10 ways to save money at Center Parcs

 Center Parcs is one of our favourite holiday destinations and it's somewhere we have visited quite a lot over the years. We love the woodland setting, activities on offer and relaxed pace of life. 

There is no denying that a Center Parcs break can be expensive though, especially in school holidays. I have a few tips to save you a little bit of £ when booking up......

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs

These tips are based on our trips to Whinfell Forest but they probably do apply to other locations too. Prices checked January 2023. 

Just to let you know, Center Parcs is a cashless resort so if you are saving spending £ (or your kids are), make sure you pay it into your bank or add it to a card before you visit. 

1 - Travel during inset days to avoid holiday price hikes

My number one tip is to book a weekend where your school has an inset (or teacher training day) on the Friday.

This avoids needed to take the kids out of school AND the expensive school holidays and if you travel down early on the Friday, you can start using the facilities at Center Parcs from noon (pack a picnic for your first day).

You can either leave late on Sunday night or super early on Monday morning.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - lake

2 - Order wine and groceries in advance

The Center Parcs supermarket is super pricey - I think a loaf of bread was over £2 on our last trip. I would advise looking for wine and champagne deals online and bulk buying beforehand to save money.

Similarly, I recommend meal planning for your stay and ordering a supermarket shop online to click and collect en-route. There is a Morrisons, Sainsburys and Aldi in Penrith. Morrisons and Sainsburys will deliver to Center Parcs but you will need to meet them at the Security Gate and they can't enter the parc. 

There is also a large B&M Bargains a few miles away which is excellent for stocking up on snacks, drinks etc..... 

3 - Take advantage of these free activities

There are hundreds of activities to choose from ranging from a few pounds up to £50+. Don't feel pressured into having to book lots of things to do. In my opinion, kids are just as happy playing in the woods, riding their bikes and spotting wildlife. 

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - free woodland trails
Trails around the parc

Here are some of the free activities you can enjoy at Center Parcs: 

  • Playgrounds - a large adventure playground outside of the main village centre and another outside of the sports plaza

  • Soft plays - there are three to choose from. One above Cafe Rouge (better for kids aged 3+), one in the Lakeside Pub (this one is tha largest and good for all ages) and one in the Sports Cafe (under 8s). You don't need to purchase anything from these venues to go in and use their facilities 

  • Free kids disco - usually on a Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat and Sun night from 6pm-8pm in the Leisure Bowling Alley Area. No need to book, best for younger kids 

  • Owl trail around the woods 

  • Bird & wildlife hides (great for squirrel spotting) 

  • Baby dolphins - special pool session for under 3s (you do need to book)

  • Unlimited access to swimming & slides 

If you're visiting during Winter Wonderland, there are further free activities including: 

  • Santa Village Tour 
  • Meet the Elves in the Woodland Village 
  • Christmas Carols in the Village 
  • Santa's Letter Delivery to your Lodge 
  • Festive Face Painting 
  • Festive Storytelling (you need to book) 

4 - Plan and book paid-for activities in advance

If you do wish to book activities, I would recommend booking no more than one or two per day.

You can book activities online well in advance (up to 3 months before) so if there's an experience your children particularly want to do, you can maybe ask grandparents to pay for it for their birthday, or book one activity every few weeks to spread the cost. 

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - American Pool in the bowling alley bar
American Pool in the Bowling / Amusement Arcade Bar

Do make sure you book the ones you want to do the most in advance as once they're gone, they're gone. 

Some of the cheaper activities which are less than £10 per person include: 

  • Adventure Golf £8.25 per person for 9 holes, over 8s can do it without an adult
  • American Pool £9.50 per table per hour
  • Balance Bikes £8.25 per child (adults free)
  • Badminton Court & Equipment £13.50 (for up to 4 people)
  • Electric Boat Hire £26 (for up to 4) or £27 (for up to 6 people)
  • Family Carts £34 (for up to 6 people)
  • 5 a side court hire £36 (for up to 10 people)
  • Football Pool £12.50 per group
  • Geocache £20 per group of 4
  • Hair Braiding £8.25
  • Katakunda Boat Hire £20.50 for up to 6 people
  • Line Dancing £9
  • Mini Musical Movers £8.25
  • Nature Walk 8.50
    10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - squash family ball wall
    Squash Family Ball Wall

  • Outdoor Bowls £10.50 per rink
  • Pedalo Hire £16.50 for up to 4
  • Sports Cafe Pool Table £5.25 per table per hour
  • Racket Ball “12.50 per court
  • Red squirrel family adventure £8.25
  • Roller Skating £8.50
  • Short Tennis £13.50 per court
  • Snooker £7.25 per table, per hour
  • Squash Family Ball Wall / Interactive Squash £18 per group
  • Table Tennis £8 per table
  • Ten Pin Bowling £28 for up to 6
  • Outdoor Tennis £14 per court
  • Big Family Quiz £3 per player
  • Amusement Arcades (buy tokens)

5 - Take your own bikes and scooters

Bike hire for the family can work out expensive and would be well over £100 for us 5. A Center Parcs holiday just isn't a Center Parcs holiday without feeling the fresh air on your face as you cycle through the woods.

For me, not having my bike there is non-negotiable. You can save money however by taking your own from home. A bike rack can often cost less than bike hire but offers much better value for money as it can be used time and time again.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - take your own bike

6 - Take advantage of Center Parcs' Come Back Soon offer

If you book another Center Parcs break within 31 days of your departure date, you can enter your original booking reference number as a discount code to receive a £50 discount on your holiday. 

Center Parcs also guarantee that this is the cheapest way to book your holiday. If the same holiday (with the same dates and accommodation type etc) happens to go down in price (and you notice), simply take a screenshot and send this to Center Parcs over messenger and they will refund you the difference.

I know people who have saved £100s on their original booking doing this however whenever I have checked, I've never found that the original price I paid has decreased (it's usually increased by around £130). 

Center Parcs do not run sales or promotional offers, instead their prices fluctuate with demand. Sometimes it pays to hang on and you might find a bargain of a last min deal if you're not bothered about location / accommodation type. 

Read more about Center Parcs' Come Back Soon offer here. 

7 - Take these things with you 

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - log burner

To keep the cost down and the fun factor up, I recommend bringing the following with you (ad affiliates).....

  • Logs if you have a log burner (the £1.50ish ones from B&Ms)
  • Bird feeder for window to attract squirrels (buy here)
  • Chalk to draw pictures on the chalkboard in your accommodation (buy here)
  • Waterproof phone case - you are allowed to take photos of your own friends and family (with their consent) in the pool for personal use (buy here)
  • Tassimo pods for the coffee machine (buy here)
  • Amazon fire stick to plug into your TV and access your Netflix, Disney + etc.... (buy here)

8 - Swimming is your friend

Swimming is free of charge at Center Parcs and you can go as many times as you like. You do not need to book a slot - simply turn up. Pools are normally open from 10am - 9pm and I guarantee that a visit will be a highlight of your holiday.

There are flumes, kids pools, water toys to play with, lazy rivers, waves........lots going on and to get the best value from your holiday I recommend visiting in the evening when it's usually quieter and will (hopefully) tire the kids out and ensure they sleep soundly.

We love the outdoor heated pool upstairs - it's like being in a spa and lovely underneath the stars. There is a new cyclone slide opening in Spring 2023 which looks fab. 

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - swimming pool

9 - Bring the spa & pottery painting to you

The spa at Center Parcs is probably the best spa I've ever visited and if you can, I think a visit is definitely worth it. Again though, it is expensive and if you are looking at saving money there's no reason why you can't bring the Center Parcs spa experience to your lodge instead.

Get your partner to take the kids out for a walk, run yourself a bubble bath and relax with a face mask and magazine. You'll feel just as relaxed and won't have spent a penny.

Pottery painting is a popular activity choice at Center Parcs and receives great reviews but at £6 pp studio fee + cost of pottery (starting at £15), it is pricey. 

If you're looking to save £, why not take your own pottery painting kit to enjoy in the lodge together. Just make sure you cover the table. (ad) Browse Pottery Painting Kits here. 

10 - Visit during Winter Forest Lights  

Winter Forest Lights usually takes place from the second week in January until February Half Term. January/February also happens to be one of the cheapest times to visit Center Parcs (for example, £379 for a 2 bedroom lodge sleeping up to 4 guests). 

This would be reduced to £329 if you use Come Back Soon which is an absolute bargain. 

Winter Forest Lights is a FREE evening activity which I personally love. It's like a free walk-through interactive light trail set to music in the woods with a tipi where you can enjoy snacks and drinks afterwards. It really adds extra value to an already cheap break I think. Read my full review of Winter Forest Lights here. 

Winter Forest Lights dates for 2024 have yet to be announced. 

Winter Forest Lights at Center Parcs 

11 - Order a local takeaway 

Bonus entry..... 

I've never had a problem with dining out at Center Parcs and do enjoy doing this as part of our holiday. You can order a Center Parcs takeaway too (see here for menus and prices). It is expensive though and despite never having problems myself, I know some people have had problems with the quality / standard of meals and takeaways ordered direct with Center Parcs. 

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - Indian Restaurant
On Site Indian Restaurant / Takeaway 

Lots of people swear by two local takeaways and really rave about them - the Golden Boat Takeaway and Dana Indian Takeaway. Both are based in Penrith and you can order ahead and meet the delivery driver at the Security Lodge by the parc entrance at a specified time to collect. It might save a bob or two and provide better value doing this but it is slightly more hassle. 

12 - Blue Light Discount 

Another bonus entry....... 

Center Parcs did stop Blue Light Discount for a while but have brought it back recently. Use your Blue Light Card for discounts at Cafe Rouge and Starbucks. This may change again so always check before ordering / booking for the most up to date info and t&cs. 

Other Center Parcs posts you may enjoy: 

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10 ways to save money at Center Parcs



  1. These tips are so useful and practical, Sam! Keep up the great work!

  2. Fab post, we have been looking at center parcs with the fam for early next year and I like the idea of a shop en route x

    Rachael xox

  3. Very helpful information. Have not been to centre parks before so the tips helped to organise our break.


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