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Five free things to do this week

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5 free things to do this week: Portstewart Red Sails Festival at O'Hara's Castle

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As summertime arrives, find fun events and activities around the UK: last-minute ideas for this weekend, along with things to do in August

Great days out don’t need to be expensive – we’ve got ideas for things to do and what to see between Saturday 20 July and Friday 26 July, along with five free events to book into your diary for August.

1. Let's Ride Southampton

5 free things to do this week: Let's Ride cycle ride in Southampton

St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, 21 July

One of the many Let's Ride events taking place across the UK this summer, the streets of Southampton will be closed as this free cycling festival arrives to encourage you to get on your bike.

Whether you just want to do a short loop or the full 6km route, join fellow cyclists of all levels, before enjoying some fun and food in the festival centre. There are even guided rides to get to the start point, while YoBike are offering three hours' free bike hire if you don't have one. It's the best possible way to get in the saddle and give you a push in the right direction.

2. Science Industry Museum: Engineering Open House Day

5 free things to do this week: Manchester Science Museum - Engineering Open House Day

Science Industry Museum, Manchester, 26 July

There's plenty going on at the Science Industry Museum over the summer holidays, with the Engineering Open House Day kicking things off. This three-hour drop-in session takes place between 1-4pm and encourages the kids to learn about building.

Not only are there hands-on activities to get them creating and thinking, there are ambassadors from STEM there to chat as well. Before or after you're done you can take part in more summer science activities, watch demonstrations or even have some more fun with face-painting and more at the museum.

3. National Museum of Scotland: Summer Holiday Programme

Find out all about Egypt for free this week

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 22-26 July

Another museum offering plenty of free fun for the youngsters with a summer holiday programme. Following Science Saturday on 20 July there's a week of activities that focuses on Ancient Egypt and East Asia.

Whether you want to make a mask, jewellery or a fan, or join in with some games, there's plenty of history-based fun – there's also some great autism-friendly weekly workshops starting on 25 July. Once you're finished you can take the museum's Record Breakers Family Trail to discover some of the amazing artefacts on show elsewhere.

4. Portstewart Red Sails Festival

5 free things to do this week: Portstewart Red Sails Festival at O'Hara's Castle

Portstewart, Co Londonderry, 22-27 July

The Red Sails Festival actually kicks off on the Sunday with some yarn-bombing of the promenade ready for a week of events. There's a huge amount to do for everyone of all ages and tastes, whether you want to get hands-on or just sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

There's golf and baking competitions, loads of live music, workshops, while for the kids there are magic and puppet shows, a sand sculpture competition, a talent show. It all culminates in a huge fireworks display at O'Hara's Castle on the Saturday night.

5. Aberystwyth Street Food Festival

5 free things to do this week: Aberystwyth street food festival

Aberystwyth Marina, Ceredigion, 19-21 July

Running from midday to 10pm each day, the Aberystwyth Street Food Festival will have locals filling every inch of their bellies. With local traders from Wales and further afield, there's bound to be something that tickles your fancy, from Chock Shop brownies and Orgazmic Milkshakes, to Thai and Malaysian cuisine, a dedicated halloumi stand, pizza and much more.

The festival will be taking place around the Marina, so either the Aberystwyth, Buelevard Strret or Maesyravon car parks will be ideal. It's free but you can book your ticket in advance and be in with a chance to win a free meal and dessert at the event.


Also, read about the best free UK festivals in 2019

Discover 25 free things to do in July

Try one of these free days out in Somerset


Five free things to plan ahead for later this month

1. 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.

2. Monmouth Festival

26 July-2 August, Monmouth

For the 37th year, the free Monmouth Festival takes over the beautiful border town of Monmouth for a week of varied music. Everything from choirs and orchestras to solo singers and contemporary bands share the four stages over a packed week.

There's even a singalong to smash Queen biopic /Bohemian Rhapsody/ at 7pm on Thursday 1 August, and an after-party on Saturday 2 August from 7pm until late. You can see the full line up of performers at the Monmouth Festival programme.

3. Summer by the River

London Bridge City, until 1 September

The Summer By The River festival in London is located between Tower Bridge and London Bridge, with a month-long schedule of events. Free highlights include Oh Malley’s Crew Workshop on Sunday 10 August, a theatre workshop from London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season, and drop-in sessions at Hay’s Galleria on Thursday 21 August with Head Gardener Ian Mould, who will be answering plant-related questions (book a ticket to ensure your place).

4. Film ‘Sunset Screenings’

Saturdays in August, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea

A series of Sunset Screenings run throughout August at DLWP, including The Greatest Showman on Saturday 24 August, accompanied by the Mad Fish Performing Arts Choir. If that doesn’t appeal, choose from Bumblebee (the story of the VW Beetle in Transformers), and Labyrinth.

5. South Tyneside Festival

Sunday 4 August, Bents Park, South Shields

Gabrielle takes to the stage for the finale of the South Tyneside Festival’s free concerts, on the South Shields seafront. After her 1993 hit ‘Dreams’, Gabrielle has sold over five million albums in her 25-year career, culminating with her latest top ten album in 2018.

The concert runs from noon to 5pm, with support from Groovetrain and singer Jen Cherene.

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