Holidays, beer gardens, music festivals – Spring and Summer can be an expensive time.
Amid all the excitement, there is however, a free way to have fun. We’ve done the hard work for you and collated a list of 26 free things to do, leaving you with the hardest task of deciding which ones to do. From farmers markets to pirate festivals and just about everything in between, we hope you have a lot of fun.
MAKE A STAR AT FACT
FACT offers some of the most unique experiences in the city. Fancy something different to a hungover day on the couch on a Saturday? Pop in to their drop-in Star Lab and make your own star. An insightful way to contribute to scientific research through a variety of games and activities whilst improving your understanding of the magical sky at night. More here.
WALK ALONG CROSBY BEACH
The Iron Men sculptures on Crosby Beach by Anthony Gormley are known as ‘Another Place’ and are a huge tourist attraction. It consists of 100 cast iron sculptures looking out towards the sea in silent expectation. They recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary and we implore you to head down and check them out. Luckily enough they’re already in their birthday suits.
HEAD TO A MAKERS MARKET
Handmade and heartfelt created by Liverpool’s homegrown talent all in one room, what’s not to like? There’s plenty of places to get your fix, including the Retro Sundays at LEAF put on by Pillbox Vintage with a treasure trove of interesting curios to take home. There is a monthly instalment at Sefton Park Palm House definitely worth a visit (for Moon & Pea’s pies alone) and new kids on the block Skylark & Wren have just announced a calendar of makers markets in beautiful Woolton.
STAY UP LATE FOR LIGHTNIGHT
There are a few things on the Liverpool calendar that are a must. LightNight is one of them and they’re imploring you to do something brilliant (and free) on a Friday night. LightNight, Liverpool’s one-night arts festival returns to illuminate the city for a seventh consecutive year on the 13th of May, when thousands of visitors will explore and celebrate the city’s world-class cultural offer late into the night. There’s too much on offer to discuss but just know it’s all great, read more here.
How often do you look up? So often our eyes are glued to the floor or our phones, scrolling through an endless Facebook news feed. Yes, the resolution is crisp and the cat memes are funny but whilst we plug ourselves into the closest WIFI, we’re losing connection with what surrounds us. Liverpool is an architectural tour de force; regal and timeless, brand spanking new and abandoned lay poetically juxtaposed against each other. The best free piece of advice you’ll hear from us.
WATCH SOME LIVE MUSIC AT SMITHDOWN ROAD FESTIVAL
Smithdown Road has been through a bit of a renaissance as of late. Quality restaurants have been popping up all over, there’s some fantastic places for a tipple and the sense of community feels stronger than ever. How do they plan on celebrating their success? They’re having a road festival and you’re all invited. As well as music, there are also plans for a pop up art gallery and art installations, theatre and circus performances, swing dance classes, an outdoor market, a designated kids area, pop up shops and more. Info here.
SING ALONG AT LIMF
Liverpool International Music Festival is like a victory lap of Sefton Park for Liverpool’s electrifying music scene. A quite literal platform to display how gifted we are as a whole with a bit of crowd-surfing thrown in for good measure. With 150 different acts from 20 different countries, Liverpool is going to be the Mecca of music at the end of July and it is not to be missed as LIMF doesn’t just help you discover the new, it inspires the next. The Beatles weren’t the only ones to strum a guitar y’know. More info here.
SAIL ON DOWN TO THE INTERNATIONAL MERSEY RIVER FESTIVAL
The International Mersey River Festival will once again sail into Liverpool complete with ships, stages and things for all ages – and it’s set to host the very first Northern Boat Show. For music lovers, there’s plenty on offer as Music on the Waterfront forms part of the celebrations – 2014 saw a fantastic DJ set from Craig Charles, as well as performances from The Christians, Jaki Graham, Esco Williams and the Band of HM Royal Marines to name but a few. More info here.
JAM AT AFRICA OYE
Africa Oyé, the UK’s largest free celebration of African music and culture takes place annually in Liverpool mid June. Beginning in 1992 as a series of small gigs in the city centre, the event has gone from strength to strength, moving to its present Sefton Park home in 2002 to cope with demand. Inspired by the negative connotations associated with Africa, this event aims to highlight the culture, heritage, music and of course, the food. A must-do on the Liverpool calendar. Bring on the jerk chicken and tunes. More info here.
SHAKE YOUR TAIL FEATHER AT BRAZILICA
Brazilica is the UK’s only Brazilian festival and Samba Carnival taking place annually in the heart of the Liverpool city centre. Expect vibrant colours, dresses as loud as the drums and some awful dancing that should never be repeated by ourselves. The festival will be taking place from 15th-17th July. More info here.
BE INSPIRED BY THE BIENNIAL
Liverpool Biennial returns to the city between 9 July and 16 October this year and presents a free festival of contemporary art from around the world. From the bold to the beautiful, unassuming corners of the city are hijacked in order to provoke and inspire you. It takes place over 14 weeks across the city in public places, galleries and online. Liverpool Biennial is underpinned by a programme of research, education, residencies and commissions. More info here.
GET CRAFTY AT THE BLUECOAT
One of Liverpool’s most beautiful courtyards is also home to a host of fantastic independents and a plethora of free events. As the most historic building in Liverpool’s city centre, Bluecoat has four galleries. It houses a creative community of artists and businesses and runs a participation programme with local communities. Their events keep people young and inspired, look at them here.
HEAD ON DOWN TO LIVERPOOL LOVES FESTIVAL
We all love Liverpool but what does Liverpool love? A free festival in August on the Pier Head aims to find out. It has already been dubbed the “people’s festival” and it promises to be an awesome annual event. Expect morning raves, delicious food and drink and just about everything in between on the 4th and 5th of August and it’s completely free to pop down. More info here.
VISIT THE LIVERPOOL ARAB ARTS FESTIVAL
Each year, the festival brings a thrilling celebration of Arab culture to venues across the city and showcases the richness of Arab culture through a packed programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special events. It takes place from the 16th-24th July and they will be going out with a bang on the 24th at Sefton Park Palm House in partnership with LIMF. Expect live music, storytelling and tasty local cuisine. Info here.
TAKE THE KIDS TO THE PIRATE FESTIVAL
‘Shiver me timbers’, the free family friendly Pirate Festival on the docks will be returning this year. There’ll be sword fighting, musketry and cannon fire, shanties and storytelling, free face painting and activity workshops, plus a spectacular ship-to-ship pirate battle across Albert Dock. Discover how people lived in the days when pirate terrorised the high seas and come aboard the pirate brigantine Zebu and learn the amazing true stories behind some of the real life pirates from legend. More here.
FIND INNER PEACE AT THE FESTIVAL GARDENS
Fancy some peace and quiet? Look no further than the Festival Gardens. When the sun is shining, there’s no better place to be. It’s a Mecca for those in need of a stroll next to the tranquil water and beautiful plants. The area transcends you to a private moment and is good for the mind, body, soul and wallet.
HAVE A PICNIC IN THE PARK
This is as close to The Great Gatsby as you’re going to get. Get a nice basket, a nice cloth (here’s when Mum’s come in handy, they’ve got entire drawers dedicated to this kinda stuff) and fill it with a few of your partners favourite things and watch them weep with happiness. The weather might not be perfect for it but let’s be honest, we all live in the UK, when is it ever picnic-perfect? Grab some bread, fillings and maybe a bottle of vino and you’re good to go. Head to Sefton, Calderstones, Princess or Stanley Park.
CYCLE ALONG OTTERSPOOL PROM
There are many routes in the city that do the talking for us and sometimes, you can’t beat a good cycle. Leave the phones in your pockets, grab a friend or a loved one and cycle along Otterspool Prom at sunset. You will not be disappointed.
STEP INSIDE CENTRAL LIBRARY
BBC Culture just announced Liverpool’s Central Library to be one of the ten most beautiful libraries in the world, making the visit all the more poignant. The library is located in several adjoining historic buildings on the city’s historic William Brown Street. The building boasts over 4 million items with everything from documents to books to be discovered. Its sheer beauty can’t be articulated with mere words, you’ll have to go see it for yourself.
SPEND A MORNING AT A FARMERS MARKETS
In our humble opinion, a farmers market can be the perfect free day out. There is a monthly one at Lark Lane on the 4th Saturday of every month and sporadic ones throughout the city. What could be better than a collection of butchers, baristas, cheese mongers, chocolatiers and more, all together with a treasure trove of deliciousness just waiting to be devoured?
CHECK OUT THE STREET ART
Street art is like marmite, you either love it or hate it. Away from rather ambiguous profanities, it can be a genuine art and there are pockets around Liverpool full of beautiful work that brings a unique vibrancy to the area. The Baltic Triangle is a hot spot but we personally love the girl with five colours in her hair in Walton that has given a face-lift to an empty building and the Al Pacino.
VISIT SEFTON PARK PALM HOUSE
When Spring has sprung, there’s no better place to be than Sefton Park. In the middle of a bed of daffodils, recently sprouted is the best place to be with a book in one hand and an ice cream in the other. One of the park’s and Liverpool’s most beautiful aspects is the Palm House. Beautiful from whatever angle you look at it, venture inside for something up close and personal (and free).
RUMMAGE THROUGH THE RECORD SHOPS
Before iPod’s and Spotify there was a time when music came in the form of a big floppy UFO. Whilst the records themselves aren’t free, the exploration through it all most certainly is and that’s always the best part. Each vinyl is like a memento and you’ll enjoy the trip down Memory Lane, we’re sure. Liverpool’s vinyl scene has recently expanded too so it’s a good opportunity to keep up with the city. Head to Dig Vinyl, Jacaranda Records, Probe Records and Rex: The Concept Store.
JOHN MOORES PAINTING PRIZE
First held in 1957, the John Moores Painting Prize is the UK’s best-known painting competition and is named after Sir John Moores (1896 – 1993), the founder of the prize. The John Moores exhibition is held in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, and although the appearance of each exhibition changes, the principles remain constant: to support artists and to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK. More here.
WALK AROUND CLAREMONT FARM
Just over the water is Claremont Farm, acres of land that are in equal parts beautiful and essential. Over the past 10 years, they’ve created the alternative shopping and eating destination you see today, a melting pot for local produce, seasonal foods and family activities. They put on free ‘Welly Walks’ where you can walk around the farm, hear the history and maybe nibble on some produce on the way round. Free freshly grown strawberries? Yes please! More here.
EAT FREE BBQ FOOD
Free bbq? What kind of sorcery is this? Never have two words felt so right together in a sentence. Every Friday for the foreseeable future The Peacock, on Seel Street, will be firing up the BBQ and handing out burgers and sausages galore to hungry patrons. Clock off from work, grab yourself a burger and then never look back.
Special thanks to Marketing Liverpool for the use of the fantastic featured image.
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