13 great family days out in August for free - or nearly!
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
We're now a week into the summer holidays - and, if you've already forked out for pricier attractions, you may now be looking for entertainment that is cheaper. While admission for most of these is free or low-cost, there may be charges for parking or extra activities.
Cromer Carnival Game and Country Fair
Cromer Carnival is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, with a packed programme, running from August 17 to 23, including both free and paid activities. On Monday, August 19, the game and country fair on the carnival field offers free entry. with activities including children's sports, a sheep show, falconry, heavy horses and a ferreting demonstrations. For more details of the whole carnival week, see the website.
Beccles Harvest Moon Festival
The popular music festival takes place on August 10 this year, running from noon to 9pm. There is a £1 admission charge, and a £2 all-day parking charge. Acts set to appear include the Coral Cross Band, Jake Aldridge, Lisa Jane and Coronation Kings. The event will include food and craft stalls and family fun activities, including slime-making.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Caldecott and Aylsham
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You can see more than 110 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at the Redwings Caldecott visitor centre at Fritton, which is the biggest of its kind in the UK. The smaller Aylsham sanctuary has 50 four-footed residents, including a herd of Shetlands. Both centres are open daily from 10am to 4pm until September 9. Admission and parking are free, but there are charges to take part in some special holiday activities. The facilities include picnic areas and cafes, and at Aylsham there is also a children's play areas.
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If you're heading to Southwold, be sure to visit the pier. Admission is free, and there are attractions including Tim Hunkin's eccentric Under the Pier Show, with various bizarre interactive machines. There are also little brass plaques to admire, with wonderful memories from visitors who love the town.
Crabbing at Cromer and Walberswick
Cromer is world-famous for its crabs, and will be staging the World Pier Crabbing Championships on Sunday, August 25, with a registration fee of £1 per line, per competitor. Walberswick is Suffolk's capital of crabbing, and another great place to go for a fun and inexpensive day out. Just remember to look out for the crabs and treat them gently! Adding rocks and seaweed to your bucket will help replicate the crab's environment.
Summer Reading Challenge
Norfolk and Suffolk Libraries are both running Reading Challenges on the theme of Space Chase. Children can join in free, collecting stickers and rewards for the books they read, and receive certificates and medals when they finish.
Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton
This museum offers free admission, although donations are appreciated, and has an impressive array of exhibits. Over the summer is is open from Sunday to Thursday, and also on Saturdays until August 31. On Sunday, August 11 there is an RAFA and Veterans Day, which is expected to include a flypast by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota. Norwich and District Vintage Motor Cycle Club will also be present.
Downham Market Water Festival
The centrepiece of this festival on August 11 is its Dragon Boat races, while fun on-shore activities include local food stalls, arena events, crafts, trade and charity stands. Entrance to the festival, on the riverbank around Hythe Bridge, is free from 10am, and parking is also free.
Market Gates Shopping Centre, Great Yarmouth
If you fancy a day out shopping but want to entertain the children too, this shopping centre is offering free activities every Thursday during the school summer holidays, starting at 11am. On August 8, there will be a fun introduction to circus skills, including juggling, hula hooping and plate spinning, followed by displays by magician Trevor Cline on August 15. Then on August 22 the centre will host wildlife displays by Bryan Patterson, including meerkats, pygmy hedgehogs, snakes, scorpions and hissing cockroaches, and on August 29 children can get creative at summer craft workshops.
Play Days, Norwich
Aimed at younger children up to eight, these free events are being held in neighbourhood parks around the city over the holidays. Each event runs from 11am to 2pm. Attractions include Dave Doughnut family fun magic show, Foolhardy Circus, puppet making with Matt Reeve, garden fairy wand and summer nature crown making with Genevieve Rudd and fun soft play equipment for children up to five. Take a picnic! For full details of the dates and venues, visit the website.
Kids' Theatre, Norwich
Free outdoor theatre sessions for children are being held every Friday in August, at 11am in Jenny Lind Park and 3pm in Waterloo Park. On August 9, the show is The Magic Circus by Magic Carpet Theatre, on August 16 it's an adaptation of The Wind in the Willows by The Cat's Grin Theatre Company, and on Friday, August 23, The History of England (the best bits) by BZ Ents.
East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival, Oulton Broad
Up to 40 crews are expected to do battle in the charity dragon boat festival, which this year takes place on Saturday, August 31, running from 9am to 5pm. Admission to the event, in Nicholas Everitt Park, is free for spectators. As well as the races, there will be family entertainment and food stalls.
Our Superhero World, Waterloo Park, Norwich
Take your children along to this family fun day on Thursday, August 29, which aims to make children aware of the "real-life superpowers that are all around us". Activities include an animal superhero trail, a free children's show on a science theme, making your own slime, getting up close to creepy crawlies, and free face-painting. The day runs from 10am to 3pm.