National Play Day is back for 2023 with 100s of FREE events, here's where to find them

The National Play Day campaign celebrates children's right to play

Image of child with paint on both hands
(Image credit: Pexels)

It's National Play Day on 2 August and to celebrate there's a huge variety of free events running across the country. 

Parents spend an extra £1,000 per child during the summer holidays so the more ways they can save money, the better! And when you combine how much it costs to raise a child with high average childcare costs, it's no wonder families everywhere are desperate for ways to make the pennies stretch, like applying for this free kid's pass that get you 57% top attractions.

Image of children enjoying National Play Day in a stream with a raft

(Image credit: Richard Cocker)

This year's theme for Playday is 'playing on a shoestring' and to celebrate, children, young people and communities will get out and play at hundreds of community events across the UK. 

These free days out range from street parties and park festivals to adventures in the woods and on the beach. Check out what's going on in your area on the official Play Day website and read on to find out more about the family-friendly initiative.

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What is National Play Day?

National Play Day is a celebration of, and campaign for, children's right to play.

"As well as a celebration, Playday is an opportunity to campaign on issues affecting children’s play," National Play Day spokesperson Richard Cocker, from Trustee for Play England, one of the campaign partners, told Goodto.

"Each year, we call on everyone to celebrate Playday and show why play is fundamental for children’s enjoyment of childhood, and vital for their health, well-being and development. 

"In light of government cuts to play services across the country, it is more crucial than ever that we unite to stand up for play."

How did National Play Day start?

National Play Day was launched in 1987 by a group of play workers, including Mick Conway, Paul Bonel and Kim Holdaway, in response to imminent cuts to school-based play centres and adventure playgrounds in London.

Cocker told Goodto: "From just a couple of events in 1987, Playday grew to around a dozen in London by 1989, went national in 1991 and is now the biggest celebration of children’s play in the UK, if not Europe. Last year communities across the UK celebrated Playday at hundreds of events.

"More than 30 years later, Playday again provides an opportunity for the play sector to raise awareness about the importance of play in children’s lives, and show decision-makers that cutting local play services will have devastating effects on children, families and whole communities."

National Play Day is co-ordinated by Play England, in partnership with Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland. Find out more at playday.org.uk.

For more ways to save money over the summer, check out our guides to the best deals to save moneythings to do with children and how to organise cheap days out.

Maddy Biddulph
Freelance parenting writer

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specialising in lifestyle and family-focused content. With 25 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK and US.  As a mum of two art-obsessed daughters, Daphne and Esther, Maddy is always looking for parenting hacks to make life easier. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer, and creates energising workouts for busy mums who need some me time.