From the Royal Ballet to retro cars, farmers' markets to fairies, there's so much to do over the next month, all of it free
Whether you want to get out and about or stay at home, there are lots of free events you can attend in July.
Here, we've put together some of our top picks – from online shows and discussions to in-person car shows and family fun days. It promises to be a fun-filled few weeks...
1. Watch a Royal Ballet performance
Lyssa, until 4 July
Credit: Royal Ballet
Available to stream for another few days, choreographer Lynn Page's first work for the Royal Ballet is a captivating production that celebrates “the collective energy of forces for positive change in the modern world”. Featuring 17 female Royal Ballet dancers and music performed by the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Lyssa is an experience not to be missed.
2. Spend time 'on the beach'
It's Where We Go, until 1 October
Credit: Ian Howorth
Whether it's riding donkeys, building sandcastles or playing in rock pools, we all have wonderful memories of spending time on the beach. In this recorded audio-visual presentation, 25 voices recall their own memories of the seaside over a montage of pictures by photographer Ian Howorth. You'll also get the opportunity to add comments and anecdotes.
3. Take in a musical
Spend, Spend, Spend, 1 July
What would you do if you suddenly came into a lot of money? Based on the book by Viv Nicholson and Stephen Smith, and performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting, Spend, Spend, Spend is a rags-to-riches musical about a 1960s housewife whose life changes when she wins the Football Pools. Available to stream for one day only, it's bound to lift your spirits for an hour or two.
4. Revisit some classic records
Tim's Twitter Listening Party, 1, 3, 5, 17 & 21 July
If you like music and social media, then you'll love Tim Burgess's Twitter Listening Parties. Each session, the Charlatans singer (pictured) plays through a classic album and comments on it in real-time via his Twitter feed, with attendees welcome to join in with the conversation. This month's albums include Audioweb's Fireworks City (1 July), Laura Mvula's Pink Noise (3) and Mercury Rev's Snowflake Midnight (17).
5. Engage in a historical debate
We Love History Live, 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 July
When it comes to history, there's never a shortage of things to talk about. In these weekly live-streamed Q&A sessions, Historic Environment Scotland will be inviting participants to ask questions on a range of fascinating topics, from castles to climate change. Fun and educational, you're bound to come out feeling enlightened.
6. Take a trip to Wonderland
Alice's Day, 3 July
Every year on the first Saturday of July, literature lovers gather at the Story Museum in Oxford to celebrate Lewis Carroll's most famous character. This year's event – which marks the 150th anniversary of Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – will be taking place outdoors, with activities including giant puppets and theatrical performances.
7. Gear up for some vintage car action
Rotary Cars in the Park, 3 & 4 July
Credit: Draco 2008 / Wikimedia Commons
There are quite a few motoring events happening in-person this summer, including this massive two-day charity event in Beacon Park, Lichfield. As well as the hundreds of vehicles on display, there will be a programme of activities in the main arena, plus stands selling refreshments and other assorted paraphernalia. While entry to the event is free, there is a £5 charge for parking.
8. Eat some locally sourced treats
Dumfries Farmers' Market, 4 July
Nothing satiates those hunger pangs like walking around a farmers' market sampling some of the locally produced goodies. Now in its tenth year, Dumfries Farmers' Market showcases such delights as Solway Smokehouse fish, Cream O'Galloway ice cream, and beer from the Sulwath Brewery. Better put that diet off for another week!
9. Grab a bargain
Stonham Barns Car Boot Sale, 4, 11, 18 & 25 July
Credit: Stonham Barns
Like most things, car boot sales were put on hold during the height of the UK's Covid epidemic. But many of them are up and running again now, including the huge weekly event at Stonham Barns in Suffolk. Held every Sunday from 8am, it provides a great opportunity to pick up a bargain or two – and it's completely free to enter (charges apply for sellers).
10. Listen to some poignant ditties
David Latto: The Fife Song Project, 6 July
Earlier this year, singer-songwriter David Latto completed a four-week artist residency with community organisation OnFife, during which he wrote four new songs based on the experiences of four elderly people in the local area. In the 30-minute film The Fife Song Project – being streamed tonight – he's seen performing those songs in town's iconic Kirkcaldy Galleries. Heartwarming stuff.
11. Sing along to some show tunes
LCM BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Showcase 2021, 8 & 9 July
Credit: London College of Music
If you love musicals, then you won't want to miss this toe-tapping extravaganza, streaming for two days only on YouTube. As part of the University of West London's annual Artsfest, students from the London College of Music will be performing an all-singing, all-dancing revue, comprising tunes from some of the world's best-loved shows. It's sure to put a smile on your face.
12. Be dazzled by dance
Elevate, 8–10 July
Students' end-of-year pieces are always exciting to watch, as months of hard work and inspiration come to fruition in front of your very eyes. This in-person showcase at Uxbridge College's Hayes Community Campus will see dance graduates performing works devised by guest choreographers Nathan Mafwa and Aimee Finnerty, as well as some that they've conceived themselves.
13. Get up close with birds
RSPB at Lauriston Castle
If you love birds, then you're sure to have a good time at this family fun day at Edinburgh's stunning Lauriston Castle. Over the course of the day, you'll get to hear about some of the feathered species that inhabit the local area, and take part in a related art activity. If the weather's good, why not bring a picnic and make the most of the castle's lovely grounds?
14. Take a drive down memory lane
Derby Retro & Classic Car Show, 11 July
Cars, vans, motorcycles, trikes... if it's got wheels, you're likely to find it at this free annual show, held in Derby's picturesque Markeaton Park. Alongside vehicles of all shapes and sizes, there will be live entertainment, stalls and other activities, making it a great day out for the whole family. While entry to the event is free, car parking charges apply.
15. Swot up on your sketching
Pret a Portrait!, 11 July
Always wanted to draw accurate pictures of your friends and family? Sketch Appeal's friendly online workshop will teach you how. During the session, you'll learn a number of easy ways to capture their facial characteristics, and you'll even be invited to have a go at drawing with your eyes closed! Pencils at the ready – it's sure to be a lot of fun.
16. Discover the world of EVs
Fully Charged: Electric Cars with Robert Llewellyn, 13 July
Thinking of switching to an electric vehicle? This online talk – exclusively for Boundless members – will tell you everything you need to know. Robert Llewellyn, presenter of YouTube channel Fully Charged, will examine the past, present and future of EVs, explore some of the myths surrounding battery-powered cars and bikes, and look at how we can carve out more eco-friendly ways of travelling.
17. Don't miss this bear necessity!
Hertford Castle Teddy Bears' Picnic, 18 July
If you go down to Hertford Castle today, you're in for a big surprise! The annual Teddy Bears' Picnic is a delight for the whole family, comprising a bear hunt inside the castle itself, a programme of activities inside the main arena, bouncy castles, water-based activities on the River Lea and much more. It might just be the perfect tonic after the year we've all had.
18. Hear about life on the other side
The Governor: My Life Inside Britain's Most Notorious Prisons, 20 July
Violence, drugs, killers, riots... It's all in a day's work for prison worker Vanessa Frake-Harris – aka The Governor. In this fascinating online talk – exclusively for Boundless members – she'll be recounting some of the humorous and hard-hitting tales from her new book of the same name. If you think life behind bars sounds easy, wait to hear what Vanessa has to say...
19. Meet some makers
Scottish Craft Art Exhibition, 23-29 July
Some of Scotland's most talented crafters will have their work showcased at this inspirational week-long exhibition. Among the items on display will be pieces by Edinburgh-based furniture experts Hidden Bothy Designs, printed silk scarves by Alice Fulton Pozzi, plus Kristina Taylor and Madeline Osborn's hand-woven creations.
20. Listen to some live music
Escape Fest, 24 July
If you've been missing live music, then head down to the Escape Bar in London's Shepherd's Bush for this free day-long festival in aid of the mental-health charity Mind. Featuring a programme of acoustic acts in the afternoon, and then some of the best up-and-coming bands throughout the evening, it promises to be a barnstorming event.
21. Go clubbing at home
Northern Pride Online 2.1, 24 July
Newcastle-upon-Tyne's vibrant LGBTQ+ festival is moving online this year due to the pandemic, but it still promises to be a fun-packed event. Hosted by comedian Miss Rory and How to Look Good Naked star Gok Wan, the programme features performances by some of the biggest names in clubland, including London-based DJ Jodie Harsh. Get ready to dance around your living room!
22. Learn about a fascinating area of history
Counterfeiting the Loss of Virginity in Early Modern England, 28 July
In this fascinating online talk, Dr Stephanie Allen will explore the subject of counterfeit maidenheads – i.e. women who claimed to still have their virginity intact when, in fact, it wasn't. As part of the talk, Dr Allen will focus on some of the methods that authors imagined these women to use, including animal blood, leeches and various different herbal concoctions.
23. Find out if fairies really exist
The Light Burns Blue, 28 & 29 July
In 1917, teenager Elsie Wright fooled the world by claiming that she'd photographed real-life fairies in her garden. This play by Silvia Semerciyan is based around that story, focusing on an ambitious reporter who seeks to uncover Elsie's 'fraud'. Performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting and recorded live for these online streams, it's an enchanting and intriguing tale.
24. Spend the evening with Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 29 & 30 July
Credit: Guildford School of Acting
It's pretty much the middle of summer, so what better time to enjoy one of Shakespeare's most popular plays. Performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting, this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream is inspired by Japanese anime comics. Recorded live and available to stream for two days, it'll keep you going until theatres open again properly.
25. Put some colour into your life
National Bhangra Festival, 31 July
Originating in Punjab, India, bhangra is one of the world's most colourful and exuberant dance forms – and this online spectacular will celebrate the tradition in its many guises. Log on from 5pm to enjoy a programme that includes a live concert, workshops, fitness sessions and an exhibition. While it's free to view, you are encouraged to donate to one of the festival's charities.
Photos: Getty Images, unless otherwise stated