Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

Region-by-region guide to 45+ 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 be part of a carnival or parade, there are free UK festivals to suit all tastes, and most are suitable for families. Just use the list below to pick your area.

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

In which region are you looking?

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

    Urban Village Fete

    greenwichpeninsula.co.uk

    Where: Greenwich Peninsula (view map)

    Dates: Sun 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.  

    West End Live

    www.westendlive.co.uk

    Where: Trafalgar Square (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sun 26 Jun

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

    Turning Tides Festival

    greenwichpeninsula.co.uk

    Where: The Tide, Greenwich (view map)

    Dates: Sat 10 Sep - Sun 11 Sep

    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.

    Lambeth Country Show

    www.lambethcountryshow.co.uk

    Where: Brockwell Park, Herne Hill (view map)

    Dates: Sat 16 Jul - Sun 17 Jul

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

    Notting Hill Carnival

    www.visitlondon.com

    Where: Notting Hill, London (view map)

    Dates: Sat 27 Aug - Mon 29 Aug

    Description: A huge street festival with floats, costumed performers, music and food stalls.

    London Mela

    www.londonmela.org

    Where: Southall Park (view map)

    Dates: Sun 4 Sep

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

    Totally Thames Festival

    totallythames.org

    Where: Central London (view map)

    Dates: Throughout Sep

    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.

    The Cally Festival

    www.thecallyfestival.co.uk

    Where: Caledonian Road, London (view map)

    Dates: Sun 3 Jul

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

  • Northern Ireland

    Red Sails Festival

    www.redsails.co.uk

    Where: Portstewart (view map)

    Dates: Sun 24 Jul - Sat 30 Jul

    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.

    Belfast Pride Festival

    www.belfastpride.com

    Where: Belfast (view map)

    Dates: Fri 22 Jul - Sun 31 July

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

  • Scotland

    Youth Beatz

    youthbeatz.co.uk

    Where: Dumfries (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sun 26 Jun

    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.

    Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

    www.edinburghjazzfestival.com

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Fri 15 Jul - Sun 24 Jul

    Description: Established in 1978, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival is a mixture of free and ticketed events spread over a week in July. The full programme of events will be announced on Fri 6 May.

    Pride Glasgow

    www.prideglasgow.com

    Where: Glasgow Green (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 June

    Description: A celebration of Scotland's LGBT 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.

    Edinburgh Fringe Festival

    www.edfringe.com

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Fri 5 Aug - Mon 29 Aug

    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.

  • North East England

    Northern Pride Festival

    www.northern-pride.com

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

    Dates: Fri 22 Jul - Sun 24 Jul

    Description: Northern Pride Festival (formerly Newcastle Pride) is a day two festival across two locations in Newcastle which will have performances on the main stage as well as Family and Youth zones and a fair ground. RuPaul’s Drag Race UK finalist, Bimini Bon Boulash, and world-famous, DJ Jodie Harsh, will perform at the launch party on Friday evening.

    Rothbury Traditional Music Festival

    www.rothburymusicfestival.co.uk

    Where: Rothbury, Northumberland (view map)

    Dates: Fri 15 Jul - Sun 17 Jul

    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.

    Stockton International Riverside Festival

    www.sirf.co.uk

    Where: Stockton (view map)

    Dates: Thu 4 Aug - Sun 7 Aug

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

    South Tyneside Summer Festival

    www.southtynesidefestival.co.uk

    Where: South Shields (view map)

    Dates: Jun/Jul/Aug

    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 Jul. Most events are free but some charge a small fee.

    GobeFest

    www.gobefest.com

    Where: Cathedral Gardens in Manchester (view map)

    Dates: Fri 24 Jun - Sun 26 Jun

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

  • 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. 

    Talgarth Festival

    www.facebook.com/talgarthfestival.org.uk

    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

    Stowfiesta

    www.stowfiesta.co.uk

    Where: Stowmarket (view map)

    Dates: Sat 4 Jun - Sun 5 Jun

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

    Festival Too

    www.festivaltoo.co.uk

    Where: Kings Lynn (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sat 9 Jul

    Description: Music festival held over three weekends. 2019 headliners include Nadine Coyle, Five, Marti Pellow and Cast.

    Norwich Pride

    www.norwichpride.org.uk

    Where: Norwich city centre (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jul

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

    Aldeburgh Carnival

    www.aldeburghcarnival.com

    Where: Aldeburgh, Suffolk (view map)

    Dates: Sat 13 Aug - Mon 15 Aug

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

  • South West England

    Folk on the Quay

    www.folkonthequay.co.uk

    Where: Poole (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sun 26 June

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

    Bristol Harbour Festival

    www.bristolharbourfestival.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Fri 15 Jul - Sun 17 Jul

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

    Stompin' on the Quomps

    https://www.stompin.org/

    Where: Christchurch (view map)

    Dates: Sat 6 Aug

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

    Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

    bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Thu 11 Aug - Sun 14 Aug

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

    eat:Portishead

    www.eatfestivals.org/portishead

    Where: Portishead, Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Sat 13 Aug

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

    Devizes International Street Festival

    www.docadevizes.org.uk

    Where: Devizes (view map)

    Dates: Sun 30 Apr - Mon 1 May

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

    eat:Wellington

    www.eatfestivals.org/wellington

    Where: Wellington, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Sat 3 Sep

    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: Thu 8 Sep - Sun 11 Sep

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

    eat:Burnham

    www.eatfestivals.org/burnham

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

    Dates: Sat 28 May and Sat 22 Oct

    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: Sat 5 Nov

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

    Wessex Folk Festival

    www.wessexfolkfestival.com

    Where: Wessex (view map)

    Dates: Fri 3 JunSun 5 Jun 

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

    Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

    www.tewkesburymedievalfestival.org

    Where: Tewkesbury (view map)

    Dates: Sat 9 Jul - Sun 10 Jul

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

    Upfest

    www.upfest.co.uk

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Sat 28 May - Sun 29 May

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

    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.

    Gloucester Tall Ships

    www.gloucestertallships.co.uk

    Where: Gloucester (view map)

    Dates: Fri 3 Jun - Sun 5 Jun

    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. 

    English Riviera Air Show

    www.englishrivieraairshow.co.uk

    Where: Torbay (view map)

    Dates: Sat 4 Jun - Sun 5 Jun

    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. 

    Weston Air Festival

    www.westonairfestival.com

    Where: Weston-super-Mare (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sun 26 Jun

    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.

  • West Midlands

    Upton Blues Festival

    uptonbluesfestival.org.uk

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Fr 15 Jul - Sun 17 Jul

    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.

    Birmingham, Solihull & Sandwell Jazz Festival

    http://www.birminghamjazzfestival.com/

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Dates: Fri 15 Jul - Sun 24 Jul

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

    Worcester Music Festival

    www.worcestermusicfestival.co.uk

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Fri 16 Sep - Sun 18 Sep

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

  • East Midlands

    Nottinghamshire Pride

    www.nottinghamshirepride.co.uk

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jul

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

    Nottingham Riverside Festival

    www.experiencenottinghamshire.com

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Fri 5 Aug - Sun 7 Aug

    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. 

    Update: Nottingham Riverside Festival dates for the 2022 event are set but there's no update about whether it will be going ahead.

    Leicester Caribbean Carnival

    http://emccan.org/leicester-caribbean-carnival/

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Dates: Sat 6 Aug

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

    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.

  • Yorkshire and Humber

    Pontefract Liquorice Festival

    www.experiencewakefield.co.uk

    Where: Pontefract, West Yorks (view map)

    Dates: Sat 9 Jul - Sun 10 Jul

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

    Clarence Park Music Festival

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

    Where: Wakefield (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jul - Sun 31 Jul

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

    Freedom Festival

    www.freedomfestival.co.uk

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Dates: Fri 26 Aug - Sun 4 Sep

    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: Fri 9 Sep - Sun 18 Sep

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

  • North West England

    Africa Oye Festival

    africaoye.com

    Where: Sefton Park, Liverpool (view map)

    Dates: Sat 18 Jun - Sun 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.

    Keswick Convention

    www.keswick.org

    Where: Keswick, Cumbria (view map)

    Dates: Sat 16 Jul - Fri 5 Aug

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

  • South East England

    Gravesham Riverside Festival

    www.visitgravesend.co.uk

    Where: Gravesham, Kent (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jul

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

    Herne Bay Festival

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/HerneBayFest/about/?ref=page_internal

    Where: Herne Bay, Kent (view map)

    Dates: Sun 31 Jul - Sat 27 Aug

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

    Lammas Festival

    www.lammasfest.org

    Where: Eastbourne (view map)

    Dates: Sat 23 Jul - Sun 24 Jul

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

    Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

    oldtowncarnivalweek.co.uk

    Where: Hastings (view map)

    Dates: Fri 29 Jul - Sun 7 Aug

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

    Ryde Carnival

    www.rydecarnival.org.uk

    Where: Ryde, Isle of Wight (view map)

    Dates: Sat 27 Aug - Sat 3 Sep

    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: Sat 3 Sep

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

    Faversham Hop Festival

    www.favershamhopfestival.org

    Where: Faversham (view map)

    Dates: Sat 3 Sep - Sun 4 Sep

    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.

    Out There Festival

    www.outtherearts.org.uk

    Where: Great Yarmouth (view map)

    Dates: Fri 16 Sep - Sun 18 Sep

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

    Festival  Too

    www.festivaltoo.co.uk

    Where: King's Lynn (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Jun - Sun 26 Jun, Fri 1 Jul - Sat 2 Jul and Fri 8 Jul to Sat 9 Jul

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

    Strawberry Fair

    www.strawberry-fair.org.uk

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Dates: Sat 11 Jun

    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.

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. If it's Glastonbury specifically that you've got your eye on, make sure to read our blog post on four ways you can still go for FREE.

  • 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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