Free Things To Do In Summer Holidays: Days Out With Children

The big dilemma of the summer holidays is wanting to take your children out to entertain them, yet not wanting to have to spend a fortune every time you do.

Luckily for you, there are tonnes of events up and down the country to occupy children throughout the six weeks off school - and loads of them are free.

We've done a round-up of 16 events happening your kids will love. If you know of any more, please comment below!

1. Family Fun Day

Where: Reading

When: 26 July, 11am-5pm

If you're in the south of England near Reading, there is an annual family fun day at Prospect Park in Liebenrood Road, Tilehurst. There will plenty of stalls to walk around, games for children and all money raised is going to the British Heart Foundation in its fight against heart and circulatory disease.

Attractions include bouncy castles, face painting, trade stalls, BBQ and ferret racing. And who doesn't love a spot of ferret racing?

2. Sculpture Trail And Fairy Door Hunt

Where: Cardiff

When: Ongoing

The sculpture trail in the woods behind Castell Coch just outside Cardiff is not only good exercise but intriguing for both kids and adults.

Make your own checklist of nature things for the children to tick off. Have a look at the 'fairy doors' people claim to see on the trees, too. The walk is around three miles - not too strenuous but long enough to stop for a picnic. For more information, visit Cardiff Walks.

3. Make it Monday

Where: Liverpool

When: Open: 27 July, 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 August from 1-4pm

Head to the Walker Art Gallery on William Brown Street to get crafty with your children. Specifically for you and your children in the summer holidays, you can sit make and take home your own works of art. It's a free, drop-in event so you don't even need to book and you can stay as long as you like during the three hours.

4. Archikids Festival

Where: London

When: 25-25 July

Archikids is a family festival of architecture. It is an annual weekend programme of free architectural activities located in the City of London’s Square Mile. The festival encourages young people to discover the London’s buildings and architecture through the programmed activities. To find out the programme of events for the weekend, click here.

Kids have the chance to build geodesic domes on the top-floor viewing platform of The Gherkin, a lesson in gooey jelly skyscrapers, an eco trail in 6 Bevis Marks's roof garden and scooter trails to help speedy explorers.

5. Cardiff Bay Beach

Where: Road Dahl Plass, Cardiff

When: 25 July - 7 September

Throughout the summer, the bay in Cardiff is going to be transformed into an "urban beach" with sand, water play and live entertainment so you will feel like you're on holiday. If we're lucky enough to have some hot summer days, head to the bay for a chance to relax while your children can be entertained.

There will be a giant paddling pool, traditional seaside rides and activities for the whole family.

6. Robin Hood Festival

Where: Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

When: 3-9 August

Throughout the week, the Robin Hood Festival will host daily activities of archery, medieval music and jousting. There will be strolling players, costumed characters and medieval stalls as you move around the forest to make it that bit more exciting.

On the Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday there will be falconry displays. Check the website nearer the time for a full programme of events.

7. National Marine Week

Where: Nationwide

When: 25 July - 9 August

The UK’s Wildlife Trusts are running free seaside strolls and rock-pool rambles around the coast to celebrate National Marine Week. All around the coasts, Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers will be sharing their knowledge on everything from minke whales or molluscs, to velvet swimming crabs or strawberry anemones.

For a full list of events up and down the country, have a look at the event schedule.

8. Watch the British Firework Championships

Where: Plymouth

When: 18-19 August

Fireworks aren't only for November! At the championships six top pyrotechnics companies will be setting off four tonnes of fireworks over Plymouth Sound. The final showdown will be on the 19th and the Royal Air Force’s world-famous aerobatics team, The Red Arrows, will take to the skies for an exciting air display. For timings and further details, check the Visit Plymouth website nearer the time.

9. Attend a Free West End Show

Where: London

When: 1-31 August

As part of Kids Week during the summer holidays, children aged 16 and under can go free to any participating West End show (such as The Gruffalo) when accompanied by a full-paying adult. Shows include The Three Little Pigs, Adventures in Wonderland and The Lion King and are on throughout August. For a full list of all shows, visit the listings page.

10. Open-Air Theatre

Where: The Scoop, London

When: Wednesdays to Sundays, 5-30 August

Watch a Roman comedy show "Captain Show-Off" on the banks of the river Thames for free outside throughout August. Pick a sunny day and give your children a little bit of (unexpected) education of the Roman era.

11. Eastbourne Extreme Sports

Where: Eastbourne seafront, East Sussex

When: From 11am on 18-19 July

If you've got older children who like a bit of adventure, head down to the seafront in Sussex to watch and take party in sports such as roller derby, BMX and windsurfing. The variety of attractions include bike displays, kite surfing, live entertainment acts and pole performances - basically every sport across land, sea and air. For a full list of what's going on throughout the weekend, visit the attractions page.

12. Chinatown Family Day

Where: London

When: 19 July

Take a trip to London to not only eat delicious Chinese food in the infamous Chinatown, but see a lion dance, listen to traditional Chinese singers, watch ribbon dancers and join a treasure hunt! The all-day family event has performances from 12-5pm including traditional Japanese drumming, family magic shows, martial arts performances and an Indonesian orchestra. There are tonnes of activities to get involved in, including calligraphy, mask making and origami lessons.

13. Dunstable Kite Festival

Where: Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

When: 25-26 July

Kids are fascinated by kites. And even if you aren't that excited by them, the two-day festival is an impressive display from professional kite teams. Held in a National Trust estate, there will be synchronised shows among the usual activities of craft stalls, bouncy castles, kite stalls and refreshments.

14. Dig The City

Where: Manchester

When: 31 July – 6 August

This gardening festival includes treasure hunts, barefoot walks and visits from a CBeebies favourite "Mr Bloom". The week-long festival has flower exhibitions, discos, special guests and wildlife walks - all for free. Enjoy horticultural stalls and flower talks to pimp out your house, and let the kids get involved in craft activities and games. For a full listing of the events going on throughout the week, visit the website.

15. World Snail Racing Championships

Where: Norfolk

When: 19 July

Now this is something slightly more obscure but definitely one that will pique interest from children. Held in King's Lynn, garden will be pitted against each other in a battle to the finish line… 13 inches away. The world record is currently held by Archie the snail who took on the course in 1995 and smashed it in two minutes. Bring a snail along, and enjoy the race and family event. Full details are here.

16. Animation Workshop With Fantastic Mr Fox Animator Tim Allen

Where: Mac, Birmingham

When: 2 August from 11am

Special guest Tim Allen (that guy behind Fantastic Mr Fox) will be leading a fox model-making workshop with aspiring young animators aged six and above.

They’ll then get a chance to make their own short animation with the use of stop-motion software as well as find out all about one of their favourite cartoons. For full details of the event, head to the MAC website.

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