Free things to do in Preston

Posted on - 10th January, 2019 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Things to Do in and around Preston, What's On in Preston
Avenham Park Pic: Tony Worrall
Avenham Colanade Pic: Tony Worrall

They say the best things in life are free, and that probably applies more at this time of year than any other.


After the often costly present-buying and partying of the festive period, the next few weeks until pay day can seem to stretch on forever.

Luckily there are plenty of free things to do on our doorstep in Preston, and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

The Harris

A crisp day on the Flag Market with the Harris Museum in the background. Pic: @jg_hickey
The Harris is one of the top free spots in the city Pic: @jg_hickey

Preston’s iconic museum and art gallery has permanent collections of fine art, decorative art, costume and textiles, history, and photography. Ever-changing exhibitions mean there’s always a reason to return.

Visit soon before exhibitions such as Records of War, Harris Open 2018 and African Shrine Figure all close, or make the trip next month when Museum of the Moon comes to the central atrium.

The Harris also run talks, tours and events for people of all ages, such as monthly get-togethers for people of the LGBTQ community to discuss and explore the Harris collections.

Visit the Harris website for more information.

City Walking Trails

This series of trails aims to uncover Preston’s history and heritage by foot.

The Preston Statues trail explores the many historic and artistic statues that are dotted around the city. The Battle of Preston 1715 trail covers the places involved in the last ever battle to be fought on English soil.

Other walks include a tour of Preston’s blue plaques, a war memorial trail and various World War I walks that uncover the lives of inspiring Prestonians.

For more information see the Preston Guild City website.

Lancashire Infantry Museum

Based at Fulwood Barracks, the Lancashire Infantry Museum is home to one of the largest and most important Infantry Regimental collections in the country.

The museum illustrates the story of how Lancashire soldiers have fought throughout the world since the founding of the Regiment by William Orange in 1689.

Military-related artefacts on display include items from early action, such as the American War of Independence, to those used during modern-day conflicts such as Afghanistan.

Visit the Lancashire Infantry Museum website to find out more and check for upcoming events.


The floating Visitor Village at Brockholes Pic: Sonia Bashir
The floating Visitor Village at Brockholes Pic: Sonia Bashir

Located just off Junction 31 of the M6, Brockholes is a 250 acre nature reserve that has hosted over one million visitors since opening in April 2011.

A network of trails and hides can be explored, and the woods and lakes on the site have been specially designed to attract all kinds of wildlife. The floating Visitor Village is the first of its kind in the UK, and is home to a welcome centre, activity room, gift shop and food outlets.

Brockholes has a busy calendar of free events including Pram Walks and Midweek Meanders. The Reserve Walk, which takes place on the first Sunday of every month, explores Brockholes’ wildlife and conservation aims.

Visit the Brockholes website to find out more.

Avenham and Miller Parks

Said to rank among the finest examples of traditional Victorian parkland in the North West, Avenham Park was designed and created by Edward Milner during the 1860s.

Wrap up warm and explore the natural amphitheatre of the Grade II listed park. Spots to look out for include the Japanese Rock Garden, with its wide variety of ornamental plants and water features, the grand Belvedere structure, and Avenham Colonade for a wander along the banks of the River Ribble.

There are many more historic points of interest to find next door at Miller Park such as the Italianate Terrace, the Earl of Derby statue, and the listed fountain.

Find out more on the Preston City Guild website.

St Walburge’s tours

The Grade I listed church on Weston Street is an iconic Preston landmark thanks to its 94 metre high spire, which is the tallest of any parish church in England.

The church was built in the mid-19th century to a design by the Gothic Revival architect Joseph Hansom, the designer of the hansom cab. The interior is about 50 metres long, and can seat around 1,000 people

A recent run of charged night-time spire tours has proved very popular, but St Walburge’s also hosts free heritage tours of the church’s interior every Saturday between 11.30am and 2.30pm.

Visit the St Walburge’s website for contact details.

Lancaster Canal

An icy morning on the Lancaster Canal in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
An icy morning on the Lancaster Canal in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

The Lancaster Canal is said to have its own unique character, having spent most of its time unconnected from the national waterway network.

The canal at Preston used to reach into the city but now starts at Ashton Basin. It can be accessed from Aqueduct Street or Shelley Road and followed west as it runs through housing estates and past Haslam Park, and then on into open countryside.

A Canal and River Trust towpath taskforce meets once a month to carry out vegetation maintenance work, litter picking and general towpath maintenance.

Find out more about the towpath taskforce on the Canal and River Trust website.

Moor Park Observatory

The Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory in Moor Park opens to the public once a month.

Members of the public can join astronomers from Preston and District Astronomical Society. The events involve stargazing and observing the skies through telescopes, weather permitting.

Observing nights run from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, and are scheduled on the third Thursday of each month until April 2019. No booking is needed.

Visit the Go Stargazing website for more information.

Guild Wheel

Preston’s famous walking and cycling route is 21 miles long and circles Preston and the surrounding countryside.

The route takes in river and canal sides, woodland, city centre parkland, docklands and nature reserves. 

The official start and finish of the Guild Wheel is the Pavilion Café in Avenham Park, but the route can be started or finished anywhere. It can be done in full for one challenging day out, or by ticking off sections bit by bit.

See the Preston Guild City website for more details and a map.

What do you think of this list of free things to do in Preston? What else would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

Preston in pictures The Station, Preston. 1539Adelphi quarter , preston , 23.06.2022St Walburge's Church, preston 23.06.2022Former Tithebarn pub and Preston Bus StationHarris Museum and Art GalleryRed telephone boxesRed telephone box on Market StreetPreston 2022 View more Advertisement Subscribe to the newsletter

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