When you are trying to find things to do with the kids during the summer holidays, one of the best words you can hear is free. And no matter where in the country you are, there are free family festivals taking part throughout July and August that will cost you nothing to get in and will be a great family day out.
15th to 17th July – Bristol Harbour Festival, The West Country
The Bristol Harbour Festival combines music and dance as well as maritime events and a circus zone while there is a special area for kids called Young Bristol. This celebrates the work of various clubs and groups around the city that work with kids outside school hours to help them prepare for adulthood. The festival is being opened this year by Echo and the Bunnymen while local artists will also be appearing. The Circus area includes aerial rope displays and other acrobatics while there are also comedy sessions and dance.
15th to 17th July – Rothbury Traditional Music Festival, Northumberland
Rothbury Traditional Music Festival takes place in the scenic Northumberland village of Rothbury. The festival has been running for three decades and generates a unique atmosphere with musicians and groups from around the country. As well as listening to music, there are workshops to get involved with including Northumbrian piping while there are acoustic concerts and children’s competitions to let the younger visitors get involved with events. It offers the chance to hear and see traditional music styles from around the UK to keep alive the traditions of our ancestors.
15th to 24th July – Birmingham & Solihull Jazz & Blues festival, The Midlands
Whether you are jazz or blues fans or simply love a good music event, then the Birmingham and Solihull Jazz & Blues Festival is one to see. The event includes a range of bands from different music styles that are local and also international. The event is spread over a number of locations across Birmingham and Solihull including the Botanical Gardens, New Street station and various parks across the city. This means visitors can tour different locations to experience the acts taking place there and always see something different regardless when they visit.
15th July to 24th July – Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Scotland
The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival started in 1978 and was the brainchild of a banjo player and guitarist named Mike Hart. His idea was to create a traditional jazz event that was free admission and included a host of other events. There is something for all tastes and all ages.
As well as the vast range of musical acts and styles to be experienced, there is also a carnival that takes place on the first Sunday, the 17th. This includes a parade along Princess Street and a number of performances from artists of all styles from around the world.
16th and 17th July – Lambeth Country Show
The Lambeth Country Show takes place in Brockwell Park, Lambeth. The festival has been running for 42 years and combines the best of a country fair with a horticultural show, all with a touch of the urban vibe that comes with anything based in London.
The Main Stage is the central area of the festival and sees a line-up of various styles of music from soul, afro-beat and drum and bass through to roots reggae groups. There is a big focus on local music as well as special international groups and artists making appearances. Other zones include the Arts & Culture area and the Activate zone with its martial arts displays. Food is available from around the world.
22nd to 24th July – Sunderland International Air Show, The North East
Sunderland International Air Show is one of the biggest free air shows in the UK and is now in its 27th year. This year’s event will include a Battle of Britain display from the RAF Battle of Britain memorial flight as well as other impressive sights, with the Red Arrows being a long-standing crowd pleaser. The air show is part of a series of events including children’s activities taking place at Roker Park including trampolines and zorbing while there is also a military dogs show.
22nd to 24th July – Liverpool International Music Festival’s Summer Jam
The Liverpool International Music Festival’s Summer Jam has a wide range of artists and groups performing. The festival celebrates the rich history of music in the city and includes the very latest in styles and contemporary music projects. The Summer Jam has become a top family event, taking place in Sefton Park and includes a performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as well as chart topping dance group Sigma. The Academy Stage showcases local talent and the work taking place around the area to bring the best new musicians into the limelight.
22nd to 30th July – Monmouth Music Festival, Welsh Borders
The Monmouth Music Festival lasts for nine days and takes place in the Welsh border town of Monmouth. It is a mixture of musical styles that means there is something for everyone and a unique opportunity to show kids about the different types of music from around the world. This year sees artists including jazz, pop, classical, dance and country music as well as regional music from around the world. It also includes a carnival area as well as fringe events taking place in different locations around the town. The new Busking Festival uses zones around Monmouth where people can turn up and play their instruments or sing their songs with five acts being chosen to play on the main stage on the Sunday.
29th to 31st July – Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly, South Wales
The Big Cheese Festival takes place in the shadow of the impressive Caerphilly Castle. But the festival isn’t just about cheese, or even food. There are street entertainers, music, dance and even circus acts such as minstrels and fire eaters. Folk dancing will take place as well as living history events, bringing the past to life in a host of different ways. There are also food halls, craft stalls as well as traditional funfair rides for the kids to enjoy. Educational activities will keep their minds occupied and there are also animals in the marquee for them to visit.
5th to 29th August – Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland
Edinburgh Fringe takes place for most of August, starting on the 5th and ending on the 29th. During the event, thousands of performers take to the various stages around the city to showcase their talents. The 2015 show saw over 50,000 performances across over 300 venues, making it the biggest art festival anywhere in the world. It has its roots back in 1947 when theatre groups from around the city arrived together for the Edinburgh International Festival just after the Second World War. As well as music acts, there are children’s performances, comedy, dance and even opera taking place, allowing the kids to see music and performance from around the world all in one location.
7th and 8th August – Blackpool Air Show
The Blackpool Air Show was the first air show in the UK, originally held in 1909. It takes place on the famous Blackpool Promenade. Headline the event as always are the Red Arrows display team who will be showing off their skills while a special Battle of Britain show involving Spitfire, Hurricane planes and a Lancaster Bomber will be held on the Sunday. The Air Show Village includes eating and drinking places as well as flight simulators and the chance to see the latest smart cars.
13th August – Youth Beatz in Dumfries, Scotland
Youth Beatz takes place in Dock Park, Dumfries. It is a combination of great music with a host of new acts taking to the stage as well as daytime activities for the kids to enjoy. These include an assault course, fairground rides, a laser quest area and even a surf simulator. For the smaller kids events such as circus performers and the petting zoo will be ideal while the Spider Mountain ride is great fun for everyone. The festival is part of a series of events including a family fun day, talent show and sports evening taking place in the area throughout early August.
20th to 22nd August – Pride Glasgow, Scotland
Pride Glasgow is the biggest celebration of LGBTI equality in Scotland and was established back in 2004. The Pride Weekend takes place on Glasgow Green and includes a number of well-known music acts. There is a main outdoor stage with acts including Texas on show while the Village Square is a new addition, home to the community aspects of the day. The Village Green is a great place for families to go with family entertainment and picnic areas while there is even a Dog Show on the Sunday so any canine fans should definitely be around for that event. Finally, the parade involves around 4,000 people and follows a route around the city, starting at 12pm.
From 5th August – Stockton International Riverside Festival, The North East
Stockton International Riverside Festival or SIRF enters its 29th year and was inspired by the great festivals of Holland and France. The event takes place in Preston Park and also in the Stockton town centre from 5th August. Events include music, dance and circus performances as well as the Community Carnival. The Furious Folly is a special exhibition taking place this year that looks back to the First World War using a combination of mechanical creations, music and performance and was created by Mark Anderson. The carnival includes workshops in the lead up where kids can help make costumes and headdresses for performers to wear.
11th to 14th August – Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, The West Country
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is held at Aston Court Estate and is one of the most famous balloon events around the world and can see as many as 100 balloons take to the skies at the same time. The event started back in 1979 and now sees crowds in the thousands across the four days. Special events include the night glow, where balloons fly after dark and are illuminated, followed by a fireworks display. In addition to the balloons, recent years have seen displays by the Red Arrows as well as other display teams.
18th to 21st August – Bournemouth Air Festival, The South Coast
The Bournemouth Air Festival includes a range of impressive aircraft for spectators to enjoy. Top of the list are always the Red Arrows display team, closely followed by The Blades Aerobatic Team. This year will also see impressive visitors from overseas including the Swiss Air Force Super Puma Helicopter display team. There will also be Royal Navy craft, sea and land craft as well as a stage for music each night and a beach concert. There are even stalls in the county show area for a snack or a memento. The Night Air show takes place on the three nights and includes fireworks, music and something for all ages.
28th and 29th August – Notting Hill Carnival, London
The Notting Hill Carnival calls itself ‘Britain’s Biggest Street Party’ – a claim it lives up to. The festival has been running since 1964 and was originally designed for Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their traditions with the people of London.
Highlights include the Parade for Children running from 10am to 8:30pm on the Sunday which includes the whole team dressed at their most extravagant best. Steel bands, calypso performances and music from around the world are spread across numerous stages and performance areas. The Monday Parade sees over 60 bands in the most amazing costumes take to the route as well as a diverse range of places to eat and other sights to see, making it a must-see festival event.