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25 free things to do during quarantine

Fancy a dose of Kirov Ballet's "Swan Lake", Patrick Stewart's a sonnet a day, or rather in the mood for live-streamed baking classes? Blogger Emily McDonnell rounds up the best (free!) adventures to have from the safety of your couch.

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Photo by Emily McDonnell. Our blogger shares her top 25 quarantine tips – freebies!

From classical concerts and club nights to film festivals and live-streamed baking classes. Travel and food journalist Emily McDonnell’s 25 tips will help you keep your sanity in solitary confinement.

Let’s not lie, being on lockdown can be tough. To suddenly find yourself confined to within four walls can be a bit daunting: what do you do with all this free time?

Luckily for us, we live in the age of the internet, and there are not only some wonderfully creative solutions to our boredom, but there are also some experiences on offer that are normally out of reach for the average Joe!

So here’s a curated round up of the best (mostly free!) adventures to have from the comfort of your couch. Included are Berlin institutions, as well as some international highlights, and a few ideas that require your imagination…


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United We Stream: Club Nights

Berlin’s infamous clubs have come together, taking it in turns to bring the best DJs into your living room. To make it a more authentic experience, dress head-to-toe in black and swig on a Club Mate as you dance to techno tones.

Party access to the nightly live stream is donation-based.

Berlin Philharmonie: Classical Concerts

I’ve been wanting to attend a concert since I moved to Berlin, and now I can kick back on my sofa and immerse myself! I’m excited about watching concertmaster Daniel Stabrawa conduct Mozart’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in B flat major.

Sign up with the code “BERLINPHIL” before March 31 to get free access for 30 days.

Donau115: Jazz Evenings

Donau115 is a jazz institution in Berlin. They offer a real variety of jazz styles, and it was a pleasure to dance around my living room to one of their Friday-night live streams. Alternatively, listen to a set on Sunday morning with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee.

Past live streams can be found on their YouTube channel.

James Blake: Couch concerts

I’ve been aching to see James Blake live for years, so imagine my delight when he gave an intimate Instagram Live concert (to over 25,000 people!) that lasted over an hour. He even took requests, and has promised to be back soon with another live stream.

His first ‘couch concert’ can be streamed here.

Rolling Stone: In My Room

International publication Rolling Stone has launched a new Instagram TV series titled In My Room, where renowned artists perform live from their homes. I loved watching Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson sing old classics that reminded me of road trips in Portugal as a teenager.

Tune in live at 8pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. You can also watch past performances.


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Berlin Schaubühne: Past performances

I studied theatre at university, and since moving to Germany have seen a grand total of zero performances (it’s shameful, I know). But now I can catch up thanks to ensemble theatre Schaubühne. Bring on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Brecht’s Die Mutter and Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.

Performances are available for 24-hours after streaming: check out the schedule.

Pergamon Museum: Virtual tour

A museum tour without the walking or queuing to read the little card by the exhibit? Perfect! Yes, the Musée d’Orsay, the British Museum and the Vatican Museums are also offering virtual tours, but I have chosen to be faithful to my favourite Berlin museum and highlight it here!

Head to Google Arts & Culture to take the tour.

Patrick Stewart: A Shakespeare sonnet a day

World-renowned actor Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day on Twitter. It’s like a daily dose of culture. Alternatively, save them up and try to dissect them on a Friday night after a glass of wine.

All sonnets are posted directly to his twitter.

The Kirov Ballet: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

It’s time to finally brush up on the best ballets. It’s incredible to watch how the dancers use their bodies, and manage to move so elegantly. Perhaps you could even try to copy a few of the moves…

Other Russian-performed ballets can be viewed here.

Royal Opera House: Content for the culturally curious

I have only ever gone for coffee at the Royal Opera House, but luckily I can now change that. I’m looking forward to the Metamorphosis and Peter and the Wolf ballets. Any recommendations of which opera a total novice should start with?

Opera and ballet performances will be streamed daily on their YouTube channel at 7pm GMT.


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Yorck Kinos x MUBI: 90-day movie access

Tired of Netflix? I know I am… The Yorck Cinema Group in association with MUBI are offering three months of access to their archive! There are a lot of non-English-language, indie and main-stream movies on offer.

Sign up for your free 90-day trial before April 19.

Arsenal Berlin: Cultural film and video art access

Similarly, Arsenal Berlin are offering access to their vault of films and videos for free until quarantine is over. I can’t wait to experience some more experimental films.

Films from the archive can be viewed with the username: arsenal3, password: stayhealthy.

Quarantine Book Club: Twice-daily session with authors

Need some more motivation to read? How about knowing you could chat with the authors themselves? Quarantine Book Club hosts two meetings a day, allowing you to ask the questions you never thought you’d get the answer to. At the moment, it’s mostly a non-fiction-focused club.

Check out the schedule and book your place.

Environmental Film Festival 2020: Online access

DC’s Environmental Film Festival may no longer have a red carpet, but it’s still offering up thought-provoking documentaries. Check out films on everything from deep space to chemical damage, and from octopus fisherwomen to indigenous peoples.

Passwords to the available films can be found on each individual page. Films are only available until March 31.

Gary Hustwit: Free films

Hustwit is an independent filmmaker and photographer based in New York. He’s made a number of award-winning documentaries about art, music and design that are now available to watch for free!

A film is made available for free streaming every Tuesday (and stays live for a week).


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Wim Hof: Become happy, strong and healthy

I read more and more about Wim Hof before jumping in a freezing-cold lake at the start of the year. He believes that conquering our breath and partaking in cold therapy can hugely transform our immune system, and there are some amazing results that back this up.

Trial the breathing technique before having a cold shower!

YogaEasy: Exactly what it says…

I’ve taken to having a daily, morning yoga session with a friend. We load a video on YogaEasy (lessons are mostly in German) and FaceTime each other. I think I might be working out more than before lockdown…

Get a free month’s membership with this link.

Insights Timer: Find your zen

There are, of course, lots of meditation apps out there, but I tend to use Insights Timer because of the variety of free tutorials. I find a meditation that matches my mood (fear, anxiety, stress), sit back and let my mind be guided into a better headspace.

Download the app from the App Store.

Zanna van Dijk: Quick home workouts

Zanna is one of the few influencers I follow. She focuses on health, wellness and sustainability, and I love her short (and free) home workouts. Today I tried her 8-minute cardio and core workout, and am grateful I don’t have to climb the stairs tomorrow…!

Try a workout yourself.

ROY Kombucha: Make Kombucha at home

The boys at ROY Kombucha are delivering Kombucha, and if you ask nicely, they might even bring you some starter liquid so you can try brewing some probiotic drinks in your kitchen.

Get in touch via their website.


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Kitchen Stories: Creative cookery make easy

I’ve spent most of quarantine snacking, and now, on day 11 of my lockdown, I’ve run out of inspiration for what to cook. Kitchen Stories has tonnes of great ideas and inspiration, and I love their tutorial videos which make recipes super accessible.

Head over to their website and get cooking.

Blanket fort: Build yourself a hideout

I have such great memories of building blanket forts as a kid, and it was funny to try again as an adult. On completion, curl up and watch a movie.

Here’s WikiHow’s instructions, should you need them!

Bread Ahead Bakery: Online baking courses

The team at this London bakery school are offering daily, live bake-alongs. To date, they’ve made focaccia, doughnuts, cinnamon buns, bagels and carrot cake! Ingredients are posted before the session so you can be ready to go.

Join the live bake along on Instagram live at 2pm GMT daily.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting

Painting is always fun, but it can be hard to know where to start creating your masterpiece. Luckily the painting master Bob Ross is on hand to get you started! Alternatively, download and print some paint-by-number pictures.

The full seasons can be watched on YouTube.

Board games: Dust off those old classics

Recently, my partner and I invested in Zug am Zug (Ticket to Ride). It’s a great way to pass a few offline hours together! I’ve also wanted to do a puzzle, but sadly don’t have one in my house – they’re incredibly meditative, so if you have one, get stuck in!

If you need some inspiration, check out the games on offer here.