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.
National Trust & English Heritage offers
National Lottery: Open Week
The National Lottery runs a regular promotion where you can get free or low-cost days out, including Eden Project, National Trust, the Tower of London and English Heritage properties.
The National Lottery Open Week runs between 9 March and 17 March 2024, though booking is open now for many locations so it makes sense to get in there now.
To get access, you need to have a National Lottery ticket or scratchcard, which you can use to visit a National Trust or National Trust for Scotland properties for free or at a discount. The date of the lottery ticket isn’t relevant, but maybe hang on to it until you know if you’ve won.
You can see a full list of the attractions and the discounts available, searchable by postcode or your current location. The full T&Cs are here too.
National Trust: Get a one-day family pass (ended)
If you fill out this form to register for InYourArea then you can get a voucher to claim at a National Trust location of your choice.
For this one, you don’t need to buy a newspaper – you can get the pass completely free. The offer runs between Wednesday 24 January and Tuesday 6 February or until they’ve handed out 30,000 passes.
The pass gets you a one-time ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children until 8 March 2024, so it’ll be valid during half term. Check the Ts&Cs before going, as some sites are excluded.
National Trust: Free autumn pass (ended)
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!
“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 our 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.