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25 free things to do in July

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July is all about tennis, and there are plenty of free ways to watch and play

Summer is here and the kids are breaking up from school. Whatever the weather, there are plenty of fun and free ways entertain the entire family this month

Our pick of the best days out in July include lots of summer food festivals, various ways to play and watch the tennis… And even snail racing championships!

National events

25 free things to do this month: Table Tennis Day

1. National Table Tennis Day

Nationwide, 18 July

Regardless of what you're wearing, your fitness levels or even your hand-eye coordination, table tennis is perhaps the easiest Olympic sports to get into. Plus it has a variety of physical and mental health benefits too, as National Table Tennis Day shows. Table Tennis England is again taking the game to the people with bats and balls popping up in various events around the country for you to have a go.

2. Watch Wimbledon on the Big Screen

Nationwide, 1 – 14 July

Not everyone can get tickets for Centre Court or fancies watching play from Murray Mound. If you want to get a bit of a better atmosphere than your living room, you can head to one of many big screens across London, Newcastle, Bristol and elsewhere. You can even enjoy some strawberries and cream while you’re at it.

3. Summer food festivals

Nationwide, multiple dates

Pretty much every village and town has a fete or fair over the summer to entertain the locals. Many are increasingly focusing on food and drink from local producers, with free samples and some of the best meals you’ll have all year. Some cost money to attend, but among the free highlights this month include Cardiff Bay's big celebration that borders on the gluttonous, Halesowen, Belper in Derbyshire, the Dorset Seafood Festival, Otley in West Yorkshire and many more. Keep your eyes out for the nearest to you.

4. National Whale and Dolphin Watch

Nationwide, 27 July – 4 August

Did you know that you can see 29 species of whales and dolphins in British waters? The purpose (or porpoise) of this week-long event is to encourage people near the coast to see if they can spot any of these amazing creatures during the week, in order to get a snapshot of how many are out there. If you live near the coast or are planning a trip that week see what you can do at the National Whale and Dolphin Watch schedule.


Find more great ideas for days out this summer

10 ways to get kids outdoors

The best free days out around the UK

25 great family days out under £20


London and the South East

Free things to do in London and South East England

5. Summer by the River

London Bridge City, until 1 September

Between Tower and London bridges, Summer By The River will have big screen film screenings of blockbuster films such as Aquaman, live Shakespearean performances and a host of musical talent on display. And you don't have to pay for a second of it.

6. Lambeth Country Show

Brockwell Park, Brixton, 20/21 July

Lambeth Country Show is an amazing weekend event that brings traditional country fair attractions – flower shows, giant vegetables, sheep-shearing, horse-riding, jousting displays – to London, with live music stages, kids’ activities, a funfair and more. The inner-London borough celebrates the best of city and country.

7. Bexhill Great Gatsby Fair

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, 19 – 21 July

Bexhill-on-Sea's Great Gatsby Fair turns back the clock to the Roaring Twenties, with classic cars, mass Charleston lessons, live music, marching bands, children’s entertainers, a vintage fair and much more. You don't have to dress up but, if you do fancy putting on your fancy frock, you won't be alone, with a Charleston theme on the Saturday and Peaky Blinders on the Sunday.

8. Sticks ’n’ Stones Festival

The Belvedere Lawn, Chatham, 13 July

Sticks 'n' Stones is a free festival of well-being, with storytelling, music, activities, workshops and even street football, all aimed at improving teenagers and young adults’ skills in handling their mental well-being, communication and mindfulness.

Midlands and Eastern England

Yes, there is a world snail racing championship...

9. Tewkesbury Medieval Fair

13/14 July

Different to the usual summer festival, the Tewkesbury Medieval Fair is centred around the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury and has a re-enactment as the main event, with plenty of costumed entertainers, storytelling, archery you can try for yourself, kids' activities, a parade on the Sunday and live music too. The only price is for parking, but it’s not far to walk.

10. World Snail Racing Championships

Cricket Field, Congham, Norfolk, 20 July

You can guarantee there's probably a world cup for everything, and Congham in Norfolk is home to one of the slowest of the lot with the World Snail Racing Championships. Over 200 snails compete in various races, plus there's other entertainment as part of the Congham Fete – as the competition is a bit slow going.

11. Alice in Wonderland Day

Story Museum, Oxford, 6 July

Alice in Wonderland Day is a day of storytelling, walks, talks, performance and exhibitions to commemorate the Oxford boat trip in July 1882 during which Lewis Carroll first entertained young Alice Liddell with his tales of Wonderland. Some of the activities have a cost but most are great, free fun.

12. Cambridge Big Weekend

Parker’s Piece, Cambridge, 5 – 7 July

Cambridge Big Weekend is three days of diverse free entertainments that includes face painting, a sport zone, a silent disco and a firework display on the opening night. The main event is the music stage with artists such as Kid Creole and the Coconuts, House Gospel Choir and DJs including Craig Charles.

13. Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival

Stratford-upon-Avon, 6/7 July

The Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival is a packed weekend of fun and activities on the banks of the Avon, with two music stages, children’s activities, food and drinks stalls and a firework display on the Saturday night. You can even take a look at the narrowboats brought up along the riverbank.

South-west England and Wales

25 free things to do this month: Bristol Harbour Festival

14. Bodmin Riding and Heritage Weekend

Bodmin, Cornwall, 5 – 7 July

As well as the usual festive tropes, Bodmin Riding and Heritage Weekend is a unique take on the town's history. The Sunday sees sports such as wrestling and horse racing, the Friday's feast day includes the traditional 'hanging of the Mayor', while the Saturday itself includes lots of dressing up and even hunting the mysterious Beast of Bodmin.

15. Wales Airshow

Swansea Bay, 6/7 July

Crowds of over a quarter of a million people turned out across the weekend to see last year's Wales Airshow. The 2019 show lets you see aircraft on the ground as well as in the air, as the Red Arrows top a bill that again includes a host of rare and extraordinary aircraft, hot-air balloons at night and more.

16. St Paul’s Carnival

St Paul’s, Bristol, 6 July

The sounds, sights and smells of Africa and the Caribbean are once again brought to the streets of Bristol, over 50 years after St Paul's Carnival first started. As well as food and live music the highlight remains the carnival parade, which includes over 1000 participants and many more onlookers enjoying the spectacle.

17. Bristol Harbour Festival

Bristol, 19 – 21 July

As well as some big name musical acts, the Bristol Harbour Festival includes some special ships docking in the harbour, with a competition for the best-dressed vessel. There's a huge choice of events and activities across a variety of stages that should suit everyone's tastes.

North of England

Sample some Italian treats at Festa Italiana, Manchester

18. Dippy on Tour

Great North Museum, Newcastle, until 6 October

The National History Museum's most famous resident continues on the Dippy the Dinosaur tour of Britain, joining the life-size model of a T-Rex that is housed in the museum. It's a great excuse to visit this excellent attraction that has plenty for those looking to discover more about history and science.

20. Festa Italiana

Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, 26 – 28 July

A celebration of all things Italian, Festa Italiana is inspired by traditional festivals across Italy, with food, drink, live music, cooking demonstrations from big-name chefs including Gennaro Contaldo, children’s activities and more. Bellissima!

20. Writing Through The Ages

Castleford Museum, 25 – 27 July

Aimed at teaching kids the wonder of books and stories, Writing Through the Ages lets them learn while trying to use quills and Roman wax tablets. They can even try a bit of calligraphy too!

21. Manchester International Festival

Across Manchester, 4 – 21 July

Given the Manchester International Festival only takes place every two years, there's always plenty of excitement when the variety of exhibitions and performances arrive in Manchester. There are plenty of free events included, such as Yoko Ono calling for peace, art exhibition Parliament Of Ghosts and performances based on the city's famous Peterloo Massacre. There's sure to be something that piques your interest.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

See the story of the heroes and villains of Westeros in a project based on the Bayuex Tapestry at Ulster Museum

22. All-Ireland Pipe Band Championship

Ballymena Academy Playing Fields, Co Antrim, 6 July

With 70 pipe bands and 45 drum masters from across the world competing for the prize, there's sure to be some great music on show, at the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championship. A final march involving all the musicians before the prize-giving promises to be a highlight.

23. Edinburgh Jazz Festival Carnival

Princes Street/Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 13/14 July

Over 800 performers bring music, dance, circus, acrobats and puppetry from all over the world to the streets of Edinburgh to mark the start of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. There are also free events as part of the festival that runs until 21 July.

24. Glasgow Summer Festivals

Alexander Park and Platform Glasgow, Glasgow, 20 and 28 July

These two big family events, the Glasgow Summer Festivals take place over consecutive weekends in Glasgow. The Alexander Park Festival Day on 20 July includes lots of stuff for the kids, marching bands and even a wrestling show. The Family Festival Day on 28 July includes musical attractions, a swimming pool party and sports you can try out.

25. Game Of Thrones Tapestry

Ulster Museum, until 28 July

The biggest series in history may be over but you can still see the places where it was filmed in Northern Ireland. To celebrate the country's involvement, this cool project based on the Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the heroes and villains of Westeros with a Game of Thrones Tapestry. Not only is it an incredible undertaking, but fans will appreciate looking back at their favourite storylines. Well worth a night's watch.

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