From light shows to literary events, traditional music to truffle making, we round up the best free events to attend across the UK in February
It may be cold, but there are plenty of fabulous free events to warm your spirits over the next few weeks.
To save you scouring the internet for things to see and do in February, we’ve listed a whole heap of great events that you can attend, either in person or online – and every single one of them is free. Whether you like masterclasses or motoring meets, holidays or history, you’re sure to find something to float your boat here…
1. Witness some unusual Scottish art
Jayne Stokes: Recollection, selected dates until 4 March – Edinburgh
Not your typical landscape painter, Jayne Stokes employs all sorts of interesting objects within her work, from old tins and matchboxes to ceramic fragments. In this free exhibition at Edinburgh’s Open Eye Gallery, you can experience a selection of her paintings, which explore our relationship with the environment, and in particular some of Scotland’s more remote locations.
2. Uncover some TV secrets
His Dark Materials: World Building in Wales, until 23 April – Swansea
Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy of novels will love this exhibition at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea, which goes behind the scenes of the BBC’s recent screen adaptation. Take a closer look at the costumes, props and visual effects that were used in the TV series, and get the inside story on how Pullman’s books were brought to life in such spectacular fashion.
3. Find your dream holiday
Bournemouth Holiday & Cruise Show, 1 February – Bournemouth
What better way to cheer yourself up during these cold winter days than by daydreaming about a warm, sunny break – and you’ll find plenty on offer at the Bournemouth Holiday & Cruise Show, which takes places at the town’s airport. Be warned, though: while it’s free to browse the various stalls and deals, there’s every chance you could end up splashing out on a gorgeous getaway. All bookings made at the event will receive a discount. Plus, fantastic offers including free airport car parking, or taxi transfers to help make your holidays run as seamlessly as possible. There will also be a free prize draw, with many more exciting prizes up for grabs!
4. Go on a wicked walking tour
Explore the mysterious world of witches in London on this two hour walking tour. Discover stories of strange practices, anecdotes, and the unjust treatment of people thought to be witches. Learn about the folklore and history of witches of all types that have been walking the isles of Britain for centuries and immerse yourself in a largely forgotten, fascinating side of London's past. Taking place in Tower Hill, this unique walking tour is ideal for lovers of history and folklore alike.
5. Get some expert advice
Drone Photography, 2 February – Shropshire
Drones have revolutionised aerial photography, enabling us to capture breathtaking images and footage without ever having to leave terra firma. But how exactly is it done, and what are the best drones for the job? Find out by attending this expert talk, hosted by Boundless’s Shropshire Group at the Haughton Hall in Shifnal. Before you know it, you’ll be flying and filming like a pro.
6. Soak up some culture
Newry Arts Festival, 2-11 February – Newry, Northern Ireland
Offering breathtaking views of the Mourne Mountains, Newry in Northern Ireland is worth a visit at any time of the year. But February is a particularly good time, as the city hosts its annual arts festival. Many of the events cost money, but there are quite a few that don’t – so why not go along and enjoy a free concert, film or workshop. You might even make some new friends.
7. Attend a literary discussion
Out of Line: Jane Austen on Stage and Screen, 3 February – Oxford
If you’ve got any sense (and sensibility), you’ll head to Mansfield College in Oxford tonight for this literary event. Award-winning actor/director Samuel West and playwright Laura Wade will sit down with Oxford University professor Ros Ballaster to discuss their new stage version of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons, and the challenges of adapting the author’s beloved works.
8. Visit Italy… without leaving your sofa
Michelangelo in Rome, 3 February – online
Can’t afford to book that city break in Rome? Well, here’s a chance to ‘visit’ the Italian capital for free. World Virtual Tours invites you on a fascinating online adventure, in which you’ll get to see some of Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s most iconic works at close range. With a live Q&A also on the itinerary, it promises to be educational as well as enthralling.
9. Bask in the glow
Bristol Light Festival, 3-12 February – Bristol
You’ve heard of the Blackpool Illuminations – well, for the past few years, Bristol has hosted its very own light extravaganza. The 2023 event promises to be the most spectacular yet, with a multitude of shimmering installations set to be seen across the city – many of them world premier works. Enchanting and electrifying, this ten-day event will help you see Bristol in a whole new light.
10. Celebrate all things Chinese
Southampton Chinese Lantern Festival, 4 February – Southampton
The Chinese Lantern Festival in Southampton marks the official closing of the 2023 Chinese New Year Celebrations Year of the Rabbit. Held in the city’s Guildhall Square and at the nearby UK Shaolin Centre, the Chinese Lantern Festival will showcase the vibrant culture of the Far East. Providing a variety of activities, workshops, food and drink and spectacular demonstrations (including traditional lion and dragon dances), a happy new year is guaranteed!
11. Explore Belfast on foot
Wonderful Wander, 4 February – Belfast
Looking to get fit in time for spring? Well, why not learn some history – and make some new friends – at the same time. Part of Belfast’s annual 4 Corners Festival, the Wonderful Wander will see locals and tourists embarking on a 2.5-hour walk across the Northern Irish capital, during which they’ll share poetry and stories to shed fascinating new light on this amazing city.
12. Get rhymin’
Speak the Word: Online Poetry Writing Workshop, 4 & 18 February – online
On the first and third Saturday of each month, poetry group Speak the Word hosts an online writing workshop to help people express themselves using verse. Friendly and supportive, the sessions are hosted by an experienced wordsmith, who uses artwork and prompts to provide inspiration. There’s no obligation to share your efforts, so feel free to just scribble away at your own pace.
13. Make something special to enjoy together
Valentine’s Truffle Making with Chef Jethro Carr, 8 February – online
Why not try something different this Valentine’s day with a romantic chocolate truffle making masterclass. This online masterclass is led by Brighton Community Kitchen chef Jethro Carr and is exclusive for Boundless members. As well as talking you through the process, Jethro will be happy to answer your questions – helping you to create a gift they’ll never forget.
14. Keep your kids entertained
Imagine Children’s Festival, 8-18 February – London
If you’re looking to get your kids away from their games consoles this half-term, why not head to London’s Southbank Centre for the Imagine Children’s Festival. The programme includes over 100 shows, featuring everything from music to dance, comedy to storytelling. And with half of the events free of charge, you can stimulate their senses without having to spend a fortune.
15. Join a medical masterclass
Imperial Lates: Drug Experiments, 9 February – London
Science buffs might want to set their sat nav for Imperial College London today, as the famous institution is hosting what it describes as “an evening of discovery”. Take a trip through the science of marvellous medicines, notorious narcotics, and everyday cravings at our latest evening of discovery. With music and cocktails also on the agenda, it should be a fun night.
16. Discover some London history
The Huguenots in Soho, 14 February – London
Not feeling very romantic this Valentine’s Day? Then how about something more intellectually stimulating. Hosted by Boundless’s North East London Group at Bishops’ College in Cheshunt, this talk will focus on the French Protestant immigrants who settled in the capital in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sumptuous silks, furniture and silverware will all be shown as part of the presentation.
17. Try your hand at calligraphy
In this exclusive online masterclass, artist and art historian Sai Banerjee will guide you through the fascinating world of brush-pen calligraphy. Sai is an expert in various styles of calligraphy and she’ll take you through the basics of hand lettering, and demonstrate how even complete beginners can produce beautiful work. Learn the art of brush-pen calligraphy with Sai and discover the calming and relaxing process of creating beautiful works of art from the comfort of your own home.
18. Eye some majestic motors
British Sports and Performance Cars, 15 February – London
Whether you prefer Aston Martins or Austin Healeys, Triumphs or TVRs, you’re sure to find something to drive you wild at British Sports and Performance Cars. Held at the legendary Ace Café in Stonebridge, north-west London, this friendly motoring meet will give you the chance to marvel at these racy rides while listening to a soundtrack of classic rock ’n’ roll tunes. What’s not to like!
19. Create a cut-out masterpiece
If you're in the Brighton area, come join the fantastic Collage Club at the Hope & Ruin pub! They meet each month, and all materials are supplied free of charge. No experience necessary – just come and create or decorate whatever you like, you can drop in anytime between 6–9pm. Not only that, but free drinks and prize giveaways will be available, making this a great way to spend an evening.
20. Hail a Scottish legend
Timothy Pont: Scotland’s first map maker, 16 February – Edinburgh
As the man who put Scotland on the map (quite literally), Timothy Pont is a celebrated figure north of the border. This talk by history expert Chris Fleet – held at the National Library of Scotland but also viewable online – will explore the legendary cartographer’s works, which were the first to comprehensively map the country and its settlements.
21. Revisit some famous artworks
Hitler Asleep in the Back of the Mercedes, 16 February – London
The most unusually titled event we’re featuring this month, Hitler Asleep in the Back of the Mercedes is a talk focusing on an infamous photo of the Nazi leader, which was later manipulated in a 1979 series of artworks by Troy Brauntuch. Held at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, it promises to be a fascinating exploration into the use of context in pictures.
22. Watch some top models in action
Free London Fashion Week Runway Show, 18 February – London
It’s not always easy to get tickets for the main events at London Fashion Week, but you can experience the glamour of the catwalk at this free runway show, which takes place in Piccadilly Circus. Featuring designers and models from across the globe, as well as vendors selling some of the garments on display, it promises to be a truly fab-u-lous evening.
23. Broaden your horizons
Hidden Britain at its Best, 21 February – online
Bored of going to same old places for your days out? In this online talk – an exclusive for Boundless members – travel writer Luke Waterson will reveal some of his favourite lesser-known destinations across the UK, many of which are within a stone’s throw of the commonly visited attractions. By the time he’s finished, you’ll have a whole new set of ideas to add to your 2023 itinerary.
24. Get some gardening tips
Home Composting Talk, 22 February – York
Why let the refuse collectors take away your kitchen waste when you can use it for composting? In this talk, hosted by Boundless’s York Group at the Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel, green-fingered guru John Cossham will demonstrate how to produce great-quality compost for your plants, ensuring that your gardening is as cost-effective and eco-friendly as possible.
25. Go gigging and jigging
Belfast TradFest, 24-26 February – Belfast
Twice a year (in winter and summer), fans of traditional music flock to Belfast for the lively TradFest, a three-day event that sees venues across the city hosting concerts, jamming sessions, workshops and more. While some of the events cost money, there are many that don’t – so why not go along for the craic. Feel free to bring your instrument if you have one!
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