The school holidays can put a strain on a family’s budget, especially if you have more than one child.
But don’t worry - all these events and attractions in the Wakefield district are free to enjoy.
1. The Gnome Roam at Newmillerdam - Help Gnome Tony find his gnome friends and the bear that has scared them all away. The scenic walk features a number of wooden sculptures for children to find. The route takes walkers through the trees and back down towards the lake. It’s not too strenuous although there are a few steps to get up at the beginning. Parking charges apply.
2. The Hepworth Wakefield - The gallery runs free activities for families every weekend and school holiday. It offers an excellent programme of activity for children of all ages, from artist-led drop-in workshops, to explore and draw stations in the gallery. Children will discover ideas, processes and materials linked to the artworks in the exhibitions and collections displays. There’s also a picnic area, outdoor playground and changing facilities. Parking charges apply.
3. Sandal Castle - Pack up a picnic and enjoy the history of this site. There’s some superb views of the Calder Valley and youngsters will love exploring the castle ruins (some parts are currently closed for safety reasons, but there’s still plenty to see). Free parking.
4. Room on the Broom at Anglers Country Park - This themed adventure trail is based on the bestselling children’s picture book, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Starting from the Discovery Centre, the trail follows a route around the lake giving youngsters the chance to see sculptures of Witch, Cat, Dog, Bird, Frog and the terrifying Dragon. You can buy an Explorer Pack for £2 before you set off but this isn’t necessary and you can have as much fun without it. There’s also a park at the end of the trail with picnic benches. Free parking.
5. Thornes, Clarence and Holmfield Parks - There’s something for all ages here. Older kids can enjoy the skate park while younger ones will love the play area and duck pond. See if you can find the secret garden and take a walk through the parkland to the aviary. The parks have plenty of free space for a few ball games or a picnic. There’s also a miniature train but there is a small charge for this. Free parking.
6. Blown Away at Pugneys - Another adventure trail, this time based on the story Blown Away written by local author Conrad Burdekin and illustrated by Lilian Fitchett. Zoom on the zip line, snap yourself in the face boards, solve the puzzle boards, count the geese, make some noise, sail the boat and hunt the wind before enjoying a rest and a picnic at the fantastic themed tables. If you don’t fancy the trail, visitors can also enjoy the pirate-themed playground or take a stroll around the lake. Parking charges apply.
7. Wakefield Library and Museum - Relax in the children’s section of the library and read a few books. There’s also a summer reading challenge taking place. Then head downstairs to the museum see some local cultural treasures and learn surprising facts about the city. History comes to life in The Front Room with a Victorian Kitchen and a 1940s living room. Here children can become characters from the past by trying on the dressing-up collection inspired by the costumes on display in the museum, while adults can take a trip down memory lane with our 1950s display. Visit The Extraordinary World of Charles Waterton, the Wakefield-born pioneering Victorian eco-warrior and explorer, and view his collection of preserved animals including Charles Waterton’s creations made up from bits of animals. You can also stand on the back of the fierce caiman crocodile that he famously captured on one of his trips to South America. There’s also a Roald Dahl exhibition running during the summer. See portraits of some of the world’s most loved literary children’s characters, created by legendary illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake, to mark the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth. The series of ten character portraits from Dahl’s famous books include the Twits, Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. The images have never been seen before in the books. It is the first and only time the exhibition of drawings will be on display in West Yorkshire. The interactive exhibition also includes hands-on entertaining activities including a dressing up space to take selfie portraits, the chance for visitors to draw their own pictures and fly them on the exhibition’s kite and a comfy reading section to relax and enjoy the wonderful world of Roald Dahl.
8. Hemsworth Water Park - There’s two lakes, with one surrounded by sandy beaches. Pack up your buckets and spades and see who can build the best sandcastle. There’s lots of room for a game of football, or to enjoy a walk in the sun. There’s also the Playworld Adventure Playground and pedalo rides, but charges apply for both of these. parking charges also apply.