collection alongside a calendar of exhibitions and events.
  28. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield – Yorkshire Sculpture park offers an open-air display of modern and contemporary art, exhibitions from leading international artists with four enchanting galleries and a dynamic series of events and activities, all free of charge.
  29. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London – The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in Kensington, London is the world’s largest and arguably finest museum of decorative arts and design with a vast collection of over 4.5 million objects. The museum covers all areas of design with ceramics, costumes, drawings, furniture, glass, ironwork, jewellery, paintings, prints, textiles, silver, sculpture and much more. The V&A also boasts a large number of medieval objects and the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture.
  30. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool – The Walker Art gallery in Liverpool hold’s one of the UK’s largest art collections outside London, covering paintings, sculpture and decorative art from the 13th Century to the present day.
  31. World Museum, Liverpool – The World Museum in Liverpool has a large collection of items covering the fields of archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. It is free to enter, as are the special exhibits in the museum’s Natural History Centre and Planetarium.

Outdoors Nature and Wildlife

Giants Causeway

  1. Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Hexham – The stunning gorge and river cutting through the North Pennines is surrounded by one of the UK’s largest area of ancient woodland with extensive walking tracks, a medieval peel tower and a recreated Victorian summerhouse. Wildlife to look out for includes red squirrels, dormice and woodland plants and birds.
  2. Coed-y-Brenin, Snowdonia National Park – Coed-y-Brenin, which is Welsh for King’s Wood, is an expansive forest in Snowdonia, famous for its mountain biking and hiking trails. The biking trails are graded for different abilities and total a huge length in miles. There are all-ability walking paths, running tracks, a children’s play area, bike hire and café, all based around the Visitor Centre at Dolgefeilliau.
  3. Urban Parks – The UK’s towns and cities are remarkably green with a wealth of parks, gardens and open spaces that can be enjoyed for free. London has many large green areas including Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park and Hyde Park; Manchester has the huge family-friendly Heaton Park; Belfast has Victoria Park with its playing fields and lake; while Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens sit in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Wherever you are in the UK you are not far from gloriously green open spaces.
  4. Coast – British beaches are amongst the finest in the world, with thousands of miles of coast and endless opportunities for walking, swimming, wildlife spotting, surfing and many other sports. From the rugged beauty Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, the sandy bays of the Gower Peninsula, the gentle sand dunes on North Norfolk’s seaboard, the seaside holiday charm of Blackpool and Brighton to the cliffs and crags of Scotland’s west coast, the choices are infinite for free days out.
  5. Cycle Routes – The UK has an enormous National Cycle Network with 10,000 miles of traffic-free routes that can be used for free whether for leisure cycling, commuting or touring. There are also a huge number of cycling routes in sites managed by the National Trust, English Heritage, Forestry Commission and National Parks where you can enjoy cycling in diverse and beautiful surroundings.
  6. The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth – The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes visitors to its main headquarters and intake centre at Slade House Farm in Devon. The farm has pretty rolling hills and fields that are home to the donkeys taken in and cared for, and the animals appreciate the fuss and attention they receive from visitors.
  7. Hiking – The length and breadth of the UK is crisscrossed with some of the world’s finest hiking trails, with routes suitable for all ages and abilities. From gentle paths for afternoon strolls to hard and steep upland trekking, you can find simply superb walking opportunities across the country, and all available for free.
  8. Constable Country – John Constable was one of Britain’s most important painters and lends his name to the landscape that he made his subject in Constable Country on the Essex and Suffolk border. By walking, cycling and touring around the area you can find some of the places he painted, still remarkably pretty and well preserved, The region has a number of individually charming villages including East Bergholt, Capel St. Mary, Stratford St. Mary, Bentley, Dedham, Langham, Lawford and Flatford.
  9. Beachy Head – Just to the town of Eastbourne in East Sussex, Beachy Head is a breathtaking chalk headland with stunning views of the South Coast and English Channel. At 162 metres (530 feet) above sea level, Beachy Head is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, dropping dramatically to the sea where a lighthouse sits. To the west the cliffs continue with the Seven Sisters, an undulating series of hills offering some really good walking and scenery.
  10. Dolphin spotting in Dorset – The UK offers a huge variety of wildlife that can be enjoyed for free. Amongst the most intriguing are the dolphins that can be spotted off the coast of Devon. Durlston Marine Project is a community-based marine nature reserve that extends 25 kilometres on the Purlbeck coast between St Aldelm’s Head and South Haven, with plenty of chances to see pods of dolphins along with much other bird and animal life. The project organises walks, talks, displays, leaflets and voluntary events
  11. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim – Located on the coast near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim, the Giant’s Causeway is an amazing area with roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns rising out of the sea, the result of volcanic eruptions far in the distant past. The name of the site derives from the legend of a giant Irish warrior who built the causeway to cross the sea and fight his enemy in Scotland. Today the Giant’s Causeway is owned by the National Trust, is widely recognised as one of the UK’s greatest natural wonders, has World Heritage Site status and is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
  12. Hawkshead and Claife, near Hawkshead – Hawkshead is a picturesque Lake District village and was home to Beatrix Potter. There is stunning countryside around the village including the shores of Lake Windermere, a 15th Century courthouse, the ruins of Furness Abbey and the grounds of Wry Castle, which can all be explored for free.
  13. Mudchute Park and Farm, London – Mudchute Park and Farm offers a slice of country life in the heart of East London. Mudchute is the capital’s largest city farm with 32 acres of land in the shadow of Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs, a variety of furry and feathered animals, community projects and events.
  14. The New Forest – The New Forest National Park is huge tract of forest, heathland and pastureland in Hampshire. There are a massive number of free things to do in the forest including walking and cycling routes, wildlife spotting and many rivers and villages to explore.
  15. Knole Deer Park, Sevenoaks – Knole House is a sprawling Tudor mansion in Kent. To enter the house itself you need to pay an admission fee, but the extensive parkland that surrounds the property is free of charge to enter. The 1,000-acre estate is quite a rarity, one of only a few deer parks in the English countryside to have survived for 500 years. The leafy medieval landscape features hawthorn, oak, yew, hornbeam, silver birch, bird maple and ash trees and a 600-strong herd of fallow deer roaming free.
  16. Land’s End, Cornwall – Land’s End is the most southwesterly point on mainland Britain and a place of outstanding natural beauty. The South West Coast Path winds its way around the cliff tops, providing some astonishing views of the coast, lighthouses and sheltered coves and, on a clear day, the Isles of Scilly out in the Atlantic. After a bracing walk on the cliffs you can warm-up in the free-to-enter visitor centre.
  17. Runnymede, Berkshire – Runnymede is a beautiful water meadow on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire, both naturally and historically important. In 1215, Runnymede was the site of King John sealing the Magna Carta. Set in the landscape are various memorials by Maufe, Jellicoe and Lutyens commemorating key moments in world history.
  18. Scottish Wild Camping – In most parts of England and Wales camping outside of official campsites is discouraged or even illegal, but in Scotland you are free to pitch a tent on all open access land. Providing you do it safely and respectfully, wild camping is an excellent way to explore the Scottish landscape.
  19. Sherwood Forest Country Park, Nottinghamshire – Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve is home to some of Europe’s oldest trees, many of which are over 500 years old. The aptly named Major Oak is still producing acorns at an astonishing age of 800-years. There park features a Visitor Information Office, various walking trails and a herd of Longhorn Cattle.
  20. Wiltshire’s Prehistoric Landscape – The town of Marlborough in Wiltshire is at the centre a cluster of ancient sites including a massive stone circle at Avesbury, the mysterious prehistoric earthworks mound of Silbury Hill and the burial chambers at West Kennet. Each of these sites offers a truly fascinating and free glimpse into Britain’s prehistoric past.
  21. The Woodland Trust’s woods and forests – The Woodland Trust cares for and provides access to more than 1,100 woods across the UK, including important ancient woodland and sites of scientific interest. The Trust aims to create and maintain a country rich in native woods and trees with free access to all.
  22. The White Cliffs of Dover – The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the most iconic sights in the UK, the dramatic white chalk and rolling grassy hills providing a striking symbol of Britain. There are spectacular cliff-top walks that take in views of the English Channel, the distant French coast and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The area also offers the chance to discover the military history of Dover and the region’s unique wildlife.
  23. Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, Bedfordshire – The Tree Cathedral at Whipsnade in Bedfordshire was established at the end of the first world war to motivate a spirit of ‘faith, hope and reconciliation’. The garden encompasses nine-and-a-half acres of grassy avenues with various species of trees planted in the shape of a cathedral, the trees marking out the walls of a nave, chancel, transepts, chapels and cloisters. Visitors are free to stroll through the cathedral with well-behaved dogs under close control.
  24. The Winter Garden, Sheffield – The Winter Garden is a large temperate glasshouse in the centre of Sheffield – at 70 metres long and 22 metres high it is one of the biggest glasshouses in the UK. The Garden features a diverse range of species with over 2,500 plants.

Places of Historical Interest

Durham Cathedral

  1. Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields – Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum are situated at a strategic position at the mouth of the River Tyne. The excavated remains of the Roman structure along with reconstructions of the fort’s buildings offer a taste of how life at this outpost of Roman Britain.
  2. Baconsthorpe Castle, Norfolk – The evocative ruins of Baconsthorpe Castle are a testament to the rise, wealth and decline of an important family in Norfolk. The castle was originally built as a manor house with fortifications and a moat in the 15th Century. The family developed the property over the centuries, including adding a textile factory, and then their fortunes changed, the castle fell into ruin and was finally abandoned in 1920. Visitors can enter for free to wander through the remains and surrounding estate.
  3. Bosworth Battlefield Country Park – The Battle of Bosworth took place in 1485 and was one of the most pivotal moments in British history as Henry Tudor defeated and killed King Richard III, starting the Tudor dynastic rule. Today, visitors can access Bosworth Battlefield Country Park for free and walk the 1.75-mile Battlefield Trail and explore the site.
  4. Bury St. Edmunds Abbey -Bury St. Edmunds takes its name from Edmund, the last Saxon king of East Anglia, who was killed by marauding Danes in 869. A Benedictine monastery was established in the town to hold his remains, which up until its dissolution in 1539 was the richest and most important religious house in England. Today, the abbey’s ruins lie in a pretty flower-filled park, accessed for free through a 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, and adjacent to the remaining cathedral.
  5. Canals and Waterways – The UK has over 2,200 miles of canals and rivers, all of which can be accessed for free and enjoyed for walking, cycling and boating. The canals were central to Britain’s industrial revolution, but fell into disrepair in the 20th Century. A massive program of renovation has created a superb network of waterways that are now mainly used for leisure and canal boat living.
  6. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick – There are 50 ancient stone circles in Cumbria including the monumental Castlerigg Stone Circle at Keswick. The circle contains 38 stones in a 30-metre diameter arrangement and was probably built around 5,000 years ago. The backdrop is equally impressive as the mysterious stones, with expansive views across to Skiddaw, Blencathra and Lonscale Fell.
  7. Cerne Abbas Giant, Dorset – Carved into a hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, the National Trust describe this attraction as ‘a naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant.’ It is unclear whether the giant was created in the distant past of Celtic Britain or in the 17th Century, when there was the first known reference to the site – either way it is a striking representation of British identity.
  8. Chester Castle: Agricola Tower and Castle Walls – The Agricola Tower is the original gateway to Chester Castle, a 12th Century structure containing a chapel with recently rediscovered wall paintings. The tower features a staircase that leads to the castle’s wall walk, all of which can be accessed for free.
  9. Chester Roman Amphitheatre – Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre is thought to have been the largest amphitheatre in Roman Britain, providing seating for an audience of 8,000 to 10,000 spectators for entertainment and military training. The Roman military settlement at the site was called Deva Victrix, which eventually evolved into modern-day Chester, and many traces of the original Roman city can be visited for free.
  10. Churches and Churchyards – The UK has an enormous amount of churches and churchyards, with at least one in most hamlets, villages, towns and cities in the land. Many of these have a fascinating history and architecture which can be visited and explored completely free of charge.
  11. Durham Cathedral – Durham Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Europe, set on an island on the banks of the River Wear. The 12th Century cathedral is often cited as Britain favourite building and houses.
  12. Eyam the Plague Village and the Riley Graves, Derbyshire – The village of Eyam in the Peak District gained the name of ‘The Plague Village’ after losing almost half of its population to the plague in the late 17th Century. The disease probably arrived from London in a bundle of cloth brought by the village tailor in 1665. The villagers, guided by the church rector, quarantined themselves to prevent the plague spreading to others. Today, there are a number of plague sites around the village that can visited for free including the Riley Graves, the smallest National Trust site in the UK.
  13. Guided city walking tours – Many towns and cities around the UK offer free guided walks to visit historic and interesting sites. Local tourist information offices also provide guides and maps so you can organise your own tours.
  14. Hadrian’s Wall – Hadrian’s Wall was a Roman fortification built to defend the empire from the Scots, the largest of its kind at the time, and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the North of England. An 84-mile hiking trail follows the route of the wall, starting at Tyneside, travelling upland to the Whin Sill escarpment and then gradually descending to the fertile pastures of Cumbria and the Solway Estuary.
  15. Houghton House, Bedfordshire – Houghton House is a ruined 17th Century mansion with spectacular views of the local countryside. The house was constructed around 1615 for Mary Sidney Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke. Over the centuries the house passed to different families and eventually fell into decay by the 19th Century. Visitors can explore the remaining shell and grounds for free during daylight hours.
  16. Houses of Parliament – UK residents can visit the Houses of Parliament, tour the buildings and watch debates for free. To arrange a visit you can contact your local MP or a member of the House of Lords.
  17. Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses – Located on the border of Staffordshire and Worcestershire, Kinver Edge is a sandstone ridge created when the area was a desert 200 million years ago. The area features the remains of an Iron Age hill fort and caves and rock houses that were the homes of Britain’s last cave dwellers up until the 1950s.
  18. Laycock Village, Wiltshire – Laycock is an enchanting village in rural Wiltshire, seemingly untouched by the modern world. The village was established in the 13th Century and today is a picturesque place with limewashed half-timbered and stone houses. The village is almost entirely owned by the National Trust and has recently starred in several TV and film productions due to its timeless appearance.
  19. Letocetum Roman Baths and Museum, near Lichfield – This open-air site reveals the remains of a Roman staging post and settlement. The ruins include a Roman inn and a bathhouse.
  20. Loughwood Meeting House, Dalwood – This intriguing building is a 17th Century Baptist meeting house, constructed from stone with a thatched roof. The structure is partly dug into a hillside with views of the beautiful East Devon countryside.
  21. Maiden Castle, Dorset – Maiden Castle is one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe, a huge multiple-rampart structure that was once home to several hundred people. Today visitors can access the site for free and follow paths to explore the 4000-year-old earthworks.
  22. Morwellham Quay, Tavistock – Morwellham Quay is a stunning World Heritage Site with a historic port, Victorian copper mine, railway, heavy horses and museums, all set amongst beautiful cliffs, and farmland bordering the River Tamar in Devon.
  23. The Old House, Hereford – The Old House is an extraordinarily well-preserved 17th Century timber-frame building in the centre of Hereford. Since being built in 1621, the house has been home to many different people starting out as a butcher’s home, changing to other types of businesses and finishing its commercial role in the 1920s as a branch of Lloyds Bank. Today the Old House is a museum that offers a glimpse into life in Jacobean times with English oak furniture, wall paintings, replica clothing and a range of free family activities.
  24. Prior’s Hall Barn, Essex – Prior’s Hall Barn in Essex is one of East Anglia’s finest preserved medieval barns with an aisled interior and huge roof constructed from 400 oak trees.
  25. Ravenglass Roman Bath House, Cumbria – Dating back to 130 AD, the bathhouse of the Roman fort at Ravenglass is one of the highest standing Roman structures surviving in the North of Britain.
  26. Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire – The Uffington Horse is a huge stylised horse carved out of a hillside in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. The ancient design is thought to be about 3,000 years old, and the surrounding landscape has many other fascinating places to visit for free including Dragon Hill, Uffington Castle and the mysterious Pillow Mound.

Entertainment, Festivals and Arts Events

Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

  1. Allendale Tar Barrel Parade – The village of Allendale in Northumbria marks the New Year with a unique pagan celebration including a team of 50 men in traditional dress carrying flaming whiskey barrels through the streets to the central square where a ceremonial bonfire is burnt.
  2. ArtsFest Birmingham – ArtsFest is an annual festival every September in Birmingham. It’s one of the UK’s largest free urban festivals with a wide-ranging programme covering cutting-edge performances, workshops, exhibitions, installations, talks and screenings, across the performing, visual and digital arts.
  3. The Big Draw – Every October museums, galleries and heritage sites, local libraries, schools and community centres across the UK take part in The Big Draw, an open invitation to everyone to get involved and discover how much fun and community connection can be generated through drawing.
  4. Burning The Clocks, Brighton – Brighton’s Burning the Clocks festival is organised as an antidote to the consumer excesses of Christmas with a large lantern parade and burning on the beach, a family fire show and fireworks.
  5. Chinese New Year – Every spring, towns and cities across the UK celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year, reflecting the long relationship and cultural exchange between the two nations. Some of the biggest free parades and celebrations take place in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chatham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton.
  6. Christmas Eve Carols at Kings College Chapel Cambridge – The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College Chapel is one of the most famous Christmas carol service in the world. As well as being broadcast live on BBC radio, the service is free to attend. It’s extremely popular so you need to arrive early to get a seat.
  7. Concerts and Performances – Many places across the UK offer free concerts and performances, particularly short lunchtime recitals, including events at London Southbank Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, University of Manchester, Leeds International Concert Season and at hundreds of other local venues.
  8. Devizes Christmas Festival, Wiltshire – The town of Devizes in Wiltshire celebrates the start of the festive season with a lantern parade, carols and marching bands at the end of November.
  9. Evensong at Canterbury and Other Cathedrals – Although most of the most famous cathedrals in the UK charge an admission fee, you are often able to attend evensong and other worship services free of charge.
  10. Fashion Shows – Many retail outlets such as department stores, clothing shops and shopping malls offer free fashion shows to reveal the season’s latest outfits. Some places to check for free fashion shows include Selfridges in London and Birmingham, Harrods, Bicester Village and Bluewater in Kent.
  11. Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival – The Free Festival features a variety of admission-free shows across many venues at the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Many of the shows are stand up comedy and sketch comedy, but the festival also encompasses theatre, cabaret, music, storytelling and children’s shows.
  12. Guy Fawkes Night – Guy Fawkes Night marks the gunpowder plot of 1605 with bonfires and firework displays in all parts of the UK, many of which can be attended for free. Some of the biggest events take place in York, which was Fawkes’ birthplace and at Lewes in East Sussex, which hosts a raucous street parade with burning barrels.
  13. Halloween in Derry -The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival in Derry is one of the UK’s biggest Halloween parties with a massive programme of family events, a carnival parade and firework display.
  14. Markets – Although Britain’s outdoor and covered markets are obviously designed for shopping they can equably be enjoyed for free with the simple pleasure of browsing and people watching. Almost every town in the UK has a weekly market of some sort, with some of the biggest and best to found at Birmingham Bullring, Portobello Road and Borough markets in London, Kirkgate Market in Leeds, York’s traditional fruit and vegetable market and the covered market in Oxford.
  15. Mathew Street Music Festival – Liverpool’s Mathew Street Music Festival is the biggest annual free music festival in Europe. The event attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world for two days of music and fun with five stages in the city centre.
  16. New Years’ Eve in London – New Years’ Eve celebrations take place all over the UK. Probably the biggest event happens in the centre of London where every year thousands of people teem on the banks of the Thames to experience the countdown to midnight and an enormous 10-minute firework display.
  17. Notting Hill Carnival – Every August Bank Holiday, Notting Hill in London hosts Europe’s biggest carnival, which is attended by approximately 1 million people each year. The weekend involves a steel band competition on Saturday, Kid’s Day on Sunday and the main parade on Bank Holiday Monday. Revellers can experience 20 miles of costumes and floats, over 40 stationary sound systems and hundreds of Caribbean food stalls.
  18. London’s South Bank – Stretching all the way along the south bank of the Thames between Westminster Bridge and London Bridge there is a huge variety of arts and entertainment venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth hall and Purcell Rooms, Hayward Gallery, National Film Theatre, OXO Tower, Bankside Galley, Tate Modern and much more. Throughout the year these venues offer free events and the walkway above the River Thames is bursting with live events and street performers.
  19. Liverpool Biennial – Liverpool Biennial takes place in the autumn of each even-numbered year and is one of the UK’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts events. The festival is spread across numerous venues and includes the International Exhibition, the John Moores Painting Prize, the Bloomberg New Contemporaries Exhibition and the Independents Biennial.
  20. Rottingdean Smugglers Night, Sussex – Rottingdean Smugglers Night celebrates Rottingdean’s historical past with a special evening event bringing together local bonfire celebrations, services of remembrance and Christmas festivities. The village’s high street is the setting of a smugglers parade and a carol service takes place on the historic village green.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

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