WITH the school summer holidays now in full swing, parents may be getting stuck for ideas on how to entertain children without spending loads of money.

While all children love a trip out, sometimes these can end up very expensive if you have to pay for tickets to get in somewhere.

Here, we have compiled a list of 14 completely free activities and things to do in the area with children over the six-week holidays.

Summer Showtime – Porchester Square Festival Place

Festival Place is hosting an exciting summer showtime event every Thursday from July 27 to August 31.

Filled with colourful performances, amazing circus skills, and plenty of crafting – all brought to you by Bertha the Big Blue Elephant.

Performance Times are:

11:00 - 11:30

11:45 - 12:15

12:30 - 13:00

13:15 - 13:45

14:00 - 14:30

14:45 - 15:15

15:30 - 16:00

Fri-YAY Fun – Basingstoke town centre

Love Basingstoke Presents is back this summer with free family Fri-YAY fun during the school holidays across the Top of Town and War Memorial Park.

From 11am to 3pm every Friday in August you will find activities designed for children aged 3 to 16 giving them the chance to have a go at a new sporting activity, take part in arts and crafts or try something totally different.

All activities are free, most activities you will be able to just turn up to enjoy, but some may require waiting to take part or pre-booking.

For more information visit lovebasingstoke.co.uk/news/fri-yay-fun

Paddle in a stream

Most kids love water, and if the weather is hot, paddling in a stream is a great way to cool down and have fun.

In Basingstoke, Eastrop Park has a stream next to the car park at the far-side, which is ideal for paddling, surrounded by grassy banks where parents can sit and watch.

Piggy Dam in Old Basing is also a popular location for paddling. 

Build a den

This is always great fun for youngsters, particularly if you have children of mixed ages.

The Vyne Woods in Sherborne St John is the perfect den-building location with plenty of open spaces in the woodland.

Chineham Park Splash Pad

After several weeks of closure before the school summer holidays, Chineham Park Splash Pad, in Shakespeare Road, Popley is finally re-open for children to use.

Basingstoke Gazette: Chineham Park Splash Pad

The splash pad, run by the borough council, is completely free to access and offers children the chance to have fun in water if the weather is warm.

After extended periods of high usage, the splash pad may temporarily shut down to top up its water supply. This can take up to 30 minutes.

The splash pad, open from 10am to 7pm every day until September, is located inside Popley Park, which includes a recently refurbished children’s play park.

Eastrop Park

As well as the paddling pool now being open, there are a host of other activities to enjoy in Eastrop Park, including a children’s playground and boating lake. Parking is also now free in one of two council car parks.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Try a new park

You probably have your favourite children’s play parks which you visit regularly.

Most parents will be familiar with those close to home. Why not try venturing somewhere else in the town and try a different play park?

The borough council has a map pinpointing every play park in the borough, and with more than 150 across the town you could try a different one every day!

Visit basingstoke.gov.uk/playareas.

Basing Woods

Sometimes it can be tough to persuade children to go out for a walk. Why not offer an incentive by combining a walk with a play park?

Basing Woods is a great location for this, with three walking trails to follow and a children’s play area.

There is free parking at Popley Community Centre.

For more information visit forestryengland.uk/basing-wood.

Silchester Roman Wall and Amphitheatre English Heritage site

Silchester Roman Wall offers the chance to combine a walk with some added educational interest. There are various walks around the site which was a centre of the Iron Age Atrebates tribe from the late 1st century BC.

After the Roman conquest of AD 43 it became the large and important town of Calleva Atrebatum.

The complete circuit of the Roman walls -some of the best-preserved Roman town defences in England - and remains of the amphitheatre still stand.

The site is free to visit, with several car parks nearby.

For more information visit english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/silchester-roman-city-walls-and-amphitheatre/.

If you want to extend your visit, there is a children’s play park on the nearby Silchester Playing Field.

Have a picnic

It might sound obvious, but having a picnic is one of the simplest but most enjoyable ways to spend time with your family, and children will love the opportunity to be outside.

There are a variety of ideal locations nearby, including Basingstoke Canal, which has the bonus of a refreshment kiosk.

Other areas in Basingstoke and Deane to enjoy a picnic:

• Crabtree plantation

• Eastrop Park, where there is also a free paddling pool

• Old Basing Common, where there is also a playground

• Beggarwood Park, where there is also an adventure playground with a zip-line and a bike track

The Willis Museum

If the weather is rainy, visit The Willis Museum at the Top of The Town.

The free attraction has a permanent display upstairs as well as changing exhibitions downstairs. There is also a craft room upstairs with activities for children to enjoy. 

For more information about what’s on visit hampshireculture.org.uk/willis-museum-and-sainsbury-gallery.

Summer Reading Challenge

If your child is a book-lover why not take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge?

Children can visit their local library throughout the holidays to take part in the challenge with the theme of Ready, Set, Read, celebrating the excitement of sports and games. 

For more information hants.gov.uk/News/230706summerreadingchallenge.

Popham Airfield

Watch planes take off at Popham Airfield which is open seven days a week.

There is also a café with inside and outdoor seating as well as a children’s play park.

The airfield has various events taking place throughout August. For more information popham-airfield.co.uk/.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Watch trains

It’s a simple activity which costs nothing.

The bridge near Old Basing Common is perfect for watching trains roar underneath, and children can enjoy playing in the park afterwards.