Ten more things to do with your kids for free in Nottinghamshire this summer holiday

The Great Central Railway Nottingham includes miniature train rides.

We got a great response to our first run-down of frugal things to keep kids entertained – and a few new suggestions. So just in case you’ve already run out of ideas, Joanna Oleskow has ten more Nottinghamshire days out which don’t cost a penny, or only require donations.

1. Nottingham Contemporary

The gallery on Weekday Cross welcomes kids to have fun and get creative, and is not just aimed at adult art lovers. Throughout the summer holidays children can create colourful moving portraits of member of their familes. The sessions are held every day from 11am to 3pm except Mondays. Admission to the gallery and events are free of charge. While the kids have fun, parents can visit current exhibitions such as Lara Favaretto’s Absolutely Nothing or Wu Tsang’s installations.

You may have been to Nottingham Beach already but did you manage to meet Mr Zebra from Nottingham Contemporary? If not visit the beach again on any Wednesday during summer holidays between 11.30am to 2.30pm.


2. Harley Gallery

Harley Gallery located on the Welbeck Estate is hosting four different exhibitions and entrance is free. From a collection of miniature paintings through porcelain sculptures, contemporary biennial art competition to surreal drawings exploring ecology and nature there are many things to explore. The gallery organises creative summer sessions, which take place every Wednesday during summer holidays, however small fees apply. On the grounds of the Estate there is a café.

3. Patchings Art Centre

Patchings Art Centre in Calverton has three exhibition galleries, depicting contemporary local art. There is also the chance to meet some studio artists at work. In fine weather kids and parents can enjoy a walk around nature and explore the Artists’ Way. Patchings Café serves refreshments, homemade lunches and full meals. Admission to the venue is free. There is a Nottingham Teddy Bear Fair at the centre on August 28. Admission is free but there will be plenty of bears to buy.

4. New Art Exchange

New Art Exchange in Hyson Green hosts Beats and Bars, a hip-hop workshop for children aged 7-10.

The sessions are held by Baby People, a hip-hop school based in Nottingham. Kids can learn how to use computers to make music and how to write their own lyrics. Admission is free, however there is limited capacity. While the young ones are enjoying hip-hop classes, parents can visit current exhibitions which explore music from Pakistan and India.


5. Great Central Railway Nottingham

Formerly known as Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre, here kids can learn about how travelling by rail looked in the past. The Ruddington museum has static displays such as a miniature railway, model railways and a road transport collection. Kids can also enjoy a playground. Admission is free, however if you plan to have a ride in one of the historic carriages, charges apply.

6. Idle Valley

Idle Valley, near Retford covers an area of 450 hectares and has four designated walks, which vary in length and difficulty, so if your kids prefer a stroll or a small hike they should be happy either way.

Sheep and Lamb at Idle Valley Nature Reserve

There is also a bronze rubbing trail and some sculptures to discover. Kids can observe the wildlife and learn interesting facts about animals living there. There is a visitor centre, a shop and café serving homemade food. The admission to the reserve and the centre is free, there are however some events organised during summer holidays, which do charge.

7. Mansfield Museum

If your kids prefer indoor activities, this is a nice alternative for a day out. Mansfield Museum is free of charge, offers some interesting exhibitions and hosts special events during summer holidays. Kids can discover the industrial past of Mansfield, see a history of toys and games, learn about recycling from Eco Dude and see the work of local photographers and artists. There is also a summer exhibition called Animal Allsorts where children can learn how animals influence human lives. There is a whole range of free activities including White Post Farm Animal Roadshow, ‘Dog Safety for Kids’ and Meet a Guide Dog Day.

8. Bassetlaw Museum

Here is another hidden gem with a free admission in North Nottinghamshire – Bassetlaw Museum. The collections include local history, archaeology, fine arts, agriculture, costume and textiles and there are summer exhibitions featuring the work of local artists. Additionally the event calendar is filled up with activities for kids during summer holidays including arts and crafts, Lego Day and Bug Safari – all for free.

9. Kelham Hall and Country Park

Kelham Hall and Country Park is close to Newark. Admission is free, but the hall is often closed due to special events, but it is possible to find out in advance, or arrange a guided tour (adults £5 and children under-10 free). Walks around the estate include views of woodlands and riverside (around 45 minutes). The site also has gardens and an outdoor and indoor play area.  Another site attraction is a maize labyrinth, however charges apply. There is also a café that serves cakes, sandwiches and light lunches.

Kelham Hall


10. Rufford Abbey

Rufford Abbey, near Ollerton, has woodland walks besides a 12th century abbey. Its summer events calendar includes Morris dancing and falconry. There are also additional summer events organised especially for children in the Play Village, many of which are free to attend.  Kids can enjoy making crafts, dancing, singing and can take part in a magical story walk through the park.

Rufford Abbey and Park (Picture: @Rufford_Abbey)