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1 Apr 2022

Cheap and free things to do over the Easter holidays

A family hunting for eggs

If you're in need of some ideas on how to keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank over the Easter break, look no further.

With the rising cost of living taking its toll on household finances, we've rounded up what you can do on a budget.

Read on for tips including saving money on travel for a day at the seaside and how to get cheap tickets to the theatre and cinema.

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1. Enjoy a meal out with 'kids eat free' offers

A number of restaurants offer cheap or free kids' meals during the holidays.

We've rounded up a selection below, but it's always worth asking if there are any promotions at your local family favourites.

With any of these offers, be sure to check that you qualify by reading the terms and conditions before the meal. The time of day, location, age of your kids, or the food under offer might vary.

  • Heathrow airport: kids eat free at selected restaurants between 9-24 April
  • Morrisons cafe: free kids' meal with every £4.50 adult meal (from 3pm).
  • Preto: children under 10 can eat free every day. One child for every full paying adult rodizio.
  • Purezza: children under the age of 10 get a free mini pizza with a topping of their choice. One child eats free per adult dining.
  • The Real Greek: kids eat free on Sundays. One free meal per adult spending £10 or more.
  • Yo! Sushi: kids under 10 eat free from 3.30-5.30pm Monday to Thursday until 7 April. One child eats free per adult spending £10 or more on food. Maximum three children per table can eat for free.

You could also consider a dining card which could save you up to 50% at thousands of restaurants across the UK.

Tastecard and Gourmet Society both have free trials lasting 90 days. Just make sure to set a reminder to cancel your subscription before the free trial is over.

2. Bag theme park discounts with your shopping

For the sunnier days, planning a day out to a theme park could keep the whole family entertained.

To save on the costs of a ticket to popular attractions, look out for promotional offers on grocery items in your weekly shop.

For example, some Carex handwash bottles can get you half-price entry at Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Sea Life Centres and Sanctuaries. The vouchers will last until 31 May.

Selected Kellogg's cereal packs and snacks are also currently offering an 'adults go free' voucher for Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington, Sea Life centres, Madame Tussauds and other Merlin attractions, which is valid until June 2022.

Also if you are a Tesco Clubcard holder you can convert points into Tesco Reward Partners Vouchers. These can often be used for as much as three times the saving at theme parks, wildlife parks, and more.

Remember you can also save up to 45% by booking tickets in advance at some attractions. For example, an adult day pass bought on the day at Alton Towers will cost you £62, but bought in advance online will cost £34.

3. Learn something new at a free museum or gallery

For a rainy day, you could tick off some must-see museums.Most UK national museums are free, so there's plenty to try.

Our top five museums and galleries rated by members include:

  1. St. Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff
  2. Beamish: The Living Museum of the North, County Durham
  3. National Railway Museum, York
  4. Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shropshire
  5. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

It's worth checking if you need to book a free ticket in advance and if some exhibits you want to see charge an admission fee, before setting off.

4. Burn off the Easter chocolate with some sport

Parkruns are free, weekly, community events all around the world. On Saturday morning there are 5k events and junior park runs for children aged four to 14 on Sundays. There is no time limit and no one finishes last! Find out if there is a race near you here.

You could also join a 10k race around Regents Park on Easter Monday. Entry cost £20 for adults and there is a children's race which costs £4 to enter. The course will take you past the Money Fountain and London Zoo.

For other free sporting activities check out your local council's website. Some offer free swimming sessions at local pools during the holidays.

Charity Tennis for Free offers tennis sessions for all ages at public parks across the UK.

5. Watch the latest movies for less

With Sonic 2, Morbius and other blockbuster films hitting the silver screen over Easter, a trip to the movies is likely to be a popular suggestion.

Some cinema chains offer cut-price screenings for family films at certain times, usually in the morning.

  • Odeon: 'Odeon Kids' screenings take place every day during the holidays and adults pay kids' prices.
  • Picturehouse: 'Kids Club' tickets are £3 each for adults and children.
  • Vue: 'Mini Mornings' screenings cost £2.49 or £2.99 if you buy online (£3.49/£3.99 if you buy at the venue) for adults and children and take place daily from 10am during school holidays.

If the timings or selection of the movies don't work there are plenty of other ways to save including:

  • Dining cards: Gourmet Society and Tastecard both offer up to 40% off some cinema chains and are offering 90-day free trials.
  • Meerkat Movies: if you buy a policy through the price comparison website Compare The Market, you'll get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on a Tuesday or Wednesday for a whole year. You may have already bought a policy and not claimed the offer, so check if any of your existing policies can unlock this perk.
  • O2 Priority: O2 customers can snap up a free Odeon ticket. Tickets are released on O2 Priority on Tuesdays to be used the following Sunday or Monday.
  • Three Mobile: customers can get a £3 adult cinema ticket for Cineworld or Picturehouse using the Three+rewards app, which can be used on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  • Vodafone: customers can get two adult tickets for £7 at most Vue cinemas to use each week. Use the My Vodafone app.

6. Snap up cheap theatre tickets

Theatre trips for the family can be pricey but there are ways to cut the cost.

  • Check out your local theatre: you may find a West End production touring at your local theatre for much cheaper than you would pay in London. We found tickets for The Book of Mormon in Leeds Grand Theatre from as little as £15 over Easter. In London on the same date, the tickets start at £40.
  • Disney Magical Mondays: every Monday at noon, a number of tickets for Disney shows (The Lion King/Frozen) will be available for £25 through the DisneyTickets website - but they go quickly so log on early.
  • Enter lotteries: some shows including Hamilton have lotteries you can join to get tickets. If you're successful, you'll be able to purchase tickets for between £10-£35 for a performance that week.
  • Save money on seats: you may be able to get cheaper seats if you're willing to sit at the back - use seatplan to check out the view beforehand.
  • TodayTix: this app can help you save up to 66% on certain shows. We found tickets for Roald Dahl's Matilda on Tuesday 19 April for £23
  • Under-30 deals: most theatres offer cheaper tickets if you're under 30 - check on the website first. For example, the National Theatre offers £5 tickets if you're under 18, and £10 tickets if you're under 26.

7. Decorate Easter eggs for a hunt

This is a fun activity for youngsters around Easter.

You can hard boil eggs and then decorate them with marker pens. Once these are decorated you can hide them around the garden or outdoors in your local park for an Easter egg trail.

If you don't fancy making the eggs you can buy chocolate eggs, or some egg cases for as little as £2 (and you can put your own chocolates inside).

8. Save money on a trip to the city (or the beach)

Ditch the car and save money on train fares with a trip to the city or the seaside.

Train companies Southeastern, Chiltern Railways, London Northwestern and West Midlands Railway will allow up to four children (aged 5-15) to travel for just £1 on a single or return journey when joined by an adult during off-peak times.

For example, wefound an adult and two children could go from London to Margate and back on Southeastern services for under £30, with the children's tickets costing £2.

If you've got two adults going, see if you can save money with a railcard - the two together card costs £30 upfront but will save you a third on fares for a year.

Remember National Rai offers two entry tickets for the price of one at a huge number of attractions nationwide including Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and London Zoo when you buy a train ticket.

Check out our guide on the best seaside towns in the UK.

9. Take advantage of your local library

As well as borrowing physical books for free, most libraries allow you to borrow e-books and audiobooks.

Some even allow you to read digital magazines and newspapers from the comfort of your own home.

To find out what your local library offers visit your local council website and sign up for free

10. Explore the great outdoors

There are plenty of free parks you can visit up and down the country.Check out our guide on the best national parks in the UK.

Alternatively plan a walk the whole family can enjoy. Use our guide to find the best UK walks near you.

For those that want an adventure why not try geocaching? You just track co-ordinates on a smartphone app to find hidden boxes known as 'caches'. The National Trust has 10 places to try.

11. Seek out free local events

Your local council might be running free Easter holiday activities for kids.

For example, Manchester City Council will be running springtime craft sessions and free swimming during the holidays and Haringey Council will offer free Easter workshops for teens aged 11-16 in creative writing, drama and film.

Search your local council's name followed by 'half-term activities' to see what's going on in your area. If you can't find anything, look for your local council's website here.

12. Use leftover chocolate to bake

If you have leftover Easter chocolate then use it to do some baking.

Rice crispy cakes can be made in under 30 minutes from leftover ingredients in your cupboard.

If you want to see what else you can make using leftover ingredients then apps such as SuperCook and BigOven tell you what you can make, based on what you already have.