If you’re looking to have fun on a budget, we’ve put together this suggested list of free and reasonably priced activities for the whole family. So when the summer days stretch out, these are just a few of the things you can do with the kids for a great price.

We’ve tried to keep this to places which are free to enter. Obviously you’ll have to get there first, but for the price of a parking ticket, these are some of the best things you can do in Leicester and Leicestershire for absolutely nothing!


Explore our city museums

Leicester is full of fantastic museums which allow you to discover the history of the city from a variety of viewpoints. Leicester Museum and Art Gallery tells the history and pre-history of our county, with dinosaurs and one of the oldest fossils every found. There’s also an ancient Egyptian gallery and the Story of Leicester told by the people who live here, along with great temporary exhibitions. At Newarke Houses Museum learn more about the social history of the city as well as seeing the Leicestershire Regiment exhibition, the gigantic chair (and clothes) of Daniel Lambert and a street scene right out of the 1950s. They have a Peter Rabbit trail for the kids to follow this year. Little ones can crawl under the garden gate, hide in a watering can and see their reflection in a mirror pool

Leicester’s Guildhall is one of the oldest buildings in the city and was once the town hall and jail, you can wander in and see the exhibitions, or book a free guided tour on special dates throughout the year. If you’re more into engineering, then Abbey Pumping Station, next to the National Space Centre, tells the story of science, industry, transport and health in the city, with a huge set of beam engines which you might be lucky enough to see working.


County museums

In Loughborough, the Charnwood Museum is totally free and shows the history, geology and archaeology of the surrounding area. Not only that, it’s also home to an exhibition of the much loved Ladybird books, which were first produced over 150 years ago in Loughborough. Found in Market Harborough’s Library the Harborough Museum is a treasure trove of local artifacts and is also home to the incredible Hallaton Treasure, found at one of the most important Iron Age sites in Britain. If you’re more into loud engines then the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience is the perfect place to while away a few hours. Their exhibition of classic and famous bikes from race and screen is completely free, and you’ll have the chance to see bikes from the likes of Mission Impossible, The Great Escape and James Bond!


Play in the parks

There are loads of public parks and open spaces around Leicestershire and we couldn’t hope to list them all, but here’s a small selection of some of the best.

In the city, Abbey Park is full of beautiful flowers, water, ducks and geese, and of course the ruins of Leicester’s main abbey. There’s also a pet’s corner for the little (and not so little) ones. Right by Leicester Racecourse, the University of Leicester Botanic Garden is the perfect place to explore beautiful blooms and towering trees. On the other side of the city, Braunstone Park is one of the largest parks in the city and has a fishing pond, open meadows, formal gardens and spinneys to explore. It also hosts a weekly Park Run, as does Victoria Park, which has huge open spaces to run free on.

Further afield, Charnwood, to the north of Leicester is full of gorgeous parkland, ancient woods and some incredible views. Bradgate Park is one of the county’s favourite places with wild deer, the iconic Old John and miles of walks over heathland, volcanic rocks and up and down hills. Swithland Woods is close by and is one of the best unspoiled ancient woods you can find, with wildlife in abundance and fossils that inspired the young Sir David Attenborough. Away to the south of the city, Fosse Meadows Country Park is the perfect place to walk your furry friend, and this dog walker’s paradise is perfect for a day of free fun.

Leicestershire’s 70 miles of Riverside and canals are the perfect way to spend a day. You can walk or cycle all the way from Watermead Park to the north of Leicester, right down to Everards Meadows by Fosse Park and beyond. Following the River Soar, you can take a walk around the unique Foxton Locks and you could be treated to the spectacle of a canal boat travelling all the way up a 75ft hill through 10 different locks.


Walks and trails

There are loads of walking and cycling routes throughout Leicestershire, and as part of our Fitcation campaign we’ve put together a list of some of the best from Richard III to street art in the city to exploring Market Bosworth, through to 75 miles of cycle and walking . In Blaby district to the south of the city, there are 12 different Heritage Trails for you to follow around the region. Melton Mowbray has a long history of Royal connections and they recently launched their Royal Mile trail where you can follow in the footsteps of Kings. Just look for the banners along the route.


Free events this summer

From 9 July onwards there are loads of free activities going on in Leicester as part of Summer in The City. From the Queen’s Baton Relay passing through Leicester and Loughborough to a real-life Spitfire in the city centre. The city will come alive for the Caribbean Carnival, Belgrave Mela and Pride parade. Then the Open Streets and Heritage Sunday events at the end of each month allow you to explore on bike and see behind the scenes of some of Leicester’s most historic buildings.

From 13 August the city will be transformed as The World Reimagined comes to Leicester. Globes decorated by a wide range of artists will be displayed throughout Leicester to transform how we understand the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and its impact on all of us. The trail explores the richness and reality of Africa before the Transatlantic Slave Trade; the impact of the Slave Trade and Empire on Africa; and considers and celebrates the present and future of Africa.


Reasonably priced days out

While these days out might not be free, they’re still great value for money. Wistow Maze is one of the highlights of the Leicestershire summer. With more than three miles of pathways, this corn and sunflower maze is 20 times bigger than Hampton Court’s famous maze and this year has a Jubilee theme. Prices are just £8.50 for adults and £28 for a family ticket. At the Bosworth Battlefield exhibition you can discover all about 1485 and all that, and see how King Richard lost his crown to Henry Tudor. Just £8.95 for adults and £26 for a family of four. Watch out for their special events, including the Bosworth Medieval Festival on 20-21 August.

Moira Furnace takes you back to the industrial age and the best-preserved example of a genuine Victorian foundry you can find. It’s only £3 for adults and £1 for children. Right in the heart of the National Forest, the 1620s House tells a story of witchcraft and plotting, and is surrounded by amazing gardens. Adults can get in for just £5.95 adult and it’s £18 for a family of four. And finally, Stoneywell is a perfectly preserved arts and craft inspired cottage in the middle of the forest. Run by the National Trust, it’s just £8.50 for adults and £21.25 for families.

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