Are you planning a full blown party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or just happy to have the extra bank holiday?
You might have already started organising things in preparation or if you’re less prepared you might like to see how you feel nearer the time.
Either way, if it’s something you need to budget for, now is a good time to think about how much you’re likely to spend on any celebrations.
If you’re stuck for ideas or your budget won’t stretch to the expense those extra days off work can cause, there are plenty of free Jubilee events you can attend. But if you’re less of a royalist we’ve put together a list of free things you could do with your two bank holidays to avoid the jubilations.
1. Enjoy the outdoors (fingers crossed we’ll have the weather for it!)
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could dig out the old bike or walking shoes and head for the hills for some fresh air and exercise. The Lake and Peak Districts, Snowdonia and the Scottish Highlands are all great places to visit. Why not test your map skills and try a bit of orienteering?
If you fancy less greenery you could try a city-walking tour. For example Bath offers free two-hour tours each day, and a Jane Austen audio tour that you can freely download on to an MP3 player.
Other cities sometimes charge a small fee but you can find out about free ones by visiting the appropriate tourist board website.
2. Garden and parks
Spring is in full flow and it’s the prettiest time of the year to see gardens and parks in bloom. You could simply take a walk and enjoy the scenery, try to spot different forms of wildlife or even fly a kite if the weather’s right.
3. Arrange a date with the telly
If the outdoors isn’t for you, settle in with a good DVD box set or catch up online with television that you’ve missed over the last few weeks.
If TV isn’t your cup of tea, curl up with a good book (from the library) instead.
4. Try some wild camping!
Unlike in England and Wales, camping in the wild is free in Scotland, provided you’re well away from property and roads. If Scotland’s too far, you’ll need permission of the landowner before pitching your tent. They don’t usually mind as long as you respect the land.
5. Visit a museum
The vast amount of fascinating museums across the country gives us the chance to learn about history, industry, nature, fashion, science and the universe.
You can visit the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Media Museum, the National Railway Museum, the National Football Museum and the Science Museum, to name but a few, all completely free of charge.
For information about museums and exhibitions go to www.24hourmuseum.org.uk.
6. Plant a veggie patch
You can save money and eat healthier by growing your own fruit and vegetables. May is a good month to start, and there’s no time like the present!
Check out the Which? guide to growing your own.
7. Learn something new
Have you always wanted to be bilingual or do you have an old violin that’s collecting dust in the loft? Lessons can be costly but there is a wealth of information available on the internet. Of course this hobby may last longer than just one day but this could be the start of a new you!
Try the BBC online language centre at which offers a 12-week free course for beginners.
8. Games day
Everyone has a collection of old board games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit at the back of a cupboard. Why not dig them out and invite some friends round to join in? Tell everyone to bring some food and make it an event to remember.
If board games are too ‘old school’ for you, have an Xbox or PlayStation tournament instead.
9.Cityfarms and animal sanctuaries
If you’re an animal lover but your budget or time is too tight to have your own pet, go to a city farm or organise a visit to an open day at an animal sanctuary. This time of year is perfect for spotting spring lambs frolicking in the fields and ducklings taking to the water.
Devon’s Donkey Sactuary which cares for sick and neglected donkeys, is free to visit, and Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital outside Aylesbury has a nursery area, where you can watch staff hand-rearing the orphaned birds and mammals, opens to the public during the spring and summer months.
For more information on city farms, go to www.farmgarden.org.uk.
10. Churches, cathedrals and castles
If you’re looking for beautiful architecture that dates back thousands of years, there are many churches, cathedrals and castles to visit throughout theUK.
Durham Cathedral, for example, was founded in 995 and is thought to be the greatest Norman building in England, while Exeter Cathedral, which was built in the early 12th century, has the longest uninterrupted medieval Gothic vaulting in the world.
You can visit them for free throughout the year, or check websites such as www.english-heritage.org.uk.
11. Support the arts
Tap into your creative side and inspire yourself by and spending an afternoon soaking up art at a gallery. Many institutions, such as the Tate galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives, are free except for major exhibitions.
Or why not look out for work by local artists, and shows by art schools and colleges, which sometimes exhibit students’ work.
Art lovers should head over to The National Gallery for a large collection of Western European art from the middle ages to the early 20th century. Modern art enthusiasts must see Tate Modern, the contemporary art museum.
Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your extra day off, don’t spend too much, and enjoy it.