Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

Region-by-region guide to 60+ events

Festival season is back for 2022, following two years of disruptions due to the pandemic. Whether you want to listen to pop, house, rock or jazz music, or carnivals or parades are more your scene, there are free UK festivals and carnivals to suit all tastes - and most are suitable for families. We've rounded them up by area of the UK...

Alternatively, it's also possible to get into some big paid-for festivals for free, including Reading and Leeds Festival, in return for working there – see the stewarding guide below.

Choose which region of the UK you want to look at

It's worth noting that some festivals are spread across different venues and may have concerts that cost extra, so always check with the organisers before you go.

  • London

    Notting Hill Carnival

    www.visitlondon.com

    Where: Notting Hill, London (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 27 August - Monday 29 August

    Description: A huge community-led street festival with floats, costumed performers, music and food stalls – rooted in Caribbean culture and celebrating a diverse and vibrant London.

    Totally Thames Festival

    totallythames.org

    Where: Central London (view map)

    Dates: Throughout September

    Description: A whole month of celebration and entertainment. The 2022 line-up hasn't been announced yet, but in previous years it's included the Mayor's Thames Festival, the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival and the Great River Race. Although the festival itself is free to attend, some of the activities charge a fee.

    London Mela

    www.londonmela.org

    Where: Southall Park (view map)

    Dates: Sunday 4 September

    Description: The festival includes urban, classical and experimental Asian music.

    Turning Tides Festival

    greenwichpeninsula.co.uk

    Where: The Tide, Greenwich (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 10 September - Sunday 11 September

    Description: A music, arts and wellness festival to celebrate the opening of London's first linear park. A weekend of music, riverside yoga and meditation.

    Croydon Mela

    www.croydonmela.com

    Where: Wandle Park (view map)

    Dates: TBC

    Description: A day of live music from Asian cultures, plus world food and family entertainment.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Urban Village Fete

    greenwichpeninsula.co.uk

    Where: Greenwich Peninsula (view map)

    Dates: Sunday 15 May

    Description: A free one-day music and arts festival, featuring pop-ups, entertainment and market places – although there is a charge for some classes and workshops. There'll be street food vendors, debates and workshops for all ages.  

    NOW ENDED: West End Live

    www.westendlive.co.uk

    Where: Trafalgar Square (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June

    Description: Live performances of a variety of West End hit musicals and theatre shows.

    NOW ENDED: Pride in London

    prideinlondon.org

    Where: Central London (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 2 July

    Description: Celebrating London's LGBTQ+ diversity with a huge parade that runs through central London. There are also free events and workshops throughout June.

    NOW ENDED: The Cally Festival

    www.thecallyfestival.co.uk

    Where: Caledonian Road, London ( view map)

    Dates: Sunday 3 July

    Description: A street festival with music, performances, art, stalls, creative workshops and food stalls.

    NOW ENDED: Lambeth Country Show

    www.lambethcountryshow.co.uk

    Where: Brockwell Park, Herne Hill (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 16 July - Sunday 17 July

    Description: Wide variety of music and entertainment, arts and crafts, trade stalls, animals, steel orchestras and samba bands

  • Northern Ireland

    NOW ENDED: Belfast Pride Festival

    www.belfastpride.com

    Where: Belfast (view map)

    Dates: Friday 22 July - Sunday 31 July

    Description: Celebrating Belfast's LGBTQ+ diversity with a week-long celebration including a huge parade, debates, music, comedy and film.

    NOW ENDED: Red Sails Festival

    www.redsails.co.uk

    Where: Portstewart (view map)

    Dates: Sunday 24 July - Saturday 30 July

    Description: A family-friendly festival with free music from local bands and orchestras, a puppet theatre show, exhibitions, and a spectacular firework display to end the festivities. The festival is mostly free but some events may charge.

  • Scotland

    Edinburgh Fringe Festival

    www.edfringe.com

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Friday 5 August - Monday 29 August

    Description: A huge arts festival with thousands of performances packed into hundreds of venues across the city. Many free events and shows to suit all ages.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Dandelion Festival

    www.unboxed2022.uk/dandelion-festival-glasgow

    Where: Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow (view map)

    Dates: Friday 17 June - Sunday 19 June

    Description: A  music and arts festival celebrating sustainability. It is part of UNBOXED 2022 which is a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK, designed to reach millions and bring people together.

    NOW ENDED: Pride Glasgow

    www.prideglasgow.com

    Where: Glasgow Green (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June

    Description: A celebration of Scotland's LGBTQ+ diversity. It includes a huge parade going through the city centre, with thousands of people taking part. Entry to the musical festival charges a fee.

    NOW ENDED: Youth Beatz

    youthbeatz.co.uk

    Where: Dumfries (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June

    Description: Aimed at young people aged 12-25 and featuring celebrities as well as local bands. Register for a chance to get free tickets via the link above. Acts this year include Ella Eyre, Pixie Lott and Jonas Blue.

    NOW ENDED: Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

    www.edinburghjazzfestival.com

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Friday 15 July - Sunday 24 July

    Description: Established in 1978, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival is a mixture of free and ticketed events spread over a week in July.

  • North East England

    South Tyneside Summer Festival

    www.southtynesidefestival.co.uk

    Where: South Shields (view map)

    Dates: June/July/August

    Description: Live music, brass bands, parades, parties and open-air concerts throughout June, July and August. Sunday concerts taking place on 10, 17, 24 and 31 July. Most events are free but some charge a small fee.

    Stockton International Riverside Festival

    www.sirf.co.uk

    Where: Stockton (view map)

    Dates: Thursday 4 August - Sunday 7 August

    Description: Lots of free family events, including street theatre, a mobile football stadium, circus acts, dance shows, music and a community carnival.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Rothbury Traditional Music Festival

    www.rothburymusicfestival.co.uk

    Where: Rothbury, Northumberland (view map)

    Dates: Friday 15 July - Sunday 17 July

    Description: The festival offers traditional outdoor music, Highland dancing, craft stalls, competitions and workshops. Some events are ticketed and charge a fee, but in previous years, the 'final fling' dance and sing-a-long on the Sunday has been free.

    NOW ENDED: Northern Pride Festival

    www.northern-pride.com

    Where: Town Moor and Exhibition Park, Newcastle (view map)

    Dates: Friday 22 July - Sunday 24 July

    Description: Northern Pride Festival (formerly Newcastle Pride) is a two-day festival across two locations in Newcastle. The free festival line-up is yet to be announced, so keep an eye on the website for updates.

  • Wales

    Big Cheese Festival

    www.bigcheesecaerphilly.co.uk

    Where: TBC

    Dates: TBC

    Description: A festival including street food stalls, live lounge bar area, food halls and live cookery demonstrations.

    Update: Caerphilly Castle is undergoing development work and it is therefore not feasible for The Big Cheese to take place in its usual format in 2022. Alternative options for 2022 are being investigated and updates will be posted as soon as possible. 

    Where: Talgarth, near Brecon (view map)

    Dates: TBC (usually August Bank Holiday weekend)

    Description: Includes live music, stalls, a dog show, bouncy castle and kids' activities.

  • East England

    Aldeburgh Carnival

    www.aldeburghcarnival.com

    Where: Aldeburgh, Suffolk (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 13 August - Monday 15 August

    Description: A seaside street festival with floats, swimming races, food stalls and fireworks.

    Out There Festival

    www.outtherearts.org.uk

    Where: Great Yarmouth (view map)

    Dates: Friday 16 September - Sunday 18 September

    Description: A circus and street arts festival the whole family will enjoy. 

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Stowfiesta

    www.stowfiesta.co.uk

    Where: Stowmarket (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 4 June - Sunday 5 June

    Description: Two-day music festival showcasing some of the best talent from East Anglia and further afield.

    NOW ENDED: Strawberry Fair

    www.strawberry-fair.org.uk

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 11 June

    Description: A one day music and arts festival that is run by the community and for the community of Cambridge. Expect to see plenty of performances, as well as craft and food stalls.

    NOW ENDED Festival  Too

    www.festivaltoo.co.uk

    Where: King's Lynn (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June, Friday 1 July - Saturday 2 July and Friday 8 July to Saturday 9 July

    Description: Music and entertainment festival. Previous acts have included The Vamps, Scouting For Girls, Pixie Lott and The Darkness. 

    NOW ENDED: Norwich Pride

    www.norwichpride.org.uk

    Where: Norwich city centre (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 30 July

    Description: Norwich's Gay Pride festival with a parade, live bands, stalls and arts and crafts

  • South West England

    Courtyard Social at Propyard

    www.propyard.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Various weekends over summer

    Description: Offering a huge bill of live music from some of Bristol’s best DJs, the weekly outdoor events will take place every Thursday and Friday (as well as the occasional Saturday) from 6-11pm in the venue’s courtyard. Alongside the live music, you can enjoy craft beers, cocktails and street food.

    Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

    bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Thursday 11 August - Sunday 14 August

    Description: A huge hot-air balloon event with over 130 hot-air balloons, fairground rides, trade stands and entertainment.

    Where: Portishead, Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 13 August

    Description: A celebration of local and fresh produce, with street entertainment.

    Where: Wellington, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 3 September

    Description: A celebration of local and fresh produce, with a cookery school, demo stage and more.

    B-side multimedia festival

    www.b-side.org.uk

    Where: Portland (view map)

    Dates: Thursday 8 September - Sunday 11 September

    Description: A showcase of contemporary art, including workshops, talks, cinema and more. Some events will charge a fee.

    Where: Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 22 October

    Description: A celebration of local and fresh produce, as well as a face painter, balloon modeller, cookery school, demos, competitions, music, buskers and more.

    Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival

    www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk

    Where: Bridgwater, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 5 November

    Description: An evening procession of illuminated floats through the streets of Somerset town.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Devizes International Street Festival

    www.docadevizes.org.uk

    Where: Devizes (view map)

    Dates: Sunday 30 April - Monday 1 May

    Description: Two days of events and celebration, including a street festival, circus acts, street performers, musicians, dancers and craft stalls.

    NOW ENDED: eat:Burnham

    www.eatfestivals.org/burnham

    Where: Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 28 May and Saturday 22 October

    Description: A celebration of local and fresh produce, as well as a face painter, balloon modeller, cookery school, demos, competitions, music, buskers and more.

    NOW ENDED: Upfest

    www.upfest.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 28 May - Sunday 29 May

    Description: A huge street art festival with music and live painting across the weekend.

    NOW ENDED: Gloucester Tall Ships

    www.gloucestertallships.co.uk

    Where: Gloucester (view map)

    Dates: Friday 3 June - Sunday 5 June

    Description: Over the Jubilee weekend, this family-friendly event will see Gloucester Docks filled with huge ships. Discover maritime history, watch skirmishes take place, see jet-pack displays and tall ships from across the world. 

    NOW ENDED: Wessex Folk Festival

    www.wessexfolkfestival.com

    Where: Wessex (view map)

    Dates: Friday 3 JuneSunday 5 June

    Description: Free folk festival featuring live music, a ceilidh, workshops and Morris dancing on the quayside and in a host of local pubs

    NOW ENDED: English Riviera Air Show

    www.englishrivieraairshow.co.uk

    Where: Torbay (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 4 June - Sunday 5 June

    Description: The annual English Riviera Air Show will return to Devon over the Jubilee weekend with breathtaking air displays over the bay’s stunning natural amphitheatre. Expect world-class food, family-friendly activities and a two-day programme of stunts, displays and flypasts. 

    NOW ENDED: Weston Air Festival

    www.westonairfestival.com

    Where: Weston-super-Mare (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June

    Description:  This family festival brings spectacular air displays and flights to Weston’s bay as well as some good old-fashioned seaside fun and activities.

    NOW ENDED: Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

    www.tewkesburymedievalfestival.org

    Where: Tewkesbury (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 9 July - Sunday 10 July

    Description: Free Medieval festival featuring crafts, music, entertainers a battle re-enactment, historical displays, markets and a parade on Sunday through the town. 

    NOW ENDED: Bristol Harbour Festival

    www.bristolharbourfestival.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Friday 15 July - Sunday 17 July

    Description: A showcase of international & local artists, plus street theatre talent and a display of ships, boats and fireworks.

    NOW ENDED: Stompin' on the Quomps

    https://www.stompin.org/

    Where: Christchurch (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 6 August

    Description: Christchurch Quay will host an afternoon and evening of smooth jazz and big band music.

  • West Midlands

    Worcester Music Festival

    www.worcestermusicfestival.co.uk

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Friday 16 September - Sunday 18 September

    Description: Live, local and original music staged in pubs, clubs, cafes, and historic buildings around or near the city centre.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Upton Blues Festival

    uptonbluesfestival.org.uk

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Friday 15 July - Sunday 17 July

    Description: Set in and around the pubs and streets of Upton upon Severn, Worcester, this music festival features everything from blues rock to bluegrass, country blues to New Orleans, acoustic to soul and gospel. This is a free festival, but there is a charge to buy camping tickets.

    NOW ENDED: Birmingham, Solihull & Sandwell Jazz Festival

    http://www.birminghamjazzfestival.com/

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Dates: Friday 15 July - Sunday 24 July

    Description: Jazz & blues artists from across the world alongside the best from the UK.

  • East Midlands

    So Festival

    www.sofestival.org

    Where: Skegness and Mablethorpe (view map)

    Dates: TBC

    Description: A festival with lots of free events, including participatory art, music from unsigned and local bands, stunts, street theatre and installations.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Nottinghamshire Pride

    www.nottinghamshirepride.co.uk

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 30 July

    Description: Stage acts, drag queen competition and community parade, starting at Lace Market Square, to celebrate LGBTQ+ diversity.

    NOW ENDED: Nottingham Riverside Festival

    www.experiencenottinghamshire.com

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Friday 5 August - Sunday 7 August

    Description: Bustling street fair with vibrant mix of live music and performances from national and international artists, river-based activities, kids' zone and fun fair. 

    NOW ENDED: Leicester Caribbean Carnival

    emccan.org/leicester-caribbean-carnival/

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 6 August

    Description: Parade celebrating Leicester's Caribbean heritage, including music, dance, floats and costumes. 

  • Yorkshire and Humber

    Freedom Festival

    www.freedomfestival.co.uk

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Dates: Friday 26 August - Sunday 4 September

    Description: An eclectic, family-friendly, and largely free, three-day extravaganza of music, dance, theatre, poetry, visual arts and comedy that celebrates Hull's independent spirit and contribution to the cause of freedom.

    Saltaire Festival

    www.saltairefestival.co.uk

    Where: Bradford (view map)

    Dates: Friday 9 September - Sunday 18 September

    Description: Annual event celebrating the heritage of Saltaire Victorian model village through the arts.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Pontefract Liquorice Festival

    www.experiencewakefield.co.uk

    Where: Pontefract, West Yorks (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 9 July - Sunday 10 July

    Description: Family celebration of the town's links with the growing and production of liquorice confectionery.

    NOW ENDED: Clarence Park Music Festival

    http://www.themusiccollective.co.uk/

    Where: Wakefield (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 30 July - Sunday 31 July

    Description: Features a host of local and national bands. There's also a beer tent, food stalls, and craft stalls.

  • North West England

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Africa Oye Festival

    africaoye.com

    Where: Sefton Park, Liverpool (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 18 Jun - Sunday 19 Jun

    Description: Africa Oye showcases an eclectic mix of African and Caribbean music and culture in the UK, including afrobeats, dancehall, reggae and hip hop.

    NOW ENDED: GobeFest

    www.gobefest.com

    Where: Cathedral Gardens in Manchester (view map)

    Dates: Friday 24 June - Sunday 26 June

    Description: This festival celebrates the practices and folklores of other cultures from across Europe. Expect music, arts and crafts workshops.

    NOW ENDED: Festival Manchester

    www.festivalmanchester.com

    Where: Wythenshawe Park, Manchester (view map)

    Dates: Friday 1 July - Sunday 3 July

    Description: A festival for the whole family, featuring fairgrounds, extreme sports, family fun zone, a main stage with live music acts performing throughout the three days, as well as a Christian message of hope.

    NOW ENDED: Keswick Convention

    www.keswick.org

    Where: Keswick, Cumbria (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 16 July - Friday 5 August

    Description: Bible teaching, music and fellowship, with separate kids' and youth programmes.

  • South East England

    Herne Bay Festival

    Herne Bay Facebook page

    Where: Herne Bay, Kent (view map)

    Dates: Sunday 31 July - Saturday 27 August

    Description: Live music, street theatre, performances, workshops, demonstrations and more.

    Ryde Carnival

    www.rydecarnival.org.uk

    Where: Ryde, Isle of Wight (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 27 August - Saturday 3 September

    Description: Dating back to 1887, Ryde Carvinal is a joyous parade of colour and light marking the end of summer. There's a children's carnival on Wed 28 Aug. 

    Reading Pride

    www.readingpride.co.uk

    Where: Reading (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 3 September

    Description: Music and dance festival to promote equality and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

    Faversham Hop Festival

    www.favershamhopfestival.org

    Where: Faversham (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 3 September - Sunday 4 September

    Description: Traditional, fun festival set in the picturesque medieval town's square and surrounding streets, celebrating the days of hop picking in Kent. It offers live music across five stages, dance, circus acts, magic shows and more.

    Festivals that've already happened this year

    These festivals have now been and gone, but we've left them here for reference as festivals often return year after year.

    NOW ENDED: Folk on the Quay

    www.folkonthequay.co.uk

    Where: Poole (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 25 June - Sunday 26 June

    Description: Free folk festival featuring live music, a ceilidh and Morris dancing around the quay and in a host of local pubs

    NOW ENDED FollyFest

    www.faringdonfollyfest.co.uk

    Where: Faringdon Town Centre, Oxfordshire (view map)

    Dates: Friday 8 July - Sunday 10 July

    Description: A family-friendly music and community arts festival in the heart of Faringdon.

    NOW ENDED: Lammas Festival

    www.lammasfest.org

    Where: Eastbourne (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 23 July - Sunday 24 July

    Description: Folk music, morris dancing, traditional giants, carnival and live bands

    NOW ENDED: Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

    oldtowncarnivalweek.co.uk

    Where: Hastings (view map)

    Dates: Friday 29 July - Sunday 7 August

    Description: Carnival, music, performances, guided walks, a pram race and more.

    NOW ENDED: Gravesham Riverside Festival

    www.visitgravesend.co.uk

    Where: Gravesham, Kent (view map)

    Dates: Saturday 30 July

    Description: Riverside festival including music, with entertainment, a market and games, as well as sporting challenges and giant inflatables. 2019's headline act is Peter Andre. 

Have we missed any? If you know of any great free festivals in your area that we've not included, we'd love to hear about them. Let us know in our Forum or via Twitter @MSE_Deals.

You can also view all UK festivals & carnivals on this larger map.

Paid festivals for free

As well as the free UK festivals listed above, there are a few ways to get into sold-out festivals for nothing.

Volunteering through charities

Some big charities like the Samaritans and Oxfam look for volunteers to help at big festivals. Don't volunteer if you're in it just for the free ticket – approach a charity you really believe in and do the work properly. 

  • Festival Samaritans provides volunteers for big festivals such as Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading. It recruits every January, and anyone is welcome to apply, whether or not they have been a member of the Samaritans before. You can register your interest now for next year's festivals.

  • Oxfam provides stewards and campaigners who have to work between three and five shifts over the duration of big festivals. Head to the application page to sign up. Includes many paid-for festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds and Download .

Odd jobs like litter-picking & car park attending

It's not easy to make a festival run smoothly, and extra help is always required with anything from car park assistance and tent pitching to litter-picking. Organisers usually use firms which provide staff specifically for festivals.

  • DC Services provide safety stewards, traffic marshals, recycling and litter teams to the likes of Leeds and Latitude (check its events calendar). Apply online to work as volunteer staff.

  • Seed Staff - You can volunteer for various festivals, including Y Not?, Download, BBC Proms, Reading and Leeds. You can apply online, with volunteer jobs including wristbanding and picking up litter.

  • Hotbox provides volunteers for anything from assisting festivalgoers with directions to helping them pitch their tents. If your application is successful, you'll have to work up to three shifts over the duration of the festival.

  • Festaff supplies volunteers for stewarding, wristbanding, bar work and other general duties at festivals including Bestival, Isle of Wight, Rewind, and Creamfields. You can apply online, plus you may be required to attend training.

Volunteering for festivals independently

Another option is to check with festival organisers directly to see if they're looking for volunteers. They usually have a dedicated area on their website for this.

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