An entertaining day out can be expensive, so give your budget a break with the best of the UK’s free festivals.
1. Coventry MotoFest
Coventry’s city centre and ring road will be used for racing by rally cars, supercars and classics during the MotoFest weekend, along with live music and entertainment. The Boundless Balcony will also be visiting the event, where from 9am to 6pm members can enjoy free hot drinks, mobile phone charging and storage for bags and coats while you enjoy the action.
Find more great ideas for the best historical days out; plus the best free days out around the UK, and the best days out for football fans.
2. Youth Beatz
Dumfries is home to the Youth Beatz festival, billed as Scotland’s biggest free youth music festival; for 2019 the headliners are Professor Green and Louisa, plus a DJ set from Sigma. There’s also a Kids’ Zone and inflatables, and interactive exhibits from Glasgow Science Centre.
3. West End Live
Trafalgar Square hosts West End Live, with outdoor performances from the stars of some of the West End’s biggest shows (in 2018 they included The Lion King, Kinky Boots, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Wicked). It’s free to attend but hugely popular so expect crowds.
4. Coventry Godiva Festival
5 – 7 July
Taking place in Coventry’s War Memorial Park, the three days of the Godiva Festival celebrate the best talent from Warwickshire and across the UK. Enjoy live music and entertainment for the whole family, food and drink, and a fun fair for kids.
5. Lambeth Country Show
For the 45th year the Lambeth Country Show returns to Brockwell Park in Brixton, with live music on both days; Saturday features funk, soul and disco, while Sunday is Roots Day with ska, reggae and dub. There’ll also be competitions for flowers and vegetables, animals on display, craft stalls and food. The show runs from noon to 8pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
6. Belfast Pride Festival
26 July – 4 August
Belfast’s Pride Festival runs from 26 July to 4 August, with free events including talks and open mic nights, art sessions and picnics and walks for all ages including families. And Saturday 3 August will host the parade, from Custom House Square around the city centre and culminating at Donegall Quay.
7. Monmouth Music Festival
27 July – 4 August
Covering a huge range of genres, the Monmouth Music Festival is completely free and you can enjoy performances from classical orchestras, pop and rock bands, tribute acts, jazz artists and buskers. There’s also a family fun day on Sunday 29 July.
8. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Ashton Court Estate, 8-11 August
Europe’s largest annual gathering of hot-air balloons will see the skies above Bristol transformed, with flights at dawn and dusk as well as night-glows, where balloons light up the night sky in time to music. A full supporting programme of events on the ground includes a funfair, stalls and live entertainment. As a Boundless member you can also visit the Boundless Balcony, where you can enjoy free hot drinks, mobile phone charging and storage for bags and coats, along with a great view of the balloons.
9. Feel Good Festival, Rochdale
A one-day music festival fills the streets of the Lancashire town, with 11 hours of music on the main stage outside the town hall, with a strong line-up led by The Coral and The Hoosiers, plus more acts to be announced. There’s a food and drink village and a Family Zone, among plenty of shows and activities.
10. Eastbourne Airbourne Airshow
15 – 18 August
Eastbourne's seafront hosts the Airbourne Airshow, with breathtaking aerial displays from the best teams. There's also family entertainment on the ground, and the Boundless Balcony will also be visiting the show; as a Boundless member you can take advantage of free hot drinks, mobile phone charging and storage for bags and coats while you enjoy the event.
11. Ipswich Maritime Festival
17/18 August, Saturday 10am – 10pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm
A two-day celebration of all things nautical, with a flotilla of vintage vessels, historical re-enactments and pirate-themed fun – alongside live music, street performers, a funfair and, naturally, plenty of food and drink stalls.
12. Faversham Hop Festival
31 August/1 September
Traditional celebration of the hop harvest in the beautiful medieval heart of the Kent market town. There are 60 live bands playing across five stages over the course of the weekend, plus plenty of Morris dancing, a parade through the town, tours of Shepherd Neame brewery – Britain’s oldest brewer – and a street market with loads of local food and drink on offer. There’s camping – but it’s only an hour from London, making it an enticing day trip too.
13. Out There Festival
Great Yarmouth, 14/15 September
The streets and parks of the Norfolk seaside town are filled with 100 hours of entertainment over the weekend, with performers coming from Spain, Colombia, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and more (as well as the UK). This year’s details are still to be revealed, but in 2018 the events included a special celebration of the 250th anniversary of the invention of the circus, with French street arts company Generik Vapeur producing a show involving 250 local people.
14. Saltaire Festival
The ten-day festival in the village on the outskirts of Bradford concludes on 15-16 September with a weekend of free live music: the main stage is in Roberts Park (the bandstand will also host music), and there’s also a full programme at the Caroline Street Social Club and other pop-up venues. The full festival programme includes many more free (and some paid-for) events, all in an intriguing venue: Saltaire itself is a designated UNESCO heritage site, having been built as a ‘model village’ by Victorian mill-owner and philanthropist Titus Salt.
15. Worcester Music Festival
Over 250 bands play across Worcester in 20 venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, record shops, historic buildings and breweries – and on the streets too. There’s a huge diversity of music on offer across the weekend – and a range of free music workshops, too, from taster sessions on different instruments to Q&A events with music industry insiders.
16. Bermondsey Street Festival
London SE1, 14 September
One-day festival, a stone’s throw from both Tower and London Bridges, described by organisers as a village fete in the city: there’s two music stages, street entertainers, kids activities and a dog show – as well as plenty of food stalls and drink from Bermondsey’s own Beer Mile of micro-breweries.
17. Culture Night, Belfast
Massive annual one-day festival that sees over 300 events in 150 venues, with live performance, exhibitions and interactive happenings across Belfast city centre. Last year, there were over 100,000 visitors, with a record attempt for the world’s largest tap dance. Check back nearer the date for details of the 2019 programme.
18. Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Every September, 25 miles west of Cardiff along the south Wales coast, something remarkable happens: Europe’s biggest annual celebration of Elvis sees the streets and bars of Porthcawl filled with Presley fans and impersonators for three days. There’s hundreds of Elvis shows across the town over the weekend, and most of them are free.
© Andy Chapman