Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

Region-by-region guide to 60 events in 2018

Free UK Festivals and Carnivals

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.

Here are a few highlights we’ve spotted among the free festivals still to come this summer:

- Feel Good Festival in Rochdale (including headline act, Feeder - see North West below)
- Godiva Festival in Coventry (with performances from Ronan Keating and Gabrielle - see West Midlands below) 
- Youth Beatz in Dumfries (including Rudimental - see Scotland below)

Alternatively, it's still possible to get into some big paid-for festivals, including Reading and Leeds Festival, and Bestival - 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.

  • Urban Village Fete

    Where: Greenwich Peninsula (view map)

    Dates: Sun 19 May

    Description: A free one-day music and arts festival, featuring pop-ups, entertainment and market places. There'll be street food vendors, debates and workshops for all ages. 

    Street Feast

    Where: Lewisham, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch and Canada Water (see locations)

    Dates: Various

    Description: Large food festival offering a variety of different cuisines, plus bars and DJs.

    West End Live

    Where: Trafalgar Square (view map)

    Dates: Sat 22 Jun - Sun 23 Jun

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

    Croydon Mela

    Where: Wandle Park (view map)

    Dates: TBC (last year, Sun 15 Jul)

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

    Lambeth Country Show

    Where: Brockwell Park, Herne Hill (view map)

    Dates: Sat 20 Jul - Sun 21 Jul

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

    Notting Hill Carnival

    Where: Notting Hill, London (view map)

    Dates: Sat 24 Aug - Mon 26 Aug

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

    London Mela

    Where: Southall Park (view map)

    Dates: TBC (last year, Sat 18 Aug - Sun 19 Aug)

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

    Totally Thames Festival

    Where: Central London (view map)

    Dates: Throughout Sep

    Description: A whole month of celebration and entertainment. The 2019 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.

  • Red Sails Festival

    Where: Portstewart (view map)

    Dates: Mon 22 Jul - Sat 27 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

    Where: Belfast (view map)

    Dates: Fri 26 Jul - Sun 4 Aug

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

  • Youth Beatz

    Where: Dumfries (view map)

    Dates: Sat 22 Jun - Sun 23 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 Sigma, The Vamps and Professor Green.

    Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Fri 12 Jul - Sun 21 Jul

    Description: Established in 1978, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival is a mixture of free and ticketed events spread over a week in July. Free events include the Mardis Gras show on Sat 13 Jul and the carnival around Princes Street on Sun 14 Jul.

    Pride Glasgow

    Where: Glasgow Green (view map)

    Dates: TBC (last year, Sat 14 Jul - Sun 15 Jul)

    Description: A two-day 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

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Dates: Fri 2 Aug - Mon 26 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.

  • Rothbury Traditional Music Festival

    Where: Rothbury, Northumberland (view map)

    Dates: Fri 19 Jul - Sun 21 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

    Where: Stockton (view map)

    Dates: Thu 1 Aug - Sun 4 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

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

  • Big Cheese Festival

    Where: Caerphilly Castle (view map)

    Dates: Fri 27 Jul - Sun 29 Jul

    Description: A festival including music, street entertainers, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry and fire eating.

    Monmouth Music Festival

    Where: Monmouth (view map)

    Dates: Fri 27 Jul - Sat 4 Aug

    Description: The festival offers a diverse range of musical genres including rock, classical, pop, folk, jazz, ska, punk, world music and more. Also includes a 'family fun day' carnival on Sun 29 July, featuring stalls, circus acts, rides, kids' workshops and floats.

    Talgarth Festival

    Where: Talgarth, near Brecon (view map)

    Dates: Sat 25 Aug - Mon 27 Aug

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

  • Stowfiesta

    Where: Stowmarket (view map)

    Dates: Sat 23 Jun - Sun 24 Jun

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

    Aldeburgh Carnival

    Where: Aldeburgh, Suffolk (view map)

    Dates: Sat 18 Aug - Mon 20 Aug

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

    Festival Too

    Where: Kings Lynn (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jun - Sat 14 Jul

    Description: Music festival held over three weekends. 2018 headliners TBC.

    Norwich Pride

    Where: Norwich city centre (view map)

    Dates: Sat 28 Jul

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

  • Folk on the Quay

    Where: Poole (view map)

    Dates: Sat 30 Jun

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

    Bristol Harbour Festival

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Fri 20 Jul - Sun 22 Jul

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

    Stompin' on the Quomps

    Where: Christchurch (view map)

    Dates: Sat 4 Aug

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

    Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Thu 9 Aug - Sun 12 Aug

    Description: A huge hot-air balloon event with over 150 hot-air balloons, an entertainment village and a craft marquee.


    Where: Portishead, Bristol (view map)

    Dates: Sat 11 Aug

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

    Devizes International Street Festival

    Where: Devizes (view map)

    Dates: Sun 26 Aug - Mon 27 Aug

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


    Where: Wellington, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Sat 1 Sep

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

    B-side multimedia festival

    Where: Portland (view map)

    Dates: Sat 8 Sep - Sun 16 Sep

    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: Sat 27 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

    Where: Bridgwater, Somerset (view map)

    Dates: Sat 3 Nov

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

  • Leamington Peace Festival

    Where: Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa (view map)

    Dates: Sat 16 Jun - Sun 17 Jun

    Description: Workshops, live music, stalls and art all feature in this festival promoting peace, environmental harmony and living in co-operation with others.

    Godiva Festival

    Where: Coventry (view map)

    Dates: Fri 31 Aug - Sun 2 Sep

    Description: Free family music festival showcasing local, national and international musicians, plus comedy, entertainment and cabaret. This year's line-up includes Ronan Keating and Gabrielle.

    Birmingham, Solihull & Sandwell Jazz Festival

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Dates: Fri 20 Jul - Sun 29 Jul

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

    Upton Blues Festival

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Fri 20 Jul - Sun 22 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.

    Worcester Music Festival

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Dates: Fri 14 Sep - Sun 16 Sep

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

  • So Festival

    Where: East Lindsey (view map)

    Dates: Fri 31 Aug - Sun 2 Sep

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

    Nottinghamshire Pride

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Sat 28 Jul

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

    Nottingham Riverside Festival

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Dates: Fri 3 Aug - Sun 5 Aug

    Description: Bustling street fair with vibrant mix of live music and performances from national and international artists, attractions, crafts and food stalls.

    Leicester Caribbean Carnival

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Dates: Sat 4 Aug

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

    Umbrella Fair

    Where: Northampton (view map)

    Dates: TBC

    Description: The green festival usually offers music, poetry, a healing and wellbeing area, food stalls, an environmental education display, and a children's area. Details for 2018 haven't been announced yet.

  • Pontefract Liquorice Festival

    Where: Pontefract, West Yorks (view map)

    Dates: Sun 8 Jul

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

    Pontefract Liquorice Festival

    Where: Pontefract, West Yorks (view map)

    Dates: Sun 8 Jul

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

    Clarence Park Music Festival

    Where: Wakefield (view map)

    Dates: Sat 28 Jul - Sun 29 Jul

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

    Freedom Festival

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Dates: Fri 31 Aug - Sun 2 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

    Where: Bradford (view map)

    Dates: Fri 7 Sep - Sun 16 Sep

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

  • Africa Oye Festival

    Where: Sefton Park, Liverpool (view map)

    Dates: Sat 16 Jun - Sun 17 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

    Where: Keswick, Cumbria (view map)

    Dates: Sat 14 Jul - Fri 3 Aug

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

    Feel Good Festival

    Where: Rochdale (view map)

    Dates: Fri 11 Aug - Sat 12 Aug

    Description: Celebration of entertainment and culture, featuring music, a quality food court and family entertainment. 2018's headline act is Feeder.

  • Guildford Summer Festival

    Where: Guildford (view map)

    Dates: Fri 8 Jun - Sun 12 Aug

    Description: Craft, sport, theatre, music, walking, art and much more.

    Lammas Festival

    Where: Eastbourne (view map)

    Dates: Sat 28 Jul - Sun 29 Jul

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

    Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

    Where: Hastings (view map)

    Dates: Fri 27 Jul - Sun 5 Aug

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

    Herne Bay Festival

    Where: Herne Bay, Kent (view map)

    Dates: Thu 26 Jul - Mon 27 Aug

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

    Ryde Carnival

    Where: Ryde, Isle of Wight (view map)

    Dates: Wed 29 Aug - Sat 1 Sep

    Description: Dating back to 1887, this illuminat

    Reading Pride

    Where: Reading (view map)

    Dates: Sat 1 Sep

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

    Faversham Hop Festival

    Where: Faversham (view map)

    Dates: Sat 1 Sep - Sun 2 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.

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, via Twitter @MSE_Deals, or via the MSE Deals Facebook page.

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 check out this year's opportunities - when we last checked on Fri 1 Jun, there were limited spaces available for Reading and Leeds Festival, Bestival, and more paid-for festivals.

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.