Summer salvation: the best things in life are free (or nearly!)

In Budget, Travel Inspiration by KirstiLeave a Comment

Warhorse play

Kids Week sees many city theatres offering excellent deals. Photo:

Well, as the school holidays are heading to a speedy end, my attentions have turned to the rather expensive activities of kitting my kids out with new school uniforms, shoes, sports kits and stationery; all very exciting stuff, of course. After a somewhat pricey summer and costly back to school shopping expeditions, any activities or days out that I now look at have to be cost effective. Thankfully, great days out don’t have to cost a fortune to be fun; in fact sometimes, they can be absolutely free. I’ve been taking a look at what’s available across the UK over the next week, hoping to ease the tension on our purse strings yet keep the kids thoroughly entertained. After all, it’s important to provide a happy ending to what’s been one of the warmest summers we’ve seen in many years! So enjoy the next week or so with your little ones in tow, before the dreaded school runs commence once again.

Last week of the summer: Free UK activities


The Horniman Free Museum - photo by: alexlomas

The Horniman Free Museum – photo by alexlomas

The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London, has some great free activities that are running well into September. Every Wednesday in the Gardens, there’s a discovery session on the Horniman Nature Trail from 2 – 3.30pm; Jim Murphy from the Trust for Urban Ecology is your host, taking you through half a mile of meadow, pond and log pile habitats. There are limited spaces, but tickets are free and obtained from the front desk. For budding artists who want to get their creative juices flowing, meanwhile, there are also various activity days running during which children can try out different craft techniques: sessions run for around 45 minutes, and you’ll need to queue up to get a place. The museum has several other free exhibitions and events: take a look at to find out what’s on.


Exeter Quay - photo by: Penganel

Exeter Quay – photo by Penganel

If you are in or near Exeter, why not make your way down to Exeter Quay on Sunday? From 12 – 4pm, Summer Sundays sees some of the south-west’s best jazz bands fill the air with fantastic music, interspersed with entertainment from some of the best street theatre acts in the UK: with clowns and acrobats from Tumbleweed Theatrics, balloon art from Balloonatic, and amazing juggling from Dan the Hat, it’s sure to be a great afternoon of free fun.


Cardiff Festival - photo by: jamescoleman

Cardiff Festival – photo by jamescoleman

Cardiff Festival takes place on Saturday 31 August, and sees the city centre and Cardiff Bay come alive with music, street theatre, funfairs and a variety of children’s entertainment. You can enjoy many of the activities and entertainment for free. For more information, simply go to


Gunwharf Quays photo by: Martin Pettitt

Gunwharf Quays – photo by Martin Pettitt

Throughout August, Portsmouth’s Waterfront Café at Gunwharf Quays is home to live music nights with free entry. The last performance takes place on 29 August, so why not head down with the kids to enjoy a medley of indie, folk and alternative tunes? Sit and enjoy a drink, soak up the music and revel in the relaxed atmosphere; my kids love live performances, and being a bit older, they’re happy to sit and chill. Music starts from 7:30pm.

Great deals on great fun

The theatre always provides fabulous entertainment for the whole family, but can prove to be pricey. Kids Week 2013, however, runs until 31 August, and sees many city theatres offering excellent deals. When accompanying an adult, any child under 16 can go free with two additional children for half price, and there is a selection of sensational shows to choose from: We Will Rock You or Horrible Histories anyone?

Flambards, Cornwall is more than just a theme park. The Victorian Village and Britain in the Blitz take you on journeys back in time, and provide a great educational experience for parents and kids alike. Throughout August, Flambards will also be hosting stunning firework displays: the last takes place on 28 August, but check the website for earlier dates. If you enter after 5.30pm, you’ll also enjoy reduced price tickets from the admissions gate (not available online).

The Deep Aquarium Hull - photo by:HJSP82

The Deep Aquarium Hull – photo by HJSP82

Hull is home to the world’s only submarium, The Deep. One of the most impressive aquariums in the UK, its home to 3,500 fish, including Europe’s only pair of green sawfish, as well as sharks, stingrays, and a whole host of exotic and vibrant sea life. The Deep is in the heart of Hull and within walking distance of the Marina, as well as the town’s fascinating museums. Book online and you will also receive a 10% reduction from your ticket price.

I hope I’ve provided you with some food for thought for the last week of the summer holidays. Whatever you do end up doing over these last precious days, just have fun and make the most of the summer days and evenings. With winter just around the corner and the school runs looming, I for one intend to have some free, family-friendly fun over next week!



KirstiSummer salvation: the best things in life are free (or nearly!)

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