The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England

Buying an annual pass can save you lots of money on days out across the year. I always think they\re a fantastic idea for birthdays or Christmas gifts as they really are the gift that keeps on giving!

They are also a great investment to make at the start of the year as you can use them throughout every school holiday if needed (in most cases).

The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England


It also means that once you've paid the one-off cost, your day out is free (or super cheap) and it's nice to know you have the option to enjoy a day out when you're skint and need to get the kids out of the house.







There are so many annual passes to choose from so I've decided to compare some of the region's favourites and try and figure out which offer the best value for money.

I am basing prices on a family of four (including 2 school-aged children) and I'm judging the annual passes on their initial cost, if they're accessible by transport, the saving you'll make if you visit four times across the year and how often they run special events or exhibitions so there's something new for you to see.

Prices were checked in December 2019 and are subject to change.


Seven Stories


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - seven stories


Seven Stories is all indoors so perfect for a day out when the weather isn't so good. We usually team a visit to Ouseburn Farm across the road which is also free (donations welcome) and I can highly recommend lunch at the Cluny next door.

We usually park in Foundry Lane Car Park (postcode NE6 1LH) for which there is a small charge. Both Manors and Byker Metro Station are around a 15 minute walk and a number of buses from Newcastle City Centre stop close by (see here for details) or you can walk along the quayside from the city if it is a nice day.

Seven Stories is accessible (see their full statement here) and they offer early bird entrance once a month for visitors on the autistic spectrum, ear defenders, quiet spaces, a changing places toilet, sensory backpacks and more.

  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £65
  • One-off visit cost: £23.10
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 3 visits


Life Science Centre


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - life science centre


Life Science Centre is conveniently located in the heart of Newcastle next door to Central Station. It is super convenient to get to via public transport (train, bus or metro). In fact, children receive free entry if they travel by public transport so it may work out cheaper for you to do this rather than buying an annual pass (see here for details).

There are various science exhibitions, shows, demonstrations and a chance to get hands on too. These change a couple of times throughout the year.

Life is accessible (you can read their accessibility statement here) and I really like that there is an indoor picnic area where visitors can bring their own food as well as a lovely cafe. Facilities include ear defender hire, level access, a changing places toilet, wheelchair loans, induction loops and more.

  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £94
  • One-off visit cost: £31
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 3 visits


Alnwick Garden


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - alnwick garden


Alnwick Garden is open throughout the year (they usually close for most of January) and a lovely place to visit if you enjoy the great outdoors & beautiful flowers. They also run special events across the season and especially offer a good range of activities in the summer holidays (usually at no additional cost).

Despite being outdoors, Alnwick Garden is not dog-friendly.

Alnwick Garden have their own dedicated car park (£3 per car per day) and a number of buses serve Alnwick Town Centre direct from Newcastle.

Alnwick Garden is accessible (you can read their full access statement here). Facilities include free wheelchair and mobility scooter hire, level access and a changing places toilet.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £49.50 
  • One-off visit cost:  £24.99
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 2 visits
Read about our visit to see the Cherry Blossom in Spring here. 


Alnwick Castle


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - alnwick castle


Alnwick Castle is one of the best castles in Northumberland and probably best known for where some of the scenes featuring Hogwarts were filmed as part of the Harry Potter franchise. There is something for everyone though (not just Harry Potter fans) with a Dragon Quest, Broomstick Lessons, Courtyard Games, Dress Up & special events all included with admission.

The Castle is open from the end of March - October Half Term so not the best annual pass to invest in if you are looking for year-long fun.

Alnwick Castle shares a car park with Alnwick Garden (£3 per car per day) and is super easy to walk to from Alnwick Town Centre which is served by regular buses from Newcastle.

Due to the historic nature of Alnwick Castle, disabled access is limited in some areas (you can read their accessibility statement here). Alnwick Castle offer free wheelchair and mobility scooter hire (although there is limited access in some areas) and accessible toilets.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £41.15
  • One-off visit cost: N/A
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: N/A
Read our review of Alnwick Castle here. 


Adventure Valley

Adventure Valley is a family farm park in County Durham offering various indoor and outdoor attractions and events throughout the year.

On-site parking is free and the number 62 Arriva bus from Durham to Brasside stops outside.

I struggled to find much in the way of an accessibility statement on their website. As far as I can see, the top part of the site is completely accessible and the two outdoor areas have been covered in tarmac but are on an incline  (I do not know by how much). I could find no information about accessible toilets.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £260 
  • One-off visit cost: £40
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 6 times


Whitehouse Farm


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - whitehouse farm


Whitehouse Farm is one of our favourite North East attractions. Open from February, they offer lots of indoor and outdoor fun and special events throughout the year.

The farm offers free onsite parking but is unfortunately fairly difficult to reach via public transport (I think a taxi would be needed from Morpeth).

Whitehouse Farm is accessible with wheelchair hire and mobility scooter hire available (with a small refundable deposit). There is an accessible toilet and most of the farm is flat with tarmac walkways.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £196
  • One-off Admission: £37.95
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 5 times
Read our guide to Whitehouse Farm here. 



WWT Washington


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - wwt washington


WWT is a lovely place to visit with a play park, outdoor work and many birds & wetland habitats to experience and enjoy. Unfortunately at time of writing, their website is not working. I will pop back and include more information when I can.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £72 
  • One-off Admission: £28.60
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 3 times
Click here to read our review of WWT Washington 



English Heritage


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - english heritage


We tend to buy English Heritage membership every other year. You need to pay it all in one go so it is a bit of a big outlay but there are lots of days out you can enjoy. This membership is perfect for history lovers and English Heritage run special events and trails during school holidays at no additional cost to members. Roman school on Hadrians Wall and Vikings Invade Lindisfarne Priory have been some of our favourites.

Sites to visit include Belsay Hall, Tynemouth Priory, Warkworth Castle, Corbridge Roman Town, Hadrians Wall, Lindisfarne Priory and Dunstanburgh Castle. Click the blue links to read more and see photos.


Most are accessible via public transport and offer free on-site parking. Please see individual site websites for accessibility statements.

English Heritage sites are usually dog-friendly.

  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £105
  • One-off Admission: (varies) 
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 4 of the more expensive properties


National Trust


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - national trust


We have been National Trust members for over 10 years now and think it is probably a membership we will keep up forever (if I had the funds, I would definitely invest in lifetime membership).

National Trust offer a diverse range of days out and lots of activities during the school holidays at a small or no additional cost. Their properties are home to some of the best play areas in the North East too. There is always something new to see and do.

Sites across North East England include Cragside, Seaton Delaval Hall, Wallington, Gibside, Washington Old Hall, Lindisfarne Castle, Souter Lighthouse and Cherryburn. Click on the blue links for more information and photos.

Most sites offer free on-site parking. Please see individual websites for accessibility and public transport options.

National Trust sites are usually dog-friendly.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £126
  • One-off Admission: (varies)
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: Just over 2 (based on Cragside)


Beamish


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - beamish


Beamish is a fantastic day out at any time of the year. There is always something new to see and do and the range of events on offer is fantastic. Expect everything from Twelfth Night to Harvest Festivals, Parades, Live Music and more. Beamish is an attraction that truly does change with the seasons. Beamish is one of the free

Beamish offers free on-site parking and is accessible by bus. In fact, if you travel by bus, you can receive a 25% discount on your annual pass (see here for details).

Beamish is accessible (read their full accessibility statement here) and offers a multi-sensory experience. Some of the older buildings may not be accessible to all. Free wheelchair hire is available and there is an accessible bus which can accept up to four wheelchairs at a time. There are multiple accessible toilets across the site as well as a changing places toilet in the 1950s welfare hall. An induction loop system is available.

Beamish is dog-friendly.

  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £51
  • One-off Admission : N\A
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back : N/A
Click here to read our review of Beamish by bus. 


Woodhorn Museum


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - woodhorn


Woodhorn Museum offers one of the cheaper annual passes and is a great option for families living in Northumberland. There is a museum, play park, cafe and lots of lovely events and craft sessions across the year which are usually included with admission/your annual pass.

Woodhorn has a free on-site car park and is a 15 minute walk from Ashington Bus Station (see here for details).

Due to the historic nature of the buildings, not all are fully accessible. The museum offers a multi-sensory experience, the team have undertaken dementia friends training and regular quiet sessions are offered. You can find out more about accessibility here .

Woodhorn is dog-friendly.

  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £13
  • One-off Admission: N/A
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: N/A
Click here to read our review of Woodhorn 


Blue Reef Aquarium

Tynemouth Aquarium is a mostly indoor attraction by the coast. There is paid for parking nearby or Cullercoats Metro is a 10 minute walk. The Arriva 306 or Go North East 1 bus services stop nearby.

Blue Reef Aquarium is accessible and has an accessible toilet and cafe on site. You can find out more about accessibility here. 
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £117.30
  • One-off Admission: £35.19
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 3 visits


Diggerland Durham

There is no denying, Diggerland is an expensive day out and even more so for an annual pass. There are not any special events across the year that I can see so I would save this pass for if you lived super close and were real digger enthusiasts.

There is free on-site parking and the Go North East No 13 / 14 bus run from Durham and stop outside.

Randomly, you can land your helicopter at Diggerland!

Diggerland Durham has recently installed a sensory room, the site is wheelchair accessible and accessible toilets are available (although there is no hoist). Find out more about accessibility at Diggerland here. 
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £320
  • One-off Admission: £96
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 4 visits


Tanfield Railway


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - tanfield railway


Tanfield Railway is said to be Britain's Oldest Railway. You can enjoy train rides and various events throughout the year.

There is free on-site parking and the Go North East X30 and X31 (from Newcastle, Gateshead and Stanley) stop outside of St Andrews House Station.

The railway is situated in the countryside and largely open to the elements. There can be rough, slippery paths and loud noises. Read more about accessibility at Tanfield Railway here. 

Tanfield Railway is dog-friendly and dogs travel FREE.
  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £90
  • One-off Admission: £27.50
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: 4 times

Click here to read our review of Tanfield Railway. 

Preston Park 


The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England  - preston park



Preston Park features a number of attractions including an open air museum/Victorian street, indoor museum, walled garden, adventure playground and skate park. Preston Park offers a full programme of events throughout the year, many of which are included with admission/annual pass.

There is free on-site parking and there are lots of regular buses which stop nearby.

The park has a range of accessible paths but there are also some which may be unsuitable for wheelchairs. There are accessible toilets on both floors of the museum, hearing induction loops are available, you can hire wheelchairs and walkers and there are regular relaxed openings. Find out more about access at Preston Park here. 


  • Annual Pass cost per family of four: £15
  • One-off Admission: N/A
  • How many times you need to visit to get your money back: N/A


Reader Suggestions I Missed

After publishing this, a few readers have mentioned a couple of annual passes I missed which I think are definitely worth mentioning.

1 - I cannot believe I missed Jarrow Hall. We love it there! It is £48 for a family annual pass (2 adults and up to 4 children). I like it here as it is close to the metro, has a fab park next door, has an indoor and outdoor section plus brilliant farm animals. Perfect for toddlers!

2 - A couple of people mentioned Down at the Farm - a farm park in South Tyneside.  Their annual pass is £120 for 4 people which is pretty good value anyway but twice a year (usually first week of December and the end of February), they heavily discount this to around £50! What a bargain. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page for details.

3 -  Lots of you recommended Broom House Farm in County Durham. The cost of an annual pass is £60 per family of four. There are nature trails, adventure play areas, zip wires and more. It is dog-friendly too.

4 - An annual pass to Segedunum is only £14 per adult (kids go free). Segedunum is right by Wallsend Metro so a good investment if you rely on public transport. They run free craft days every school holiday which are worth popping along to. 

Which Annual Passes offer the Best Investment? 


After looking at the various deals available, I think the following passes offer an excellent investment:


1 - National Trust

National Trust is a fantastic option as your pass covers so many properties and most provide additional activities and excellent play areas too. You will recoup your money quite quickly if you're a regular visitor.

2 - Beamish

Beamish runs a huge variety of seasonal events from Harvest Festivals and Christmas to Horses at War, Halloween and more. There's always something new to see and do and it is somewhere which is a full day out for all ages.


3 - Life

You save quite a bit of £ if you invest in a Life annual pass and I like that this option is a fab rainy day idea. Life is one of the easiest places to get to from all the places I've listed so a fab option if you rely on public transport. Their exhibitions change regularly too. Life is a good option for a variety of ages too.


4 - Preston Park

At £15 for a family, you can't beat this annual pass for value. There's always something new to see and do in the school holidays and their events are fantastic too.



5 - Woodhorn

Woodhorn is also an inexpensive option and I like Woodhorn as it's a great option for both bad weather or sunny days. There are often craft activities and exhibitions are included in the annual pass too.


6 - Alnwick Garden 

You only need to visit Alnwick Garden twice in the year to recoup your investment and I love that there's an option to take a different named adult too so perfect if you'd like a day out with your friend or grandparents in school holidays.



Which Annual Passes would I avoid? 

Personally, I find £113 to visit the Blue Reef Aquarium to be a crazy amount when compared with somewhere like Beamish which is over half the price. I don't think the Blue Reef Aquarium is enough to keep the family entertained for a full day, nevermind multiple visits throughout the year.

The cost of an annual pass for Adventure Valley has shocked me the most. At £260 it's over 5x the cost of Beamish! I seriously don't know how they can justify that, especially when a similar pass will set you back just £45 for Down at the Farm in their sale.

I have found farm parks to be quite pricey in general and although farms do offer a good day out, they seem very expensive when compared with other annual passes in our region and you tend to need to visit 5-6 times before you start to see a saving.

Finally, at almost £300, Diggerland is the most expensive annual pass from my findings and you need to visit four times across the year to get your money back. The only time I'd consider buying this pass is if I lived next door and my kids loved diggers!


If you are looking for more ideas for days out, I post lots of ideas and recommendations over on Instagram. You can follow North East Family Fun here. 

Let me know if you have a favourite annual pass.

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The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England

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3 comments

  1. Wow Sam this is quite some post, it must have taken you ages! So much information here, thank you!

    At the moment we just have a National Trust membership but we really love it, as you said it feels like you're getting a free outing so even when you're broke and waiting for pay day you can still enjoy visiting somewhere lovely. We also use it a lot when we're on holiday, it's great visiting new sites when you're in a different part of the country.

    I had no idea there were so many annual passes available in the North East!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for letting us know there is somewhere that is NOT dog friendly - Alnwick Garden. My son has ASD and is terrified of dogs and our days out have dwindled to just about city centre locations only! He can cope if it's a dog he sees all the time but loads of different ones - no way!

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