NHM Readers Recommend: Free holiday activities for families 2019

In July 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “Do you have a list of free activities over the holiday which includes older siblings?”

Thank you for all your responses, they are listed below in no particular order. All opinions are the readers own and are not that of NHM.

NHM Readers Recommend: Free holiday activities for families 2019

Jools said, “Basingstoke children and families page has loads of free stuff or very inexpensive including things at Westside cc, viables community centre, Popley fields and Streetz which happen across Basingstoke and caters for older children. Things on every day mon-fri.”

Vicky said, “We did pets at home workshop. Had booked both girls in, who are 6 and 9, but my 9 year old backed out my my 6 year old got to hold a rat, bunny and guinea pig which she loved then there was a small activity box to take away with you. There were mainly younger ones but only half an hour and free! You do have to book online though as max of 12 kids. The lady was very knowledgeable.”

Becky said, “Good question. With a 4 yr old and a 12 year old it is difficult to find things on offer that allow both younger and older children.”

Louise said, “Blackberry picking?” Also check out the free sessions at your local Apple Store. They do educational sessions twice a day that you can book on for free. 

Rebecca said, “Hobbycraft do lots of free craft activities which both kids might like. Included slime making today and you take home the slime you make, that is good or bad depending on how you look at it!”

Hannah said, “We took our three (eldest 10/youngest 3) to the splash pad in popley (Chineham Splash Park) today….they all loved it and didn’t want to come home. Normally I struggle to entertain the 10 year old but he came away having had the most fun and asked to go back. Best bit was it costed nothing!!!!! The library are also running various craft bits too.”

Kate said, “A trip out to local woods (such as Micheldever) to go exploring?”

Hannah said, “Check out viable community centre as they have lots going on at the mo.”

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Pay Once, Visit all year Attractions (plus a couple of free ones)

Thank you very much to Wendy for putting this post together on wordpress!!!!

Pay Once, Visit all year Attractions (plus a couple of free ones )

Did you know that many attractions are pay once, visit all year? This means if you keep the entrance ticket it allows you to return to the attraction for free in the following 12 months (some have additional terms and conditions such as gift aid).

A recent post on “Buy and Sell Baby/Children’s Bits in Basingstoke” by Sarah-Louise asked group members to help create a list of all the attractions that offer this. We have taken a few of these, investigated the list and added too it.

Milestones – Basingstoke

Silk Mill – Whitchurch

Living Rain Forest – Newbury

Military Museum – Aldershot

F.A.S.T – Farnborough FREE ENTRY

Jane Austens house – Chawton

Winchester Cathedral – Winchester

River & Rowing Museum – Henley on Thames

Historic Dockyard – Portsmouth

Museum of Army Flying – Stockbridge. Annual pass given free if you gift aid.

Hollycombe Steam in the Country – Liphook

Blenheim Palace – Blenheim nr Oxford. Annual pass given free if you gift aid

Oxford Universities Museum – Oxford FREE ENTRY

Natural History – London FREE ENTRY

Transport Museum – Covent Garden

Tank Museum – Bovington

Royal Collection Trust – Various palaces and royal residences. Annual pass given free if you gift aid

Additional Tip – NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP – Buy through the Scottish national trust. It’s a lot cheaper and you can still go to all the English and Welsh places

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This is such a brilliant idea!! Well done Rachel for setting this up!!!!


Whilst being away for a few days with the family, we came across a fab craze in Dorset which I think our children here in Basingstoke and Hants will absolutely love.

I have set up a facebook group called Basingstones.

Everyone can join in the fun, young and old, and anyone in between. You just paint a stone, write ‘Basingstones’ on it and hide it somewhere. Perhaps in one of our lovely parks here in Basingstoke, by a bench, under a tree, anywhere you like.

The idea is that someone will find your stone and smile. It may even brighten their day! Hopefully they will post a photo on our facebook group page so we can all see how far our stones travel.

Then our Basingstone finder can either re-hide the stone, or keep it and replace it with a new stone.

You can paint the stone however you wish, perhaps with a pretty pattern, a fun cartoon character, an inspirational quote or an artistic design, for example. Sharpie pens, permanent markers, nail polish, paints and varnish all work really well.

It is encouraging us as a family to get outdoors, be creative and spread some joy.  It has certainly kept us busy and entertained this half term break and without damaging the bank balance.

I hope everyone loves the concept as much we do and gets involved and has some fun.

Enjoy! x


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Season Tickets to local attractions in North Hampshire – updated 2017

I’ve recently just invested in a Season ticket for a local attraction. I wanted somewhere that was near to Basingstoke, that we could just pop into after work or when my husband is at work on the weekend.

Paying for entry to attractions can be very expensive, but if you find somewhere that you like, and you know you will visit maybe once a month, it makes sense to invest in a Season ticket.

You also get discounts and extra perks with most Season tickets. I am planning to get a season ticket for a different place each year, so we don’t get bored of the same places.

This is an exceptionally long post. Sorry about that! It was really difficult to know what to include, so I’ve tried to include the key highlights and the costs. Hope you find it useful!

Updated September 2017

Wellington Country Park

Wellington Country Park Season Tickets

Not only do you receive ‘unlimited access’ to the Park but also a whole host of other benefits…

2017 Season Ticket Benefits

Gold Annual Pass:

    • UNLIMITED ADMISSION to Wellington Country Park during normal opening hours
    • 3 FREE day passes for a Gold Annual Pass holder to bring friends or family to the Park
    • 3 FREE train ride vouchers for a Gold Annual Pass holder with ALL subsequent train rides only £1.00 each
    • 5 FREE drinks (valid for regular hot drinks, bottled water or a children’s juice carton)
    • FREE PARTICIPATION in all of our in-house events – excluding Christmas and additional ticketed events
    • E-NEWSLETTER called ‘Welly Park News’ to keep you up to date of what takes place here at the Park

Silver Annual Pass:

    • UNLIMITED ADMISSION to Wellington Country Park during normal opening hours
    • ALL train rides only £1.00 each
    • FREE PARTICIPATION in all of our in-house events – excluding Christmas and additional ticketed events
    • E-NEWSLETTER called ‘Welly Park News’ to keep you up to date of what takes place here at the Park

Please note: Terms and Conditions do apply. For full details, please see ‘Terms and Conditions’ on their website.

How much does a Season Ticket cost?

2018 Prices

Gold (for adult or child) £85.00
Silver (for adult or child) £65.00
Children 2 and under FREE

Please Note: Don’t forgot that when your child turns 3 years old, they will need their own Annual Pass

Finkley Down Farm

Finkley Down Farm Season Ticket

An Annual Pass enables each person purchased free admission to the farm park for 1 Year from date of purchase. Ideal for a short visit even after school for a quick play on the playground or all day in the holidays.

Also if you purchase a pass before your child turns two they are free the duration of your pass.

There is also a Childminder’s annual pass, details can be found on their website.

Please note: Terms and Conditions apply.

Person Type Monthly Direct Debit (Online Only) One Off Payment
Family (4 persons) £24.00 £260.00
Adult £7.00 £75.00
Children 2 – 16 Years £6.00 £65.00
Children Under 2 Free Free
Senior Citizen £6.00 £65.00
Student Student ID Required £6.00 £65.00
Disabled + Unnamed Carer Disability Proof Required £6.00 £65.00

Beale Park

Beale Park Season

Season tickets will soon be available to purchase on-line. In the meantime, please read the options on how to buy a season pass below.  A season ticket to Beale Park is fantastic value, offering:

  • Access to the Park for one calendar year from the date of application.
  • 10 train rides during the course of your season ticket
  • Subscription to the Park’s electronic news updates

…and, by becoming a season ticket holder, you are actively supporting the conservation projects that Beale Park undertakes, as well as contributing towards the care of the animals.

It’s easy to join. Simply print out the form on the website and bring it with you to the Beale Park ticket office where, on payment, a photograph will be taken and your application processed, enabling your season ticket to be produced.

How much will it cost

Adult Season Ticket – £48  

Senior Citizens (60+) – £38.00  

Child Season Ticket – £34  

Registered Disabled + Carer – £48  

Family Season Ticket (2 Adults + 2 Children) – £135  

Terms and Conditions apply

Bucklebury Farm

Bucklebury Farm Park Membership

Why not become a Farm & Deer Safari Park member and enjoy access to the farm and deer park throughout the 2017 season? An ideal opportunity for numerous short visits either after school, school holidays, rainy days, to visit the animals, go round the deer park on a tractor, safari or deer expedition, have a stroll or just for the children to let off steam!! All our park attractions are included in the price with the exception of special events. Joining costs you the equivalent of around £5 per month. Make six visits and then go FREE!

The membership includes a 10% discount on group party bookings for 2017. This can be used for birthday parties but also your children’s class (only one discount per class can apply!) at school – well worth mentioning to your children’s teacher. We also offer all season ticket holders a very special 20% discount in Woody’s for ten visits – great for breakfasts, family lunches or just coffee and cake with friends (excluding special event menus).

How much will it cost

Adults – £60

Children & OAPs – £54

Disabled/helpers – £46 each

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park Annual Pass

Enjoy their 12 Special Events through the Summer Season for the price of 6: Purchasing an annual pass costs less than the equivalent of 6 visits over a twelve month period.

You can visit 4 Kingdoms 7 days a week throughout the year: An annual pass runs for a full twelve months from the date of purchase.

“Try Before You Buy”: When you go to 4 kingdoms on any day and buy day tickets for you and your family, if you buy an annual ticket before you leave you will have your day ticket refunded (T&C’s Apply).

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off your child’s special birthday party event at 4 Kingdoms: Choose from any of their special themed birthday parties and get 10% off the price.

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off their magical Christmas Event: Join them for a magical Christmas family experience and get 10% off the ticket price.

Visit 6 times And Every Other Day Is FREE!

Single – £59.90

Family of 2 – £115.00

Family of 3 – £165.00

Family of 4 – £210.00

Family of 5 – £250.00


Birdworld Membership

If you are a regular visitor to Birdworld then why not become a Birdworld member. Their members enjoy many benefits including:

Unlimited Visits – As an Annual Pass holder, you can visit Birdworld as often as you like, be it for half-an-hour or a full day. Just show your pass with photo at the Information Desk on arrival, thereby avoiding any queues at Admissions on busy days.

E-Newsletters – Their regular newsletters will keep you up-to-date with happenings within the Park, so you’ll hear all about new arrivals amongst the birds, fish, reptiles and animals on the farm, seasonal activity in the Gardens, and generally be aware of what’s going on around Birdworld. You may opt to receive this via E-mail.

Annual Pass Holder Events – You can join their team for exclusive events at Birdworld, which are only available to our pass holders. This includes our annual supper evening, which you can enjoy at no extra cost.

Discounts & Special Offers – Annual Pass Holders are eligible for a 10% discount on any purchases from the Gift Shops (excl. foods), and 15% discount on Birdworld Birthday Parties. You will also receive special prices for our Santa’s Winter Wonderland. When buying your pass you will also receive a one off 10% voucher to use on many products at Forest Lodge Garden Centre.

If you are still not sure, then visit Birdworld for the day and they will be pleased to refund the cost of that ticket against the pass if you decide to join on the day.

Pass type 1 year
Adult £55.95
Child £46.95
Pre-School Child (3-6 years) £29.95
Disabled Child £35.95
Concession (Senior citizens, students and disabled adults) £46.95
Family: 2 Adults & 3 Children £185.00
Family: 1 Adult & 3 Children £135.00
2 Adults Joint pass £99.95
2 Concessions Joint pass £89.95
Carer £19.95

The Hawk Conservancy

Hawk Conservancy Membership

By becoming a member you can be an invaluable part of our mission while enjoying as many visits to the Hawk Conservancy Trust as you like – not to mention many other benefits throughout the year.

Participating Member:

As a Participating Member, you can visit the Trust as many times as you like in one year and support our important conservation work. You’ll also receive:

  • invitations to our exclusive Members’ Evenings;
  • discounted tickets for your guests;
  • three HawkTalk newsletters;
  • and our Annual Review.
Adult £55
Joint (couple) £105
Child £24
Family (two adults and two children) £140
Extra child on a family membership £18

Conservation membership and life membership are also available with additional benefits, details of which can be found on their website.

Terms and conditions apply to all membership packages.

Other Passes or Season Tickets

The Living Rainforest review on NHM (The standard admission price entitles the purchaser to an Annual Ticket, which allows free entry for one year, so keep your receipt!) NOTE: the prices have increased since the review and can be found on The Living Rainforest’s website.

National trust

Culture Trust Membership

Merlin Pass

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Age limits for National Attractions

Thank you very much to Shona for this BRILLIANT post!!

Age limits for National Attractions


Free for everyone

Natural History Museum

Science Museum

Museum of Childhood

Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Free for Under 3’s

Coca-Cola London Eye

Shrek’s Adventure – London

Sea Life – London

London Zoo

Free for Under 4’s

Warner Bros Studio Tour

Madame Tussauds

The View from the Shard

Free for Under 5’s

Buckingham Palace

Tower of London

South East

Free for all children

Hillier Gardens

The Willis Museum

Free for Under 1 metre

Paultons Park

Free for Under 2’s

Finkley Down Farm

Miller’s Ark

Beale Park

The Living Rainforest

Bucklebury Farm

4 kingdoms Adventure Park

Free for Under 3’s



Thorpe Park


The Hawk Conservancy

Marwell Wildlife

Weymouth Sea Life

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway

Wellington Country Park

Free for Under 5’s

Milestones Museum

Basing House

The Vyne

North West

Free for Under 2’s

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Free for Under 3’s

Legoland Discovery Centre – Manchester

Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Blackpool Tower

Sea Life Blackpool

Sea Life Manchester

Free for under 90cm

Gullivers World


Free for Under 3’s

Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary

Sea Life Loch Lomond

Free for Under 4’s

Landmark Forest Adventure Park


Free for Under 3’s

Sea Life Bray

South West

Free for Under 95cm


Free for Under 3’s

Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Longleat Safari Park

Free for Under 5’s

Cheddar Gorge

North East

Free for Under 1’s

Seven Stories – only £2.50 for 1 – 3 years

Free for Under 3’s

Sea Life Scarborough

Free for Under 4’s

Flamingo Land

Free for Under 5’s

Jorvik Viking Centre

The Midlands and East Anglia

Free for Under 2’s

Drayton Manor Theme Park – Only £6 for ages 2 – 3 years

Free for Under 3’s

Alton Towers

National Sea Life Birmingham

Sea Life Great Yarmouth

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary

Warwick Castle

Free for Under 5’s

National Space Centre


Free for Under 3’s

Oakwood Theme Park

Llangollen Steam Train

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Things to do on a wet bank holiday! (When you don’t want to spend any money!)

Please share this post with everyone who you think will find it useful!

We are having a Pyjama day today, as the weather is so wet, and Mr NHM has very kindly allowed me 20 minutes to put this post together.

Then I am switching the computer off for the day and will be back online tonight, once Miss NHM has gone to bed!

Things to do on a wet bank holiday!

1. Have a pyjama day

This is what we are doing today. It feels very decadent as I never really had pyjama days before Miss NHM was born!

This afternoon I will probably make some popcorn and we will sit and watch a movie as a family.

2. Indoor games

Making Gloop

Dry food play

Coloured Spaghetti

A Toddler Box of Tricks: Things To Always Have On Hand With A Toddler Or Two

3. Play some board games

We have lots of board games in our house because Mr NHM is a bit of a geek :-D.

Now that Miss NHM is nearly three and a half she’s getting a lot more into board games.

Miss NHM’s favourites are mostly by Orchard Toys or Haba:

Shopping List

The Game of Ladybirds

Old McDonald Lotto (Thanks Pauline!!! :-D)

Fiery Dragons

Tantrix (Mr NHM bought this for a fraction of this price from a local charity shop)

4. Build an indoor obstacle course

We picked up a small tent from a local children’s market and Miss NHM loves filling this with the plastic balls that we originally bought for her to play with in a plastic swimming pool.

We also bought a Busa play tunnel from Ikea and we put out my washing baskets (which probably won’t survive much longer! lol) and use these with the balls and the obstacle course too.

5. Indoor picnic with toys

Miss NHM has lots of wooden toy food as I’m addicted to it <blush>. It’s about the only thing that I will regularly buy for her as I’m a mean Mummy! lol.

She loves it when we all sit around as a family and she feeds us and her toys.

6. Baking

Miss NHM and I have been baking together since she was about one years old. It does require a lot of patience to cook with a baby or toddler.

However, I can confirm that it gets easier. Just don’t clean the kitchen first ;-).

We picked up a really good Annabel Karmel cookbook from a local charity shop which we use all the time and I have some brilliant Usborne books from my childhood which we also use for inspiration.

7. Junk modelling

Whatever you have in your recycling bin can used for this. Miss NHM loves doing this as she gets to make a lot of mess! lol.

8. Treasure baskets

Read more about treasure baskets HERE.

9. Colouring and/or painting

Get all of the colouring and painting materials out and see what you can come up with

10. Get out ALL of your children’s toys

Mr NHM and Miss NHM are currently doing this down stairs! lol.

It’s a great way to show your child how to put things away too. And to discover bits of toys that you’d lost!

11. Make a city from all of the relevant toys your child has

We do this a LOT. We have lots of Playmobil 123 and original Playmobil which is great for this.

12. Read lots of books

Rainy days are perfect days for doing lots of reading. Miss NHM loves nothing more than throwing a book at me and demanding “Read it”, but it’s worth it as she cuddles into my lap for ages!

13. Put on an audio book

If you have read too many books, an audio book could work or some classical music. We do this sometimes when Miss NHM is having quiet time after lunch.

14. Go puddle jumping

I’ve mentioned before about how much Miss NHM loves puddle jumping. We will probably do this, this afternoon, after we’ve had lunch and watched a movie and to get some fresh air.

Looks like it might be time to get the galoshes out! lol.

Whatever you end up doing today, I hope you have fun!!!

Ideas of things to do during the Christmas Break

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas Day and Boxing Day! I also hope you and your loved ones got everything that you wanted from Father Christmas.

If it’s getting to the point that you need some inspiration for things to do during the Christmas break, check out these posts that have already been published on NHM.

They aren’t particularly Christmasy but will hopefully give you some ideas if you need them.


Christmas Break Activities/Ideas

8 Cheap or Free Rainy Day Activities in Basingstoke

22 things to do with an under 6 year old in Basingstoke when it’s raining

Toddler Games: Making Gloop!

Toddler Games: Coloured Spaghetti

Nature Detectives

Local Parks and Open Spaces

Page: Reviews (if you are looking for somewhere to visit, check out the reviews in this page for some ideas)

A week of “free” Activities – Autumn

Willowdene Holiday Club 2012

Willowdene Holiday Club for children aged 5 -12 yrs

For school aged children Holiday Clubs are now held at Christ Church (opposite Willowdene) meaning we have more space and better age related activities for the school aged child. We are open every school holiday and Four Lanes Inset days catering for children aged 5-12 yrs **

(** Reception aged children will be given the choice either to attend the Holiday Club at the Nursery, or at Christ Church).

Activities are planned and prepared according to the children’s interests and each day is different. We introduce play that challenges the children’s imaginations e.g. den making, and with the woods around us we are able to go on Nature walks, bug hunts and picnics. We also take the children to the Library and local parks.

Some activities the children have enjoyed this summer include
• Fashion designing with a variety of materials
• Picking blackberries and making them into delicious pies
• Test Lab Tuesday – scientific experiments with Tizzy the test lab technician
• Walking to the shopping centre to buy the ingredients to make our own lunches.

Holiday Care also available for Nursery aged children at Willowdene Nursery School.

Ring 01256324191 or email willowdene@btconnect.com for further details! www.willowdenenursery.org.uk

Are there any other Holiday Clubs that you know about in the area?