A Sizzling Bank Holiday Whatever the Weather

We've plenty of days out ideas – and some are free

With the recession forcing many to opt for a staycation this year, a fun-filled bank holiday could be a cheap way to spice up your summer.

From carnivals, concerts and parades to beach parties, fireworks, and festivals, there's plenty happening around the UK at the end of August. And some of these events won't cost you a penny.

Reading & Leeds Festivals

The Kaiser Chiefs are playing at Reading and Leeds Reading and Leeds, 28-30 August
Although primary tickets sold out long ago for both events, you may be able to get your hands on resale tickets at Viagogo – the official resale partner. One of the biggest weekends in the live music calendar, this year's festival sees big names including Kings of Leon, The Prodigy, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Bloc Party and Kaiser Chiefs playing at both sites. The Gossip, Lostprophets and Faith No More are among other bands playing. Don't forget your tent, your wellies and some sunscreen.

Notting Hill Carnival

A performer at Notting Hill Notting Hill Carnival, London, 30-31 August, FREE
A Bank Holiday institution, this Caribbean-flavoured fun-fest is now into its fourth decade. The West Indies comes to West London, where the streets will be pounding to the sound of steel drums and throbbing under the weight of around 850,000 visitors. The party starts with children's parades on Sunday, before the main procession of floats and dancers on Monday. Enjoy the party atmosphere, sample Caribbean food from the many stalls, and dance in the street until 10pm.

Mathew Street Music Festival

Mathew Street Music Festival, Liverpool, 30-31 August, FREE
This festival – one of Europe's biggest free music events – is now in its 17th year, and sees rock and pop bands performing on six outdoor stages dotted around Liverpool city centre. Take your pick from soul, Britpop, big bands, country and western, and more.

The event is given a boost with the Mathew Street Fringe Festival, which runs from 28 to 31 August. It features 95 bands from as far afield as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Finland, Poland, Turkey and Scotland.

Cardiff Mardi Gras

Revellers at Manchester Pride Cardiff Mardi Gras, Cardiff Castle, 29-30 August, FREE
Staged in Coopers Field behind Cardiff Castle, this is the biggest annual gay party in Wales and one of the UK's top gay and lesbian events. More than 40,000 people head into the Welsh capital for entertainment in the form of a main stage, cabaret and dance tents, market stalls and refreshments.

The NASC Street Rod Nationals

The 35th NASC Street Rod Nationals, Trinity Park, Ipswich, 28-31 August
The biggest custom car show in Europe attracts customised 1950s-style cars, high-tech Street Rods, Hot Rods and high-performance Street Machines. The weekend includes live music, children's events, competitions and more.

Manchester Pride Big Weekend

Little Boots is performing at Manchester Pride this year Manchester Pride Big Weekend, Manchester, 28-31 August
The 29 August parade sets the tone for a vibrant and wild weekend of music and mayhem. Entertainment comes in the form of Bananarama, Little Boots, Booty Luv, Kelly Rowland, Frankmusik, Tommy Sparks and more. There's even a DJ set from Alphabeat.

Summer Breeze

Poole, Dorset, Thursdays from 7pm, FREE
There's loads happening in Poole throughout August but one highlight is the weekly Summer Breeze party. Get to Shore Road Beach for an evening of sport, family fun, live music, barbecues and a fireworks finale at 10pm. The final Summer Breeze is 27 August.

Creamfields 2009

Fireworks over Poole Creamfields, Halton, Cheshire, 29-30 August
This major UK dance festival transforms Cheshire's Daresbury Estate into one massive rave and sees hedonistic campers enjoying the sounds of some big-name DJs. Headline acts this year include Basement Jaxx, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, Mylo and Dizzee Rascal.

Newlyn Fish Festival

Newlyn Fish Festival, Newlyn, Cornwall, 31 August, children admitted FREE
Head South-west for a celebration of seafood on Bank Holiday Monday, in this Cornish fishing town. Newlyn boasts more than 40 acres of harbour and is home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the UK. Highlights of the festival include cooking demonstrations, fish auctions, children's workshops, a craft fair, gig racing, and live music.

Hampton Court Palace Beer & Jazz Festival

Hampton Court Palace Beer & Jazz Festival, Greater London, 27-31 August
Laze around on the lush lawns of this 16th Century royal palace and enjoy the sounds of traditional jazz, funk, Latin and Blues, while sampling the real ales and ciders on offer. This year, the Chicago Blues Brothers, Courtney Pine, Manteca and the James Taylor Quartet are due to perform.

Football in the River

The 2007 event Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
31 August, FREE

This annual Cotswolds match sees two seven-a-side teams go head to head, knee-deep in the River Windrush. Watch wading and water-fights as they battle for the prize.
More information »

Glenn Miller Festival

Glenn Miller Festival, Bedford
29-31 August

Held at Twinwood Airfield's Glenn Miller Museum, this fun-filled festival offers three days of 1940s attractions – including jiving and jitterbug displays, demonstrations and lessons, fashion shows, art exhibitions, live bands and lots of military and civilian vehicles.

Clapham Weekender

Clapham Weekender, Clapham Common, London
29-30 August

The Clapham Weekender fuses two dance music festivals – Get Loaded in the Park and South West Four. This year's cracking line-up includes Sasha & John Digweed, David Guetta, Eric Prydz, Armin Van Buuren, Orbital, Royksopp and Laurent Garnier.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

A competitor braves the bog World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Waen Rhydd Bog, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, 31 August, FREE
People travel around the world to take part in this famous tradition. Competitors swim two lengths of a peat bog trench, with the aid of flippers and a snorkel, in the fastest time possible. There are several hundred entrants every year and countless spectators join in the fun.

Edinburgh's Festivals

Discover raw new comedy talent or the next big thing at the Edinburgh Fringe, which is on until 31 August, or enjoy established, renowned artists at the Edinburgh International Festival, which runs until 6 September.

Search online for other events and attractions in your area.

For more weird and wonderful events happening throughout the year, check out our Quintessentially Quirky feature.

Escape from the UK

For a complete package tailored to your needs, check out AA Getaways. Enjoy a short Continental break by ferry, Eurostar or Eurotunnel – or a guided tour further afield.

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Check out our other inspirational ideas for days out and weekend breaks.

Plan your journey

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For when you get there

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August 2009

Notting Hill Carnival images courtesy britainonview/ Jon Spaull
Bog Snorkelling image courtesy britainonview/ Andy Sewell
River football image courtesy www.soglos.com
Fireworks image by Edward Griffiths, courtesy of Poole Tourism