With so many free activities for families spread throughout the United Kingdom, it’s easier than ever to have a great family weekend without even having to spend a penny. These activities are low on the budget but high on fun.
12. The National Football Museum, Manchester
Get a kick start to a good weekend with free admission to the National Football Museum. Known as the world’s largest and best football museum, the sports fans in your family will have a ball at this museum. Home to a Designated Collection, the National Football Museum houses the finest collection of football artefacts and archives in the world. See the smiles on your kid’s faces as they walk through the FIFA collection, seeing their favourite football teams come to life.
Where: Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG
11. Royal Shakespeare Company’s Second Saturdays, Stratford-upon-Avon
Combining two childhood favourites, storytelling and dress up, kids will adore Second Saturdays at the The Other Place in Susie’s Cafe Bar. Every second Saturday of the month, children are invited to make crafts, story blankets, listen to music, and dress up in traditional Shakespearean costumes. Reservations are not needed and drop ins are welcomed. This event takes place between 1 and 3pm and welcomes children of all ages.
Where: 22 Southern Ln, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BH
10. The Riverwatch Aquarium, Northern Ireland
Explore the eight different habitats represented at the Riverwatch Aquarium, an excellent destination for free family fun. Children can uncover the deep depths of the ocean and look for lobsters, crabs, starfish, and many other species. Have your family read up beforehand about river aquatic life and see which species the kids can spot.
Where: 22 Victoria Rd, Londonderry, BT47 2AB
9. Vauxhall City Farm, London
Take a break from the busy city and bring the family to Vauxhall City Farm, London’s very own free farm experience. Children will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals ranging from goats, to sheep, to alpacas. Visitors are also welcome to pet the farm cats that inhibit Vauxhall. Pack a family lunch and enjoy it at the ecology area, the perfect spot for a picnic.
Where: 165 Tyers Street, SE11 5HS
8. Tate Modern
A day trip to the Tate Modern is an activity that pleases both parents and kids. With free admission, excluding special exhibitions, there is something for everyone to love. Be sure to check the website for free kid-friendly workshops where little ones can play with clay or practice their drawing skills. Let your children unleash their inner artist in a museum of the greats.
Where: Bankside, London SE1 9TG
7. Edinburgh Potter Trail
Enjoy all the magic of Harry Potter without the cost of other museums. The Edinburgh Potter Trail is a free 90 minute walking tour around the Old Town where families are encouraged to bring their wands (and maybe even a broomstick!). Fans can see the enchanted locations that inspired J.K. Rowling’s characters and scenes in the series. The most magical part is that it’s completely free! Although you can place a few Galleons or Sickles donation into the Sorting Hat at the end if you’re so inclined.
Where: Edinburgh City Centre. The tour begins at Greyfriars Bobby at the junction of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge.
6. Owl Sanctuary Festival Park Ebbw Vale, South Wales
Open all year round, bring the kids to the Owl Sanctuary Festival Park Ebbw Vale where they can learn about all things owls and even hold one. Trained volunteers will teach your family about these incredible species and assist when holding an owl. Be sure to bring your camera and snap a picture with your family’s newest wide-eyed member.
Where: Festival Park, Victoria, Ebbw Vale, NP23 8FP
5. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London
Open 24/7 all year round, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of England’s free hidden gems. Previously housing the London 2012 Olympic and Games, the park has now become a top attraction. The kids will have endless fun in the Tumbling Bay Playground and the Pleasure Garden play areas. With sand pits, wobbly bridges, and swings, children will feel as though they are competing in their very own Olympic games. The park is also dog-friendly so the whole family can enjoy a day of outdoor fun.
Where: London, E20 2ST
4. WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Scotland
Run by Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) – the leading charity committed to the protection of whales and dolphins – the Scottish Dolphin Centre is Scotland’s top attraction for dolphin spotting. With free entry, children will have the opportunity to see bottlenose dolphins, ospreys, green and common seals, coastal birds, and sometimes even an otter. Families can enjoy guided walking tours or land-based dolphin watching.
The centre will be opening 8 February 2019. For opening times and days, visit the WDC website.
Where: WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Spey Bay, Moray, IV32 7PJ
3. Ulster Museum
Dinosaurs, mummies and polar bears… oh my! The Ulster Museum offers a wide variety of collections that includes something for everyone in your family. Kid favourites are the Edmontosaurus dinosaur skeleton and the Morpho butterflies collection. The museum also has outdoor picnic tables that are perfect for bringing a packed lunch.
Where: Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB
2. Natural History Museum, Tring and London
Nammed the best for Free Activities and Best for Learning categories in London at the 2018 Hoop Awards, the Natural History Museum is a city hot spot that may become your family’s next weekend routine. With so many galleries, hands-on activities, and exhibits to explore, the kids won’t want to leave. Be sure to check the website for special attractions.
Where: Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP and Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD
1. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
With over 100,000 plants to look at and 70 acres to explore, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is an outdoor experience like no other. Entry to the garden is free and includes stunning panoramic views of the city skyline showcasing the Edinburgh Castle. The botanical garden is home to many rare plants including the biggest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside of China. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is beautiful during any season making this a wonderful activity your family can enjoy seasonally.
Where: Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ