Activities for children that don't dent the wallet
Finding activities which aren’t going to dent the wallet during the school summer holidays can be a challenge.
But not in Gloucestershire as it is holding a host of summer events for the family.
Which is just as well as according to new research from Capital One, a third of parents are planning to cut spend on hobbies, extra-curriculur activities and sports clubs.
The research showed that 1.3million parents will reduce spend on their children's sporting endeavours, 1.1million will cut back on music, art and cultural extra-curricular activities. A further 800,000 will reduce children's participation in academic extra-curricular education.
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Just a couple of weeks ago the city council announced it the carnival was back for a 76th year.
Council leader Paul James said at the launch: “The Carnival is one of Gloucester’s great traditions. This year it has been shaped by the new, community-led Carnival Committee and I think this has given it new life.
“2012 is a very special year with the Jubilee and Olympics and I hope the Carnival will have lots of people taking part in it as well as the great crowds we always enjoy. I hope the whole city will get behind it.”
It is one of the biggest events in Gloucestershire and the free annual carnival procession takes place on July 28 at 2pm. It begins in Westgate Car Park, winds through the city streets before ending in Gloucester Park.
The procession is described as being ‘a celebration of everything that is great about our City and this year will be better than ever, with the theme The Spirit of 2012’.
And there are a host of summer events being organised by the city council with the theme including a family day in Gloucester Park on July 22 and family sports day at the same venue on July 29.
Not forgetting a firework finale on August 4 from 8pm and is another free event for all the family in Gloucester Park.
There’s also Jamaican Independence Day being celebrated in Gloucester Park on August 5.
Plus Gloucestershire has a range of country parks giving free access and allowing plenty of space to run, play and explore.
These include Crickley Hill Country Park which is open every day from 6am with closing times dependent on the season but during the summer it shuts at 9.30pm. there’s a visitor centre, toilets, picnic benches and barbecues available to use on site.
Car parking costs £1 for up to two hours, £2 for up to four hours or £3 for all day.
And don’t miss the Art in the Park in Cheltenham running from now until July 22 – it’s the 43rd event and work from more than 100 artists is on show throughout the event.
There will be four separate one-week exhibitions with the first ending on June 30, then July 1 to July 7, July 8 to 14 and July 15 to 22.
And MoneySupermarket.com has pulled together some more tips.
1. Get active for free!
Sports activities can be one of the most expensive extracurricular hobbies with the research showing that parents spend an average of £29 per child, per month.
However, there are a number of initiatives and programmes on offer that will allow your kids to get involved in sport for free, or for a very small charge.
For example, the FA Tesco Skills Programme runs after-school football skills courses for five to 11 year olds. For a maximum cost of £2 per session, kids are taught using an FA coaching model to develop their football skills and improve their fitness
If you have high hopes of your little one being the next Andy Murray, you may be interested in an initiative set up by 'Tennis For Free' which offers 50 weeks' free coaching at various locations across the country. And it's available for both children and adults so why not get the whole family involved? Find out more at www.tennisforfree.com.
If you'd like your children to try out a new sport, check out one of the Asda Active events being held across the UK. The initiative, which was introduced by the supermarket earlier this year, aims to introduce families to sports and fitness activities in their area. So, if you feel like having a whirl at zumba while your child tries out martial arts, register for one of these days to guarantee a place.
Children in Wales can benefit from free swimming at weekends and during the holidays. But if you live elsewhere in the UK, check with your local council to see if there are any free kids swimming sessions at a nearby pool.
2. Explore your local area
The Capital One report also revealed that parents shell out an average of £38 per month for educational school trips.
However, you'll be surprised just how much you can find going on in your local area that is fun, educational and economical.
If you live near a city, check out its local museums and galleries - usually admission is free and many put on events and activities for kids
Don't forget to see what your local library has on offer. Many will offer story time for little ones, as well as free art, craft and music sessions.
3. Get back to nature
There are loads of things you can do in the great outdoors that won't cost you a penny. A 'boring' hike can be turned into a nature treasure hunt by simply making a list of things to spot and awarding one point for each animal, bird or flower seen. It's a great one for a group of kids to do and a prize can be awarded for the highest score.
Shells can be collected on the beach and decorated when you return home, or how about collecting lots of different leaves and making a collage?
You could also team up with some other parents and organise a game of rounders or cricket in your local park. As well as being enjoyable for the kids, you'll be getting a great work out!
If you really want to get back to nature and educate your kids in survival techniques, why not pitch a tent, cook on a camping stove and sing songs around the camp fire?! The kids will see it as a big adventure and chances are Mums and Dads will enjoy it too.
4. Take advantage of family passes, deals and vouchers
Admission fees for family attractions can be extortionately expensive; however by going for a family annual pass that allows you a number of visits in a year, you can make big savings.
There are also plenty of vouchers and deals available that will slash costs. If after a busy day out you're looking for a bite to eat, don't forget to check for vouchers too.
5. Manage rainy days
The great British weather can be depressing at the best of times but when the kids are off school, it can make keeping them entertained seem like a nightmare. However, see it as an opportunity instead. The National Trust website has a 'rainy day' page which details places you can go on days when the sun is being stubborn, and many come with activity packs to keep the kids amused.
Look out for cinema offers too when the weather is bad. According to the Capital One report, parent's spend around £50 a month on leisure activites such as this. But it's possible to cut the cost. Mobile phone customers with Orange for example, can enjoy 2-for-1 on cinema outings on Wednesdays, and Vue cinemas offers tickets for £1.50 on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the school holidays on selected films.
But if the weather really is just making you want to curl up in front of the fire, insist the kids have a computer game-free day. Set up a table with bits of paper, card, glitter, stickers and then using what you have around the home encourage them to use a bit of imagination and creativity. For example a humble 'Pringles' box can become a spaceship when covered and decorated or an egg carton can be transformed into a caterpillar!
So, while children's activities can be expensive, doing your research and finding out what's out there really can keep costs down. Take advantage of all the free and cheap activities in your area and your bank balance will soon feel the benefit.