Fun things you can do for free over the school holidays
Here’s a list of fun things you can do for free with your children over the school holidays (and even if you don’t have kids, most of these are still fun).
Many museums are free and offer good learning opportunities for children.
Some charge entry fees but are free on specific days, so it’s worth checking before you go.
In London, good child-friendly options include the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which has a lot of interactive displays including a play area with a garden.
If your kid loves trains, the National Railway Museum in York is a great option which allows visitors to pretend to ride locomotives.
Some museums run activity sessions or days where children can get involved in crafts, so look out for those.
If you’ve got bikes, go exploring.
There are lots of free cycling apps to help you plan your route, such as CycleStreets and Map My Ride.
Former railway lines across the country now offer great off-road cycle trails.
Examples include Camel Trail in Cornwall, the Bristol to Bath Railway Path in Somerset and the Cinder Track, North Yorkshire.
There are plenty of festivals taking place across the UK, where you can enjoy live music and entertainment for free.
Notting Hill Carnival, an annual Caribbean festival in London, takes place at the end of August.
Edinburgh Fringe, an arts and theatre festival, takes place in August. Many events are ticketed, but there are free street performances.
Other examples include Leicester Caribbean Carnival, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and the Stockton International Riverside Festival.
Reading and library events
Primary school children can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, an annual competition, which gives them stickers for finishing books.
This year’s theme is Gadgeteers, which includes a suggested reading list designed to get kids interested in science.
Visit your local library to get an activity pack.
Activities also run activities that kids can take part in.
Many local authorities have free events that allow families to take part in sport.
Examples include the Celebration of Sport event in Manchester at the end of July and Aberdeen’s Summer in the City programme.
Farms and zoos
Some city farms and zoos are free to enter, offering children an opportunity to get close to animals.
Examples include the Hackney City Farm, Walton Hall and Gardens and Golders Hill Park zoo in London.
English heritage sites
The UK has plenty of English Heritage and National Trust sites that you can visit for free, from medieval monasteries to castles.
Try the Bath Skyline, Ilam Park in the Peak District and Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria, to name just a few out of hundreds of options.
Geocaching is like a modern treasure hunt which involves finding a small waterproof container with some mystery objects hidden by other geocachers.
Usually a geocacher will hide a geogache in a location that has some sort of special interest or beauty and register it on an app.
When you find the container, you can take something and replace it with something else if you want.
Look for a geocaching app for your area.
Try looking at some stunning art in beautiful parks.
Examples include Kielder Art and Architecture in Northumberland (parking isn’t free though), Grizedale Sculpture in Cumbria, Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail in Cardiff and New Art Centre in Wiltshire.
If you can get find a way to get there affordably, going for a swim at a beach never gets old.
Britain is full of iconic parks that are free to visit.
Some of the best ones are classified as Areas of Natural Beauty, like Brecon Beacons in Wales, Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and Snowdonia.
Some adventure playgrounds offer free entry – like Markeaton Park’s Play Centre in Derbyshire, Heartlands in Cornwall and Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground in London, which features a wooden pirate ship.
Some cities offer free walking tours that allow you to learn more about their history.
Try Free Tours by Foot, which offers a range of options – like street art and Harry Potter – in London, Oxford and Liverpool.
Some organisations serve specific cities, so check out what’s available in your area.
There are self-guided tours, too, so if you can’t find one running at a convenient time you can follow the instructions and make the most of the experience.
You can also borrow guide books from your local library, which contain maps and information for DIY tours.