10 amazing free things to see and do in the UK

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Here in Britain we can't resist a freebie and whether you're looking for music, museums or markets, we'll prove you really can get something for nothing. So stash your cash and read on to discover 10 activities that won't cost you a penny.

1. Free Museums

The Riverside Museum is a large modern building beside the water in Glasgow.

Fancy journeying back to the time of the dinosaurs, meeting an Egyptian mummy or experiencing wartime Britain? Then seek out Britain's free museums and galleries. Try Glasgow's dynamic Riverside Museum with historic vehicles funkily displayed in a triumphant Zaha Hadid building, Tate Britain in London with its unmatchable collection of work by JMW Turner or the Merseyside Maritime Museum for a dose of British seafaring history. There are loads more all over the UK to suit every taste.

2. Historic Ceremonies

Military Guards, The Mall, Buckingham Palace, London, England

For a good old bit of pomp and pageantry book ahead to see the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London or take yourself down to Buckingham Palace to see Changing the Guard every day. If you want a glimpse of the Queen, line the Mall to see Trooping the Colour (in June) or attend the State Opening of Parliament.

3Parks and gardens

Pink Rhododendrons in the Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park, London

The UK's stuffed with enticing green spaces with lush grass, perfumed flowers and acres of room to wander in. In London, Greenwich Park has terrific views across the river to Canary Wharf, Regent's Park boasts fragrant rose gardens and Richmond Park guards ancient trees and roaming deer. Or head to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh for a huge range of native and exotic plants, mature trees and outdoor sculptures.

4Free concerts

Elevated view of The Wales Millennium centre, an arts centre on Cardiff Bay, Wales

Want to see a gig or concert for free? Then get down to the Wales Millennium Centre for free lunchtime and early evening concerts or the Southbank Centre in London for regular gigs covering everything form jazz to classical, dance and rock. You'll also find that pubs and clubs up and down the country often have free gigs for all to enjoy - so keep your eyes and ears open and check local listings. In Scotland you can't beat an impromptu folk session in a pub, with whisky flowing to get you in the mood.

5. Street theatre

Street performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland

Head to Edinburgh in August as the Festival kick-starts a manic programme of entertainment that often spills onto the Scottish capital's streets. Larger shows in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are also often free and you might just catch the next big thing. In London you can enjoy street entertainment year-round at Covent Garden or on the South Bank near the London Eye.

6Shopping and markets

Cheese monger at Borough Market, London

Even without cash to splash, there's a special pleasure in checking out some of the most famous shops in the world. Harrods in London is a landmark in its own right and the tile-decked, caviar-stuffed foodhall has to be seen to be believed. If markets are more your thing, seek out Borough Market in London selling alluring food of every description and offering free samples or Columbia Road flower market that transforms London's East End with a riot of colourful blooms. In Scotland, the Barras market in Glasgow is the place to sample Glaswegian banter at its best.

7Public art

Three people posing near the Angel of the North, a giant steel sculpture near Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England.

Art needn't be confined to galleries and all over Britain there are inspiring, large-scale sculptures for all to see. Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North near Newcastle has become an iconic figure with his stirring Another Place at Crosby Beach not far behind. Andy Goldsworthy's Striding Arches, a series of stone sculptures in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, are an impressive sight. To find out more about public art in the UK visit Public Art Online.

8. Carnivals, festivals and parades

Hay Festival, Wales

Britain has a packed calendar of free events throughout the year celebrating everything from food to flowers. Cardiff Big Weekend hosts the biggest names from pop, the Notting Hill Carnival in London is a weekend of non-stop partying Caribbean style and Bonfire Night in November sees firework displays up and down the country.

9Prehistoric monuments

The Westbury or Bratton White Horse is a hill figure on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire.

In Britain you can't go far without bumping into something really ancient. The Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire is thought to be more than 4,000 years old, and wandering freely among the stones is a magical experience. The Cerne Abbas giant, a huge, naked figure etched in chalk on a hillside near Dorchester is also shrouded in mystery and the Westbury White Horse is equally awesome in scale. For more details on Britain's free ancient monuments visit the National Trust.

10. Take a walk

Cleveland Way at sunset, paved walking path through heather along the cliffs of the coastline on the North York Moors, North Yorkshire, England.

There's no better or cheaper way to explore Britain's beautiful countryside than on foot. No fewer than 15 National Trails pass through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in England and Wales and offer clearly marked long-distance walking routes. Check out the equivalent long distance routes in Scotland, too.


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