Are you FREE all Summer?

Whether you’re jetting off overseas or spending the summer exploring local scenery on a staycation, July and August can be expensive months.  Even if, like me, you’re not going anywhere on holidays (😢), we all feel like we need to make the most of the nice weather, but all those BBQs and days out can soon add up.

So, we set ourselves a challenge... to find things you can do totally for FREE in Northern Ireland, without making too much of an effort.  As a bonus, you’ll even get some fresh air, be entertained and even learn a few new things along the way. Check out our list of 9 things to do for FREE this summer...

1. Books, books, books

You can borrow up to 9 books at a time for FREE from your local library.  Whether you’re into the latest ‘whodunnit’ mystery, the classics, or the newest rom-com novel, there’s sure to be plenty of choose from.  This one is a great activity for both adults and kids, entertaining the whole family in one place – that doesn’t happen too often!  Most libraries have designated areas for children where they can browse books, read and colour-in. 

If you’re not already a library member, just visit your local library with current proof of your name and address eg driving licence or household bill.  Find out where your local library is here: https://www.myni.life/go-on-ni

2. eBooks and eMagazines

eBooks and eMagazines – over 17,000 are available to download for free! Another reason to get yourself a library membership, but with this one, you don’t even have to leave the house – you can become a virtual library member from the comfort of your sofa.  All you need is to fill out the form and download the app to your smartphone/tablet:  https://www.librariesni.org.uk/_layouts/LNI_CustomPages/CreateLMSUsers.aspx

3. Learn something new

Learn something new this summer, for FREE.  Find out how to do that thing on your computer/tablet you’ve been meaning to do for ages, or help a friend of family member be more confident online. From courses covering how to stay safe online to creating slideshows with photos, there are lots of FREE courses on in your local library.  See what’s available where you live – just pop in your postcode and hit search: https://www.myni.life/go-on-ni

 

library-card

4. Get social

Volunteer, get a new hobby or join a local community group.  There’s probably lots of things happening close to you that are free to join or attend.  Many social groups meet in libraries – ‘knit and natter’, ‘rhythm and rhyme’, reading groups and more.  Just ask at your library to see what’s available – give them a ring or have a look on their facebook page.

5. Explore outdoors

Go for a walk. This is another great all-rounder for the whole family. You’ll get fresh air ✔️exercise ✔️ and being outdoors, surrounded by nature is great for boosting your mental health ✔️.   Make it into a fun game by giving kids a list of 10 things they need to find or draw on your walk.  Find a country park near you that has FREE entry: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/leisure-and-recreation/country-parks

6. Grow your own

Did you know you can grow potatoes from potatoes?! No special seeds required. So not exactly FREE, as you’ll have bought the potatoes in the first place, but at least this way, they won’t go to waste and you’ll eventually harvest your own crop of FREE potatoes.  Second crop potatoes can be planted as late as August, so get planting now and you could have your own spud harvest in time for Christmas!

7. Do your research

Research – whether it’s a holiday, family history, a school project or just for fun, you can use computers and go online for FREE in your local library.  Libraries NI also has an extensive range of resources that can be of benefit to historians, researchers, genealogists, students and those who have are interested in cultural and community life. From photographs, maps, journals and archives, ask your local library how you can access them. 

8. Go to a museum

The Ulster Museum has lots to do for grown ups as well as big and little kids. And entry is FREE. You can find a list of museums near you (and whether they charge for admission) here: https://discovernorthernireland.com/explore/search-results/?SearchTermIn=museums 

9. Head to the beach

With hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline, we are spoilt for choice in Northern Ireland.  Pack a picnic, head to the beach and stay all day making sandcastles, paddling, and collecting shells. Even if the rain comes on, make the most of it by getting creative and drawing in the wet sand. Take photos of your sand art, print them out and you’ll have lovely new memories and some wall art for FREE #winwin

Do you or someone you know want to make better use of  smartphones and tablet devices or just improve digital skills? Why not try the free Go ON NI courses. The courses take place in libraries, community centres and other venues across Northern Ireland.