It’s the first school holiday of the year, following a busy Christmas break. And while it’s nice to have a chance to pause, or possibly even get away for a winter break, February Half Term can also be a tricky one.
After all, it comes just after one of the more costly times of year, and the weather can be dismal. How do you keep the kids entertained and have fun as a family, all while sticking to a budget?
We’ve got some ideas for you, whether you fancy getting out and about, need some hints and tips for avoiding the rain, or want to know where kids can eat free this holiday.
Exploring outdoors in February half term
The England Coast Path was recently renamed the ‘King Charles III Coast Path’, and it’s the longest managed coastal path in the world. But that means you can head out to it relatively easily from most points in England!
Along the routes are harbours, castles, and museums, so if you’re up for adventure then it’s worth finding your nearest pathway. Just make sure to check the weather beforehand, and make sure you’ve got a raincoat!
On a similar note, why not check out a National Trust spot? Many of them have free trails and family friendly venues, where you can all enjoy a day out. And to connect with nature even closer to home, a trip to your local park is a sure-fire way to have fun and burn off some energy if you’re feeling cooped up inside.
Some other simple and low-cost ideas include:
- Visit your local park: you could bring a ball, play on the swings, feed the ducks or squirrels, or make your own nature treasure hunt.
- Visit a local farm: many offer free or low-cost family days, where you can pet animals and get a taste of the countryside.
- Try crabbing: you can pick up a bucket and crab line at most coastal spots and use a bit of bacon as bait. It might test your patience, but pulling up that line and trying to get your crab into the bucket is good old-fashioned fun.
- Go Geocaching: download a free app and explore map of locations. The idea is to hunt for hidden treasure, and then replenish the hiding spot with your own. Think little party gifts or stationary items.
Indoor attractions for February half term
Of course, exploring the great outdoors is all fun and games, until the weather is not on your side. And in February, when the UK is prone to freezing temperatures, drizzle, or all-out downpours. It’s times like these when having some indoor activities that still get you out the house are ideal.
There are the obvious options, like the Science Museum or Natural History Museum. But these are London-based, which can be an expensive trip if you’re not local to the capital. And what about some of the quirkier, lesser-known exhibits and museums that are out there?
For example, did you know that there’s a dog collar museum in Leeds or a ‘house of marbles’ in Devon? If those don’t take your fancy, what about a collection of musical instruments in Oxford or bubble cars in Langrick? Whatever floats your boat, there’s a huge range of weird and wonderful collections out there.
Check out your local council website too, as many towns have their own exhibits, as well as special events designed for families during half term holidays. Your local library may also be hosting a reading challenge, which you can get stuck into together. The point is, there may be more on your doorstep than you realise!
One surprising venue you may not have thought about (unless you’re in need of some flat pack this February) is Ikea. The furniture giant hosts regular free events for children, including Valentine’s crafting sessions and Lego building workshops. Have a look to see what’s on at your local branch.
Some extra budget-friendly options are:
- Indoor soft playparks: these are a great spot to spend an afternoon if you need to burn off some energy, but the weather is too bad to play outside.
- Junior cinema times: many cinemas offer junior mornings, where tickets for children are much cheaper. Check out the cinema times if there’s a film you want to see!
- Keep an eye out for 2-4-1 vouchers on cereal packets: you can get discounted entry to places like Sealife and other attractions. Have a look at Great Western Rail, as you can also get 2-4-1 at certain spots if you travel there by train.
Staying home this February half term
And what about those days when you’re at home? Well, why not try some of these suggestions?
Host a home cooking competition:
You could hold a family Bake Off or Come Dine With Me throughout the week, setting different culinary challenges to try your had at. Set yourself a ‘signature bake’ challenge and see what everyone comes up with, or assign everyone a different day of the week to host dinner. If you’ve got little ones, you can always team up to make sure everyone’s included and stays safe in the kitchen!
Fashion show fun:
Decide on a few fun themes, and set up a runway. You could use a blanket or line up some chairs. Challenge everyone to come up with outfits that match the themes, then choose your music and let everyone strut their stuff!
You could even go one step further and involve a charity shop challenge, where everyone has a small amount, say £5, to pick out their outfits from local charity shops.
Board games and card games are perfect for a rainy day indoors, and there’s so many different types that there’s bound to be one you all enjoy. If you need some inspiration, have a look at the games here, for various numbers of players!
And, if you need even more inspiration, have a look at our 40 things to do for free in the school holidays blog!
Kids Eat Free
If you do head out this half term, many cafés and restaurants are offering Kids Eat Free deals, or discounts for families.
Tesco Cafés: Kids eat free when a paying adult presents their Clubcard and spends just 60p in the café, between Monday 12th – Friday 23rd February.
YO! Sushi: Kids eat free all day when dining with a full-paying adult (minimum spend £10). Offer runs from Monday 12th – Friday 23rd February.
Greene King Pubs: Kids eat free all day with the purchase on an adult’s meal. Available Monday – Friday, between Monday 12th – Friday 23rd February.
Asda Cafés: Kids eat for £1 all day, every day, with no adult spend required, throughout 2024.
Morrisons Cafés: Kids eat free all day, every day, nationwide, with every adult meal over £4.49.
TGI Fridays: Kids Eat Free all day every day When ‘Stripes Rewards Members’ purchase a full priced adult’s main meal. If you’re not a Rewards Member, book your table and download the app before your visit.
Beefeater: Two children get free breakfast with one paying adult! Keep an eye out in their newsletter, as they can send kids eat free codes.
Brewers Fayre: Up to two under 16’s eat free, unlimited breakfast with any purchase of an adult’s breakfast.
Sainsbury’s Cafés: One child’s hot meal or lunch bag for £1 with any adult main meal purchased over £5.20. This offer is on every day from 11:30am. Kid’s mains include one main, three sides, a drink and a piece of fruit.
Gordon Ramsay Restaurants: Kids under 8 eat FREE all day, every day at selected Gordon Ramsay restaurants with a purchase of an adult’s meal from the a la carte menu.
Sizzling Pubs: Between 3pm – 7pm, Monday to Friday, kids eat for £1 with the purchase of every one adult main meal in Sizzling Pubs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Hungry Horse: Kids eat for £1 when accompanied by a paying adult, on Mondays.
Pausa Cafés at Dunelm: For every £4 spent by an adult, kids can enjoy one free mini main, two yummy snacks and a drink – across all menu items. The offer is running all day every day in school holidays.
Preto: Kids eat free all day on weekends and from 4pm on weekdays with paying adults. Valid for children up to 10 years old, and you must download a ‘Kids Eat Free’ Voucher to show your server.
Whitbread Inns: Purchase one £9.50 breakfast at any Whitbread Inns pub or restaurant and two kids under 16 eat breakfast for free.
Future Inns: At Future Inns, under 5’s eat for free with any adult meal.
Table Table: Two under 16s can get a free breakfast every day with one paying adult.
The Real Greek: Kids under 12 Eat Free Every Sunday at The Real Greek with every £10 spent by an adult.
Bella Italia: Children can eat for £1 with any adult main, between 4-6pm Monday to Thursday.
Ikea: Kids can enjoy Kids Pasta with Tomato Sauce and a soft drink for 95p or any other Kids Meal for £1.50 every day from 11am.
Premier Inn: Enjoy their all-you-can-eat Breakfast for just £9.99 and up to two kids under 16 eat for free.
Travelodge: Have an all-you-can-eat breakfast for just £8.99 and up to two kids under 15 eat for free.
Dobbies Garden Centres: For every purchase of an adult breakfast or lunch, kids eat for free. This offer is on every day.
It’s worth double-checking these deals before you set off this half term.
Pop into your local Howden branch
We’ve got plenty of budget-boosting ideas for you in our blogs and in our local branches. Make sure you pick up a copy of our ultimate money saving booklet, which is full of useful tips, and why not speak to one of our insurance experts? They could help you save on your car, home, or van premiums.
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Simply search Howden Insurance, find your local branch and stop by or give them a ring!
Sources: Which?, BBC, Days Out With the Kids, Atlas Obscura, Money Saving Central