Online culture to enjoy at home during confinement

With the current situation caused by the pandemic, and the social distancing that comes with it, you might think that now isn’t the time to enjoy everything that the cultural industry has to offer. Think again! This time at home is the perfect opportunity to enjoy unique experiences and learn new things. Plus, you can do all of this from the comfort of your own home.

Across the UK, cultural institutions are getting their creative juices flowing and thinking of new ways to share their craft. This has led to the unveiling of innovative digital platforms and services, allowing us to keep enjoying the work of artists and performers, while we do our part and stay home. So grab your laptop, find a comfortable spot and encourage UK-based institutions while getting your culture fix.

Here are ideas of things you can enjoy with the members of your household or on your own. Click below to jump to the sections that interest you most:

Spend a night (or day) at the museum

Although museums have closed their physical venues during the home confinement, it’s still possible to enjoy everything they have to offer. A number of museums and galleries provide virtual tours, ensuring their collections are still – virtually – available to visitors. Institutions are also coming up with new and innovative ways to enjoy art from the comfort of your own home.

The British Museum in London offers many ways to explore it remotely
Many museums have been active in making sure you can still enjoy their offering during the temporary closure
  • The British Museum: This world-renowned institution has been active in making sure its exhibitions can still be enjoyed by the public during its temporary closure. The museum offers a brilliant virtual tour, where you can explore more than 60 of its galleries, as well as an interactive experience that takes you through key pieces from each period. For the ultimate guided tour experience, look through the virtual tour while listening to the gallery introductions, presented by the museum’s own curators. If you’d like to hear what happens behind-the-scenes, the British Museum podcast, which presents exclusive talks with artists and curators, is also available on their website.
  • The National Gallery: This museum houses one of the most impressive painting collections in the world, and you can enjoy it from home thanks to 3D camera technology. Immerse yourself in Renaissance masterpieces with the 360 virtual tours available on their website. If you own a VR headset, you can even experience over 270 paintings in virtual reality.
  • The Tate: With four art galleries across the UK, The Tate has become a symbol of culture in England. Although all venues have temporarily closed, you can still do a virtual walk-through of the museum, thanks to a digital display of Britain’s greatest artists. If you’d like to learn more about the creative process and lives of the artists behind the artwork, listen to The Tate’s podcast.
  • The Natural History Museum: Explore 14 digital exhibitions and learn about more than 300,000 specimens thanks to the Natural History Museum’s virtual tour on the Google Arts & Culture app. You can also let Sir David Attenborough’s soothing voice guide you through the museum displays by listening to the audio guides.
  • Smaller galleries and museums such as the Dulwich Picture Gallery are also making their collections available online for all to enjoy. You can view more than 600 European masterpieces, along with an audioguide, on their website.
  • The Art Fund’s Meet Me at the Museum podcast is a great way to experience museums and galleries in a different way. It features comedians and actors, who take their loved ones to their favourite museum. Their visits spark conversations about art, the behind-the-scenes of museums and life in general.

Experience a live performance at home

If you’re a fan of live shows, now might be the time to watch some of the performances you have always wanted to see. The current pandemic situation means that a lot of producers and artists are finding alternative ways to share their work – and most of it involves free online access.

Marquee TV, a performing arts streaming service, is offering a 30-day free trial to new users. Their platform includes ballet, opera, contemporary dance and theatre productions. Join in on the watch-along of Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, on Saturday 11th April at 7:15pm and use the hashtag #AlmostLiveFromTheRSC.

Watch live performances on streaming
Lovers of live shows will enjoy the many live performances available on streaming through different platforms

Musicals & Theatre

  • Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, the man behind musical hits such as “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera”, has announced he would be releasing a different production every week on his Youtube channel, The Show Must Go On!. The full-length shows will be posted every Friday at 7:00pm UK time, and will be available to watch for 48 hours.
  • The National Theatre has also launched an online initiative, National Theatre At Home, where viewers can stream world-class theatre. The full-length plays are available on their YouTube channel.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Productions has made six of its shows available for streaming on the Globe Player. Featured films include Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The featured titles will rotate every two weeks, so be on the lookout for new content.

Dance & Music

  • The London Symphony Orchestra has launched its Always Playing programme, through which they are sharing full-length concerts twice a week. The concerts can be streamed on their YouTube channel.
  • The Royal Opera House is sharing full-length performances, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the productions through their #OurHousetoYourHouse series. The videos can be streamed on their Facebook account and YouTube channel, every Friday at 7pm BST.
  • Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s new Digital Stage programme offers a mix of online workshops and full-length dance productions. They are premiering a new performance on their Facebook account every Friday, and these are available to watch for 7 days.

Enjoy films and series online

BFI Player and Britbox are good alternatives to Netflix and Amazon Prime
If you've exhausted the offer on Netflix and Amazon Prime, check out BFI Player and Britbox, both offering free trials

After a few weeks of quarantine, you might feel like you’ve seen everything that interests you on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Good news – there are other resources through which you can watch movies and series online. Take advantage of their free trials to enjoy a new selection of films and TV shows.

  • Discover classic and contemporary cinema masterpieces with the BFI Player free 14-day trial. Enjoy some of the best drama, comedy and documentary films on-demand.
  • Britbox, the biggest collection of British boxsets, is currently offering a free 30-day trial to new users.

Cosy up with a good book

In our normal daily lives, many of us who like reading simply don’t take the time to do so. It seems like other activities or tasks always end up being prioritised, leaving you no time to start that book you’ve been meaning to read for a long time. The home confinement period can be the perfect time to slow down and cosy up with a good read.

Cosying up with a book is a timeless way of spending some quality time with yourself
If you need a bit of extra motivation to stay on top of your reading, joining an online reading club is a good idea
  • If you need a bit of extra motivation to stay on top of your reading, why not join a book club? The Guardian’s reading group chooses a new book on the first Tuesday of every month, and organises weekly online discussions where you can get more background information and ask any questions you might have about the book.
  • Leaf through historic volumes, including some of the works of Lewis Caroll and Jane Austen, with the British Library’s Turning the Pages software.
  • If you’re the multi-tasker type, audiobooks might be the solution for you. Audible and Kobo both offer free 30-day trials.
  • Books are My Bag, a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops, has created the #ChooseBookshops hashtag to help drive awareness to local bookstores’ initiatives. Follow the hashtag on Twitter to keep up to date with the initiatives of bookshops around the UK.

With all these resources at the tip of your fingers, it’s now time to organise your cultural agenda. Take advantage of this time at home to expand your knowledge and enjoy new experiences. If you’d like more ideas of activities you can do at home, get inspired by our alternative plans for the time of quarantine.