If you’re thinking of what you can do with your little ‘uns that won’t break the bank, here are some ways to spend less on days out and activities.
Days out aren’t cheap so here I’ll share special offers where you can bring down the price of tickets, as well as any special free events and activities. I’ve also had a look at schemes such as Kids Pass and Little Bird and shared whether I think they’re any good.
Day out ticket discounts
National Rail: 2-4-1 days out
If you’re travelling by train to an attraction, you might be able to use it for a discount on your entry. Details here.
Heinz Dayz Out: 2-4-1 and free tickets (expired)
From 28 June 2023, you can get free or discounted days out with promotional Heinz sauces and meals. There are a number of different days out available, including museums, swimming, paintballing, dance classes and athletics.
Some of the activities are 2 for 1 or will get you free tickets when you purchase a number of full-price tickets, but you can get some good discounts over the summer.
To get the offer, look out for promotional Heinz packs. Vouchers must be claimed by 31 October 2023 and used by the end of the year.
National Lottery Days Out: £25 voucher (expired)
Buy a Lotto ticket or scratchcard and you’ll be able to claim a £25 off voucher to use at attractions across the UK, including Legoland, Titanic Belfast, Merlin theme parks and more.
It’s one voucher per person, regardless of how many Lotto tickets you have. You’ll need details for your ticket or scratchcard to claim the voucher.
The Lotto ticket must have been bought after 1 January 2023. You can use the voucher until 30 September 2023.
National Trust & English Heritage offers
National Trust: Free autumn pass
You can claim a free autumn pass to visit a National Trust site when you register through the Reach PLC website.
Each free visit ticket is single-use only and allows entry for two adults and up to three children, or one adult and up to four children until Friday 15 December 2023.
There are 75,000 passes available and they’re available until 6 November 2023 or when they run out (which is likely sooner so you’ll need to be quick to secure yours).
You may need to book in advance before heading to a National Trust site so be sure to check before you travel there!
National Trust: Get a one-day family pass (expired)
In Your Area is handing out a free day pass for 2 adults and 3 children or one adult and 4 children to visit a National Trust location before 15 December 2023. There are 100,000 available from 9am on 30 August until 14 September, though it’s first come first serve so they could go sooner. Claim your pass here.
“Open House” events
In September each year many buildings open their doors for free across the UK. Here are some of the main organisations, but do check locally to see if there are other places offering something similar.
Open House London (expired)
From 6 to 17 September 2023 you can get free or discounted access to hundreds of buildings and gardens in London, many of which are normally closed to the public. Details here.
Heritage Open Days (Scotland) (expired)
From 9 to 18 September 2023 there’s a similar open day festival in Scotland giving you access to buildings and events across the country. Details here.
Doors Open Days (England) (expired)
On weekends from 2 September 2023 Heritage Open Days will provide free access to events celebrating England’s history and culture. Details here.
Open Doors (Wales) (expired)
Throughout September 2023 you can get free entry and guides tours to more than 200 historic sites in Wales. Details here.
BBC Gardener’s World magazine: 2-4-1 entry card (expired)
If you buy the May 2023 edition of Gardener’s World magazine (out 13 April) you’ll get a card that’ll get you 2-4-1 entry to 416 gardens in the UK and Northern Ireland.
- Kew Gardens
- Leeds Castle
- Warwick Castle
- 67 National Trust gardens
- 27 National Trust of Scotland gardens
- 12 English Heritage gardens
The magazine costs £8.50 and you can buy it in shops or online (there’s £1.49 postage on this option).
The pass is valid until 5 April 2024 and can be used as many times as you like.
Theme park deals
Check out my separate guide to paying less for theme park tickets such as Alton Towers and Legoland.
Kids membership offers
There are more details on how these work further down the article.
Kids Pass: One year for £28
At full price – £40 a year – it’s possibly a bit pricey. However, there are ways to save which make it worth a go.
Living Social is selling an annual pass for £27, plus a £1 admin fee. This saves you £11.99 on the standard annual price.
Kids Pass: get paid for a 30-day trial
Alternatively, if you go via TopCashback or Quidco you’ll get more than £1 back in exchange for a trial (duration can vary when you click through).
Little Bird: 30-day trial for £1
There’s also a 30-day trial for £1 offer. After this, it renews at £34.99.
“Days Out” offers
Another scheme is the Days Out website. This works slightly differently as there’s no membership, but you might find discounted tickets.
Day Out With The Kids Pass: 3 months free (expired)
Lidl Plus members can get a free 3-month Day Out With The Kids Pass membership. You’ll get exclusive access to discounted days out and events across the UK.
You have until 30 September to create an account.
Memberships will auto renew after the 3 months are up at the discounted price of £9.99 (usually £29.99) a year if you don’t cancel before then.
Whare are Kids Pass and Little Bird?
What do Kids Pass and Little Bird do?
Both Kids Pass and Little Bird are essentially memberships which gives you discounts on the places and things kids like to do.
Kids Pass promises:
- Up to 57% off at “family days out” such as theme parks, bowling and play centres
- Up to 40% off at cinemas, seven days a week
- Kids eat free or for £1 at hundreds of restaurants
- Savings on places like Butlins and Haven
You only need one card per family, rather than per child.
Little Bird promises similar offers, as well as a shop to buy discounted tickets.
Are they any good?
The discounts generally look pretty decent, especially the restaurants and cinema deals. They’re pretty similar too, though Kids Pass seems to have more options – possibly because it’s been around longer.
Some of the restaurant chains involved are Giraffe, Garfunkels, Barburrito, Handmade Burger Co, and Bella Italia each offering free food for kids or £1 meals. There’s also BOGOG at Pizza Hut (delivery) and second pizza for £1 at Papa Johns. There are hundreds of independent ones too. You can see those involved without getting a membership.
The cinema discounts through Kids Pass are available at most of the major chains and various independent places. You get up to 40% off tickets for kids and adults, making it a good option even if you don’t have kids. A quick look at a few different chains and it generally works out as £8 per adult ticket.
Little Bird has fewer cinema chains, with only Vue and Odeon included. At the time of writing, you’ll pay:
- Odeon: £7.78 or £9.51 (inside the M25)
- Vue: £4.25 or £8.50
Do make sure though that it’s not cheaper to buy your tickets with a different deal. For example, my local Vue in York now charges £4.99 for all showings all the time, but when I last checked it would cost more than £8 via Kids Pass.
You’ll need to buy your tickets through the website or app – you can’t just show your pass at the box office.
The theme park and other family activities look good, though as with most entertainment it’s worth shopping around for other offers. It does look like it includes all the major theme parks and places like MadameTussaudss and London Dungeon.
You can also save up to 50% at places like Eurocamp, Haven and Butlins.