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The top UK cities to spend the school holidays

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Posted
18 JULY 2023
5 min read
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The best UK cities to spend the school holidays

School holidays are just around the corner, and many parents will be looking for different ways to keep their children entertained. Whether you’re after outdoor adventures, or looking to beat the heat indoors, there are plenty of activities on offer across the UK. But, which city is the best place to head to with the kids this summer?

To find out, we analysed 50 UK cities, taking into account factors such as the number of parks, museums, child-friendly events in each location, and the average temperature in summer to reveal the best cities to spend the school holidays. We then analysed the results per 10,000 children, to crown the winner.

The top 10 UK cities for school holidays

Cambridge has topped the list as one of the best cities in the UK to head to with kids this summer. Despite being home to the lowest number of under-16-year-olds (21,713), the city has 51 different parks, which is perfect for those families looking to head outside.

There’s lots for kids to learn in Cambridge too, with 15 museums to choose from. Whether they want to learn all about animals at the Museum of Zoology, or delve into some hands-on experiences at the Cambridge Science Centre, there is plenty to satisfy curious young minds. While at the time of research the city only had six kid-friendly events on offer, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for any last-minute activities happening in Cambridge throughout the school holidays.

In second place is Edinburgh, which has a huge 172 events for kids going on. In particular, August sees the return of the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is packed full of fun for both adults and kids. To see the best child-friendly performers all in one place, why not head to the Best of Edinburgh Fringe for Kids show. Running from the 3rd to the 13th of August, the show is filled with comedy, music, and magic, designed to entertain the whole family.

Crawley ranks as the third-best location for kids this summer. The city boasts 62 parks, with Cherry Lane Adventure Playground particularly great for kids of all ages, offering a Wild West-themed play area, plus table tennis, sports, and a schedule of activities throughout the year. For those families with older children, Crawley’s Tilgate Park has a Go Ape course – perfect for those looking for adventure this summer.

Reading and Norwich round off the top five best locations for school holidays.

Index City Population aged under 16 No. of parks No. of parks (per 10,000 children) Avg. Summer temperature (°C) No. of museums No. of museums (per 10,000 children) No. of events for kids Overall Score
1 Cambridge 21,713 51 23.5 17.0 15 6.9 6 6.18
2 Edinburgh 79,067 65 8.2 14.3 36 4.6 172 5.55
3 Crawley 24,749 62 25.1 - 7 2.8 5 5.19
4 Reading 33,814 33 9.8 24.3 8 2.4 1 4.74
5 Norwich 23,769 34 14.3 16.0 13 5.5 2 4.56
6 Preston 29,292 71 24.2 15.3 6 2.0 0 4.13
Slough 39,457 72 18.2 - 10 2.5 1 4.13
7 London 1,843,581 194 1.1 18.0 235 1.3 130 3.94
8 Portsmouth 39,611 18 4.5 16.0 24 6.1 6 3.90
9 Newcastle upon Tyne 52,622 48 9.1 13.3 13 2.5 108 3.87
10 Ipswich 27,955 20 7.2 20.7 5 1.8 12 3.69

Bradford has been revealed as one of the least favourable places to take kids during the school holidays. With just six museums and just two events currently on offer for kids, Bradford isn’t the best location to keep children entertained this summer. Though, of course, some events may have been added since the time of research.

In second place is Sheffield, with 34 parks, but just eight child-friendly events, including BBC’s Cbeebies: Ocean Adventure concert, which takes place in July.

Leeds comes in third place, with just four kid-friendly events taking place. Both Sheffield and Leeds also see some of the coldest summer temperatures, with averages of around 13.7°C across the months of June to August.

Belfast and Swindon round off the list of least favourable cities to spend the school holidays.

Index City Population aged under 16 No. of parks No. of parks (per 10,000 children) Avg. Summer temperature (°C) No. of museums No. of museums (per 10,000 children) No. of events for kids Overall Score
1 Bradford 127,913 55 4.3 14.2 6 0.5 2 1.50
2 Sheffield 105,803 34 3.2 13.7 12 1.1 8 1.61
3 Leeds 153,569 54 3.5 13.7 19 1.2 4 1.62
4 Belfast 68,467 14 2.0 14.3 8 1.2 11 1.69
5 Swindon 45,539 14 3.1 16.2 5 1.1 2 2.02
6 Plymouth 47,709 9 1.9 15.0 10 2.1 5 2.05
Aberdeen 35,423 13 3.7 13.3 8 2.3 16 2.08
7 Stoke-on-Trent 52,554 26 5.0 14.0 10 1.9 10 2.13
8 Bournemouth 68,129 28 4.1 16.0 7 1.0 9 2.14
9 Peterborough 47,385 16 3.4 - 11 2.3 2 2.19
10 Sunderland 49,234 37 7.5 - 6 1.2 9 2.31

It can be hard to keep young kids entertained all summer long, but school holidays are also a great chance for parents to spend some quality time with their little ones. In order to have a stress-free summer, don’t try to cram too much in, and think about what you will all enjoy doing as a family, so both you and the kids are happy.

And while it might not be the first thing on your mind, making sure your life insurance policy is up-to-date can help to give you peace of mind that your family is protected financially should anything happen while you’re going on your family adventures this summer.

Methodology & sources

pare the Market created a seedlist of the top 50 most populated UK cities, and then compared a variety of metrics to determine the best locations to spend school holidays. Each metric was then analysed per 10,000 children in that city, to create an overall ranking. The full list of metrics and sources are listed below.

All data was gathered between 24/5/23 - 06/06/23.

Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

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