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.

This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated (in bold) with prices / info in January 2022. 


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. 

January 2022 update - Seven Stories has now changed the way you visit. At time of checking, annual passes are no longer available. Some sections of Seven Stories are FREE with no booking required and other exhibitions are chargeable. Find out more in this blog review. 


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).

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 visit
January 2022 update - Family membership remains at £94 but they do say that this is due to change in April 2022. You can read about the new under 7s play zone here. 


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.

January 2022 update - An annual family pass is now £54.50 and as of July 2021, under 16s now go free (up to 4 per paying adult) so general admission has slightly reduced to £20.70 for a family of 4. This does reflect the lower winter admission cost and will increase in the summer months. 


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. 

January 2022 update - An annual family pass is now £50.50 which is quite a jump in two years. 


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
January 2022 Update : Adventure Valley is now offering 500 term time passes for just £30 per person which seems like a huge bargain! I would snap this one up if I was at home with a preschooler during the week (find out more here). 

A standard annual pass for a family of 4 is now £280 with a one off admission costing £40-£48 depending on when you visit. 


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. 

January 2022 update : An annual pass for a family of 4 is now a whopping £303 which is a huge increase in two years. Your pass is only valid from February - October too. Standard admission is now £48.95. 




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 

January 2022 Update : An annual pass for a family of 4 is now £92 and one off admission has actually decreased slightly to £27.09. You can pay for an annual pass monthly too. 


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
January 2022 Update: English Heritage Membership is now £111 per family per year (with the option to pay monthly). 


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)
January 2022 Update : National Trust Membership has remained the same price and is still £126 per year per family with the option to pay monthly. 


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. 


January 2022 Update : An annual pass has remained the same price (£51 for a family of 4)


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 

January 2022 Update : An annual pass remains the same price (£13 for a family of 4)


Tynemouth 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
January 2022 Update - A family annual pass is now £139.50 and a day ticket is £46.50 


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
January 2022 Update : General admission has reduced slightly and is £91.20 per family of 4. At the moment, there is no information available about annual passes. 


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. 

January 2022 Update - at the moment, unlimited tickets / annual passes are not available. 


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
Click here to read our review of Preston Park. 

January 2022 Update : Prices have remained the same and an annual pass is just £15 per family. 


Other Annual Passes (updated Jan 2022)


Hall Hill Farm 




Annual membership for a family of 4 is just £152 for a family of 4 which is pretty much half the price of Whitehouse Farm. Standard family admission is £39.95 so you would need to visit the farm 3.5 times across the year to get your money's worth. Find out more here. 

Down at the Farm 

Down at the Farm is a bargain at just £31 for family day admission. Annual Passes will be available to purchase from Spring, they often offer a mega discount beforehand so keep an eye on their social media. Find out more here. 

Northumberland Country Zoo 



Standard family admission is £41.50 and an family annual pass is £165 so you would need to visit 4 times across the year to get your money back. Find out more here. 

Read our recent review of Northumberland Country Zoo here. 

Broom House Farm 




Lots of people love the Broom House Farm Forest Adventure Annual Pass however at time of publishing, they are not available. Read our review of Broom House Farm Forest Adventure here. 

Daniel Farm 

A new fun farm opened at Daniel Farm last year. Regular admission is £32 per family of 4. At the moment they do not offer an annual pass option. Find out more here. 

Segedunum 

Day admissions is £4.95 per adult and under 16s go free (so it will be £9.90 for a family of 4). An annual pass is available for £13 per person (so £26 per family) and you would need to visit 2.5 times across the year to get your money back. There are concessions / various deals available too (for example those with an NE28 postcode go free). Find out more here. 

Lightwater Valley 

Lightwater Valley is a popular attraction and I know their annual pass is popular. At the moment, there is no info on pricing for this year online but keep your eyes peeled. Find out more here. 

Jarrow Hall 


Jarrow Hall has switched to an annual pass system now and it is a bargain at £22 for a family of 4. You can read more about Jarrow Hall here. 


Ushaw Historic House & Gardens 

Day admission is £30 for a family of 4 and an annual pass is just a little more at £39 per family (or £19.50 if you are a local family - see their website for details). It definitely seems like it is worth upgrading to an annual pass in this instance. Find out more here. 

Bamburgh Castle 

Family admission to Bamburgh Castle is £42.10 and an annual pass is £55 per family. TO me, it seems worth paying a little more and upgrading to an annual pass if you live close by and are likely to visit more than once across the year. Find out more here. 


Raby Castle 

At the moment, there is only pricing available to visit the Deer Park.  The castle is closed for the winter and the walled gardens are closed until summer 2023. Day admission is £17 per family and an annual pass is £60. Personally, I would wait until the walled garden and castle reopen before purchasing an annual pass. You can visit the adventure playground and stables cafe at any time free of charge. Find out more here. 

Wynyard Hall Gardens 




An annual pass for Wynyard Gardens is currently £26 per family of four. You can read our review here. 

Historic Houses 

Membership is currently £148 per year and includes unlimited admission to places including Alnwick Castle, Chillingham Castle, Ushaw Historic House, Raby Castle, Paxton House and more. Might be worth a look if you are looking for varied days out rather than sticking with the same place. Find out more here.  Always double check what's included / restrictions before buying. 

Art Pass 

The National Art Pass is currently £104.75 per family of 4 if you pay by annual direct debit. It includes free entry to Wallington, Beningbrough Hall, Cherryburn, Preston Park, Seaton Delaval Hall, Seven Stories, The Auckland Project, Bowes Museum & more. Again, a good option if you are looking for an annual pass which covers a varied selection of days out. Find out more here.  Always double check what's included / restrictions before buying. 

Merlin Annual Pass 

We bought Merlin Annual Passes in 2019 and loved them! We planned trips around every school holiday staying in Premier Inns / Camping and it worked out to be good value. The price has increased now and you can expect to pay around £219 per person for a Gold Annual Pass (with pay monthly options available). Very expensive but if you plan on visiting a lot of UK attractions and would like to visit London, may work out well. Sometimes people buy two annual passes and then look for 2for1 tickets for the other members of their family which does help to spread the cost a bit. Find out more here. 

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Annual Pass 

Standard admission is £148 for a family of 4 or you can purchase a platinum season pass for £580 which is very expensive but if you visit Blackpool a lot, might be worth it. They do sometimes offer discounts and deals on annual passes across the year too. 

Blue Peter Badges 

Get your kids to apply for a Blue Peter Badge and they will be awarded with free entry to hundreds of attractions. Sometimes if you combine with one annual pass, it can work out really well. Find out more here. 

Gardeners' World 2for1 

Look out for the Gardener's World 2for1 deal which is usually part of April's magazine and may work out better than annual passes. Find out more here. 





Which Annual Passes offer the Best Investment for 2022? 


Personally this year, I have annual passes for National Trust, English Heritage, Woodhorn, Preston Park Museum and Grounds and Wynyard Hall Gardens. I think I will probably purchase a Beamish Annual Pass at some point too.

After looking at the various deals available, I think the following passes offer an excellent investment (in no particular order):


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 plus they are dog friendly. 

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. Dog friendly. 


3 - Ushaw Historic House 

It only costs a little more to upgrade your ticket to an annual pass so you may as well do this and return a few times across the year. Ushaw run regular special events and trails. 



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. If I was going to buy just one annual pass this year, it would be Preston Park. 



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 and there is something for all ages. There are often craft activities & themed trails plus exhibitions are included in the annual pass too. Dog friendly. 


6 - Art Pass 

Although the Art Pass doesn't include all National Trust sites, it does include some of them and is a cheaper alternative and includes admission to other venues such as Preston Park and the Bowes Museum. I think this pass looks like an excellent option if you are looking for a pass with both indoor and outdoor options which is quite varied. Do check t&cs before buying though as multi-venue passes often have restrictions. 

7 - Adventure Valley Term Time Pass 

If I lived close by and had pre-school or home-educated children, I would 100% buy this. What a bargain £30 per person is. 

8 - Jarrow Hall 

Jarrow Hall is a lovely place to visit with an Anglo Saxon village, exhibition space and farmyard with heritage breeds. An annual pass isn't too expensive and they run regular events such as re-enactments across the year and have a lovely cafe on site too. 


Which Annual Passes would I avoid? 

Personally, I find £139 to visit the Tynemouth Aquarium to be a crazy amount when compared with somewhere like Beamish which is pretty much 1/3 of the the price and has so much more going on. I don't think Tynemouth Aquarium is enough to keep the family entertained for a full day, nevermind multiple visits throughout the year.

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. I am especially shocked at the cost of Whitehouse Farm. For me, I would not want to be restricted to visiting the same farm over and over again and would probably prefer to not buy an annual pass and visit a few different farms across the year. 

Raby Castle's Walled Garden is undergoing refurbishment at the moment and as I love the Walled Garden so much, a visit just wouldn't be the same without it so I would save my annual pass purchase for 2023/24 once the gardens reopen. 

Personally, I don't think I would buy an annual pass for Bamburgh Castle or Alnwick Castle as we have been to both lots of times before and it might get a bit 'samey' for us. However if you are new to the area of haven't visited either before, it may be worth considering. They are both brilliant attractions but at over £50 for both though, I do think there are better value attractions in the region if you are just looking to buy one annual pass. 

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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4 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!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks so much for updating this!
    Gutted by the increase of whitehouse farm as I'd considered a pass but can't justify that hike.

    ReplyDelete

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