< Art & Culture

Whether you’re looking for music, museums or markets, British freebies are a can’t–miss. Stash the cash with 10 activities that won’t cost you anything but time.

 

1. Free Museums | Scotland, England

Glasgow’s dynamic Riverside Museum exhibits historic vehicles in a Zaha Hadid building. The Tate Britain in London has an unmatchable collection of work by J.M.W. Turner. And the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool hosts history on the high seas.

2. Historic Ceremonies | England

Book ahead to see the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London or drop by Buckingham Palace to see the daily Changing of the Guard. You can even catch a glimpse of the Queen at the her Birthday Parade in June.

3. Parks and gardens | England, Scotland

In London, Greenwich Park has terrific views across the river to Canary Wharf, Regent’s Park boasts fragrant rose gardens, and Richmond Park guards ancient trees and roaming deer. Head north to Edinburgh, to the Royal Botanic Garden, for native flora and outdoor sculptures.

4. Free concerts | Wales, England

The Wales Millennium Centre has regular free lunchtime and early evening concerts. The Southbank Centre in London puts on jazz, classical, dance and rock shows open for everyone to attend. You’ll also find that pubs and clubs up and down the country often have free gigs (but not free drinks). 

5. Street theater | Scotland, England

Head to Edinburgh in August as the International Festival kick–starts a manic entertainment program that often spills into the streets. Shows in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are also often free, or cost very little. In London, street entertainment is reliably found at Covent Garden and on the South Bank near the London Eye.

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6. Shopping and markets | England, Scotland

Even without cash to splash, Harrods in London is a landmark worth seeing. Seek out Borough Market for a visual banquet and free samples, or Columbia Road Flower Market for a riot of colorful blooms. In Scotland, the Barras Market is the place to sample Glaswegian banter at its best.

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7. Public art | England, Scotland

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North near Newcastle has become an iconic figure, with his stirring Another Place at Crosby Beach not far behind. Andy Goldsworthy’s Striding Arches, a series of stone sculptures in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, are an impressive sight. You can even plan your own tour at Public Art Online.

8. Carnivals, festivals and parades | Wales, England

There’s almost always a festival on somewhere. Cardiff Big Weekend hosts the biggest names in pop; the Notting Hill Carnival in London is a weekend of nonstop partying, Caribbean style; and Bonfire Night in November, also historically known as Guy Fawkes Night, sees firework displays up and down the country.

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9. Prehistoric places | England

The Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire is thought to be more than 4,000 years old, and wandering freely among the stones is a magical experience. The Cerne Abbas Giant – a huge, naked figure etched in chalk on a hillside near Dorchester – is also shrouded in mystery, and the Uffington White Horse is equally awesome in scale.

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10. Footloose and fancy–free | England, Wales, Scotland

There’s no better, or cheaper, way to explore the countryside than on foot. No fewer than 15 national trails pass through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in England and Wales. Scotland has some incredible long–distance routes, too.

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