20 free & low cost things to do in the summer holidays in York
Whilst it’s lovely for everyone to have a break from school (and the school run), six weeks stretching ahead can seem a long and potentially expensive time.
It is possible to have plenty of fun out and about in the summer holidays in York without spending lots of money. We’ve pulled together 20 ideas that are free (or very cheap) to keep everyone entertained over the summer holidays.
York Mumbler is the place to come to find out everything going on in York for families. This summer our website is packed full of information to help make your life easier. If you are looking for holiday clubs & childcare or inspiration for a fantastic day out in the summer holidays, then you’ve come to the right place.
We also stay up to date with all the events happening in York so you don’t have to – all you have to do is look at our daily events calendar.
1. Summer Reading Challenge – all York Explore Libraries
Take part in the Space Chase at your local library. Anyone aged 5 and over can enjoy this challenge by reading six books over the summer holidays. There are prizes for each book read, plus a medal and certificate for reading all six. It’s a brilliant and fun way to get everyone reading this holiday and it’s free! Under 5’s don’t miss out, and get a sticker card and sticker for each book they read too.
2. Library activities – all York Explore Libraries
There are lots of brilliant events and activities on at your local library this summer as part of the Space Chase Reading Challenge. From slime workshops to crafts and LEGO workshops to poetry there is something for everyone to enjoy.
3. Yorkshire Museum Trust – York Art Gallery, Castle Museum & Yorkshire Museum
For only £12 per adult (if you’re a York resident) you can get one year’s entry to all three musuems. So if you visit each one over the summer that’s only £4 a visit and we guarantee you’ll go back again as they run lots of different events throughout the year. Having a YMT card is really handy, especially on a rainy day in town. ℹ️ See YMT website for more information 💷 Cost: £12 per adult, valid for a year, children are free 📅 When: Open daily 10am – 5pm
4. Waterstones Summer of Fun – Coney Street, York
There are lots of great free activities happening in Waterstones this summer including a daily storytime. Week one is all things space to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, so there will be space hunts, activities and much more!
No summer holiday in York is complete without a visit to the NRM especially if (whisper it…) it rains all day! There is lots going on this summer including marble runs, interactive sicnece shows and classic steam rides.
8. Play garden games in Treasurer’s House – Minster Yard, York
The beautiful gardens at the Treasurer’s House are free to enter and offer amazing views of York Minster. There are lots of fun games on the lawn in summer to play with. Also on Fridays in July the house is free to enter if you are a York Resident – just take proof of address with you.
11. Moorlands Nature Reserve – Moor Lane, York, YO32 2RE
An absolute Mumbler favourite is a visit to Moorland Nature Reserve. Enjoy a walk around the forest with plenty of things to spot along the way such as carved trees, ponds and a treehouse. ℹ️ See YWT website for more information 💷 Cost: Free 📅 When: Open daily
12. Take a picnic to a different park – various locations around York
Another summer holiday essential is a trip (or twenty) to your local park. Why not ring the changes and visit a park in York you might not have been to before? Make a day of it and take a picnic. We’ve listed 10 brilliant parks with play areas in York guaranteed to keep everyone happy.
13. The Squirrel’s Trail Quiz – Museum Gardens, York
If you find yourself in town when the kids need a run around the Museum Gardens is the place to go. There is a free trail (access via a smartphone) to make sure you explore every corner of these beautiful gardens.
15. Craft fun at the Minster – Chapter House, York Minster
There is a different theme at this craft sessions each week. On 7 August you can make a minibeast hotel, on 14 August you can make a green man out of clay and on the 21 August you can make a nature themed mobile.
ℹ️ See York Minster for more information 💷 Cost: 7 Aug session is free. All others are £2.50 per child. Entry to the Minster is free with proof of address including York Card, driving licence or utlity bill. 📅When: 7, 14 & 21 Aug 2019
16. Summer in Deans Park – York Minster
Enjoy a great range of family acitivites in York Minster’s Dean’s Park over the summer. Everything has been designed to make you look up! Try building an arch from giant foam blocks, crawl inside the play den and spot things in the sky or spot some insects in the mini-beast hotel.
19. Art Award Discovery Summer 2019 – various locations, York
The Arts Award Discover is a nationally recognised award aimed at 5 to 9 year olds (although any age can take part). All you need to do is take part in any of the creative activities, finding out about an artist or craftsperson. Collect a stamp or sticker at the activities at York Castle Museum, York Minster (see number 15 above) & York Theatre Royal (see number 20 below).
20. Swallows and Amazons Workshops – York Theatre Royal, York
To tie in the with summer production of Swallows and Amazons there is a workshop for 7-12 year olds to explore the themes of the play through drama and games. There is also craft activities on every day in the foyer and a Swallows and Amazons trail open to children of any age.
That’s the end of our list of brilliant free (or very nearly free!) ideas to do in and around York this summer. Do let us know if you hear about any other great free or cheap activities to do over summer so we can share them with all the other Mumblers.
☀️☀️☀️We hope you all have a fantastic summer holiday!☀️☀️☀️