12 of the best: Britain’s free events

Friday 09 February 2018

If you're looking for afforable holidays in Britain, we've got a few ideas for you! There are many events taking place all year round which are completely FREE to attend. We've rounded up 12 of the best - one for every month of the year.



Shetland, Scotland: Up Helly AA

Up Helly Aa New Years Celebration in Lerwick, Shetland

Up Helly AA takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, on the last Tuesday in January every year, and is a spectacle-packed celebration of the island's history. The tradition began in the 1880s and has been an annual occurrence in the Shetland calendar ever since. Watch marches and visitations in the day before the torch-lit procession lights the streets of Lerwick in the evening. See amazing costumes, join in with the party atmosphere and admire the Jarl Squad as they march through the town.

When: 31 January 2017

Where: Lerwick is on the Shetland Islands, located north of Scotland's mainland. Flights to Lerwick from London take three hours, or fly from Edinburgh in 75 minutes.   




East England: e-luminate Cambridge Festival, Cambridge

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival, England

Over the course of six evenings, e-luminate Cambridge Festival transforms the rich and diverse urban landscape of the city with ephemeral light art installations. The modern arts festival aims to help visitors discover and re-discover Cambridge, with installations, talks, family activities and concerts.

When: 10 - 15 February 2017

Where: Cambridge is in the east of England, and is a 60-minute train journey from London, or a 90-minute journey by car.





North-west England: Kendal Festival of Food

Kendal Festival of Food is a two-day celebration of all things food and drink. It takes place in the pretty market town of Kendal every March. 2016 saw a packed line up of tasty events alongside England's North Country Market.

When: March 2017

Where: Kendal is located in Cumbria in the north-west of England, and is a three-hour journey from London by train or a two-hour journey from Leeds by car.




Southeast England: St George's Day Celebrations in Trafalgar Square, London

St George's Day in Trafalgar Square, London

Celebrate England's patron saint in London's iconic Trafalgar Square this St George's Day. With details soon to be announced the event is much anticipated, with previous year's seeing the square decorated in red and white and lined with traditional English stalls, as well as free themed activities and entertainment for the whole family.

When: April 2017

Where: Taking place in London's Trafalgar Square, the St George's Day celebrations are easily reached via London Underground with the closest station being Charing Cross, which is a three-minute walk from the square.




Southwest England: Bath International Music Festival, Bath

2017 will see the 69th Bath International Music Festival, which will present a rich and varied line-up of music from classical to contemporary jazz, world and folk. The festival hosts a mix of concerts as well as a wide range of free events.

When: May 2017, dates to be confirmed.

Where: Bath is located in the south-west of England. It is a 90-minute journey from London by train, and a short 12-minute journey to Bristol by train.





Southwest England: Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and Avebury

Experience the summer solstice at Stonehenge, a historic stone circle in Britain


Celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, at the ancient World Heritage site of Stonehenge; the giant imposing stone circle. The prehistoric site has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of summer solstice since time immemorial.

When:  June 2017

Where: Stonehenge can be found in Wiltshire in the south of England, and is 90-minute journey by train from London. 




North-east England: Sunderland International Air Show, Sunderland

Sunderland Air Show is one of the largest free air shows in Britain, and includes flying displays from the RAF Red Arrows, fairground rides and military exhibitions. Held along the city's coastline at Roker and Seaburn, you can explore the beach while enjoying the entertainment from above.

When: July 2017

Where: Sunderland is on the north-east coast of England, It is a four-hour train journey from London, and a 30-minute journey from Newcastle upon Tyne by car or train.




South-west England: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

The spectacular Bristol International Balloon Fiesta sees more than 150 hot air balloons take to the skies at dusk and dawn from Ashton Court Estate's beautiful grounds; making it Europe's largest hot air balloon event. The free four-day event is an incredible spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Visitors can also enjoy helicopter and balloon rides and family entertainment, including acoustic music and fairground rides.

When: August 2017

Where: Bristol is in the south-west of England, and is a one hour and 45-minute train journey from London and a 90-minute journey from Oxford by train or car.





Across England: Heritage Open Days

Every September some 40,000 volunteers across England organise 5,000 events to celebrate its history, architecture and culture. With everything from windmills to walled gardens on offer, there's something for everyone to enjoy. See hidden places or try out new experiences - all for free!

When: September 2017 - date to be confirmed

Where: Across England.





Northern Ireland: Ghosts in the Glens Storytelling Festival

Based in Cushendall, this storytelling festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Glens of Antrim. Join local storytellers and musicians, as well as featured guests from the rest of Northern Ireland, while being inspired by the natural beauty, heritage and history of the area.

When: 28 - 30 October 2017

Where: Cushendall is located on the north-east coast of Northern Ireland. It is a 60-minute car journey from Belfast, which is a 75-minute flight from London.




Southern Scotland: St Andrew's Day Celebrations, Edinburgh

Help commemorate Scotland's patron saint, St Andrew, in Edinburgh this November. The garden in St Andrew's Square will host a programme of kids' activities and live music throughout the day in the Speiegeltent and on the main stage. There will also be activities on the ice rink. Keep a look out for the free ticket giveaway from Historic Scotland (www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk), where tickets for attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, are given out.

When: 30 November

Where: The celebrations take place in St Andrew's Square in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is in west Scotland, and is a 75-minute journey by plane from London.




East Midlands, central England: Winter Wonderland Christmas market, Nottingham

Located in Nottingham's Old Market Square, the Winter Wonderland Christmas market has Victorian-style market cabins offering an array of Christmas gifts, seasonal food and drink, crafts, and festive trinkets. You can also enjoy a drink at the winter bar while watching the live music from the traditional bandstand, or try the new Ice Bar for 2016 where guests can expect ice glasses and ice furniture!

When: December, dates to be confirmed.

Where: Nottingham is located just north of England's Midlands region, and is an hour and 40-minute journey from London by train, and an hour's journey by car from Birmingham.



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