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7 free things to do this month

We’re almost at the end of summer but if the kids are driving you up the walls and you’re wondering how on earth you might elicit some joy from the next few weeks, you’re in the same boat as us. Precisely why we’ve been rummaging around trying to find free things to do. 

Here’s what we found…

Festivals

We’ve missed our local art exhibitions and summer fests haven’t you? Luckily, a few have reopened including Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. If you didn’t have the chance to visit pre-lockdown, there’s never been a better time. Once inside, you can discover the life of the artist in a new way: Participate in a unique sound and light show that will immerse you in the world renowned and familiar images of Vincent Van Gogh’s world. Meanwhile, An Indian Summer is also back this year but virtually. Join them from 10-23 Aug for two weeks of performance, music, talks, workshops, film and more all celebrating South Asian culture. The 10th edition of the festival will be available free online, with this year’s line-up including comedian Nish Kumar, basketball star Jamell Anderson, brand new music from Bandish Projekt, live performances from Roopa Panesar and Upneet Singh, plus many more.

Museums

New Walk Museum is finally re-opening on 17 Aug – hurrah! If you’ve not been now’s a great chance to go and see galleries including Ancient Egypt, Dinosaurs, Wild Space, The Den for little and more.If you want to book a tour, head here. Meanwhile, Brick City is back in town (17 Aug – 22 Nov) and this year is celebrating iconic buildings from around the world. Take a world tour from New Zealand to New York and gawp at imaginative castles to soaring skyscrapers created using LEGO® bricks. Don’t miss the magnificent construction of London St Pancras Station, measuring two by four metres and built using over 180,000 LEGO bricks. Impressed! I sure am! Book free tickets here and I’ll see you there!

Check out someone else’s dahlias

The National Garden Scheme sees over 3,500 private gardens in England and Wales open for charity – adults pay but children go free. This is brilliant for two reasons: firstly, you can indulge in a bit of real-life garden porn (begone Right Move), and you can pick up clever border design ideas while sending a few quid (normally around £4) to highly worthy charities such as MacMillan. In Leicestershire we’re keen to pop to The Old Barn in Swadlinctote – pic above (15 Aug) Tresillian House (30 Aug) and West View (6 Sept). Booking essential.

PYO fruit

Whetstone Pastures Farm is a must to visit with your kids. They grow strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red currants and blackberries and you just pay for what you pick. Just turn up and follow the arrows to the fruit, and then pay for what you’ve picked over at the fruit kiosk. Open Tues- Sun from 10am. Meanwhile over at Rutland Water Fruit Farm, you can do the same and if there’s nothing left, you can buy strawberry and raspberry plants for your own garden and literally reap the fruits of your labour next year.

Play al fresco tennis and basketball

Game, set and match! There are more than 10 free tennis courts available to use if no one else has bagged the spot. Just turn up with your own bat and ball. Leicestershire haunts include Abbey Park, Evington Park, Knighton, Rushey Fields, Monks Court and Victoria Park. As for a little b-ball, try Birstall Park and Thorpe Astley.

Pack a picnic

Nothing says summer quite as much as a wicker basket packed full of strawberries, champagne and salmon sandwiches (or perhaps more likely, a bag-for-life with a box of sausage rolls, a can of coke and a couple of Kit Kats). Invite some friends to keep the kids entertained and head up to the top of Beacon Hill to make the most of the incredible views across, there’s also The Outwood in Loughborough, while Foxton Locks in Harborourgh and Rutland Water in Rutland allows you to stare dreamily across the water, while ignoring the wasps attacking your ice lolly. Read our guide to the loveliest local picnic spots

Go for a ramble

Bradgate Park

Make the most of sunny days by stomping through our lush woodlands and undulating countryside. Head to Bradgate Park to see the ruins or over to Yew Tree Avenue to gawp at the fascinating yet tranquil 200 years old trees. Swithland Woods is also great for a nice stroll as is Sence Valley Forest Park.

Find more ideas here

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