The Best Free Online Experiences to Help You Quarantine and Chill

Virtual tours, online courses, live performances and more, so that you don't veg out the whole of the 21 days of the lockdown

Annabelle D’Costa

If memes can be considered a commentary on global events and its impact on us, one thing is clear—we’re slowly losing it. Most of us are not used to spending so much time cooped up in one place and it’s starting to show!

Some people are so bored that they’re finding new and creative ways to spend their downtime. Like Twitter user Naveen Kukreja (@NaveenRKukreja) who spent his sixth day of quarantine counting all the “tunaks” and “tuns” in Daler Mehndi’s song: There are 168 Tunaks and 84 Tuns in Tunak Tunak Tun song, he shared with us.


For Facebook user Taja Gray-Buggage, the 10th day was crucial as she performed a successful “C-section” on a whole tangerine, with the “babies” coming out “all safe”. 

 

The self-quarantining and social distancing have us all going a little crazy. If you’ve already finished all the puzzles and FaceTimed every known relative of yours, here are some other online experiences available, so you can feel like you’re venturing beyond home, even though now is truly the time to stay put. And they’re all free!

 

Read almost anything for free


Libraries may have closed their physical doors, many of them are offering tons of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers on their websites. While Amazon’s Kindle is offering two free months to its unlimited ebook services for new users across the world, in India Airtel-acquired digital publishing platform Juggernaut is also offering its ebooks and novels, across all genres, free on its iOS and Android apps.

For parents fretting about how to keep their children entertained, Audible has launched a free collection of audiobooks.

Besides, Amar Chitra Katha will also be offering free access for 30 days to its Tinkle magazines and Amar Chitra Katha books. Don’t let your kids fall back on their academics, ed-tech BYJU'S is providing free access to its complete app for students across classes 1 to 12 until the end of April 2020. You could also check out websites such as

NPTEL

that provides resources on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or

SWAYAM

, a platform that offers university and school-level courses on a range of subjects.

Fans of author Paulo Coelho now have access to some of his ebooks published on the website for free. Besides, local papers such as The New Indian Express, The Hindu have also made their e-papers free for now.

  

Get fit with virtual training


Whether you're a fitness fanatic, or just someone trying to get some movement during the lockdown, you can stream any type of workout online— from PM Narendra Modi and Baba Ramdev’s yoga to actor Chris Hemsworth and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shredded workout. YouTube has an extensive collection of workout videos; there are plenty of fitness apps on Android and iOS platforms.

Instagram is not far behind with influencers such as Deepika Mehta and Radhika Bose offering virtual classes. Look up your other favourite celebrity trainers and see if they have anything virtual scheduled. If not, Core Power Yoga has an extensive catalog of online instructor-led videos for any ability level. CARROT Fit is now featuring a collection of free seven-minute workouts that are described as “punishing”.

Fitness start-up Cult.Fit has recently gone online with Cult.Live and offers online classes in formats like strength, cardio, HRX, and yoga on all seven days of the week. Gold's Gym too has enabled free premium access to its training app till the end of May 2020, along with an online streaming site full of workouts designed to be done by anyone almost anywhere. Nike too has made its premium Training Club app content free until further notice. The app includes yoga, interval training, and mobility work, as well as multi-week programs, led inhouse instructors.

 

Stream movies and TV for free


Amazon Prime Video has specially curated a catalog of children and family content, available for free. You can now stream original content such as Bug Diaries and select third-party movies and TV series licensed from studio partners without a prime membership. Apple TV+, which is otherwise subscription-only, has brought out its first free show, Oprah Talks COVID-19 where Oprah Winfrey will be interviewing people via FaceTime.


The National Theatre in London will start broadcasting a play every Thursday on its YouTube channel, starting from April 2, 2020, 11:30 pm IST. While the production of new shows have come to a halt, fans of Miley Cyrus are in for a treat as the star has recently started her new Instagram Live show,
Bright Minded, which she live streams on her Instagram. Since the show dropped, Cyrus has chatted with celebrity guests including Demi Lovato and Hailey Bieber. The Tonight Show too continues to thrive with its Home Edition, with host Jimmy Fallon's wife (film producer Nancy Juvonen) behind the camera, his six-year-old daughter providing graphics, and special guests Franny Fallon and Gary, the Golden Retriever making special appearances.


Now that the Indian Premiere League, Formula One and even the Olympics have been postponed, least we can do is relive classic games and rivalries. The NBA and NFL have made all their games played during the suspended 2019-2020 season available to stream on demand offering NBA League Pass and NFL Game Pass to fans to get their sports craving fix. Cricket lovers, check out old India vs Pakistan World Cup matches are being retelecasted on Star Sports 1, Hotstar and Jio TV app.

 

Attend concerts at home


More people have started attending live concerts than ever before—even during lockdown. The Cuarentena Fest, a music festival featuring more than 50 artists and bands was live-streamed on YouTube through March 27, 2020.

The Global Citizen Festival’s Solidarity Sessions: Together, At Home in partnership with the World Health Organisation, brought Coldplay frontman Chris Martin who took song requests on an Instagram live session, which was soon followed by Charlie Puth, John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen, Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes.

Chinese video-sharing social networking app TikTok has launched a #HappyAtHome Livestream series featuring Megan Thee Stallion, Alicia Keys, Jason Derulo, Hailee Steinfeld and DJ Khaled, among others. The stream begins every morning at 5:30 am IST.

If you want the soothing sound of a string ensemble to calm your nerves during these testing times, a number of opera companies and orchestras have started live-streaming concerts. Some are also offering free access to digital catalogs of past performances. We recommend the Seattle Symphony which has been sharing free performances via YouTube, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and The Metropolitan Opera. The National Centre for the Performing Arts has started a #BringHomeTheArts initiative under which you can now enjoy the best of the arts - concerts and presentations - on NCPA's YouTube Channel every day. 

 

Enroll for free courses 


Rather than go down the rabbit hole of binge-watching chick flicks, singer-actor Harry Styles will be learning both sign language and Italian, amongst other quarantine activities. You too could also use your free time to brush up on a foreign language—apps such as

Duolingo, Wokabulary, Mango

and

Babbel

are easy to use and freely accessible.

Besides, several reputed universities too, have started offering free online courses ranging from web designing, programming and more.

Standford University’s online.stanford.edu

,

MIT’s openlearning.mit.edu, Harvard University’s Harvard.edu, John Hopkins’ jhu.edu

are among the most popular. Also check out

Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera, edX

and

Class Central,

among others that offer free courses minus the certification. They range from public speaking to making slime at home and almost everything in between.

TED-Ed (ed.ted.com)

and YouTube’s

YouTube Learning

channel too are other great platforms that offer high-quality videos on various topics.

 

Learn to cook via online tutorials


Years of watching MasterChef India may now come in handy, as being stuck at home is the perfect time to ace the mystery box challenge – with some virtual guidance.

While chef Massimo Bottura of the three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana has started hosting
Kitchen Quarantine, chef Anahita Dhondy of SodabottleOpenerWala has started #TogetherAtHome, both online cooking classes on their respective Instagram accounts. Antoni Porowski of the Queer Eye fame, in his Quar Eye series, he makes 10-minute IGTV videos teaching us how to cook with limited stock available. He’s all for using peanut butter and coconut milk in your pan-fried chicken!

For more formal cooking lessons,

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

has made its online cooking school available for free till April 30, 2020. Meanwhile,

America's Test Kitchen

, which normally requires membership for accessing its content, has also made 50 recipes freely available.



Travel for free from your couch


You can sate your cooped-in wanderlust from the safety of your couch. While museums and art galleries may be closed,

Google Arts and Culture

is offering digital tours of 1000’s of the world’s most revered art museums, including the British Museum in London and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

For an even more enriched experience, make sure to check out

Khan Academy

, a free online learning platform, which is now offering a course in art history with videos explaining works of art in renowned museums around the world.

You could also take free virtual tours of other historical sites such as

The Taj Mahal,

Buckingham Palace

,

The Great Wall of China

and

The White House

among others. Meanwhile,

Smartify

, often known as the “Shazam for art” app has made all its museum audio tours free for the rest of 2020.


Image conceptualised: Vartika Pahuja 

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