Stay entertained in lockdown with these 5 great at-home activities

As lockdown continues in its latest guise, you might find yourself struggling to fill your new outdoor exercise quota. Thankfully, the number of activities we can enjoy from our own armchairs has rapidly increased over the last few months.

World-renowned galleries and museums, pub quiz organisers, and family friends have all rallied, adapting to life under lockdown and providing safe, fun, and often free at-home activities for our enjoyment.

Here’s your guide to five at-home activities you might consider.

1. Virtual museum tours

If you’re looking to indulge in culture, why not try Google’s online ‘Arts and Culture’ platform, offering virtual tours and high-resolution collections of artwork from museums around the world.

Visit the Musée d’Orsay from your sofa and stroll its galleries, pausing to view Degas’ In a Café, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, or Cezanne’s Still-life with kettle. Alternatively, try the Tate Britain tour, offering works by John Singer Sargent and JMW Turner.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) also has a large collection available.

Every week MoMA has been uploading a new ‘virtual view’ offering videos, audio playlists, and feature articles on their favourite exhibitions, as well as live-streamed curator Q&As.

Explore the photography of Dorothea Lange, take an in-depth look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, or leap into the mind of a surrealist with Salvador Dali’s home videos.  

2. Live-streamed theatre

The live entertainment business has been hit massively by the current state of lockdown and the reopening of cinemas and theatres is still a way off. The answer has been to live stream theatre straight into people’s homes and there are hours of entertainment available for you to choose from.

The Met Opera has made available previously recorded performances from the last 14 years featuring some of opera’s biggest stars. Each performance is available for 23 hours from the moment it appears online and amongst those so far included are Verdi’s Aida and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Elsewhere, the National Theatre is streaming full-length plays every Thursday. They’re each available for only a limited time, so check-in regularly to see what’s listed. Recent offerings have included Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein.

Finally, check out What’s Onstage for regularly updated lists of shows to stream, including the Cirque du Soleil and the Northern Ballet’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.

3. Start your own book club

If you’re using lockdown to tackle your to-read pile, remember that reading doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. There are many online book clubs to choose from but if you want to discuss your latest reads with a more select group, why not start your own club?

Pick a group of friends, choose a book, and then meet back in a week or two on Zoom, Skype, or any other video calling app to discuss.

And if you’re looking for book club recommendations, look no further than the Pulitzer Prize, whose 2020 winners were announced earlier this month. With prizes covering fiction and non-fiction, with specialist biography and poetry prizes amongst others, they’ll be something to please everyone.

This year’s winner Colson Whitehead (The Nickel Boys) also won the 2017 prize with The Underground Railroad. Other recent winners of the fiction prize you might consider include Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.

In the non-fiction categories, try William Finnegan’s memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life or Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin.

4. Virtual nights out

Whatever you’re doing to keep yourself or your kids entertained, remember that the most fun is often fun shared.

Video calling software is great for staying connected with family and friends and can bring separated families together. Rather than making your video call a quick daily catch up, why not make a night of it:

  • Wine and cheese evenings
  • Chocolate tasting
  • Inter-family talent contests
  • Pub quizzes

Get creative and you can turn the video call into fun for all the family.

Virtual Pub Quizzes are popping up all over the internet, some run by pubs and breweries, others by pub quiz enthusiasts missing their weekly workout for the brain.

Try the Virtual Pub Quiz, as hosted by a former pub landlord Jay Flynn. Originally aiming to raise £15,000, the quizzes streamed live on Jay’s YouTube Channel have so far raised more than £93,000 for NHS Charities Together.

5. Learn something new

If you’ve always fancied yourself as a budding musician or artist, or you’d like to get to grips with a new language in time for your next foreign holiday, the internet is packed with learning materials to help you.

A 2015 British Council study found that ‘more than half (58%) of UK adults wish they hadn’t let valuable language skills from their school days slip’ whilst 53% regret not having made the most of studying languages when they had the chance.

If you want to emerge from lockdown multilingual, try online classes.

Rosetta Stone offers an immersive language-learning experience, although plenty of hard work and perseverance will be required too! Udemy also has a wide range of courses available – from beginner to full language courses – and at a reasonable price.

Likewise, you might have a keyboard or guitar collecting dust in the attic, or watercolours in a cupboard under the stairs.

Creativity and the arts can have a real-life impact on our mental health and general wellbeing, as confirmed by a 2017 report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing that looked into how the creative arts were enjoyed throughout the UK, as well as how they were used clinically.

The report confirmed that there are over 49,000 amateur arts groups in England involving 17% of the population. Whether through drawing, painting, pottery, sculpture, music, or filmmaking, the creative arts can ‘alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress while increasing resilience and wellbeing’.

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