Cheap and free things to do with the kids in the summer holidays
Summer family days out don't need to cost a fortune. Here's our guide to some great cheap and free options around the UK.
It’s summer holiday time again. But more and more of us are cutting back on days out due to the cost, according to new research by charity Family Action.
If you want to entertain the kids this summer, you don’t have to spend a fortune. There are loads of cheap and free activities going on across the UK – here are just some of them.
To coincide with the Olympics, British Gas is offering free swims between now and the end of August, even if you’re not a customer. You can get a free swim (or other activity, such as aqua aerobics) for an adult and up to two children, depending on the venue.
To find out more and get your free swims, go to the British Gas Swimming website.
If you live in Wales, children 16 and under can go to your local swimming pool for free during the school holidays - there's more details at the Sport Wales website. Some local councils in England and Scotland also offer free swimming – check your local council's website to see if it's one of them.
Free football skills
If your kids love football and are aged between five and 11, why not get them along to a free FA Tesco Skills coaching session? There are free tasters available at schools around the UK.
For more info and to book, head to the official website.
Asda runs the Asda Active programme over the summer holidays, encouraging families to try out free sports together.
You can find out when it’s visiting your area at the Asda Active website.
Get into the Olympic spirit for free
If you want to watch the Games outside, there will be a number of Live Sites popping up all over the UK in the run-up to 27th July. As well as showing the sporting action on a big screen, there will be a programme of live entertainment.
Find out more about the Live Sites around the UK at the London 2012 Live Sites pages.
If you live in London or nearby, there’s a huge programme of free events planned for the Live Sites in Hyde Park, Potters Fields, Victoria Park, Waltham Forest and Woolwich. There will be live concerts from the likes of McFly, Alexandra Burke, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Jones and The Temper Trap.
You can find out more about what’s going on at the London 2012 website.
Go to a free museum or art gallery
Loads of our museums are free to enter, from London’s Science and Natural History collections to the newly-opened Museum of Liverpool and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. The Visit Britain website has a good list.
Again, Visit Britain has a good list on its website.
But don’t forget the museums and art galleries on your doorstep – many have free events throughout the holidays.
Free festivals and events
Every weekend during the summer is crammed with free festivals and events of one kind or another – we’ve listed many of these (with lots for grown-ups to do too) in our Free festivals and events for summer 2012 guide.
The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival have plenty of free performances and activities during August. And the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta from the 9th to 12th August is one of the biggest free festivals in the country.
Get out and play
Playday is a national day celebrating children playing outdoors. There will be free events throughout the nation, most of which will take place on the day itself, which this year is 1st August.
You can see what’s happening near you at the Playday website.
Explore a new place
The National Trust runs a series of family events on its properties and land throughout the summer months, many of which are free or very cheap to take part in.
For a list, go to the Trust’s website
Go to the cinema for less
If it's raining going to the movies is a good option, but can be very expensive. However, there are a range of cheaper options.
Vue Cinemas have children's films showing on Saturdays and Sundays and every day in the school holidays for just £1.50 per child (one adult per child goes free, 3D films are £2.75). Odeon Kids shows films on Saturdays and Saturdays and many also run them in the school holidays from £2.50 (one adult per child goes free again). Meanwhile, Cineworld runs Movies For Juniors at many of its cinemas on Saturday and Sunday mornings (it hasn't extended this to school holidays), where adults and children pay £1 apiece.
And if you're an Orange phone customer, you can take advantage of the two-for-one Orange Wednesdays promotion at most cinemas.
Cheap train travel
If you travel a lot by train with children aged between five and 16, you might find a Family & Friends Railcard a good option. It costs £28 a year and gives you a third off adult travel and 60% off kids' tickets. Even better, it's valid for up to four adults and four children. Note that you can only use it on off-peak trains.
Find out more at the Family & Friends Railcard website.