Looking for something to do...
...but don't want to splash the cash? It may seem too good to be true: fun events that don't cost a penny to get in.
Whether it's a free event organised around a seasonal holiday, free local county shows or free festivals there's sure to be something going on near you.
Want even more free things to do?
Check out our Free Days Out page with all the best free days out across the UK, all year round.
What time of year is best for free events?
Free events are often seasonal, and with every major event, season or bank holiday a free event is always sure to appear.
Whether you call it tradition, nostalgia or capitalism, the Western calendar is propped up by a selection of seasonal holidays. Christmas, Easter, St Patricks Day, Valentine's, Bonfire Night, Halloween... the list goes on. And each year that these roll around, so do a whole host of free events.
Free events at Christmas
Undoubtedly the most expensive time of year, free events around Christmas time are a necessity. Check out all these ways to get into the festive spirit for free.
The largest (and most well-known) Winter Wonderland finds it home at Hyde Park, London. It's one of the biggest events of its type in the world and features stalls, markets, rollercoaster rides, an ice rink and various bars. Entrance is free, although certain attractions do charge for tickets. If you've ever been before you'll know just how busy it can get, so it's best to avoid weekends if you can.
There are lots of other Winter Wonderlands dotted all over the country, including spots in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bath. There's no better place to visit to start feeling a bit more festive - with the help of a mulled wine of course!
Carol services at churches
Get ready for a sing-song and pay a visit to your local church for free carol services. These are a great way to get into the festive spirit and to meet other local residents.
Most churches will run several services throughout December, normally with at least one family-friendly service. Introduce your little ones to the true meaning of Christmas and get singing.
Christmas light switch-ons
The Official™ start of Christmas = the lights switch-on.
Everything looks just that little bit nicer when the Christmas lights are on. Even the most boring of British high streets look like they fell straight out of a scene from The Holiday and it's socially acceptable to drink (mulled) wine in the street.
Most towns and cities have their own light switching on ceremony, normally headlined by a celebrity of sorts. It was rumoured last year that Lindsay Lohan would be turning on the Kettering Christmas lights...
Entrance for these events are normally free of charge, with several stalls selling merchandise, food and drinks. They can get pretty busy, so make sure to keep a watchful eye on children!
Free events in Summer
When the summertime rolls around, so do the majority of the free events in the UK. May to September is a very popular time for free festivals and events, celebrating not just music but art, culture, food and drink.
Each year the selection of free events is different, but these are ones that have taken our fancy over the years.
Godiva Festival, Coventry
On the last weekend in August get yourself down to Godiva Festival, the UK's largest free festival. Each year Godiva pull together a star-studded lineup to celebrate, with 2018 having the likes of Jake Bugg, Professor Green and Gabrielle.
Freedom Festival, Hull
Celebrate the very best of culture at Freedom Festival. There's something for everyone, including comedy, music, art, street theatre, spoken word, dance and much more.
Herne Bay Festival, Kent
For the month of August, Herne Bay Festival hosts a wide range of family-friendly events perfect for filling the school holidays. There's balloon modelling, open-air cinema, magic and lots more acts sure to keep the kids entertained.
Notting Hill Carnival, London
On Bank Holiday weekend in August, the streets of West London come alive with Europe's biggest street festival. Floats, colourful costumes, music, dance, food, drink - Notting Hill Carnival has it all. Children's Day Parade is normally on the Sunday; make sure you arrive early to get a good spot.
Free events at Easter
Not only do you have to cough up for the Easter Bunny's visit, but the Easter Holidays also mean entertaining your children for two whole weeks. Luckily there are lots of great free events to keep the kids busy.
Pets At Home run free events during school holidays to educate children about pets and the responsibility of owning them. At Easter time, these events tend to be themed and are a great way to spend an afternoon. Check out what free events are on near you...
Get free tickets to screenings of TV shows
Another great free way to spend a day is by scoring tickets to the live screening of your favourite TV shows.
TV shows with audiences don't normally charge entry for tickets, rather, they're given out as part of a free ballot. Chat shows, comedy panels, quiz shows all need live audience reactions and it's really easy to sign up for tickets.
- The Graham Norton Show
- The Voice
- Loose Women
- Mock the Week
These are just a few of the shows that you can score tickets for. Register your interest on the SRO Audiences website and if you're successful you'll be contacted with details on claiming your free tickets.
Popular shows like The Graham Norton Show are extremely difficult to get tickets for, but priority booking makes it a lot easier. SRO Audiences offer a scheme where if you go and see and new TV show (one that people are less likely to opt to see off their own accord), then you'll get priority booking for the more sought-after tickets.
Get free entry to top music festivals
It might surprise you, but volunteering at major UK festivals can often get you completely free entry, including top festivals like Latitude, Camp Bestival and even Glastonbury.
Whether you missed out on tickets (or just don't fancy forking over hundreds of pounds), there are lots of volunteering opportunities available at top UK festivals this summer.
If you've ever been to a music festival (or can picture what thousands of people in a field plus copious amounts of alcohol looks like), it will come as no surprise that the aftermath of festivals has A LOT of rubbish. Despite bin points located at spots all over festival sites, the scene on a Monday morning generally looks like something out of the apocalypse.
Volunteers are needed to help clear up the festival site and many offer free tickets in return.
Oxfam Festivals is a great resource for connecting you with volunteering opportunities at lots of different UK festivals. They're one of the most well-known types of volunteers and cover festivals including Glastonbury, Boardmasters, Shambala and Download. Sign up for their mailing list to stay up to date.
You can also register your interest directly at these top festivals now:
- Glastonbury - scroll down the page to check out the volunteering opportunities available for this year's festival
- Camp Bestival - keep an eye on this page for how to volunteer at Camp Bestival this year
- Latitude - there are lots of volunteering slots still available for this year's Latitude, follow the link to find out more
- Parklife - for a few hours of work you could get a free weekend ticket to Parklife. Apply now following the link
- Boomtown - check out the perks of volunteering at Boomtown and apply now
- Downtown - volunteer at the UK's biggest rock festival! Get started by applying through this link
- Reading & Leeds - start your application today to volunteer at either of these festivals
Alternatively, you can also register at Festaff - sign up and they act as the middle man, putting you in contact with the UK's biggest festivals.
Check out free local events
Free events are great for the community as they create a real sense of togetherness. Many are organised by local councils, so make the most of them!
The best place to keep an eye out for free local events is in your local newspaper or their online website - there's normally a 'What's On' section.
This is especially true for seasonal holidays. Most councils will organise a free firework display around Bonfire Night and a Christmas light switch-on in November. May Day is also a popular time for free local events.
Attend gigs for free
One great way for up-and-coming artists to gain experience (and fans) is by putting on free gigs. There are often free gigs happening all over the country and the website AllGigs has a dedicated section for events with no admission charge.
Top tip: as it says on the website, if a gig is happening in a restaurant it's advisable to ring up beforehand to check if the event is only free for diners.
How to get free theatre tickets
A night at the theatre is always a great night out, but it certainly doesn't come cheap.
But did you know you can score cheap (even free) tickets as a seat filler?
Performers don't want to look out and see an empty audience, so companies offer heavily discounted tickets to help fill seats. Check out CentralTickets and get access to seat filling opportunities in London. Seats can be a bit a bit random and you're unlikely to be able to get more than 2 per transaction, but it's a great way to see some free live theatre.
One hour before each Jerwood Theatre Downstairs performance (at the Royal Court no less!) a very limited number of 10p standing tickets go on sale. These have a restricted view (and are standing, as the name suggests) but for 10p who's complaining?!