EVERY year, I grab a real bargain by staying at a holiday park, just as it opens or closes for the season.
Lots of UK sites will be closed in January and February for maintenance, but they’ll start to reopen in March as the weather warms up, ready for the summer season.
We’ve just got back from the last weekend at Haven Hopton near Great Yarmouth before the park shut for the winter and we were also there at the start of the season in 2020, so it was interesting to see the differences between the two.
The prices are usually low for the opening and closing week because the vast majority of holidaymakers will visit in the peak summer season rather than in early spring or the autumn.
There’s fewer activities on offer, but that can sometimes work in your favour.
For instance, we booked onto the free pond dipping session and got offered a game of crazy golf instead, which you would normally pay for, because the numbers were too low for our original activity to go ahead.
Fewer guests on site also means that activities are less likely to be booked up in advance, so if you fancy a quick go on a go-kart, you can just turn up and there will probably be one available.
As the site starts up for the season or winds down at the end of the year, staff are more relaxed as they’re either fresh from a few weeks off or looking forward to a bit of a break.
And you might even get an accommodation upgrade, as we did in 2020, as the site won’t be full and it’s easier to keep guests in just a couple of areas of the park, so that maintenance work can take place elsewhere.
If there’s any issue with your caravan or lodge, the park will likely be able to move you quickly too as they’ll have spare accommodation ready and waiting.
The one downside to going at the start of the season is that works that take place during the winter closure can overrun, so you might still have to step around a building site in certain areas.
That was the case for us in 2020, when Hopton was having work done on the lobby of its entertainment complex, so some activities were accessed through one set of doors and others through another.
But the positives far outweigh the negatives. For instance, on our first afternoon this month, we more or less had the indoor pool to ourselves.
This meant my boys could take as many turns as they liked on the water slide without having to queue and enjoyed riding an aqua paddler boat around the empty toddler pool.
We paid just £150 for the weekend, about half of what we would have paid a week earlier.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for the best free Christmas family attractions across the UK this winter, check out our round up.
Or pay a visit to London’s biggest winter attraction with rollercoasters & funfair rides, but find out which rips-offs to avoid.