Summer is always the season of music, from festivals to blockbuster gigs. While it can be one of the most exciting times for music lovers, it can also be one of the most expensive. Fortunately, there is a wide array of free music events in London this summer that offer the thrill of a festival without any of the cost. From carnivals to outdoor singalongs, the UK capital once again manages to serve up something for everyone.
Notting Hill Carnival
Saturday, August 24 – Monday, August 26
This event needs no introduction to anybody with even a passing familiarity with London, such is its popularity. For the uninitiated, Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival. The event has taken place, rather appropriately, in the Notting Hill region of London since 1966, with the carnival also extending into Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park. While Notting Hill Carnival is an event with many different things going on, the music is a huge part of what makes it so special.
Time Out has provided a guide of the 37 official static sound systems that ensure that Notting Hill Carnival is always brimming with life. There will also be live music, spanning genres from reggae to salsa. Notting Hill Carnival is many things, but quiet is not one of them. The scale and diversity of the entertainment on offer makes the carnival as famous as any of London’s permanent tourist attractions.
The nature of the event makes specific figures difficult to compile, but The Independent estimated a 2018 attendance of over 1 million people. Get down early if you want to secure a good spot for a particular music session, and head to Notting Hill on the Sunday of the carnival if you want to experience the slightly more chilled vibe of the designated family day.
Summer on Screen – The Greatest Showman
Fri 19 Jul
Fans of The Greatest Showman can experience the film in unique fashion this summer, with a free open-air screening of the musical taking place in Arena Square, Wembley Park. The huge popularity of The Greatest Showman, in addition to the free nature of the event, means that the screening should be well-attended by an audience in good spirits. The event starts at 7pm, but make sure you get down early to ensure that you can grab some of the limited deck-chair seating.
While critics were lukewarm to the film, cinemagoers in the UK largely held a different opinion about the musical starring Hugh Jackman. The BBC acknowledged the film’s opening weekend success, on which The Greatest Showman took £4.75 million at the box office. The Greatest Showman’s soundtrack also became the UK’s best-selling album of 2018, so you can be certain that this open-air screening will turn into an enthusiastic singalong. With a real-life ringleader in Wembley Park to bring out the energy from the crowd, this musical screening should be an unforgettable experience. Don’t worry if you haven’t memorised all the lyrics yet, as lyric sheets will be available at the event.
Live Music Fridays
Last Friday of each month
If you fancy a musical accompaniment to a meal, then the Zaman Restaurant at The Sportsman Casino has you covered. Live Music Fridays take place on the final Friday of each month, making this the ideal time for music lovers to check out Zaman’s brand new menu. This event shows an alternative side to The Sportsman Casino, as many people may not have appreciated that it is home to one of London’s acclaimed restaurants.
The venue is more closely associated with classic casino games, notably slots. The Sportsman offers VIP Lounge games at machines with integrated adjustable seats, while the casino also updates its collection of slots each month. Virtual casinos can naturally innovate more quickly than their physical counterparts, with Betway casino regularly making additions to a collection of over 400 slots. The choice and convenience of online casinos have placed pressure on land-based casinos to adapt and diversify, with The Sportsman among those taking on the challenge. The Sportsman has adapted by updating its games each month, and it has diversified with events like Live Music Fridays. Zaman was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018, a testament to the restaurant’s delicious fusion cuisine. The addition of music takes the dining experience to a new level, making it the perfect way to kick off your weekend.
Friday, July 26 & Friday, August 30
There aren’t many conceivable scenarios where you can watch the likes of ABBA, Adele and Take That perform for free, but the Paddington Covers events are as close as you’ll ever get in London. Paddington Covers is a mini music tribute festival, taking place in a garden square on two Fridays this summer. The event will provide all of the fun of a festival, but without all of the costs (and the mud).
The event in July hosts tribute acts for Dolly Parton, Elvis, Adele and ABBA, while August’s event brings together homages to Bryan Adams, Take That, Ed Sheeran and Queen. A range of genres means that all tastes should be satisfied, while there will be plenty of other forms of entertainment to keep the fun going between the acts. Each act will perform two sets, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, to make Paddington Covers a proper day out. Leeds Live reported how music fans were shocked at the £82.50 price tag slapped on Ed Sheeran gigs this August. There’s no such cost to enjoy some of the finest tribute acts in Paddington this summer.
These are just four of the ways you can enjoy music for free this summer in the capital. Make sure you check out your local venues to see if there are any free music events in your area in the next couple of months.