25 brilliant free events you can attend in July 2021

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Free events July man playing guitar and singing

From the Royal Ballet to retro cars, farmers' markets to fairies, there's so much to do over the next month, all of it free

Whether you want to get out and about or stay at home, there are lots of free events you can attend in July.

Here, we've put together some of our top picks – from online shows and discussions to in-person car shows and family fun days. It promises to be a fun-filled few weeks... 

1. Watch a Royal Ballet performance

Lyssa, until 4 July

Free events July Royal Ballet

Credit: Royal Ballet

Available to stream for another few days, choreographer Lynn Page's first work for the Royal Ballet is a captivating production that celebrates “the collective energy of forces for positive change in the modern world”. Featuring 17 female Royal Ballet dancers and music performed by the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Lyssa is an experience not to be missed.

2. Spend time 'on the beach'

It's Where We Go, until 1 October

Free events July It's Where We Go beach

Credit: Ian Howorth

Whether it's riding donkeys, building sandcastles or playing in rock pools, we all have wonderful memories of spending time on the beach. In this recorded audio-visual presentation, 25 voices recall their own memories of the seaside over a montage of pictures by photographer Ian Howorth. You'll also get the opportunity to add comments and anecdotes.

3. Take in a musical

Spend, Spend, Spend, 1 July

Free events July woman smiling money

What would you do if you suddenly came into a lot of money? Based on the book by Viv Nicholson and Stephen Smith, and performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting, Spend, Spend, Spend is a rags-to-riches musical about a 1960s housewife whose life changes when she wins the Football Pools. Available to stream for one day only, it's bound to lift your spirits for an hour or two. 

4. Revisit some classic records 

Tim's Twitter Listening Party, 1, 3, 5, 17 & 21 July

Free events July Tim Burgess

If you like music and social media, then you'll love Tim Burgess's Twitter Listening Parties. Each session, the Charlatans singer (pictured) plays through a classic album and comments on it in real-time via his Twitter feed, with attendees welcome to join in with the conversation. This month's albums include Audioweb's Fireworks City (1 July), Laura Mvula's Pink Noise (3) and Mercury Rev's Snowflake Midnight (17).

5. Engage in a historical debate

We Love History Live, 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 July

Free events July castle

When it comes to history, there's never a shortage of things to talk about. In these weekly live-streamed Q&A sessions, Historic Environment Scotland will be inviting participants to ask questions on a range of fascinating topics, from castles to climate change. Fun and educational, you're bound to come out feeling enlightened.

6. Take a trip to Wonderland

Alice's Day, 3 July

Free events July Alice in Wonderland white rabbit

Every year on the first Saturday of July, literature lovers gather at the Story Museum in Oxford to celebrate Lewis Carroll's most famous character. This year's event – which marks the 150th anniversary of Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – will be taking place outdoors, with activities including giant puppets and theatrical performances. 

7. Gear up for some vintage car action

Rotary Cars in the Park, 3 & 4 July

Free events July car show

Credit: Draco 2008 / Wikimedia Commons

There are quite a few motoring events happening in-person this summer, including this massive two-day charity event in Beacon Park, Lichfield. As well as the hundreds of vehicles on display, there will be a programme of activities in the main arena, plus stands selling refreshments and other assorted paraphernalia. While entry to the event is free, there is a £5 charge for parking. 

8. Eat some locally sourced treats

Dumfries Farmers' Market, 4 July

Free events July farmers market man smiling

Nothing satiates those hunger pangs like walking around a farmers' market sampling some of the locally produced goodies. Now in its tenth year, Dumfries Farmers' Market showcases such delights as Solway Smokehouse fish, Cream O'Galloway ice cream, and beer from the Sulwath Brewery. Better put that diet off for another week!

9. Grab a bargain

Stonham Barns Car Boot Sale, 4, 11, 18 & 25 July 

Free events July Stonham Barns car boot sale

Credit: Stonham Barns

Like most things, car boot sales were put on hold during the height of the UK's Covid epidemic. But many of them are up and running again now, including the huge weekly event at Stonham Barns in Suffolk. Held every Sunday from 8am, it provides a great opportunity to pick up a bargain or two – and it's completely free to enter (charges apply for sellers).

10. Listen to some poignant ditties

David Latto: The Fife Song Project, 6 July

Free events July man singing into microphone

Earlier this year, singer-songwriter David Latto completed a four-week artist residency with community organisation OnFife, during which he wrote four new songs based on the experiences of four elderly people in the local area. In the 30-minute film The Fife Song Project – being streamed tonight – he's seen performing those songs in town's iconic Kirkcaldy Galleries. Heartwarming stuff.

11. Sing along to some show tunes

LCM BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Showcase 2021, 8 & 9 July

Free events July stage show

Credit: London College of Music

If you love musicals, then you won't want to miss this toe-tapping extravaganza, streaming for two days only on YouTube. As part of the University of West London's annual Artsfest, students from the London College of Music will be performing an all-singing, all-dancing revue, comprising tunes from some of the world's best-loved shows. It's sure to put a smile on your face.

12. Be dazzled by dance

Elevate, 8–10 July

Free events July dancers

Students' end-of-year pieces are always exciting to watch, as months of hard work and inspiration come to fruition in front of your very eyes. This in-person showcase at Uxbridge College's Hayes Community Campus will see dance graduates performing works devised by guest choreographers Nathan Mafwa and Aimee Finnerty, as well as some that they've conceived themselves.

13. Get up close with birds

RSPB at Lauriston Castle

Free events July bird perched on hand

If you love birds, then you're sure to have a good time at this family fun day at Edinburgh's stunning Lauriston Castle. Over the course of the day, you'll get to hear about some of the feathered species that inhabit the local area, and take part in a related art activity. If the weather's good, why not bring a picnic and make the most of the castle's lovely grounds?

14. Take a drive down memory lane

Derby Retro & Classic Car Show, 11 July

Free events July Minis at car show

Cars, vans, motorcycles, trikes... if it's got wheels, you're likely to find it at this free annual show, held in Derby's picturesque Markeaton Park. Alongside vehicles of all shapes and sizes, there will be live entertainment, stalls and other activities, making it a great day out for the whole family. While entry to the event is free, car parking charges apply. 

15. Swot up on your sketching

Pret a Portrait!, 11 July

Free events July hand drawing a portrait

Always wanted to draw accurate pictures of your friends and family? Sketch Appeal's friendly online workshop will teach you how. During the session, you'll learn a number of easy ways to capture their facial characteristics, and you'll even be invited to have a go at drawing with your eyes closed! Pencils at the ready – it's sure to be a lot of fun. 

16. Discover the world of EVs

Fully Charged: Electric Cars with Robert Llewellyn, 13 July

Free events July Robert Llewellyn

Thinking of switching to an electric vehicle? This online talk – exclusively for Boundless members – will tell you everything you need to know. Robert Llewellyn, presenter of YouTube channel Fully Charged, will examine the past, present and future of EVs, explore some of the myths surrounding battery-powered cars and bikes, and look at how we can carve out more eco-friendly ways of travelling. 

17. Don't miss this bear necessity!

Hertford Castle Teddy Bears' Picnic, 18 July

Free events July boy with teddy bear in summer

If you go down to Hertford Castle today, you're in for a big surprise! The annual Teddy Bears' Picnic is a delight for the whole family, comprising a bear hunt inside the castle itself, a programme of activities inside the main arena, bouncy castles, water-based activities on the River Lea and much more. It might just be the perfect tonic after the year we've all had.

18. Hear about life on the other side

The Governor: My Life Inside Britain's Most Notorious Prisons, 20 July

Free events July Vanessa Frake The Governor

Violence, drugs, killers, riots... It's all in a day's work for prison worker Vanessa Frake-Harris – aka The Governor. In this fascinating online talk – exclusively for Boundless members – she'll be recounting some of the humorous and hard-hitting tales from her new book of the same name. If you think life behind bars sounds easy, wait to hear what Vanessa has to say...

19. Meet some makers

Scottish Craft Art Exhibition, 23-29 July

Free events July woman painting chair

Some of Scotland's most talented crafters will have their work showcased at this inspirational week-long exhibition. Among the items on display will be pieces by Edinburgh-based furniture experts Hidden Bothy Designs, printed silk scarves by Alice Fulton Pozzi, plus Kristina Taylor and Madeline Osborn's hand-woven creations. 

20. Listen to some live music

Escape Fest, 24 July

Free events July woman singing and playing guitar

If you've been missing live music, then head down to the Escape Bar in London's Shepherd's Bush for this free day-long festival in aid of the mental-health charity Mind. Featuring a programme of acoustic acts in the afternoon, and then some of the best up-and-coming bands throughout the evening, it promises to be a barnstorming event. 

21. Go clubbing at home

Northern Pride Online 2.1, 24 July

Free events July women dancing with Pride flag

Newcastle-upon-Tyne's vibrant LGBTQ+ festival is moving online this year due to the pandemic, but it still promises to be a fun-packed event. Hosted by comedian Miss Rory and How to Look Good Naked star Gok Wan, the programme features performances by some of the biggest names in clubland, including London-based DJ Jodie Harsh. Get ready to dance around your living room! 

22. Learn about a fascinating area of history

Counterfeiting the Loss of Virginity in Early Modern England, 28 July

Free events July virgins

In this fascinating online talk, Dr Stephanie Allen will explore the subject of counterfeit maidenheads – i.e. women who claimed to still have their virginity intact when, in fact, it wasn't. As part of the talk, Dr Allen will focus on some of the methods that authors imagined these women to use, including animal blood, leeches and various different herbal concoctions. 

23. Find out if fairies really exist

The Light Burns Blue, 28 & 29 July

Free events July young girl with camera

In 1917, teenager Elsie Wright fooled the world by claiming that she'd photographed real-life fairies in her garden. This play by Silvia Semerciyan is based around that story, focusing on an ambitious reporter who seeks to uncover Elsie's 'fraud'. Performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting and recorded live for these online streams, it's an enchanting and intriguing tale.

24. Spend the evening with Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 29 & 30 July

Free events July A Midsummer Night's Dream

Credit: Guildford School of Acting

It's pretty much the middle of summer, so what better time to enjoy one of Shakespeare's most popular plays. Performed by students from the Guildford School of Acting, this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream is inspired by Japanese anime comics. Recorded live and available to stream for two days, it'll keep you going until theatres open again properly.

25. Put some colour into your life

National Bhangra Festival, 31 July

Free events July bhangra music

Originating in Punjab, India, bhangra is one of the world's most colourful and exuberant dance forms – and this online spectacular will celebrate the tradition in its many guises. Log on from 5pm to enjoy a programme that includes a live concert, workshops, fitness sessions and an exhibition. While it's free to view, you are encouraged to donate to one of the festival's charities. 

Photos: Getty Images, unless otherwise stated

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