Keeping your family entertained during half-term doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of budget-friendly activities available across the UK to try out. From exploring castles to joining the world’s largest treasure hunt, we share 17 cheap or free things to do in half-term.
Museums, art and culture
Time travel at a museum: Check out your local museum for free exhibitions, workshops and activities to learn about history, science and more. Be sure to check before attending as you may need to pre-book your tickets even if admission is free.
Get creative at a gallery: Galleries, such as the Tate Modern, Manchester Art Gallery, York Art Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery, offer free activities and workshops for children and families to get creative during half-term.
Try a new craft: Hobbycraft offers in-store, hour-long creative workshops for children, including canvas painting and making clay monsters. With prices starting from £2, you can check what classes are available at your local Hobbycraft store and sign up online.
Have fun at the library: Libraries across the UK offer free activities for children and families including LEGO Clubs, yoga and arts and crafts. Be sure to check out what activities are available at your local library online or by paying them a visit.
Check out free local events: Your local authority may be hosting free events and activities for families living in your area during half-term. So it’s worth checking your local authority website to see if there are any you can attend over the school break.
Cinema, theatre and food
Watch a film for under £5: Cinemas across the UK offer cheap tickets to children’s films (usually in the morning.) Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors, Odeon Kids and Vue’s Mini Mornings have film tickets available from £2.49 per person – book online for the cheapest deals.
Catch a play or musical: Check if your local theatre offers cheap tickets over half-term. The Young Vic, in London, for example, offers a limited number of £10 tickets for full-time students and people aged 25 and under for each production. Lots of theatres also offer lotteries for discounted tickets to shows including Matilda and The Lion King for £25.
Dine on a discount: Keep an eye out for discounted meals for children at local restaurants. Chains including Gordon Ramsay Restaurants and The Real Greek offer free kids meals for under-12s per adult who buys from the main menu. While Sizzling Pubs offers kids meals for as little as £1 per adult meal purchased at certain times during the week. You can also grab a free kids meal from your local Morrisons Café for every adult meal you buy worth over £4.50.
Make a fakeaway: Get creative in the kitchen and whip up your favourite takeaway at home for a fraction of the price. Try setting a money-saving challenge and let the kids help make a shopping list and find the best deals for the ingredients online or in store.
» MORE: Ways to save money on food
Nature, wildlife and adventure
Explore local wildlife: Take your family on an adventure through a local nature reserve or wildlife trust for free. Check out The Wildlife Trusts’ website to find your nearest parks. You can also discover new walking trails and cycle routes on the National Trust website.
Join the world’s largest treasure hunt: Geocaching is a free digital treasure hunt where you use the GPS on your phone or another device to track down treasure boxes (called caches) hidden outdoors. There are around 70,000 in the UK, so there are plenty to find! All you’ll need to do is download the Geocaching app, which is available to Apple and Android devices to get started. The app is free to download but there are in-app purchases available.
Visit a castle: Marvel at one of many spectacular castles or historic houses across the UK this half-term. The National Trust website can help you find your local historic site and gives information about other activities and admission fees too.
Pet local farm animals: Organise a trip to your local farm to hang out with animal friends. Some farms offer free admission, but be sure to check if you need to pay a fee before arriving.
Take a trip to IKEA: Swedish furniture giant IKEA offers events, such as dinosaur trails, badge making and treasure hunts, for children during half-term. They are subject to availability, but you can check if there are any activities running at your nearest branch on the IKEA website. You’ll need to sign up for a free IKEA Family membership to register for an event.
Sports and activities
Take a free tennis lesson: Tennis For Free offers free tennis lessons to children of all abilities across the UK. Check out the Tennis For Free website to find out about availability in your local area.
Try a Junior Park Run: ‘Parkruns’ are weekly free events that take place in parks and open spaces across the UK. Sunday mornings are aimed at kids aged four to 14 to walk, jog or run 2km. Check out the map on the Parkrun website to find details of your nearest junior event.
Join a sports course: Some local communities offer free multi-sports courses for children to take part in half-term. Have a quick search online to find out whether there are any available in your area and any age limits on the activities.
Learn about money
Ultimately, half-term could also be a good time to teach your kids about money, with many pocket money saving apps available to help you and your child monitor how much they save and spend.
» MORE: Reasons to open a kids bank account
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