The Easter holidays are well underway and for parents with young children it can be an expensive time.
I know first-hand the temptation to simply pay for entertainment. It’s not just the fear of boredom, there’s a lot of pressure on parents to make the holidays magical. But the good news is that there are dozens of magical events and days out, all free or at a very low cost. You just have to know where to look.
And if you don’t know – we do. Here are some wonderful cheap and free things to do this Easter.
Gruffalo Trails and Events
It’s the 15th anniversary of the famous children’s story The Gruffalo, and the Forestry Commission is celebrating. Woods across the country have created Gruffalo activity trails, suitable for ages two to six.
To walk the trail, you’ll need to buy a guide for about £2, but if you take a picnic then that’s a pretty cheap day out for the whole family.
Later in the year, there will be giant Gruffalo sculptures and a themed picnic – check out the Forestry Commission website for more information and to find your nearest trail.
Have you read the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾? It’s a fabulous childhood ‘bucket list’ of things to do before you reach your teens, including climbing a tree, making a daisy chain and setting up a snail race.
Why not print off the poster and challenge your kids to see how many of these things they can check off this Easter?
Some of the challenges will cost money, like canoeing down a river or learning to ride a horse, so don’t feel pressured to complete all of them straight away. But most can be achieved simply by getting outdoors and doing it.
You should also check out the Woodland Trust’s website for local woodland activities, walks and educational opportunities in your nearest forest.
Finally on the outdoors front, if your children are anything like mine then the simple novelty of eating outdoors will be an adventure. If lunchtime is starting to feel like a chore then pack up their sandwiches and head for a park or even just the garden.
It may only fill an hour, but it’ll be a good hour – and then you don’t have to feel too bad if they watch a bit of telly later that day.
Do some DIY
This Easter, why not encourage your kids in the noble art of DIY? B&Q is hosting special weekends’ kid workshops, where children learn how to make something entirely from scratch.
It’s for ages seven to 11, and all materials are provided. Workshops include making a bird apple feeder and a mug tree.
You can find a class near you via the B&Q website and they cost £5 a child, including all materials.
Go to a garden centre
Garden centres have seriously stepped up their game in recent years. They have garden and home sections, cafes, food halls; sometimes even play areas and clothing.
They all have to compete with each other to attract business, and many are laying on free activities during the holidays. One near me has a display of eggs hatching for children to enjoy, as well as egg hunts, while another is offering arts and crafts activities ‘while mum and dad shop’.
Well, if you do end up spending a fortune in the shop then this isn’t a cheap activity! But if you can resist or limit your spending, then these can be really fun days out.
It’s definitely worth looking at the websites or Facebook pages of your local garden centres to see if they’ve laid anything on.
Easter egg hunts
It wouldn’t be Easter without taking part in an Easter egg hunt. Check out your local council’s website to see if it is laying on any activities in your local park. If there isn’t a hunt being provided then check out the Cadbury Easter Egg trails at various National Trust properties throughout the UK.
These trails are free, although you’ll have to pay parking or whatever entrance fee applies to the location. Complete the trail and you’ll receive a prize, as well as having an enjoyable day out.
The obvious stuff
You know all the really obvious free stuff? The museums, the art galleries, the library? It hardly needs saying, but they are all worth a visit, even if you’ve been before.
Many will have extra activities laid on for the Easter break but even if they don’t, they are exciting places to take the family.
We visited the Museum of Science and Industry three weekends in a row earlier this year – when there’s so much to see it never gets boring.
If you’re not sure what’s available near you then check out the DoFreeStuff website to find local free attractions near you.
Have you had any cheap but great days out so far this Easter? Share your recommendations with other readers using the comments below.