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From virtual snowball fights to a lunar exhibition - 9 days out on a January budget

PUBLISHED: 10:22 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 31 December 2018

Ipswich Railway Modellers' Association open day is one of the fun free events this January. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich Railway Modellers' Association open day is one of the fun free events this January. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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After the big Christmas spend, many of us are looking for activities and days out which don't cost a fortune during January. Here are some suggestions for fun things to do.

Family of swans, plus other wildfowl at Lackford Lakes, one of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves you can visit for free. Picture: JULIE KEMPFamily of swans, plus other wildfowl at Lackford Lakes, one of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves you can visit for free. Picture: JULIE KEMP

Here are nine ideas for free or inexpensive days out in the area. Opening times can be subject to change, so it is advisable to check with attractions before making a special journey.

Winter Games Fun Day, Ipswich Cornhill, Saturday, January 5, 10am-3pm

Take your family along to a fun free event on the newly-refurbished Cornhill. The events will include virtual-reality snowball fights, the chance to test your balance on full-size snowboard and ski simulators, and a race to get your reindeer across a snowy track. You can also experience a blizzard in a “blizzard cube”, try a seasonal roll-a-ball derby and take part in an Alpine batak game. There may be age and weight restrictions for some of the rides. This is the first of a series of events planned at the Cornhill, following the £3.6million investment.

Retro Gaming Day, La Tour Cycle Cafe, Ipswich Waterfront, Sunday, January 6, 10am-2pm

This child-friendly event, organised by Bring Back Retro, offers the chance to take part in button-bashing fun with various classic games, including lighthearted racing games and battles. There are comfortable sofas and chairs to sit on and snacks and drinks are available. The organisers say there is added kudos for any dads who go along wearing a backwards baseball cap!

Rendlesham Forest Centre, near Woodbridge, open daily, 8am-4pm

Rendlesham is a great place to visit all year round, with many activities for all ages. Admission is free, but there is a parking charge of £2.50 for up to two hours or £4 all day. Facilities include a children’s play area with a tube slide, obstacle course, swings and a zip-line, There are also various trails to follow including a family cycling route and the famous UFO trail, where you can walk around the areas connected to reported sightings of a UFO in December 1980. Facilities include a visitor centre, toilets and a cafe.

Ipswich Railway Modellers Open Day, 40a Norfolk Road, Saturday, January 12, 10am-1pm

Rail enthusiasts young and old will enjoy this free event, with all the club layouts running. Most members will be there and they will be happy to answer questions on how things are done. There will also be a large secondhand sales area and refreshments available.

Beach Litter Pick, Landguard Nature Reserve, Felixstowe, Saturday, January 19, 9.30am

If you’re looking for a way to work off energy and help the environment at the same time, this free monthly event at Landguard, Felixstowe, could be the answer. All are welcome, and there is no need to book - just turn up. People taking part can meet at the southern end of the Bird Observatory compound, beside the white radar tower. There is tea and coffee and biscuits supplied after you have finished picking up litter.

The Moon exhibition, Moyses Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds, Saturday, January 19 to Saturday, March 9, 10am-5pm

This exhibition is aimed at families and space enthusiasts of all ages. The event will explore moon mythology, re-live historic moments in space exploration, and offer the chance to touch an item from another world. The exhibition is being run as part of the Suffolk Science Festival organised by Kinetic Science, and, looking ahead to the February half term, there will be special workshops on a lunar theme. There is no booking required and no separate charge for the exhibition, but normal admission charges apply - £5 for adults, £3 for children and concessions, and £12 for a family ticket.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves, various locations

When the weather is good enough, getting out and about in Suffolk during January is a great way to blow away the cobwebs and walk off your Christmas pudding. Suffolk Wildlife Trust has a range of reserves available to visit free of charge, including some where you are likely to see winter wildfowl and waders and others known for their beautiful frosty landscapes. These include Lackford Lakes near Bury St Edmunds, which has a fully accessible visitor centre, Trimley Marshes near Felixstowe, Snape Marshes, close to the famous Maltings, Hen Reedbeds near Southwold, and Redgrave and Lopham Fen, near Diss. See the trust’s winter walk suggestions here.

Southwold Pier, open daily from January 7 onwards

The pier isn’t just fun to visit in summer, but all the year round. There is no charge to walk along the pier. Children will enjoy watching the water clock and visiting the Under the Pier Show, with eccentric interactive machines created by Tim Hunkin. The machines are coin-operated, but you won’t have to find coins for every one, as you will be able to see other visitors operating some of them!

Snape Maltings, open daily

It’s free to visit and park at the Snape Maltings complex, where you can wander round the shops and galleries or walk through the countryside. The visitor centre, in the outer foyer of the famous concert hall, has information on all aspects of the site and details of walks and wildlife. The shops and galleries are open from 10.30am-5.30pm from Monday to Saturday and 10.30am-4.30pm on Sundays, with early 4pm closing on New Year’s Eve. The visitor centre’s opening hours are 9.30am-5.30pm from Monday to Friday, 10am-5.30pm on Saturdays and 10am-4.30pm on Sundays.

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