Welcome to Broke in Bristol – the blog that helps you save money, make money and live life to the full on a budget. This is our summer holiday special and we’ve got 25 free and cheap things for you to do with the kids this summer.
Do you struggle to entertain the kids over the six-week summer holidays, or have you learnt every trick in the book? Please feel free to share your comments and tips on our Facebook page. Enjoy the summer!
1. The Gromits are back!
From Monday 25 July, Gromit fans will get to see 18 of their favourite Gromits one more time until 4 September in this free exhibition (a donation of £2 is recommended). The exhibition will be at the Gromit Unleashed shop in Cribbs Causeway from 9.30-9pm Monday to Friday, 9-8pm on Saturday and 10.30am-5pm on Sunday throughout the school holidays.
2. Try football for free.
There are a few free holiday taster sessions at football clubs in Yatton, High Littlefield Recreation Ground and Westfield FC. You may need to move quickly though as these free FA skills sessions will fill up quickly.
3. Take a cheap trip to the seaside.
During the summer you can pick up half-price unlimited wristbands at the Grand Pier on Friday nights, costing £7.50 instead of £15. There’s also live music, a BBQ and the bar opens late – happy days! Get over to Weston-super-Mare a bit earlier in the day and check out the Water Adventure Play Park for a small fee of £2 per child during the holidays.
4. Free childcare!
Yes I kid you not – have you checked out the four free adventure playgrounds in Bristol yet? If your children are eight and over, you can register them and leave them in the capable hands of the play workers. Little Miss Diva loves the Felix Road Adventure Playground in Easton, but there’s also free play at Lockleaze Adventure Playground, Saint Paul's Adventure Playground and Southmead Adventure Playground. Top tip – send them with a friend or sibling. Younger children from aged 5 can join in too, but must be supervised by an adult.
5. Get arty.
To keep them busy on rainy days, order your free Mister Maker craft box – perfect for kids aged 3-6. Your first box is free and you have 7 days to cancel after your box has been dispatched or you will be charged £6.93 every two weeks. In the box you’ll find all the materials you need, picture-led instructions, a fun activity book, stickers to collect and certificates and badges for Mini Makers.
6. Dance in the fountains!
If it’s really hot, take them to Millennium Square and let them cool down in the water fountain. Keep an eye on Big Screen Bristol for what’s on this summer. From August 6 you can get the kids engaged in the Olympics, where they can not only watch the games, but they can also participate in some of the sports!
7. Pretend it’s winter.
If the heat becomes too much, why don’t you cool down and go Tobogganing at Mendip Snowsport Centre? Groupon has a deal where you can take a child for just £3.95 per child, or pay £5.50 per child and get lunch thrown in too!
8. Get on yer bike.
If you've got bikes at home, take the little ones on a bike ride. Cycle down the Bristol & Bath Railway Path to Warmley, where kids will be fascinated with the Doctor Who style Tardis toilet. Take a break and stop at the café for coffee and a cake. While you’re there you could visit the Kingswood Heritage Museum in Warmley, which is free for under 12s and costs £3 for adults.
9. Spend the day at one of Bristol’s farms.
All of Bristol’s community farms have something free or cheap happening during the school holidays. Check out Windmill Hill City Farm, St Werburghs, Lawrence Weston Community Farm, Hartcliffe Farm and Old Down Country Farm to see what’s going on near you.
10. A trip to London for two for less than £35?
That’s right, this summer you pay £16 for an adult and £3 for a child on South West Trains for an off-peak day return to anywhere on its network. I’ll be taking Little Miss Diva to the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery (both free entry) and we’ll be having a buffet lunch at Pizza Hut in the Strand. This unlimited buffet costs £7.95 for adults and £4.49 per child. You can also swap £2.50 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers for one ticket for the Coca-Cola London Eye.
11. Take a cheap train ride to Bath.
Enjoy all the free things that our neighbouring city has to offer. Victoria Park is always a firm favourite with the kids and you could join a free walking guide tour, visit the Victoria Art Gallery and the Holburne Museum while you’re there.
12. Check out the Bristol Energy Hub.
This is located in the centre of town on the Harbourside, a couple of doors down from The Watershed and the Tourist Information Centre. In the Hub’s events space, you can enjoy free, family-friendly activities throughout the summer. Just keep an eye on its website for further details.
13. Pop along to Portishead.
Spend a sunny afternoon at Portishead Lake Grounds. As well as the lake, there is a children's playground, tennis courts and bowls and, during the summer, rowing boats are available for hire. Portishead Open Air Pool is open during the summer months with prices starting from just £3.50 for the kids.
14. Check out Clevedon Pier.
There is loads going on over the summer months including the Somerset Fringe Festival and Summer Holiday Family Fun. Entry to the Pier starts from just £2 for children.
15. Terrific Tuesdays.
The team at the New Room will be organising Colour and Craft fun every Tuesday during the summer holidays. Terrific Tuesdays will be free drop in sessions running from 10am - 3pm. The first session will take place on Tuesday 26th July and the last one will be on Tuesday 30th August. Activities will include flag making, clay modelling and mug decoration.
16. Rainy days.
We’re bound to have at least a couple of rainy days during the school holidays, which are perfect for the odd lazy day. I’ll be signing up for a free subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Now TV so that I can keep Little Miss Diva occupied. A great excuse to stay in your PJs, eat pizza and scoff on popcorn in the middle of the day!
17. Take a picnic to your local park.
Our local is the lovely Victoria Park but for a change of scenery we may check out Ashton Court, Leigh Woods or Hengrove Park. Bristol is blessed with some beautiful outdoor spaces and Blaise Castle and Oldbury Court Estate are also lovely places to chill out for the day.
18. Cheap cinema deals.
Swap your Nectar or Clubcard vouchers this summer for a free trip to the cinema to see one of the latest releases. Or save your points and take the kids to the cinema for a morning showing of Kung Fu Panda 3 or Zootropolis at Vue in Cribbs Causeway for £1.99. Odeon in Bristol also shows kids films for £1.50 every morning during the school holidays, keep an eye on the Odeon website for further details.
19. Hang out with the animals.
Groupon is currently offering an evening of Summer Sundowns at Wild Place Project in Bristol for £2.50 and Sunset Specials at Bristol Zoo for a fiver on selected dates.
20. Go rock climbing.
If you really want to break a sweat, go rock climbing! Groupon’s deal means that one adult and one child can go climbing for a total cost of £9.95 at Undercover Rock!
21. Visit Bristol’s museums and art galleries.
Most of Bristol's museums and art galleries are free, but it’s nice to give a small donation if you can, to ensure they can cover their running costs. The M Shed’s Story of Children’s Television runs until 25 September and it’s also worth keeping an eye out for what’s going on at the Watershed and the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
22. Make a sky high trip.
Not for the faint-hearted, but you can take a walk along the Clifton Suspension Bridge and pop into the Visitor Centre in Leigh Woods. Entry is free and it's open from 10-5pm every day. Inside you'll find an exhibition about the history of the bridge and the people who worked on it, children's activities and a gift shop!
23. Pretend you’re in a fairytale and walk up Cabot Tower.
Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol and you can enjoy great views over the city and Harbourside area. Located just off Park Street in the West End, Brandon Hill features a children's play area, a nature conservation area, and Cabot Tower which is free to enter.
24. Get lost in a book or two.
Foyles Bookshop presents Storybox 2016 – an interactive book festival for children and young adults this summer and there are loads of really engaging free events going on at its book shop in Cabot Circus until 14 August which should really bring these books to life!
25. Kids activities at the Mall.
Every week day from 25th July to 2nd September, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway will be providing a range of kids’ activities to keep young minds active. Many of the activities will be free (unless otherwise specified) and will take place in the garden area outside The Mall. Next week it’s Roald Dahl week with free story-telling, crafts and doughnut decorating.
Have a great summer and don't forget to like our Facebook Page to be the first to know about all the free and cheap events in Bristol.