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10 ways to entertain your kids for free
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Keeping the kids entertained can cost a small fortune. But it doesn't have to. With a little planning you can line up a host of free treats, from cinema tickets to days out, and football sessions to swimming.
1. Free cinema tickets
We all know a family trip to the cinema can leave you with little change from £50. Well, with a little know-how you need never fork out for tickets again. Keep an eye out and you can even wangle free popcorn and drinks as well.
If you've got a Cineworld near you, you're in luck. Just £4 in Tesco Clubcard vouchers will get you a free adult ticket and £2.50 a child ticket. You can also collect 'Coinks' points - which are on the packets of a variety of household goods, from McVitie's biscuits to Blue Nun wine - and points from packs of Andrex toilet tissue. Mix and match all three and you'll soon have enough to take the whole family gratis. If you're a Nectar cardholder, then you just turn up at your nearest Vue cinema and exchange your points for tickets.
If you're a Sky customer, sign in to it its Rewards online and grab free tickets to films, weeks before they even go on general release. You have to be quick, as tickets go super-fast as you'd expect, so keep checking the site.
2. Free days out
As well as Tesco Clubcard, which offers free tickets to all sorts of family attractions, a little less well known for this is Avios (formerly Airmiles). You don't have to just swap your points for flights, it's also a good place for free days out. From Legoland to Alton Towers, The Aquarium to The Dungeons, there are plenty of options.
Shop around too. If you have Tesco Clubcard points it sometimes pays to convert them to Avios and then spend them on days out with them.
And read the small print when it comes to attractions that offer 'pay once, visit all year' tickets. Some attractions will only let you visit for the day; if you want an annual pass you'll need to stump up real cash, but plenty will keep letting you in for a whole year, so spend your points wisely.
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3. Free swimming vouchers
The government's decision to cut costs and axe free swims for under 16s was a blow, but fortunately there are ways around it. There's a 'free kids swim' voucher on every packet of Kellogg's cereal that is valid until the end of this year.
In addition, quite a number of councils still offer free swimming for kids. Among them are Leicester City Council, Neath Port Talbot, Wiltshire and Liverpool, the latter offering free swimming, badminton and squash for under-17s. So check with your local pool.
4. Family membership to English Heritage
Annual membership gives free entry for up to six kids under the age of 19. It's a cost effective way to visit the 400-plus castles, ruins and stately homes across the country that are run by English Heritage. There are also plenty of free activities and shows for children during the school holidays and at weekends to keep them entertained.
With National Trust and Historic Royal Palaces, which owns The Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, children under five get in free whether you're a member or a day-tripper. Even better is Kensington Palace which now offers free entry for anyone under 16.
5. Try out martial arts, football and dance classes
It's no good forking out for a term's lessons if you find out that your little princess has two left feet, or Junior is scared of a ball. Take advantage of free try-outs to see whether the class suits them. Most classes offer the first session free.
For budding footballers, take advantage of the free taster courses run by the Football Association in conjunction with Tesco. The FA Tesco Skills coaches run regular daily sessions around the country for boys and girls aged five to 11 during the summer, Easter and half-term holidays.
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6. Visit our top museums
Don't forget that the Imperial War Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum in London are all free for everyone. As is the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Museum of Scotland and plenty more top museums in cities throughout the UK.
But don't stop at museums, many other attractions also offer free access for kids, like HMS Belfast where under-16s go free.
7. Take advantage of free trials
With things like Muzzy, the BBC's language learning course, you get a decent time to trial the course and then keep it if you like it (for a fee, of course) or send it back if you don't. Even if it isn't for you, it will have kept the kids occupied for a few hours and you never know, they may have picked up the odd word of French, Spanish, German or Cantonese along the way.
Image © Getty Images
8. Get free kids' meals
Many restaurants run 'kids eat free' deals when dining with an adult. You often have to check the bill though and ask for the kid's meal to be taken off. But don't be shy, make sure you get the deal that lured you into the restaurant in the first place.
9. Make use of free holiday activities laid out by libraries, museums and children's centres
From story-telling sessions to clay modelling, there is an array of free activities to keep the kids amused. Check netmums.com and your local library for details.
10. Make a week of it
When you have kids of school age you can't help but get hammered by the massively overinflated prices during school holidays, but many firms are helping holidaymakers out in these fiscally challenging times with free kids' places on flights and in hotels.
As well as Disneyland Paris, which is offering free entry and hotel stays for kids under 7 as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, pretty much all the major travel companies offer free places for one, or sometimes two kids, travelling with a full-paying adult. Shop around, book early and you can get yourself a real deal.
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Now how pathetic is this?????? 10 ways to entertain your kids for free???? read again and tell me which activities are free?????
lets take the kids to the museum and as adults/parents lets all wait outside while the kids get in for free!!!!! its not free if you have to exchange money in some capacity!!!! why not rephrase the heading to......................10 things parents can pay for and children could possibly benifit for free!!! the air we breathe is just about free, everything else in life costs.........why waste time putting together nonsense???
Take them to the park, feed the ducks, a walk down by the Thames, chalks on the patio, library and of course good old TV. Works for me admittedly my kids are under 5 but all kids LOVE a picnic at the park! Happy Holidays Guys
just spent the day planting veg and flowers with the kids, tomorrow off to a quiet beach with the camping stove, lifes what you make it. happy easter all
thanks for the ideas , many of us appreciate knowing where these places are , and the advice you gave was free we didnt have to ring up an operator to get it, x
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