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 free things to do, leaving you with the hardest task of deciding which ones to do. Do bear in mind we will be updating this list throughout the year so check back regularly. From farmers markets to pirate festivals and just about everything in between, we hope you have a lot of fun.
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’s an occasional one at Sefton Park Palm House definitely worth a visit (for Moon & Pea’s pies alone) and Free State Kitchen do a monthly one, too.
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 eighth consecutive year on the 19th 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.
GO ON A TOUR OF THE OLD DOCK
The internationally-important Old Dock has been carefully preserved under the new Liverpool ONE. For the first time in centuries the bed of the Pool – the creek that gave Liverpool its name – can be seen. The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826. Developers Grosvenor preserved the dock and are making it publicly accessible as an important reminder of Liverpool’s historic status. Tickets are free, info 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 dog 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. Simply look up and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
WATCH SOME LIVE MUSIC AT SMITHDOWN ROAD FESTIVAL
Smithdown Road Festival is back and bigger than ever before. After packing out all the venues last year, the festival has added a huge outdoor space on Wavertree Park – aka The Mystery. There will be two circus big tops, with live music from the likes of Space, Dave McCabe, Natalie McCool and as well as a DJ set from the trunk of funk himself Mr Craig Charles and an Africa Oye stage take over. There’s going to be a boss kids area, amazing food from local restaurants and it’s all free. More here.
SING ALONG AT LIMF
Liverpool International Music Festival is like a victory lap of Sefton Park for Liverpool’s electrifying music scene and it returns from 20th-23rd July. 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.
The Return Of The Ship
Disney Magic is a cruise ship owned and operated by the Disney Cruise Line, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. She has 11 public decks, can accommodate 2,700 passengers in 875 staterooms, and has a crew of approximately 950. Last year she was greeted by lots of people from Liverpool and left with a bang. Literally. The cruise ship is back on Friday 14th July.
Go To A Local Print Fair
Visit the Bluecoat 8th April to find yourself the perfect one-of-a-kind print, handmade by independent artists showcasing at Liverpool Print Fair. Liverpool Print Fair is an affordable art fair gathering the very best artists and designers who print using traditional methods. The fair is a joint venture from The Print Social and the Bluecoat Print Studio, and is a celebration of printmaking in a variety of forms including screen printing, linocut, etching, and woodcut. More 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.
Celebrate The History Of Albert Dock
Albert Dock is a huge part of Liverpool’s impressive history and Heritage On The Dock provides the perfect chance to go and find out why. This is a legacy event from the HLF-funded programme that invites the local community to embark on a journey of discovery over four days, celebrating the unique heritage and unlocking the secrets of this iconic Liverpool landmark.
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 14th-16th July. More info here.
SPEND A DAY 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.
MAKE YOUR BELLY HURT FROM LAUGHING AT A COMEDY CLUB
Liverpool’s first purpose-built comedy club; Hot Water Comedy Club opened just off Seel Street and with a city famed for its humour, it’s about time. Opposite Grove, the hidden cul de sac now has an injection of comedy as they opened their doors just before Christmas. Check the shows here, many are free entry.
Stroll Around St George’s Hall
St George’s Hall is widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the world and is a Grade I listed building.Built in the early 1800s as a space for music festivals and the Civil and Crown courts, the hall has always been at the heart of community life in the city. No matter what room you wander in to, it’s guaranteed to take your breath away. Address: St George’s Pl, Liverpool L1 1JJ
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 8th-16th July. 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.
All Aboard A Bookshop Tour
There’s no better feeling than sinking your teeth into a good book. A unique portable magic that allows you to escape from the world, into another world, far more interesting than your own. Liverpool loves its literature and there are many bookshops you need to visit. Along the way you’ll people with stories more interesting than you could buy. Read it here. If you do grab a book head to The Bluecoat Courtyard to read.
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.
Head To A Writing Festival
Writing on the Wall is a dynamic, Liverpool-based community organisation that coordinates projects and events that celebrate writing in all its forms. Writing on the Wall hosts a month long annual festival each May. The annual festival is the culmination of year round writing and spoken word projects involving people of all ages from diverse communities across the region. This year’s runs from May 1st to the 26th and there’s a whole host of free stuff. More here.
Blow Off Some Steam
The UK’s only inner-city steam rally will return and tae place on 6-7 May 2017. Trains, boats, and engines of the industrial age make Albert Dock their home for a weekend of toots, whistles and fun for families and steam enthusiasts alike. Last year saw thousands come out for a free day of family filled fun and this year will be no different. All aboard…
Follow Your Art And Head To A Museum Whilst You’re There
Within one small city Liverpool boasts excellent art galleries. We’ve got The Tate, Victoria Gallery, The Bluecoat, The Walker Art Gallery, Open Eye Gallery, FACT, just to name a few. All are equally ambitious and beautiful in their own way and provide an insightful respite away from the humdrum of the high street. If you fancy something out of the city, head to Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight. Don’t forget to check out the incredible museums on offer, too! The view from the window of Museum of Liverpool was recently voted the most stunning in the UK.
photo by Little Time Machine
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.
KidsFest At Stanley Park
KidsFest is returning to the beautiful Stanley park for a third year and is set to be bigger and better than ever. The children’s festival was first launched in 2015 to honour the short life of James Bulger who was cruelly murdered in 1993 at the age of two. They decided to organise a free children’s festival to give families in Liverpool a fabulous fun day out which marks the end of the school summer holidays and won’t break the bank. More here.
Visit Liverpool’s Own Diagon Alley
With entrances from Dale Street and Castle Street, there’s a little hidden street making a big name for itself as of late. It’s home to many things but we often find ourselves returning for a bottle of red from Devin, who owns R&H Fine Wines or a walk around the dot:art gallery. It’s beautiful from any angle, in any light and is definitely worth visiting. Queen Avenue, L2 4TX.
Go On The Ride Of Your Life At Pier Head Village
June 30th sees the return of The Pier Head Village. Formerly The Liverpool Village, year two of the three month summer festival sees it return with a much bigger and more action packed range of concepts, thrill rides and family fun than ever before. There will also be a local art fair where you can support local artists. More here.
Pick Up Something Timeless At Vintage On The Dock
Vintage on the Dock returns this summer on 9th and 10th July to weave a little bit of vintage magic through the Albert Dock with a free, family weekend celebration of 20th Century vintage cool!Visitors looking for some seriously stylish eye candy can browse the vintage marketplace, with the best traders hand-selected by keen-eyed curators, Dotty’s Vintage. From vintage clothes and accessories, to mid-century modern homewares, records and music memorabilia from the 1920s through to the 1990s, for the curious and committed and for those who want some seriously stylish eye candy.
Bask In Your Awesomeness At A Free BBQ
Is there a more beautiful combination of words than “free” and “bbq”? We don’t think so, either. HUS, Liverpool’s new Scandi-cool indie on the block just opened the doors to their rooftop terrace. Expect panoramic views, cold beers delicious food. They launched with a free BBQ and there’ll be plenty more this summer. More here.
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 3B Records.
SUN YOURSELF AT FINCA’S FIRST BIRTHDAY FIESTA
In April, it’s Cuban street food legends Finca’s first birthday and to celebrate they’re having a two-day FINCA Fiesta in Buyers Club’s brilliant outdoor garden space on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th April! There’ll be DJs, cocktails and of course, their Cuban street food to see you through the day and into the night. Get involved here.
Get Your Folk On
2016 saw BBC’s Janice Long host the inaugural Folk On The Dock event, seeing the Dock welcome over 100 folk, roots, acoustic and sea shanty acts and almost 450 performers – many of them local – over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Join us as we celebrate Liverpool’s rich music and maritime heritage again in 2017! Confirmed artists and programme announcements will be coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled here.
ATTEND A BOOK CLUB AT LEAF
Books are a uniquely portable magic that transfer us to a world much more interesting than our own. Each month LEAF host a wonderful book club with literary, tea and cake. The golden trio. There’s one at the end of each month. All info can be found here.
FEAST AT CAMP AND FURNACE’S NIGHTGARDEN
Designed to disorientate and delight, NIGHTGARDEN combines food, drink, art and performance, where nature meets technology head on. Free to enter and running every Friday night NIGHTGARDEN sees the venue’s Furnace room combine with Northern culinary powerhouses. Foodies, it’s worth checking out. More here.
Head To OPEN EYE GALLERY’S EXHIBITION ON THE NORTH: IDENTITY, PHOTOGRAPHY, FASHION
North: Identity, Photography, Fashion explores the way the North of England is depicted, constructed and celebrated in select photographs, artworks and fashion collections. The show brings together collective visions of the North, unpicking themes that appear regularly in design and media. Don’t miss it, 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.
Fancy saving money at close to 100 of the best independents in Liverpool? Check out the Independent Liverpool Membership Card. It is just £15 for a year (or £20 for two) of discounted discovery at some of Liverpool’s best independents. Shop local and save money, buy yours here.