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School holidays: Low-cost activities

School holidays: Low-cost activities

The school summer holidays are well underway across the UK, and many parents are now actively searching for some low-cost family activities to keep their kids happy.

With this in mind, we would like to suggest a few affordable (or even free) options to consider.

We have split the below listing between outdoor and indoor activities, with some additional thoughts (including “kids eat free” offers) at the end.


The joys of the open air:

The beach, the countryside, and city parks all provide entertainment possibilities without any direct cost.  If you need some additional information to find the best places to go, then we would suggest using some of the below websites:

The Woodlands Trust (free)

The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity has put together this page to help engage the kids in their work.  The site includes a local woodlands “finder” and activities that kids can undertake at their sites or in their own gardens.

The Beach Guide (free)

Being an island nation, many of us can make it to the seaside for a day out.  This site identifies all the beaches in your area, and provides useful additional details such as the beach type, facilities, activities, and whether there is a lifeguard service.

Walking (free)

Probably not one for the little ones this, but the Walking Britain website contains details of 2,400 walks across the nation including distances and an indication as to how challenging the walk will be.  Well worth a look, not least because some of the walks take in interesting landmarks and things to see along the way.

Wildlife Trusts (free)

Wherever you are in the UK – including in towns and cities – you will be within reach of one of the 46 Wildlife Trusts that cover the entire nation.  Nearly all their sites are free to attend, and this page allows you to search for your area, including items such as accessibility and those (all important) loos!

Local festivals/ carnivals/ events (free)

Finally, most parts of the UK have at least one summer festival or event taking place – often including lots of fun and free-to-attend events for the kids (and the adults too).  So, watch out for these via local media and/or social media, or visit your local tourist information website /office for more details (the link above is for festivals in England only (as an example), an internet search for your local area should provide you with the details you need).


Out of the wind and rain:

As we all know, the UK summer can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have at least some low-cost indoor events as a handy alternative if needed.

Museums (free)

The UK has a wide selection of nationally important – and free-to-visit museums – scattered across the nation.  This useful page from the Money Saving Expert website lists the main sites (complete with a map for ease of reference).

Local and specialist museums (low cost)

Britain also has a vast range (more than 1600 nationally) of local history and specialist museums – often run by volunteers and enthusiasts.  Opening times can be more restrictive as a result, but the entry cost (particularly for the local history museums) is often very low indeed.  Well worth checking out the museums in your local area.

Cinema (low cost)

Every kid loves a trip to the cinema, but the costs can be a problem.

So, consider these low-cost options for kids screenings:

Vue:  Mini Mornings

Odeon:  Kids screenings (adults pay kid prices)

Cineworld:  Movies for Juniors

Picturedrome:  Standard seats for all just £3.50 (most of the time)

And don’t forget to check out your local independent cinema.  Prices are often much lower than the major cinema chains, and the cost of snacks and drinks cheaper also.


Best of the rest?

So, what else can you look to do without breaking the bank?

One option is to look at annual membership deals. For instance:

English Heritage:  Free admission for up to 6 children with every adult membership (starts at £52 per annum) to over 400 historic properties and sites.

Cadw:  Free admission to 44 Welsh castles for a couple and all children (starts at £53 per annum).

So, in both the above cases, that is a year’s access for you and the children, starting from around just £1 per week.  Membership often gets you a discount in stores and restaurants on-site as well, and free access to their visitor events (great for kids).


Eating and things to do

Last, but not least, how to feed the kids on a long day out?

The obvious answer is to take a packed lunch.  Most tourist sites and outdoor venues have suitable areas for eating a picnic, yet the organisation and logistics can be a bit challenging (particularly if you are reliant on public transport to get there).

So it is helpful that the Money Saving Expert website has listed cheap and free restaurant deals for kids.

And if you are still stuck for things to do, two final web pages which you may find useful:

The National Trust has set up this page for kids.  Free to do in a garden, park, or indeed at a National Trust Property (some sites are free to attend).

Whilst the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) provides a user-friendly activity page of fun things to make and do.

We hope that this has provided some useful information and ideas for the summer holidays.  It only remains for us to wish you the best of luck!