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Enjoying yourself on a bank holiday weekend needn't cost the earth. Whether you are looking for cheap food and drink, going to do a bit of DIY, or heading out for the day, the long weekend shouldn't leave you with empty pockets.

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Sun cream deals

  • Summer is coming and you should be wearing sun cream in the UK, not just on your holiday abroad. Staying safe needn’t cost the earth though, if you’re willing to ditch the brands you know, you could save with sun cream for £1. It sounds too good to be true, yet we've found a number of products available for £1 rather than the usual £6-£12. We've contacted skincare experts to find out how safe the lotions are.

    Are they safe?

    We've been in touch with the British Skin Foundation (BSF) charity and the Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) trade body. Both say people shouldn't be put off by low prices, as long as they check packaging for:

    • The UVA rating. This tells you how much protection the product is giving you from harmful long-wave ultra-violet UVA rays. Some bottles have a star rating (the BSF recommends four or more stars) - while others don't, they should at least contain a circle with the letters UVA inside, as this indicates the minimum level of UVA protection. See images below for the logos you should be looking for.

    • The SPF number. This stands for sun protection factor. The higher the number, the greater the level of protection against harmful medium-wave ultra-violet UVB rays. The label should also tell you whether the product provides "low", "medium", "high" or "very high" protection against UVB. See the CTPA's section on sun protection for more info.
       

    The BSF says: "When choosing a sunscreen look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA."

    You might be a bit sceptical about sun cream for £1, we always are too, but we’re trusting that these big companies such as Savers (owned by Superdrug) have done their own independent checks to ensure these sun creams are fully tested and are legit.

    Important -  As with any product, if you have sensitive skin it’s important to do a patch test before using any new skin care or hair care product and sun cream is no exception.

    How long will it last? 

    The period after opening (PAO) number should also be included on the bottle. This will be displayed as an "open jar" symbol with a number inside indicating how many months the product will be safe for after opening, providing it is stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight (see example below). 

    Don't automatically chuck old sun creams away

    Most of the cheap sun creams we found are good to use for at least 12 months from the date of opening, so don't throw away your excess sun cream after your holiday, check the PAO as it's likely you can use it again on your next trip.

    £1 sun creams

    We checked the big pound store chains and scoured the high street. The products we found may not be the same as the ones you find and are subject to stock, so make sure you do the checks above. It's also worth noting these bottles are slightly smaller (40ml-120ml) than some of the better-known brands (norm 200ml). They may not be brands that you recognise, but all have the UVA rating symbol to indicate they meet at least the minimum level of UVA protection.

    Poundland (find your nearest)

    It stocks a range from a brand called Anovia Tropical Sun, which should be available in its 400+ stores for £1. We found:

    • Tropical Sun lotion for kids SPF 30, 65ml (next cheapest £4.95 delivered via a third party Amazon seller)

    • Tropical Sun lotion SPF 30, 65ml (next cheapest we found, £5.99 delivered via a third party Amazon seller)
       

    Savers (find your nearest)

    It stocks a range from a brand called EAD sunscreen, which should be available in its 230+ stores at £1. We found:

    • EAD Sunscreen SPF 30, 120ml (next cheapest we found, £3.49 delivered via a third party Amazon seller)
    • EAD Sunscreen SPF 45, 120ml (next cheapest we found, £3.49 delivered via a third party Amazon seller)
       

    A 200ml EAD sunscreen SPF 50 is also available, but that's £1.99.

    Own-brand sun cream for less than £5

    At MSE we're always trying to get you to think about downshifting, so we've had a look for the cheapest own-branded sun creams on offer, all under a fiver:

    • Aldi Lacura extra sensitive sun lotion SPF50+, 200ml - £1.99 in store and online at Aldi. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Lidl Cien sun lotion SPF 30, 250ml - £3.99 in store at Lidl.
    • Asda Protect SPF 30, 200ml - £2.39 at Asda*. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Wilko Suncare SPF 50, 200ml - £3.50 at Wilko*. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Boots Soltan kids SPF 50, 200ml - £4 at Boots*. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Superdrug Solait SPF 30, 200ml - £4.99 at Superdrug. Five-star UVA rated.
       

    Other low-cost branded sun creams

    For those who just can't ditch a brand they know and trust, we've also compiled a list of the cheapest we've found some of the most popular products. When they are cheap, we found quite often prices elsewhere are only a few pence more.

    It's worth remembering that sprays and special formulations (eg, clear/coloured/sensitive) usually cost more, so check to see if your chosen cream could be cheaper in a different bottle.

    • Garnier Ambre Solaire kids moisturising spray SPF 50, 200ml - £4.50  at Asda* (next cheapest we found, £5 at Sainsbury's).
    • Garnier Ambre Solaire ultra-hydrating sun cream SPF 30, 200ml - £4.50 at Asda* (next cheapest we found, £5 at Tesco and Sainsbury's).
    • Nivea Sun moisturising sun protect & moisture SPF 30, 200ml - £4.50 at Asda* (next cheapest we found, £5 at Tesco and Sainsbury's).
    • Piz Buin allergy sun-sensitive skin spray SPF 30, 200ml - £4.99 at B&M Bargains (next cheapest we found, £8 at Superdrug, Boots, Sainsbury's and Asda).
    • Nivea Sun moisturising sun lotion SPF 50, 200ml - £4.50 at Asda* (next cheapest we found, £5 at Tesco and Sainsbury's).
       

    Buy before you fly - watch out for hand luggage restrictions

    Research from the Post Office suggests sun cream is generally cheaper in the UK than abroad, so it's best to buy before your holiday - especially with the weaker pound this year. Don't forget though, if you're flying, you can only carry a maximum of 100ml in your hand luggage, unless you buy in shops after you've gone through check-in. You may find items will be taken off you if transferring flights, so be sure to check before flying if you're unsure.

BBQ & food deals

  • With the bank holiday weekend upon us, there could be an ideal opportunity to light up the barbecue, so we've rounded up some of the cheapest barbecue deals we could find, including portable charcoal barbecues from £5, disposables from £1 and 5kg bags of charcoal from £3.99.

    £1 barbecues 

    Disposable barbecues are available for £1 in store at Poundland, and you can also find them for £1.49 at Home Bargains. The next cheapest we've found are £1.99 in store at B&M or £2 at Wilko*. They often sell for up to £5 in some supermarkets, so if you want one it's worth making the trip to one of the stores above if you have one nearby.

    You should check the quantity of charcoal and burning time if you plan to cook for several people, as there's a lot at steak (sorry), and you may need to purchase more than one. If you buy a disposable BBQ make sure you dispose of it responsibly, recycling wherever possible – or risk a grilling.

    Portable reusable barbecues

    • 13" diameter portable BBQ - £5 at Poundland.
    • 13" diameter portable kettle BBQ - £9.99 at Home Bargains.
    • 13" diameter portable kettle BBQ - £10 at Asda*.


    Standard-sized charcoal reusable barbecues 

    If you're cooking for a family of four, a standard-sized free-standing barbecue should do the job. On Tue 21 May, we found these deals:

    • 17" diameter kettle BBQ - £15 at Wilko*. Available in store and online. Collect in store for free or delivery is £4.95.
    • 16" diameter kettle BBQ - £22.99 at Clas Olson. Collect in store for free or delivery is £4.99. 
    • 16" diameter kettle BBQ - £25 at Argos*. Collect in store for free or delivery is £3.95. 
    • 16"-ish diameter oval kettle BBQ - £25 at B&M Bargains.


    5kg charcoal £5 or less

    The hottest deals we found on 5kg bags of charcoal, which are sure to get you sizzling, include:


    Instant lighting charcoal bags

    If you don't want guests barbe-queuing up for a sausage whilst you're still trying to light the grill, then you might want to opt for the easier option of instant lighting charcoal bags. We checked the prices at these retailers:

    • £3.99 at Home Bargains for a 4kg bag
    • £4.99 at Aldi for a 4kg bag.
    • £4.99 at Lidl for a 4kg bag.
    • £5 at Wilko* for a 2.7kg bag
    • £5 at Sainsbury's for two 1.5kg bags
    • Barbecue safely

      Whichever barbecue you choose, be sure to follow the Fire Service's barbecue safety advice, never leave your barbecue unattended, always dispose of charcoal or disposable barbecues responsibly and never bring your barbecue indoors.

Wine & beer deals

DIY deals

Restaurant deals

  • If you go online to Just Eat* you can get between 10% and 30% off selected takeaways. This is an ongoing offer, but the takeaways participating change from week to week - so it's a bit of pot luck whether the restaurant you want is included.

    To see if you can get money off a takeaway near you, simply enter your postcode* and look for the ones marked with a red flag stating the amount of discount. When we did a search with a London postcode, some came up with 10% off but a few had 25% or even 30% off.

    You'll only get the discount if you reach a minimum spend, which varies between restaurants (in most cases it's £20-£30), and the money should be deducted automatically for you at the checkout - but make sure you double check the amount before you order.

    It's not valid with any other Just Eat offers or discount codes.

    While in most cases this discount should make Just Eat the cheapest way to order, it's worth checking the price of ordering direct from a restaurant if they offer a delivery service as sometimes it can work out cheaper than ordering through a third party.

Cheap days out

  • If you register and print a voucher from Days Out Guide then buy a National Rail ticket, you can get 2for1 entry to over 300 UK attractions, including SeaLife Centres, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and Legoland Windsor when you present both at the attraction. See the full theme park list or the zoo and wildlife list

    You need to print a voucher for the relevant attraction (follow the link above and search for it) AND have a valid rail ticket bought from National Rail on the same day for a single or day return ticket, or within the days of travel for a return ticket. 

    What if I live near the attraction/am travelling by other means?

    It's worth doing this even if you are not travelling by train as a cheap single ticket can be available for a couple of quid, far cheaper than the entry ticket price (Legoland Windsor is the most expensive at up to £60 on the gate).

    Just stop by the nearest station on your way and pick one up, then present both to get your 2for1. Crucially, your rail ticket must show that you have travelled to one of the stations nearest the attraction. So for Thorpe Park, you need to have a ticket with an end destination of Staines or Chertsey. 

    The offer's ongoing, but check the voucher for each individual attraction's restrictions, as these vary. See the full T&Cs including which tickets are valid.

    • Excludes Oyster cards, Freedom Passes, and tickets and travelcards bought from London Underground. Can't be used with other offers or promotions.
  • New and existing Vodafone customers can get two Odeon cinema tickets for £7 via a promo code on Vodafone's 'VeryMe' rewards programme. You can use the deal once per week.

    Crucially, you can only use the code at a staffed box office, not when ordering tickets online, so as there's a chance a showing may be sold out by the time you get there, check ahead.

    The code is valid on standard adult 2D tickets at any time on any day, though a number of cinemas, and premium screening or seats are excluded (see 'More info' below). It's available to any pay monthly or small business customer, plus pay-as-you-go customers who have topped up £10 or more in the last 60 days.

    The offer's part of a wider range of promotions available via Vodafone's rewards programme – see VeryMe loyalty analysis.

    How to get the Odeon offer

    • Download the free My Vodafone App – or update to the latest version.
    • Click the 'VeryMe' button to access a list of available offers and select the Odeon deal.
    • Go to the cinema and when there, click the 'get deal' button to access your code. It's only valid for one hour so don't do it too early. 
    • The offer refreshes each week at 00.01 on Thursdays, so if you've had a code before, that's when you can pick up a new code to go again.


    Before you buy the tickets, is it worth it?

    One full-price adult ticket for a 2D film at Odeon can cost £3.50ish-£17ish depending on location, so you can save a lot with this deal, especially at weekends when discounts are rare.

    If your local Odeon offers a ticket for less than £7, then it'll be cheaper to use Meerkat Movies 2for1 on a Tuesday or Wednesday – see our Deals Hunters blog Meerkat Movies trick: £1ish gets 2for1 movies for a year – but of course this Vodafone offer is valid every day of the week.

    What other offers can I get on the rewards app?

    When we checked on Tue 4 Dec, you could get a free Millie's cookie, free Costa drink, and a free 2GB seven-day data bundle, amongst other offers. We’ll be looking into each and adding more info to our Vodafone deals page soon.

    • The code's not valid on the following:

      - SCREENINGS: 3D, IMAX, iSense, premieres, special events, screenings or events not open to the public, Odeon Newbies, Odeon Kids, Odeon Silver Cinema, Odeon Event Cinema or Odeon Screen Unseen.
      - SEATS: Gallery, Premier seats, D-box seats, love seats, club seats, super luxury seats or any premium priced seat.
      - SPECIFIC CINEMAS: BFI IMAX, Odeon Lounge cinemas or Odeon luxe cinemas or screens (with the exception of Leicester Square where you can use the offer on 'classic' seats for a limited time).

      Codes can't be used with an Odeon Limitless card.

Shopping deals

Other bank holiday deals

  • If you're heading off on any long car journeys – and even if you're not – it could be worth getting your car checked over. Drive to any Halfords* store or Halfords Autocentre, and you can ask for a free six-point summer car check. We've asked Halfords when it's valid until, but it's yet to get back to us. We'll let you know here when we know more.

    Halfords values it at about £15 and it's available in 700+ locations nationwide.

    What's covered by the Halfords car check?

    • Battery 
    • Light bulbs 
    • Windscreen wipers
    • Oil levels 
    • Screenwash levels (topped up for free)
    • Air conditioning 

    Halfords says it'll take 15 minutes and you don't need to book in advance – just turn up and speak to a member of staff. Be warned... they may try to sell to you, but there's no obligation to buy anything or act on any advice you're given. These checks are completely free.

  • New and existing Vodafone customers can get two Odeon cinema tickets for £7 via a promo code on Vodafone's 'VeryMe' rewards programme. You can use the deal once per week.

    Crucially, you can only use the code at a staffed box office, not when ordering tickets online, so as there's a chance a showing may be sold out by the time you get there, check ahead.

    The code is valid on standard adult 2D tickets at any time on any day, though a number of cinemas, and premium screening or seats are excluded (see 'More info' below). It's available to any pay monthly or small business customer, plus pay-as-you-go customers who have topped up £10 or more in the last 60 days.

    The offer's part of a wider range of promotions available via Vodafone's rewards programme – see VeryMe loyalty analysis.

    How to get the Odeon offer

    • Download the free My Vodafone App – or update to the latest version.
    • Click the 'VeryMe' button to access a list of available offers and select the Odeon deal.
    • Go to the cinema and when there, click the 'get deal' button to access your code. It's only valid for one hour so don't do it too early. 
    • The offer refreshes each week at 00.01 on Thursdays, so if you've had a code before, that's when you can pick up a new code to go again.


    Before you buy the tickets, is it worth it?

    One full-price adult ticket for a 2D film at Odeon can cost £3.50ish-£17ish depending on location, so you can save a lot with this deal, especially at weekends when discounts are rare.

    If your local Odeon offers a ticket for less than £7, then it'll be cheaper to use Meerkat Movies 2for1 on a Tuesday or Wednesday – see our Deals Hunters blog Meerkat Movies trick: £1ish gets 2for1 movies for a year – but of course this Vodafone offer is valid every day of the week.

    What other offers can I get on the rewards app?

    When we checked on Tue 4 Dec, you could get a free Millie's cookie, free Costa drink, and a free 2GB seven-day data bundle, amongst other offers. We’ll be looking into each and adding more info to our Vodafone deals page soon.

    • The code's not valid on the following:

      - SCREENINGS: 3D, IMAX, iSense, premieres, special events, screenings or events not open to the public, Odeon Newbies, Odeon Kids, Odeon Silver Cinema, Odeon Event Cinema or Odeon Screen Unseen.
      - SEATS: Gallery, Premier seats, D-box seats, love seats, club seats, super luxury seats or any premium priced seat.
      - SPECIFIC CINEMAS: BFI IMAX, Odeon Lounge cinemas or Odeon luxe cinemas or screens (with the exception of Leicester Square where you can use the offer on 'classic' seats for a limited time).

      Codes can't be used with an Odeon Limitless card.