All the great, *free* stuff available during the COVID-19 outbreak

Man. Oh. Man. What is there to say?

This virus from some tiny animal in a Chinese city miles and miles away has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, our offices are now our homes and our homes our offices, markets are going crazy, entire countries are shutting their borders and putting their people into lock down. We have absolutely no clue what the future holds.

But together with the strain and stress and uncertainty of these times, there are also beautiful moments and experiences and opportunities I know would never have come about under regular circumstances. There are people out there creating and democratizing a ton of great, *free* content, because they care about other people, and want them to be healthy and happy. Keep sight of that as best you can, despite the darkness.

I pulled together all the resources, from fitness to online education to pure entertainment (puppy livestream, anyone?), that I’m aware of. This list is by no means exhaustive, and was pulled together with the help of a few friends, colleagues, and family members. If there’s something I missed, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to update it.

Most of the below are things that wouldn’t have happened without the arrival of this virus. Enjoy them, and take a moment to remember the good people that created them for you.

Get your culture fix

  • Concert streams. Acts like John Legend, Christine and the Queens, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin have been ‘touring’ social media to counter coronavirus isolation and gig cancellations. New York’s Metropolitan Opera has started livestreaming these productions to make them free and available to everyone, however there has been so much traffic to the site, the Met is delaying access to some, which you may find when you click the link. (No word yet on a Backstreet Boys reunion show…but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. *UPDATE APR 3:* I stand corrected.)
  • Opera streams. The Metropolitan Opera House is offering nightly streams of its world-famous performances to watch at home. The shows start at 7:30 p.m. EST each night. In case you’re not around/awake for these golden-piped performances, they will be available for an additional 20 hours thereafter on the website.
  • More opera streams. The Paris Opera will host a digital performance on its website, available for six days. At the end of the six days, it will be replaced by another performance, from now until May. (Thanks to Aurelie S in Singapore for this tip)
  • Theater streams. The National Theatre of London is going to stream a free play every week, starting on April 2. The first play will feature a younger James Corden in “One Man, Two Guvners.” (Thanks to Brian M in Singapore for this tip)
  • More theater streams. A live-streaming reading group in London is planning to perform all of William Shakespeare’s plays, in order, for free. Their weekly performances have already started, with “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
  • Museum tours. A growing number of museums and galleries around the world are now closed,  but you can still tour them from the comfort of your couch. Museums like the Smithsonian in D.C., the Louvre in Paris, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul are offering free virtual tours so you can access their beautiful works anywhere in the world.
  • Discounted magazine subscriptions. As part of its #StayHomeReadFreeMags campaign, Zinio is offering free, 2-3 month subscriptions to over 200 of its digital magazines titles. The choices are vast and include titles like Fast Company, Vogue, and all the great rags (no judgment). (Thanks to Maya Korrs in Singapore for this tip)
  • Digital instrumental ensemble. The Berliner Philharmoniker is extending their entire Digital Concert Hall free of charge for 30 days. (Thanks to Lyn K in Singapore for this tip)
  • Digital jazz festival. Get free access to 50 concerts to stream from the Montreux Jazz Festival, with performances from greats like Ray Charles, Carlos Santana, Marvin Gaye (and even Wu-Tang Clan, who would’ve thought?).
  • Streamed circus acrobatics. Cirque du Soleil has launched #CirqueConnect, a free one hour-long special of its KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities performance. (Thanks to Lyn K in Singapore for this tip)
  • Streamed Russian ballet performances. Watch the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia’s “Golden Series” of classic ballet for free on their Youtube channel. (Thanks to Lyn K and Anisha K in Singapore for this tip)
  • Andrea Bocelli, live. The Italian opera singer, one of the world’s most famous tenors, will perform from Milan’s empty Duomo cathedral on Easter Sunday (April 12) in a livestreamed concert. (Thanks to Yee H in Singapore for this tip)

  • Star-studded charity concert. Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney, Elton John and more will participate in a COVID-19 charity special organized by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization. The special, One World: Together at Home,  is set to air on TV and livestream online April 18th at 8PM ET. (Thanks to José B in Singapore for this tip)

Flex your brain muscles

  • Online learning. Coursera has launched a number of free learning programs in response to the outbreak, from career development to meditation to understanding public health. As always, most of their regular courses are free, so if you’ve been itching for the right moment to become a pro e-sports gamer or brush up on the basics of hypnotherapy (both real courses), this is your chance. To help narrow your options: here are Digital Defynd’s top 2020 courses, and here are the courses offered by Ivy Leagues.
  • Improve your remote work skills. LinkedIn Learning is offering 16 free courses to help people optimize working remotely, including courses for people new to remote work, leading a team, part of a team of distributed team members, and more. (Thanks to Lauren L in Singapore for this tip)
  • Special interest groups. The Museum Computer Network has put together an “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections.” All of the sights listed are free to access. Best of luck not falling down a rabbit hole with this one.
  • Nanodegree programs. Udacity is offering one free month on one of 40 premium Nanodegree programs, including Python, NumPy and Pandas. (Thanks to Marijn G in Singapore for this tip)
  • TED Connects: Community and Hope. In light of the outbreak, TED is offering “a free, live daily conversation series featuring experts whose ideas can help us reflect and work through this uncertain time with a sense of responsibility, compassion and wisdom.” (Thanks to Lyn K in Singapore for this tip)

Sweat it out

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The good people of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world have made a lot of instructional videos available at deep discounts, or completely free.
  • HIIT. Fitness Blender is a YouTube workout channel run by two personal trainers. It’s the most-watched fitness channel on YouTube, with thousands of free full-length workout videos, routines, healthy recipes and more. There are a range of class intensities, styles, and durations available.
  • All-in-one. This app, which features all kinds of workouts, from barre to weights to HIIT (and even some meditation classes) is free to new members until mid-April.
  • *Note: These are just a few of my selects, but many more exist. A friend provided this great list, featuring classes from SoulCycle and Nike Training Club. A friend also enlightened me to the many free Instagram workout classes available to us right now, many of which you can find using this list (note some crossover between the lists does exist). Let me know if you’re aware of others!

Get in your zen zone

  • Yoga. Down Dog, the at-home yoga app which “provides a studio-like yoga experience in the comfort of your home,” has waived all subscription fees until May 1. I’m particularly excited about this offering, as the app is excellent and the classes even more so. Good for any level, from beginner to advanced. (Of course, yoga does not discriminate: it can help you get in your zen zone OR sweat it out)
  • Meditation. Headspace, the biggest meditation app out there right now, is offering many of its meditations for free. It’s also offering guides to help people and specific groups cope with stress by introducing Headspace for Healthcare Professionals, Headspace for Work and Headspace for Educators. Other apps, like Calm and Simple Habit, are also offering free services. Say it with me now: Ommmm…
  • National park tours. Spending time in nature can improve mental health in several ways, including reduced anxiety. While it may not be as good as the great outdoors, we can still get outside, from inside your home, with (virtual) visits to one of 31 free national parks, offered by Google Earth. Parks include Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Reef Bay Trail in the Virgin Islands National Park if you’re feeling tropical.

Entertain your kids

  • Stories read aloud. is offering free streams on a select number of children’s stories across six languages to keep kids “dreaming, learning, and just being kids,” its website says. The service will be available for as long as schools are closed.
  • Stories read aloud (in a beautiful Irish brogue). Irish artist Oliver Jeffers is offering free read-alongs of one of his books every day.  The stories are fun and funny, and the read-alongs come in ‘snackable’ 20-25 minutes bits. (Thanks to Brian M in Singapore for this tip)
  • 3D animals. Augmented reality overlays digital content and information onto the physical world — as if they’re actually there with you, in your own space. Lucky for us, Google has made a range of 3D animals, from alligators to zebras and everything in between, available on every device. Yes, this is listed under ‘kids,’ but if you’re asking if I spent 30 minutes this weekend watching a 3D emperor penguin roam around my living room, the answer is: it’s possible.
  • Comics and coloring. Local Singaporean artist Weiman Kow is sharing information accurate about COVID-19, with an emphasis on kids. Her work is fun, approachable and of course, free.
  • Bedtime stories read by Dolly Parton. No description needed for the Queen of Nashville!

Just kick back

  • PUPPY. FREAKING. LIVESTREAM. Need I say more?
  • Panda livestream. For those after an equally cute but far, far less active animal. After watching this for several minutes, I’d say panda streams are like the background noise of animal livestreams.
  • Farm animal livestream. Spoiled for choice we are, really.
  • The Northern Lights. If you’re looking for more space at home (sorry, had to).
  • Eagle cam. In 2008, Duke Farms (a beautiful estate located near my home in New Jersey) installed a webcam on a tree adjacent to a bald eagle nest to provide a live look at the daily lives of the eagles. The Eagle Cam has since gained many fans – over 10 million viewers and growing! (Thanks to Irene H in New Jersey, also known as ‘Mom,’ for this tip)

Have a grateful moment

  • Positive news. 32 positive news stories related to COVID, made possible by ELLE.com. My favorite comes from Copenhagen, where several neighbors joined in with a workout from their balconies (how’s that for social distancing?).
  • John Krasinski’s good news channel. Yes, you read that correctly. The actor of The Office fame has launched a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing good news. (There’s even a Michael Scott cameo in the first episode)
  • Gratitude video. This video is on the hippie-dippie side, but serves as a warm and wonderful reminder of the many positive things that have come from this dark time, like appreciating the abundance of products typically available to us.
  • Write thank-you letters to first responders. We owe them everything. (Thanks to Jana P in London for this tip)

And of course, some of the best memes I’ve seen to make you laugh:

 

Stay healthy and happy,

Sam

 

6 thoughts on “All the great, *free* stuff available during the COVID-19 outbreak

  1. Fantastic post Sam! Thanks so much. Can I translate it and use for our school community in order to help families do struggle with quarantine? ( I wu+ill mention you did it of course!)

    Like

  2. Hi Samantha, I hope you are well, and getting adjusted to this “solitary” period. The suggestions you you sent are fabulous. I had no idea there were so much available on the internet. What a wonderful way to spent the time at home! I hope you don’t mind, but I am forwarding this Info to some of my very close friends. Stay healthy, stay well, and thanks again. Tzom, Teta Chrystia

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    • Hi there, thank you so much for the kind words. I was surprised myself at how much there is available! Please do share it as far and wide as you would like. I intended the list to be shared generously, so all can enjoy. Hope you are staying healthy and well at home. Tzom!

      Like

  3. https://www.dukefarms.org/eaglecam?fbclid=IwAR1ohwdpI2jvZp_E3LdIFqLhzEpffEG2zDZ77DUAfIZ4W7q_LBgfhSHq5X0

    On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 10:11 AM Sam in Singapore wrote:

    > Samantha posted: “Man. Oh. Man. What is there to say? This virus from some > tiny bat in a Chinese city miles and miles away has sent the entire world > into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, our offices are now our > homes and our homes our offices, markets are going ” >

    Like

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