25 free things to do in the UK in April 2017

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Something for everyone in our monthly bumper guide

1. Lap up the London Marathon

23 April, from 9am


Millions will line the streets and cheer on the runners during the 37th running of the annual marathon, a 26.2-mile street party and celebration of London as much as a race. Celebrity runners for 2017 are expected to include Chris Evans, EastEnders veteran Adam Woodyatt, Olympic rowing champ Helen Glover, Gogglebox's Baasit Siddiqui and a contingent from BBC Five Live including Mark Chapman, Danny Mills and commentator Jonathan Pearce.


2. Passion plays



There have been more and more community re-enactments of the Easter story in recent years. After the televised Manchester Passion of 2006 and Michael Sheen leading his hometown community of Port Talbot in a passion play staged round the town in 2011 [pictured], a new movement has grown up. London’s Trafalgar Square will again be hosting a Passion play this Easter – with a cast of 100-plus and crowds of up to 20,000. But there are dozens of others across the country too, with a full map and guide here: passion-plays.co.uk

3. London street art tours

Free Tours by Foot, Whitechapel Gallery, London. 11am

Spend a couple of hours touring the East End of London and take in some amazing street art. The walk is free but book online first. For street-art enthusiasts, this is a must-visit location – you’ll learn loads about the history of the art form, as well as the artists (you might even spot a Banksy). Free Tours by Foot run a range of tours including London Theatreland and Foodie London – all for no upfront cost: pay what you can at the end. freetoursbyfoot.com

4. To the lighthouse

The entire 870-mile Wales Coast Path is free for everyone to explore, and the magical Llanddwyn Island, off the west coast of Anglesey, allows a magical family adventure: a walk through a nature reserve to reach an old lighthouse and ruined chapel. Photo by Helen Hotson/Shutterstock.


5. Easter Adventures with the White Rabbit and Alice

Stephenson Railway Museum, North Shields NE29, 5 April, 11am – 3pm

Favourite storybook characters Alice and the White Rabbit will be making a stop off at the museum this Easter for some Easter choco-motion fun. No booking required.


6. Get some art in your life

Tate Liverpool, L3. Until September

What connects the life and works of Tracey Emin and William Blake? A new free exhibition at Tate Liverpool looks at the work of both artists and reveals unexpected links between the two in a free display of contrasting works from the Tate collection.


7. Explore ancient woodland 

Asham Wood flora and fauna walk, Downhead, Somerset ST7. 23 April, 10-1pm

Join a guided walk exploring the flora and fauna of ancient semi-natural woodland Asham Wood - a good time to appreciate woodland flowers at their finest. With Bob Corns, Natural England’s conservation officer for the Mendip Hills.


8. Watch chicks hatching

Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham, 7 April.

The farm has a wide range of animals where visitors can get involved in the day-to-day running of the farm, learn about livestock, and watch as eggs hatch. Cute.

9. Visit the Scottish Parliament

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Catalonian architect Enric Miralles’ award-winning (and controversial) building makes for an intriguing visit. Buy parliamentary shortbread in the gift shop or spot the politician in the Parliament Café. Book a free guided tour, or a ticket to attend a debate.


10. Follow a red coat

Exeter, West Front of the Cathedral. All year round


Exeter’s award-winning Red Coat Guided Tours are provided free by the City Council for visitors to one of the oldest cities of England. Run by qualified volunteer guides a variety of tours are available, each one focusing on a different aspect of Exeter's history and culture.


11. Springtime Sunshine Family Event

St John on the Wall, Bristol, BS1. 13 April, 11-3pm

Celebrate Easter with free family arts, crafts and activities in the ancient crypt at St John: make a windmill, decorate a plant pot, grow your own sunflower, project sunshine onto the ceiling, and enjoy music and dressing up.


12. See TV's biggest stars for free

Apply for free tickets for shows including Britain's Got Talent; Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway; David Walliams' new version of Blankety Blank; Jeremy Clarkson and Co's Grand Tour and many more...


13. Go back in time

V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and is home to one of the world’s best collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes. A café helps to revive flagging grown-ups.


14. An Eggcellent Easter Adventure

Gloucester Cathedral. 8-23 April.

Explore this impressive building with friends and family with a free Easter Trail. Afterwards, visit the shop and claim your Easter egg!


15. London’s new Design Museum

224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8

The Design Museum opened in its spectacular new building in Kensington in November. It’s the only museum in the UK devoted to contemporary design and architecture – and now, housed on the site of the old Commonwealth Institute, it’s three times as big as before, when it was near Tower Bridge.

Check out its very satisfying preview video here: https://designmuseum.org/new-design-museum/the-story.

For info on the museum: designmuseum.org

16. Attend a mule's 30th birthday party

Redwings Caldecott Visitor Centre, Norfolk, NR31 9EY. 16 April 11.30-3pm

The longest-serving member of Redwings Horse Sanctuary's popular adoption scheme, Muffin the mule,  will be celebrating his 30th birthday with a special party. Visitors will have the chance to hang out with Muffin, join in a quiz trail and party games, and eat cake.


17. Find a hobbit

Throughout April

Many parts of Birmingham are connected with Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, who grew up in the city. Pick up the Tolkien Trail leaflet from tourist information centres, attractions and community buildings. It includes places where he once lived, played and studied.


18. Solve an Agatha Christie mystery 

Agatha Christie was the best-selling novelist of all-time, her huge success built on her evocation of a cosy old England, full of vicars, afternoon tea and sudden death. Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and lived here until she got married, the area providing inspiration for many of her books. This free self-guided tour, available from the Tourist Information Centre, takes you round Agatha Christie’s Torquay. There are 10 places to visit along the seafront – and even a little mystery for you to solve. Photo: Torquay's inner harbour.


19.  Celebrate Shakespeare’s 453rd birthday 

Stratford-upon-Avon, 22 April, From 11.20m

There has been an annual parade through Statford-upon-Avon to celebrate the Bard's birthday since 1824 and this year is no exception. See shakespearescelebrations.com for full details. There is also full roster of free performances, activities and events around the RSC at Stratford. Go to rsc.org.uk for full information. (Shakespeare's birthday is held to be 23 April, but, yes, the celebrations start a day early!)

20. National Slate Museum

Padarn Country Park, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY, Wales

Take the opportunity to learn about the lives of Welsh slate workers and their families at the National Slate Museum, Llanberis.


21. Enjoy free choral music in St Paul's Cathedral

harriet coker St Pauls Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral. Weekdays at 5pm

Choral evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral takes place in the stalls of the quire, towards the high altar, where the music fosters a sense of utter calm, so you not only get to enjoy St Paul's, with its vast dome, an iconic feature of the London skyline and known across the world for free – but also a free choral service too.

Photograph by Harriet Coker.


22. Get crafty

Ikon gallery, Birmingham, 11-13 April

The Ikon gallery in the centre of Birmingham is holding free Easter Holiday Workshops for crafty kids to get creative with collage and design. No need to book; stay for as long as you like.


23. Celebrate apples

Torre Cider Farm, Somerset, TA23 0LA


The farm and orchard have a wide range of wildlife and variety of birds, and the owners have vowed to keep the old traditions of Somerset cider alive alongside new cider-making technology and ideas. A well-stocked farm shop sells locally produced food and crafts, and children can mingle with the farm animals while you shop.


24. Urban Festival

Southbank Centre, London SE1. 1-17 April

Celebrate art and artists inspired by the city as the South Bank is taken over by breakdancing battles, dance residencies, workshops, free family events and parties showcasing the best in street culture. southbankcentre.co.uk

25. Go potty

The Undercroft, Market Place, Norwich NR2, 8-23 April.

Wander round an exhibition of ceramic pots, sculptures and art from more than 75 Anglian potters (such as this lovely vase from Harvey Bradley), showing and selling their work.


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