We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

15 Jul 2019

19 cheap and free things to do in summer 2019

Budget-friendly fun over the break

The school summer holidays have finally arrived, but you don't need to break the bank to keep the family entertained.

There are dozens of different cheap or free activities happening across the UK to help you keep the kids occupied and discover new things.

Here are 19 budget-friendly options to try around the country.

Be more money savvy

Get a firmer grip on your finances with the expert tips in our Money newsletter – it's free weekly.

This newsletter delivers free money-related content, along with other information about Which? Group products and services. Unsubscribe whenever you want. Your data will be processed in accordance with our Privacy policy

1) Eat for as little as £1

At Bella Italia, children can get a Piccolo or Grande meal for £1 when bought alongside a full-price adult main until noon on Sunday 18 August. All you have to do is sign up with your email address to get your coupon code.

Sizzling Pubs have a similar offer. You'll just need to download the Sizzling Pubs app to get a voucher for a £1 kids' main meal for every full-priced adult meal purchased. This deal runs Monday-Friday between 3pm and 7pm.

2) Watch a film for under £5

A number of cinema chains are offering low-cost tickets to children's films this summer.

Vue's Mini Mornings and Odeon Kids screenings have tickets every day of the holidays from £2.49, while Cineworld's Movies for Juniors cost around £3.20.

3) Go to Apple's summer camp

Every summer Apple allows children aged 8-12 to take part in a free three-day workshop at its stores.

Sessions include learning to code, video editing, and beat-making and songwriting with GarageBand.

To sign up, head over to Apple's site. Spaces are limited and some stores already have a waiting list for their camp.

4) Go to a music festival for free

There are lots of free music festivals up and down the country this summer.

Both the Bristol Harbour Festival and Lambeth Country Show offer a wide range of music from local and international acts for the whole family to enjoy.

5) Get creative at an art gallery

Unleash your inner artist at one of the National Gallery's family workshops this summer. Some classes are open to people of all ages while others are designed for younger children.

Alternatively, National Galleries Scotland is offering daily activities with visiting artists.

6) Buy one, get one free theatre tickets

Under 16s can get free theatre tickets to selected performances at West End shows for the whole month of August, as long as they're accompanied by a full-paying adult.

You can search for popular shows and book on the Kids Week site.

7) Build a free toy worth £5

Children between six and 14 can take part in the Lego Mini Build on the first Thursday of every month between 4-6pm at their local Lego store.

Staff will demonstrate how to make the model of the month in a 15-minute session. These models, worth around £5, can be taken home for free. It's 'first come, first served' so be sure to get there early to bag your spot.

8) Do a free arts and crafts workshop

Get crafty this summer with a range of projects, from painting your own ceramics to making your own slime.

Hobbycraft, an arts and craft retailer, runs free workshops for children across most of its stores. Check out the Hobbycraft website for its full calendar of events.

9) Hang out with some cute pets

Pets at Home runs free workshops for children aged 5-11 during the school holidays.

The sessions teach how to interact with animals such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Your children will get a certificate or sticker once they've completed the workshop too.

10) Visit a horse sanctuary

If your child is horse-mad, why not visit a horse sanctuary this summer?

Hall Farm in Norfolk has an open day with pony grooming and horsey events every Wednesday this August between 10am and 4pm.

11) Learn to fish for free

Fancy sitting by the river bank with a rod and reel?

Aspiring anglers can take free lessons from the Canal & River Trust, with events held throughout England this summer.

12) Take a free tennis lesson

Sports charity Tennis for Free is offering free lessons at locations around the UK.

The lessons are open to children of all abilities.

13) Go for a bike ride

There are cycling routes across the UK that suit all levels of riders.

You can find safe cycling routes from the National Trust.

14) Explore a national park

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Act that established national parks in the UK.

In celebration, there are events for you and the family to enjoy across the UK's 15 national parks.

Head over to the National Parks events page to find out what's coming up.

15) Go to a carnival

The famous Notting Hill Carnival is a vibrant multi-day event held in London for more than 50 years.

Your family can get involved on Sunday 25 August for the Children's Parade and Family Day.

There are a number of Caribbean carnivals in other cities too, such as Leeds and Derby.

16) Fall in love with books

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged four to 11 to read six library books over the summer holidays.

Children who take part will receive a special reward each time they finish a book and will get a certificate once they complete the challenge.

All you have to do is head to your local library to take part.

17) Learn about British History

Delve into Britain's past through free digital workshops at the British Museum this summer.

There's also a full summer program of events for kids at the Bristol Museum too.

18) Check out your local authority

Local authorities across the UK are running a host of free activities and events for families.

Simply enter your postcode into the local authority finder and find out what's going on in your area this summer.

19) Visit a heritage-listed home

Grand houses throughout England and Scotland are open to visit during the summer months, and many host events to keep the whole family entertained.

Visit the Heritage England or Historic Scotland to find out what's on near you.

How to save up for the holidays

Even if you stick to mostly free events, the holidays can be an expensive time.

If you're looking to put aside a little extra, try one of our 50 ways to save money - or if you're feeling entrepreneurial, you may want to look at 50 ways to make money.