Cheap and free things to do this half term!
Wondering how to entertain the kids during half term and looking for cheap or free things to do? Look no further.
When half-term arrives, parents all over start wondering what to do with their little darlings - and how to keep it cheap! But never fear, there are loads of things to do if you keep your ear to the ground, and much of it is free, too. Check out these ideas.
1. Shoot and splash for free
If you’ve a budding David Beckham in the house, why not see if you can sign him (or her!) up for some free football coaching with the Tesco Holiday Skills Sessions (in England only, sadly)? Or you could take them to the free National Football Museum in Manchester, where for a small fee you can also try challenges like scoring a penalty at Wembley.
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.
In fact, even if you're not up for a swim, it's a good idea to check out your local council’s website as many will be running reasonably priced half-term sports courses.
2. Go to the movies
Most kids love films, but with some cinemas charging up to £9 per ticket it can be very expensive. Vue Cinemas have children's films showing on Saturdays and Sundays and every day in the school holidays for just £1.75 per child (one adult per child goes free, 3D films are £3). Vue has also introduced family tickets, where everyone pays child price, although you need a minimum group of four, including two children, to be eligible.
Odeon Kids shows films on Saturdays and Saturdays and many also run them in the school holidays from £1 (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. If you're a My Cineworld member, you'll only pay 90p and no booking fee.
And if you're an Orange phone customer, you can take advantage of the two-for-one Orange Wednesdays promotion at most cinemas.
Alternatively, you could hold your own cinema event – download a free film (legally!) from one of these free movie websites, get the kids to draw some tickets and posters, buy or make your own popcorn and snacks and settle down to watch the film!
3. Attend a free local event
If you fancy getting out of the house, why not go to a local children's event? Often it's very cheap or even free to attend.
Check out Enjoy England, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and ni4kids.com to find local activities and attractions, plus loads of two-for-one offers. Free-events.co.uk and Wherecanwego.com are also great for finding brilliant free events right on your doorstep! Or take a look at your local council's website or your local newspaper (and its website).
The List has expanded beyond Scotland and now has a terrific kids' section encompassing events around the UK.
If you live in or near London, Time Out has a great list of kids' activities on its website.
Finally, don’t forget to check out your local theatre as many hold half-term activities.
4. Take the bus or train
While it may sound dull to you, young kids that travel mostly by car find bus or train journeys unbelievably exciting.
If you live somewhere (such as London) where kids can travel by bus for free this can be a very reasonable day out! Pack some lunch, drinks and snacks, hop on a bus and buy a daysaver ticket – you can choose to hop on and off as often as you like. If you pick up a route map (or print one off from your council’s website before you leave) you can all choose a few places to visit (energetic grannies and grandpas aged 60 or over and on babysitting duty could find this a good way to entertain as most are entitled to free bus travel anyway).
If you fancy hopping on the train, don't forget that children under the age of five travel for free. And if you're travelling in and around London, your train ticket can open up a host of two-for-one offers via the Days Out Guide website.
5. Enjoy a cultural experience
When it comes to museums, don’t rule out that museum in town you've probably ignored for years – most hold activities or exhibitions that children find fascinating. If you want to visit the big hitters in London, most of which are free, Visit London has a guide. Meanwhile, National Museums Scotland has a list of family activities at its museums here.
Visit Britain has a great list of free art galleries on its website.
Alternatively, the Coventry Transport Museum allows kids to get a close up look of some classic cars, while railway buffs will love the National Railway Museum. There are loads more places on the Visit Britain website.
6. Listen to a story
Check out your local library as most will hold at least one storytelling and/or music session during half-term which, of course, is free (note: you may need to book in advance). Let the kids choose some books while they’re there, use the free internet provided and hire a DVD or two and the morning or afternoon will fly by!
And don’t forget to check out your local bookshop as most are also geared up for half-term. Alternatively, browse a book swap site like readitswapit.co.uk or bookmooch.com and get some new books you can enjoy together for free. There are thousands of children's books up for grabs!
7. Get them cooking
A great activity that kids love is cooking – so why not get them to make their own tea? Depending on how old they are you’ll have to be prepared for some serious mess but it’ll be good fun – check out CBeebies’ Big Cook Little Cook site for recipe ideas.
Older children could be challenged with creating their own, healthy takeaway food (you can find recipes for burgers, sweet and sour chicken, pizzas and vegetable quesadillas on the BBC Good Food website). If you’re really brave you could have a cooking party and invite some of your child’s friends to join in the fun! Our sister site lovefood has some handy tips on children's cooking.
8. Get them gardening
And another great activity that kids love is gardening. Give them a small section of the garden or some pots and buy a few packets of easy to grow seeds – kids particularly love to grow things they can eat! You can find loads of ideas at the BBC’s Gardening with Children site.
Do you have any other ideas for great free or cheap activities for children? Share them in the Comments section below.
We update this article ahead of every major half-term holiday