Free and cheap activities in Dorset for children during the summer holidays

With the cost of living rising faster than we can keep up and summer vacation well underway, here’s a list of free and affordable events for kids during the break.

From free family cooking workshops, soccer clubs and summer songwriting bootcamps, there really is something for everyone, including children with special educational needs (SEN).

Many activities are part of the Holiday Food and Activity (HAF) program where children eligible for benefits-linked school meals can access fun activities and free meals during the holidays – this year the codes Access is also offered to refugee children, including Ukrainian guests, and children from foster families.

August 5 – If you and your family would like to get your hands dirty in the kitchen, the Friendly Food Club offers free family cooking workshops at Sturminster Newton, with the session ending with a hot and tasty lunch for everyone. This one is reserved for families with an HAF password. SEN and suitable for wheelchairs. For more information and to book, contact [email protected]

August 8 – A family arts and activity session for 4-16 year olds in Weymouth, which includes eco-friendly arts and crafts, a bouncy castle and more. Free for those with an HAF password and £5 for others. A free hot lunch is also offered to those with an HAF code. They can also provide a quieter creative space for families who need it. Contact C Mason on 07423555318 or [email protected]

August 15 – Fun football games and coaching in Weymouth for 6-12 year olds. Free with an HAF password and £5 otherwise. SEN and suitable for wheelchairs. For more details and to book, contact C Mason on 07423555318 or [email protected]

August 16-19 – A four-day School of Rock workshop culminating in a band performance takes place at Sturminster Newton. Suitable for children aged 8-12, it takes place over four free sessions for those with an HAF code and £30 for others. Suitable for SEN children. For details contact 01305 225770 or [email protected]

On various dates and locations – Free swimming for children at Everyone Active Blandford Leisure Center (01258 455566) and Everyone Active Weymouth Swimming Pool and Fitness Center (01305 774373) between 25 July and 2 September. These are in conjunction with the HAF program.

Shaftesbury Lido is offering free swims to all children under 16 between July 25 and September 4 – including weekends, evenings and bank holidays. Advance booking is essential as the pool can get busy on hot sunny days. You can book via

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