2016 looks to be an exciting year in London, with a massive mix of events and happenings lined up to keep folks of all ages entertained. Whilst many cost money to participate, there is a huge amount you can join that will cost you absolutely nothing!
So, let’s take a look at seven of what we consider to be the best free events due to take place in the coming year.
1. The Head of the River Race
This exciting River Thames rowing race is due to take place on Saturday, 19 March 2016. The Head of the River Race has been a tradition since 1926, and was organised to give rowing crews an aim for the end of the winter training period.
The race covers 4 ½ miles from Mortlake to Putney – the same course as the globally famous Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, but in reverse. Originally a university event, the Head of the River Race now attracts crews from around the world.
To watch, head early to your chosen spot. Chiswick Bridge, Barnes Bridge, or Hammersmith Bridge provide great vantage points.
Alternatively, head down to the banks of the river anywhere along the route with a picnic. If the sun’s shining, it really is the perfect (and quintessentially English), day out…
2. The London Marathon
Although certainly not free if you want to compete, as a spectator it’s a great day out, as well as a way to soak up the amazing atmosphere of the event. The London Marathon is one of the world’s most sought after long distance running events – and you can be there to cheer on the athletes from the sidelines.
For a successful day out, you’ll need to use London’s public transport system, as all the roads are closed. You could pick an iconic location to watch from, such as Greenwich, Tower Bridge, or The Mall, or simply line up anywhere along the route.
Wear comfy shoes, bring refreshments, and of course, don’t forget something to wave and make noise with to encourage the runners. It certainly will be an unforgettable day.
3. Trooping the Colour
Dating back to the 17th century and Charles II, Trooping the Colour now marks the official birthday of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
Featuring more than 1000 officers, 200 horses, and 200 musicians, this is one traditional display that is certainly worth watching. In 2016, this is due to take place on Saturday 11 June, and this year promises to be even more special as The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday!
Watch for free from the edge of St James’s Park or along The Mall, but be aware that all the fun starts at 10:00, so to get a decent view you’ll need to be there early.
4. Pride in London Parade
The London event is actually a week long festival, but the best part has to be the Parade, which follows a route covering Bakers Street, Oxford Street, Regents Street, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, to Whitehall, with floats showcasing more than 250 dancers and performers.
It’s expected that more than 15,000 spectators will line the streets to watch – this is a well attended event, so be prepared. Wear comfy clothes (guarding against the inclement British weather!), and carry sustenance and anything else you might need with you.
Just be sure to bring your sense of fun, because you’re sure to have a ball!
5. Ride London 2016
Time to get on your bike! This festival of cycling is a fabulous event that’s taking place on the 30th and 31st of July. With five separate events that are suitable for all levels of cyclist, the free event takes place on the Saturday (30th), and is great way for the whole family to cycle on traffic free roads and see the best of Central London.
Held in Victoria Park, this event is all about (as the name suggests), celebrating winter. It’s an old fashioned Christmassy carnival with fun for all the family. Think street food, music, comedy, cabaret, ice skating – even crazy golf!
There is also a winter night garden showing festive films.
Winterville bills itself as “London’s alternative festive destination,” and 2016 promises to be even bigger than last year (and it was pretty impressive then, with a Big Wheel, pantomimes, and circus acts, to mention but a few of the attractions).
And with no fee to enter, it really is accessible to everyone…
Yes, we are talking about tennis… And even if you don’t want to shell out for a ticket for the actual event (if you can manage to get one), there are plenty of ways to join in the action for free.
Various locations around London put the big matches up on a huge screen for all to enjoy. Some of the best locations include Canada Square Park at Canary Wharf, The Duke of York Square in Chelsea, Lewis Cubitt Square at King’s Cross, and New Street Square in the City of London.
In most places there are deckchairs or beanbags to sit on if you get there early enough – but it’s fine to take your own to be sure of a seat.
Street vendors will be on hand to serve food and drinks – but to make it an even better day out, why not pack a cool box with some strawberries and cream?
If it’s sunny, don’t forget the sun tan lotion… Yes, even in London it is possible to get a suntan (on the odd occasion the sun comes out, that is!).
This year’s Wimbledon event takes place from 27 June to 10 July.