We’ve come up with 15 cheap and discounted things to do during half term that will save you money, and help stop the kids from climbing the walls.
As the countdown to Christmas is officially on, now is the time to start counting your pennies.
From family railcards to ease the cost of travel to special offers and free things to do, our list should help half term go off without a hitch.
1. Fork out less on a train adventure
Getting a one-year Family & Friends Railcard can be great for saving money, offering 30% off most adult fares, and 60% off children’s fares. Up to four adults and four children aged 5-15 can travel on every journey, and you can have two adults named on the card.
But, even better – usually the card costs £30, but until tomorrow (24 October) there’s an extra 20% off, so you’ll only pay £24. You’ll have to get in quick, and use the online discount code when you order.
2. Get cashback on what you spend
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to click through the links on the cashback site to earn on lots of retailers, attractions such as Alton Towers and Legoland, and booking sites such as Expedia and The Trainline.
3. Save on cinema trips
Several cinema chains now offer special prices for families, as long as you can get to earlier screenings.
Vue cinemas host Mini Mornings, where both adults and child tickets are £2.49 for selected films.
Odeon has Odeon Kids, which gives adults and kids tickets for £2.50.
Plus, Cineworld has Movies For Juniors, where adults and kids can get £2.50 tickets, or £5.50 for new releases.
Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ is showing this week, which is good news for Winne the Pooh fans.
4. Try pumpkin picking
Rather than just heading to the supermarket for your Halloween pumpkin, you can make a day of it – and a cheap one, at that.
Many farms around the country are offering pumpkin picking events including: Four Winds Farm in Tunbridge Wells from 25-27 October; Secretts in Surrey until 28 October; Foxes Farm in Basildon and Colchester every day in half term; Cammas Hall Farm in Hertfordshire until 4 November.
5. Take a packed lunch
If you’re heading on a day out, it usually always pays to take a packed lunch, as going to a café or restaurant where you could expect to pay upwards of £30 for just sandwiches and drinks for a family of four.
Depending on where you go, some museums and attractions may have lockers available so you won’t have to carry a heavy cool bag around with you all day.
6. Visit a museum, for free
Many museums around the UK have excellent free exhibitions for the whole family to enjoy.
Big hitters include London’s Natural History Museum, with its fascinating free dinosaur exhibition; V&A Museum of Childhood, which currently has a free exhibition about pirates; Tate Liverpool, St Fagans National Museum of History near Cardiff, Edinburgh’s City Art Centre and many more.
7. Get involved in the Big Draw
There are events going on throughout half term, courtesy of the Big Draw. From making your own football crests at Manchester’s National Football Museum to personalising your own board games, there’s a lot to choose from to get the whole family to flex their creative muscles.
While some events may have a fee, many are free, but you have to book in advance.
8. Go to a free farm
If your kids love animals, many farms around the UK don’t charge an entry fee.
And even in a city, you won’t have to travel far. Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh, Stonebridge City Farm in Nottingham and London’s Vauxhall City Farm, Surrey Docks Farm and Deen City Farm are easily accessible, and offer free entry.
9. Cash in your Clubcard points
If you’re a Tesco shopper, you can convert your Clubcard points into tokens for a huge range of family attractions, including Chessington World of Adventures, Birdworld, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds – to name just a few.
10. Get sporty, for less
Tennis for Free is a community sports charity that offers free tennis coaching to people of all ages, with a specific parent and child group so the whole family can improve their skills together. You’ll go through some fun drills and games, with an hour’s session with a coach followed by another 30 minutes for open play.
This is available at participating venues around the UK.
11. Take advantage of 2-for-1 offers
The biggest 2-for-1 savings can be found on theme parks and attractions.
If you register with Days Out Guide and buy a National Rail ticket for the closest station to the attraction, it can unlock 2-for-1 entry for attractions such as Kew Gardens, Blackpool Tower Eye and Warwick Castle.
Alternatively, there are usually deals and vouchers available with things like Kellogg’s cereals and other household goods that can be used to visit Thorpe Park, Sea Life centres, Alton Towers and other theme parks around the UK.
12. Save on meals out
While we mentioned earlier that eating out can get expensive, there are still savings to be had. Several chain restaurants offer ‘kids eat free’ deal – but there are quite a few caveats you’ll need to remember.
Bodean’s BBQ gives kids free meals between 12pm-5pm; La Tasca gives a free kids’ main meal when one adult spends £10 or more; and Giraffe gives a free children’s meal when an adult buys a main course on Saturdays or Sundays.
13. Learn about your pets
Retailer Pets At Home is offering a series of workshops for children throughout half term to teach them how to help their furry friends through winter. They’ll also receive an activity booklet with stickers and a poster, and it’s all free of charge.
You can register online for your nearest event.
14. Check out your local library
Local libraries can be a great source of fun during the holidays, with many putting on special community events for kids and families.
After a quick look, we found that Earlsfield Library is hosting a Harry Potter quiz and treasure hunt on Thursday 25 October, Farnborough Library is running a ‘Design your own library bag’ workshop for £3 on the same day, and Winton Library has a puppet and mask making workshop on Tuesday 23 October costing from £1.
15. Find free events where you live
Free Events has a huge list of free or cheap things going on around the country that you can go along to.
We soon found out through the site that you can go to the Liverpool Halloween Lantern Carnival for free on 28 October, and the Scottish Ploughing Championships are taking place at Bettyfield Farm in Kelso on 27-28 October, complete with children’s rides, just to name a few.
- Find out more: 50 ways to save money – more ideas on how to cut your costs