25 fabulous free events to attend in July 2024

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People at summer festival

Summer is finally in full swing – and so is the calendar of fantastic free events being held across the country. Here's what's on in July

With the school holidays and an unmissable line-up of sport to look forward to, July is bursting with fabulous things to fill your calendar. From lively music festivals and classic car shows to ways you can catch the season’s sporting thrills, here are our top picks of fun, free events happening across the country to help you plan the ultimate summer itinerary.

Free nationwide events

Be a butterfly hero

The Big Butterfly Count, 12 July–4 August

 Family having a nature walk

Photo: © Butterfly Conservation

Butterflies aren’t just beautiful to look at: they’re vital to our ecosystems, and act as early warnings for wider declines in biodiversity. Sadly, they’re under threat, but the good news is there’s something you can do to help, thanks to Butterfly Conservation’s nationwide citizen science survey. Simply spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot – whether it’s your garden, balcony or local park – and count up the butterflies and day-flying moths you spot. A handy downloadable ID chart means you don’t need to be a pro to take part, and even if you see nothing at all, you’ll contribute valuable data to help build a picture of our fluttering friends across the country.

Catch Olympics fever

Olympics Fan Zones, 26 July – 11 August

Olympics Fan Zone

If the Paris Olympics leave you yearning for that glorious summer of 2012, we’ve got just the ticket. While there’s nothing quite like a Games on home turf, Team GB is bringing us the next best thing: official fan zones kitted out with supersized screens showing you all the sporting action. Whether you’re in London or Liverpool, Bristol or Birmingham, head to your nearest one and join the crowds cheering on their favourite athletes as they vie for glory. The best part? Each Fan Zone will host appearances from Team GB stars, past and present, throughout the Games.

Free events in London & the South East

Kick back to open-air flicks and sport

Summer Screens, London, until 8 September

Summer Screens London

Photo: Canary Wharf Group

Love to unwind with a good film, but hate missing out on the balmy weather? If you’re a Londoner, there’s no need to choose: swap your living room for Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf and enjoy a fantastic lineup of films throughout the summer. Pop along after work to catch the latest Hollywood hits and cult classics, or on weekends, delight in family favourites from Shrek to Fantastic Mr Fox. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be able to catch the summer’s sporting highlights, from Wimbledon to cricket. Don’t forget to pack a picnic…

Ignite your curiosity

Summer Science Exhibition, London 2-7 July

Summer Science Exhibition

Photo: The Royal Society

For a fascinating insight into cutting-edge science and technology, swing by the UK’s oldest science festival for a mind-boggling week of hands-on experiences. There’ll be something to satisfy every curious mind: this year, you could try on wearable brain scanners for size, marvel at a chandelier ingeniously created from optical fibre waste, or find out how stem cells are unravelling the mysteries of human development. 

Watch jaw-dropping talent

Winchester Hat Fair, Winchester, 5-7 July

Winchester Hat Fair

Photo: Adrienne Photography

The UK’s longest running festival of outdoor arts, Winchester’s beloved Hat Fair brings street theatre, circus, music and dance to this charming city. With the festival celebrating its 50th birthday, this year’s edition is bound to be brighter and bolder than ever before.

Take a trip down the rabbit hole

Alice’s Day, Oxford, 6 July

Alices Day Oxford

Every first Saturday in July, Oxford transforms into a whimsical Wonderland in celebration of Lewis Carroll's beloved children's classic. Head to venues across the city that inspired the tale – including the Museum of Oxford, History of Science Museum and The Story Museum – for a fantastical day of theatre, puppetry, crafting, trails, dance, games and more.

Soak up the sounds of summer

Beach Life Music Festival, Eastbourne, 13 & 14 July

Eastbourne Pier

This family-friendly festival brings a weekend of non-stop music, entertainment and street food to Eastbourne’s stunning beach. You’ll have to pay to take a spin on the rides or tantalise your tastebuds, but soaking up the fantastic atmosphere (and views) won’t cost you a penny.

Uncover nature’s nasty side

Horrible Science, London, 20 July – 1 September

Brown mushrooms

Horrible Science® is a registered trademark of Scholastic Inc. Illustrations © Tony De Saulles

Nature is beautiful, bizarre… and sometimes downright dreadful! Inspired by the bestselling Horrible Science books, Kew Gardens is celebrating the nasty side of nature with a horrific host of special events, talks and activities. With foul facts and terrible trivia to dive into all summer long, you’ll never see nature in quite the same way again.

Boundless membership includes unlimited entry to top attractions and exclusive events – including access to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Perfect your pétanque skills

Pétanque, Ware, 23 July

People playing petanque

Forget tennis, golf, or cricket – how about a sunny game of pétanque? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or first-time player, Boundless members are invited to join the North East London group for a round of this classic ball sport. After the game, there’ll be the chance to have a natter with fellow members over a tipple or two (although you’ll have to pay for those).

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.

Fall in love with a classic

Classics on the Common, Harpenden, 24 July

Classics on the Common

Photo: Steve Collins Photography

Why wait until the weekend for a fantastic day out? Hundreds of yesteryear’s cars, motorbikes and scooters from around the country – and their proud owners – are set to descend on Harpenden Common for the 30th anniversary of this mid-week motoring spectacular. It’s free for spectators, though donations are greatly appreciated.

Free events in the South West & Wales

Reach for the skies

Wales Airshow, Swansea, 6 & 7 July

Wales air show 2024

This exhilarating event showcases breathtaking aerial displays over Swansea Bay, featuring jets, helicopters and the Red Arrows. There’s plenty to see and do on land too, as Swansea Prom is transformed with live music, ground displays and family fun in an unmissable experience for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Make a splash at Bristol’s harbourside

Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol, 19-21 July

Bristol Harbour Festival

Photo: Paul Box

Thousands are expected to flock to Bristol’s harbourside for this three-day summer extravaganza of music, dance and arts. The amphitheatre sets the stage for back-to-back music from some of Bristol’s best emerging talents; meanwhile on the water, keep your eyes peeled for all the usual jet ski stunts, plus the crazy cardboard boat race.

Take a walk on the wild side

Walk with a Warden, Llanelli, 20 July

Llanelli from above

Photo: WWT Llanelli

WWT Llanelli run an expert-guided walk of their wetland reserve every month, and July’s will explore on some of their most timid residents: reptiles. The walk will last around an hour and a half, but you’re welcome to dip in and out as you wish. Adult tickets cost £10.22, and a family ticket (two adults and two children aged 4-17 years old) costs £28.45. Visit their website for the latest ticket prices. 

Boundless membership includes unlimited access to all nine WWT centres throughout the UK. Find out more about Boundless membership and how to join.

Rev your engines

Truro Classic Car Show, Truro, 28 July

Truro Classic Car Show

Photo: Truro BID

Driving into Truro for its second year, this classic car show offers vehicle enthusiasts a unique opportunity to admire a wide variety of cherished classic and vintage cars spanning over 10 decades. There’ll be live music to fuel the fun, plus automobilia and autojumbles stalls.

Free events in the Midlands & East

Get your toes tapping

Birmingham Jazz & Blues Festival, Birmingham, 19-28 July

Birmingham Jazz and Blues Festival

Photo: Merlin Daleman

Every summer since 1985, Birmingham has erupted with the soulful sounds of jazz and blues as this infectious music festival sweeps over the city’s bars, shopping centres, parks, libraries… even trains and trams! Now in its 40th year, there’ll be over one hundred performances, talks, workshops and film screenings to pick from – and most of them are free.

Embark on a prehistoric adventure

A Jurassic Day Out in Cathedral Quarter, Derby, 20 July

A Jurassic Day Out Derby

Photo: Derby Cathedral Quarter BID & AVIT Media

If you’ve got a dino enthusiast in the family, you won’t want to miss this totally roarsome day out in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter. Young explorers will love roaming alongside a mighty – but lovable – cast of dinos, including Zeus the T-Rex, Tank the Triceratops and Corey the talking dino. There’ll also be the chance to learn the ropes of being a dino ranger, before meeting some adorable ‘newborns’. Prepare to let your imagination run wild…

Attend a riverside festival

Bedford River Festival, Bedford, 20 & 21 July


Livening up the banks of the River Ouse every other year, Bedford’s biennial festival has become a beloved highlight in the town’s calendar. Expect action-packed dragon boat and raft races on the river, plus plenty of festivities sprawling across The Embankment, Mill Meadows, Russell Park and St Mary’s Garden.

Free events in the North of England

Get your groove on

South Tyneside Festival, South Shields, throughout July & August

Person making heart symbol with their hands

You don’t need to break the bank to catch world-renowned acts in concert – in fact, you can see them for absolutely nothing at all! As part of the hugely popular South Tyneside Festival, the likes of Jason Donovan, Sister Sledge and Haircut 100 will grace the stage at Bents Parks to headline a series of fabulous free open-air concerts. If classical is more your thing, Proms in the Park offers a delightful afternoon of performances; elsewhere, the Sandhaven amphitheatre is hosting brass bands every Sunday, while Saturdays in South Marine Park come alive with up-and-coming talent.

Engage your brain

Chester Festival of Ideas, Chester, 4-7 July

University of Chester

Photo: University of Chester

Brought to you by the University of Chester, this brand-new festival packs nearly 100 talks, theatre, exhibitions, hands-on activities, music, guided walks and more into just four days, featuring names such as Baroness Floella Benjamin and Professor David Olusoga. With topics on everything from diversity and culture in the Roman army to the evolving accent of Taylor Swift, there’s bound to be something to scratch your brain in the right places. 

Discover a brand-new attraction

Hopetown Darlington, Darlington, opening 16 July

Hopetown Darlington

Photo: Hopetown Darlington

Just in time for the school holidays, the north’s latest attraction, Hopetown is opening its doors into a fascinating journey through Darlington’s railway history. There’s also the chance to go behind the scenes and explore a treasure trove of over 30,000 railway artefacts and objects, and even witness engineering live in action. Venture outside to marvel at the world’s oldest operating railway bridge, while young adventurers can let off some steam in the railway-themed adventure play park. It's a perfect blend of history and fun for the whole family.

Celebrate the summer holidays

Manchester Day, Manchester, 27 July

Manchester Day

Photo: Marketing Manchester

Condensing the joyful spirit of summer into one glorious day, this jam-packed programme of family fun sweeps over Manchester's city centre. And while you’re here, why not savour a slice of the seaside at the giant sandpit taking over the Great Northern amphitheatre? (13 July – 31 August).

Free events in Scotland & Northern Ireland

Soak up some open-air music

Picnic in the Park, Bangor, throughout July & August

Picnic in the Park Bangor

Photo: Open House Festival

Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with a spot of open-air music? If you live near Bangor, you’re in luck. As part of Open House Festival, the bandstand at Ward Park is hosting free live music every Sunday throughout the summer – so pack up a picnic, sprawl out under the summer sun and enjoy the sounds of bluegrass, soul, funk, punk and more.

Feast on food with a view

Loch Lomond Summerfest, Balloch, 6 & 7 July 

Loch Lomond Summerfest

Photo: Loch Lomond Shores

Foodies from all over Scotland will gather on the shores of Loch Lomond for this two-day feast of fresh local produce, family fun and demos from top chefs. While the variety of food on offer will no doubt be impressive, the stunning lochside setting is a huge draw in itself.

Party in the Scottish capital

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, Edinburgh, 12-21 July

 Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Photo: Greg Macvean

You don’t need to pay a thing to get in on the electric atmosphere of one of Europe’s biggest jazz festivals: the Mardi Gras (13 July) brings the sound of New Orleans to Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, while the Carnival (14 July) parades through Princes Street Gardens in a kaleidoscope of colour, music and dance.

Join a picnic party

Teddy Bear’s Picnic, County Down, 15-28 July

Teddy bears picnic

If you go down to WWT Castle Espie between 15 and 28 July, you’re sure of a big surprise… for they’re the days the teddy bears have their picnic! Every day at noon, you’re invited to bring a picnic blanket, your favourite lunch and, of course, your best cuddly companion for an afternoon of nature-themed fun. Best suited to pre-schoolers and young primary-schoolers, expect enchanting stories, catchy tunes and wonderful games to play. Adult tickets cost £9.45, and a family ticket (two adults and two children aged 4-17 years old costs £26.50). See their website for the latest ticket prices. 

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

Unleash your inner child

Pond Dipping for grown-ups, Dumfriesshire, 20 July

WWT pond dipping

Photo: WWT

Think your pond dipping days are behind you? Think again! This adults-only pond dipping session at WWT Caerlaverock offers the perfect opportunity to indulge in a nostalgia-fuelled exploration of nature. Drop in anytime between 11am and 2pm to rediscover the joy of getting elbow-deep with the creatures lurking below the surface. Adults tickets cost £9.04, and a family ticket (two adults and two children aged 4-17 years old) costs £24.81. View their website for the latest ticket and WWT membership prices.

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

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 group walks and routes, and peace of mind with roadside assistance and local recovery by LV= Britannia Rescue.

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