Home > Places to Visit > Activities > OXFORDSHIRE KIDS HOLIDAYS ON A BUDGET 2023


16 July 2023

Welcome to our guide on Oxfordshire kids holidays on a budget, where we tackle the daunting challenge of keeping your little ones entertained without breaking the bank!

Children’s holidays can quickly become a financial rollercoaster, with the costs soaring higher than their energy levels. From pricey attractions to never-ending snack requests, it sometimes feels like the holiday budget is being stretched to its limits. But fear not, I am  here to help you navigate the exciting world of Oxfordshire without draining your bank account.

This page ONLY includes wallet-friendly activities, hidden gems, and thrifty tips that will keep your children happy and entertained, while leaving your budget intact. All these activities are either free or would cost less than 5£pp. All these are from my own research. I have not been paid by anyone to make these recommendations and I have no financial interest in any of them. I will try to be accurate to the best of my abilities but I am only human, so please double check prices and times etc on the individual businesses / venue pages.

I have another list of ALL THE ACTIVITIES RUNNING IN OXFORDSHIRE IN SUMMER HOLIDAYS, which you can access HERE if you are interested or you are after HOLIDAY CLUBS AND CAMPS, THEN PLEASE CLICK HERE

Here is to a fantastic summer!!

Play the National Lottery:

The scheme had closed early due to popular demand, but has reappeared. So check out before they run out of tickets again
We used the National Lottery Days Out scheme last year many times and saved massively over the holiday period. So, start booking (and saving) now! Here is what you can do to get 25£ off some of your favourite places including Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, SeaLife Aquarium, Madame Tussauds London, London Eye, Warwick Castle, etc and many more.

Use Blue Peter Badges:

If your little one has a Blue Peter badge,  then they can gain FREE access to over 200 attractions in the UK including ZSL London, ZSL Whipsnade, Twycross zoo, British motor museum, Discover Bucks and Roald Dahl’s children Gallery, Bekonscot model village, Hampton court palace, Kew Gardens, Paradise wildlife park, etc. It may be late to get one in time for summer now, but here is how you can do so.

Heinz FREE Dayz out:

This summer Heinz is offering families the chance to enjoy FREE Dayz Out with many fun activities available. Anyone purchasing a promotional pack of Heinz will be able to get a fun Dayz Out voucher entitling them to one free entry per booking. Once you have bought a special pack, all you need to do is visit dayzout.heinz.co.uk and enter the batch code found on your tin / can, pop in your preferred postcode, town or area and search from a list of local activities. When you have selected your activity you’ll receive an email with your single-entry voucher to your chosen venue. Vouchers need to be claimed by 31.10.23 and used by 31.12.23.
More details HERE

Oxfordshire Association Play-Days Programme

Oxfordshire Play Association runs play and activity events across Oxfordshire during the summer holidays, which include face painting, body zorbing, giant bubbles, archery etc. Here is the list to find the one nearest to you. Entry is FREE

Family Fun Days:

Two hours of fun for the whole family! There will be small games such as snakes and ladders, Molkky and equipment for free play, as well as structured activities, which may include tag games, cricket, rounders, Danish longball and more.

    • Family Fun Day on 24th July : Watlington Recreation Ground, Shirburn Road, Watlington, OX49 5BZ, 2-4pm
    • Family Fun Day on 25th July: Crowmarsh Gifford Recreation Ground, OX10 8EB, 2-4pm
    • Family Fun Day on 28th July: The Astons Recreation Ground, Chalk Hill, Aston Tirrold, OX11 9DN, 10am-midday
    • Family Fun Day on 31st July: Woodcote Village Green, Reading Road, RG8 0QY, 10am-midday
    • Family Fun Day 31st July: Sonning Common Memorial Park, RG4 9SH, 2-4pm
    • Family Fun day on 11th August: Cholsey Pavilion, Station Road, OX10 9PT, 10am-midday
    • Family Fun Day on 15th August: Henley YMCA, Lawson Road, RG9 1NZ, 2-4pm
    • Family Fun Day on 18th August: Chalgrove Recreation Ground, OX44 7SU, 10am-midday
    • Family Fun Day on 25th August: Whites Field, Chinnor, OX39 4QU, 10am-midday
    • Family Fun Day on 25th August: Thame Leisure Centre, OX9 2BB, 2-4pm

Farms and Animals:

  • Meet the alpacas and other farm animals at Bishop’s Court Farm – FREE but donations welcome
  • Say hello to the donkeys at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary – FREE but donations welcome
  • The Old Shed is a cafe and farm shop located in Charlbury, which not only does amazing food,  but also has farmyard where visitors can see animals such as sheep, donkeys, and goats. There is some play equipment on site and they also do family friendly trails in holidays
  • Old Farm Shop near Abingdon (OX13 6AG) sells a wide variety of local produce, including meat, poultry, etc but. there is also a small farm park where visitors can see animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and goats.
  • Oxford City Farm is a small working farm in the heart of Oxford, which is FREE and open to visitors every Friday & Saturday from 10am – 1pm. It has a limited variety of animals but well suited for toddlers and very little ones. There is also a vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, mud kitchen and some outdoor play equipment (as seen in the pictures).
    Combine it with a visit to the nearby Florence Park, which is pretty amazing!
  • Millets Farm has many activities for free, including an animal walkway, a playground, and Phoebe woods. Sprouts playbarn,  Millets Wildside Falconry & Wildlife Centre, and Millet’s Maize Maze are charge-able activities on site
  • Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital is not huge, neither is it really a tourist attraction, but is open to visitors and worth a visit for families with younger children. It is not free (Adults £6.90, children £4.90) but Tiggywinkles is a charity and so all money made through the Visitor Centre goes towards saving the lives of the sick, injured and orphaned wild animals.
  • Visit the home of 80 rescued horses, ponies and donkeys, including Shire horse Lady, aka, Redwings Horse Sanctuary Oxhill (CV35 0RP) – FREE but donations welcome

Summer Library Tour – Incredible Forces:

The family science show of Science Oxford for ages 4-8 is out on the road this summer, visiting libraries around Oxfordshire. With a range of interactive demos, experiments and lots of audience participation, explore the science behind some super-forces.  These are free to attend; book direct via participating libraries



  • “Pay What You Can Sundays” at the Story Museum, Oxford, which allows visitors to enjoy the museum for as little as £1 per ticket on some Sundays. These days will fall on 30 July and 27 August during the summer holidays. You can find more information HERE.
  • Plenty going on for FREE at the Natural History Museum. Read our review from the previous visit HERE
    • On Science Saturdays, Meet scientists to investigate real natural history specimens from the collection
    • On Family Sundays, there are Family-friendly trails, crafts, and more, all provided by Museum volunteers.
    • Learn about some of the awesome animals in the Museum’s natural history collections on Awesome animals on Tuesdays and Fridays in August
  • The Oxfordshire Museum has added a number of interesting events over the summer including Wicked Wednesday, Art Tuesday, Music to the ears and Art Thursdays. Link HERE +/- Combe Mill (Open Wednesdays on 16th July and 20th August for 5£/adult). The Mill is also open but not in steam (10.30-16.30 hrs) every Wednesday from 22 March until the end of October
  • Museum of Oxford (MOX): 
    • Cushion Concert | Saturday 22 July | 10.30-11.20 | £4 per child |2+: Join local musician Hannah Brierley for an exciting woodwind concert for children, with music from the movies to Mozart!
    • Dig Into History! | Monday 24 July | 10.30-11.30/ 2.00-3.00 | £4 per child | 5+
    • Dive In! Family Day on 31st July| 11.00-3.00 | Pay As You Can | 4+
    • Riverbank Art & Crafts with Art4Space| Thursday 24 August | 10.30-11.30/ 2.00-3.00 | £5 per child | 5+
  • River and rowing museum In Henley: The first and last weeks of the holidays will be FREE at the Museum for children. Up to two children per paying adult will get FREE Museum admission for the periods 24th-30th July inclusive and 28th August-1st September inclusive. (Non-donation prices: Adult £9.00;  Child (4-17) £6.00 )

  • Family Archaeology Day at the Wallingford Museum on Saturday 22 July 2023. Normal museum adult admission charge still applies at £5 per adult entry. There are other family pop Ins during July/August 2023.
  • Vale and Downland museum:
    • Lego Club on Monday and Wednesdays (£4 per child, per session). Tickets must be booked in advance here
    • Letcombe Brook Beasties on 10 and 24 August:Learn to identify different species living by the brook) . Free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance, via Ticketsource
  • ROBOTS at Banbury Museum explores the role Robots have played in popular culture and science fiction stories (Price: Adults 5£ and child 2.5£)
    Other events include:

    • Brick Madness (Every Wednesday between 26th July and 23rd Aug 2023) £3.00/child or 12£ for all sessions
    • Build a giant junk robot on 22nd July. FREE
    • Junk Robots 27th July- £3.00/child
    • Toilet Roll transport on 25th July and 22 August- £3.00/child
    • Bath Bombs on 1st August and 29th August – £5.00/child
    • Make a Dinosaur on 3rd August- £4.00/child
    • Animal PenPots on 7th August – £3.00/child
    • Fabric Painting on 11th August- £4.00/child
    • Summer Scenes on 24th August- £3.00/child


  • Oxfordshire County Council Library
  • Wallingford: Code Club for children aged 8 – 13 years old who would like to learn about coding and make fun games and activities in code. The Club runs every 2 weeks on Saturdays, 10.30am to 11.30am.
  • Alphabets Alive Family Fun! at Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG:
    Activities each week will include a selection of ABC Poster, LEGO Printing, Long-lost Letter Hunt, Morphing Alphabets, Alpha-art and Exhibition Trail
    FREE on Wednesday mornings, July & August, 10am–1pm

Other venues:

  • South Oxford Adventure Playground (SOAP) has a mega beast of a climbing frame and tons of other activities to keep children entertained. Entry is FREE but donations welcome. Their summer schedule from 1st August to. 1st September is AVAILABLE HERE.
    You can combine it with the nearby Hinksey park and walk around the Hinksey lake and up the bridge for “train spotting” to make an amazing FREE day out of it. The children’s splash park at Hinksey Park WILL NOT OPEN this summer, as the condition of the play surface and fountains is unsafe for children to use and requires significant amount of work but Hinksey Outdoor Pool is open from 12th June. Sessions can be booked via their website or Fusion Lifestyle app.
    All Oxford (under-17s) who live in Oxford postcodes OX1 -OX4 can apply for a free swim card that gives free access to open swimming sessions. Find details HERE
  • Clumps Go Ancient Archaeology Festival 5/6 August 2023:
    Take part in interactive activities including touch and feel relics from the past and the chance to investigate the DNA of our ancestors in our science zone. Learn about the history of the area and the people who once lived here. Watch as experts demonstrate ancient crafts and techniques, and try your hand at making your own stone-baked bread. From ancient metal-casting in a fiery furnace to informative talks, this festival has something for everyone.
    🎟Price: £5 per person (under 2’s free). Book tickets HERE
  • Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre
    Summer Nature Trail at Sutton Courtenay – 14, 15, 24 and 25 August: £5 /child & booking fee. Supervisory adults free.
    Sutton Courtenay Nature Reserve Open Day on 4th and 18th August 2023- FREE
  • Film on the farm at the Old Shed Charlbury 11-13th August 2023.  The tickets are FREE but if you are arriving by car, car parking MUST be booked in advance during the ticket purchase process. Ticket holders can NOT park or access the event from The Old Shed Car Park. Entry for 1 car (Up to 5 people per vehicle) |£20.00 per car (£4.00 each) . So if you can take the bus or have a pick and drop and Bring in your own chairs or picnic mat, then you can enjoy this event for nothing.
  • The Beach at Notcutts has a giant sandpit FREE to visit from Saturday 22nd July – Monday 28th August. Wristbands for unlimited fairground rides cost £7.99 per child. Sessions are 11am-2pm and 2-5pm daily.
  • Scoot and Skate sessions 
    • Skate Event on 27th July: Henley Skatepark, Greys Road, RG9 1TF – includes games, competitions and training, 2-5pm (DGP)
    • Skatepark sessions at Sutton Courtenay Skatepark 2-5pm on Thursday 27th July. FREE drop in session.
    • Skatepark sessions at Ladygrove Skatepark (Didcot). 2-5pm on Thursday 3rd AugustFREE drop in session.
    • Skatepark sessions at Sutton Courtenay Skatepark 2-5pm on Thursday 10th August. FREE drop in session.
    • Wednesday 16th August. 9:30-10:45am Scoot and 10:45-12pm Skate at Sutton Courtenay Skatepark. 1:15-2:30pm Scoot and 2:30-3:45pm Skate at Ladygrove Skate Park. FREE drop in sessions.
    • Thursday 17th August: Skate Event: Berinsfield Recreation Ground, 10am-1pm and Skate Event: Sutton Courtenay Skatepark with games, competitions and training 2-5pm (DGP)
    • Wednesday 23rd August: 9:30-10:45am Scoot and 10:45-12pm Skate at Sutton Courtenay Skatepark. 1:15-2:30pm Scoot and 2:30-3:45pm Skate at Ladygrove Skate Park. FREE drop in sessions.
    • High demand is expected for this activity with only 20 places available per session.  There will be 50 % bookable places and 50% available on the day.  To book please email active.communities@southandvale.gov.uk with your name, contact number, session time and number of places.
  • FREE summer sports and games at the Orchard Centre (Didcot) will have three Fridays and Saturdays of FREE family fun in the amphitheatre, all from 10am to 4pm, plus, for six summer weeks, an augmented reality trail around the park.
    • Augmented reality trail  Friday 21st July – Friday 1st September.
      Simply find the promotional posters** or window decals, scan the QR codes and get immersed in puzzles and challenges, whilst finding out some fascinating facts!
    • Climbing wall on 11th and 12th August
    • Crazy Golf on 18th and 19th August: To download a scorecard click here
    • 4-bed bungee trampoline  on 25th and 26th August
  • My Pet Pals workshops running in a Pets at Home store from 22nd July until 3rd September. In these workshops, they will be looking at ways to travel with pets as well as protecting them in the warm weather. Kids will receive activity sheets and a certificate as well as meeting the amazing animals…all for FREE!
  • Thomley summer open day (Worminghall) on 12th August: Open to anyone and no need to book! FREE to attend
  • Children go for £1 to Bucks railway  centre on their non-special event steaming days (Under 3s are free anyway). Summer Holiday Steaming Days are most Sundays* and Wednesdays during school holidays – all dates included are listed HERE. (*Special events are not included – Day Out With Thomas, Peppa Pig)
  • FAM JAM-Ark-T is a family disco, with a live DJ, on July 22, 2023.  There are loads of fun and games for all the family.  Pay what you can. No need to book – just turn up! Email Rachel at familydanceoxford@gmail.com for any questions.
  • Buckingham Fringe week has a FREE Family Fun Day on Sunday 23rd July from 1pm – 4pm at Lace Hill Sports & Community Centre, including live entertainment, inflatables, zorbs, traditional games and more!

Didcot Garden Party:

FREE Days OUT from Oxfordshire:

Kids Go free during London Kids Week:

  • Get ready for an amazing offer during London Kids Week! Between 17 July – 31 August, a child 17 and under goes free when accompanied by an adult paying full price to select performances. Plus an additional two children can attend for half price! And don’t worry if your favorite show isn’t initially on the list – new tickets are added regularly, so keep checking back for surprises! It’s time to grab your seats and get ready for an unforgettable experience during London Kids Week!

Whipsnade and London Zoo tickets for £3

  • Reduced price tickets to Whipsnade and London Zoo are available for those receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance. These tickets are ONLY available to purchase online in advance, for up to six people per household (under 3’s go free and do not need to book – but must be accompanied by an adult with a booked ticket). You can book Whipsnade tickets here and London Zoo tickets here

Other Links:

X-plorer and other holiday activities:

HAF Summer Playscheme 24th July – 18th August 10am-4pm

will include Bouncy castle – Ice Skating – Games – Cooking – Sports – Movie – Arts & Crafts – Gardening – Spa Day at Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground have 30 FSM ( FREE SCHOOL MEALS) spaces (which are free and include lunch) and 18 non-FSM spaces (£5 per day)


YouMove is here to provide free or low cost activities for families living in Oxfordshire. If your child or children are in receipt of benefits related free school meals, then they have a fantastic range of activities to enjoy together, including during weekends and school holidays. In addition, YouMove is here for children in need of support; this includes refugee children, young carers and children in or on the edge of care. Find out what’s on on YouMove in your local area HERE

National Trust and English Heritage properties:

If you have national. trust membership or English Heritage membership or CSSC membership, then there are many family-friendly things to do with the kids.

  • There are hills to roll down, exotic birds to spot in the aviary and a hillside playground in which to run, climb and swing at Waddesdon Manor.
  • Knights tournament (26th – 28th August 2023 ) and Legendary Joust (29 – 30 July 2023) at Kenilworth Castle. Admission to this event is in addition to the standard admission ticket price (2.5-3.5£ adults and £1.5-2 child)
  • Re-wild the child this summer holiday with Summer fun at Stowe:
    Read our review of  the Stowe HERE and HERE
  • Summer of Play at Hughenden: Explore the woods with geocaching. Compete against each other in our garden games or croquet on the lawn. Dress up in costumes for our performance stage area. Create in our crafting workshops.
    Also Meet the Beekeepers at Hughenden on 23 July and 28th August and Big Butterfly Count between  15 July and  7 August. Read our review of  the Hughenden grounds HERE
  • Upton House and Gardens has crafting in the plant centre on Mondays (£2 per child), Wildlife Wednesdays and story time in Upton’s woodland. on Thursdays.
  • Take the waymarked route in pink to discover Basil Den and see how many of the 50 things your kids can tick off their list today, including den-building and hunting for bugs at Basildon Park. Did I say you will love the ball runs scattered in the woods. Read our review HERE
    You can also take part in Den building workshops Friday 28 July, Friday 11 August, and Friday 18 August.
  • Get the whole family outdoors and closer to nature at Cliveden. Whether it’s taking a boat trip on the river, getting lost in the maze or simply reconnecting with nature through the National Trust’s ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’; there’s lots of fun to be had come rain or shine

Here are all the restaurants and cafes that are offering ‘Kids Eat Free’ (or for £1) during the school holidays in 2023

LINK HERE: Kids eat free summer holidays

If you think something needs updating on this post, please contact us HERE

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