Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Family Activities for Whole 2013
It has been calculated that the cost of raising a child to the age of 21 is a staggering £200,000. With this in mind, the benefits of identifying money saving tips for your family activities are clear. Family days out can be notoriously expensive, so here are a selection of month by month tips to help you cut the cost of any family excursions which you can mark down in our free wall calendar for 2013, to download and print calendar on your home printer CLICK HERE (A4 size, PDF file format).
Looking for something to entertain the kids during the cold weather?
Why not take them to a local museum or gallery. There are over 170 free museums and galleries in the UK, many of which have special sections for children. Free museums vary from the large institutions such as the British Museum to the more specialised Greater Manchester Police Museum and Archives, or the National Wool Museum in Wales.
Take a look at full list of all free museums and galleries in the UK.
Of course, on days out, those little extras can soon add up, so remember to take a packed lunch and snacks with you.
There are also a number of traditional wassailing events to attend such as the Pentacle Drummers Annual Wassail in East Sussex and the Bracknell Wassail
In February, half term hits and it can be a real struggle to keep the kids occupied on a budget.
For sporty kids, there are a number of free sports activities available. Tennis For Free provides free tennis coaching in parks and on public courts across the United Kingdom. Just visit their website to register for your free session.
Alternatively for water babes, The Big Splash campaign offers 2 for 1 vouchers and 'bring your family for free' days at swimming pools across the UK. Again, just enter your postcode on their website and see what is available locally.
In addition to national offers, many local councils run free sports activities for under 18s over half term. Examples include Community Cricket sessions in London and free 5 a side football tournaments in Newcastle. Many councils even offer less mainstream activities such as break dancing and skateboard lessons. Leaflets will be available in local libraries or to download from their websites.
If you have a family who are interested in the arts, there are a number of different cheap days out you can find.
Try registering with companies such as Show Film First or Disney Screenings to be in with a chance of accessing free previews for films. Even if you cannot get free tickets, most cinemas offer special discounts such as Odeon's 'adults go free' with kid's tickets at the weekend, or Cineworld's £1 tickets on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
If your family prefer stage shows, look out for matinees or special preview shows.
If you are travelling to the capital, then try the Get Into London Theatre website to access cheap tickets, or for older children try the Royal Opera House student standby £10 tickets.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can get free arts tickets to family events and theatre or music gigs as part of the Test the Arts programme. Tickets become available three weeks before the shows and must be booked 7 days before the actual performance you wish to see.
As the Easter holidays begin, one of the most popular days out for families tends to be a trip to the theme park. However, these outings can be expensive. Still, there are a number of ways to halve the cost.
If you are going by train and have a National Rail ticket, you can get 2 for 1 tickets at Thorpe Park, Drayton Manor and Legoland Windsor. They also offer 2 for 1's on trips to zoos such as those based in Chessington and the Isle of Wight.
Alternatively, if you have a Tesco Clubcard, save up your vouchers to get a 75% discount on the cost of tickets. Clubcard points can be used to purchase tickets for Alton Towers, Camelot, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Drayton Manor.
For younger children, there are plenty of free ways to occupy their time such as having an Easter Egg hunt in a local park. Or if you have a GPS device, try Geocaching - which is a real life treasure hunt. To start the ball rolling simply register on the Geocaching website, put the co-ordiantes of your local site in your GPS and off you go!
As the weather warms up, it's nice to travel a little further afield for a day out. There are plenty of ways you can cut the cost of travel for family days out or even holidays.
If you are interested in a cheap trip abroad with the family, then take a look at the Megabus website. They often sell tickets to cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris for as little as a £1. Unsurprisingly, however, they do sell out quickly - so get in fast.
For travel closer to home, National Express offer £10 tickets for groups of 4 or more on all routes as long as you book up to three days in advance. Alternatively, invest in a Friends and Family Railcard which costs £28 a year but will allow you to cut a third off all off peak travel.
For an unusual free day out, May is also the month of the World Custard Pie Championship in Kent.
As the summer really starts to get going, many people's thoughts turn to festivals. The UK has a thriving free festival scene, many of which are family friendly. Examples include:
Clarence Park Music Festival in Wakefield
Rox Carnival in Bognor Regis
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
South Tyneside Summer Festival
Leicester Caribbean Carnival
Leamington Latin Festival
June also sees the start of the Sky Ride series of cycling events which are run nationwide. During the Sky Ride, city roads are closed down to allow people to cycle on a traffic free route around the city. Full details can be found on the Sky Ride website.
One of the most fun packed free days out in June is the Knaresborough Bed Race in Yorkshire in which 90 teams race beds round the town in front of thousands of spectators.
In July, with children breaking up from school for the 6 week holiday, a large number of free events are put on.
The month starts with the opening of the Watch This Space Festival in London which is the annual 2 month outdoor festival from the National Theatre.
For an educational day out, the first weekend in July is the 999 weekend in Eastbourne which is the largest display in the UK of the work of the emergency services. It includes demonstrations with police dogs, mock road crash scenes and displays from the Coast Guard's fixed wing aeroplane.
For families who are interested in history, July sees the Tewkesbury Mediaeval Festival which is the largest free medieval event in the whole of Europe. It includes re-enactments, archery competitions and falconry displays.
In fact, for history buffs, there are re-enactments that happen across the country most weekends of the year and details of these can generally be found online or by contacting your local historical re-enactment society.
August is the month when most people want to take some sort of holiday - and by far the cheapest way to get away for a couple of weeks is to go camping. This can cost as little as five pounds a night.
However, if you don't quite fancy sleeping outside, then another good budget option is to stay at a youth hostel. Youth hostels provide clean but basic accommodation across the country. To stay at a youth hostel, you will have to register with the Youth Hostelling Association but this only costs few pounds for a year's membership.
The bank holiday at the end of August offers a wealth of different free events for families from the Notting Hill Carnival in London, the Thong Rangers Family Fun Day Extravaganza in Didcot, the World Gravy Wrestling Championship in Stacksteads and the Bexhill 100 Classic and Custom Car Show.
In September, for families who are into their music, one of the great events of the year is the Last Night of the Proms. This is broadcast live into London's Hyde Park from 5.30 in the evening. Over 40,000 people attend and there are plenty of food and drink stalls (catering for all tastes) which help make for an exceptional atmosphere.
A slightly different musical offering can be found at the Acoustic Gathering in Scarborough which runs from midday and features over 32 community acts.
Yet another is the Klezmer festival which celebrates traditional Jewish music and encourages the audience to participate in song and dance.
As the nights draw in, things take a spooky turn with many free events taking on a supernatural theme for Halloween.
In Brighton, there is the Beach of the Dead Zombie Walk where participants come dressed to possess for a ghoulish parade.
While over in Kent, the festivities last for a whole week with Freak Week at Hop Farm.
In Liverpool, the celebrations take the form of the Lantern Carnival on Aigburth boating lake where over 150 performers and ghosts of all shapes and sizes form a parade as well as dramatic light projections.
Not to be outdone, Sheffield Fright Night is the largest Halloween party in Britain which attracts up to 40,000 people with its street theatre, food stalls and telling of ghostly tales.
It's also worth keeping an eye on the National Trust website as they often run many free Halloween themed events.
In November, the focus is all on bonfire displays at the beginning of the month. Bonfires can be found all over the country and most organised ones are detailed on local council websites.
Notable free bonfire events include the Lewes bonfire which is the biggest of the Sussex bonfires, the Ottery St Mary Tar Barrel Rolling which sees flaming tar barrels carried through the streets, the Glastonbury Illuminated Carnival which is a three hour celebration known locally as the Mardi Gras of the Mendips, and the Manchester fireworks event in Albert Square which also offers free music.
If you would prefer something inside, why not take your family to a recording of a TV show? The tickets are free and available on a first come first served basis. You will need to contact the Be in the audience of BBC, Be on ITV or Take part in Channel 4, all of whom have a section on their website explaining how to go about getting tickets.
December starts off with the opening of many Christmas markets across the country which the whole family can enjoy. Popular markets include the Manchester German Market which is free to visit and the Rainham Village Victorian Christmas Fayre.
A popular festive event in Brighton, suitable for all the family, is the Santa Dash which sees hundreds of Santas racing along the seafront to Hove and back all in aid of charity.
Brighton also hosts the Burning of the Clocks event to mark the winter solstice. This is a very popular event attended by over 20,000 people.
As the year ends, there are still plenty of free events of families with most cities having free firework displays or carnivals on New Year's Eve.
If you fancy a healthy end to 2013, you could always try the Nos Galan races in South Wales which is a 5 km race around the town for adults and children alike. As a bonus each year, a famous mystery sports personality also takes part.
Here we have covered just some of the free and cheap family days out that are available in the UK. To find out about more, look for information in local council buildings or libraries. Most free events will be listed online if you search for events in your local area.
With a little bit of organisation, you should be able to find a free activity to take your family on every weekend of the year - and the sheer variety of these events should mean you won't have to hear that dreaded phrase 'I'm bored' all throughout the school holidays!