At the risk of spouting the obvious, life feels a bit grim right now, doesn’t it?
While temperatures are dropping, Covidrestrictions are climbing cruelly upwards – and simply having something to look forward to seems like a relic from the past.
But screw misery, being stuck at home doesn’t mean the end to all future fun. Over the past six months, festivals, cinemas, arts venues, museums and other cultural havens have evolved and kindly emigrated online – often offering incredible opportunities totally free of charge.
Virtual events, once few and far between, are now a 2020 staple and their quality has improved tremendously too. And yet… despite a wealth of free at-home events available, it can be hard to know exactly where to go to find out about them.
Since lockdown, I’ve been scouring the depths of the internet to compile a weekly guide to the best free virtual events. From online coding classes to drag queen workouts on IGTV, I’ve been amazed by the sheer variety and creativity of what’s on offer. And now I want to share my knowledge with Metro.co.uk readers.
So, whether you’re contending with tier two, tier three or just feeling a bit teary, I’ve got you covered. Without further ado, here are this week’s best free at-home events:
Watch a free French film
We’re all in desperate need of some escapism right now – and could anything be further away from our current lot than a ‘visceral’ 90s rave scene dance movie?
This Tuesday evening, you can tune into a free screening of the critically acclaimed French documentary If It Were Love (Si c’était de l’amour), as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival.
The film, described as “an unsettling journey exploring our nights, our parties, our loves” won the coveted Teddy Award for Best Documentary at 2020 Berlin Film Festival.
The Belfast International Arts Festival takes place every October and this year it’s primarily hosted online… for obvious reasons. The full programme includes talks, performances, films and more – and most of it is wondrously free of charge.
When: Tuesday 20 October, 8pm onwards
Overcome imposter syndrome
Are you a woman always downplaying your talents? Ever felt like you weren’t quite good enough? Are you your own harshest critic?
If any of that rings true, then join the club.
This Wednesday, the bossy girl project is holding a free evening of group coaching exercises, confidence-building and goal setting strategies aimed at young women in the workplace.
The session will dig deep into money, understanding self-worth and unlocking confidence, to help attendees know their own value and leave feeling inspired.
When: Wednesday 21 October, 7-8.30pm
Watch a Black History Month panel
October is Black History Month, an annual opportunity to recognise the outstanding contributions that people of African and Caribbean descent have made to Britain.
There are hundreds of events, the majority of which are now taking place online (cheers, coronavirus). One stand-out free event is taking place on Zoom this Thursday evening, hosted by the arts and community centre Poplar Union.
Titled Not Another BHM Panel, this virtual discussion brings together exciting guests, including producer Tobi Kyeremateng and writers Jason Okundaye and Jess Brough, to explore the art, activism and culture that influences the world we live in today. Book your free spot in advance.
When: Wednesday 21 October, 6-8.30pm
Drawing with a difference
As well as being Black History Month, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To mark it, Cheapskate London and Brixton Life Drawing are teaming up on Zoom for an unusual life drawing session this Thursday evening.
The event features a fabulous first-time model who is a breast cancer survivor and who has undergone a double mastectomy. The event wants to get people talking about breast cancer and checking their breasts for lumps – while working out their creative juices at the same time.
The evening is ‘pay what you feel’, with 20% of profits going to the breast cancer charities CoppaFeel and Make 2nds Count. Every pound donated counts as an entry into a raffle with prizes including tickets to the Dreamboys show and a women’s wellness hamper worth £100.
When: Thursday 22 October, 7.30pm onwards
Get some culture with the Tate
Pre-pandemic (remember those halcyon days?), the Tate ran a free Late event on the last Friday of every month.
Luckily, coronavirus hasn’t totally scuppered those plans. Every couple of weeks, different Tates have been running free virtual Late events.
Most recently, Tate Modern hosted an online exploration of Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus; an evocative 13-metre faux-Victorian fountain exploring the transatlantic slave trade and Britain’s ugly history.
This Friday is Tate Britain’s time to shine. Drawing inspiration from artists like Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, this free online event will explore the dark thoughts brought to the surface during lockdown through workshops, talks and musical performances.
When: Friday 23 October, 7-9pm
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Black History Month
October marks Black History Month, which reflects on the achievements, cultures and contributions of black people in the UK and across the globe, as well as educating others about the diverse history of those from African and Caribbean descent.
For more information about the events and celebrations that are taking place this year, visit the official Black History Month website.