We made it to the weekend, hurrah! Saturday’s mini challenge is called Social Calendar, and it’s aimed at finding lots of thrifty – ideally free – ways to get out and enjoy life wherever you live.
As the days become longer and the weather warms up, there are so many more events to enjoy from festivals to sporting events, but it can become a huge drain on your finances. You could spend an almost infinite amount on tickets, VIP entry, food and drink, programmes and more, at a time when you might prefer to put that cash towards a summer holiday or other travel.
It’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of spring and summer events around the UK that are absolutely free, or very low cost. You just have to know where to look for them, and sometimes we need a gentle reminder that they exist and we’ve been to them before.
Today’s activity is to hunt down a free or very low cost event to attend over the weekend or, failing that, in the next few days.
What sort of free events could you attend? Here are some ideas for categories to look for:
- Concerts and recitals
- County fairs and shows
- Specialist markets: food, gardening, craft, vintage or flea markets (try not to buy everything while you’re there)
- Previews of films, or free screenings of documentaries
- Outdoor big screen sport / opera / other events
- Watching road races, such as cycling or marathons
- Parades and carnivals
- Exhibitions and galleries
- Open house events in public buildings
- Open garden events
- Sculpture trails and other seasonal free walks
- Traditional, heritage and cultural events (anything from Trooping the Colour to Pride and ancient pagan festivals)
- Many landmarks and attractions
- Religious calendar events
- Talks, readings and lectures
- Campaigns and protests
- Volunteering events
- Charity fundraising challenges
- Taster events for education
- Free local fitness initiatives
- PR-based events such as brand showcases and launch parties
- Buskers and street art
- Free comedy showcases and open mic nights
There are also a few pay-what-you-can events, subsidised charity and council events, and so on that might be worth a look. Watch out for ‘free seminars’ though, unless they’re run by a non-profit oganisation of some sort, as it might be nothing more than a high pressure sales pitch for something you don’t want or need.
Where can you find the best free events?
It pays to look around, track down some groups and organisations that you love, get on a few mailing lists and do some general networking. Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about all kinds of interesting events and initiatives.
Otherwise, there are plenty of places to start tracking down listings, including:
- Your local library
- Council noticeboards and websites
- Other local messageboards, such as a church hall or leisure centre
- Local newspaper or local facebook groups
- Nearby schools, colleges, conservatoires and universities
- Arts venues (posters, noticeboards, mailouts etc)
- Tourist information offices and websites, including VisitBritain
- Events websites such as your local TimeOut, Meetup or Eventbrite (search first by keyword, then set location and the ‘free’ price)
- Your nearest town or city may also have its own entertainment site, often with a free events section such as this latest weekly list from Londonist
- Fanzines, newspaper arts and culture sections, music listings mags and local free papers often have free events among their listings
- National schemes such as BP Big Screens for free top notch opera and ballet, and Tennis For Free
If all else fails, a quick internet search for “free events” plus the name of your town, city or county is bound to bring something interesting up, so get looking.
What’s happening here
I managed to get out to a free event last night, as there’s an arts festival going on in the area and it’s all hiking distance so it seemed rude not to make the most of it. It was book readings and a panel discussion by a local publisher and authors, so that was just about perfect.
If I hadn’t taken and flipped through a booklet I was handed in the street last week, I would never have heard about it so I suppose it pays to be a bit friendly and nosy rather than rushing around the neighbourhood trying to get those errands run in record time.
There was no extra time spent watching TV and no extra money spent, so my budgets are the same as they were before.
Where are you going to find a free event to attend today? Let us know if you find anything really interesting or unusual.