Come rain or shine, there's plenty for the kids to do in Bristol!
IT’S not long until school’s out for summer and in Bristol there’s plenty to keep children occupied without it costing a fortune.
A third of parents are planning to cut spend on activities for their offspring in an attempt to tighten their household purse strings, according to new research by Capital One.
However, in Bristol there’s plenty to do rain or shine either walks in the parks or on The Downs or take a picnic to one of the many free events in the city and have fun.
John Hallett, Managing Director of Destination Bristol, said: “There is a fantastic programme of events and activities taking place in Bristol over the summer to suit every budget.
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“Many festivals, including the Harbour Festival and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, are free, making Bristol an ideal place in which to enjoy a day out.”
Councillor Clare Campion-Smith, Bristol city council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Local families looking for a free, fun day out will find plenty to do in Bristol. Bristol’s museums and galleries, heritage estates, play parks, skate parks and community parks welcome visitors of all ages.
“And throughout the summer there are free activity days and events,including the fabulous Harbour Festival and Ping! Bristol - with 46 table tennis tables dotted around the city.
“For young readers, all Bristol libraries will be encouraging children to get into the ‘story lab’ this summer and discover a world of books, imagination, suspense and surprise.”
The Bristol Harbour Festival is one big free celebration for residents and visitors a-like taking place from July 20 to 22.
Entertainment includes a vibrant mix of live performance, artists, musicians, dancers, circus acts as well as markets and street stalls plus a range of boats, yachts and ferries on the water.
The following day, you can head to Weston-super-Mare for the Grand Pier Air Show.
The famous Red Arrows will be joined in the sky by a selection of world-class air display teams with the show starting at 12 noon on July 23 with the Red Arrows at 2pm.
July 24 sees the Old Flying Machine Company kick off the action at 12pm with displays on the hour up to and including 4pm.
And just a couple of weeks later is the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in Ashton Court from August 9 to 12 which is also free.
Don’t forget Bristol’s M Shed too – it has just celebrated its first birthday so why not take time out to find out about the city’s history; entry is free.
Once they’re back at school, there’s still time to take a closer look inside some of Bristol’s most important and impressive buildings with the free-of-charge Bristol Doors Open Day on September 8.
We all know that having children isn't cheap. But the additional cost of hobbies, extra-curricular activities and sports clubs can result in you spending a small fortune.
The research from Capital One 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.
Here are some more tips on finding activities despite a shrinking budget.
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. Look on their website for details of your nearest participating venue.
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 Tennis for free 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.
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. On Money Supermarket's deals and vouchers channel there are numerous vouchers for family days out up and down the country.
If after a busy day out you're looking for a bite to eat, don't forget to check for vouchers page for discounted restaurants.
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 activities 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.
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.