25 free things to do in the UK in July 2016

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Musicians in Edinburgh Festival Mardi Gras carnival

Something for everyone in our monthly bumper guide

1. Party on a Saturday in Edinburgh...

Mardi Gras. Saturday 16 July, From 1pm. The Grassmarket, Edinburgh

A taste of New Orleans in the historic heart of Edinburgh, with four free stages of music all afternoon and plenty of food and sideshows besides. Part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.



2. ... or party on a Sunday in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Festival Carnival. 17 July. From 2.30pm. The Grassmarket, Edinburgh

If you like free outdoor entertainments, this really is the weekend to be in Edinburgh. After the Mardi Gras comes the Carnival, with over 700 performers, including musicians, acrobats, puppeteers and more, starting off the Edinburgh Festival with a bang.


3. Conduct experiments in the Arndale Centre 

Arndale Centre, Manchester. 23 – 24 July

The Museum of Science and Industry's monthly interactive science sessions for everyone over the age of eight moves to the city centre for the first time for an event themed round 'tiny Science'. Researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow will lead hands-on, interactive experiments alongside expert engineers and scientists. You get the chance to clean ‘dirty water’ using nanoholes and make your own nanojelly out of nanonets, no less.  


4. Play table tennis

Ping! festival. Throughout July

It’s that time again – look for the nearest pop up ping pong table near you and grab a bat and ball.


5. Soak up beach vibes… in London

Throughout July

Can’t make it to Rio this Summer? Cabana Brasilian Barbecue brings Rio to the UK, transforming part of the South Bank into the iconic Copacabana beach with 85 tons of sand. Expect cocktails, coconuts, spicy chicken, beach games and more…


6. Eat and Drink in Wales

Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival 8 – 10 July, Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff

Wales’s biggest free food festival in the centre of Cardiff welcomes street food vendors, craft stalls and live music for residents and visitors all over the weekend.


7. Bristol Harbour Festival

15 – 17 July

Three days of song, dance, circus, good food and promised nautical capers. A wide variety of events included language-learning for toddlers, a celebration of Bristol boy/Hollywood icon Cary Grant, a chance to have a go at swing-dancing or being in a flash mob choir, messy play for children... there's plenty.  Entry to everything is free apart from the launch concert on Friday night, headlined by Echo and the Bunnymen and Nick Heyward – and even that's only a very sensible £20 a ticket.  bristolharbourfestival.co.uk

8. Get the kids running

Through July Towns around the country will be hosting Free Children’s Running Races, for kids of all ages, including the Ware Festival of Running and Portslade Kids Run Free sessions.


9. Get your skates on

Skate Off 2016. Booth Lane Skate Park, Middlewich, Cheshire. 9 July.

Enter a Skate Off competition. Skateboarding, BMX and Scooter enthusiasts are invited to take part, with free entry for viewers and participants, plus prizes.


10. Hold a tennis party...

Your house. Until 10 July

Watch Wimbledon for free on BBC: with all the first-class tennis, champagne, strawberries and cream you could want – and no queueing. Make it a tennis fancy dress theme and offer prizes for anyone who doesn't come as classic-era McEnroe.

11. ...or watch Wimbledon on the big screen

Venues across London. 27 June –10 July

Andy Murray celebrates winning a point at Wimbledon with a clenched fistThere are deckchairs and a range of food and drink options on offer to help you enjoy yourself as you cheer on Andy Murray and Johanna Konte’s attempts to land the men’s and women’s singles title.


12. Drink with a giant inflatable cow

Udderbelly returns to the Southbank and while you have to buy tickets for the cabaret, music and comedy inside, entry to the Udderbelly Pasture with its bars and food stalls is free if you fancy soaking up the atmosphere.


13. Immerse yourself in Art

Galleries, museums, unused buildings and outdoor spaces across Liverpool

Liverpool Biennial is a free festival of newly commissioned contemporary art from 44 artists from around the world, all free for visitors to the city and suitable for families as well as individuals.


14. Visit a Farmer’s Market

Nationwide, weekends

Browse and buy fresh, local produce, or try new local foodstuff from the stalls. Producers, from fisherman to farmers, and growers to bakers usually have a regular outlet near you in most parts of the country. Farma.org.uk, which is searchable by postcode, lists farmers markets across the country.

15. Give it a Go!

Sport & physical activity festival. 17 July. Parliament Hill Fields, London NW5 1QR

Free sports, music, arts and other activities: something for all the family with the theme of getting everyone moving more.


16. Drive Caerphilly

The Big Cheese Festival. Caerphilly CF83. July 29 – 31

Caerphilly comes to life for The Big Cheese Festival, an extravaganza of street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry, fire eating, minstrels, troubadours and more.


17. Bathe your ears

St Michael’s Church Without, Bath, BA1. 10 July, 4pm

Visiting American Choir from Salem, Oregon will perform an uplifting concert including a wide variety of styles of American choral music through history including Shaker, Gospel and contemporary.


18. Get on your soapbox

Soapbox Science, Bristol. 16 July 12 – 3pm

Soapbox Science, a public outreach platform for promoting women scientists will transform Bristol’s Broadmead Shopping Centre into an arena for public learning and scientific debate for the afternoon. 

19. Check out some classic cars

Classic Vehicle Meet. Market Place, Hinckley. 21 July, 5 – 8.30pm

Your chance to peruse classic vehicles – or bring along your own… in the centre of Hinckley, with no cost involved.


20. Take a trip back in time

Heaton Hall, Heaton Park, Manchester M25 2SW

The Friends of Heaton Hall are offering a rare opportunity to peek inside one of Manchester's finest Grade I listed buildings in the surroundings of Heaton Park, giving the history of the home to its current restoration.


21. Frolic on the Broads

The Herbert Woods Summer Fete. 10 July, 10 – 5

Paddle Boarding, canoe and dingy sailing races, raft racing and a rubber duck race are all on the agenda alongside river trips on board Herbert Woods’ cruiser Spark of Light and music from Stalham Brass Band. There will also be a hog-roast.


22. Southampton Mela Festival

16 July. Hoglands Park, Southampton

Free family music and culture festival with an assortment of musical styles from South Asia and around the world including Indian Classical, Bollywood, Folk, World Music, Asian Fusion, Flamenco and Bhangra. Dance acts and family activities to celebrate South Asian and world culture, in Southampton’s central park.


23. Watch fireworks light up the sky

Wednesday 20 July. Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Activities and live music at the bandstand from 6pm onwards. Event is subject to change and is weather dependent


24. Festival of Love

London’s Southbank. 9 July – 29 August 

Music, art, dance and other live performances take place in and around the South Bank as part of the festival of Love – and half of them are free. southbankcentre.co.uk

25. British Summer Time festival

Hyde Park, London. 4 – 7 July

Barclaycard’s British Summer Time events includes lots of free stuff in Hyde Park, including open-air movie nights, tennis screenings, street food stalls, DJs, live music, free badminton and ping pong and more.


Plus don't miss... 

Whitstable Oyster Festival 

21 – 31 July

Ten days of tremendously diverse events, many free, in the beautiful Kent seaside town - a food festival crossed with a music festival, with guest DJs including Terry Hall, plus lots of children's events, a beer festival, free music stages, a seafood-themed parade, a kite-making workshop, a tug-of-war on mud and fireworks on the last day.

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