While tickets for major summer events and festivals can set you back you hundreds of pounds, there are a host of free alternatives out there.

Here’s our round-up of 20 free summer events and festivals across the UK.


City of London Festival                                                                               

What: Music and arts against the backdrop of some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks and open spaces.                                                                           

When: 22nd June-10th July

Where: Venues across London

More info: City of London Festival website


Notting Hill Carnival

What: One of the world’s most famous free carnivals takes over the streets of west London.

When: 30th-31st August

Where: Notting Hill

More info: Notting Hill Carnival website


More London Free Film Festival                 

What: Free outdoor film screenings including Ghostbusters, Selma and Still Alice.

When: 2nd-24th September

Where: The Scoop amphitheatre on the South Bank

More info:  More London website


Southern England

Portsmouth Festivities

What: Ten days of theatre, art, film, music and talks to celebrate culture and heritage in Portsmouth.

When: 19th-28th June

Where: Various locations in Portsmouth

More info: Portsmouth Festivities website


Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

What: Over 100 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the skies along with evening firework displays.

When: 6th-9th August

Where: Ashton Court, Bristol

More info: Bristol Balloon Fiesta website


Ryde Carnival

What: The oldest carnival in the UK celebrates its 127th anniversary. Highlights include an illuminated carnival procession and regatta.

When: 26th, 27th August and 5th September

Where: Ryde, Isle of Wight

More info: Ryde Carnival website


Central England

Godiva Music Festival

What: Live music including The Wombats and Embrace as well as local bands, plus stand-up comedy acts and family field with entertainment for all ages.                     

When: 3rd-5th July

Where: War Memorial Park, Coventry

More info: Godiva Festival website


Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival

What: Two-day free festival featuring live performances and workshops as well as illuminated boat parade and fireworks display on the River Avon.

When: 4th-5th July

Where: Stratford-upon-Avon

More info: Stratforward website


Nottingham Riverside Festival                                                                           

What: Nottingham’s largest outdoor festival with live music, street theatre, dragon boat racing and fireworks on the banks of the River Trent.

When: 31st July-2nd August

Where: Victoria Embankment, Nottingham

More info: Nottingham City Council website


Worcester Music Festival

What: Live music from hundreds of up and coming bands and artists as well as workshops led by the musicians and artists who perform.

When: 18th-20th September

Where: Various venues across Worcester

More info: Worcester Music Festival website



Cardiff Festival

What: Series of events throughout the summer. Free events include the International Food and Drink Festival, Classic Car and Boat Rally and Cardiff Carnival.

When: 21st June-6th September

Where: Cardiff Bay

More info: Cardiff Festival website


The Big Cheese Festival

What: Entertainment, fireworks and the ‘Great Cheese Race’, all in celebration of Caerphilly’s history.

When: 24th-26th July

Where: Caerphilly

More info: Caerphilly Council website


Talgarth Festival

What: Music and entertainment in the shadow of the Black Mountains.

When: 29th-30th August

Where: Talgarth

More info: Talgarth Festival website  

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Northern England

Brass: Durham International Festival

What: Live brass music and family events.

When: 16th-19th July

Where: Various venues in Durham

More info: Brass Festival website


SIRF 13 (Stockton International Riverside Festival)

What: One of the largest free arts festivals. Four days of street theatre, circus, dance and music.

When: 30th July-2nd August

Where: Various venues around Stockton-on-Tees

More info: SIRF website


Liverpool International Music Festival

What: Live music including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Shaggy, Lemar and The Hoosiers.

When: 27st-31st August

Where: Sefton Park, Liverpool

More info: LIM Festival website



Almost Blue

What: Blues music festival with over 90 live performances, featuring over 70 acts.

When: 3rd-5th July

Where: 20+ locations across Dundee

More info: Almost Blue Facebook page


Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival

What: A free companion to the main Edinburgh Festival including comedy, theatre and cabaret events. Events take place in nightclubs, caves, bars and buses.

When: 7th-31st August

Where: Various locations around Edinburgh

More info: Edinburgh Festival website

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Northern Ireland

Lidl Titanic Maritime Festival

What: Watch tall ship parades and races over four days along with talks, tours, fireworks and street theatre.

When: 2nd-5th July

Where: Belfast

More info: Tallships Belfast website


Red Sails Festival

What: Live music, theatre, magic, dance events, drum workshops and a childrens' fancy dress competition.

When: 19th-25th July

Where: Portstewart

More info: Red Sails website


More free festivals

You'll find lots more free festivals and events at the Free Events website but it's worth checking details with individual locations before setting off.

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