Free Activities for Summer 2015 in Berkshire

During these times of austerity, recreational activities can be the first part of the family budget to take a hit. While it seems that most of Berkshire is spending long hot summer days roller-coastings at Legoland and swimming-the-rapids at Coral Reef, the outlook for some can feel bleak. Without the funds for theme parks and many summer holiday activities the forecast for the summer holidays may be nothing but frustration with a chance of boredom.

However, once you’ve exhausted the standard list of frugal fun (and it is quite a long list) – crafts, picnics, play dates, baking, bike rides, library, walks, feeding the ducks, museums, parks and paddling pools – Berkshire’s councils and service providers also have an increasing trend towards providing free and cheap activities for families, because six weeks can feel like a long haul when you’re spending money every day. (As usual, please check with the venue that entry is still free and whether they charge for parking.)

Bracknell’s Big Summer of Fun has enough free activities to keep you busy every Monday and Wednesday of the holidays in different parks across the borough – with activities including petting zoo, climbing wall and bouncy castle, plus youth activities throughout the holidays.

Climbing Wall, Bracknell's Summer of Fun

Climbing Wall, Bracknell’s Summer of Fun

Children lucky enough to live in the borough of Wokingham can swim for free during all school holidays in 2015. Check terms on the Council Website.

Saturday 1st August, 12pm – 9pm – Party in the Park at South Hill Park boasts free entry to a celebration of live music.

Cole Museum of Zoology in Reading is based in the University and has specimens as varied as the full skeleton of an elephant, a giant spider crab, sea sponges, squid and a false killer whale.  And don’t forget the main Museum in Reading Town Hall – always a good few hours of entertainment.

Swinley Forest has long been a great venue for mountain bikers.  However, in 2013 the routes improved even more and now, in addition to your own explorations, there are three marked routes for varying abilities starting with the one mile route suitable for families to the more challenging Blue and Red trails of up to 8 miles.  There is a charge for parking, but riding on the trails is free. Swinley Forest Trails Guide

Frensham Great Pond charges for parking and is not quite in Berkshire, but it’s the closest thing we have to the seaside and if you take your own picnic and plenty of suncream then you can spend the whole day day there, swimming and building sandcastles and once on the beach you needn’t spend a penny.

Lockey Farm in Arborfield has a play area, crazy golf and of course, farm animals.

Entry to the grounds of Donnington Castle near Newbury is free and a great place for walks, picnics and flying kites.

Donnington Castle, West Berkshire

Donnington Castle, West Berkshire

And, after all that, if you still fall flat before September, try the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4.  It is full of inspiration to keep the kids busy outdoors.

So, some kids have been to all the Theme Parks, eaten out several times a week, watched Disney’s latest offering in 3D? Have they been climbing, swimming, bouncing, played with farm animals, cycled in the woods and swam in a lake? And done it all for free?

Six weeks is a long time – let’s not let money (or lack of it) get in the way of having a great time this summer!

Wendy Booth – Portrait Artist

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