101 fantastic activities for the summer 2022 school holidays
Summer 2022 activities in England
Main image taken by Wild Rumpus at the Just So Festival
What: There’s mischief and mayhem afoot in Cornwall as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and a host of other Beano characters take over the Eden Project for a special cartoon caper. You’ll be able to join in with Dennis and Minnie in an action-packed comic adventure to stop the dreaded mega-monster — the CO2 Zilla — completing lots of different puzzles, games and activities in the different eco biomes along the way.
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When: 23 July-4 September, 9am-6pm
Need to know: Activities included with admission. Tickets £32.50 per adult, £11 per child.
Coming to Life
What: Blast off to infinity and beyond at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre with a selection of space-themed activities exploring the science behind the new Pixar movie Lightyear. You’ll be able to walk around inside a replica of the International Space Station, journey through space in a new live science show, build a moon buggy, have a go at heading up mission control, or even launch your own chemical-powered rocket in the Experiment Zone.
Where: Life Science Centre, International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP
When: Until 10 October, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £39.
What: Come face-to-face with a band of hairy Vikings at the historic Whitby Abbey! Explore their encampment and find out how they unleased a wave of terror along the northeast coast as you hear tales of their daring conquests, discover why the weapons and skills of a Viking warrior made them so feared throughout Europe — and even have a go at learning some battle skills yourself — and take part in your own Viking skirmish!
Where: Whitby Abbey, Abbey Lane, Whitby, YO22 4JT
When: 27-29 August, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £32.50.
On your mark...
What: Get set and ready to 'race' with an interactive family experience at the Silverstone Interactive Museum this summer. Create your own air-powered car (that you can take home with you!), snap a family pic in a replica 1948 ERA Grand Prix car, and follow the fun museum quiz and trail — a unique experience that the family will remember. Use TheSchoolRun's exclusive 15% discount code AFF15SIM when you get to the basket page. (Valid until 31st September 2022 for bookings until 31st December 2022.)
When: Anytime between 10am-1pm; Monday 1st - Wednesday 3rd August, Monday 8th - Friday 12th August, Monday 15th - Friday 19th August, Monday 22nd - Thurs 25th August
Where: Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Towcester NN12 8TN
Need to know: Tickets (without TheSchoolRun discount code) £22.50 for adults and £13.50 for children booked in advance. Under 5s go free.
What: Family friendly Just So Festival is back and combining art, music, literature, and fun — all against a natural woodland backdrop! Alongside the live music, storytelling, dance and circus performances you can put your friends and family on ‘trial’ in the comedy court, get into a giant water fight, explore the silly yet valued curiosities of the Museum of Unappreciated Treasures, then pick your team, craft your costume and join the parade for the annual Carnival of Animals challenge!
When: 19-21 August, 9am till late
Where: Rode Hall Estate, Scholar Green, Cheshire, ST7 3QT
Need to know: Day tickets, £64.20 for adults and £27.36 for children. Weekend tickets (including campsite access) £181.90 for adults and £64.88 for children, including booking fees.
Fun on the farm
What: Go right rural with a host of family farmyard activities on offer at Tatton Park. Find out how some of your favourite foods are made (and maybe enjoy some free samples!) with ice cream, flapjack and cheese making demonstrations. You can also see the mill machines in action, meet fluffy new chicks, let off some steam in the maize maze or even watch a sheep race!
Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
When: 26 July-26 August, 11am-4pm, closed Mondays.
Need to know: Activities included with admission. Entry to farm is £15 for a family ticket, or entry to the farm, mansion and gardens is £25 for a family ticket. £6.50+ vehicle entry charge.
Out of this world
What: Discover a very different kind of science festival this summer as Bluedot, a massive celebration of discovery, space, and music, sets up camp in the shadow of Jodrell Bank’s iconic Lovell Telescope. Alongside headliners like Björk, Metronomy and Mogwai, there’s also ‘Space Camp’: a huge programme of events for families. You can meet Tim Peake, become a Jedi apprentice as you master lightsaber combat, see some genuine moon rocks and ancient Antarctic ice cores or play life-size versions of classic arcade games including Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Tetris.
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Bomish Lane, Cheshire, SK11 9DW
When: 21-24 July, 5pm-9pm (21st only), 9am-9pm (all other days). Dates and times vary by event.
Need to know: Day tickets, £40.95 (21 July only), £65.70 (all other days) for adults. Kids £27.50, all prices include booking fees. Weekend tickets (includes campsite access) £205.25 per adult, £27.50 per child.
What: Popping up in Kent again for 2022 is the bOing! Festival - a spectacular selection of family-friendly artistry delivered by performers from across Europe. You can venture inside an enormous neon-lit inflatable sculpture, watch a pirate-themed aerial circus performance take place on the roof of a London taxi, be immersed in a VR experience inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s flying contraptions, watch a parade of giant stilt poodles or sit back and listen to some live music on the main stage.
Where: bOing! Festival, Gulbenkian, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NB
When: 27 and 28 August, times vary.
Need to know: Entry and many events free.
Wet, wet, wet…
What: Experience the creature features of WWT London Wetland Centre and find out what it takes to become a wetland ranger. You’ll be able to help look after this 105-acre reserve with Sam Feather and Charlie Beak, who’ll test your animal knowledge (and cleaning-up capabilities) in an interactive family workshop and watch the amazing Asian-clawed Otters frolic beneath their waterfall, before picking up your net and discovering the mysterious creatures that lurk in the murky depths of the Pond Zone. Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot some kingfishers, dragonflies, water voles and much more wetland wildlife out and about.
Where: London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth Walk, London SW13 9WT
When: 23 July-2 September, 9.30am-6pm, last entry 5pm. (After 30 August, closes 5pm, last entry 4pm).
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £37.72 online.
Keep us posted
What: Pop into the Postal Museum and get ready to go wild as you celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rod Campbell’s beloved picture book Dear Zoo. You can hunt for the book’s beastly characters hiding around the museum while finding out about the animals that worked for the Post Office in the past, create your own menagerie of colourful creatures out of recycled materials, and enjoy an interactive storytelling session followed by a book signing with Rod himself.
Where: The Postal Museum, 5-20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DA
When: 22 July–31 August, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission. £16 for adults, £9 for children. Includes annual entry and one free ride on Mail Rail.
What: Brush up on your plant life at Alnwick Garden – and a special open air theatre adaptation of David Walliams’ tale Awful Auntie, featuring owls, ghosts and tiddlywinks aplenty as Stella tries to escape her sinister Aunt, or discover your inner comedian during an in-depth workshop before performing stand-up live on stage! Plus, if you’re in the mood for something more active, you can enjoy large-scale lawn games and massive water fights too.
Where: The Alnwick Garden, The Gardeners Cottage, Greenwell Road, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1HB (follow NE66 1YU for sat-nav).
When: 9am-6pm. Comedy workshop, 28 and 29 July, 11am, Awful Auntie, 30 July and 29 August, 6.30pm.
Need to know: Admission to garden, £15.95 adult, kids free. Comedy workshop £4 per child, show tickets £5. Awful Auntie, £13 per person.
What: Get beastly at Whipsnade and discover who’s the true leader of the pack as you compete against your friends and family in the Ultimate Animal Challenge. Test your skills against the very best in the animal kingdom and discover if you can forage as fast as a meerkat, stalk a deer as stealthily as a tiger, or never forget like an elephant! You can also listen to pop-up animal talks on the zoo’s residents’ special skills, before enjoying face painting or creating a clay model of your favourite animal.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable, LU6 2LF
When: 23 July-4 September, 10am-6pm, last entry 5pm.
Need to know: Event free admission. Tickets £30 per adult, £19.50 per child.
What: Get set for a soaring start to your holiday with spectacular Flying Season displays taking place at Imperial War Museum Duxford. See a selection of iconic WWII-era American aircraft, including the P-51 Mustang and B-17 Flying Fortress, take to the skies during a special event commemorating the 25th birthday of the American Air Museum in Britain, or watch some astounding aerobatic displays before finding out what life as a pilot is really like during a day of activities designed for young aviation enthusiasts.
Where: Imperial War Museum Duxford, Duxford Airfield, Building 425, Cambridge, CB22 4QR
When: Americans, 23 July, Young Aviators, 1 August, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets £30, children £15, under 5’s go free, for both events.
What a performance!
What: The much-loved Kids Week initiative is back, helping under 17s discover the magic of the theatre, as over 30 West End shows offer one free child ticket with every paying adult. Participating events include adaptations of family favourites such as Frozen, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Mary Poppins, as well as musical classics like My Fair Lady, Les Misérables and Mamma Mia!
Where: Multiple venues across London.
When: Throughout August, various dates and times.
Need to know: Prices vary by show. Rather than one full price and one free ticket, the discount is presented as two half price tickets.
Get lost in a bookshop
What: Curl up with a story in one of the UK's loveliest bookshops. Situated in a converted Victorian railway station in Northumberland, there's a large kid’s corner packed with books, toys and even a station truck to sit and read in. Have lunch in the old, converted station buffet and watch the model railway gently chug its way around the acres of wooden bookshelves.
Where: Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP
When: Open every day, 9am-7pm
Need to know: Free – but it's hard not to come away without buying anything...
Reflect with Refract
What: Back with a bang and better than ever is the Refract:22 festival, curated by Sale’s Waterside Arts Centre and featuring the very best in live comedy, music, dance and theatre. You’ll be able to watch a contrasting duo of artists explore some of the most important moments in art history (while making a massive mess), enjoy the spectacular aerial cat-robatics of a feline-themed circus performance, join a secret undercover mission to track down a fiendish fashion thief in a surreal choose-your-own-adventure comedy show, and much more!
Where: Waterside Plaza, Sale, England, M33 7ZF
When: 21-30 July, various dates and times.
Need to know: Some events free, paid-for events all £9-10 per adult, £7-8 per child.
What: Make tracks for Dorset’s Tank Museum, where you’ll be able to follow the Commander Basil activity trail and learn about the vital roles armoured vehicles played in conflicts from WWI to the present day. See tanks in action every weekday with expert commentary on how armoured vehicles work and live Q&A sessions, take a ride in a Cold War era APC, and enjoy historical dress-up and pop-up talks throughout the galleries.
Where: The Tank Museum, Linsay Rd, Bovington, Wareham, BH20 6JG,
When: 25 July-29 August, 9am-5pm.
Need to know: Activities included in admission, family ticket from £39.25 online, includes free annual admission. Under 5’s free.
All hands on deck
What: Set sail for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and enjoy some seafaring stories from throughout history as you encounter a selection of quirky characters roaming the galleries! Sit down for a chat with Neptune and discover how you can help to save the oceans, meet John Simmonds, a former slave who served on Admiral Nelson’s ship during Trafalgar and learn the hidden history of the Royal Navy, or hear the tall tales of Alice Leghorn and find out what life was really like sailing with a crew of rascally scallywags during the Golden Age of Piracy.
Where: National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich, SE10 9NF
When: Every Saturday from 18 June, 10am-5pm, characters rotate every week.
Need to know: Admission and activity free.
What: Enjoy some outdoor fun this August as the Royal Parks welcome visitors back to the LookOut for their popular drop-in Discovery Days, which help you discover more about the incredible variety of wildlife living there. You’ll be able to go pond dipping, build a badger or fox den, contribute to a huge meadow mural, take part in a pirate orienteering challenge, or follow one of the interactive wildlife trails around Hyde Park.
Where: The LookOut Discovery Centre, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
When: 2, 9, 16 and 23 August, 11am-3pm.
Need to know: Free, drop-in. Register in advance.
What: This June marks 150 years since the V&A Museum of Childhood first opened, and, to celebrate, Young V&A will be hosting Reinvent Festival, a series of special collaborative and creative activities throughout East London. Take along the thing that makes you to Oxford House and become part of a large-scale portrait artwork celebrating diversity and imagination, enjoy large-scale outdoor play and construct a den, sailboat, climbing frame or whatever you can imagine from a selection of specially designed materials, or join in with the National Reading Challenge as you enjoy storytelling and craft activities taking place in local libraries.
Where: Multiple venues across East London
When: Various dates and times between 23 Jul-10 Sep.
Need to know: All events free.
What: Enjoy a day of festival frolics and fabulousness (but without the wellies and mud) as Family Rave takes over the entire Attenborough Arts Centre. Get your groove on to live music, and enjoy plenty of creative drop-in activities, yoga taster sessions, bushcraft workshops, face-painting, street dance performances and much more. Come dressed in shiny sequins and your most colourful clothes!
Where: Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester, Leicestershire LE1 7HA
When: 31 July, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Tickets £20 per person.
What: Be transported into Britain’s ancient past as a whole battalion of Roman soldiers descends on Vindolanda for the August bank holiday. You’ll will be able to enrol in the Roman army, don their legionary armour, and take part in marching and weapons drills before watching some ancient artillery in action. You can also discover what a Roman soldier keeps in his kitbag, find out how a soldier’s sturdy sandals were made and strike your own replica Roman coin.
Where: Chesterholm Museum, Bardon Mill, Hexham, NE47 7JN
When: 27-28 August, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Event included with admission. Family ticket £27.50.
On yer bike!
What: Get ready to experience adventure on two wheels as Forestry England releases its new Forest Rider packs encouraging safe cycling in and around its sites across the country. Inside you’ll find useful tips and tricks to improve your cycling skills, stickers, puzzles and activities, a Forest Rider neck buff and a special logbook challenging you to record what you discover during five forest rides - if you can find the hidden letters on every page you might win a fantastic prize!
Where: Forestry England sites around the country. Pack can also be ordered online.
When: Throughout the summer.
Need to know: Pack £5, plus £1.50 postage and packaging if ordered online.
What: Delve into the weird and wonderful world of ASMR with this immersive exhibition from London’s Design Museum – the very first ever devoted to the subject. Step into an acoustically tuned environment filled with sounds, shapes and sights designed to put your senses to the test and see if you too can feel the famous ‘tingly feelings’ that have caused this viral internet craze to grow into a community with millions of followers, before finding out how a growing community of creators have used all sorts of psychological tricks to induce these sensations in their listeners.
Where: The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG
When: Until 16 October, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £21 (weekdays) £21.75 (weekends)
Change of art
What: Unleash your inner artist this summer with the help of an extensive programme of creative workshops and activities courtesy of Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery. You’ll be able to learn how to plan and illustrate your own short story with the help of a published author, have a go at spray-painting your own piece of street art, create a personalised tie-dye tote bag, sculpt a ceramic mug masterpiece, or even learn some basic skate skills before designing your own board.
Where: Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP
When: 23 July-1 September, various dates and times.
Need to know: Some activities free, daily activities £2.50 per child, masterclass workshops £10 per child.
That sinking feeling
What: Experience the tragic tale of the world’s most famous ship like never before at the Museum of Gloucester, thanks to its new exhibition Titanic: Honour & Glory, which brings together an unrivalled collection of artefacts exploring the legacy of the doomed liner. Discover the sumptuous luxuries experienced by those sailing First Class, and the hopes and dreams of those travelling in the bowels of the ship, through a series of genuine relics including a dinner service and plaque from one of the lifeboats, before learning why the disaster has had such huge cultural influence with props from the famous 1997 film featuring Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio on display.
Where: Museum of Gloucester, Brunswick Rd, Gloucester GL1 1HP
When: Exhibition open 29 July-29 September, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets £4.95, under 18s go free.
What: Created by a panel of mini ‘mud experts’, this mile-long obstacle course for children will challenge even the toughest new recruit. Each of the tough obstacles (with four brand new for 2022) aims to encourage the participants to explore their adventurous side and have fun together while experiencing the power of teamwork, such as mini-Everest, mini mud mile and secret agent squeeze. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!
Where: Lidl Mudder courses take place during Tough Mudder events at various locations and times throughout the UK.
When: 30-31 July (Yorkshire), 13-14 August (London), 20-21 August (Southwest),
Need to know: Tickets, £10 children and £10 spectator, book in advance. Suitable for 5-12 years.
What: Step into a literary wonderland with some beautifully bookish activities at Newcastle’s Seven Stories. Join in with an immersive creative writing session where you’ll be able to examine the original notes and ideas of famous authors including Cressida Cowell and Philip Pullman to learn some tricks of the trade, meet an expert animator from Aardman Studios and learn how to create your own storyboard featuring iconic characters like Wallace and Gromit or Shaun the Sheep, touch up your drawing skills in an illustration class with Liz Million, or even design your own marionette puppet.
Where: Seven Stories, 30 Lime St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ
When: Various dates and times until 18 August.
Need to know: Admission free. Most activities, £7.50 per child; illustration workshop, £9.50 per child; Aardman workshop, £15 per child.
What: Believe it or not, National Fishing Month begins this August and aims to encourage everyone in the family, no matter what age, to pick up a rod and wait for a nibble. Find a qualified coach near you to show you how to get hooked on the sport at one of hundreds of free angling events up and down the country. You can also hook up with the Canal River Trust in July and make a splash at one of their free Let’s Fish fishing events too.
Where: Various locations throughout the UK.
When: July and August, times vary.
Need to know: Coaching and entrance fees should be free. There may be charges for tackle.
What: Telling Tales, an annual festival of storytelling taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe, is back on stage for summer 2022, with authors, performers and storytellers gathering under one roof to allow audiences to get hooked on the Bard’s timeless tales. Get caught up in magic and mayhem as you meet a troupe of rude mechanicals during an immersive theatre workshop, experience the most famous love story of all time unfolding in Verona, and take a trip to the enchanting Forest of Arden to meet the newly banished Rosalind, as she attempts to fool her overenthusiastic suitor Orlando by disguising herself as a man…
Where: Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 7DT
When: 4-26 August, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £10-£15 per person.
What: Find out all about the future of sustainable travel with these environmentally themed activities taking place at the London Transport Museum. You’ll be able to discover how important public transport is to make cities more sustainable as you create your own board game exploring eco-friendly ways of getting from A to B, learn the skills you need to tackle climate change before combining them all to design your own superhero, and figure out some of the ways you and your family can help the environment.
Where: London Transport Museum, London, WC2E 7BB
When: 23 July–1 September, 10am-6pm, last entry 5pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets from £18.50 adult and include free annual entry, kids go free.
What: Every year, RNLI lifeguards and lifeboats have to rescue children and adults who get into difficulty in the water, which is why they have teamed up with Swim England to offer The Swim Safe initiative – teaching swimmers about beach and sea safety. Sign up for a 10-minute talk with RNLI lifeguards, followed by 30 minutes of in-water tuition with ASA qualified swimming teachers and receive a Swim Safe badge and swimming hat to take home.
Where: Course held all around the coasts of the UK.
When: Throughout the summer, various dates and times.
Need to know: Free. Suitable for 7–14-year-olds, who can swim a minimum of 25m unaided.
Back to Black
What: Wander into Wolverhampton for some creative crafting at Bantock House Museum, all inspired by their current exhibition Black Country Beats, celebrating the diverse musical heritage of the Black Country between 1970 and the present day. Have a go at drumming some West African rhythms, bedazzle a football rattle, stick shaker or whistle, discover the history behind steel drums, craft a magnificent pompom festival crown, and even become part of a breakdance artwork!
Where: Bantock House Museum, Finchfield Road, Wolverhampton, WV3 9LQ
When: 23 July-28 August, 11am-5pm, dates and times vary by activity.
Need to know: Admission free, activities from £2.50-£4 per child.
Take the plunge
What: Dive in and take your first steps into snorkelling with these ‘Snorkel Safari’ sessions from the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth Sound. Qualified BSAC snorkel instructors will help you learn how to use the equipment and get to grips with a variety of basic techniques, before you peer beneath the waves to spot some of the underwater wildlife in the UK’s first National Marine Park.
Where: Mount Batten Beach, Mount Batten, Plymouth, PL9 9SJ
When: Most Saturdays & Tuesdays in August, 11am. Sessions last 90 minutes.
Need to know: Tickets £17.99 per person, includes equipment hire. Participants must be 8+ and confident swimmers able to swim 25m unaided.
What: Enjoy a spot of truly gloriumptious fun with Danny’s Activity Week at the Roald Dahl Museum. Listen to expert storytellers read highlights from one of Dahl’s best-loved tales - Danny, the Champion of the World - and find out how it was inspired by the very countryside in which the Museum stands, before having a go at constructing your own gypsy caravan, woodland landscape, or clay pheasant pot. Afterwards, you’ll also be able to go on a guided walk, discovering some of Dahl’s favourite haunts in the surrounding area and visiting Danny’s wood for yourself.
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High St, Great Missenden, HP16 0AL
When: 2-7 August, 10am-4.30pm.
Need to know: Admission, £7.95 per person. Walks, £3 per person, no admission required. Workshops, £4 per maker book in advance.
Something to discover
What: Take a trip to Newcastle’s Discovery Museum and enjoy some spectacular science-y crafts with their Discovery Days programme. Celebrate the 140th anniversary of Newcastle gaining city status by making a pop-up historical storybook, discover the wonders of light and reflection as you make a kaleidoscope or sun catcher, find out more about flight by building a glider, or compete to build the tallest LEGO tower.
Where: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
When: Every Tuesday between 26 July-30 August, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Admission and some events free, Discovery days activities £1-2 per child.
Make a splash
What: Canal & River Trust will be celebrating the Leeds Waterfront Festival with this fun packed day of events and activities at Granary Wharf. Showcasing the best of what the waterways have to offer, you’ll be able to come along and have a go at kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, rock climbing and many more – or make some noise in African drumming workshops or get creative with arts and crafts and face painting.
Where: Granary Wharf, Leeds, LS10 1LT
When: 27 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: All events free. Children must be 8+ to take part in the SUP sessions.
What: Get set for some midsummer make-and-do at the Shipley Art Gallery with these themed activities and workshops inspired by its current displays and exhibitions. Contribute to a giant floor drawing or design your own glass tea-light holder inspired by the spectacular illuminations of the Lindisfarne Gospels, construct a mosaic based on the patterns of Shipley’s ceramics collection, paint your own watercolour of the Northern landscape or decorate a fabric bag to take home.
Where: Shipley Art Gallery, Prince Consort Rd, Gateshead, NE8 4JB
When: Tuesday and Thursday, 26 July-1 September, 10.15am-3.15pm or 10.30am-3pm on 23-26 August.
Need to know: Tickets £3.23 per person.
What: Be captivated by four days of fantastic free entertainment as Stockton International Riverside Festival returns this summer, featuring more than 100 theatres, circus, dance and music performances. Kicking off with the spectacular circus displays of Tawa – a colourful spectacle of gravity-defying acrobatic and aerial feats accompanied by a live soundtrack – you’ll be able to enjoy a pair of enormous puppet octopi, a dance show with a fiery twist, watch the weather bring an outdoor orchestra of wind instruments to life, solve a mystery as you search for the Stockton Treasure, or even come face to face (probably) with the Invisible Man!
Where: Various locations around Stockton
When: 4-7 August, times vary.
Need to know: All events free.
What: Embrace your inner Andy Murray with Tennis for Free – a great scheme that lets everyone get onto their nearest court and get smashing! The initiative creates free 'walk on and play facilities' on tennis courts across the whole of the UK and runs completely free weekly coach-led sessions for children and adults.
Where: Selected courts throughout the UK
When: Over the summer
Need to know: Courses are free. Book to confirm a place.
Into the woods
What: With reintroduction efforts bringing back bison and beavers to the county, Kent has never been more wild - so why not go on a guided walk to find out more about the fantastic beasts that call the county their home. Find out how every animal, from tiny wood ants to the great big bison, makes its own impact upon the environment, learn how to spot signs of beaver activity and become an expert bird species spotter.
Where: West Blean & Thornden Woods, Thornden Wood Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT6 7NZ, Ham Fen Nature Reserve, Worth, CT14 0DZ and Oare Marshes, Church Road, Oare Faversham, Kent ME13 0QA
When: Selected dates between 2-26 August, various times.
Need to know: Tickets £10 per child, adults go free. Bring suitable clothing as the reserves can be wet and muddy.
What: You’re in for a scarily good time at Cornwall’s National Maritime Museum, where you’ll meet a team of expert monster hunters and help figure out if the ‘monster’ they saw might have been a school of fish, a wayward seal, a piece of floating seaweed - or something so big and horrible it doesn’t bear thinking about. Afterwards, you’ll be able to craft your very own sea monster puppet to take home and go on a hunt for all the terrifying tentacles lurking around the galleries to win a fantastic prize!
Where: National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Discovery Quay, Port Pendennis, Falmouth, TR11 3QY
When: 25 July-4 September, 11am-3.15pm.
Need to know: Included with admission, adults £15.50, children £7.75, includes free annual entry. Under 5’s free.
Once upon a time
What: Settle down for some seriously fun storytelling sessions at London’s Discover Story Centre. You’ll be able to listen to Simon Mole’s poetic tale, I Love My Cat, before taking part in some silly fun and games to celebrate our furry friends. Go on a magical adventure with Jodie Lancet-Grant, finding out how to treat a snuffly centaur before discovering your secret magical creature identity, and finally hear from Joseph Coelho how his new book, Our Tower, was inspired by his own childhood growing up in a tower block.
Where: Discover Story Centre, 383-387 High St, London, E15 4QZ
When: 29 July, 3 and 10 August, 11.30am-12.15pm or 2.30pm-3.15pm (3 July only).
Need to know: Events free with a Discover Session Pass, £27 for a family of 4.
What: Head for Hadrian’s Wall and come face-to-face with the Ancient Romans in this series of special living history events. Discover why birds of prey were central to the Roman religion and see some of these magnificent creatures up close as you watch spectacular flying displays, learn spear-throwing, archery and sword fighting with some of Rome’s finest soldiers, before enlisting yourself and trying on armour, mastering a marching drill and learning more about life in the empire.
Where: Chesters Roman Fort, Chollerford, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4EU
When: Events, 23-24 and 26-27 July, 20-21 and 27-28 August, times vary.
What: Celebrate the stunning kaleidoscopic world of animal colours at London Zoo – from the emerald tree boa to the scarlet ibis, to the blue-throated macaw. You’ll be able to meet ZSL’s animal experts to discover why some animals develop camouflage to stay hidden, how others use their colours to communicate, and the different ways some creatures can produce their own light. You’ll also be able to enjoy face-painting, a selection of craft activities and fun animal dress-up too.
Where: ZSL London Zoo, Outer Cir, London NW1 4RY
When: 23 July-31 August, 10am-6pm, last entry 5pm.
Need to know: Activities included with admission, adult tickets £32.27, child tickets £21.
Catch a cliff-hanger
What: Enjoy some top-notch family friendly theatrical entertainment in the beautiful open-air setting of Cornwall’s Minack Theatre. Founded and created in 1932 by Rowenna Cade, the theatre is carved out of the granite cliff with the deep blue sea of Porthcurno Bay far below. This year you’ll be able to take a storytelling tour of the solar system, enjoy the swashbuckling adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, catch a musical version of Little Women, or meet the mischievous piskie at the bottom of the garden in a charming puppet show.
Where: Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JU
When: Selected dates until 7 September, various times.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £10, children from £5. Book online or call 01736 810181.
On your marks, get set... PLAY!
What: Analysing risk, building self-confidence and developing decision-making are just some of the amazing skills children learn as they play - so make time for some serious fun on 3 August — the UK's National Day of Play, back with a bang after a two-year Covid hiatus. So why not take a peek at their website and check out all the free community play activities happening near you...
When: 3 August, all day.
Where: All around the country
What: Get set for a Shakespearian summer with your pick of the Bard’s finest for free – thanks to the RSC’s open-air theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Running throughout the summer weekends in July and August, you’ll be able to enjoy a free outdoor version of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream amongst others.
Where: The Dell, Avonbank Gardens, near Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BG.
When: 16 July – 28 August, times vary, usually between 12-4pm.
Need to know: Entrance is free. Bring your own food, chairs, or blankets. Teas, coffees, soft drinks and a wide range of cakes and sandwiches are available nearby.
What: Get ready to party at the Horniman with this rave event for all the family set in their beautiful gardens. Join a crew of talented DJs taking you on a musical journey through the very best of acid house, hip-hop, drum’n’bass and more. You’ll be able to enjoy crafting a colourful rave crown, contribute to giant murals, listen to storytelling sessions, get a transfer tattoo and of course mess about in foam! You can also take a trip around the Butterfly House too.
Where: Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ
When: 24 July, 2pm-6pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets £15, children £12.50. Ticket to Butterfly House, £2.50.
What: Do you believe in fairies? If the answer is yes, then head on down to Heligan and enjoy a summer of horticultural highlights courtesy of their new Wildflower Fairies trail. Hunt for 60 beautiful willow sculptures amidst Heligan’s 11 acres of wildflower meadow, and, as you make your way through this colourful landscape, you’ll run into all sorts of magical characters with enchanting stories to share.
Where: Lost Gardens of Heligan, B3273, Pentewan, Saint Austell, PL26 6EN
When: 23 July-4 September, 10am-6pm, last entry 4.30pm.
Need to know: Activities included with admission; family ticket £58.
Get car-ried away
What: Start your engines for Gloucester Goes Retro – a wheely-good annual celebration of vintage vehicles, fashion and music. Over 500 cars, motorbikes, buses and even tanks, all arranged by era, will line the city’s streets and docks, allowing you to wander from 1920s to the 1980s in a single afternoon. You can also have a go at swing dancing with classic tunes on the main festival stage, meet historical re-enactors present throughout the festival, or even keep an eye out for Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers.
Where: Central Gloucester.
When: 27 August.
Need to know: Free event.
Best of Wrest
What: Take a whistle-stop tour through history at Wrest Park with an amazing selection of interactive activities covering over 500 years complete with music and storytelling. Find out about crime and punishment in Regency England, enjoy some period music in the Orangery and then experience life working in a Victorian kitchen or the estate garden through a series of talks and displays. You can finish off by catching a game of polo and learn how movies were made 100 years ago.
Where: Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR
When: 20-21 August, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission, family ticket £36.90.
What: Enjoy plenty of fun and games at The Lightbox annual family festival and celebrate the start of the summer holidays in style. Enjoy super-sized garden games including Jenga, Connect-4 and snakes and ladders, have a go at face painting and building your own bubble maker, before trying out some craft activities inspired by the gallery’s current exhibition featuring Canaletto and Melissa McGill’s images of Venice. You can create a mini version of the iconic Italian city from recycled materials or paint your own serene Italian landscape scene onto a postcard.
Where: The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking GU21 4AA
When: 26-29 July, 10.30am-5pm.
Need to know: Many activities free, donations welcome. Landscape workshop £9.50 per child.
What: It’s anchors aweigh at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard as it plays host to a huge programme of nautical-themed events. Discover the science of the sea as you have a go at small-scale shipbuilding, build and aim a model cannon, craft the farthest-flying paper rocket, or follow the Octonauts trail around the site, completing fun activities to brush up your nautical skills – you might meet Captain Barnacles on the way! Plus, don’t miss a special outdoor showing of the heart-warming family classic The Railway Children.
Where: The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Main Gate Rd, Chatham ME4 4TZ
When: 29 July–4 September, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Activities included with admission; family ticket £76.50. Family ticket for The Railway Children £48, site admission not required.
What: Prepare yourself for a literally super-sized day out as you come face to face with Gnomus, a gentle giant and caretaker of the Earth, as he makes a visit to his old friends – the iconic standing stones of Stonehenge. You’ll be able to discover the story of the monument’s Neolithic builders, and those of everyone else who visited the site over the next 5,000 years, as Gnomus shares his memories in this magical puppetry performance. Afterwards, you can have a go at digging up artifacts left behind at the site from across the centuries, before investigating the Neolithic houses to discover how the builders of Stonehenge worked and lived.
Where: Stonehenge, Near Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE.
When: 27-29 August, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Included with admission, family ticket from £56.60.
All revved up
What: Get set to start your engines and explore the science behind speed and aerodynamics with a visit to the Brooklands Museum. You’ll be able to solve cryptic clues and find hidden motoring artefacts as you follow the museum trail, pootle about in pedal planes and cars, see a full-size LEGO model of a McLaren supercar before heading over to the design station to brick-build your own magnificent motor vehicle, and even go for a whirl around the racetrack with the Brooklands car rides team.
Where: Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Rd, Weybridge KT13 0SL
When: 23 July–31 August, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £52.50. Additional charges apply for racetrack and bus rides.
What the Dickens?
What: Kick up a stink at the Dickens Museum as you find out what we can learn from exploring how the Victorians went about their ‘business’. Follow the Toilet Trail to uncover the delightfully dreadful truth about how the Victorians kept clean and went to the loo, before having a go at going through the ‘poos’ of the rich and poor to discover what archaeologists can discover about the Victorian diet.
Where: Charles Dickens Museum, 48-49 Doughty St, London WC1N 2LX.
When: 3 and 24 August, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Family ticket, £40. Suitable for 5-11
What: Get constructive at Oxford’s Story Museum as you step into a LEGO wonderland where thousands of bricks ensure that the only limits are your imagination. Budding engineers, architects and inventors are all invited to get stuck into these creative LEGO workshops, where you can design a seaworthy (and sea-monster-proof) vessel to defeat the evil Captain Codface or embark on the journey of a lifetime as you dream up your own wonder of the world!
Where: The Story Museum, 42 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP
When: 9 August and 3 September, 11am and 2.30pm.
Need to know: £16.50 per child.
What: There’s medieval mirth and merriment galore on offer at Alnwick Castle this summer. Experience the entertainment enjoyed by the lords and ladies of times gone by as you meet Baldwin the Fool and Godfrey Pugh, a duo of jesters who’re sure to delight you with their blend of slapstick comedy and spectacular circus tricks – but be careful, as they’re prone to pulling ‘lucky’ volunteers from the crowd. Alternately, you can discover mysterious medicines, peculiar concoctions, and unusual ingredients as you meet alchemist Dr John Green, who will shed some light on this mysterious medieval science (with plenty of explosions along the way) – it’s sure to leave you spellbound.
Where: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick NE66 1NQ
When: Jesters, 30 July–3 August. Alchemist, 13-17 August. Both 10am-5.30pm.
Need to know: Events included with admission; family ticket £53.
What: Descend into the murky depths of the ocean and find out all about the weird and wonderful creatures that live there with a new exhibition and family activities on offer from the Haslemere Educational Museum. Enjoy lots of fishy crafting, learn more about marine mammals, build a LEGO sea monster, and even help weave some large sea-life-themed panels that will go on display in the museum’s galleries.
Where: Haslemere Educational Museum, 78 High Street, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2LA
When: 2 July-31 August, dates and times vary. Museum open 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
Need to know: Admission and exhibition free. Activities from £4-7 per child, £1 per adult.
I don’t be-leaf it!
What: Explore the colourful beauty of RHS Garden Bridgwater as you enjoy a selection of brilliantly botanical activities. Reconnect with nature as you follow a chilled-out guided wellness walk through the gardens, grab a magnifying glass to take a peek at some magnificent minibeasts lurking in the foliage, build your own bird feeder or contribute to a giant tree made of bark rubbings, or watch a selection of brilliant birds, big and small, swoop over the garden in a series of amazing flying displays.
Where: RHS Garden Bridgewater, Occupation Rd, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LJ
When: 23 July-4 September, 10am-6pm. Dates and times vary by activity.
Need to know: Activities included with admission, family ticket from £27.50.
What: Dare to experience the dangers and delights of Dinosaur World Live with this roarsome interactive show for all the family. Grab your compass and join our intrepid explorer Miranda as she travels across uncharted territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including everyone’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus! There is also a special meet and greet after the show which offers all brave explorers the chance to make a dinosaur friend.
When and where: 22-24 July, Huddersfield; 26-28 July, Winchester; 1-3 August, King’s Lynn; 4-6 August, Southport; 8-9 August, Bromley; 10-11 August, Guildford; 12-13 August, Horsham; 22-24 August, Nottingham; 29-31 August, Truro.
Need to know: Tickets from £14.
Very much amused
What: Saunter into the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, where you’ll be able to learn more about the city’s Victorian heritage with craft activities inspired by the gallery exhibitions. Discover the toys that 19th-century children played with and try them out, get hands-on with some real Victorian artefacts, create a paper bag puppet inspired by the fabulous beasts depicted in a Victorian painting of Aesop, or create a 3-D cardboard diorama inspired by any of the museum’s exhibits – what will you pick?
Where: Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Crescent, Salford M5 4WU
When: 26 July-30 August, 10.30am-3pm.
Need to know: Admission and many activities free. Paid activities, £2-3 per child.
What: Uncover the mysteries and magic of nature with outdoorsy activities at Holkham Hall. Enjoy a family bushcraft workshop involving fire making, den building, scavenger hunts and much more, chill out with a kids’ yoga class, discover the marvellous minibeasts hiding at the bottom of the lake in a pond dipping session, or take a twilight tour of the grounds and use a special bat detector to find some of the estate’s furry, flying residents.
Where: Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1RH
When: Throughout the summer holidays: pond dipping, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, bushcraft, Wednesday and Thursday, yoga, Wednesday, bat walks, 23-25 August, 7.30pm.
Need to know: Bushcraft workshops, £10 per child; family yoga, £5.50 per child; pond dipping, £3.50 per child; bat walks, £10 adult, £5.50 child. Book in advance.
Go show boating
What: Want a theatre trip with a difference? Then take to the water and watch a puppet show in this cosy 40-seat theatre situated on a converted canal barge. You’ll be able to experience the story of the most famous race on earth – The Hare and the Tortoise – or enjoy the classic fairy-tale of Three Little Pigs and their battle against the Big Bad Wolf. All feature beautifully handcrafted marionettes guaranteed to delight young and old.
When: Hare and the Tortoise until August 14th, at 11am and 2pm, Three Little Pigs until September 18th, at 2pm.
Where: Puppet Theatre Barge, near 87 Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10 6UT
Need to know: Ticket prices £13 adult, £9 child.
Heroes just for a day…
What: Soar into your holiday with a stupendous selection of superhero-themed activities from the Foundling Museum. Inspired by the exhibition Superheroes, Orphans and Origins, which explores why, for over 125 years, many of the world’s most iconic comic characters are portrayed as orphans, you’ll be able to select your favourite character from the exhibition and produce a mini-movie using your phone, join a professional illustrator to design your own comic book, or design your very own superhero (or supervillain) before bringing them to life as a 3D clay model.
Where: The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ
When: Activities 26-29 July; 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
Need to know: Free with admission but book in advance. Adults from £9.50, children free.
The play’s the thing
What: Enjoy a hilarious twist on two classic tales with these outdoor theatre performances taking place in Wiltshire’s Pound Arts Centre. You can enjoy a cavalcade of comedy as two dashing entertainers attempt to perform the entirety of The Importance of Being Earnest, featuring affairs, handbags and cucumber sandwiches a-plenty, or enjoy a retelling of Kenneth Graeme’s classic The Wind in the Willows, complete with an energetic live soundtrack, as Mole, Ratty and Badger attempt to save Toad and his shiny new motorcar from deep trouble.
Where: The Pound Arts Centre, Pound Pill, Corsham SN13 9HX
When: Importance of Being Earnest, 23 July, 7.30pm. Wind in the Willows, 31 August, 6pm.
Need to know: Tickets for Importance of Being Earnest, £12 per person. Family ticket for Wind in the Willows £40.
What: Get ready to weigh anchor and set a course for the high seas to find out about life – and war – at sea with this programme of interactive activities aboard HMS Belfast. Discover the work needed to prepare a 1940s warship to set sail as you learn how to chart a course, feed 950 men with limited rations, and steady yourself in choppy seas. You can also experience the biggest invasion in history with Family Mission: D-Day Edition, where you’ll crack Morse code, discover hidden messages and see if you can predict what weather you’ll be sailing into.
Where: HMS Belfast, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2JH
When: Every day until 7 August, 10am-3pm, drop-in.
Need to know: Free with admission: tickets £23.60 adult, £11.80 child. Suitable for 7+.
What: Expect plenty of magical mischief this summer as Covent Garden’s award-winning Iris Theatre put a unique 1990s-inspired spin on Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Be transported to Athens High, where Demetrius is about to be crowned prom king alongside his beloved Hermia – who’s only got eyes for someone else. But as she flees into the forest to meet her true love, a feuding fairy king and queen decide to play some tricks on the lovesick youths and a misfit band of travelling actors who happen to be nearby…
Where: Iris Theatre, St Paul’s Church, Bedford St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9ED
When: 29 June-13 August, various times.
Need to know: Family ticket, £60.90.
Wooden you know it
What: Celebrate the tales of the world’s best-known outlaw in the very place that the legend began – Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest. The popular Robin Hood Festival returns for 2022 with medieval madness for the whole family. Expect equestrian displays of jousting and horsemanship, living history encampments giving a flavour of life in the Middle Ages with crafts and weaponry demonstrations, mind-bending magic shows and storytelling starring the eponymous hero and his merry men.
Where: Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, Nottinghamshire NG21 9RN
When: 23 July-29 August, Friday-Monday, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Entry and events are free with small charges for some activities. Parking: £10 per vehicle.
What: Discover the conflicts, scandals and secrets of Britain’s five Tudor monarchs, some of the best-known figures in English history, in this new exhibition from Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. Featuring over 100 artefacts and a huge selection of portraits provided by the National Portrait Gallery, visitors will be able to explore the legacy of this tumultuous time in British history with an accompanying soundtrack of some traditional Tudor tunes. Highlights include the Bacton Altar Cloth, the only known piece of clothing from Elizabeth I’s wardrobe to survive to the present day, and the Armada Maps, a dramatically illustrated portrayal of the Spanish Armada’s defeat in 1588.
Where: Walker Art Gallery, William Brown St, Liverpool L3 8EL
When: Until 29 August, 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday.
Need to know: Adults £14.50, children £7.50, under 5s free.
What: Celebrate a summer fit for royalty as you pay a visit to the world’s finest working stables: the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. You’ll be able to discover the hidden stories of the horses and grand carriages used by the Royal Family, including the stunning Gold State Coach which played a starring role in the Platinum Jubilee parade, before taking a seat in one of the carriages for yourself, having a go at fitting tack to a wooden pony, dressing up in a footman’s livery, or settling down to enjoy some art and craft activities.
Where: The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0QH
When: 30 July and every Saturday in August, 11am-3pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, £36 for a family of 4.
What: Head over to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle and get ready to unleash your artistic abilities with these creative craft activities inspired by their current Works on Paper display, a collection of amazing artworks that can only be displayed in bright light for a short time. Have a go at several different printing techniques, then combine them with sketching, designing a collage portrait, or trying out some acrylic paints.
Where: Hatton Gallery, King's Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RH
When: 23 July-6 August, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Free, drop-in.
What: Be dazzled by an aerial feast of colour as Plymouth’s annual Kite Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary. In the seaside setting of Southsea Common, some of the world’s best kite flyers and builders will gather to celebrate their craft, allowing viewers to enjoy the spectacle of a 9-person synchronised kite ‘ballet’ display, giant display kites that are miracles of structural engineering, and see a beautiful flying art gallery. Plus, there are plenty of kite-making activities, amusements and games to enjoy on the ground too.
Where: Southsea Common, Portsmouth, Southsea PO5 3SB
When: 30-31 July, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free. Charges may apply for some activities.
Joust good fun
What: See lances shatter, feel the thunder of hooves and hear the roar of the crowd as you become a spectator to a medieval joust at Arundel Castle. Teams of magnificent knights (and their equally magnificent horses) from across Europe will be charging full tilt in pursuit of glory in a thrilling display of chivalry and courage. After choosing your champion and cheering them on, you’ll be able to test your skills with archery, crossbows or axe throwing, meet Myal and Peg the medieval musicians, or come face-to-face with some impressive birds of prey as you find out about falconry.
Where: Arundel Castle, Arundel BN18 9AB
When: 26-31 July, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Family ticket, £65.
What: Go for a peaceful stroll alongside a stunning selection of artworks with the biennial Sculpture Exhibition at Lincoln’s historic Doddington Hall estate. Over 250 works of art will serve to showcase a series of sculptors from Lincolnshire, the UK and farther afield, including everything from bronze boxing hares to surreal abstract swirls and mythological beasts.
Where: Doddington Hall and Gardens, Main St, Doddington, Lincoln LN6 4RU
When: 16 July-11 September, 10am-4pm, last entry 3pm.
Need to know: Included with a family entry ticket to Doddington Hall Gardens, £22.
What: Eureka! will be playing host to an impressive array of family entertainment this summer as it celebrates its 30th birthday in style. Every day is set to be different, with visitors offered a chance to meet baby dinosaurs, make spaghetti skyscrapers, produce stop-motion animation and even learn the basics of plumbing. Plus, there’s mad science galore on offer with Professor Pumpernickel’s live show, circus performances from the Great Mandavi, superb storytelling, and much more.
Where: Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Discovery Rd, Halifax HX1 2NE
When: 23 July-4 September, 10am-5pm every day. Dates and times vary by activity.
Need to know: Activities included with admission, £14.95 per person.
On the spot
What: Enjoy a unique opportunity to become part of a large-scale interactive workshop with ‘The obliteration room’ on display at the Tate Modern. This avant-garde artwork starts life as a boringly blank room, with white walls, floor and furniture – before members of the public are handed sheets of brightly coloured circular stickers and invited to arrange them however they’d like within the space, steadily transforming it into a colourful wonderland.
Where: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
When: 23 July-29 August, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Free, drop-in.
What: Go on a magical journey with the Enchanted mini-festival as it transforms the beautiful setting of Leonardslee into a fairy-tale wonderland You can have a ride on a unicorn, join in with an immersive performance workshop and help the Mouse and his friends save their forest home, go for a whirl on the funfair rides, and come face-to-face with fairies, mermaids, treefolk and all manner of magical beings.
Where: Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, Brighton Rd, Lower Beeding, Horsham RH13 6PP
When: 28-31 July and 4-7 August, 11.30am-3.30pm and 4pm-8pm.
Need to know: Adults from £18, children £10, online. Tickets valid for the afternoon or evening sessions only. Unicorn rides, £9.50. Power plant workshop, £3 per child.
What: Enjoy a brand-new theatre show based on one of the most sensational war stories of all time, Steve McQueen’s iconic 1963 film The Great Escape. This funny and inspiring tale will use declassified military information to debunk the myths as Tom, Dick and Harry (the three escape tunnels personified, of course) tell us the true tale of the escapes from the infamous Stalag Luft III prisoner camp, complete with acrobatics and lively songs.
Where: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY
When: 26 July-28 August, 7.30pm (also at 2.30pm, 3pm or 7pm on selected dates).
Need to know: Tickets from £23.50 per person.
What: Take a trip to Mela in Smethwick’s Victoria Park and mark the 10th anniversary of Europe’s largest South Asian music festival. As you soak in the sights, sounds and spicy aromas, you’ll be able to enjoy performances from major stars and upcoming local talent alike, take part in hands-on craft activities and dance workshops, be captivated by impressive aerial acrobatics and experience a huge selection of funfair rides.
Where: Victoria Park, High Street, Smethwick, West Midlands, B66 3NJ
When: 27-28 August, 1pm-8pm, last entry 7.30pm.
Need to know: Day tickets £2.25 per person, two-day tickets £3.85 per person, car parking £5.50.
Summer 2022 activities in Wales
What: Enjoy a merrily musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's bestselling sequel Zog and the Flying Doctors at Swansea’s Grand Theatre. The eager young dragon turned air ambulance Zog, together with his Flying Doctor crew Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout, are busy helping all sorts of magical creatures with their maladies when Pearl’s grouchy old uncle the King, insistent that princesses can’t be doctors, forces her to wear a crown and a frilly dress and locks her in the tower!
Where: Swansea Grand Theatre, Singleton St, Swansea SA1 3QJ
When: 5 August, 4.30pm; 6 August, 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets £17 per person.
What: Embrace your inner Steve Backshall and take to the water at WWT Llanelli for the perfect paddle. Jump aboard the canoe safari – perfect for beginners and experienced canoeists alike – and see if you can spot kingfishers, dragonflies and water voles along the kilometre-long ride. Back on dry land you can check out their trail of giant LEGO sculptures representing the wetland residents and find out more about each creature to win a cool LEGO prize.
Where: WWT Llanelli, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: 16 July-4 September, 9am-5pm. Canoes 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £26.27. Canoe hire, £9.95 per canoe, each boat seats two adults and one child under 10. Children under 5 are not allowed on the canoes.
What: Journey to a land that time forgot and enjoy a dino-tastic day out at Magram Country Park. You’ll be able to enjoy party games, cake-making and silly songs as you help Baxter the T-Rex prepare a birthday celebration for his friend the Stegosaurus, help Captain Jon Voyage figure out a way to send his dinosaur pal Odysseia home to the Cretaceous period, let off some steam in the primeval playground or even meet a real-life caveman!
Where: Margam Country Park, Port Talbot, SA13 2TJ
When: 29 August, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £32.93 (including booking fee) if purchased before 15 August.
Can you Erddig it?
What: Visit the 1,200-acre estate of Erddig in Wrexham and enjoy some sensory fun in their beautiful Walled Garden. You’ll find a selection of play equipment all crafted from natural materials found in the estate – complete with den building, balance beams, climbing frames and more. You can also enjoy a magical adventure around the grounds with an active storytelling workshop, visit the servants’ quarters and learn about life as a Victorian servant, including 14-hour days and the grim duty of emptying the master’s chamber pot.
Where: Erddig, Wrexham, LL13 0YT
When: 23 July-4 September, 10am-5pm. Servants’ Quarters tours, Wednesday-Sunday, 12pm-3pm. Storytelling, Wednesday in August only.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £22.50 (garden only) or £35 (whole property).
What: Enjoy a sleepover that’s out of this world as you spend a night at the museum from the comfort of your own home during this space-themed online event hosted by National Museum Wales. Go behind the scenes of the museum’s galleries as you discover some fascinating facts about Moon rocks and meteorites, see if you’ve got what it takes to train like an astronaut, and build your own ‘space station’ den and jetpack before settling down to watch an astronomy show demonstrating how to spot constellations in the night sky, followed by film before bed.
Where: Online event hosted by National Museum Wales.
When: 13-14 August, 2pm-10am
Need to know: Tickets £5.85 per household, including booking fee.
What: Head for the South Wales town of Caerphilly for The Little Cheese, a two-day extravaganza celebrating the cheese-making town's history and tradition. There’s a large selection of local and regional Welsh produce on offer alongside fantastic cookery demonstrations, multiple live music stages to visit throughout the town, a chance to get involved with craft activities and beginners’ music workshops, and a selection of traditional funfair rides too.
Where: Various locations in central Caerphilly, Wales.
When: 3-4 September, various times.
Need to know: Event is free. Additional charges for food, funfair rides etc.
What: Meet Rufus ‘Skumskins’ O’Parsleys’, the world’s most disgusting chef, in this new show adapted from award-winning picture book The Rascally Cake. After accidentally creating a man-eating cake from foul ingredients including snot, blubber and a cowpat, Rufus has been on the run for ten years trying to save humankind from his accidental creation… Get ready to cook up a stink in this fun-filled and messy performance that will leave you clapping your pans.
Where: The Welfare Ystradgynlais, Brecon Rd, Ystradgynlais, Swansea, SA9 1JJ
When: 16 August, 11.30am and 1.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £5 per person.
Summer 2022 activities in Scotland
In a flap
What: Get set for some feathery fun with this pair of environmentally-themed live shows at the Scottish Seabird Centre, located on the waterfront at North Berwick. Join the eccentric Professor Egghead to find out how your pocket money could be used to fight climate change, and how planting ‘superhero’ seagrass can protect our oceans and marine life. You can also help Craig the Crab get better after he ate some floating rubbish in the sing-along puppet show.
Where: Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, EH39 4SS
When: 6 July-28 August, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Admission and activities free for children, £2.50 per adult, booking needed.
What: The Edinburgh International Book Festival is back with a hybrid programme of online and in-person events for bookworms of all ages, featuring big-name authors and illustrators such as Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell, Rob Biddulph, Julia Donaldson and many more. Plus, you’ll also have the chance to pick up your paintbrush and take part in a self-portrait masterclass, meet the editors of the Beano while working together to create your own comedy comic, go on a mirthful murder mystery tour to find out how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came up with his iconic characters, or simply curl up with your favourite story in the peaceful woodland-themed reading area.
Where: Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Pl, Edinburgh EH3 9DF, and online on the festival website.
When: 13-29 August, times and dates vary by event.
Need to know: Prices vary, some events are free.
Brock and stroll
What: Go badger watching with a difference in Glasgow's Clyde Valley. Famed for its spectacular waterfalls, you can go on safari through this woodland reserve with the ranger in their 4X4 to within five minutes of the sett and be pampered with blankets, after watch drinks and a souvenir. You can also go by foot, following the 45-minute clue trail to the badger viewing area, spotting bats and other nocturnal animals on the way.
Where: Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre, The Dyeworks, New Lanark, ML11 9DB
When: Badger watch, 2, 13, 16 August. Badger safari, 26 July and 9 August, 7-10pm.
Need to know: Suitable for 8+, badger watch, £10 per adult, £5 per child. Safari, £25 per person. Book online. Badger watch suitable for over 5s, badger safari suitable for over 8s. Tough footwear recommended.
Having a giraffe
What: If you’re taking a trip to Scotland’s capital city this summer, don’t forget to look up – as you might spot one of forty 8-foot-tall giraffe sculptures! The big beasts will be popping up all over Edinburgh in a massive public art project to support Edinburgh Zoo’s conservation work in protecting their real-life counterparts and many other animals too. Each giraffe will be uniquely decorated by local artists and illustrators and will highlight historic landmarks and hidden gems across the city. Don’t forget to download the app to keep track of your discoveries and see if you can spot them all.
Where: Various locations in and around Edinburgh.
When: Sculpture trail on display from 1 July-29 August.
Need to know: Free.
Grin and bear it
What: Enjoy an outdoor adventure with one of Britain’s best-loved fictional characters as Paddington arrives at Dalkeith Country Park in a brand-new immersive theatre show, Marmalade Messiness. Mrs Bird has taken Paddington to visit Dalkeith Palace, but the mischievous bear has wandered off and she needs your help to find him! Follow the trail of pawprints and half-eaten marmalade sandwiches throughout the park as you search for Paddington, meeting all kinds of characters from his stories portrayed by actors and puppeteers along the way.
Where: Dalkeith Country Park, Via King's Gate, Dalkeith EH22 1ST
When: 13 July-4 September, 10am-6.30pm, last entry 4.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £16 per person. Book online.
What: Dundee will once again be jam-packed with tons of comic capers and storytelling fun as part of the annual (Bash) Streets Festival, celebrating the cultural influence of the Beano and the many other iconic kids’ comics published in the city. Pick up your Beanotown map and follow the family-friendly trail to discover the secrets of Scotland’s Capital of Comics (as told by Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx), help take part in an attempt to build the world’s largest ever marble run, enjoy live music and wandering street entertainers, or come along dressed as your favourite comic character to join in with a grand parade through the city centre!
Where: Multiple venues within the city of Dundee.
When: 14-24 July, dates and times vary. Parade 23 July, 3pm.
Need to know: All events free.
What: Experience one of the most magical train journeys in the world and follow in the footsteps of a certain boy wizard as you hop aboard the historic Jacobite Steam Train. The 84-mile round trip, pulled by a restored steam locomotive, will take you past some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery, and across the iconic 21-column Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by its appearance in the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before alighting at the picturesque seaside town of Mallaig. Here you can admire the stunning sea views (and sample some local fish and chips) before making your way back.
Where: Departs from Fort William Railway Station, Tom-na-Faire, Station Square, Fort William PH33 6TQ
When: 10.15am-4.03pm and 12.50pm-6.52pm every day until 30 September.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £52, children from £30.
Livingstone, I presume?
What: Discover the story of Scotland’s most famed explorer with this new exhibition at the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum in Glasgow. Learn how Livingstone’s love of learning led him on a journey from a child labourer in Glasgow’s cotton mills to a missionary and doctor and take in the sights and sounds of his travels in Southern and Central Africa through an immersive display, before stopping to examine the colonialist legacy he left behind. Plus, don’t miss a series of accompanying activities letting you get creative with crafts inspired by the objects in the exhibition.
Where: David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, 165 Station Rd, Blantyre, Glasgow G72 9BY
When: 10am-5pm, last entry 4pm. Craft activities every Tuesday until 16 August.
Need to know: Exhibition and activities free with admission, family ticket £18.
Summer 2022 activities in Northern Ireland
Do the dinosaur
What: Get set to explore the prehistoric past at Armagh Observatory as they go dinosaur doolally. Meet a collection of 16 fearsome dinos constructed entirely from toy bricks, have a close encounter with the dinosaurs nearest real-life relatives as you meet snakes, lizards and tortoises, before learning more about these fascinating reptiles and experiencing the impact of the infamous asteroid in their new planetarium show.
Where: Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DB
When: Until 31 July, various dates and times.
Need to know: Entry to Brickosaurs exhibition, £15 for a family ticket. Entry to Jurassic Ark or planetarium, £28 for a family ticket.
What: Immerse yourself in a spectacular celebration of sailing and the sea as the Foyle Maritime Festival makes its return to Derry. You can take a tour of a 70-foot racing yacht and find out about life on board, enjoy swashbuckling storytelling featuring a series of quirky characters from pirates to sea gods, investigate the science of water with impressive live demonstrations, or take to the water in a taster session of kayaking or canoeing. Also, don’t miss the concluding performance of What Lies Beneath, a beautiful fireworks and lighting display that will transform the harbour into a dazzling display of colour.
Where: Foyle Port Marina, Derry BT48 7NU
When: 20-24 July, all day.
Need to know: Many events free, a small charge applies for others.
Feel the buzz
What: Take a trip to Northern Ireland’s royal residence as it hosts its annual Honey Festival. Aside from sampling some of the many sweet treats on offer, you’ll be able to take a tour of Hillsborough’s gardens in full bloom, follow the foraging trail, learn how honey is made as you meet the resident beekeeper, plus enjoy some insect-themed storytelling or even learn how to waggle dance like a bee.
Where: Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, The Square, Hillsborough, BT26 6AG
When: 6-7 August, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £11.20, children 5.60, under 5s free.
Water lot of fun
What: Discover the wonderful world of wetlands with these Wetland Rangers holiday activities taking place at WWT Castle Espie. Embark on a mini beast safari through the undergrowth, learn some egg-cellent facts as you meet ducks and geese while finding out about the hatching process, discover how Castle Espie’s staff keep the reserve’s feathered inhabitants happy and healthy, or get crafty as you make your own recycled paper plant pot.
Where: Castle Espie Wetland Centre, 78 Ballydrain Rd, Comber, Newtownards BT23 6EA
When: 2 July-27 August, times and dates vary by activity.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £23.27.
What: Keep it in mind that he’s one of a kind as you say hello to Shaun the Sheep at Belfast’s W5. Play ‘Hide and Sheep’ as you follow his footsteps around several of the museum’s key exhibits while using the augmented reality app to summon Shaun for a quick photoshoot or settle down to watch some of his best-loved episodes. Plus, you can also create your own clay Shaun in a hands-on workshop led by an expert Aardman model maker, who’ll tell you more about how the well-loved studio brings its many iconic characters to life.
Where: W5, The Odyssey, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ
When: Trail, 6 June-31 August, 10am-6pm, Wed-Sun. Model making workshop, 4 August, 2pm and 4pm.
Need to know: Trail free with admission. Family ticket from £31. Workshop, £7 per child. Trail requires a free app download.
What: Head down to County Antrim's famous Portrush raft race and help raise money for the local lifeboats. Watch the junior and adult raft races splash their way from the West Beach to the finish line in harbour and enjoy local arts and crafts, live music, street performances, kids’ activities and even a skydiving display. There’s also a chance to step aboard some of Portrush’s lifeboats and learn some basic lifeguard skills as well.
Where: Portrush Raft Race, Portrush Harbour, Portrush, Co Antrim BT56 8DG
When: 3-4 September, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Free for spectators.
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