Since the UK went into lockdown we have lost the majority of our normal entertainment and culture sources. Everything is shut down and we are limited to ways where we can get our culture fix from home. Fortunately, so much of this has become accessible online! From streamed gigs to virtual tours, there’s lots to do (from your sofa!).
Better yet, you can get all of this for free! Read through our full guide which lists the best places for all tastes to find a bit of culture you can enjoy from sitting at home.
There is a whole host of theatre and musical productions now available online for a limited time. You can definitely get your culture fix with a mix of productions from National Theatre, a range of Shakespeare’s plays, and weekly Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.
National Theatre is currently showing Treasure Island which will be available on YouTube until 23rd April, when it changes over to Twelfth Night, starring Tamsin Greig, the following week.
Alongside the performances, the National Theatre YouTube channel also has a collection of videos worth a watch. Try the 30-minute chat with James Corden and a few more of the cast of One Man, Two Guvnors. Perhaps you’d prefer the series videos entitled National Theatre Talks with Judi Dench, Bryan Cranston, Lenny Henry, and Neil Gaiman.
You can virtually attend one of the Globe Theatre’s productions streamed online and changing every two weeks. Romeo and Juliet is available now and until the 3rd May. In the following weeks we can look forward to The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Winter’s Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Musicals and contemporary
Andrew Lloyd Webber is showcasing one of his musical productions every Friday at 7pm (BST), which stay available for 24 hours afterwards in a project called The Shows Must Go On. Last week’s performance was the iconic The Phantom of the Opera, so it will be exciting to see what else is shown over the forthcoming weeks.
Marquee TV is an excellent resource for arts and culture. Get your culture fix from their large selection of theatre productions including Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Richard II, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to make the most of what they have to offer.
Wise Children is a stage production of the novel by Angela Carter, about twin chorus girls and their theatrical family. It premiered at The Old Vic in 2019 and is currently available on BBC’s iPlayer for two months (until 11th June).
Now seems a perfect time to catch up on dance performances and there’s plenty of free, brilliant stuff out there. If you’re after something classical then The Royal Ballet are streaming The Metamorphosis and The Winter’s Tale on their YouTube channel over the coming weeks.
You can find more performances from the Royal Ballet available on Marquee TV, including a beautiful production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Nut Cracker, and A Swan Lake. Marquee TV also has a large selection to choose from. With dance film, dance-theatre hybrid pieces, and hip-hop inspired performances you have plenty to choose from.
Northern Ballet are mixing traditional ballet with more contemporary stories. Their performance of 1984 is streaming on YouTube until 3rd May and their adaptation of Dracula will be available in the UK in coming weeks too – well worth a watch!
Cirque du Soleil released a recording of their show ZED. The show was only performed in Tokyo so it’s an incredible chance to see this stunning performance.
The concert One World: Together at Home curated by Lady Gaga and put together by Global Citizen and the World Health Organisation raised funds to support frontline health care workers. Musicans like Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Billie Eilish, give performances and worth the watch. Find it on iPlayer here.
A different type of musical culture fix, 250 clubs in Berlin have teamed up to provide nightly DJ sets to you digitally through United We Stream, a project to help thousands of artists and nightlife employees who are now without work. Stream here daily from 6pm (BST).
From the Royal Opera House website you can find the opera performances they are currently streaming. Including Mozart’s classic opera Così Fan Tutte, Peter and the Wolf, and Acis and Galatea are all available over the next few weeks.
The Metropolitan Opera is showing nightly free streams, released at 12:30AM (BST) and available to watch after for a 23 hour period. View the full Met Opera programme here.
The London Philharmonia Orchestra released their delightful performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Royal Festival Hall.
Finally, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are showcasing never-seen-before footage of concerts so people can still enjoy their music from home. Part of a new project called RSNO Friday Night Club you can find their performances streaming here on YouTube every Friday at 7:30PM (BST).
There is an abundance of free audio and ebooks online which are a perfect way to spend several hours in isolation. Get lost in a world of fiction, brush up on your classical novels, or learn something with a non-fiction book. This is the type of culture fix you can take anywhere – including on your daily walk! Kids will benefit from story time and educational books, too.
Audible and Kindle
Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited reading from more than 1 million ebooks and audiobooks, usually for £7.99 a month, but currently they are offering a two-month free trial (offer valid until 30th April) that is well worth making the most of.
Also offered up through Kindle and Audible is AmazonClassics – a large collection of classic novels which are available to listen to or read to for free. Some of the popular titles include Emma, Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Frankenstein, and Oliver Twist.
Check your local library
Loads of local libraries have put tons of resources online. You can access all sorts of audiobooks, eBooks, and other resources through their online portals. Look at your local council’s website to find out which library in your area has opened up their digital resources.
A bit of a laugh is definitely needed right now. Aside from Netflix’s comedy specials, there are a few other places you can catch a bit of comedy.
The Stand Comedy Club are showing free live shows with a mix of comedians that are available for free on YouTube every Saturday at 8:30PM (BST).
Comedy at The Covid Arms is a crowdfunded project that’s charging £2, or more if you can afford it, for a ticket. It’s a comedy show live-streamed from the comedians individual homes on Saturday 25th April at 7PM (BST).
Next Up Comedy offers a 7 day free trial, they have material from rising stars and well known names, you’ll have so much to choose from.
Missing out on visiting one of Britain’s many free museums? You can still get your culture fix with some famous museums online. Wander through The British Museum, they’ve done an excellent job at providing online content and there’s so much to see! Or fancy seeing the Imperial War Museum’s Churchill War Rooms instead?
If it’s a bit of art you’re after these world-famous museums are providing virtual tours of exhibitions so you’re able to explore them from the comfort of your own home. Check some of them out, there’s plenty to see:
- The Louvre
- Van Gogh Museum
- The Vatican Museum
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Musée d’Orsay
- Andy Warhol at Tate Modern
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
- National Gallery of Art, Washington
- Picasso Museum of Barcelona
- The Uffizi Galleries
Keep the kids occupied while they’re at home with some of these fun online culture fixes.
Remember, too, that the BBC has now launched it’s celebrity education series. Lots of familiar faces present bitesize classes throughout the day for all age groups – helping take the heat off your home schooling schedule. For ages 5 to 14 years old, everyone from Attenborough talking about the oceans to footballer Sergio Aguero teaching Spanish will keep kids engaged and learning!
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