Which? is advising families facing cost of living pressures on how they can save money over the Easter holidays with these handy hacks for free, or cut-price, activities.
1. Enjoy a meal out with ‘kids eat free’ offers
When dining out as a family, it is worth checking if nearby restaurants offer discounts for children. Many restaurants and cafes run ‘kids eat free’ offers during the holidays. Which? found several popular chains offered discounts at certain times, including Yo! Sushi, The Real Greek and Morrisons Cafe.
2. Visit a theme park for less
Check the prices at attractions in advance, to save. For example, Which? found an adult day pass bought on the day at Alton Towers costs £62, but only £34 when bought in advance – a 45% saving.
Shoppers can also save money on days out at theme parks and attractions up and down the country when purchasing groceries at the supermarket. Which? found that some Carex handwashes have vouchers for half-price entry for Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Sea Life Centres and Sanctuaries valid until May 31 2022. Meanwhile, selected Kellogg’s cereal packs and snacks offer ‘adults go free’ vouchers for Merlin attractions valid until June 2022.
Tesco Clubcard holders can convert points into Tesco Reward Partners Vouchers, which can be used for as much as three times the saving at theme parks, wildlife parks and more.
3. Learn something new at a free gallery or museum
Many UK national galleries and museums are free to enter and are an easy way to entertain the family for a day out. Which? members highly rated: St. Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, Beamish: The Living Museum of the North in County Durham, National Railway Museum in York, Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, Shropshire and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Just remember they may need visitors to book a free ticket before arrival.
4. Burn off the Easter chocolate with some sport
There are many free sporting activities available up and down the country during the holidays. It’s worth checking local council websites for opportunities, some offer free swimming lessons for children, for example. Alternatively, Parkruns are free weekly events, held every weekend in hundreds of locations around the UK. There are 5k events on Saturday mornings, and junior runs for children on Sundays. Tennis for Free also offers free tennis sessions for all ages in public parks around the country.
5. Watch the latest movies at a discount
Some cinema chains offer discounts for family films at certain times, usually in the morning. Odeon’s ‘Odeon Kids’, Picturehouse’s ‘Kid’s Club’, and Vue’s ‘Mini Mornings’ all offer discounts for both adults and children. For example, Vue ‘Mini Morning’ tickets cost £2.49 or £2.99 if you buy online (£3.49/£3.99 at the venue).
Film fans can also get cinema discounts with dining cards Gourmet Society and Tastecard. Both offer up to 40% off some cinema chains and currently offer 90-day free trials.
Anyone who buys a policy through the price comparison website Compare the Market will get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on a Tuesday or Wednesday for a year – those who may have bought a policy recently should check if this offer is available to them.
It is also worth checking if your phone provider offers cinema discounts. O2 customers have access to O2 Priority and can often claim free Odeon tickets to use on Sundays and Mondays. Three Mobile customers can claim £3 adult cinema tickets for Cineworld or Picturehouse using the Three+rewards app and Vodafone customers can get two adult tickets for £7 at most Vue cinemas to use each week, using the My Vodafone app.
6. Catch a theatre show for less
Although usually an expensive outing, it is possible to bag cheaper theatre tickets. Local theatres often host touring West End productions for a fraction of the cost of London shows. Which? found tickets for The Book of Mormon in Leeds Grand Theatre starting at £15, while prices begin at £40 in London on the same date.
Most theatres offer cheaper tickets for under 30s. For example, the National Theatre offers £5 tickets if you’re under 18, and £10 tickets if you’re under 26.
Every Monday at noon, a number of tickets for Disney shows (The Lion King/Frozen) are available for £25 through DisneyTickets and some shows, including Hamilton, run daily lotteries to enter, with winners able to purchase tickets for between £10-£35 for a performance that week.
Apps such as TodayTix can save visitors up to 66% on certain shows. Which? found tickets for Roald Dahl’s Matilda on Thursday 7 April for £25.
Often, seats at the back of the theatre cost less, but it is worth checking if the view is obstructed. Seatplan allows visitors to check out the view before purchasing tickets.
7. Take the train to save on days out
Some train companies offer cheap train travel for children travelling with an adult. For example, Southeastern, Chiltern Railways, London Northwestern and West Midlands Railway will allow up to four children (aged 5-15) to travel for £1 on a single or return journey when joined by an adult in off-peak times. Which? found 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 two adults are travelling, they could save money with a railcard – the two together card costs £30 upfront but also saves a third on rail fares for a year.
National Rail also offers 2 for 1 tickets at a range of attractions nationwide including Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and London Zoo when purchased with a train ticket.
8. Take advantage of local libraries
As well as borrowing physical books for free, most libraries allow users to borrow e-books and audiobooks. Some can also grant access to digital magazines and newspapers. Check local library offers via on the local council website and sign up for free.
9. Explore the great outdoors
Take advantage of the free parks up and down the country. Check out Which?’s guide on the best national parks in the UK. Alternatively, plan a walk using Which?’s guide to the best UK walks. Those in search of adventure could try geocaching tracking co-ordinates on a smartphone app to find hidden boxes known as ‘caches’. The National Trust has 10 places to try.
10. Seek out free local events
Many local councils offer free events during school holidays, so it is worth checking their websites. Search the local council’s name followed by ‘half-term activities’ to see what’s going on in that area. It is always worth checking out the local council’s website. For example, Which? saw that Manchester City Council will be running springtime craft sessions and Haringey Council in London will offer free Easter workshops for teens aged 11-16 in creative writing, drama and film.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Home Products and Services Editor, said:
“With the rising cost of living taking its toll on household finances, millions of families are looking to cut down on their spending. However, there are plenty of fun, cheap and free activities you can do during the Easter holidays that don’t need to break the bank.
“Theme parks offer discounted entry if you book in advance, and there are plenty of deals on offer ahead of the Easter holidays. Many cinemas and theatres also offer discounts for children. It is worth checking if your local council is running free events or workshops, while parks and museums are free to enjoy at your leisure.”
Notes to editors:
- Over the coming months, Which? will be highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis. The series will cover a range of topics, from how to save money on household bills, to childcare and travel.
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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