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Cheap and Free Things To Do This May Half Term

Vicky Parry 9th May 2024 No Comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Updated 9th May 2024

It’s coming up to half-term for UK schools, and with the weather being decent you may be looking for things to do that entertain, save money but not scrimp on fun. Aren’t you glad we’re here to suggest tons of things? 


Family dining in a restaurant

The school holidays can be an exciting time for many. Children are excited at the prospect time away from the confines of school and families can spend some quality time together. Some may even have a nice holiday booked or finally have the time to visit family who live far away. 

But the school holidays are not all sunshine and rainbows. For many, school holidays induce a sense of anxiety. Financial worry clouds the minds of many, as many household costs increase during this period. 

Time off school means many parents are spending more time at home with their children. This leads to increased energy use due to more electronics being used, food being cooked and the use of radiators as the days get chillier. Similarly, more food is being eaten at home, with the break not only on education but the provision of free school meals. Many people rely on these meals to feed their children one full, hot meal per day. 

Check out our EATING FOR £1 FEATURE to see where you can take your kids this half term for cheap. 



For older children, you could nab £10 theatre tickets for the National Theatre this half term with their 16-25 scheme. Your local theatres may also offer special discounts or there may even be free shows by your local theatre groups in half term, so take a look at your regional theatres to see if you could bag some cheap tickets.

Make sure you prepare for the summer, too, as Kids Week returns this summer. One free child ticket for a paying adult, and you can buy an additional two children’s tickets for half price, too. This is a summer offer that launches on 11th June 2024, with performances between 24th July and 6th September. We’re telling you now so you can put it in your diary to book ASAP as tickets will sell fast!

CINEMA for £2.49 

And there are also heaps of kid-friendly offerings from Vue, with both adult and child tickets from only £2.49 per ticket. Vue’s Mini Morning sessions give both adults and kids the chance to experience big screen entertainment for a very small price, and run every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10am, plus every day in the school holidays (with availability likely to change depending on when your child’s holidays occur).  

Picturehouse cinemas offer £3 kids tickets on Saturday mornings, while their family ticket for other showings saves a lot overall as adults pay a child’s fee, too! If you’re a frequent cinema goer, it’s also worth looking at investing in an annual membership. Picturehouse, for example, starts from £100 a year for an adult which includes ten ‘free’ tickets, access to £1-only screenings, and booking discounts plus more.


GO TO THE ZOO for only £3 

family fun

London Zoo offers £3 tickets for anyone currently receiving Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance.  

  • The £3 tickets are available for the whole family and under 3’s go free.  
  • Tickets can be purchased from the admissions kiosk on the day, from 11am, every day of the week.  
  • Just bring proof of benefit letter (electronic or paper). 
  • Check offer details at www.zsl.org/CAS

Here’s a list compiled by TripAdvisor on some of the best zoos and aquariums in the UK. 

 If you regularly go for days out to your local Sea Life, as well as want to participate in other adventures like LegoLand, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and more, it could be worth investing in a Merlin pass, which gives you unlimited access to tons of places across the UK for a year.


Most local museums are free to enter, donation required, or have a small entry fee that can be minimised with a family ticket. They are a great way to entertain the kids in the May half term, and you’ll often find your local museum runs free activities during the school holidays to help further your child’s education and get them engaged in history.

Outdoor museums are also a great way to make the most of May sunshine while exhausting the kids as you go around!

If you’re in or near London, free museums can each take a whole day to explore, filling your May half term week! The British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert museum are all free, as are the Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

Don’t fret if you’re not in London either – there are literally hundreds of free museums in the UK. The CBeebies website has a brilliant free museum finding tool.


Swimming pool ladder

Check your local authority for their free swimming lessons opportunities, as well as the pools in your area. Wandsworth Council, for example, offers free swimming lessons for 5-7 year olds during half term and kids under 8 can always swim for free at their pools.


Hundreds of thousands of children across England will continue to access free, nutritious food and engaging activities over the school holidays, as the government  confirmed last year that £200 million to fund the holiday activities and food programme throughout 2023 into 2024. 

These free holiday clubs run across England, supporting parents with childcare costs over the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays by providing free, nutritious meals and enriching activities, such as football, play sessions and cooking classes. New figures out today show that around 600,000 children benefited from the scheme over summer 2022 across over 8,000 clubs, events or organised activities in England. 

While the holiday clubs do not have to provide cover for the May half term, it is worth looking into your local authority and school options to find out if there are any free or subsidised holiday clubs or schemes.



Castle ruin

250 of the 400 sites run by English Heritage are free to visit. From remote stone circles to ruined abbeys, and Norman castles to Roman temples, you can explore thousands of years of history for absolutely nothing. 

The Neolithic Woodhenge is just over three miles from Stonehenge. Built around 2300BC, we know that six concentric rings of timber pillars once stood here, but no one is quite sure why. The timber posts may have supported a building, or they may have been painted and carved like totem poles. Today the holes where the timber would have been are marked with concrete blocks, but you can still get a sense of the size and atmosphere of this mysterious place. 

Intriguing and important moments in English history from the Roman period right up to the Cold War have left their mark on Dover Castle. It’s a fascinating site to visit. 

The beautiful gardens and woodlands at Wrest Park showcase three centuries of garden design influenced by French, Dutch, Italian and English styles. There are activity packs and audio trails for families as well as a play area by the cafe. 

The remains of Titchfield Abbey are impressive. After the Suppression of the Monasteries it was converted into a grand country house but you can still see some of the medieval remains. Look out for the elaborate chimneys. 

Netley Abbey is the most complete surviving Cistercian abbey in southern England. John Constable once came to paint here, and it’s rumoured to have inspired Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s been a popular place to visit since at least the 1840s, when some visitors complained that the abbey’s atmosphere was being spoilt by ‘the popping of ginger beer’! 

Bishop’s Waltham Palace was once the grand home of the wealthy Bishops of Winchester. A three storey tower still stands, as do the palace’s high walls and some of the windows of its great hall.

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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