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20 Dec, 2009

Christmas bonuses

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Spent all your money on Christmas presents? Feeling a bit of a Scrooge? From carols in Cambridge to live acts in Liverpool, here’s our pick of the UK’s cultural freebies

BP Portrait award 2009, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

A chance to see 56 contemporary portraits from one of the most prestigious painting competitions in the world, a selection of intimate images of friends, family and celebrities selected from over 1,900 artists this year. Also exhibited is the work of Emmanouil Bitsakis, the 2008 BP Travel award winner.

Open from 12 December to 21 February 2010

Earth from the Air, Southgate shopping centre and city centre, Bath

Throughout December and January, an exhibition of over 120 pictures will be displayed on the streets of Bath. The largescale images, created by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, document the effects of climate change and population growth. Running concurrently is another free street gallery by award-winning wildlife photographer and conservationist Andy Rouse, depicting the wildlife that inhabits the edges of the polar circles.

Free until mid-January 2010

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

The original and best. The Festival of Nine Lessons Christmas Eve service, which first took place in 1918, is broadcast to millions around the world and includes a specially commissioned new carol every year. This year’s has been written by Gabriel Jackson. It’s free to attend, but make sure you turn up early to bag a pew.

Christmas Eve. Doors open at 1.30pm. Concludes at 4.30pm

Festive Films, National Media Museum, Bradford

Enjoy a selection of classic family films for just £1 each over Christmas and the New Year. Between 19 December and 17 January, the NMM is screening The Snowman, Home Alone and Laurel and Hardy classic The Flying Deuces. As well as an IMAX and numerous creative activities, the museum also hosts seven floors of free interactive exhibitions – a guaranteed remedy for children’s boredom.

Entry to the museum is free from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am–6pm

A Night Less Ordinary, Newcastle

If you’re under 26, you can have free admission to a festive performance at one of Newcastle’s theatres. The scheme by the Arts Council England is offering 50 free tickets a week at the Live Theatre, Northern Stage and Theatre Royal. Current performances include Peter Pan (billed as an “antidote to panto”) and Cinderella. Visit the Newcastle Theatres website for an updated list of available tickets.

Go Penguins: A Winter’s Trail, Liverpool

Over Christmas and New Year, an army of 200 penguin statues, each designed by a local artist, will be invading Liverpool. They form part of A Winter’s Trail, a series of cultural events and festive installations across the city. Activities include free storytelling for children across 17 of the city’s libraries, a winter art market at St George’s Hall, and a series of free exhibitions at Fact. On Thursday evenings during the festive period, carol singers, brass bands and live performers will take to the streets.

The exhibition runs until the 10 January 2010

Hogmanay, Edinburgh

This year’s New Year celebration is set to be the biggest in Edinburgh’s history, with events running for five days. But if you’re lacking in party stamina, a series of free cultural events will also be taking place. On the evening of 30 December, St Giles’s Cathedral will host a free concert by electronic avant-garde musicians Michael Begg and Colin Potter. And the Queen’s residence in Scotland, Holyrood Palace, will be hosting a free concert by young musicians playing folk, jazz and world music on New Year’s Day. And if you’re out and about on the Royal Mile that day, look out for an 8-metre-high blue man, produced by Puppet Lab’s Big Man Walking project.

Hogmanay events run from 29 December 2009 to 2 January 2010

Live music every Wednesday at Ikon, Birmingham

Escape the cold and join guitarist and composer Jamie Fekete for some flamenco and jazz guitar at Cafe Ikon, part of Birmingham’s acclaimed Ikon gallery. Fekete, who tours with Gypsy band The Destroyers, will be playing for free every Wednesday throughout the Christmas season.

Every Wednesday during December and January, 7–9pm

The London Gay Men’s Chorus, Southbank Centre, London

Join Europe’s largest all-gay choir for a merry singalong at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall. The London Gay Men’s Chorus will be singing festive favourites alongside extracts from their sold-out show Singderella. Let’s hope their music’s better than their puns.

The show takes place on 20 December 2009.

St Martin-in-the-Fields, free classical music, Trafalgar Square, London

The newly restored 18th-century church of St Martin-in-the-Fields is offering a series of 19 classical concerts throughout December and January. It’ll cost you nothing to enter one of these performances, though a donation to the church’s Christmas appeal is suggested. You’re advised to get there in good time, as space is limited.

Lunchtime performances are held at 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Bristol

A chance to see one of the world’s most prestigious photography exhibitions for free. The collection of over 100 images of nature and wildlife are being presented at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. On 13 January Neil Nightingale, former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, will be giving a free lecture on new developments in wildlife film-making at the University of Bristol.

The exhibition runs from 5 December until 10 January.

Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism, Manchester Art Gallery

This is the first major exhibition in Europe to focus on women in the surrealist movement. It features more than 150 works, spanning painting, photography and sculpture, by artists including Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller and Leonora Carrington. Several events have been organised as part of the season, including a lecture on Czech surrealism and free guided tours.

The exhibition runs until 10 January. It’s free to under 18s, and to everyone on 19 December.

Wonderland, Museum of Childhood, London

Folklore, myths, legends and fairytales are all brought to life through 80 artworks from the East London Printmakers group. They depict tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen in a contemporary context. The museum is also running an exhibition of photographs by Rohan Silva, documenting the east End during the festive period.

Wonderland runs until 10 January; Bethnal Green at Christmas runs until 17 January. Both are open 10am–17.45pm every day.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Leeds

Over-indulged on Christmas food? Then take a stroll around 500 acres of 18th-century parkland, home to sculptures by Rodin, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. If it gets too cold, you can always nip indoors to the estate’s Georgian chapel, where a series of glass sculptures made by the late American artist James Lee Byars are being exhibited. Need to indulge some more? Hot food and mulled wine are served daily.

The exhibitions are open daily, from 10am–5pm, but closed 24 and 25 December.

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