25 fabulous free events to attend in August 2024

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Red Arrows display

We’ve rounded up the best festivals, shows and activities to help you see off the summer in style – without spending a thing

Whether you're looking for ways to keep the kids busy over the school holidays or simply fancy doing something a little different, you've come to the right place. To save you from scouring the internet for ideas, we've rounded up some of the brilliant free events happening across the UK in August, with everything from air shows and adventure trails to festivals and family fun on the list. All you need to do is turn up and have a great time!

Free nationwide events

Head out on a family adventure

Summer trails, select WWT sites, every day throughout August

Children running through forest

Credit: wwt.org.uk

Uh oh! Pelican Postie has lost their mail across seven WWT centres up and down the UK – and you’re invited to help find it! As you track down the nine missing postcards, you’ll discover the wonder of wetlands and the animals that call these vital habitats home. Simply pick up your trail map from the visitor centre and head off on an epic adventure; available at WWT Arundel, Caerlaverock, Castle Espie, Llanelli, London, Washington and Welney.

Over at WWT Slimbridge, you can test your wits with a huge interactive code-breaking adventure, while the Castle Espie centre is running another adventure trail on weekdays between 12–23 August.

The many benefits of Boundless membership include unlimited entry to all nine WWT centres throughout the UK. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Free events in London & the South East

Embrace the spirit of summer

King’s Cross Riviera, London, until 1 September

Kings Cross Riviera

Credit: John Sturrock

You don’t need to step on a plane to indulge in the laid-back spirit of the French Riviera – the team at King’s Cross are bringing it to you. When you’re not busy exploring the acres of parks and gardens or cooling off in the fountains at Granary Square, there’s heaps more to do: try your hand at pétanque, kick back to open-air film or sports on the banks of Regent’s Canal (until 18 August), or enjoy an electrifying evening of live music (15–26 August).

Oh, and there’s also the Team GB official fanzone, where you can catch all the action of the games along with live DJ sets, Olympic-themed activities and celebrate medal wins with returning athletes  (until 11 August). What more could you ask for?

Have a putt-erly good time

Minigolf by Craig & Karl, London, until 29 September

Canary Wharf minigolf

Credit: Canary Wharf Group

Amid the towering skyscrapers, Canary Wharf’s wonderfully colourful free minigolf course is back to brighten up your afternoons. So grab your friends, pick up a club and get putting! Once you’ve conquered all nine holes, why not pop around the corner to Canada Square Park and unwind with an open-air film?

Catch an open-air performance

Alfresco Arts, London, throughout August

Alfresco Arts

With the warm weather and longer days still with us, it makes sense to bring the things we like to do inside, outside. So it’s great that Canary Wharf’s Alfresco Arts series is offering Londoners a whole host of outdoor entertainment: little ones can play a hilarious game of ‘finger sports’ or sing along to West End classics, while theatre enthusiasts might enjoy a brand-new play. Over in leafy Jubilee Park, you can relax to a spot of jazz or classical music every other Wednesday lunchtime. Don’t forget your sunscreen.

Unravel the life of a beloved author and illustrator

Leslie Linder: Decoding Beatrix Potter, London, until 15 September

Beatrix Potter books

Credit: Getty Images

Fifty years ago, scholar and collector Leslie Linder donated his personal collection of Beatrix Potter’s drawings, manuscripts and works to the V&A. But he was more than an avid collector, studying Potter back when she was relatively unknown and even deciphering her secret code-written journals. In this special exhibition, you can view some of Linder’s unrivalled collection, discover how he cracked the code and uncover hidden stories about this world-famous figure.

Spin back to the ’70s

Vinyl Night, near Waltham Cross, 13 August

Needle on record

Credit: Getty Images

Sometimes all you need for a great night is good company and good tunes, and the Boundless North East London Group will be delivering both at their next club night. Taking things back to the 70s with an entire evening of vinyl, it’s a fantastic chance to have a chat with fellow members while indulging in a night of musical nostalgia.

Interested in this event but not yet a Boundless member? Boundless membership includes free entry to top attractions and exclusive events, as well as year-round savings. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Turn your eyes to the skies

Eastbourne International Airshow, Eastbourne, 15–18 August

Eastbourne Airborne

Credit: @VisitEastbourne

Summer isn’t complete without a visit to an airshow, and Eastbourne's is up there with the very best. Celebrating its 30th year, this award-winning spectacle features breathtaking displays from the Red Arrows and the RAF Typhoon team as they soar across the seafront. The entertainment continues on the ground, with lots to keep the whole family busy all day long.

Party by the Thames

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, London, 23 August – 8 September

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Credit: Prudence Upton

Said to be “one of the best free festivals in the UK”, London’s annual performing arts celebration is back this summer. The banks of the Thames will be overflowing with a vibrant showcase of outdoor theatre, dance, circus performances and more. Don’t miss Thaw, an awe-inspiring eight-hour aerial show set atop a massive melting block of ice (don’t worry, you won’t need to sit through the entire duration!).

Revel in carnival joy

Notting Hill Carnival, London, 25 & 26 August

Notting Hill Carnival

Credit: Getty Images

One of the world’s biggest street events, the legendary Notting Hill Carnival needs no introduction. Every year, this corner of London bursts to life with a massive celebration of Caribbean culture, with live bands, sound systems and dazzling costumed parades. Be sure to arrive with an appetite, as you’ll find a huge array of stalls dishing up delicious global cuisine (although you’ll have to pay for your food and drink).

Free events in the South West & Wales

Raise those jazz hands

Stompin’ On the Quomps, Dorset, 3 August

Kim Cypher Band

Credit: David Burgess

What better way to spend a summer’s day than by kicking back to some live jazz? Once a year, hundreds descend on the ‘Quomps’ – a park in Christchurch Quay, Dorset – for a day of eclectic jazz acts from across the country. And if you need to refuel after all that jumping, jiving and swinging, there’ll be food and drink stalls where you can pick up a delicious tipple or a tasty bite.

Watch the big lift-off

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Long Ashton, 9–11 August

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Credit: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

What could be more breathtaking than the sight of colourful giant orbs floating silently in the air? Mesmerising crowds since 1979, this thrilling free event paints Bristol’s skies with a rainbow of hot air balloons, with mass ascents planned at dawn and dusk each day of the fiesta. But that’s not all – with live music, funfair rides and food stalls taking over the launch site at Ashton Court, you’re sure to find the whole occasion uplifting. Away from the main festival hob, spots such as Clifton Observatory, Brandon Hill and Victoria Park offer fantastic vantage points to witness this awe-inspiring spectacle. Up, up and away! 

See the sky light up

British Fireworks Championships, Plymouth, 14 & 15 August

Firework display

Credit: Getty Images

If you're crazy about Catherine wheels and barmy about bangers, then head down to Plymouth Hoe for this annual fireworks showdown. The idea is simple: six of the UK’s top pyrotechnics companies will each put on a 10-minute display, illuminating the sky with their colourful cascade before a winner is crowned at the end of it all. 

Catch some awesome aerial displays

Bournemouth Air Festival, Bournemouth, 29–31 August

Bournemouth Air Festival

Credit: Paul Johnson

All eyes to the skies! Britain’s biggest free air festival soars back to Bournemouth Bay at the end of August, promising a spectacular treat for aviation fans and casual visitors alike. Featuring exhilarating flypasts by the RAF Typhoon team by both day and dusk, plus lots more happening on the ground, it’s sure to be a great day for the whole family.

Brie inspired!

Caerphilly Cheese Festival, Caerphilly 31 August & 1 September

Caerphilly Big Cheese

Credit: Tom Curno Photography

Love a bit of Stinking Bishop or Slack-ma-Girdle? Then head to Caerphilly this weekend for the town's annual cheese festival. With food and drink stalls, live music, craft sessions and funfair rides for the kids, it promises to be a cracker of a weekend.

Free events in the Midlands & East

Get arty

Art in the Park, Leamington Spa, 3 & 4 August

Person painting

Credit: Getty Images

The name Art in the Park does this two-day festival in Leamington Spa's Jephson Gardens somewhat of a disservice, as art is only a small part of its appeal. Alongside the local painters and craftspeople giving live demonstrations of their work and free workshops, there’ll be a whole host of live music, dance and theatre performances, as well as a smorgasbord of locally produced food and drink.

Have a merry old time

Robin Hood Festival, Nottinghamshire, 3–26 August

Robin Hood Festival

Credit: Mark Powell

The legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men is one of the most captivating in English folklore, and where better to celebrate their exploits than in their old stomping ground of Sherwood Forest? Every weekend in August, themed events will be taking place at the site for this annual festival, with everything from battle reenactments to craft demonstrations on the itinerary. The medieval mayhem wraps up on the weekend of 24–26 August with The Grand Finale – an all-action arena show of chivalrous shenanigans.

Attend a beachside bash

Aldeburgh Carnival, Suffolk, 17–19 August

Aldeburgh beach

Credit: Getty Images

Held every year along a slice of Suffolk seaside, this award-winning carnival is always a fun-filled weekend. And there’s far more to it than the vibrant procession, with live music on the beach, duck races, an illuminated kite display, a silent auction and a 10K run all on the agenda. In celebration of the carnival’s 80th birthday, this year’s event is embracing all things 1980s – so don your best neon gear and get into the carnival spirit!

Admire retro roadsters

Warwick Classic Car Show, Warwick, 18 August

Warwick Classic Car Show

Credit: Chas Randhawa

Warwick might be best known for its historic castle, but a different kind of history will be celebrated here when over 100 cars, bikes and other motors descend on the town’s Market Place for this vintage vehicle show. Have a browse and meet their proud owners – you never know, it might even inspire you to renovate a classic vehicle of your own.

Free events in the North of England

Have a knees-up by the Tees

Stockton International Riverside Festival, Stockton-on-Tees, 2-4 August

Stockton International Riverside Festival

Credit: Stockton International Riverside Festival

A cacophony of colour and sound awaits at the Stockton International Riverside Festival, held every August in County Durham. Over an electrifying three days, world-class performers showcase their sensational talents, from daring dance to street theatre, live music to magic acts. 

Feel the flower power

Knowsley Flower Show, Merseyside, 4 August

Summer flowers

Credit: Getty Images

Nothing lifts the spirits quite like the sights and smells of summer blooms, and they’ll be in abundance at the Knowsley Flower Show. The biggest free flower show in the region with over 100 flower, plant and veg classes on display, there’s also a craft zone, a dog show and family fun to keep you busy. And if you pop along a day early, you can attend the (also free) Knowsley Feelgood Festival, complete with wellness talks, workshops and other activities designed to keep you in tip-top shape.

Reach for the skies

Blackpool Air Show, Blackpool, 10 & 11 August

Blackpool Air Show

Credit: VisitBlackpool

Blackpool may be famous for its Illuminations and Pleasure Beach, but for one weekend everyone's eyes will be on the skies as a procession of winged wonders show off their prowess. Highlights will include performances from the Red Arrows, the RAF Typhoon team and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, while stalls and activities on the ground complement the aerial action.

Savour a slice of Italy

Festa Italiana, Manchester, 23–25 August

Festa Italiana

This mouth-watering Italian food and drink festival is set to transform Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens into a bustling piazza, with artisan market stalls, authentic street food, cookery demos all on the menu, plus live music and activities for the kids. Whether you savour freshly baked pizzas and homemade pasta, indulge in creamy gelato or sip an Aperol Spritz in the sunshine, it’s the perfect way to take your tastebuds on holiday without having to board a plane. Buon appetito!

Free events in Scotland & Northern Ireland

Dive into a cultural kaleidoscope

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, 2–26 August

Female comedian from the rear

Credit: Getty Images

Touted as “one of the greatest celebrations of arts and culture in the world”, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe sees thousands of shows taking place at venues across the Scottish capital. The best part? You don’t need to spend a thing to get in on the fringe fun, with over 300 events free to attend (though contributions are appreciated if you enjoyed the show). With theatre, comedy, music and poetry on the bill, you can sample something different every day.

Enter the realm of giants

Wake the Giant Festival, County Down, 17 & 18 August

Sunset over Carlingford Lough

Credit: Getty Images

If you hear booming footsteps and notice your cup of water shaking, it's not an earthquake – it’s the mighty giants stomping their way back to Warrenpoint for the annual Wake the Giant Festival. Set against the stunning shores of Carlingford Lough, these 40-foot marionettes will share tales of their epic adventures, bringing the myths and legends of this enchanting region to life. While the puppets themselves are a massive draw, they’ll be keeping watch over a whole weekend of live music, family fun and culinary delights.

Free online events

Step up your snaps

Have a go at… Photography, anytime

Man with camera

Credit: Getty Images

Smartphones have turned us all into photographers, but have you considered taking your shooting skills to the next level? World Photography Day on 19 August is the perfect time to start unleashing your creative potential, and this on-demand, online masterclass is a brilliant starting point for Boundless members. It’ll teach you some simple techniques to transform your photography (even with your smartphone), then once you’ve snapped your way through those, you can delve into masterclasses on astrophotography, portrait photography and moving objects.

Once you’ve put your newfound knowledge to the test, why not share your snaps with your friendly fellow members in the Boundless Photography Group?

Do more with Boundless

If you're working in or retired from the public sector or civil service, Boundless has two great membership options to choose from: Boundless and Boundless Plus. With Boundless, you get unlimited access or discounted entry to many of the UK’s top attractions, including Kew Gardens and Wakehurst and WWT centres across the UK, as well as year-round deals on restaurants, holidays, shopping and much more. With Boundless Plus, you can enjoy additional benefits including unlimited access to Historic Royal Palaces sites, National Trust for Scotland places, access to the Ramblers' extensive walking community, and peace of mind with roadside assistance and local recovery by LV= Britannia Rescue

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