Plan a day out with The National Lottery this autumn
Fancy saving some cash on half term activities with the kids, or a couple’s trip to the zoo? Of course you do. That’s why we’ve teamed up with The National Lottery to offer you up to £25 off hundreds of attractions this autumn. Whether you want to get back to nature at world-famous gardens like The Eden Project in Cornwall, or explore alternative worlds at an immersive experience in London, simply buy a Lotto ticket this October* to claim your voucher and get money off some of England’s best attractions.
To get you started, here’s a round-up of just some of the places you can save money on this autumn.
Places to visit in autumn: Gorgeous gardens
RHS Garden Bridgewater
Reconnect with nature this autumn at Britain’s fifth RHS garden. Following one of the largest gardening projects in Europe in recent years, the 154-acre grounds of the former Worsley New Hall estate are now a horticultural delight, perfect for a digital detox. There are plenty of different spaces to see, from the Chinese Streamside Garden that celebrates each of the four seasons to the historic Middle Wood, with its romantic, leafy canopy. And don’t forget to visit the Community Grow garden – designed like honeycomb as a nod to Manchester’s worker bee symbol – where local groups plant, tend and harvest a whole host of crops.
Don’t miss: If you’re looking for October half-term activities, RHS Bridgewater is also hosting a garden trail, planting workshops and Halloween storytelling for all the family to enjoy.
Whether you’re perusing the Rose Garden or high above the canopy on the Treetop Walkway, you’re worlds away from the everyday at Kew Gardens. Since opening to the public in the mid-19th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in west London has welcomed millions of visitors into its outdoor spaces to enjoy the beauty and importance of the natural world. Discover over 50,000 plants that call Kew their home, from the Alpine wild flowers in the Rock Garden – said to be one of the oldest and largest rock gardens in the world – to the fresh fragrances and feathery grasses of the Great Broad Walk Borders, and see fiery autumn shades come into their own in the Arboretum.
Don’t miss: Walk through an indoor rainforest in the Palm House; catch a glimpse of the Great Pagoda, built in 1762 as a gift for Princess Augusta, the garden’s founder; and let the little ones explore all the things plants need to grow (earth, air, sun and water) in the Children’s Garden, filled with hidden treasures around every corner.
The host of 2021’s G7 Summit and covering around 30 acres (the equivalent of eight football pitches), this ground-breaking garden is set on the slopes of a former slate mine and celebrates the importance of the natural world. As well as vast outdoor gardens, complete with art installations and play areas for the kids, the Eden Project is famous for its two vast biomes. Explore the largest indoor rainforest in the world – home to species from the humid tropics of Asia, Africa and South America (including free-roaming roul roul partridges) – before taking in the sights, scents and stories of the Mediterranean Biome, with colourful flora from Europe, California and Australia.
Don’t miss: Soar over the iconic bubbled domes on England’s longest and fastest zip line, and enjoy potion-making workshops and a spin on a spooky ice rink at this half term’s Halloweden.
Home to over 2,000 animals from around the world, you’ll certainly need a whole day to explore this award-winning zoo in Norfolk. Be transported across the globe to see the likes of Siberian tigers, African giraffe and South-Asian red pandas, and keep an eye out for birds like mysterious owls, chatty parrots and flamboyant flamingos. Embark on a voyage of discovery around South America in the Eureka! Walk-through habitat, where you can meet its amazing inhabitants from monkeys and tortoises to butterflies and two-toed sloths. Or take a walk on the wild side with a Big Keeper/Little Keeper experience, where kids and grown-ups can spend an afternoon getting hands-on with feeding, cleaning and animal enrichment activities.
Don’t miss: See vultures soar above and around you at a mesmerising Birds of the World display.
Did you know that pigs absolutely love belly rubs? And did you also know that you can give them belly rubs at a miniature pig farm in Buckinghamshire? Well, you do now. Award-winning Kew Little Pigs offers you the chance to stroke, pet and play with friendly and uber-intelligent pigs and piglets (yes, you read that right – there may be babies) on an afternoon in the countryside. As well as cuddles, the farm has a range of hands-on experiences, from Mini Pig Keeping for children up to 15 years old, to The Pig Enthusiast, where you’ll get special access to the pigs’ living areas to help fluff up their beds, feed them their dinner and lots more.
Don’t miss: During half term, the farm hosts school holiday activity camps where kids aged 9-16 years can spend a day getting mucky learning how to be a pig keeper – all rounded off with a hot chocolate and a goodie bag.
The BIG Sheep is so much more than just a farm – one minute you’ll be feeding new-born lambs, the next riding North Devon’s biggest rollercoaster. Spend the morning getting up close and personal with the farm’s rabbits, alpacas and Border Collie puppies, before hopping aboard a train at Eweston Station (get it?) for a magical ride around Swan Lake. After lunch, sit back and enjoy one of the farm’s hilarious live shows like duck trialling or sheep racing, before getting rid of any excess energy with a bounce on the giant jumping pillows or in EWEtopia, a huge indoor play area packed with pall pits, rope bridges and slides. The journey home will be a quiet one, that’s for sure.
Don’t miss: Grown-ups should check out the farm’s onsite micro-brewery and gin distillery where hundreds of gallons of local ale and gin are made every week.
Proudly watching over Carlisle for nine whole centuries, this medieval fortress has one hell of a history. Discover stories of sieges, occupations by Scottish kings and tales of the castle’s most famous inhabitants on a visit to this fascinating English Heritage site, located mere miles from the border with Scotland. Visit the Captain’s Tower – one of the best-preserved gatehouses in England – before ascending to the turret where Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive by order of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Explore Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life to hear stories of local soldiers past and present and uncover the truth behind mysterious stone carvings in the castle keep.
Don’t miss: Book onto a Halloween ghost tour this October and embark on a bone-chilling journey through the horrors of the castle’s history.
After undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment, this 1,000-year-old Norman stronghold is finally letting us share in all its stories. From Richard’s Tower – an imposing keep built by one of England’s most intriguing kings (Richard III, if you were wondering) – to the underground tunnels that snake through Castle Rock, explore a rich tapestry of tales that tell the story of England, from the Norman Conquest all the way to the War of the Roses.
If that wasn’t enough, you can relive some of the daring quests of Nottingham’s most famous resident in the Robin Hood Adventure gallery, where you can fire virtual longbows or spar with Little John through digital storytelling screens. Outdoors, you can craft your own Robin hats, follow the ‘I’m Hood’ garden trail to complete the outlaw’s ballad, burn off energy in Hood’s Hideout playground or settle down in storytellers circle to hear more about the folklore hero and his band of Merry Men.
Don’t miss: Step into the world of fashion designer Paul Smith, and discover his Nottingham roots in the ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’ exhibition, open until February 2022.
Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold, a palace used by King Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon and even an elegant retreat for the rich and famous. Today, it’s one of the most visited historical buildings in Britain and history buffs can journey through 900 years of history in the castle’s Gatehouse, packed with original artefacts.
If the sun’s out, why not take on Leeds Castle’s famous maze? After navigating the twists and turns of 2,400 yew trees, you’ll return back to civilisation through an underground shell grotto adorned with mythical beasts. As well as glorious gardens and grounds, which you can explore by Segway, mini ferry or punting on the moat, the castle is also home to the Knight’s Stronghold – a playground modelled on the castle’s design – and the Squires’ Courtyard playground, with sandpits and mini ziplines for littler kids.
Don’t miss: Stop by the Birds of Prey Centre for fascinating falconry displays and catch one of Kent’s biggest and best bonfire nights at Leeds Castle Fireworks Spectacular.
Built in the 18th century by Edwin Lascelles (one of the finest craftsmen of the time), Harewood House houses an impressive collection of contemporary art and a bird garden, home to penguins and flamingos. Start your day in the state rooms, admiring the vibrant décor of the Spanish Library, the Yellow Drawing Room and the Music Room before heading outside to explore over 1,000 acres of idyllic gardens.
Take a tour of the Terrace garden – built by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament – to see stately fountains and symmetrical flowerbeds where more than 20,000 bulbs are planted each year. For the children, there’s the adventure playground, while all the family can enjoy a boat trip aboard The Capability (named after the garden’s designer, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown), which sets sail on tours of the lake.
Don’t miss: Meet Harewood’s animal family (it includes giant rabbits!) on the Farm Experience before setting off on an alpaca trek around the estate’s grounds.
Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience
Be transported back to Victorian England (1898 to be precise) to try and survive an alien invasion at this multi-award-winning experience. Accompanied by Jeff Wayne’s iconic musical soundtrack, you’ll crawl, slide and weave your way through HG Wells’ masterful story, The War of the Worlds. Pyrotechnics, projections, virtual reality and live actors put you inside the action – from the first arrival of the 300-foot Martian machines to the evacuation of London – as you navigate your way through 24 extraordinary sets, from Ogilvy’s Observatory to the military trenches in Weybridge. During your journey you’ll even stop at a secret hideout, The Red Weed Bar, for the chance to fuel up before you’re reacquainted with aliens once more.
Don’t miss: Arrive early to grab a drink at The Spirit of Man Bar & Restaurant – a steampunk-themed bar serving food and cocktails under the tentacles of a giant green-eyed Martian Fighting Machine.
Step into the dark world of Mary Shelley and the story behind the world’s first science fiction novel, Frankenstein. Set in a Grade II-listed property in Bath, this exciting new attraction blurs the lines between museum and immersive visitor experience. You’ll explore four floors bursting with unusual artefacts, multi-sensory environments and assorted body parts, investigate eerie attic quarters and confront an eight-foot monster as you uncover the history and tragic life of Frankenstein’s author at this visceral and entertaining experience. Full of darkened rooms, disturbing scenes and ominous audio and visual effects, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Don’t miss: Unravel the ramblings of a madman and work to discover the key to freedom at Victor’s Lair Escape Room.
See, hear, touch and smell your way through Far Far Away at this interactive and immersive walkthrough experience based on DreamWorks’ film series, Shrek. After being whisked away on a magical 4D flying bus, you and the kids will venture through 10 fairytale-themed live shows, interacting with Princess Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots and various other characters who’ll help you collect special ingredients to find Shrek. You’ll visit various locations from the films, like Shrek’s Swamp and the Poison Apple Pub and even cook up a spell with the Muffin Man.
After the big, green ogre has been found, be sure to check out the DreamWorks Stations play zone to hang out with characters from Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon, before playing, dancing and posing your way through the Trolls World Tour Experience.
Don’t miss: Descend into The London Dungeon, explore underwater worlds at SEA LIFE London and see the city from the clouds on the London Eye all in one trip with a Merlin’s Magical London Pass.
Visit the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, spanning classic, vintage and veteran eras at the British Motor Museum in Warwick. With the motor industry at the heart of the economy and livelihoods of people living in the Midlands, the museum tells the story of the birth, decline and rebirth of British car manufacturing as well as celebrating the skills and creativity of the local people behind it.
Home to nearly 300 cars, you’ll get to glimpse much-loved British sports models from the likes of Aston Martin and McLaren, as well as vintage vehicles in the Jaguar and Land Rover zones. For families there’s ‘Under the Skin’, where kids can pull levers and press buttons, brush up their skills on a steering simulator and have their photo taken in period costume. You can even swap pushchairs for push-along cars – a much more fitting way to navigate the exhibits.
Don’t miss: Walk along the Time Road to discover how roads, cars and fashions have changed over a century of motoring history, beginning all the way back in 1896.
Delve into the mysterious mind of Roald Dahl at a flushbunkingly gloriumptious museum dedicated to the life and work of one of the world’s greatest storytellers. Set in the Buckinghamshire village where the author lived for 36 years and where many of his stories were set, the Roald Dahl Museum brings you face-to-face with Fantastic Mr Fox, the BFG, Bruce Bogtrotter and lots of other lovable characters. As well as perusing a complete collection of the author’s manuscripts, photographs, letters and ideas books, you can step foot inside Roald Dahl’s famous Writing Hut, complete with his self-customised chair (where he sat and wrote his stories) and all the extraordinary objects he kept to hand for inspiration.
Don’t miss: Round off your visit with a bite to eat in the Roald Dahl Museum Café or enjoy a clotted cream-smothered scone in the pretty courtyard.
Uncover the achievements of Britain’s World War Two Codebreakers in the place where it happened. Frozen in time, the buildings at Bletchley Park survive to tell the story of how British people played a crucial role in decrypting, translating and analysing Enigma messages sent by the German Army and Air Force. Explore engaging exhibitions and interactive displays in The Mansion (the former head offices) and restored wartime huts, see the building that housed the Turing-Welchman Bombe machines and experience what life was like at what was once the top-secret home of the Codebreakers.
If you’ve got the kids in tow, don’t forget to pick up a Top Secret Mission Pack from reception. You’ll get to complete exciting adventures in different locations – from signing the Official Secrets Act to trying your hand at codebreaking – to discover what happened there during the war.
Don’t miss: This October half-term, join one of Bletchley’s Wartime Halloween Workshops, where you can make your own upcycled Halloween decorations, just like you would have had to during the war.