Cheap and free things to do with the kids in the summer holidays
Entertaining the family over the summer break needn’t cost a fortune. Here are a few affordable things you could try around the UK.
With the kids off school for the long summer break, parents are under pressure to keep them fed, watered and entertained.
But it's getting more and more expensive.
New research from Nationwide Building Society estimates that parents will spend nearly £1,000 per child on childcare, days out, treats and food over the summer holidays.
One way to cut down on the cost of the long summer break is to take advantage of the cheap and free activities taking place across the UK.
This summer is the first anniversary of the London Olympic Games so help to maintain the legacy by getting the whole family active.
British Cycling has teamed up with Sky to get more people into riding bikes with an initiative called Sky Ride. You can take part in big traffic-free bike rides or choose from free guided and buddy rides in your area. The next big event will take place in Bournemouth on the 20th of July.
Also look out for special Join In events that will be encouraging participation at local sports clubs and community groups across the UK between 27th July and 9th September. Last year 6,000 events were held, while this year more than 6,500 are lined up.
Alternatively use your local park for some sporty family and friends events that can be as traditional or as wacky as you like!
The summer is packed full of festivals that can be cheap or even free to enjoy.
Camp Bestival held in Dorset is one of the best family-friendly festivals going. Under-10s go free, 11-17-year olds attract a charge of up to £113 while adults pay £190. It’s probably the only place you will see Labyrinth and Mr Tumble on the same line-up.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival held between the 2nd and 26th of August is also worth a look as it is a fun-filled three weeks of theatre, comedy, dance, music and arts events. You need to pay for many of the shows but there are loads that are free and suitable for a variety of ages.
For more about free festivals near you check out our article: Free festivals and events for summer 2013.
Another good place for family fun is a carnival.
One of the biggest is the Notting Hill Carnival in West London, which takes place on the Sunday (children’s’ day) and Monday of the August bank holiday weekend every year.
It attracts over one million revellers who watch or dance along with the procession of beautifully decorated floats and performers.
It’s free to attend. And as well as the procession there will be food stalls and activities like face painting taking place along the route.
Theatre for free
During Kids Week under 16s get to attend London shows like We Will Rock You and Stomp for free.
Between the 1st and 31st August every adult ticket purchased gets one child a free ticket. You can also buy up to two half price additional child tickets.
For more ways to enjoy the theatre for less read: Cut the cost of theatre tickets.
Encourage a passion for reading by checking out some of the cheap and free literary events going on this summer.
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire has plenty planned that is either very cheap or free, while the Edinburgh International Book Festival taking place between 10th and 26th August also has an exciting line-up of cheap and free events.
You can keep tabs on what is coming up in your area on the Book Events for Children website.
You can get free guided walks around London with GoToMidtown throughout the year.
But from July 16th a Beatles-themed tour will the join the regular line-up. It will involve being taken around locations in Bloomsbury related to where the iconic rock group stayed, recorded and were photographed.
Elsewhere the Northumberland National Park runs a number of free guided walks throughout the summer with the opportunity to learn more about Hadrian’s Wall and other exciting features of the expansive area.
The Red Bull Soapbox Race takes place on the 14th of July at Alexandra Palace in London and tickets cost £5. Competitors get to race their homemade soapbox creations with nothing but gravity to fuel them. Go along to marvel at the crazy designs. Previous entries include a massive corn on the cob and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Those in West Sussex can catch the British Lawn Mower races over July and August. Described as the ‘cheapest form of motorsport in the UK’ it allows people to compete with just their regular lawn mowers to cross the finish line.
Sneaky educational trips
Sneak a bit of learning into your summer family trips out.
The Festival of Archaeology will run nationwide from 13th to 28th of July to celebrate the UK’s complex heritage. More than 1,000 events at nearly 400 museums, castles and monuments will take place across the UK. Hands-on activities include digging for skeletons and Stone Age survival skills. Find out what’s going on near you here.
Elsewhere many museums and galleries are free to get into and have special summer programmes running.
The Visit Britain website is a good place to check out what’s available in your area.
On 27th July Battersea Dogs and Cats Home will be holding a Kitten Shower. Visitors can meet the baby cats and take part in craft and quiz activities as well as name Battersea’s newest arrivals.
Your local zoo or park will probably also have summer offers geared up towards families.
Enjoy a movie
On rainy days you can try catching a movie.
Vue Cinemas offers family tickets where everyone pays the child price in a group of four people with a minimum of two children. Alternatively you only have to pay £1.75 on Saturday and Sunday mornings and throughout the summer break to see a film while 3D movies cost £3.
Odean runs a similar scheme where adults pay kids prices of £2.50.
During this summer break Vue will have the exclusive rights to Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway. It will be showing the movie from the 23rd August and tickets cost £4.50.