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The August bank holiday – on the 25th of the month – is now within reach, and many of us will be gearing up to enjoy the last long weekend before Christmas.
Whether the British weather breaks with tradition and treats us to three long days of sunshine or not, we have plenty of ideas for enjoying the extra day off without breaking the bank.
London is bursting at the seams with free things for you to enjoy over the bank holiday weekend.
Notting Hill will be centre stage with its world-renowned carnival, showcasing extravagant floats, colourful parades and open air dancing while the smell of jerk chicken fills the air. The parades run on August 24 and 25, starting at 9am. Kids’ day is on the Sunday and adults’ day on Monday.
If you fancy a trip to the seaside over the bank holiday but don’t want to leave the capital, then head to Camden’s Roundhouse. Open until Saturday August 23, here you can bask on an urban beach with 150 tonnes of sand, beach huts and deck chairs. There are even traditional pier games to enjoy such as arcades, ping pong and air hockey.
Or maybe you’ve partied too hard over the summer and and need to revitalise – in that case there’s the Sail Awake Sunday boat trip on August 24. Leaving from Tower Pier, this Thames tour with a difference involves spiritual workshops, yoga, massage, games and dancing, while listening to acoustic music and dj sets. Tickets cost £25.
It’s easy to ignore what’s on our own doorstep, but any big UK city has free and low cost museums and galleries that you can spend hours exploring.
For an entrance fee of £3.95 (£2.95 for children), you could learn about the history of smuggling at Jamaica Inn in Cornwall or for £6.49 per adult and £5.49 per child (online prices) walk with dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Museum in Dorset.
Costing a little more, Beamish, in Durham, is a huge, outdoor, “living” museum. Set in 300 acres of countryside, it explores life in the north-east in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times. There’s a reconstructed First World War town, which has been used for TV dramas, plus a farm, railway station and pit village. Tickets cost £18.00 for adults and £10 for children aged 5-16. A family ticket for two adults and two children is £47.
Many museums also host free and low-cost events for children over the bank holiday. The Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre in West Sussex, for example, is holding a story book day for little ones, where they get free entry if they come dressed up as their favourite story book character.
At the Roald Dahl Museum, in Buckinghamshire, kids can get arty on Sunday August 24 and Monday August 25 with all sorts of craft activities, including making a mug and coaster. Entry to the museum is £4.40 for children aged five to 18 and £6.60 for adults, with an additional cost for most workshops.
There are plenty of festivals up and down the country this August bank holiday.
Foodies in Cornwall could head to the largest fish festival in the UK, at Newlyn Harbour, where there’ll be a fish auction, music stage and rowing championship.
Liverpool is hosting its annual International Music Festival, formerly the Mathew Street Festival, where music lovers can get a fix of tunes at venues around Liverpool such as beautiful Sefton Park.
At the Beaumauris Medieval Festival, in Anglesey, visitors can try out their skills at knight school or a jester workshop.
The bank holiday signals a break from the stuffy workplace for many of us, so make the most of it with a trip to your local park, woods or beach.
You can find walking routes on the National Trust website; the Sustrans website has cycle routes suitable for all ability levels.
If the sun also takes a break this bank holiday and you’re stuck with rain and restless kids, don’t despair as there is plenty of entertainment on hand at home.
How about getting messy in the kitchen by getting kids involved in baking? The BBC Good Food website has some great recipes for children such as squished tomato pasta sauce, mini toads-in-the-hole and fish cake fingers.
Or for very little ones you could set up a teddy bears’ picnic or create an activity table where they can do colouring, painting and crafts.
A dressing up box will keep budding fashionistas busy, and there’s always the CBeebies website for games inspiration.
Thinking about ways to reduce a bulging waist-line?
The bank holiday could be the moment to turn over a new leaf and start a health kick – for free or at very low cost.
Pull on your running shoes after downloading the training programme from the NHS Couch to 5K website. Designed for novice runners, the programme gives you a structured plan to get up off the couch and start exercising.
Or did you know there may be a free outdoor “gym” near you? Across the UK, many parks have fitness stations where you can exercise, at no cost, in the open air.
Cycling, swimming, brisk walking and anything that increases your heart rate will all help you to start feeling healthier – so kick off the bank holiday with some exercise.
If you want a family day out but are worried about paying for everyone, there are plenty of ways to save.
Booking online in advance can result in big discounts. A one-day adult ticket to LEGOLAND, in Windsor, for example, bought seven or more days in advance online could save you up to 25%. A ticket to Madame Tussauds is £30 on the day but can be bought for £15 online.
Or you can book a Blackpool Pleasure Beach wristband online for £21.99, saving £8 on the gate price. Alternatively, a Big Ticket, giving entry to seven top attractions such as the Blackpool Tower Eye, Jungle Jim’s Children’s Indoor Play and SEA LIFE Blackpool, saves up to £45 on individual walk-up prices.
Enjoy a quintessentially British getaway by treating the family to a day out at the seaside. Pack a picnic, dig out the kids’ buckets and spades, and cross your fingers that the rain holds off.
If you’re planning to take a dip, the Blue Flag website has an interactive map allowing you to search for beaches in England and Wales that hold the prestigious rating.
The UK’s packed with exciting events this bank holiday weekend, so it’s worth finding out what’s on. There are parades, live music and markets at the Big Weekend in Manchester, for example – part of Manchester Pride – from the Friday to the Monday.
Then there’s the Sand Sculpture Festival at Black Rock, in Brighton – an exhibition of more than 20 artists’ sand artworks from models of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the pyramids. Adult tickets are £4.50, kids’ £3 – the festival runs until September 28.
A long weekend is a great excuse to spend a couple of nights in another part of the UK.
A trip needn’t cost the earth. The weather now is great for camping – you could have a few days of beautiful scenery, long walks and marshmallows on the campfire for only the cost of a campsite.
Or TravelSupermarket has great deals on hotels, guest houses and B&Bs around the country.
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