Summer entertainment... for free!

17 July 2009 you trimmed your budget of categories like "expensive entertainment"? Lucky for you there's plenty of free entertainment around during the month of August in the form of summer festivals. You can find free summer festivals ranging from the sublime to the over-the-top, and even though you don't pay to get in, there is no doubt you'll be entertained with song and dance, and also just from people-watching. Here are 5 free festivals in August, proceeding alphabetically.

1. Belfast Maritime Festival. From 13th to 16th August, the port of Belfast will play host as the final port of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009. Fireworks, street performances, music, markets, arts and crafts will keep the area thrumming. And, naturally, there will be tall ships. Click here for more.

2. Brighton Pride. The Brighton & Hove Pride Festival takes place from Saturday 25th July through Sunday, 2nd August. The highlight of the festival is the Carnival Parade that starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, 1st August starting at Madeira Drive next to Brighton Pier. The parade route is lined with thousands of people each year, so plan accordingly. Pride in Brighton & Hove promotes equality and diversity, and advances education to eliminate discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) community. More on the festival can be found here.

3. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. 31 July through 9 August. Many of the concerts at this festival are ticketed, but some are free. The Mardi Gras festival on the Grassmarket Saturday, 1 August at 13:00 is free, and Sunday, 2 August features free Jazz on a Summer's Day on the Princes Street Gardens at 13:00. You can find a complete list of entertainment, free and ticketed here.

4. Liverpool Mathew Street Music Festival. 30th and 31st August. This two-day event offers over 80 hours of live outdoor music with cover and original bands. Held on the August bank holiday weekend in Liverpool City Centre, there are six outdoor stages that will play host to over 95 bands. You can find out more by going here.

5. Notting Hill Carnival. Also over the bank holiday weekend of 30th and 31st August, the Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest street festival in Europe. At least a million people will fill the streets of West London, where the festival offers music, dance, Caribbean food, and amazing costumes. Here is the official website.

This is far from an exhaustive list, so if you have any favorite free summertime festivals we should know about, say so in the comments below.


  • JJ M.
    There is also the Bournemouth Air Festival. 20th to the 23rd of August. Its a free airshow spread over 4 days and has events in the evening as well as in the day including a firework display with 110,000 rockets set off in 1 minute!
  • Adam
    There is also the Stockton Internation Riverside Festival (SIRF) which is also very very good, always loads going on, and has a fringe event that runs along side the arts festival with comedy and music. The main SIRF website is And the Fringe Festival's site is Well worth checking out!
  • Adam
    Meant to say, the SIRF festival runs from 30th July -> 2nd August
  • Mike B.
    Lichfield Arts Festival is also on until the 19th of July so hurry or you will have missed it.
  • Mike B.
    Ment to say a lot of this costs but the fireworks at the end is free and amazing!
  • munkigurl
    From 21 to 31 August, there's the Arundel festival in West Sussex. Lots of it costs money, but lots of it doesn't (open house art trail, fireworks, duck race, bathtub race and tons of other stuff.) Southern rail usually do a cheapy deal on trains to/from London, Brighton and Portsmouth for it too, which is just as well because the town of Arundel itself is eyewateringly expensive. With a bit of spends, the Theatre Trail's a top day out - eight half-hour plays one after the other, spread around the town in people's houses, gardens and pubs. Costs £30 for a full day of 'kultcha'. ~~~ ends gratuitous plug ~~~

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