Look, we know you’re probably watching a lot more television than usual. However, there are a lot of free sources of visual entertainment out there for you to take advantage of right now.
If financial pickings are really slim, cut back on at least one of those monthly streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus or Amazon Prime, and take advantage of some of the free entertainment and cultural offerings available.
Watch movies and TV for free
Check out any number of free (and legal) movie streaming services around the web. Vudu, Sony Crackle and Tubi are among the sites with free content available. Some are available through your local library, like Kanopy or Hoopla.
IMDb TV, a free streaming service, just added the first five seasons of Schitt’s Creek to its lineup of free content, and also has shows like Friday Night Lights and The Middle in their entirety. Amazon is now offering kids shows like Arthur, Caillou and The Dangerous Book for Boys free for streaming without an Amazon Prime account.
Give your regards to Broadway
A trip to New York City might be out of the question right now, but you can still enjoy much of what the Great White Way has to offer. Actors Fund has released a series of at-home concerts and interviews with top Broadway performers called Stars in the House. Broadway World is also offering free short Living Room Concerts with Broadway actors sharing their favorite show tunes. BroadwayHD is also offering a free week of access to its wide array recorded performance, from musicals to Shakespeare.
Virtually go to a concert
A number of Bangor artists are turning to online venues in order to perform. Beyond Maine, orchestras like the Seattle Symphony are offering free broadcasts via YouTube and Facebook. NPR maintains a running list of musicians who are hosting their own at-home concerts, taking them directly to fans via their social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Fans of Americana, country, and folk can follow the “ Shut in & Sing” series, which broadcasts daily. Billboard livestreams concerts on its Facebook page, too.
Spend a night at the opera
The New York Metropolitan Opera will stream a different encore Live in HD performance every day beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for streaming for 20 hours. Watch the streams in a browser, or use one of the Met Opera on Demand streaming apps available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices. The Vienna State Opera is offering livestreams of opera and ballet performances each day.
“Attend” an arts festival
If you want a diverse sampling of arts, check out the Social Distancing Festival, which is showcasing rehearsal and footage of projects postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus. You can “attend” the festival yourself by going to one of their livestreams, featuring a wide array of performances and exhibits, from art and ballet to comedy and spoken word.
Take a class
Consider joining your kids in the homeschooling experience. Coursera has a number of free courses available, including The Science of Well-Being, a popular Yale class by Dr. Laurie Santos. Class Central also offers nearly 500 courses from Ivy League schools for free online. Additionally, Scholastic has created a free digital learning hub for students to support virtual learning plans while schools are closed.
If you’re not feeling academic, Fender is offering three months of guitar, ukulele and other instrument classes for free. Dancio is offering two free weeks of its master dance classes, taught by principal dancers from New York City Ballet, Martha Graham, and other companies. Debbie Allen has also been offering live free classes for adults and for kids on Instagram. Skillshare also offers two months of premium content for classes in art, productivity and more. Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Mo Willems, best known for his Pigeon books series, partnered with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to provide free, virtual art lessons every weekday called “Lunch Doodles,” which are published at 1 p.m. ET and can be streamed online afterward.
Get your sports fix
Sports seasons across the board have been canceled to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, Cricket is offering a free 3-month subscription to the WWE Network. MLB.tv is offering free streaming of 2018 and 2019 games when you log into or create an account (and, on a nerdier, more inside baseball note, PBS announced that it is making the 1994 Ken Burns documentary Baseball available to be streamed for free).
The National Hockey League is making all games played during the suspended 2019-2020 regular season available to stream on demand. The league also launched “NHL Pause Binge” on its website and YouTube channel, allowing fans to view documentaries and classic games dating from the 1950s to present day. The NBA and NFL are providing similar offerings through NBA League Pass and NFL Game Pass.
Play a game
Yes, you can use one of the board games that you have at home, and that is certainly free, but there are also a number of popular PC games that are being offered for free for a limited time. You can play the Pictionary-like Drawful 2 at home with family or remotely with friends and relatives if you download it for free at the Mac App Store or through the online gaming software, Steam. The action-adventure game Figment is available free until April 2 if you make Epic account and download the accompanying software client (which are also free). The online gaming platform GOG is giving away a whopping 27 PC games, all of which are compatible with Windows though some are Mac or Linux. The game Rayman Legends, usually $30, is free until April 3 with a Ubisoft account and the Uplay client software, both of which are free.
Pick up a book
Libraries are closed, but online resources such as e-book or audiobook downloads may still be available. Aside from that, Scribd offers access to e-books by bestselling authors such as Stephen King and Ann Patchett and other electronic materials at no cost (and no credit card required for sign-up) for 30 days. Apple is offering free e-books if you have one of their products and download Apple’s Books app. Project Gutenberg offers a number of free and classic titles in a variety of different languages. Feedbook and Open Library also have a number of classic public domain titles you can read for free, too, from “Dracula” and “Little Women.”
Tour a museum
Google’s Arts & Culture collection can take you on virtual tours of hundreds of museums around the world, with curated “stories” you can browse to learn more about the exhibits on display. The British Museum lets you take a look at its offerings along a cool timeline, while the grand Musée de Orsay in Paris and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum give you virtual tours. The Louvre offers virtual tours of some of its highlights, as does the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. If science museums are your thing, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History lets you cover every bit (including the gift shop) in their virtual tour.
Go to the zoo (or aquarium)
A number of zoos have live cams that are at once soothing and educational. The San Diego Zoo has livecams for baboons, koalas, penguins, polar bears, and more. The Memphis Zoo offers live cams for pandas, hippos and elephants. The Houston Zoo has live cams for flamingos, giraffes, gorillas, rhinos, leaf cutter ants and more. At the National Zoo, you can watch pandas, elephants, lions, and naked mole-rats. The Cincinnati Zoo hosts a Facebook live stream every weekday at 3 p.m. ET that showcases an animal in their exhibits with an activity for kids to follow along with at home.
For fish and other aquatic critters, get a live look inside the Monterey Aquarium exhibits, where you can watch the sharks, soothing jellyfish, or sea otters. The National Aquarium has live cams for black-tipped sharks, a Pacific coral reef and jellyfish. Aquarium of the Pacific has livecams for their penguins, shark lagoon, tropical reef and more. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium even has livecams for their turtle rehabilitation facility, among others.
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