Half-term is (almost) here again. Cue pressure to organise amazing days out on a shoestring budget. Impossible, right? It doesn’t have to be.
Half-term activities needn’t make your bank card flinch. Here are some inspiring half term ideas near you that the whole family can enjoy for less than a fiver per person (and many are free!).
The Alternative Airshow, Essex
If you’re looking for a free family friendly day out, this is a great place to start. Visit Westcliff to enjoy the Alternative Airshow with Drone flying demonstrations and competitions, the chance to design your own paper aeroplane, and plenty of craft bits and bobs to enjoy. There is also a model display, a balloon release, plus a Teddy Bear Parachute Jump! (Bring your own teddy if it’s brave enough).
Saturday 25 May 2013, 11am-3pm. Crowstone Christian Centre, 91 Crowstone Road, Westcliff on sea, SS0 8LH.
Harry Potter walking tour, London
If you and the kids want to discover London’s magical muggle history, this free Harry Potter Walking Tour is for you. Visit many of the locations used in the films (everywhere from the Ministry of Magic to the Leaky Cauldron.) Simply download the free map (it includes a magical treasure hunt!) and away you go. What are you waiting for? Put on your sorting hat and put your best muggle foot forward.
A magical place to visit with the whole family – the beautiful coastal castle remains of Tintagel in Cornwall is steeped in legend and mystery. It’s said to be the birthplace of King Arthur (you can even visit nearby Merlin the Magician’s cave…) A family ticket (covering up to 2 adults and 3 children) costs a reasonable £15.30 – but English Heritage members can get in for free.
Troll hunting, Isle of Wight
Get on your bike and get cycling the 14 mile railway path on a well surfaced off-road track between Sandown and Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
Download the Troll Trail route map for free, and soak up the stunning views of the coast and countryside. As you zoom over bridges, you’ll find giant ‘troll’ carvings to take in.
The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle
This Newcastle attraction is full of hands-on activities for younger ones, has a great kid’s bookshop, and story-telling sessions from children’s authors. The National Centre for Children’s Books has free admission but voluntary donations are accepted. Delve into the treasure trove of children’s literature – from classic authors such as Enid Blyton to Judith Kerr, to modern masters such as Phillip Pullman.
Ghost Walk, York
This 75 minute ghost walk tour takes you round the city’s most infamous haunted hotspots. Feel suitably spooked as the guide takes you round the city wearing his Georgian black cloak and tricorn hat.
Wander through York’s honeycomb maze of narrow cobbled streets and mysterious alleyways, and take part in ghostly historic scene re-enactments to bring the past back to life. Excellent entertainment all round for adults and children alike. Join the tour on Saturdays at 7pm. £5 for adults, £3 for children under £14.
Royal Armouries, Leeds
Britain’s biggest collections of arms and armour is free to visit – and with everything from jousting to spooky Halloween activities lined up, it’s a sure-fire family favourite. See what’s on offer.
Smithy Farm, Preston
All animal lovers out there should take the chance to visit the Smithy Farm and shop in Preston, Lancashire. It’s completely free and is packed full of various animal attractions (including alpacas, a miniature pony and even some giant rabbits!) Enjoy a picnic and the children’s play area, ride on a tractor and have you pick of free range produce and seasonal vegetables from their farm shop. Open all year 9am-6pm.
Midlands and East
Southwold Pier, Sussex
Keep the family amused at Southwold Pier in Sussex. There’s nothing quite like a trip to the seaside, and Southwold’s recently renovated pier includes the old-fashioned arcade (if you have a few pennies to hand and are feeling lucky…) You’ll also find boutique shops to browse, and a sandy beach to kick about on. Free admission too!
Wollaton Hall and deer park, Nottingham
Set in the heart of Nottingham, this spectacular Elizabethan mansion and park provides plenty to do come rain or shine. Explore the Natural History Museum, or catch sight of a red or fallow deer within the gorgeous five hundred acre garden and parkland. Admission to Wollaton Hall and park is free – but charges may apply if you want a tour or take part in the regular events and activities going on. Open daily until 5pm.
Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton
Discover monster creepy crawlies in the current exhibition at Stockwood Discovery Centre. Join in with the highly interactive, magnified world of ‘mini-beasts’: see, hear, smell and touch giant bugs and more for just £3.95 per adult and £2.95 per child. If that makes your skin crawl, you can have a go at their craft activities – try painting ceramics or get stick in with various acrylic projects from as little as £3.
The Tall Ship, Glasgow
Climb aboard the Glenlee – one of only five Clydebuilt sailing ships remaining afloat in the world – and inspect the restored vessel in all its glory. The Tall Ship in Glasgow first took to the water as a bulk cargo carrier in 1896 and has circumnavigated the globe four times over. Check it out for yourself for free.
Discover the landscape of Brave
Explore the stunning scenery behind the popular Pixar movie, Brave. Discover for yourself the Scottish estates that were used as a blueprint for Dun-Broch castle featured in the film, including Dunnottar Castle south of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire and Eilean Donan castle. Download your itinerary and have a truly legendary experience.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Check out some cool science and technology, Scottish history, art, design, and the natural world all under one roof at Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland. Feast your eyes over the 20,000 objects spread across 36 galleries – look up a Tyrannosaurus Rex, take a ride on a magic carpet, and enjoy the dedicated children’s zone all for free.
Wales and Northern Ireland
Geocaching, Brecon Beacons
Have you heard of geocaching? It’s basically one big treasure hunt and a great way to encourage the family to get outside in the fresh air and exercise! There are 180 geocaching sites to explore across the Brecon Beacons, all you need is a GPS navigation device (such as a smartphone), a sense of adventure and something to swap. Find out more about geocaching here.
Horse drawn boat trip, Llangollen Wharf
Whatever the weather, this unique boat trip will be a day out you won’t forget. Try out a horse drawn boat trip from Llangollen Wharf, running every 30 minutes during the school holidays and roughly every hour at other times. Relax and unwind as you float down the beautiful canal and admire the strength of the gorgeous horses. Family tickets are £17 for 2 adults and 2 children (working out at under £5 each!) We also recommend the quaint tea room for a slice of cake too…
Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival
Prepare to be impressed as some magnificent ships that have sailed the high seas will enter the docks for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival on bank holiday weekend (25-27 May). There will be plenty going on including a treasure trail, face painting, workshops, Pirate Island dancing, street theatre and historical re-enactments. Tickets are free and available from the Belfast Welcome Centre by calling 028 9024 6609.
Staying at home
Want some inspirational ways to spend quality time with the kids at home? Take a look at our round up of things you can do with the kids at home. It includes:
- Art and craft ideas
- Rainy day activities
- Cooking with the kids
- Printable activity sheets
- Inventive make and do tips
- Getting out in the garden
- Trampoline fun
- Help with your child’s reading and spelling
- Homework help