10 things to do for free over the bank holiday
1. Visit a museum
Since 2001 all national museums offer free entry. London has a fantastic range: from the Natural History Museum and Science Museum for the kids to the Victoria and Albert’s treasure trove of delights.
Non–Londoners need not miss out either. If you live up north, you might fancy a trip to the National Railway Museum in York. It offers free entry and over the bank holiday weekend visitors can experience the newly restored replica Rocket steam engine and learn about how railways work in the museum’s interactive science show. For more information visit its website.
2. Go on a tour
Tours don’t have to involve paying for a tour guide. Catch the changing of the guard ceremony at 10.45am each day outside Buckingham Palace. Alternatively, if you fancy a walk over London Bridge, you can download the London Bridge Audio Tour.
3. Get on your bike
Now is the perfect time to get on your bike and explore your local area. Free cycle maps from Sustrans show cycle routes across the country. You can either request that the maps are sent to you in the post or download routes from the internet.
4. A spot of heritage
If you're interested in architecture and historic buildings there are plenty of options to choose from. The website britainexpress.com lists details of castles, abbeys, cathedrals, ancient sites and other historic gems. Links to ordnance survey maps of the areas and a five point heritage rating should give you some indication of how historically interesting the various places to visit are.
5. Enjoy a free festival
This weekend coincides with the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi. There is a big celebration in Trafalgar Square in London on Sunday. It includes free, child-friendly street entertainment, live music and vegetarian food for sale.
If you live near the coast, going to the Brighton Festival or Fringe Festival might be a better option. They include free and paid-for dance, music and theatre events. The festivals start on 2 May and run until 24 May. For more information visit its website.
Medway’s annual Sweeps Festival also takes place over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Festivities include morris dancing in the streets, storytelling in the Charles Dickens Centre, and a funfair in the castle grounds.
6. Put on your walking boots
The weather’s meant to be pretty good this weekend so why not grab your walking shoes and get some exercise? walkingenglishman.com has downloadable routes of walks across the UK and you can also buy maps from ordnancesurvey.co.uk.
7. Go back to nature
RSPB reserves are a great way to see beautiful birds, fascinating flowers, and some interesting animals. Why not try Pulborough Brooks RSPB nature reserve in West Sussex or Saltholme in Tees Valley? For more information and to find a nature reserve near you go to RSPB's homepage.
8. Go to the beach
Whether you want to fly a kite, throw a frisbee, ride a donkey or simply soak up the sun, beaches have something for everyone. Surfers will find the best waves in Cornwall, while Kent and Essex both have an array of family–friendly beaches. To check details on water quality, safety and activities visit goodbeachguide.co.uk.
9. Visit an art gallery
As with museums, some art galleries are free too. You don’t have to pay to view the main collections at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain and there are also other exhibitions elsewhere in London.
For example, the Glastonbury exhibition at theprintspace gallery in Old Street marks the 40th anniversary of the music festival. Photographer Liam Bailey has been to the festival for around 20 years and captured the performers, the festival-goers and the infamous mud.
The Andy Warhol portraits exhibition at The Olyvia Fine Art gallery is running until 9 May.
10. Relax in the park
Grab your friends or family and head to the nearest park for some team games. Football, rounders, frisbee and cricket are all easy to set up and play. Take a picnic with you to save money on food and drink.