Five Black Friday escapes

These oases of calm are guaranteed to soothe your soul on the most manic shopping day of the year.

The ceiling of the Arab Room at Cardiff Castle

The ceiling of the Arab Room at Cardiff Castle

For free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, buy a National Art Pass.


1

The Wallace Collection

This haven of artistic tranquillity is just minutes from the chaos of Oxford Street. Originally built in the late 1700s for the 4th Duke of Manchester – who chose the location because there was good duck shooting nearby – the house was used as both the Spanish and French embassies before it was bought by prolific art collector Sir Richard Wallace in the 19th century who filled it with paintings by Titian, Rembrandt, Hals and Velázquez that you can still marvel at today. You'll also receive 20% off refreshments in the restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings if you show your National Art Pass.


2

Oriental Museum

Escape to faraway lands as you explore the Oriental Museum's collection of 23,500 artefacts, sourced from across Japan, China, Egypt, Korea and the Indian subcontinent. Highlights include Edo period wood block prints, anime movie cells, vintage kimonos and ceramics, not to mention an authentic set of Japanese samurai armour that was made in traditional style.


3

Bodleian Library

  • Oxfordshire
  • Free to all

There are few places more peaceful than a library, and the Bodleian is a fine example. Encompassing more than 12 million items in over 30 separate library collections, it is one of the most comprehensive holdings in the UK. Temporary exhibitions showcase its bounty of treasures – from Tolkien's illustrations for The Hobbit to a copy of the The Bay Psalm Book, which became the world’s most expensive tome when it sold for $14,165,000 at auction in 2013.


4

Cardiff Castle

A Neo-Gothic palace in the heart of the Welsh capital, Cardiff Castle is a welcome respite from the city's frenzied streets. Incredibly, archaeological surveys suggest the site was first used by Roman legions as early as AD54, but it wasn't until the 19th century that Lord Bute – Britain's richest man in 1868 – commissioned architect William Burges to transform it into the castle we see today.


5

Museum of English Rural Life

  • Berkshire
  • Free to all

Anti-consumerists rejoice; this museum is a celebration of life in the great English countryside. With a collection featuring agricultural machinery tools, crafts and textiles, it was established to preserve rural traditions at the pivotal moment in 1951 when the transition from horse power to the tractor began. If you can't resist the draw of the gift shop, then show your National Art Pass for a 10% discount.