25 fabulous free events to attend in January 2024

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Cyclists taking a break

From lively ceilidhs in the capital to nurturing your wellbeing, Boundless rounds up some of the best free events happening across the UK this January

With the excitement of the festive season behind us, January can feel a little lacklustre. But don’t worry, here are some diverting – and free – events to help you fill up your diary in January 2024.

One way to remedy any winter blues is by trying something new this new year – whether it’s birdwatching, going to your first ceilidh, or sharing your hidden talents at an open mic night. And if you’re all about adopting healthy new habits, we’ve got you covered with walking sessions and yoga classes, along with a step-by-step guide to decluttering and even a full day of wellbeing tips and tricks.

Free nationwide events

Be a citizen scientist

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, 26–28 January

Big Garden Birdwatch

This beloved tradition has united fully fledged avian enthusiasts and birding beginners since 1979, so why not join the flock and help make this year’s event the biggest yet? It’s easy to take part: you just dedicate an hour to observing and recording birds, whether from your local park or the comfort of your own garden, and then submit your tally online. Not only is it a delightfully quiet escape, you’ll also be helping conservationists build a snapshot of the UK’s beloved birdlife – even if you see nothing at all.

Host a gift swap

Anywhere, anytime

Swap party

We’ve all received those gifts that, while thoughtful, don't quite fit our style, duplicate something we already own, or simply won’t get used. Instead of letting them gather dust in the back of a cupboard, why not try hosting your own gift swap? Not only can you recycle these items to a home where they’ll be appreciated, you’ll also snag some exciting new goodies for yourself. Invite your friends, grab some drinks and snacks, and make an evening of it – it’s a wonderful way of keeping the festive spirit of giving alive for just a little longer. In fact, it could be like doing Christmas Day all over again. 

Free events in London & the South East

Marvel at a shimmering landscape

Winter Garden, Wakehurst, throughout January

 Winter Garden Wakehurst

You don’t need to wait until spring to see nature at its finest. The Winter Garden at Wakehurst in Sussex is ready for you to explore right now – and it’s sure to brighten up that post-Christmas gloom. Featuring 33,000 plants, from mature Himalayan silver birch trees to purple and white snowdrops, this beauteous landscape is a feast for the senses.

Boundless membership includes free entry to top attractions and exclusive events, as well as year-round savings – including unlimited access to Wakehurst and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Ring in the new year

New Year’s Day Parade, London, 1 January

London New Years Day Parade

If you’re not feeling too delicate after your New Year celebrations, head into central London for one of the world’s biggest and most flamboyant New Year’s Day parades. It’s always an incredible spectacle, with everyone from stuntmen and street performers to lively marching bands and magicians taking to the capital’s streets in a riot of music, carnival and glitter – fundraising for London charities along the way. The parade leaves Piccadilly Circus at midday, snaking its way to Westminster where it wraps up by around 3.30pm.

Rev your engines

Vintage Stony, Stony Stratford, 1 January

Vintage Stony

If you love classic cars and bikes, the annual Vintage Stony show is the perfect way to kick off your new year. The Market Square in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, will be humming with the sound of pre-1940s vehicles; don't miss the traditional 'minute of noise' at midday, when everyone revs their engines. Though the event is free to both exhibitors and visitors, donations to Willen Hospice will be greatly appreciated. 

Have a New Year’s knees-up

New Year’s Day Ceilidh, London, 1 January

People dancing 

Send off the festive season with one last hurrah at this lively ceilidh, held at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The new year’s revelry will be led by the Ceilidh Liberation Front, renowned for their vibrant performances with a contemporary twist on traditional ceilidh music. No experience or partner is needed, and everybody’s welcome to join in – the more the merrier! The best part? It’s at lunchtime, allowing you to enjoy an early night before stepping back into normal life.

Nurture your mind and body

Free Hatha Yoga, near Old Street, London, from 16 January

Woman doing yoga

Are you eager to clear your mind and boost your energy after the festive season? Discover the revitalising power of yoga with these complimentary sessions at Tara Yoga Centre, focusing on ‘hatha’ yoga – a branch of yoga emphasising posture and breathwork. Half-hour classes run every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at Tara's London centre, a 10-minute walk from Old Street. Take a deep breath…

Visit an iconic palace 

Royal Pavilion & Garden free weekend, Brighton, 27 & 28 January

Royal Pavilion Brighton

Once the seaside pleasure palace of George IV, Brighton’s most iconic landmark is just as impressive inside as it is out. To celebrate its purchase by Brighton in 1850, the Royal Pavilion and Garden offer free admission over one weekend every year. Indulge in its opulence as you explore its magnificently restored rooms, from the elaborate state banqueting room and saloon to the bedrooms where royalty once slumbered. You might have to queue, but unlike other weekends, you won’t have to spend a penny. The Museum and Art Gallery is free to pop into, too.

Light up your winter

Winter Lights, Canary Wharf, London, 17–27 January

Canary Wharf lights

What better way to cheer yourself up on a cold, dark January night than with a spectacular light show? Back for its eighth edition, Winter Lights will see Canary Wharf sparkle with over 25 installations by some of the world's most renowned light artists. This year’s highlights (pun fully intended) will include a giant spiralling marble at Wren Landing, an illusion setting Westferry Circus ablaze and an immersive walkthrough experience in Montgomery Square.

Free events in the South West & Wales

Up your step count

Walking Well, South Gloucestershire, throughout January

Walking boots

Are you looking to embrace a more active lifestyle in 2024? Building new habits tends to be much easier when you’ve got company, so why not join these group walks across South Gloucestershire? Running throughout January and beyond, they’re a fantastic opportunity to kick-start your new routine. Walk as far or as little as you want – it’s all about moving towards a healthier lifestyle, one step at a time. 

Go birdwatching

Tick & Twitch, Llanelli, 1 January

Goldeneye duck

Get your new year off to a flying start at WWT Llanelli’s annual bird-spotting event. Simply pick up your free checklist, then head out into the wonderful wetlands to spot as many species of wild birds as you can in just one day. Beginners and experts are welcome, and it’s a fantastic chance for people of all ages to discover a new hobby and appreciation of the natural world. Boundless members go free.

Boundless membership includes free entry to top attractions and exclusive events, as well as year-round savings – including unlimited access to all 10 WWT sites throughout the UK. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Cheer on a quirky race

New Year’s Day Bath Race & Classic Cars on the Quay, Poole, 1 January

Bathtub race

Every New Year’s Day, the charity Bath Tub Race sees teams take to Poole Harbour in homemade watercraft. Watch crews race along the quay from The Customs House Steps to the Lord Nelson pub, cheered on by spectators in their hundreds. Alongside the race, there’s also a chance to see a display of up to 100 classic vehicles lining the Lower High Street. 

Plant trees for climate change

Tree planting, Caedelyn Park, Rhiwbina, 20 January 


Coed Caerdydd is an ambitious decade-long initiative to increasing Cardiff’s tree count, supporting the city’s climate change strategy – and you can be a part of it! This tree-planting event is a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to create beautiful green spots for people and nature, all while enjoying quality time outdoors. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be an arboreal expert, as you’ll be guided throughout the tree planting process. So bundle up, put on your wellies and do your bit to give back to our planet. 

Free events in the Midlands & East

Meet a notorious family

The Whistlecraft Family of Rickinghall, Kesgrave, Ipswich, 10 January

Farmer with shotgun

Delve into the riveting history of the Whistlecrafts of Rickinghall – an infamous family steeped in a legacy of countless court appearances for offences ranging from the most trivial to severe, including murder. Join local historian Pip Wright as he appears in character as Joe Whistlecraft to share the history of this criminal family in a gripping tale of heavy drinking, murder and intrigue. This member-exclusive talk is organised by Boundless's Ipswich Group at the Kesgrave Community Centre; after the talk, there’ll be the opportunity for a friendly natter with fellow members over refreshments.

Interested in this talk 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 over some new (book) leaves

Community Book Swap at The Table, Walsall, 13 January

Woman reading book on sofa

Did you receive any books you already own this Christmas, or could it be time to mix up your bookshelves? At this community book swap, held every second Saturday of the month at The Table coffee shop, you can trust your books will go to a good home. And take some new ones for yours…

Take a winter wander

Sweet Briar Marshes: Winter Treasure Hunt, Norwich, 20 January

Sweet Briar Marches

Don your waterproof and join Norfolk Wildlife Trust on a winter treasure hunt at Sweet Briar Marshes, a new nature reserve in the heart of Norwich. Explore this hidden wild marsh, scouring for clues and wildlife on your way to the treasure waiting at the end.

Free events in the North

Showcase your talents

The Fabulous Albert Club Open Mic Night, Manchester, 4 January

Singer with guitar

Every first Thursday of the month, The Albert Club invites budding musicians, poets and comedians to take to the stage at its open mic night. Whether you’re a newcomer testing the waters or a seasoned pro, everybody’s welcome. And if you're not keen on performing, settle into the club’s cosy sofas and enjoy a night of performances from local artists. Who knows? You might just stumble across the next big thing. 

Upcycle your Christmas cards

Reuse Your Christmas Cards, Relive the Season, Gateshead, 5 January

Christmas cards

Don’t chuck your Christmas cards in the bin, come along to this creative session at the Waste and Recycling Visitor Education Centre to give your cards a new lease of life, transforming them into items which can be enjoyed again. Open to residents of Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside aged six and up.

Get to know the Fab Four

The Long and Winding Road: How the Beatles Became, Leeds, 24 January 

The Beatles

If you missed Alan Pugh’s Beatles talk in York last month, here’s another chance to come together for an evening dedicated to exploring the formative years of this iconic band. Hosted by the Boundless Leeds Group at the Holiday Inn, Garforth, this event is open to all Boundless members and their guests.

Interested in this talk 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.

Free events in Scotland & Northern Ireland

Master the art of self-care

Aberdeen Health & Wellbeing Festival, Aberdeen, 13 January

Woman with her arms outstretched

Hopping on the New Year’s wellness bandwagon might feel cliché, but post-Christmas is undeniably a fantastic time for a personal reboot. If you want to make this year your healthiest, happiest yet, don’t miss the chance to meet experts, be inspired by speakers and get stuck into classes on all things wellness at this festival. From the power of decluttering your space to how you can use technology to boost your wellbeing, you’ll be sure to leave full of fresh ideas on ways to nurture your mind and body in the new year and beyond.

Celebrate Scotland’s favourite son

The White Heather Ceilidh Club at Bonnie & Wild, Edinburgh, 25 January

Scottish dancing 

Bonnie & Wild Marketplace host a fantastic free ceilidh every last Thursday of the month, but this January’s bash fittingly coincides with Burns Night. So dust off your best dancing shoes, bring a friend – or make a new one on the dance floor – and whirl away to the likes of Strip the Willow and the Gay Gordons. Don’t worry if you don’t know the moves – an expert will lead you through every step of the way. 

See Scotland through the eyes of an artist

Sir William Gillies and the Scottish Landscape, Aberdeen, 27 January–10 November 

 Painting a picture

Discover the legacy of renowned Scottish artist Sir William Gillies in this exhibition at Aberdeen Art Gallery, celebrating his vibrant depictions of Scotland's rural landscapes. A nature lover, Gillies was never happier than when outdoors, capturing rolling countryside, lush trees, and serene coastal scenes in gorgeous watercolour and oil. 

Free online events

Hear tales of underwater adventures

Search and rescue – life aboard a nuclear submarine, 11 January


Have you ever wondered what it might be like to spend your days underwater? Don’t miss out on this fascinating online talk – exclusive to Boundless members – in which Commander Jonathan Powis dives deep into his remarkable career with the Royal Navy. From the trials faced by submarine crew to the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War, his tales are never less than riveting.

Interested in this free online 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.

Take a ride into the future

Driving in the future, 16 January

Future driving

With self-driving vehicles on the horizon, the world of motoring is set to transform – and BBC Top Gear magazine journalist and Boundless car reviewer Paul Horrell knows a thing or two about the road ahead. In this member-exclusive online talk, he’ll share his expert insight on emerging technologies, covering everything from electric vehicles to renewable fuels and hydrogen.

Interested in this free online 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. 

Have a good old declutter

Declutter your home, stress free! An easy step by step approach, 16 January 

Junk in attic

With the Christmas decorations tidied away and the new year underway, now’s prime time to start decluttering. We know it can feel daunting, but this online talk offers a roadmap to decluttering success – without the stress. This room-by-room guide will break things down into simple steps and help you create a plan of action: you’ll discover clever storage solutions, tips for handling emotional attachment to physical things, and strategies for deciding what to keep and what to bid farewell to. 

Beat the winter blues

Boundless Masterclass: Have a go at… Wellbeing,  any time

Woman relaxing on a bridge

Lots of us suffer from seasonal blues at this time of year, where the cold weather and long, dark nights leave us feeling gloomy. It’s something we often resign ourselves to – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is on hand for Boundless members with this online talk by broadcaster, life coach and bestselling author Anna Williamson, available to watch again on demand. Anna explains why nurturing your mental wellbeing is just as important as managing your physical health, and offers some tried-and-trusted tips on banishing that seasonal sadness for good.

Interested in this talk by Anna Williamson 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. 

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 here.

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