64 ideas for FREE family events, activities and days out during the summer holidays in Lincolnshire

Events: 64 ideas for FREE family events, activities and days out during the summer holidays in Lincolnshire

Things to do in Lincolshire…

The long stretch of the summer holiday can – more so than any other school break – create some financial stress, keeping the kids entertained week after week after week.

But there are plenty of activities, events and days out you can plan into the holiday diary which won’t cost you a penny.

We’ve scoured the county to give you a long list of ideas that are free…

Classic Car Rally

The rescheduled Vehicle Rally at Lincoln Castle will now be held on Sunday, July 21.

Visitors can expect to see up to 200 vehicles – cars, motorcycles and small commercial vehicles.

The event is organised by the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society and the castle grounds are free to enter to enjoy the display (normal admission charges apply for other castle attractions).

Head along 10am-5pm.

Lincoln Castle will play host to a vintage vehicle rally
(Image: Lincolnshire Live)

Lincoln Castle

Don’t forget, except during certain events, the grounds of Lincoln Castle are free at all other times.

The environment offers a great place for kids to let off steam, enjoy being in the open air, roll down banks and for families to enjoy a picnic in beautiful surroundings.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21, the castle will also be hosting a dog friendly weekend when dogs are allowed to join you exploring the grounds, Medieval Wall Walk, Victorian Prison and Magna Carta. Dogs can enter the cinema space and the David PJ Ross Magna Carta building but not the Vault. 

Dogs must be kept on leads at all times. 

Find out more.

Family fun at St Marks

Celebrate summer with free fun in the city

St Marks Shopping Centre in Lincoln has teamed up with online parenting community Lincoln Mums to host three summer events, all of which will include free, fun activities for families.

All three events will take place on a Thursday:

  • July 25 – Welcome to Summer
  • August 15 – Mid-Summer
  • August 26 – Wrap Up Summer

Families heading along will find free activities including face painting, sports sessions, art and crafts and dance workshops.

Find out more… FREE family activities on offer at three special summer-themed fun days in Lincoln

Splash about at Fairy Dell

Fairy Dell, which has sprinklers and an ornamental fountain at it centre, is hugely popular in the summer months.

And, it’s free to enjoy.

The Fairy Dell in Skegness
(Image: Lincolnshire Live)

Dating back to the 1880s, the popular paddling pool is located near the Skegness boating lake, next to South Parade.

The Fairy Dell was fully refurbished and modernised in 2006 and contains many water features.


1940s Weekend in Lincoln

Visitors to Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter will be transported back in time when a large event takes over the area on August 10 and August 11.

Celebrate the spirit of 1940s Britain with two days of period and vintage activities and displays.

Expanding from The Strait through the Bailgate visitors will find living history displays, live 1940s music and dance, vintage and antique markets as well as vintage children’s rides.

There will also be food and drink on offer and activities for all the family.

Organisers are hoping Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypasts will be part of the event too.

Attractions will include large displays of vintage vehicles
(Image: Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Echo)

Danes Terrace, Bailgate, Castle Hill and The Lawn area will be filled with vintage vehicles from the era and visitors can expect to see 1940s entertainment throughout the weekend in a performance area.

Lincoln 1940s Weekend is organised and funded by Lincoln BIG.

Head uphill to join in on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and August 11 between 10am and 5pm on both days.

Visit Lincoln Arboretum

This Lincoln park is of Grade II historical importance, containing beautiful gardens, lakes, fountains and a children’s play area.

Sutton on Sea Pleasure Gardens

(Image: Mablethorpe Photo Album)


Sutton on Sea paddling pool is shaped like a maple leaf located in the Pleasure Gardens.

It was gifted by the Canadians following the 1953 Sutton on Sea floods.

The paddling pool includes a children’s play area, picnic area and multi-use games area.

Guided Tours of Uphill Lincoln

For youngsters who love their history, free guided tours from the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology will take place through the historic streets of uphill Lincoln.

Roman tours will show the ruins of Lindum Colonia which still exist today, including the pillars of the portico, the site of Lincoln’s first church, the Roman East Gate, and the famous Newport Arch.

Meet at St Paul in the Bail at 2pm.


The Medieval tour will take you back to Lincoln in the Middle Ages, when the streets had very different names, which reflected the trades that were carried on there. For example, do you know where the medieval parchment makers plied their trade?

Meet outside the Castle Hill Club on Castle Hill at 2pm.

  • Monday, July 15 – Medieval Streets and Markets (meet outside the Castle Hill Club)
  • Tuesday, July 16 – Roman Uphill (meet at St Paul in the Bail)
  • Wednesday, July 17 – Medieval Streets and Markets
  • Thursday, July 18 – Roman Uphill
  • Friday, July 19 – Medieval Streets and Markets
  • Saturday, July 20 – Roman Uphill
  • Sunday, July 21 – Medieval Streets and Markets

There will be another free Guided Walk of Medieval Lincoln on August 25 (2pm-4pm, meet outside the Castle Hill Club on Castle Hill).

Steampunk Festival

One of the biggest annual events to be held in Lincoln returns this August Bank Holiday weekend and there are plenty of ways you can enjoy The Asylum Steampunk Festival for free.

This year the event will run from Friday to Monday, August 23-26.

The festival combines art, literature, music, fashion, comedy and family fun.

Wander the streets of uphill Lincoln and soak up all the sights and sounds
(Image: Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Live)

Attractions and activities at the festival are divided between: free events, ticket-only entry and wristbands which cover all of the main day features.

The Bazaar Eclectica, a steampunk market of weird and wonderful items in Castle Hill, and the Steampunk Embassy at the Cathedral Centre are free and open to the public.

At the Cathedral Centre visitors will find exhibitions, talks, authors, artists and members of the steampunk community on hand to answer questions.

There is also a chance to watch a steampunk parade through the Bailgate for free.


And, of course, it costs nothing to head uphill and see the amazing costumes and enjoy the incredible atmosphere.

The steampunk promenade will take place along Bailgate on Monday, August 26 at 10am – wristbands are required to take part but spectators are welcome for free.

Find out more

Take a walk around Hubbard’s Hills

With the River Lud trickling through its centre, plenty of bridges, hills to climb and trees, Hubbard’s Hills park is a beauty spot left to the town of Louth by Auguste Alphonse Pahud.

After Auguste died, he left seven men responsible for the distribution of his fortune. The will stipulated that the money had to be spent in memory of his beloved wife. Hubbard’s Hills was purchased and, in 1907, was handed over to the people of the town.

Find out more here

Visit Boultham Park

Once a private estate, Boultham Park is open to the public. Take a walk around Boultham Park’s lake and play in the children’s playground just south of Lincoln city centre on Boultham Park Road.

The children’s play area was actually designed by local children for local children. There is also lots of local wildlife to discover.

Dragon Boat Race

Head to Brayford Waterfront on Saturday, July 20 to watch more than 100 people take to the water for a day of Dragon Boat racing.

Sixteen local teams will be taking part, starting with time trials. Then, the quickest four, will go into semi-finals and the grand final before the award ceremony.

The event will be raising money for local charities Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance and Nomad Trust.

Event time: noon-4pm.


Free museums

  • The Museum of Lincolnshire Life in Lincoln. This is free for all (except for some event days) and gives fascinating information about the rich and varied history of the area. The museum has a Children’s Trail available to keep younger visitors engaged, and the History Hunters playground is the perfect place for little engines to let off steam.

  • The Collection and The Usher Gallery, Lincoln are where you can see regular and visiting exhibitions in art, photography and archeology. Throughout August, free dinosaur activities will also be available in the Clore studio at The Usher Gallery.

  • Spend the day at Village Church Farm in Skegness – an open-air museum of local and agricultural history with outdoor activities and gardens (donations welcome).

  • At Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre you can discover the history of Royal Air Force College Cranwell from its early days as a Royal Naval Air Service base to the current day. The experience includes interactive exhibits such as a Jet Provost flight simulator, Vampire nose pod, exhibitions and artefacts. There is also a courtyard area with Jet Provost aircraft on display.

  • Enjoy the free exhibitions at the National Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford – the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the exhibition, celebration, support and promotion of national and international contemporary craft and design.

Punch and Judy shows will take place throughout selected days at Lincoln by the Sea
(Image: Lincolnshire Live)

Lincoln By The Sea

Lincoln By The Sea, a free ‘pop up’ beach, opens on July 22.

The beach will be re-created on the city’s Cornhill and stay in place until August 31. 

Lincoln BIG operations manager Richard Baxter said: “Children are being urged to remember their buckets and spades!  

“We’ve ordered the authentic seaside sand, there will be plenty of colourful deckchairs placed around the beach and we’re going to have a children’s roundabout too.

“We know that Punch and Judy is a much-loved attraction – for the mums and dads as much as the children – so Professor Jon Thursby will also be returning and trying to keep Punch and Judy and their friends in order, whilst providing lots of laughter for everyone.”


Families can watch free Punch and Judy shows on:

  • Thursday, July 25
  • Tuesday, July 30. 
  • Thursday, August 1,
  • Thursday, August 8
  • Thursday, August 15
  • Tuesday, August 20
  • Thursday, August 22
  • Tuesday August 27
  • Thursday, August 29

Performances will take place around 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

As well as Mr Punch and Judy, children should look out for the baby, Mr Punch’s dog Toby, the policeman, Joey and Clown and other characters.

Children reminded, ‘take your buckets and spades’
(Image: Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Live)


Space Chase

The annual Summer Reading Challenge 2019 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and, to run in conjunction with the challenge, Lincoln Central Library has organised a summer of free space themed craft sessions and special activities. 

Lincoln Central Library has joined forces with The Reading Agency to host the annual challenge once again, which this year takes the theme of Space Chase, and launches Saturday, July 13. 

The challenge is to read six books during the school holidays

Children of all ages are invited to take part and they can read anything they like – fact books, stories, joke books or picture books. There are no rules! 

Every child joining the challenge will receive a membership pack and, on completion, a special certificate. 

Children will be introduced to the Rockets, a futuristic family living in space
(Image: Adam Stower 2019)

But as well as the reading, the challenge includes a fun background story and activities.

This year, children will be introduced to the Rockets, a futuristic family living in space.

They are on the trail of Aliens.

The Aliens are jumping from galaxy to galaxy helping themselves to whatever they like. Now books have started to disappear from the Moon Library and the Rockets are on the case. Children will help the Rockets solve clues, dodge black holes and shooting stars, collect stickers and have lots of fun and adventures along the way.

The challenge is to read six books during the school holidays but they can be anything – fact books, stories, joke books or picture books. There are no rules!
(Image: Dave Warren/Picture Team)

The team at Lincoln Central Library has also planned a series of space themed activities including six craft sessions and two special events alongside the four regular weekly children’s sessions which will continue throughout the summer holiday.

Find out more … FREE weekly space-themed craft sessions for your children this summer

Enjoy a day out at Whisby Nature Park

Enjoy a day out exploring Whisby Nature Park, which has over six miles of footpaths around the ponds and lakes and the Natural World Centre. Don’t forget the Little Darters Wildlife Adventure Area and Otter’s Reach Indoor Adventure areas as well.

Little Darters Wildlife Adventure Area is packed full of tunnels, bridges and sand pits. Youngsters are able to watch wildlife in action, go underground in the earth tunnel and climb up the nature exploration towers. You can also try the mini assault course which includes a balance rope, lookout tower and climbing net. This area is suitable for ages 6-plus.

Otter’s Reach Indoor Adventure provides an all-weather experience and an educational resource for younger visitors aged 3 and upwards to a maximum height of 1.3m. The area allows younger visitors to explore and experience the park’s history through imaginative play and includes a gravel plant with hands-on features, bullrush stilt posts, spiders web climb, raptors’ nest and more.

These adventure areas are completely free for the family to enjoy.

Whisby Nature Park
There’s lots of free fun for kids at Whisby Nature Park


Cogglesford Mill in Sleaford

This historic working watermill is in peaceful surroundings of pasture fields and trees by the river Slea. It is free to visit and the mill opens for monthly milling days, when you can see it in action. The mill has been producing flour since the early 18th century, and belongs to a group of mills considered to be most valuable from Lincolnshire and among the most important in the country. Milling Days: second Sunday of the month from April to December. Opening times April to October: Monday to Friday noon to 4pm and Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 11am to 4.30pm. Free admission.

Free trails around Lincoln

You will not spend much time in Lincoln before stumbling wittingly or unwittingly across Roman history. The Romans certainly knew how to leave a lasting impression. It was AD43 when Roman Emperor Claudius and an army of 40,000 soldiers arrived on the south coast of Britain.

It didn’t take them long to work their way up to Lincoln. Around AD50/60, the Legio IX Hispana (Ninth Legion – Spanish) turned up and went on to construct a fortress. The site was later named Lindum Colonia (colonia meaning a self-governing town for retired legionaries).

This important Roman city was built of large stone buildings and was full of houses, shops, workshops, temples and bath houses. The central site of the former legionary headquarters became the forum and basilica, which was central to Roman public life. It contained law courts, civic offices, markets and workshops.

Newport Gate, Roman Arch, built in early 3rd Century

Take a free digital tour of Roman Lincoln with a trail you can access here. Simply follow on your smartphone (some trails are available in printed version from Lincoln Visitor Information Centre).

Other self-guided tours through the city include the 1217 Battle of Lincoln TrailGeorge Boole Trail, Aviation Trail and the Jewish Heritage Trail.

Find all trails here.

Free guided tour

Take a free guided tour of Guildhall and Stonebow in Lincoln on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10.30am and 2pm. Arrive at the main entrance (Guildhall Street) ten minutes prior to the tour starting.

Spend a day cycling

A purpose-built trail linking Boston and Lincoln, with a range of artwork along the route, follows the River Witham. Mostly traffic free and off road, it starts in the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral and finishes at the market town of Boston with the famous St Botolph’s Church, known as ‘The Stump’. The route is 33 miles (54km) in length and fairly flat throughout. The Water Rail Way features vast open fenland landscapes, with long views and expansive skies. Artwork along the route is inspired by the words of Lincolnshire’s Lord Alfred Tennyson. Find out more and pick a section you’d like to try here.

The Water Rail Way is mostly traffic free and off road
The Water Rail Way is mostly traffic free and off road
  • Lincoln and Doddington Hall

You can enjoy an uninterrupted and safe off-road route between Lincoln and Doddington Hall that’s named after Lincoln-born, Olympic gold medalist Georgie Twigg MBE.

The route was opened in July 2017 and the track provides a link between Doddington village and the Sustrans Route 64 which carries on to Lincoln, arriving at the Brayford Waterfront. It is a mile long and comprises of a purpose-built tarmac track which goes across land privately owned by the Doddington Estate.

Access is free and available to all cyclists.

The Lincolnshire Wolds needs little introduction. This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boasts some of the most beautiful, unspoilt scenery in the region. There are rolling hills, streams and hidden valleys with nestling villages. You can plan a cycle or walk HERE.

Head to the woods

Once a haunt of the Vikings, this ancient woodland lies within Witham Valley Country Park. The wood lies close to the village of Skellingthorpe, five miles from Lincoln between the A57 and A46. You can follow trails and footpaths of varying lengths throughout the wood. As well as walking, the woods are great for cycling and wildlife. Look out for a mixture of ancient oak, lime woodland and conifers. Find more local woodlands to ramble through here.

A beautiful 34-acre woodland open daily 8.30am ’til sunset and boasting a wide variety of wildlife and abundant wildflowers, with several well-marked walks around the site at Norton Disney.

A Green Flag Award winning park. Victorian landscaped gardens, and access to parts of Swanholme Lakes Local Nature Reserve. Follow footpaths and discover the lakes, woods, meadows and heaths, home to many plants and animals, with bridges crossing the lakes. The main entrance is on the B1378 (Skellingthorpe Road). It is signposted from the A46 (Lincoln Bypass) and from the B1003 (Tritton Road).

Situated on the site of a medieval woodland near Wragby, the wood contains a wealth of butterflies and rare ancient small leaved lime trees. Find trails in Chambers Farm Wood here.

Willow Tree Fen has been transformed from arable land growing beans and cereal to a more traditional fenland landscape of shallow meres, seasonally flooded pastures, hay meadows and reedbeds. Find out more.

  • Snipe Dales Country Park & Nature Reserve

An area of two halves in the Lincolnshire Wolds with wet valleys and scrub in the Nature Reserve and mixed woodland forming the Country Park. This diversity of habitats supports a wide range of birds and other wildlife. Find out more.

At the foot of the Wolds near Alford, this ancient woodland is thought to have been around since prehistoric times. Rigsby Wood is lying partly on chalky Boulder Clay and partly on glacial sands at the edge of the Wolds. Look out for tawny owls and great spotted woodpeckers.

  • Tortoiseshell Wood and Porter’s Lodge Meadows

Some of the oaks are over 150 years old in Tortoiseshell Wood and fallow deer are frequently seen in the wood as well. Porter’s Lodge Meadows possess rich and varied flora and meadow, aquatic and marginal plants.

Lots of wildlife to see in this wood including more than 120 species of moth which have been identified within the reserve.

The Lincolnshire Limewoods is a historic area of the county rich in wildlife. Discover ancient woodlands and quiet countryside as well as many archaeological sites. A series of six circular walks ranging from 3.75 to 9.25 miles have been produced by Lincolnshire County Council in Bardney, Faldingworth, Fiskerton, Stainfield and Apley, Woodhall Spa, Wragby and Goltho. Download leaflets.

A day trip to the beach

Don’t forget your bucket and spade

Pack a picnic and bucket and spade and visit one of these quieter beaches where there are far fewer costly distractions…

Anderby is a long, unspoilt, sandy beach between Chapel St Leonards and Skegness to the south, and Sandilands and Mablethorpe to the north.

  • Theddlethorpe Dunes in Saltfleetby

Theddlethorpe Dunes boasts an unspoilt landscape of salt marshland and sands. It is a designated National Nature Reserve and there are a range of habitats including tidal sand and mudflats, salt and freshwater marshes and sand dunes. The beach is a vast expanse of flat sand extending in every direction, and the marshes behind the beach are one of only a few locations in the UK where the natterjack toad can be found. This beach is dog friendly.

Chapel St Leonards is a sand and shingle beach. It is a good place for walking as the beaches stretch for many miles in both directions. A promenade runs alongside the beach, and to the south the beach leads to the larger resort town of Skegness, which is about six miles away if you fancy heading there.

Ingoldmells is a popular, sandy beach. Skegness is a few miles to the south and the town of Chapel St Leonards is to the north. Behind the beach is a promenade.

If you want to stay up to date with events, food, nightlife, days out and entertainment news from across Lincolnshire, there’s a number of ways you can do it: 

Follow our Lincolnshire Live What’s on page on facebook – go and give us a like by clicking here.

We’ve got a dedicated What’s On channel on our website – which you can visit by clicking here.

There are also dedicated pages which collate our articles on Food and Drink, Family and Kids, Music and Nightlife, and Shopping.

And if you’re looking specifically for family oriented events, or want to share news on a family event you have organised, why not join our Lincolnshire with Kids group on facebook?

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