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The best free festivals and carnivals this summer

Isobel Lawrance 6th Jun 2023 No Comments

Reading Time: 10 minutes

It is officially festival season! Summer is upon us. The sun is beaming, the SPF 50 is out, and the hats are on. Pink noses, ice cream and sun kissed skin are a given in summer. But spending money doesn’t have to be. Did you know, there are plenty of free festivals and carnivals happening every week across the country?

As festival season approaches, many music and art lovers are preparing for a summer of unforgettable experiences. But with the cost of attending Britain’s biggest festival, Glastonbury, increasing by 36% in the last five years, it can be difficult to budget for the full experience without breaking the bank. 

We spend enough money on holidays, weekends away and keeping the kids occupied during the school break. Why not take your family, partner, friend or work colleagues to a totally free festival this year? A good day out never hurts – and it is even better when it doesn’t cost you anything!

Here are the top free festivals taking place in Summer 2023.



Underbelly Festival

Underbelly is a buzzing atmosphere of lights, delicious food and even circus performers! Although some of the events are paid-for, it is free to enter the festival area. Feel the vibes of this free festival across two locations – Cavendish Square near Oxford Street and Earl’s Court in Kensington.

The Cally Festival

This free festival takes place on Caledonian Road in one of London’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Approximately 7,000 people come together every year for this festival to enjoy everything the area has to offer. It is essentially one big street party, with music, live performances, art and other activities to enjoy. The Cally is one of the free festivals which is open to anyone who wants to join – totally free!

Pride in London

A home for every part of London’s LGBT+ community, the annual Pride parade runs through the heart of the city, celebrating diversity and individuality. Watch the parade as it passes through, or join in! Celebrate with friends and family on this meaningful day of love and joy, and watch over 600 LGBT+ groups march. There are also stages placed throughout the city, where you can watch a variety of performances, speakers and entertainment, as well as a range of stalls. Find out more here. 

Notting Hill Carnival

Bright colours, an unbeatable sense of joy and great music, the Notting Hill Carnival is globally renowned for its celebration of Caribbean culture. It is Europe’s largest street party, jam-packed with floats, food and friends. You can find out all you need to know about this popular free festival on the Notting Hill Carnival website.

West End Live

If you are a lover of musicals, plays and all things West End, this may be the free festival to beat all free festivals. Enjoy a whopping 11 hours of live West End performances over two days in London’s Trafalgar Square. Whether Mamma Mia is your favourite sing-along musical, or you prefer the drama of Wicked, there is bound to be something for you. West End Live operates on a first come, first served basis, so make sure to get there in good time.



free festivals

Stockton International Riverside Festival

Celebrate some of the best performers and artists from across the world at the Stockton International Riverside Festival. Including stunning visual experiences, world-class shows, dance performances and even circus performers, this is a totally free festival for every single member of the family. Every age can enjoy this festival.


Góbéfest was established in 2017 to celebrate the little-known culture and traditions of the Székler people – a group of ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, which is part of Romania. With its roots firmly in Transylvania, Gobefest will also showcase the practices and folklores of other cultures from across Europe. Main stage acts promise to span every genre and draw from across the Carpathian Basin region of Eastern and Central Europe. In the family tent you can expect music, arts and crafts workshops for all ages.

Clarence Park Music Festival

Yorkshire’s longest running free music festival is back this July. Enjoy over 22 bands and DJs, stalls, food and more. Bring along the little ones for a weekend of music and laughs, or get some friends together for some good beer and a catch up during the tunes. The craft stalls will keep the kids entertained, whilst the beer tent will keep parents happy too! Find out more.

Freedom Festival

Head to Hull for a sunshine-filled mix of entertainment. Whether you fancy theatre and the arts, music, comedy or poetry, this eclectic mix of free fun is bound to give you memories to cherish forever. Enjoy five whole days of fun, with local, national and international offerings celebrating all forms of freedom, both past and present. Read more about Freedom Festival here.



Brighton and Hove Pride Festival 

The Brighton Pride Parade is world renowned, attracting people from all over the world. This celebration of the LGBTQ+ community is a colourful and inclusive place, will everyone welcome. The parade is full of wonderful floats representing all corners of the community, as well as great music, live singers and more. Not only is the parade free, but there are many free activities available for all of the family. You are also a stone’s throw from Brighton beach.

Burpham Wellfest

If you fancy something a little more relaxed and zen this summer, this may be one of the free festivals for you. Located in Surrey, this one-day wellbeing festival offers a huge range of free activities to benefit your mind, body and wellbeing. The Burpham Wellfest offers free yoga, tai-chi and fitness classes, as well as talks about healing, self-care and nutrition and information about your body and health. Plus, it is open to all ages, so you can get the kids involved too!

Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

This is a whole week of fun and exciting events for all ages. For the kids (and us adults with kids inside us!) there are treasure trails and pram races. There are also walking tours which allow you to view beautiful sites and open houses. That’s not all – there is plenty of live music, interesting historical talks, art shows and even street parties. The festivities culminate with a huge Grand Carnival Procession. Check out the Hastings Old Town Carnival website for more.

Reading Mela

Reading Mela in Berkshire is yet another one of the free festivals taking place this summer. It is an annual event which celebrates the wonderful music, art and culture of South Asia. For the children, there are great free shows such as magicians. There is live singing, brilliant cultural performances and even a world food corner. If you do have a small amount of cash to spend, there are fun fair style rides, as well as a small shopping village.

Gravesham Riverside Festival 

Are you a fan of 90’s heart-throb and singer Peter Andre? Then you are in luck! There are other musical performances from some brilliant tribute acts. Such acts include Elton John, Maroon 5 and Stevie Wonder tributes. Get the whole family dancing and this free, child-friendly musical festival in Kent. Find out more here.



free festivals

Out There Festival

Your kids will love this circus and street arts festival. With breath-taking spectacles, comedy shows and more, Out There celebrates artistic quality, diverse work and innovative community engagement. There is a great family-friendly atmosphere, and it won’t cost you a single penny!

Cambridge Nature Festival

This is perfect for those who want to enjoy the simple things in life. The world around us is full of the most amazing life and nature, and this festival celebrates that. There are wildlife trails, boat rides, art exhibitions and more to enjoy at this free festival located in the glorious Cambridge. There are also foraging lessons, nature spotting sessions and talks on sustainability. You can find out more on the website.

Great Yarmouth Arts Festival

The Great Yarmouth Arts Festival has it all. Music, theatre, visual arts, fun fairs and a carnival. This is all rolled into one free, fabulous fest. There are loads of live performances, from choir singers to musicals and even talent shows. Get the whole family involved this year – the kids will absolutely love it! There is something here for everyone.



Folk on the Quay

This is a totally free folk music festival held in Poole, Dorset. The bustling quay is the perfect backdrop to sunny days filled with music from fresh new talent as well as Morris, Irish and Clog dancing. For the first time ever, Folk on the Quay will be expanding to take place over two fun-filled days.

Devon Street Food Festival

Now, the point of this festival may be to eat and buy food, but you don’t have to spend money whilst you are there. It is free to enter and explore, and it is fascinating wandering round the food stalls and seeing what is on offer. Ask for taster samples at stalls if you can – many stalls will be willing to give you a free taste! Get some friends together and socialise with an ice-cold beverage and a picnic at the Devon Street Food Festival.

Festival Manchester

This is a huge free festival with something for everyone. Whether you are a music lover, food lover or are keen to go to a fun fair, this is one of the best free festivals going. The Kids Zone includes a range of bouncy castles, face painting and a kid’s stage, so you can make happy, lifelong memories with your little ones. Plus, a large manmade beach will be there in case you want a taste of the seaside. There is a high-tech gaming lobby for you to play to your heart’s content. Rock climbing and water zorbs are available for your enjoyment – and they are free to use! Don’t forget the main stage at Festival Manchester, which has loads of great live music and performances.



free festivals

So Festival 

Innovative street theatre and live performances and high-quality performances are all free at So Festival. Live music from local and unsigned bands will be on throughout the day too. Plus, watch incredible stunt performers and explore beautiful art installations throughout the site. There is also great entertainment available in the form of street theatre. You are bound to have a fun and interesting day out at this free festival.

Furthest from the Sea Festival

Ahoy there, matey! This is one of the most wonderful free festivals in The Midlands. This pirate-themed festival will be perfect for children (and to be honest, we think it sounds pretty fun for adults, too!) You will be able to create your own sea shanty, visit the pirate museum, use a letter press to print your own pirate poster, explore your surroundings on a treasure hunt and more! There will even be a reading corner where local authors and illustrators will read and discuss their books. Let’s not forget the one thing every fun fair needs; face painting! Plus, there will be circus performers and real-life pirates. The Furthest from the Seaorganisers heavily encourage fancy dress. Why not get dressed up, adorn your pirate hat and take the whole family?

Owestry Balloon Carnival

 This free festival is a bit different from your typical music and food festival. That’s not to say it is any less fun! This festival displays beautiful hot air balloons in various shapes, sizes and colours. Watch them fly high and illuminate the darkness, as well as the interesting balloon demonstrations. Plus there is stunning carnival entertainment, bringing colour and joy to your day. Picturesque Owestry is also home to lovely farmer’s markets, so make sure you check out the surrounding village. Find out more about the Owestry Balloon Carnival on their website.



free festivals


This is yet another festival that we cannot believe is free! Aimed at eight-to-25-year olds, this festival has a range of great music and activities for young people to enjoy. Featuring performances from well-known names such as Pixie Lott, Ella Eyre and John Newman, your youngsters will have a blast dancing and singing along. There are three stages hosting live music throughout the weekend. Activities include a foam party, obstacle courses and inflatables. Your children will have a blast at Youthbeatz.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This free festival is globally renowned for its range of amazing talent, comedy and performances. Thousands of performances take place in hundreds of venues across the gorgeous city of Edinburgh, and many of them are free! From exploring films such as James Bond to magic shows, there is something for everyone, children and adults alike. Whether you are in the mood to laugh, cry or get your brain ticking, there are so many performances to choose from at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Dandelion Festival Glasgow

Part of Unboxed 2023, a festival taking place across the UK, Dandelion Festival is a free festival focused on sustainability. The three-day event is jam-packed full of live music, performances, talks, workshops and food that’s open to everyone. It’s all part of a unique festival that dares to reimagine our relationship with food and the planet.



Cardiff Food & Drink Festival 

One of Wales’ finest free festivals, Cardiff Food & Drink Festival is a firm favourite in the city. There is a full programme of music and live entertainment throughout the duration of the festival and of course, plenty of food and drink stalls. Not only do these street food vendors offer local produce, but specialities from around the world to tickle your tastebuds. The Farmer’s Market also proves to be popular year on year.

Talgarth Festival

This is another festival which is perfect for your tots. Located in the beautiful countryside, Talgarth Festival boasts free parking, entry and events. Dedicated volunteers work hard to bring you the best entertainment possible, including craft events to children’s entertainment. There is plenty of incredible food available to feed you up whilst you watch the live music, concerts and street entertainers. Enjoy your August Bank Holiday weekend by making fond memories with those around you.



Red Sails Festival

Local bands and orchestras fill the air with wonderful live music at Red Sails Festival. There is a fabulous firework display to end the night with light and joy. But before that, enjoy interesting and unique exhibitions, puppet shows and more. Some aspects of this festival may charge a small fee, but most of it is free. Plus, money can’t buy the atmosphere of a festival full of music, laughter and great food.

Scarva Summer Band Concerts

If you are a fan of live music and concerts, the keep your Sundays free until September! Scarva Bandstand is host to open-air performances every weekend, bringing you a range of wonderful music and talent from local artists. There is seating available, but you can also stand, or set yourself down with a picnic and enjoy the sounds floating through the air. The Scarva Summer Band Concerts are free and no pre-booking is required.

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Jasmine Birtles

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