From festivals to concerts, art installations to theatre shows, discover all the best free events that are happening near you in August
August is always jam-packed with brilliant free events, and this year is no exception. We’ve rounded up all the best shows, festivals and exhibitions in one place, to help you plan the month ahead.
Herne Bay Festival, until 26 August
If Kent is the garden of England, then the Herne Bay Festival is like one giant garden party. Featuring over 150 events across various venues in the seaside town, from folk music to fireworks displays, literary gatherings to live jazz, this annual extravaganza has become a must-visit event for people in the South East. Why not go along and join in the fun.
Kids’ Week, until 31 August
If you’ve been meaning to treat your little ones to a West End show, now is the perfect time. During Kids’ Week (it actually goes on for more than a month), an adult buying a full-price ticket for one of the selected shows can take a child under-17 with them absolutely free, and also get two more children’s tickets at half-price. See the full list of available shows here.
We Were There, 1, 8, 15 & 22 August
Taking place every Tuesday in August (apart from the last one), the free We Were There events at London’s Imperial War Museum give families the chance to meet wartime veterans, hear personal stories – about everything from driving a tank to being evacuated – and discover the impact that conflicts can have on people’s lives.
Stockton International Riverside Festival, 3-6 August
A cacophony of colour and sound awaits at the Stockton International Riverside Festival, held every August in County Durham. Kicking off with the Alive After Five welcome party on Friday 3 August, this joyous event features everything from circus acts to street performers, kids’ activities to catwalks. If you’re in the area, pop along and see what all the fuss is about.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 4-28 August
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 numerous venues across the Scottish capital. While many cost money, nearly 400 can be accessed for free. With theatre, comedy, music and poetry all featuring on the bill, you can sample something different every day.
Robin Hood Festival, 4-6, 19-20 & 26-28 August
The legend of Robin Hood lives on at this annual festival, held over several weekends in Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest. From jousting displays to circus acts, craft activities to storytelling, there’s loads to see and do. This year, it culminates on the weekend of 26-28 August with The Grand Finale – an all-action arena show that combines chivalrous shenanigans with medieval mayhem.
Stompin’ On The Quomps, 5 August
What better way to spend a summer’s day than by sitting back and enjoying some live jazz? Held annually on Christchurch Quay in Dorset, Stompin’ on the Quomps is a free community festival that brings together some of the best musical talent from across the UK. There will be lots of food stalls, too, meaning you can chomp while you stomp on the Quomps.
Summer exhibitions at Kew, throughout August
Come and experience the exquisite display of new artistry by renowned artists Anila Quayyum Agha and Sue Wickison at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. Boundless members get unlimited access to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ( Kew Gardens and Wakehurst) plus a range of exhibitions and galleries included with entry. This captivating exhibition delves into themes of faith and cultural exchange, presenting a harmonious blend of contemporary sculptures and intricate botanical paintings that celebrate the beauty of the natural world. The event will be held throughout the month of August and beyond, promising an unforgettable artistic journey for all who attend.
Art In The Park Festival, 5 & 6 August
The largest free festival of its kind in Warwickshire, Art In The Park sees a whole host of fine artists, craftspeople and live acts congregate in Leamington Spa’s Jephson & Mill Gardens for a two-day celebration. With a wide range of workshops, displays and performances, it’s as entertaining as it is inspiring.
Knowsley Flower Show, 6 August
Nothing lifts the spirits like fragrant summer petals – and they’ll be in abundance at the Knowsley Flower Show. Taking place in Huyton’s Court Hey Park, this annual event is a treat for gardening buffs, with over 120 flower, fruit and vegetable classes on display. Add in face painting, funfair rides and a farmer’s market, and you’ve got a bloomin’ brilliant day out.
Ballycastle Seafront Artisan Market, 6 & 20 August
You’d struggle to find a more picturesque market than the one held on Ballycastle seafront during the summer months. Stalls selling everything from local arts and crafts to delicious food and drink are surrounded by miles of glorious Northern Irish coastline, meaning you’ll have plenty to charm you whichever way you look.
The Dinosaur Extinction, 8 August
Ever wondered what happened to all the T-rexes and velociraptors that used to roam the planet? In this light-hearted talk, hosted by Boundless’s North East London Group at Bishop’s College in Cheshunt, palaeontologist Mike Howgate will offer some theories on why the dinosaurs were wiped out. Afterwards, there will be time to chat over a cup of tea.
Interested in this talk with palaeontologist Mike Howgate but not yet a Boundless member? Find out more about Boundless membership.
Waterfront Treasure Hunt, 9 August
Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes at this fun treasure hunt, hosted by Boundless’s Ipswich Group. Over the course of the evening, you’ll be tasked with tracking down a variety of landmarks in the town’s historic waterfront area, before everyone meets to have their results totted up. It’ll be a great way to exercise your brain while meeting new people.
Interested in the Waterhouse treasure hunt but not yet a Boundless member? Find out more about Boundless membership.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta, 10-13 August
If you’ve never been to Bristol Balloon Fiesta, then you need to add it to your summer itinerary. Held over four days and evenings every August, this thrilling free event sees hundreds of colourful orbs rising up into the sky. But that’s not all – with live music, trade stands, funfair rides and food stalls galore, you’re sure to find the whole occasion uplifting.
Warwick Classic Car Show, 13 August
Warwick might be best-known for its historic castle, but a different kind of history will be celebrated there today as over 100 vintage cars, bikes and other vehicles descend on the town’s Market Square for this vintage vehicle show. Have a browse and meet the owners – you never know, it might even inspire you to renovate a classic vehicle of your own.
BBC Radio 3 Summer Invitation Series 2023: Dawning, 16 August
Part of BBC Radio 3’s annual free concert series at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, tonight’s show will see the Ulster Orchestra performing the celebratory overture Dawning, by Welsh composer Huw Watkins, as well as popular works by Ravel and Beethoven. Though tickets for the event are free, they will need to be booked in advance.
Louise Mortlock Pottery Exhibition, Throughout August
Inspired by the beauty and variety of living forms, Louise Mortlock, a botany and zoology graduate from Reading University, creates cheeky clay artworks themed around British wildlife. Dotted around WWT Caerlaverock these hand-craft pieces express animals and plants that hold spiritual or scientific significance. Her playful creatures enhance the stunning outdoor spaces at Caerlaverock with eye-catching colors and are free to enjoy this August as part of Boundless membership. Boundless members get unlimited access to WWT London and all 9 WWT Sites, plus admission for one adult and up to six children per visit.
Lytham 1940s Weekend, 19 & 20 August
Every year, the seaside town of Lytham St Annes in Lancashire takes a trip back to the 1940s, a time when Britain was at war with Germany, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and Vera Lynn was the nation’s sweetheart. Over the two days, expect military vehicle displays, re-enactments of famous speeches and, of course, renditions of We’ll Meet Again.
Aldeburgh Carnival, 19-21 August
Held every year in Suffolk, this award-winning carnival is always a fun-filled event, featuring not only the procession itself but a programme of live music, duck races, a silent auction and a 10K running race. The theme this year is ‘A Tropical Paradise’, so grab your sun hat and flip-flops and get into the holiday spirit.
Leicester Motor Show and Family Fun Day, 20 August
There will be something for everyone at this free festival, held at Leicester Racecourse. Petrolheads can purr over the 200+ classic vehicles that’ll be sat gleaming in the August sunshine, while thrill-seekers can enjoy a white-knuckle ride or two at the funfair (fees may apply). Whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to come home feeling fulfilled.
Mid-Somerset Show, 20 August
Sample the delights of rural life at the Mid-Somerset Show in Shepton Mallet. Offering free entry for pedestrians, this countryside festival features attractions and activities for the whole family, from dog shows and cheese tasting to cattle displays and craft stalls. It’s quite literally a breath of fresh air.
Cardigan Bay Regatta, 23-25 August
First held in 1829, the Cardigan Bay Regatta is one of the oldest events of its kind in the UK – and it still attracts thousands of people to this day. Visitors can either watch or take part in a variety of boating and swimming races, as well as joining in with a programme of other family activities along the shore. Oceans of fun, guaranteed!
Notting Hill Carnival, 27 & 28 Augus
One of the world’s largest street events, the Notting Hill Carnival is definitely one for the bucket list. A massive celebration of Caribbean culture, it sees the streets of London W11 coming alive with sound systems, stalls and costumed parades. Oh, and don’t miss the steel band competition that takes place in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park on 26 August.
Of All The People In All The World, 28 August – 2 September
They say a lot of salt is bad for you, but it turns out the white stuff can be deployed in useful ways. Held at London’s Southbank Centre, this six-day art installation by Stan’s Café will see each human in the UK represented by a grain of salt and grouped into different categories. Powerful and provocative, it’ll enable visitors to see the world in a startling new light.
Bournemouth Air Festival, 31 August – 3 September
All eyes to the skies! Britain’s biggest free air festival returns to Bournemouth seafront at the end of August, and it promises to be a spectacular treat for aviation fans. Featuring flypasts by the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain planes and a range of other iconic aircraft, plus lots more attractions and activities on the ground, it’s sure to be a great day for the whole family.
Do more with Boundless
Boundless members get free entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands plus dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more! If you're working or retired from the public sector or civil service and not yet a member, discover more about Boundless membership.