From new year celebrations to Nordic walking, Boundless lists the best free events to attend in the UK this coming January
To help you fill your calendar, and quash those post-Christmas blues, we’ve rounded up 25 of the best free events to attend in January 2023, with everything from open mic nights to online masterclasses on our list…
1. Wave goodbye to a legend
Dippy Returns: The Nation’s Favourite Dinosaur, until 2 January
Love dinosaurs? Well, there’s still time to visit the Dippy Returns exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum before the famous diplodocus skeleton is whisked off to pastures new. As well as gazing in awe at the bony beast itself, you can learn all about his exploits as he embarked on a major UK tour from 2017 to 2022. Jurassic joy is guaranteed!
2. Take part in some word challenges
Poetry Games, until 15 January
The worlds of poetry and board games collide in this fun exhibition, which forms part of the London Literature Festival. Held at the Southbank Centre, Poetry Games comprises a series of interactive, literary-themed challenges that’ll not only test your problem-solving skills, they’ll also stimulate your imagination. The exhibition has proved hugely popular – go and find out why.
3. See in the new year
London New Year’s Day Parade, 1 January
If you’re not feeling too delicate after your New Year’s Eve celebrations, head for central London for one of the world’s biggest and most flamboyant New Year’s Day parades. With everyone from stuntmen to street entertainers, marching bands to magicians taking part, it’s always an amazing spectacle. The parade leaves Piccadilly Circus at midday and finishes at Westminster around 3.30pm.
4. Brave the freezing water
Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim, 1 January
Thousands of people in fancy dress will be plunging into the freezing waters at Saundersfoot today as the Welsh seaside town hosts its 37th New Year’s Day Swim. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the pandemic, so expect this year’s participants to be more enthusiastic than ever. Feel free to join in, or just watch the fun from the shore with a warming hot chocolate.
5. Master the art of sketching
How To Draw Dogs, 4 January
Love dogs and drawing? Then why not combine your two passions by learning how to sketch our four-legged friends. In this friendly online tutorial hosted by art platform Emily’s Notebook, you’ll learn some basic drawing skills while getting the chance to meet some likeminded artists from around the world. Before you know it, you’ll have doodles of your poodles all over your home!
6. Delve into some Yorkshire history
Historic Canal Walks, 5 & 19 January
Discover the rich history of Sheffield’s canals by joining a free guided walk. On the first Thursday of the month, you can explore the city’s Victoria Quays area, while the third Thursday of the month provides the opportunity to uncover the secrets of the Tinsley Canal. Led by local historians, each walk starts at 11am and lasts for around 90 minutes.
7. Have a rummage
Bermondsey Antique Market, 6, 13, 20 & 27 January
Take a trip back in time at one of the UK’s longest-running vintage events. Held every Friday in the town square, Bermondsey Antique Market has been delighting collectors for an incredible 75 years. It’s free to enter, so why not come along and browse the amazing selection of artefacts on display, which range from toys to trinkets, clothes to clocks. You might even find a bygone bargain!
8. Enjoy some classical music
Free Lunchtime Concert Series, 7, 14, 21 & 28 January
Every Saturday at 1pm, St Anne’s Parish Church in Corstorphine near Edinburgh hosts a free concert to showcase the talents of classical musicians from the local area. This month’s gigs include voice and guitar pairing the Morris Begg Duo (7 January), Angeliki Giannopoulou & Khalil Johnston on piano and cello (14), accordion player Bernie Hewitt (21) and pianist Karolina Kubalkova (28).
9. Discover some wartime history
Talk About The American B-17 Bomber, 9 January
If you happen to be in the East Midlands this evening, why not join Boundless’s Lincoln Group for a talk about wartime aviation. Historian Ken Moore will tell the amazing story of ‘Belle’, the American B-17 bomber that temporarily resided in the UK before embarking on a final bombing mission to Germany. Held at Ruston’s Sport & Social Club, the event is open to everyone.
10. Learn how to do fancy writing
Have A Go At Calligraphy, 12 January
Whether you want to design your own wedding invitations, improve your handwriting or simply try something new, you’re sure to find Have A Go At Calligraphy rewarding. Free to Boundless members and hosted by expert calligrapher Sai Banerjee, this online class will teach you the basics of brush pen lettering, giving you the springboard you need to master this beautiful artform.
11. Improve your memory
Lovebrain Masterclass, 12 January
As people get older, they often complain about losing their memory. But you can help to keep yours in tip-top shape by attending this free online memory masterclass. Hosted by cognitive training company Lovebrain, it’ll give you a better understanding of how you currently use your brain, and demonstrate ways to improve your memory skills going forward.
12. Head for the seaside
Southsea Beach Clean, 12 January
If you’re at a loose end, why not spend a few hours helping to clean the beach at Southsea near Portsmouth? Open to everyone, these monthly sessions provide the opportunity to ‘do your bit’ for the community while getting some fresh coastal air. Volunteers meet on the Esplanade at 10am for a cup of coffee, before heading to the shore, bags and picker-uppers in hand.
13. Learn to draw man’s best friend
How to Draw Dogs, 4 January
Have you ever wanted to be able to accurately depict dogs in your sketches? For an hour of enjoyable drawing, join artist Emily with a notebook, pencils, and any additional materials you like to use for a fun draw-along class. If you've never drawn before, want to schedule some sketching time (no matter your skill level), and want to connect with a fun, international group, this event is perfect for you.
14. Be enchanted by some Irish legends
The Mountain Of Magic, 14 January
If myths and legends pique your interest, then head for Slieve Gullion Forest Park, near Belfast, today for a guided walk. Not only will you get to explore the park’s ancient woodland, following in the footsteps of Irish warrior heroes Cuchulainn and Finn McCool, you’ll also have the chance to take part in fun games and activities. Walks set off at 10am and 1pm and are open to all ages.
15. Rekindle some memories
Devon Salvage Fair, 15 January
What better way to spend a Sunday than by taking a lovely trip down memory lane? Held once a month at South Molton’s indoor pannier market, the Devon Salvage Fair sees up to 70 vendors selling everything from books and jewellery to furniture and military memorabilia. We say ‘selling’ – you’re not obliged to buy anything, so if you just fancy a nosey around, feel free.
16. Hear about some underwater adventures
Under Pressure – Life Aboard A Nuclear Submarine, 17 January
Ever wondered what it would be like to spend your days underwater? Then don’t miss this online event – free to Boundless members – in which Commander Jonathan Powis will discuss his career with the Royal Navy. From the challenges faced by crews operating at depths of 240m, to the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War, his tales are never less than enthralling.
17. Improve your health and fitness
Nordic Walking Taster, 21 January
Burn off some of those Christmas calories by taking up an active new hobby. Nordic walking is great not only for losing weight, but also strengthening your upper core and improving your balance. In this free, hour-long taster session in Bristol’s Eastville Park, you’ll learn the basics as part of a friendly group, giving you the confidence to take up this rewarding pastime on a more regular basis.
18. Welcome the rabbit
Chinese New Year, 22 January
Much like the villagers of Cwm Gwaun (see 13 January), the Chinese follow a different calendar to people in the west, and today they’ll be seeing in their new year – the Year of the Rabbit. The biggest celebrations in the UK will be taking place in and around Chinatown in London, where you’re likely to see costumed parades, street entertainers, traditional Chinese musicians and more.
19. Lift the lid on some Greek mythology
Gods, Myths And Heroes Of The Classical World: An Introduction, 25 January
To coincide with National Museums Liverpool’s spring exhibition Return of the Gods: Zeus, Athena, Hercules, a renowned local historian will tonight give a talk on these mythical characters. As well as hearing the various legends associated with the three deities, you’ll learn about the sculptures that are featured in this much-anticipated residency. A treat for culture fans and students alike.
20. Attend a unique multimedia event
Where Do You Sit?, 25 January
Whether it’s by prospective employers, hospital staff or even the police, we’ve all been interrogated at some point in our lives. Held at Newcastle City Library, Where Do You Sit? will explore this often- challenging experience using a multitude of media, from performance and film to people’s written recollections. Though the event is free to attend, booking is essential as it’s expected to be popular.
21. Celebrate Burns Night
No Yer Usual Burns Nicht, 26 January
To celebrate Burns Night (25 January), Scottish literary magazine Eemis Stane is taking an “alternative luik at oor ither national leid” (an “alternative look at our other national language”). Held at Edinburgh’s National Library of Scotland, and also online, the evening will feature songs, poems and other readings from a wide range of contributors. It promises to be a lot of fun.
22. Make a life-changing decision
Bristol Jobs Fair, 27 January
Bored of your job? Well, now is the perfect time to do something about it. Held indoors at Ashton Gate Stadium (home of Bristol City FC), the Bristol Jobs Fair will enable you to meet HR teams from a wide range of professions, source valuable career advice and even sign up for courses and apprenticeships. If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, this could just be the tonic you need.
23. Share your poetry
Speak The Word: Online Open Mic Night, 28 January
On the fourth Saturday of each month, budding poets are invited to share their literary creations at Speak the Word, a friendly and encouraging online space inhabited by wordsmiths from all walks of life. Five-minute slots are available (assigned on the night), or you can just turn up and listen to others as they take to the virtual stage. The fun starts at 6pm.
24. Uncover some poignant stories
Beyond 2020: Community Reflections, 29 January – 17 February
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on people in Scotland, and now you can hear some of their stories. Hosted at Eastwood Park Theatre in Glasgow, Beyond 2020: Community Reflections brings together photos, interviews and written recollections from people in the East Renfrewshire area, to highlight the effect the pandemic has had on their lives. The exhibition can also be viewed online here.
25. Learn about some daring missions
A Day In The Life Of An Air Ambulance Crew, 31 January
Air ambulance crews in Great Britain embark on dozens of life-saving missions each day, and you can learn about some of their incredible exploits in this online presentation – free to Boundless members. Hosted by helicopter pilot Alan Petch and paramedic Pete Reeve, from the Great Western Air Ambulance charity, it promises to be as exhilarating as it is eye-opening.
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