Best free things to do in the UK

Last updated 9th August 2022

City Hall Amphitheatre

1/8 See shows in an amphitheatre

The Scoop is an outdoor amphitheatre near City Hall and London Bridge, which plays host to a range of live performances including theatre, opera, music and dance. In summer, More London hosts Film in The Scoop every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There are no tickets for these events so you have to make sure you grab a seat early as these screenings are very popular!

Every year there are plenty of films that are suitable for families. There is nothing like watching your family’s favourite film in the night air, against the glowing backdrop of London Bridge.

When: Free films are shown 2-24 September 2015, every Wednesday at 7.30pm

South Stack Cliffs

2/8 Spot dolphins from a tower

South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve is a nature reserve on Holy Island, on the North West coast of Wales. Up on the cliffs you will enjoy a close-up view onto a wonderful cliff-side nesting colony 300 feet above the Irish Sea. The first floor of Ellins Tower has a plate-glass platform that offers beautiful views to South Stack lighthouse and if you’re fortunate enough to be there on a day with clear skys you will get views of up to 60 miles to Ireland!

Binoculars and telescopes are provided so you and the family will be able to watch guillemots, razorbills and puffins all raising their young, while live television pictures give you an even closer view of the nests! Families can also enjoy some wildsquare bingo sheets to help discover nature on the reserve. Spring and summer bathe the heathland with incredible vibrant colours. If you look closely you may see a basking adder, while out to sea you might be able to catch a glimpse of some porpoises and dolphins.

When: Visitor Centre (With shop and cafe): 10am – 5pm. Ellins Tower Seabird Centre: 10am – 5pm

Mum and daughter lying on grass with pair of skates

3/8 Try street skating

Part of LFNS (London Friday Night Skate), Sunday Stroll is a marshalled street skate that takes place every week in London. The group skate kicks off at Serpentine Road in Hyde Park at 2pm every Sunday. The skate is weather dependant and LFNS will announce whether the event is going ahead a few hours before its due to start.

The Sunday Stroll skate is open to all skaters, big and small, who are skilled enough to stop, turn and control their speed. It’s taken at a slow, relaxed pace (unlike the faster, more demanding Friday night version). Both inside and traditional skates are welcome, and all kids must be joined by an adult.

You can find information about the route on LFNS website, mid-week, and there’s plenty of information on their social media channels. Participation is totally free, and some skates are provided by volunteers.

Olympia theatre

4/8 Watch incredible films

The British Film Institute’s Mediatheque is a place to discover new films and get reacquainted with old favourites. All you have to do is log on at a viewing station near you, and choose from over 2,500 highlights from the BFI National Archive, the world’s greatest and most diverse collection of film and television.

Ranging from home movies to feature films, documentaries to kids’ TV, many titles have rarely been seen since their original release. You will find Mediatheques at London’s Southbank, Birmingham Library, Central Library in Cambridge and many more locations throughout the UK. And it is all free of charge!

Opening times: Tuesday 1pm–8pm, Wednesday–Friday 12pm–8pm, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 12.30–8pm

5/8 Climb Big Ben

First thing’s first: this tour is available to UK residents only and children under 11 are not permitted on the tours.

A typical tour will take you up the 334 stone spiral steps to the top of the 154 year old Elizabeth Tower to hear Big Ben strike the hour. As well as seeing a spectacular view of London from 62 metres up the tower, you will also go behind the clock faces and have the opportunity to visit the mechanism room to learn about how the clock works in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, there are no phones or cameras allowed, but hopefully this will mean that you and the family can immerse yourself into the history of the tower and really soak up the atmosphere without any distractions!

The tours are free but UK residents will have to contact their local MP or a Member of the House of Lords to arrange a tour. Tours are generally fully booked six months in advance and demand is high, so early booking and flexibility regarding dates and times is strongly recommended.

When: Monday – Friday 9am, 11am and 2pm. From May to September, there is an additional daily tour at 4pm

Pulse and Bloom

6/8 Interact with art

Connect with others by sharing your heartbeat in an illuminated lotus garden at London’s Southbank. Pulse and Bloom is an interactive art installation that visualises participants’ heartbeats with the hope of syncing human heartbeats in a rhythmic pattern.

Each giant fabricated lotus is equipped with two pulse sensors. When pressed by one or two participants, the sensors translate their heartbeats into pulsing LED lights, which illuminate the stem and petals into a radiant dance of light syncing together. As the stem pulses with both heartbeats, you will see how heart rates of different people in intimate spaces start to beat in sync. The effect becomes increasingly meditative as more people interact with the lotuses.

When: 15 – 25 May 2015 10am – 11pm

Where: Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall, London

The Green Britain Centre

7/8 Discover the car of the future

The Green Britain Centre, in Swaffham, Norfolk, is a built on a vision of the future, and introduces us to a world where energy comes from the sun, sea and wind, and is clean and endless. You’ll have fun, while learning about eco-energy and wind power. We guarantee everyone (mums and dads included) will go homing having learnt something new about sustainability.

Learn about the transport of the future (when we will have to get around without oil) and take a close look the world-record holding and fastest wind powered vehicle on the planet; Greenbird. Wander through the pleasant organic gardens and orchard, and touch the only windmill blade to have survived an alien abduction (apparently). There is also a cinema and a theatre, and an excellent cafe which serves locally-sourced, organic food.

You are also given the rare chance to climb a modern windmill and experience wind power from the top. You may have to climb 305 steps to get to the top but we can assure the view and experience is worth it. Plus the turbine is the only one in the world open for the public to climb!

When: Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm. Summer month (1 July to 31 August) seven days a week, 10am – 4pm

Find out more:

TV audience

8/8 Be in a TV show audience

Go for a completely different experience and apply for tickets for you and the family to go and see a live television recording. There are a few websites that offer bookings for tickets and if you get accepted, you might even get a chance to be on camera!