Discover the best days out and events in August that are free to watch and join, as you celebrate the best of the British summer
Find great ideas for free entertainment this month, around the UK: carnivals on land and sea, balloons and aircraft in the skies, and indoor activities too.
1. See a film outdoors
Nationwide, until the end of August
It needn’t cost you an arm and a leg to take your family to the cinema this summer, with outdoor screenings across the country. In London alone you can go along to Leicester Square Summer Screenings, Wembley Park Summer on Screen and Southbank Centre Summer Film Night Screenings, while there's Cinema by the Sea at Barry Island in South Wales, We The Curious Big Screen in Bristol and film screenings at Dreamland in Margate. Most of the films are understandably family friendly with a few blockbusters to boot.
2. Urban beaches
Nationwide, until the end of August
Save yourself getting stuck in traffic on a trip to and from the seaside by taking advantage of one of the urban beaches popping up in cities across the UK. Bringing the beach to you with truckloads of sand, rides, pools, bars and a carefree vibe, you can work on your tan and have a game of bat and ball at Riverside Museum Summer Beach in Glasgow, Nottingham Beach – City by the Sea, Cardiff Bay Beach, Touchwood’s Costa Del Solihull near Birmingham, Newcastle Quayside Seaside and a Pirate Ship and Beach at Bolton Abbey in Skipton.
3. Summer holiday at museums
Nationwide, until the end of August
We’re not expecting it to be dry every day this summer holidays, which makes your local museum a lifeline for a day of exploration. What’s more many are running special programmes and events geared towards young, inquisitive minds. These include Bristol’s Old Vic, the British Museum, St Fagan’s in Cardiff and Liverpool Museum. Our advice is to see what’s happening at a museum or centre near you.
Find more ways to get out and about this summer
London and the South East
4. Worthing Carnival
Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 25/26 August
Worthing Carnival is one of the oldest in the UK (it first took place in 1921) and this year it's based around a toy theme. Expect performances, markets, a big top, an inflatable assault course and, from 12.30pm on Monday, a carnival procession through the town.
5. Eastbourne Airshow
Eastbourne seafront, 15 – 18 August
It doesn’t matter which day you turn up to Eastbourne Airshow, as the line-up for each features a great selection of aerobatics teams, helicopters, jets and historical aircraft. You can enjoy it even more as a Boundless member, as we’ll be there with a great view from our viewing balcony, with free hot drinks, phone charging and bag storage.
6. Broadstairs Folk Week
Broadstairs, Kent, 9 – 16 August
During Broadstairs Folk Week the narrow, winding streets of the Kentish seaside town come magically to life with dozens of free shows in the pubs, and dancing and street performances alongside paid-for shows. There’s a parade through the town at 5.30pm on Saturday 10 August and free and family shows every day at the bandstand, overlooking Viking Bay.
7. London Bridge City events
Between London and Tower bridges, London, until 31 August
A two-month-long selection of free events where there really does appear to be something for everyone, London Bridge City is really worth a visit. Whether it’s free fitness classes, screenings of Black Panther and Mary Poppins Returns, workshops for singing, dancing and gardening, or loads of live musicians, there’s a great event nearly every day.
8. Hastings Old Town Carnival Week
Hastings, East Sussex, 3 – 11 August
We’ve said it before that coastal towns have the best fetes and carnivals, and Hastings Carnival is no exception. Whether it’s something chilled like a walk and a theatre tour, the enjoyment of the carnival procession and fireworks, or watching pram races and eating competitions, there’s something for every mood.
Wales and the South West
9. Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, 8 – 11 August
The south west is full of hot air crews all summer, but it’s during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta that the sky truly becomes saturated. And if you’re a Boundless member you can come along to our viewing balcony for the best seat in the house, and enjoy free hot drinks, charge your phone and store your bag as well. It’s free but you can guarantee your parking space by coming in advance.
10. British Fireworks Championships
Plymouth Hoe, 14/15 August
Huge crowds are expected at the British Fireworks Championships to see the UK’s six best display teams do what they do best. Each night sees the sky lit up from 9.30pm, while there’s plenty of extra entertainment along the seafront, too, including a fun fair and live music.
11. Sidmouth Regatta
Port Royal, Sidmouth, Devon, 24/25 August
Enjoy a weekend of both sea and shore-based activities at the Sidmouth Regatta, including sailing races, a raft race, live music and spectacular fireworks. Preceding the Regatta is an air display at 5pm on the Friday.
12. Bishopdown Fun Day
Bishopdown Sports Field, Salisbury, 1 August
The local community is getting together at the Bishopdown Fun Day where there'll be plenty of entertainment for all ages. There's a disco, face painting, a climbing wall, reptiles to hold and axes to throw among the highlights.
Eastern England and the Midlands
13. Let’s Ride Leicester
Leicester centre, 25 August
Let's Ride comes to Leicester, helplng all ages and abilities, from young families to full-on wheelers, to get in the saddle. The streets will be closed as this free cycling festival offers a short loop or the full route, before the cyclists of all levels enjoy some fun and food in the festival centre. Sign up for your free place beforehand.
14. Nottingham Riverside Festival
Victoria Embankment, Nottingham, 2 – 4 August
Nottingham Riverside Festival combines live music, street performances, excellent local food plus a spectacular fireworks display. Whether you want to stay out late to enjoy the bands or enjoy the funfair and kids zone earlier in the day, there’s plenty of frivolity to be had.
15. Sheringham Carnival
Sheringham, Norfolk, 3 – 11 August
The quiet seaside town of Sheringham springs to life during Carnival Week with lots taking place every day. There are street races, torchlit processions, loads of fun for the little ones at the fair and, most importantly, the crowning of the Carnival Queen.
16. The Bewonderment Machine
Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, 17/18 August
The Bewonderment Machine is a great idea for the kids and big kids alike to see and jump on: a cycle-powered carousel full of an assortment of animals and items you can ride on. There are 45-minute sessions in the middle of both days for you to not just see but climb aboard this interactive piece of art.
17. Stockton International Riverside Festival
Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, 1 – 4 August
The Stockton International Riverside Festival promises wall-to-wall entertainment sandwiched between the animated opening and closing displays. With innovative art installations, gravity-defying performers and interesting street theatre, don’t miss one of the most vibrant annual events in the country.
18. Bolton Food and Drink Festival
Town Hall, Bolton, 23 – 26 August
One of the biggest and most popular events of its kind in the country, the Bolton Food and Drink Festival has some big names and master classes for those who want to splash out on some tickets. However, there’s still plenty to take in from the local producers, which you can indulge in while listening to some great music and live entertainment.
19. Sheffield Fayre
Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield, 26 August
The Sheffield Fayre runs from 10.30am – 5pm and there’s a lot to pack into that time. Whether you want to look at classic cars or amazing birds of prey, partake in some local food and drink, or pick up some handmade crafts or plants, it’s an ideal way to spend a Bank Holiday.
20. World Transplant Games
Newcastle Gateshead, 17 – 24 August
Not only does the World Transplant Games aim to showcase the amazing participants in their chosen disciplines, but it also rams home how vitally important registering as a donor is to saving lives. There are events taking place at many venues across Newcastle and Gateshead, while you can see how fit you are at the Sports Science Event at the Boiler House on 17 August and even take part in the Gift of Life runs the next day.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
21. Edinburgh Free Fringe
Across Edinburgh, 2 – 26 August
The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world – turning the Scottish capital into an eclectic hub of theatre, music, street performance and, of course, comedy. While most of the big names come with a price tag, there’s a whole programme of free events for you to dip your toe into. Many of the country’s biggest comedians started off doing free Edinburgh shows so you never know who you’ll discover.
22. Edinburgh International Book Festival
Edinburgh, 10 – 26 August
With over 900 authors in attendance at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival there’ll be an event to suit your literary tastes. Though most of the 800 events are paid-for there are plenty of free options, such as morning readings and drop-in workshops for the kids.
23. Oor Wullie's Big Bucket Trail
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, until 30 August
It’s your last chance to partake in Oor Wullie's Big Bucket Trail, following each city’s path of statues of the iconic Sunday Post character Wullie. It’s all being done for charity, so get exploring and snapping pics of Wullie in all his different guises.
24. Perth Medieval Fayre
Perth centre, 10 August
Perth’s Medieval Fayre isn’t just about watching reenactors dressed up in swords and armour swinging their weapons at each other; they encourage you to get involved too. You can try a bit of metal casting, loom weaving and wheel spinning, or just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells as Scotland heads back to the Middle Ages for the day.
25. Carnival of Colours
Waterloo House, Derry-Londonderry, 31 August/1 September
The In Your Space Carnival Of Colours offers two free days of performances to round out the summer. With circus acts in the day and an assortment of live music, comedy and cabaret at night, there’s something to bring a gasp of astonishment and cheer to all faces.