Cheap and free things to do this half term: family fun on a budget

Cheap and free things to do this half term: family fun on a budget

Wondering how to entertain the kids on a budget during this October half term? Here's our round-up of some of the best cheap and free family activities you can take part in.

lovemoney staff

Saving and Making Money

lovemoney staff
Updated on 18 October 2019

If you’re looking for cheap and free half-term family activities then you're in luck, as we have a whole load of them right here!

Here's a look at some of the best budget-friendly half term days out available across the UK.

Save money on many outdoor adventures: join English Heritage from just £4 a month

Take in a free event

National Trust has a whole raft of events happening over October half term such as building dens in the wild, playing games and creating homes for wildlife.

Down in London's Southbank, there are some free events, including a fairy tale trail for kids, and a morning dance workshop.

If you're in Manchester, the Spinning Gate Shopping Centre has free kids events, like making pumpkin pom poms or spooky masks from 11am to 3pm between 21 and 25 October.

All children need to be accompanied by an adult.

In north Wales, there's the Halloween Trail, which runs between 24 October and 1 November – if you’re brave enough to attempt it! Tickets cost £1 and you could win a prize simply by giving it a go.

How to save money on adults and kids train tickets

Father and son making a nesting box. (Image: Shutterstock)

Cheap events

The North East has plenty of events over the October half term: you can follow a wicked witch-themed quest at Chesters Roman Fort and Museum (adult £8, child £4.80, family £20.80 – free for English Heritage members) or do a similar quest and some creepy crafts at Belsay Hall (adult £11, child £6.60 and family £28.60).

For both these events, your child may be in for a chance of winning a prize if they are the best-dressed witch or wizard.

If you're in Manchester, check out Salford Quays where several events, including museum trails (£2), spooky storytelling (free), or a painted pumpkin workshop (£10).

The Tower of London is running a series of drop-in performances and activities between 19-27 October.

You only have to pay admission, which is a little pricey (adult 24.70, child £11.70, family £44.40). You could also look for 2-for-1 tickets using National Rail's Days Out offer.

Save money on many outdoor adventures: join English Heritage from just £4 a month

Visit your local museum, theme park, castle, zoo...

You might be surprised what's available on your doorstep.

Car retailer Inchcape has put together an interactive map listing the UK's top attractions and how much entry costs (see below).

Or venture further by train and get up to half-price tickets to top attractions through National Rail's Days Out offer (find out how to get the discount here).

Voucher sites such as Vouchercloud can also help you save on tickets, with options for Legoland, Warwick Castle, and Kew Gardens, amongst others.

Watch a film

If the weather disappoints, that doesn't mean your half term should.

For a lazy start to the day, Vue cinemas host Mini Mornings every morning during the holidays. Both adult and child tickets are £2.49 for selected movies.

Odeon offers something very similar, called Odeon Kids.

Kids and adults can go every morning during the school holidays, but prices start from £2.50, so tickets could be more expensive depending on location.

Cineworld also does Movie for Juniors where you and the kids can get in from £2.50, or from £5.50 for new releases ­ – screenings are scheduled for most school holiday mornings.

Find out more about snagging bargain cinema tickets here.

Go bowling

Head over to your local Tenpin where there’s a special deal until 1 November. You can book two games of bowling for the price of one for both adults and children between Monday and Friday from 10am to 6pm.

You can also get a burger meal for only £3.50 per person. Deals and prices may vary between bowling alleys so check the Tenpin website before you go and it’s advisable to book in advance.

Cheap and free things to do this half term

Learn a new skill

Many of the cheap and free events mentioned above include arts and crafts workshops.

Hobbycraft also runs free workshops for kids in some of its 89 UK stores during half term. Check if your local store is running one.

Alternatively, stay in and pass on your own skills (think instruments, drawing etc) to your kids.  

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Get sporty

If the weather holds up, get your kids outside for a spot of tennis. Clubs up and down the UK offer free weekly tennis coaching lessons in public parks.

The National Trust has a number of cycle routes for families and some great walks, including walks for little legs so that the young’uns don’t get too tired.

Councils across the UK offer free swim programmes for certain residents, so check out your local council’s website to see if you or your children are eligible.

Soak up some culture

There are free museums up and down the country just waiting to be explored, and many of them host special events for children during the break.

If you fancy catching a show with your sprogs, check out Groupon and Wowcher for cheap tickets.

Family cycling. (Image: Shutterstock)

Get cooking

There are plenty of cooking websites out there with budget recipes, which can cost you as little as £1 per head.

Our sister site loveFOOD has countless recipes for you to peruse, including Top 10 recipes for children and Top 10 easy and fun baking recipes. Happy cooking!

Take it a step further: why not go out with the kids and pick your own fruit? Have a look at this list to pinpoint your nearest Pick Your Own (PYO) farm

Eat out on the cheap

You can guarantee there’ll be some great offers available for families over the half term.

You can find a load on websites like VoucherCodes with 40% off mains at Prezzo or a second meal for £1 at Bella Italia.

At Bella Italia, kids can eat free for a limited time only when a full adult meal is bought.

Get a £10 bonus for signing up to Quidco and making a purchase 

Get experimental

Spark your children’s curiosity with homemade science experiments.

There are lots of wacky experiments you can try at home like creating your own tornado, fashioning a soap sculpture or growing edible crystals. You don’t even have to leave the kitchen.

For more ideas, check out YouTube.

Cheap and free things to do this half term

Have fun at home

You don’t have to go on a grand adventure to have a memorable day with the family.

Find something you can all do together, like play a game or do a project, which the whole family can get involved in.

It can be as simple as grabbing some old scraps and getting crafty.

There are thousands of projects available online, including ones that can be made using household junk.

You could put together a scavenger hunt in the garden using small knick-knacks or wrapped chocolates or take the hunt indoors if it’s raining.

Rediscover old board and card games like chess or snap or seek out cheap ones.

And if all else fails, raid the linen cupboard and make a giant blanket fort.

Finally, if you're looking for even more ideas, take a look at these great suggestions from our sister site loveEXPLORING.

We update this article ahead of every major half-term holiday.

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