From summer festivals to art exhibitions and guided wildlife walks, here is our pick of some of the best free days out and events taking place across the UK this August Bank Holiday weekend.
Family and outdoor activities to enjoy this Bank Holiday
From long coastal walks and mountain climbs to riverside rambles and wildflower strolls, there are hundreds of beautiful summer walks to enjoy in the countryside and coast. Pack a picnic to enjoy halfway and celebrate the end of summer.
Summer walk through the woodland of the Crab and Winkle Way
Food from the campfire always seems to taste better! From S’mores to kebabs, campfires are a great way to encourage children to learn essential outdoor skills. See our recipe section for inspiration.
Roasting marshmallows around a campfire is a great family activity. Getty
Explore Britain’s coastline or waterways by kayak, canoe or paddleboard
Head down to the sea or a river and try your hand at canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding. It’s a great way to exercise and can help you destress and reconnect with nature. You can do it on any stretch of water, but you can’t beat paddling along your local coastline.
Summer foraging and fruit picking
The late summer is a perfect time to forage for berries such as blackberries and wild strawberries. Alternatively, the UK has a number of ‘pick your own’ soft fruits which children will love.
Pick your own strawberries at one of the UK’s farms/ Getty images
Go for a bike ride
Pump up your tyres and peddle through the countryside. Cycling is a great way to reconnect with nature and get off the beaten track. Take a ride on a local cycle path, or if you’re a bit more ambitious, why not take a family bikepacking trip somewhere local.
The countryside is home to many cycling paths with beautiful scenery/Credit: Getty images
Enjoy a wild swim
On a warm summer’s day, it doesn’t get much better than taking a dip in the sea, lake or river. If you live in a big city, don’t be put off as there are many wild swimming spots near London.
Wild swimming has grown in popularity in recent years/Credit: Getty images
Sleep under the stars
Pitch a tent and spend an evening beneath a starry night-sky. Wild camping allows you to escape the constant buzz of modern life and get back to basics. While not legal in some parts of the country, there are a number of smaller campsites in secluded locations, where you simply pitch up and savour the tranquility. Alternatively, kids will love sleeping in the back garden for a mini adventure.
Grab your tent and sleeping back and embark on a wild-camping trip/Credit: Getty images
Best August Bank Holiday events
The Pollinator Festival, Carmarthenshire: 24th – 26th August
Held at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire, The Pollinator Festival offers visitors the chance to learn how to attract pollinating insects to their own gardens. The festival will explore the dramatic decrease in pollinating insect numbers over the past 30 years and the work being done to combat this troubling trend within the grounds of this world-leading pollinator research centre. It’s sure to be a buzzing event for a very important issue. botanicgarden.wales/visit/whats-on/pollinator-festival
About 75% of crop plants rely on animal pollination but numbers of insect pollinators have been plummeting (Credit: Getty)
The Malham Show, Yorkshire Dales: 24th August
Set in the heart of picturesque Malhamdale in the Yorkshire Dales, this traditional agricultural and family country show has been taking place for over a century. Attractions include displays from the Cumbrian Axemen Team, a farmer’s market of traditional crafts and produce and various animal shows and competitions, from show-jumping to ferret-racing, so there really will be something for everyone. www.malhamshow.co.uk
The first show was held in 1907 at Airton, with sports including a duck race, a blindfolded wheelbarrow race and a married ladies’ race (Credit: Getty)
Guided wildlife rambles on the Isle of Rum, Inner Hebrides: 24th -26th August
Throughout the weekend, visitors can set off on three guided wildlife walks over this beautiful nature reserve. There’s the chance to see deer, seals, songbirds, wildflowers and carnivorous plants, not to mention the island’s unique geology, with the core of an ancient volcano forming the ‘Rum Collins’ seen today. Be sure to bring your hiking boots! www.isleofrum.com/isleofrumevents
The Isle of Rum is part of the Small Isles National Scenic Area, a Special Protection Area for Birds, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation (Credit: Getty)
The World Crabbing Competition, Norfolk: 25th August
This lively competition forms part of Norfolk’s Crab and Lobster Festival, a celebration of two of its Coastal towns, Cromer and Sheringham. The festival is dedicated to promoting the towns’ local seafaring heritage and fishing communities. Whether you enter as an individual competitor or in a team, the aims of the competition are simple: try to catch the most crabs or the biggest crab. Afterwards, get your claws into the food stalls providing a taste of Norfolk Coast’s delicacies. www.crabandlobsterfestival.co.uk
The nutrient-rich waters and chalk shelf of Cromer mean that its crabs are particularly flavoursome, fragrant and tender. (Credit: Getty)
Wild Land Art at Red House, Bexleyheath: 26th August
Celebrating craftsmanship and nature, this creative day will involve working together to make a communal artistic creation on the grassy canvas of the gardens of Red House in Bexleyheath, the iconic arts and crafts home of William and Janey Morris. No need to bring your own supplies, as visitors will be using wild and natural materials such as pinecones, leaves and hazel sticks, staying true to the Morris vision of artistic beauty inspired by the aesthetics of nature. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events
Attenborough Bank Holiday Drop In, Nottinghamshire: 26th August
The Attenborough Nature Reserve boasts an array of birds and mammals, with excellent vantage points and bird hides to watch wildlife while surrounded by stunning scenery and tranquil waters. The Bank Holiday Drop In Day will include activities for all ages, including pond dipping, mini beast hunting and bird watching, a perfect opportunity for outdoor family fun. thefamilygrapevine.co.uk/east-south-notts
The reserve covers 145 hectares of lakes, wetland, grassland and scrub and sits at the confluence of the River Erewash and the Trent (Credit: Getty)
Into the Wild Summer Festival, Sussex: 23rd -26th August
A diverse celebration of nature, Into the Wild offers a unique change to spend time outdoors with a like-minded community. The festival will offer over 200 workshops, delicious world cuisine, storytelling, bush crafts, yoga, stargazing and more. Held in the Sussex countryside, the gathering aims to be as sustainable as possible, nurturing a deeper connection to the natural world and promote a greater awareness of our place on the planet. It’s sure to be an experience like no other. www.intothewildgathering.com
Wild activities include Den Making, Foraging, Archery, Martial Arts, Forest Bathing, Wild Olympics, Falconry and Fencing (Credit: Getty)
‘Finding the Light’ Exhibition, Cumbria: 24th–25th August
Characterised by dramatic Turner-esque vistas and inspired by the emotive Scottish Borders countryside in which he lives, artist Michael Batey seeks to create paintings that capture the power and atmosphere of places, rather than replicate actual views. Born and raised on a farm in Welton, Cumbria, Batey is deeply connected to rural life and natural beauty. In this solo exhibition, Batey will display some of his work, exhibiting the ethereal and imaginary land and seascapes inspired by his feelings and emotions about the natural world. A must-see for art and nature enthusiasts. www.michaelbatey.com/exhibitions
Cornish Dahlia Society Show, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall: 24th – 26th August
During this three-day floral event, Cornish Dahlia Society’s most spectacular dahlias will be shown in dazzling displays around the historic Lost Gardens of Heligan. The show will feature an exhibition by professional and novice dahlia growers from around Cornwall, with categories including; ‘a dahlia bloom in a picture frame’ and ‘a vase of 7 blooms of dahlia’. Visitors are even invited to get into the competitive spirit and take part in the ‘People’s Dahlia’ competition, a contest for the most beautiful single dahlia of any type in a vase (provided). www.heligan.com/events/the-cornish-dahlia-society-39th-annual-show
The dahlia is named after Swedish 18th-century botanist Anders Dahl and was discovered growing wild on the sandy hillsides of Mexico (Credit: Getty)
Henley Country Craft Show, Henley-on-Thames: 23rd – 26th August
Set in the gorgeous grounds of Stonor Park Manor House, marquees and outdoor markets will be filled with handmade jewellery, homewares, clothing and more. With over 150 exhibitors, as well as workshops, demonstrations and fairground rides, this year’s event has added clay-pigeon shooting, a petting zoo, adventure playground and street-food market to the agenda. The show will offer a wide selection of artisan food and drink providers, as well as live music to complement the striking landscape. www.stonor.com/henley-country-craft-show/
River Cottage Festival, Devon: 24th -25th August
Set beside the beautiful River Cottage farmhouse, this festival offers a top selection of local food, live music, yoga, a mud kitchen and children’s activities, including bushcraft, pottery workshops and circus skills. Relax in the wildflower meadow with the sound of music in your ears, or for those with a little more energy, theres cookery master classes – conjure up a wild cocktail, curry and chapatti and super salads. www.rivercottagefestival.net
Shrewsbury steam Rally, Shropshire: 25th-26th August
Like your trains? This August Bank Holiday, join the Shrewsbury Steam Rally in the heart of Shropshire where over 1,000 steam-powered vehicles, classic motorbikes and vintage tractors will be on display. Come nightfall, the fun continues with fairground rides and live entertainment in the bar marquee. www.shrewsburysteamrally.co.uk