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101 fantastic activities for the summer 2024 school holidays

Just So Festival © Andrew Allcock
Paint a giant impressionist masterpiece, go dragon racing with Toothless or discover the medicinal properties of buttered spiders (yes, really!) – we've got a whole host of summer adventures for you to enjoy with 101 amazing activities from across the UK!

Follow the links below to discover activities in your area: 

South East
South West
North West
North East

Northern Ireland

Main image: Just So Festival © Andrew Allcock


TheSchoolRun has partnered up with to help expand your options for school holiday activities and keep things affordable.

So, as well as the activities in the list, you can also find plenty of events and activities in your area at discounted prices or even for free.

Rough Magic © Shakespeare's Globe


Image: © Shakespeare's Globe
Spooky sisters
What: Get stuck into Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre with their new family show Rough Magic, featuring the antics of the witchy Weird Sisters as they set off on a silly supernatural adventure. 
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
When: Rough Magic and workshops, 20 July-24 August, times vary. Sword-fighting and dressing-up, weekends throughout summer, times vary.
Need to know: Rough Magic from £15 per person, suitable for 5+, workshops, £10 per person, sword-fighting and dressing-up, £12 per person.

Weird science
What: Expect booms, bangs and plenty of enthralling experiments, as the Ministry of Science team arrives at Alexandra Palace! Learn more about the engineers and inventors whose ideas have shaped our modern world in an anarchic history lesson complete with exploding balloons, fire tornados, bottle rockets and DIY hovercraft, before discovering the ways in which you can use science to help change the world for the better. 
Where: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY
When: 6-10 August, 4.30pm, 8 August, 11am, 2pm and 4.30pm, 10 August, 2pm.
Need to know: Tickets, adult £22.50, child £20.80.

Play away
What: The London Theatre Kids Week returns for another show-stopping performance this summer, encouraging kids under 17 to discover the magic of the stage. Over 30 West End shows will be offering one free child ticket with every paying adult – and this year you can get two additional half-price child tickets too! Take your pick from family favourites including The Gruffalo, Horrible Histories and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, as well as musical classics like Hamilton, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Wicked and more. Certain performances also include free family activities with dance, singing and storytelling workshops and the chance to meet cast and crew and discover backstage secrets.
Where: Multiple theatres across London.
When: 24 July-6 September, 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.

Blooming biology
What: Discover botany like never before as you dive into the world of fiendish flowers and foul fungi at London’s Kew Gardens with the help of these awesome activities inspired by the Horrible Science book series. Budding scientists will be able to explore all things unusual, trivial and decidedly dreadful about Kew’s globe-spanning collection of plants with all sorts of special events, talks and activities dedicated to helping you uncover the grotty, gross and truly gruesome side of nature.
Where: Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
When: 20 July-1 September, 10am-7pm (weekdays), 10am-8pm (weekends).
Need to know: Activities free with admission, adults from £22, children £6.

Make a splash!
What: Take a deep dive into London’s murky past with Horrible Histories as you head out onto the ‘Terrible’ Thames with this unique live theatrical performance on the river. You’ll take a boat trip around London’s most iconic landmarks, including the Tower of London, London Bridge, Cleopatra’s Needle and the Palace of Westminster as you hear tales of Henry VIII, Boudica, Jack the Ripper, Julius Caesar and many more famous figures from the capital’s history.
Where: Tower Bridge Quay, St Katharine's Way, London E1W 1LD
When: 20 July-1 September, 10.45am then every hour until 3.45 or 4.45pm.
Need to know: Family ticket, £70.

Party at the palace
What: Prepare to tantalise your tastebuds as the Hampton Court Palace Food Festival returns, bringing over 150 different chefs, cheesemakers, butchers, bakers and more to Henry VIII’s beautiful gardens, allowing you to enjoy everything from cheese to churros and brownies to burgers. Alongside the edible attractions, you’ll also be able to try your hand at learning circus skills, enjoying art and craft activities or playing traditional outdoor games. Or hop on a horse and carriage ride and make the most of the sunshine while exploring the maze and adventure playground.
Where: Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU
When: 24-26 August, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Entry free with palace admission, adult £30, child £15, under 5s free. Extra charges apply for horse rides.

Fairytale fun
What: Journey to the magical land of Far Far Away with Shrek’s Adventure and meet the petulant Prince Charming, still fuming from not being any closer to becoming King. See if you can usurp him by pulling the legendary sword from the stone and take the crown! All of this takes place during a brilliantly bonkers immersive walkthrough, as you search for special ingredients to save Shrek and make it back home safely, with the help of wise-cracking Donkey, Princess Fiona and even special guests like How To Train Your Dragon’s Toothless and the Penguins of Madagascar.
Where: Shrek’s Adventure London, Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
When: 26 July-1 September, 10am-4pm every day except Thursday, 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Event free with admission, online tickets from £21 adult, £16 child.

In a Barbie world
What: Let’s go party at the Design Museum as it hosts a fabulous new exhibition exploring the history and design of the world’s most famous doll, Barbie! Find out how Barbie and her friends, their playsets, vehicles and accessories have always reflected current ideas and trends in fashion and design, and how the brand has innovated and improved diversity over time, as you explore a selection of over 250 toys on display with highlights including the first ever Barbie doll from 1959, Dreamhouse from 1962, and, of course, Ken, who was first made in 1961.
Where: The Design Museum, 224–238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG
When: 5 July-23 February 2025, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Family ticket from £39.59. Under 6s go free.

Tickets please!
What: Get set to go green at the London Transport Museum with workshops, crafts and storytelling exploring the problems of climate change and how green technologies aim to help with that. Have a go at making your own model vehicle with recycled materials, explore how London transport has had to adapt to different disasters in the past, create your own city soundscape, learn about upcoming innovations such as hydrogen buses, and explore the sensory Green Journey Garden to learn more about sustainability.
Where: London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
When: 20 July-1 September, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: All activities free with admission. Tickets £24.50 per adult, children free.

Make your mark
What: Pick up your paintbrush and help create a masterpiece of epic proportions at the Tate Modern on artist Oscar Murillo’s giant canvas in Turbine Gallery, which turns the hall into an enormous painting garden. Inspired by Monet’s The Flooded Garden and Oscar’s own Surge series, you can paint over his different drawings, marks and words with wave-like strokes, choosing vibrant shades of blue, yellow and pink oil paints to play your part in creating a collaborative impressionist masterpiece.
Where: Tate Modern, Bankside London SE1 9TG
When: 20 July-26 August, 10.30am-6pm.
Need to know: Free. Wear suitable clothing you won’t mind getting messy.

Star attraction
What: Blast off and discover the secrets of the solar system and beyond with these astronomical activities taking place at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Get hands-on with telescopes and historic instruments including a sextant, camera obscura and time ball, find out how space telescopes can create stunning images of the cosmos using ‘invisible’ light, and ask the experts everything you want to know about space and astronomy during interactive family workshops.
Where: Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue, London SE10 8XJ
When: Weekends throughout summer, 11am-2.30pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission. Adult £20, child £10.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea at Oxford Playhouse © Pamela Raith Photography

South East

Image:© Pamela Raith Photography
Stripy surprise
What: Get ready to go wild as the smash-hit stage adaptation of Judith Kerr’s classic picture book The Tiger Who Came To Tea returns to the Oxford Playhouse. 
Where: Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2LW
When: 14 August, 2.30pm and 4.30pm, 15-18 August, 11am and 2.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £18 per person.

Super sleuthing
What: Become a dockyard detective and help solve a fiendish naval mystery at Chatham Historic Dockyard. It’s 1887, and there’s treason afoot – someone has stolen secret plans for the Royal Navy’s new torpedoes and torpedo boats, and Professor Elgar, Director of Dockyards, needs your help to find the spy and crack the case! Channel your inner Sherlock and follow the clues to see if you can unravel a mystery lost to history – the identity of the elusive Torpedo Traitor.
Where: Chatham Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TE
When: 27 July-1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free with admission, family ticket from £93 online.

Yo, ho, ho!
What: Whether you’re a scallywag, salty sea dog or lily-livered landlubber, prepare yourself for an adventure on the high seas as pirates take over Dover Castle. Listen to their tales of derring-do, booty and barnacles, then enjoy plenty of shows, demonstrations and hands-on activities exploring life in the age of sail – just make sure you don’t end up walking the plank!
Where: Dover Castle, Castle Hill, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HU
When: 3-4 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission; family ticket £85.10.

Full of bounce
What: Hop along to the bOing! Festival in Canterbury for another spectacular selection of creative family fun delivered by the best performers from across the UK and Europe. You can watch an hilarious hobby-horse circus, have a go at some LEGO robotics, step inside an immersive, interactive illuminated sculpture – the ‘Dodecalis’ Luminarium, receive a frosty reception at the Liquid Nitrogen Show or sit back and listen to live music on the main stage.
Where: bOing! Festival, Gulbenkian, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NB
When: 24-25 August, times vary.
Need to know: Entry and many events free.

Spectacular science
What: Get summer started with a bang at Fiesta – an exciting mini children’s festival of curiosity taking place at Winchester Science Centre complete with festival tents, mini stages and lots of live science. This year it’s all about the Olympics and Paralympics – so you’ll be able to take part in the Bug Olympics and find out if you’re as fast as a dragonfly or as strong as an ant, recreate the special sounds of nature for the opening ceremony or take your turn to shine on the Star mini-stage.
Where: Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium, Telegraph Way, Winchester SO21 1HZ
When: 13 July-2 September, 9.30am-5pm
Need to know: All activities free with admission, tickets from £12.90.

French fancies
What: Make sure Brooklands is your next pitstop and enjoy a one-day continental celebration of the Museum’s legendary French vehicles from throughout the decades. Get up close to historic machines ranging from powerful Bugatti and Delage racing cars from the dangerous early days of motoring to veteran Peugeot and Citroën models serving as classic examples of vintage automotive design, before watching a selection of motors put themselves through their gruelling paces climbing the Test Hill. You’ll also be able to enjoy balloon car races, pedal cars and fun outdoor games alongside the motoring extravaganza.
Where: Brookands Motor Museum, Brooklands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0SL
When: 11 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission, adult £22.70, child £9.50.

Fantastic beasts
What: Discover the story of mighty Dragons from throughout history in this new exhibition specially curated by How To Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell. Join Hiccup and Toothless as you journey through the hidden Treasure Chamber, learning more about the different ways dragons have captured the imagination of millions, from ancient legends such as the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Soup Dragon in classic TV show The Clangers. You’ll be able to have a go at interactive exhibits including dragon racing and dragon origami, see a pickled dragon in a jar, and brave visitors might even try and wake the dragon slumbering in the centre of the exhibition…
Where: The Story Museum, 42 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP
When: From 11 July, 10am-5.30pm
Need to know: Tickets, £14 per person, £6.50 for under 4s.

Time travellers
What: Step back in time and learn all kinds of historic crafts and customs with these creative workshops at the Corinium Museum. Find out more about the Stone Age and create art using natural pigments like early hunter-gatherers, sculpt and decorate your own Bronze Age beaker, or uncover the stories of Roman Britain and craft a mosaic, sword or shield, based on artefacts recovered from the nearby Roman fort and other historic sites. You can also follow the trail based on the children’s book My Family and Other Romans, where you’ll need to collect Latin phrases to complete the quest and claim your prize.
Where: Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester GL7 2BX
When: 30 July-30 August, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Craft workshops, £12.50 per child. Admission, £7.90 adult, £3.70 child. Trail and drop-in crafts, £2.50 per child extra.

We The Curious, Bristol © Paul Blakemore

South West

Image: © Paul Blakemore
What: We The Curious, Bristol’s biggest and best science centre, is celebrating its grand reopening! Explore two floors packed with over 200 things to do.
Where: We The Curious, One Millennium Square, Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5DB
When: From 2 July 2024, 10am-5pm
Need to know: All activities free with admission, adult £18.50, child £12.65.

History mystery
What: Take a journey through 12,000 years of history, from the Stone Age to the modern day with this three-day festival at Arundel Castle. This year there’s a special focus on arms and armour, and you’ll be able to explore how weapons, armour and battle have changed over the centuries, from Roman gladiators to medieval knights and beyond. Listen to the roar of 16th century cannon, be entertained by medieval minstrels and falconry displays, have a go at different historical crafts and games and don’t forget to fight for glory in the grand Kids Battle.
Where: Arundel Castle, Arundel, BN18 9AB
When: 24-26 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission, family ticket, £66.

Totally fin-tastic
What: Get ready to sleep with the sharks at the National Marine Aquarium thanks to this special nighttime event. You’ll take a private tour of the exhibits after dark and learn all about the fantastic sea creatures they contain, before playing some rather fishy games and watching a suitably ocean-themed movie (complete with midnight snacks) before settling down to sleep beside the huge Eddystone Reef tank that contains crabs, lobsters, eels – and of course, sharks!
Where: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
When: 25 July, 9 and 17 August, 6.30pm-9am
Need to know: Adult tickets £45, child £50. Bring sleeping bag, mat and pillow.

Rainforest ramble
What: Get set for a super-sized adventure as you meet some Jungle Giants at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Discover nature’s mightiest plants as you explore the Jungle Garden, following the adventure trail to discover the top trumps of the natural world and bracing yourself as you cross the new Burmese style rope bridge. Plus, don’t forget to pop into the play meadow for garden games and giant-inspired crafts, and see some of Heligan’s minibeasts up close with the new Nature Amplifier.
Where: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 6EN
When: 20 July-1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission, £65 for a family ticket.

Catch a cliff-hanger
What: Enjoy a special family-friendly theatrical performance in the beautiful open-air setting of Cornwall’s Minack Theatre. Founded in 1932 by Rowenna Cade, the theatre is carved out of the granite cliff while the deep blue sea of Porthcurno Bay curls far below. This year you’ll be able to watch an enchanting new retelling of Peter Pan based on the story of Wendy, go on a whistle-stop adventure around the word featuring puppetry, music and lots of laughs, or join the long-suffering lighthouse keeper Percy as he attempts to escape his noisy knitting-obsessed neighbour.
Where: Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JU
When: Various dates and times throughout the holidays.
Need to know: Adults from £12, children from £6. Book online or call 01736 810181.

Tudor tales
What: Get set for a summer of history at Portsmouth’s Mary Rose Museums you experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of life 500 years ago. Meet a whole cast of 16th century characters, from soldiers and noblemen to musicians and wise women, as you learn the steps and etiquette of a traditional Tudor dance with Lord and Lady Carew, chuckle at the bad jokes and magic tricks of Devilstick Peat the jester, tuck into Tudor cuisine and find out what Mary Rose officers and crew would have for dinner, get hands-on with Tudor weapons and armour and practice your marching skills, or discover the medicinal properties of buttered spiders and snail slime!
Where: Mary Rose Museum, Main Rd, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3PY
When: 27-28 July (Jester), 3-4 August (Food), 10-11 August (Dance) and 17-18 August (Tudor weapons), 24-25 (Archers) and 31 August-1 September (Wise woman), 10am–4pm
Need to know: All activities free with admission to the Mary Rose Museum, adult £36, child £26.

Play away 
What: Get ready to enjoy some fun in the sun with this programme of wild activities at Cornwall’s Eden Project. Take a deep dive into the natural world by following the family trails and joining in with a whole host of indoor and outdoor activities. 
Where: The Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When: 27 July-8 September, 9.30am-6pm
Need to know: Activities and exhibition free with admission, adult £38, 17-25 years £32.50, child £12.

Get the message
What: Discover the beginnings of global communications at Porthcurno in Cornwall, the very place where the first-ever undersea telegraph cable connected Britain to India in 1870. Discover how these first telecommunications evolved into the global network of mobile phones and high-tech fibre optics of today, before heading underground to the secret bunker where you can learn about the risks of bombing and invasion, and the important role of the telegram network during the war. You can also catch their ‘airymouse’ (Cornish for bat) exhibition too.
Where: PK Porthcurno Musuem of Global Communications, Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JX
Need to know: Adults, £12, child, £6, under 5s free

Saxon shenanigans
What: Get outside and discover 10,000 years of history brought to life as you meet the Romans and Anglo-Saxons at Butser Ancient Farm. You’ll be able to experience a lesson in an ancient Roman classroom, writing with wax tablets and learning fables and Latin phrases, try out ancient crafts including spinning, chalk carving and playing historical instruments, watch Anglo-Saxon warriors do battle, or see if you’ve got what it takes to join the Roman army. Plus, don’t forget to follow the Time Traveller’s Trail, where you can put your knowledge to the test and take part in a guided archaeological dig.
Where: Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton Lane, Hampshire PO8 0BG
When:  20 July-31 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission; family ticket £32.80.

Families at Bletchley Park © Bletchley Park Trust


Image: © Bletchley Park Trust
Go code crackers
What: Discover the stories of Britain’s best kept secrets with these analytical activities at Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers cracked the enigma machine. 
Where: The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 6EB
When: Activities, 29 July-30 August, 9.30am-5pm. Live music, 3, 10 17, 24 and 31 August, 12pm-12.45pm and 1.30pm-2.15pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £63.

Global gathering
What: Suffolk’s Latitude Festival is back with a bang with a jam-packed programme of fantastic family entertainment alongside famous names including Duran Duran, Kasabian and comedian Jo Brand. Have a go at creating your own classic Aardman character with the help of an expert model maker, enjoy the huge bubbles, foam towers and smoke machines at the daily Paris Bubbles show, have a go at completing a Taskmaster challenge, or learn some woodworking skills as you help to put together a massive sculpture.
Where: Henham Park, Henham Barns Nr, Southwold, Beccles NR34 8AQ
When: 25-28 July, 10am-late. 
Need to know: Adult day tickets from £110, child £18. 

Animal antics
What: Head East this holiday and discover the world of Asian animals with these in-depth activities and workshops taking place at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Learn more about the amazing animals to be found on Earth’s largest continent, including tigers, elephants, otters, macaques and many more, through themed animal talks and Q&A sessions with Whipsnade’s expert zookeepers, before catching a shadow puppet show, joining in with interactive games (including a monkey memory challenge, giant marbles and snakes and ladders) and enjoying traditional Asian music and dance.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF
When: 20 July-3 September, 10am-6pm 
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets £28.50 adult, £19.90 child.

Hoo goes there?
What: Prepare yourself for plenty of historical happenings as you discover the story of the Anglo-Saxons at Sutton Hoo. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Saxon Britain as you explore the camp, taking in traditional crafts, combat displays and tales of myth and legend. You can have a go at making replica Anglo-Saxon clothing, try your hand at war-gaming with miniature warriors before painting your own model to take home, or dress up like an archaeologist and discover the story of the men and women who uncovered Sutton Hoo in the 1930s.
Where: Sutton Hoo, Tranmer House, Woodbridge IP12 3DJ
When: 13 July-8 September, times and dates vary. 
Need to know: All activities free with admission, family ticket £40.

Wheely good
What: Fasten your seatbelts and get into gear for plenty of high-octane excitement as the 2024 Festival of Wheels arrives in Ipswich! Petrolheads of all ages will be able to admire a huge range of vehicles, from monster trucks to rare classics and everything in between, but there’s lots more to enjoy too: watch spectacular circus stunts in the big top before learning some circus skills yourself, catch a game of motorcycle football, go for a swing on the high ropes course, or bounce around in the inflatables village.
Where: Trinity Park, Ipswich IP3 8UH
When: 3-4 August, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Adult ticket from £19.99, child £16.99 (7-15) or £9.99 (3-6) when booked in advance.

Wonderful Wells
What: Get ready for a seaside spectacular as the carnival comes to town in Wells-Next-The-Sea. There’s plenty of music, games, activities and shows to choose from – you can compete in the sandcastle competition, watch a magic show, cheer on your favourite team during the raft race, or get creative with carnival crafts – just make sure you don’t miss the grand parade, featuring traditional floats, fancy dress and much more at the end of the week!
Where: Various locations in and around Wells-Next-The-Sea, North Norfolk.
When: 2-11 August, various dates and times. Carnival and parade, 10 August, 10am-8pm. Raft race, 27 July, 12pm.
Need to know: Many events free, prices vary for others.

Oh help! Oh no!
What: It’s party time in the deep dark woods of Thetford Forest as Julia Donaldson’s classic tale The Gruffalo celebrates its 25th anniversary and you’re invited to join in the fun! Pick up your party bag and go for a woodland wander, finding all the missing presents to give to the Gruffalo as you learn more about what life is like for all different creatures that live in the forest. Plus, you’ll be able to greet the Gruffalo himself for fun games, themed face painting and plenty of photo opportunities!
Where: Thetford Forest, High Lodge, Brandon IP27 0AF
When: Trail every day, 9am-6pm. Meet the Gruffalo, 23 August, 12pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm.
Need to know: Trail party packs £4 each, other activities free.

Classical capers
What: Enjoy a special family storytelling concert with Stan and Mabel at Snape Maltings, based on Jason Chapman’s children’s picture book. The music-loving cat and dog Stan and Mabel have set off to form the Greatest Orchestra in the World, and you can follow them on their musical adventure as they meet a whole host of animal instrumentalists. Expect original classical compositions, storytelling and a drawing workshop with Jason after the finale!
Where: Snape Maltings, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape Bridge, Snape IP17 1SP
When: 27 July, 1pm and 3.30pm
Need to know: Tickets £10 adult, £5 under 18. Recommended for 3-7 years.

© Legoland Discovery Centre, Birmingham


Image: © Legoland Discovery Centre, Birmingham
Block party
What: Get your excitement building with these imaginative activities inspired by the new Lego DREAMZzz event at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham!  
Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham, Utilita Arena, Birmingham B16 8AE
When: 13 July-8 September, 9.30am-5.30pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets from £20 per person.

An arrow escape
What: Celebrate the tales of the world’s best-known outlaw in the place the legend began – Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest. The popular Robin Hood Festival is back for 2024, with plenty of medieval mayhem for the whole family. Expect living history encampments giving a flavour of life in the Middle Ages with crafts and weapons demonstrations, potion-making, mind-bending magic, circus skills workshops, cheeky comedy shows and storytelling starring the hero himself - Robin and his band of merry men.
Where: Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, Nottinghamshire NG21 9RN
When: Weekends between 3-26 August, various times. 
Need to know: Free entry, small charge for some activities. Parking £15 per vehicle.

Seaside special
What: Discover what it was like to be beside the seaside in the Victorian era at Blists Hill as they bring the beach to Shropshire. You’ll be able to enjoy all the features of an old-fashioned seaside resort, complete with deckchairs, beach huts, vintage carousel and donkey rides and games as well as a traditional Victorian-style stage show.
Where: Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Telford TF7 5UD
When: 20 July-1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission, adult £26.50, child £15.50. 

Start your engines! 
What: Fasten your seatbelts and buckle up for the story of cars past, present and future at the British Motor Museum. Meet Dotty and Dougie the designers and tour the museum, including the new Sketch to Street exhibition, as you learn how the key features of car design have evolved over the decades. You’ll be able to have a go at designing your own amazing automobile to take home in the Learning Hub, with super spoilers, glitzy grilles and many other materials to choose from, or break out the toolbox and have a go at repairing a 1907 Austin.
Where: British Motor Museum, Banbury Road, Gaydon, Warwick CV35 0BJ
When: 19 July-2 September, 10am-5pm 
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £43.

Jump for Joy
What: Explore an eye-popping wonderland as the brand-new exhibition JOY – Inspired by Nature arrives at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. Wander through a larger-than-life sight, sound and smellscape that explores the connections between creativity and nature, featuring dazzling colours, giant flowers and much more. Afterwards, you’ll be able to get your creative juices flowing with craft activities, where you can help contribute to the final JOY installation, make your own colourful windowsill garden using recycled materials, or create a junk model dinosaur inspired by the Natural History Museum’s famous Dippy skeleton, currently on loan to the Herbert.
Where: The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
When: Exhibition, 19 July-22 September, 10am-4pm, 12pm-4pm Sundays. Craft activities, 27 July-31 August, 10.30am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Exhibition free. 

The play’s the thing
What: Experience the brilliance of the Bard in his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, with all kinds of fabulous fun from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Take part in free family workshops full of games and performances exploring how Shakespeare’s plays are still relevant today, enjoy disguises and love poetry galore with a new production of As You Like It, visit the Glasshouse, a new light and sound installation that changes as you interact with it, or grab a blanket and watch free performances at the outdoor Holloway Garden Theatre.
Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BB
When: 18 July-1 September, various dates and times.
Need to know: As You Like It £20 per person, one child half price with each adult, other activities free, pre-booking needed for workshops.

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 this dramatic medieval joust at Warwick Castle. Inspired by the Wars of the Roses, two rivals from the Houses of Lancaster and York will be charging full-tilt in pursuit of glory in a thrilling display of chivalry, courage, and stunning equestrian stunts – who will emerge victorious? As evening falls, don’t miss the new Dragon Slayer spectacular and witness the heroic tale of Guy of Warwick brought to life through world-class puppetry and special effects as he does battle against fearsome giants and dragons!
Where: Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU
When: Jousting until 1 September, 11.30am and 2.30pm. Dragon Slayer, 22-26 and 30-31 August, 6.15pm.
Need to know: Jousting free with admission, tickets from £28 per person. Dragon Slayer sold separately, tickets from £45.60 per person.

Monster mash
What: Enjoy some quirky inflatable artwork as Mega Bunny and his friends Egg Cat, Octopus and more arrive at Lakeside Arts this August. Meet all kinds of larger-than-life colourful monsters in the Djanogly Gallery, before coming up with your own imaginative creatures! You’ll also be able to meet a team of archaeologists for a hands-on workshop where you can handle real Roman artefacts before finding out more about the frescos uncovered in the nearby Southwell Villa before creating your own Roman artwork with pigments and stencils.
Where: Lakeside Arts, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD
When: Exhibition, 1 August-8 September, 10am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-4pm Sunday. Roman workshop, 27 July, 12pm-4.30pm. 
Need to know: Exhibition and activities free.

Bear necessities
What: Calling all adrenaline junkies! If you’re looking for an action-packed day out for all the family, why not head to Birmingham’s Bear Grylls Adventure, bringing together 11 different dynamic activities so everyone can tackle their favourite challenge. Experience the thrill of indoor skydiving, test your keen eye on the archery range, scramble through the challenging assault course, or dive into a shark tank, with friendly Adventure Guides always on hand to help.
Where: The Bear Grylls Adventure, National Exhibition Centre, Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT
When: Daily 9am-5pm (apart from 9am-7pm on Saturdays)
Need to know: Tickets from £20 per person per activity. Age restrictions vary by activity.

Flying visit
What: Discover the modern history of the Royal Air Force with Bravo Bravo, a new immersive performance taking place this summer at Royal Air Force Museum Midlands. Aerial performers using a variety of flying machines will bring to life the story of Bravo November, an ordinary Chinook helicopter who ended up at the very centre of stories of heroism and survival across its 30-year career, and how this reflects the history of the Royal Air Force itself. Watch as the performers soar through the air in their own flying machines and glide with precision across the stage in a stunning display of skill and artistry.
Where: Royal Air Force Museum Midlands, Lysander Avenue, Cosford, Shifnal TF11 8UP
When: 25 July–1 September, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am and 2pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £12.50 adult, £10 child.

The Hepworth Wakefield


Image: © The Hepworth Wakefield
Take art
What: Head over to the Hepworth Wakefield this holiday and you’ll be able to join in with plenty of top-notch artistic activities – explore the birds, plants and trees in the gallery garden and take inspiration from them to help create a garden of summer.
Where: The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW
When: 16 July-1 August, various dates and times.
Need to know: All activities free with exhibition ticket, £13 per adult, under 18s free.

Go cocoa-nutty 
What: Unwrap the history of York’s famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations at York’s Chocolate Story. Learn the secrets of chocolate making and craft handmade treats in a scrumptious masterclass, with an expert chocolatier showing you how to make and decorate your own chocolate bar, lolly and truffles, or delve further into the history of chocolate on a special guided tour, before finishing off with chocolate-making demonstrations and some tasty treats. 
Where: York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York YO1 7LD
When: Tours, 13 July-4 September, 4.30pm Thursdays and Sundays, 5pm all other days. Masterclasses, 23 July-4 September, Tuesdays at 11am and Wednesdays at 2.30pm.  
Need to know: Tours, £25.50 adult, £23 child, masterclass £35 per person. 

Bright ideas
What: There’s a jam-packed programme of family fun at Eureka this summer, with all sorts of science, entertainment and adventure to enjoy! You can expect mad experiments galore in Professor Pumpernickel’s live show, enjoy some superb music, dance and magic from wandering entertainers, have a go at making your own performing puppets, or get active with mountain biking and archery. 
Where: Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE 
When: 20 July-1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission, tickets £16.95 per person, booking essential. 

Feeling sheepish 
What: Nothing can bleat a trip to RHS Harlow Carr this summer, because Shaun the Sheep has arrived to cause all kinds of woolly mayhem! Search for three different sculptures of Shaun throughout the garden as you find out how to grow your own fruit and veg, work with a former Aardman animator and have a go at creating your own animation, join the Garden Detectives for a sleuthing stroll, catch a giant bubble show, chill out with family yoga or learn some outdoor skills in forest school sessions.
Where: RHS Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB
When: 20 July-1 September, 9.30am-6pm 
Need to know: Animation workshop, £12 per person, pre-booking necessary, other activities free with admission, family ticket from £38.10.

Fangs a lot
What: Get set to be transported to Transylvania as you step inside the 3,000-year-old Anglo-Saxon ruins of Whitby Abbey. Learn how Bram Stoker was inspired by them to pen his iconic Gothic novel Dracula, before watching a live performance from the fantastic Time Will Tell theatre company featuring the Count himself in a show that’s sure to be full of bite. 
Where: Whitby Abbey, Abbey Lane, Whitby YO22 4JT
When: Saturday-Tuesday, 20 July-27 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £36.50.

Roll up! Roll up!
What: The circus has made its way to Ormesby Hall, and everyone’s invited to join in! Try your hand at plate-spinning, hula-hooping, juggling and more, before joining the professionals for interactive performances. There’s also the chance to get involved with drop-in dance workshops and archery challenges, have a go at painting colourful plant pots, or create your own mini beach or garden terrarium.
Where: Ormesby Hall, Church Lane, Ormesby, Middlesbrough TS3 0SR
When: 20 July-1 September, 10.30am-4pm, dates and times vary by activity. 
Need to know: Terrariums, £14.99 per child, plant pots £9.99. Other activities included with admission; family ticket £16.25.

Hidden gems
What: Set sail for Burton Constable this August and you’ll find a swashbuckling new adaptation of Treasure Island! In this musical open-air performance of the classic tale, you can expect plenty of action and audience participation as young Jim Hawkins is drawn into the corrupt and dangerous world of pirates and treasure hunting. Plus, you can pick up a special Pirate Pack containing arts and crafts, puzzles, special pirate doubloons and a chance to win your own grand treasure!
Where: Burton Constable, Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire HU11 4LN
When: 3 August, 1pm
Need to know: Adult tickets £12, child £6. Pirate Pack, £3.50 extra.

Going underground
What: Discover more about Britain’s prehistoric past as you head out on a special family-friendly fossil hunt with professional palaeontologist Mark Kemp. As you set off on the guided walk across the Stump Cross landscape, you’ll learn more about how the limestone-rich rocks of the area are the perfect environment for fossils, before cleaning and preparing any fossils you find to take home in the workshop. 
Where: Stump Cross Caverns, Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire HG3 5JL
When: 7-8, 14-15 and 22-23 August, 11am-12.30pm
Need to know: Adult tickets £20, children £15. Pre-booking required.

Summer at Stockeld
What: Get ready for a summer of fun and adventure with music, dancing, games and much more all taking place at Stockeld Park. Enjoy a selection of live musical performances on the main stage, help Scout the Squirrel find the contents of his suitcase as you explore the Enchanted Forest (complete with fairy village and talking trees!), try your luck at the family gameshow and dance the evening away with a silent disco to finish off each day.
Where: The Adventure Park, Stockeld Park, Wetherby, North Yorkshire LS22 4AN
When: 20 July-2 September, 11am-4.30pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets from £18 per person, under 2s free.

Secret lives
What: Find out what it takes to keep a grand Georgian house running smoothly behind the scenes as you discover the hidden stories of Temple Newsham’s servants this summer. Say hello to cooks, cleaners, butlers and many more historical characters as you learn what their lives and duties in the house were like, before enjoying a selection of fun family activities, crafts and trails. Plus, don’t miss the chance to watch the Arbeau Dancers perform historic performances spanning the last 500 years of dance in the Picture Gallery – or even have a go for yourself!
Where: Temple Newsham, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds LS15 0AE
When: Servants’ secrets, 20 July-5 September, dancers 20 and 27 July, 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 August, 10am-5.30pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £22. 

Just So Festival © Andrew Allcock

North West

Image:  © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum
Festival spirit
What: Get back to nature with the family friendly Just So Festival as it returns to Cheshire for 2024, combining art, music and literature against a beautiful woodland backdrop. 
When: 16-18 August, 9am till late.
Where: Rode Hall Estate, Scholar Green, Cheshire, ST7 3QT
Need to know: Day tickets from £80.25 adult, £37.45 child and include all activities.

Feeling Bluey
What: When Dad feels like a little bit of Sunday afternoon time out, Bluey and Bingo have other plans! Join them as they pull out all of the games and cleverness at their disposal to try and get Dad off that bean bag. Join the Heelers in their first live theatre show made just for you, featuring brilliantly created puppets and original music – this is Bluey as you’ve never seen it before, brought to real life in this UK premiere.
Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ 
When: 31 July-11 August, 11am, 2pm, weekends an additional 4.30pm performance.
Need to know: Tickets from £18.50.

Fun on the farm
What: Take a trip to Tatton Park and enjoy plenty of farmyard frolics in the summer sun. Say hello to the farm’s newest residents including cute chicks and fluffy lambs, enjoy stories of farm life and Tatton’s history, learn about energy and engineering as you take the generator bike for a spin, sample some tasty treats made using local honey, or have a baa-rilliant time as you cheer on your favourite competitor during the sheep race!
Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford WA16 6SG 
When: 23 July-23 August, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Activities free with farm admission; family ticket from £21.60.

Sea creatures
What: Some special visitors will be making a big splash at SEA LIFE Manchester this holiday as a pair of real-life mermaids pop in to say hello! During this special event you’ll be able to explore the aquarium after hours, taking time to marvel at all the different marine life from seaweed to sharks, before stepping inside the ocean tunnel to watch the merfolk as they catch up with the sea turtles Cammy and Ernie – make sure to give them a ‘wave’!
Where: SEA LIFE Manchester, The Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS
When: 16-17 August, 5pm-9pm
Need to know: Tickets from adult £25, child £21.50

Pottering around
What: Become a master of mystery and magic with a special spellbinding steam train ride at Bury Transport Museum. A team of experienced enchanters will be on hand to help you learn the basics of broomsticks, practice your potion making, be instructed in incantations and learn to tattle and talk with a tawny owl during the ride from Bury to Rawtenstall, before handing you the secret instructions to complete your magical mission! 
Where: Bury Transport Museum / The East Lancashire Railway, Bolton Street Station, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY
When: 16 and 29 August, various times. 
Need to know: Tickets, adult £20, child £17.50. Suitable for 5-12 years.  

Light entertainment
What: Experience Chester Zoo in a whole new light with their new Afterglow event giving you the chance to explore after hours, with tons of fun activities and entertainment to help you have a super summer evening! See some of the zoo’s latest arrivals, including giraffe calf Edie and snow leopard pair Yasmin and Nubra, get dressed up with animal face painting and accessories, meet Betsy, the life-sized dancing Triceratops, watch the immersive short film Native focusing on brilliant British wildlife, or join adventurer Phileas Fogg for a wacky pop-up performance.
Where: Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1EU
When: 13-25 August, 3pm-8pm
Need to know: Adult tickets from £20, child £13, 1– and 2-year-olds £2.50, additional charges for some activities.

What’s the buzz?
What: Find out everything you’d ever need to know about your fuzzy friends with Bees: A Story of Survival at the Liverpool World Museum. Through sculpture, sound and cutting-edge technology, you’ll be able to explore the story of these essential insects, from the insides of bee colonies to the role they play in pollination. You can also bee part of the action yourself – go hunting for minibeasties on a bug safari, plant your own mini wildflower meadow to take home, chat to an experienced beekeeper about the different kinds of bee, or craft a costume and join the swarm during a big bee parade!
Where: Liverpool World Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN
When: Exhibition until 5 May 2025, 10am-6pm. Bee parade, 31 August, 3pm, times and dates for other activities vary. 
Need to know: Exhibition from £12 adult, £5 ages 12-17, free for ages 11 or under. All craft activities, £2 per child, other activities free.

Bard to the future
What: Enjoy a play and picnic in the park with this open-air performance of As You Like It in the picturesque town of Port Sunlight. Expect bold characters, live music, and plenty of audience participation as the clever Rosalind attempts to win the heart of Orlando by disguising herself as a boy in this Shakespearian comedy of life, love, betrayal and faith.
Where: Port Sunlight Village in The Dell, King George's Drive, Port Sunlight, Wirral CH62 5DX
When: 14 August, 7pm.
Need to know: Family ticket, £48.

Terrific Tudors
What: Expect a blast from the past with these crafts and outdoor activities exploring the history of the Tudor period at Ordsall Hall. Have a go at crafting your own monogram, purse or beeswax candle, join the head gardener for a bug hunt around the grounds, listen to the spooky story of the White Lady said to haunt the Hall, or have a go at baking tasty bread and muffins in the outdoor oven.
Where: Ordsall Hall, 322 Ordsall Lane, Salford M5 3AN
When: 29 July-29 August, 10am-4pm, times for activities vary.
Need to know: Free entry. Most activities free, others £1.50 or £3 per child.

© Life Science Centre, Newcastle

North East

Image: © Life Science Centre, Newcastle
Loving Life
What: Get stuck into some scientific activities with an all-new programme of fun events at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre
Where: Life Science Centre, International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle NE1 4EP
When: From 28 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, adult £14.25, child £10.50.

Medieval merriments 
What: Take a trip back in time and find out more about the Middle Ages with an assortment of living history activities taking place at Alnwick Castle, famous for being featured in the Harry Potter films. Listen to traditional Tudor songs and music in the Guest Hall, discover gory stories of medieval medicine with the castle’s barber-surgeon, join the Silly History Boys for a wild and wacky show about the Wars of the Roses, and keep track of time with a thunderous cannon-firing demonstration every hour!
Where: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1NQ
When: 23-30 July and 12-22 August, various dates and times.
Need to know: All activities free with admission, family ticket £55.65.

Heart of glass  
What: Learn all about the art of glassmaking as you forge your own creations at the National Glass Centre. Fuse glass pieces together to make your own iridescent bird or fish or decorate a glass pane using brightly coloured paints to create your own postcard or pet portrait. You’ll also be able to decorate welly-boot-shaped flowerpots with floral designs or construct your own butterfly wings with paper, cellophane panels and all kinds of decorations to make them sparkle!
Where: National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL
When: Glass painting, 24 July, 7 and 21 August, 10am-12pm and 1pm-3.30pm. Glass fusing, 22 and 30 July, 5, 13, 19 and 27 August, 11.30am and 1.30pm. Welly boots, 25 July, 11.30am. Butterfly wings, 28 August, 11.30pm.
Need to know: Glass painting, £5 per child. Fused glass workshop, £12 per child. Wings and wellies, £4 per child. Glass fusing suitable for 6+, all other activities for 4+.

Past attraction
What: Experience the sights and sounds of the 1940s as the past comes to life at Ushaw Historic House. Alongside vintage vehicles from civilian life and the Second World War and a whole host of costumed characters, you’ll be able to handle real vintage objects, taste-test British Army cuisine, get a 1940s-style haircut, and enjoy a selection of traditional songs and music.
Where: Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, Ushaw, Durham DH7 7DW.
When: 3-4 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Free with admission, adults £10, children £6.

Tree-mendous fun
What: Get set for a totally nutty adventure as bestselling Australian book series The 13-Story Treehouse comes to the stage for the first time. Andy and Terry live together in their terrific treehouse – complete with bowling alley, secret underground laboratory and self-making beds – and are about to perform in their very first play. The problem is, they’ve forgotten to write it! Expect plenty of crazy props and amusing antics as they set off to find their performers, including flying cats, a sea monster and a giant gorilla.
Where: Sunderland Empire, High St West, Sunderland SR1 3EX
When: 22-25 August, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £15 per person, plus £3.95 booking fee per order.

Knight time
What: Mount your steed and speed to Belsay Hall for a chivalry-filled weekend this summer. Go back in time to the 15th century and get up close to the action as rival knights compete in the ultimate test of strength and skill in the infamous Knights’ Tournament. Watch armoured knights and their squires clash in four gruelling rounds and find out more about this medieval pastime and accompanying pageantry. Make sure to choose your champion and cheer them on to victory – or console them in defeat!
Where: Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Belsay, Morpeth NE20 0DX
When: 27-28 July, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket from £48.

Going green
What: Spark your imagination this summer with Newcastle’s Discovery Museum and their new exhibition Steam to Green, exploring the history of energy and industry in the North East. Discover how Newcastle and the surrounding area were essential to the Industrial Revolution, before learning about the region’s contributions to new green technologies with hands-on exhibits, historical artefacts and even a cross-sectioned electric car. Plus, don’t miss out on the related Spark Club workshops where you can have a go at programming robots, creating circuits or designing your own wind turbine.
Where: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
When: Exhibition, 20 July-6 September, 10am-4pm (weekdays), 11am-4pm (weekends), Spark Club, 22 and 29 July, 5, 12 and 19 August, 10am-3pm. 
Need to know: Admission free. Spark club, £30 per child, for ages 8-12.

Twice the fun
What: After its spectacular debut last year, NOVUM, Newcastle’s newest arts festival, makes returns to Newcastle Civic Centre for 2024. Expect plenty of imaginative family-friendly music, performances and art installations, including the crazy Cirque Bijou featuring a flying piano alongside choirs, aerobatics and juggling, seahorse printing inspired by the sculptures atop the Civic Centre, dragon wing designing and making and gravity-defying dance across a forest of tall poles, plus lots more!
Where: Newcastle Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Haymarket, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8QH
When: 8-11 August, dates and times vary. 
Need to know: Free, advance booking required.

Roman holiday 
What: Be transported into Britain’s ancient past as a Roman Legion sets up camp at Vindolanda, bringing ancient times back to life. You’ll be able to chat to soldiers relaxing in their tents, sign up to join the Roman army and learn how to march in time and complete formations, watch ancient artillery in action, discover how a soldier’s sturdy sandals were made, and even have a go at minting your own Roman coin. 
Where: Chesterholm Museum, Bardon Mill, Hexham, NE47 7JN
When: 17-18 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket £32.

Make it pop
What: If you’re looking for a first festival to experience as a family, why not get your groove on with the Family Fun Fest at Durham’s Adventure Valley? Sing along to your favourite classic pop hits with tribute acts to Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Little Mix and Taylor Swift, take a breakdancing or samba workshop, get creative with arts and crafts, make a splash in the Water Zone or hop off for a visit to the Jumping Pillows!
Where: Adventure Valley, Union Hall Farm, Brasside, Durham DH1 5SG
When: 10-11 August, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Early bird tickets from £24.95 per person.

© The Real Mary King's Close


Image: © The Real Mary King's Close
A wee surprise!
What: Discover the surprising secrets of historical medicine with these hands-on workshops taking place in Mary King’s Close – a subterranean 17th century Edinburgh street that has given visitors and archaeologists alike a window into the capital’s past. 
Where: The Real Mary King’s Close, 2 Warriston's Close, Edinburgh EH1 1PG
When: Saturday and Sunday throughout the holidays, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm and 4.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets £32.50 per adult, £25 per child. Not suitable for under 5s. 

Read all about it!
What: Calling all bookworms! The Edinburgh International Book Festival is back and with a huge new programme of talks, workshops and events for readers of all ages. Meet your favourite big-name authors and illustrators such as Joseph Coelho, Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell, Rob Biddulph and many more, get crafty and have a go at making a zine, space mobile or Beano comic, say hello to all five colourful characters from The Gruffalo as the Festival celebrates 25 years of Julia Donaldson’s classic tale, or simply pick a spot to curl up with your favourite story. 
Where: Edinburgh Futures Institute, 1 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9EF
When: 10-25 August, various dates and times. 
Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.

Big in Japan
What: It’s definitely a wrap at the V&A Dundee this summer as they uncover their latest exhibition – Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. You’ll explore the history of this iconic Japanese garment favoured by samurai and rock stars alike and its impact on fashion across the world, from stylish runway couture to Jedi robes. Afterwards, you can discover more about Japanese pop culture during fun drop-in activities, where you can work with designers to craft your own kimonos, patterns, manga style comics and fantastical creatures.
Where: V&A Dundee, 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee DD1 4EZ
When: Exhibition runs until January 2025, 10am-5pm. Activities, 6 July-4 August, 12.30pm-4.30pm.
Need to know: Exhibition tickets, £11.82 adults, under 18s go free. Activities free.

Go to town
What: Discover the wonders of neighbourhood nature and find out all about urban environments at the Aberdeen Science Centre. Looking at everything from the tallest trees to the smallest sea life – you can investigate the survival secrets of foxes, rabbits, seagulls and other creatures that make their homes in towns and cities, create a buzz at the Brilliant Bees show as you learn how to identify different species and the ways they pollinate plants, or figure out how to find a tree’s age while exploring its life cycle.
Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, 179 Constitution St, Aberdeen AB24 5TU
When: 1 June-25 August, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Events free with admission, family ticket £35.

Historic happenings 
What: Celebrate over two thousand years of Scottish history from rocks to robots at Inverness’ Fort George, as this mighty 18th century fort transforms into a living timeline and one of Scotland’s largest re-enactment events. Go on a journey through the ages, where you can discover stories of ancient life as you wander through the Pict and Roman camps, enjoy medieval and Viking crafts and displays, and dance along to the sound of the big band in the 1940s zone.
Where: Fort George, near Ardersier, Inverness IV2 7TD
When: 10-11 August, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £34. 

Hooray for Holyrood!
What: Find out all about royal regalia with these fashion-focused events taking place at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Discover the history and stories behind the different crowns used by the Royal Family before crafting your own to wear throughout your visit or explore the new exhibition Style and Society: Dressing the Georgians at the King’s Gallery, taking inspiration from these historical artworks to craft your own dashing Georgian cape.
Where: Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX
When: Crowns event, Wednesdays, 10 July-28 August, 11am-3pm. Clothing event, 10 August, 1.30pm-3pm
Need to know: Clothing event, £8 per child. Crowns event free with admission, £20 adult, £10 child.

Power up
What: Grab your controllers and get ready for Game On, the biggest ever gaming exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Follow the technological, historical and cultural changes that have established gaming as a new art form as you have a go at some of the most important games from the last 50 years, from Sonic to Street Fighter and Mario to Minecraft. Plus, you’ll also be able to join in with creative crafts and fun activities running alongside the exhibition too.
Where: National museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
When: Game On exhibition from 29 June-3 November, 10am-5pm. Summer activities, 1 July-9 August, Mondays and Fridays, 10.30am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Exhibition tickets from £12 adult, £8 child when booked in advance. Other activities free. 

Beside the seaside
What: Enjoy 10 days of art, music, dance, literature and more in the picturesque seaside settings of North Berwick as Fringe by the Sea returns for 2024. Highlights include the Rotten Royals stage show from Horrible Histories, allowing you to meet revolting rulers throughout British history, marine-themed science experiments at the Scottish Seabird Centre, cute and crazy cartoon masterclasses where you can frame your best creations to take home, and spectacular circus performances at the Big Top including dazzling juggling and daring acrobatics.
Where: Various locations in and around North Berwick.
When: 2-11 August, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.

Of Norse you can
What: Journey back to the 13th Century and explore the sights and sounds of a Viking village as the seaside town of Largs celebrates its annual Viking Festival, marking the 1263 Battle of Largs, the last Viking invasion to take place in the UK. Battle against mighty Viking warriors, have a go at historic crafts including leatherwork and candle making, try on warrior face paint and hairstyles, and be amazed amidst the flickering light of the fire festival and ceremonial longboat burning.
Where: The Promenade, Largs, North Ayrshire KA30 8NE
When: 31 August-8 September, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Tickets £8 per adult, £4 child, some events free.

Creature feature
What: Discover the wonderful world of wildlife and get up to some serious animal antics at Edinburgh Zoo. Join in with a special three-hour Summer Explorers workshop, where you’ll get an in-depth introduction to some of the zoo’s residents before enjoying themed games and activities or compete in the anima-lympics and see how you shape up to a selection of different species in challenges of strength, speed and skill.
Where: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS
When: Summer Explorers, 18 and 25 July, 10am and 2pm. Anima-lympics, 27-28 July, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Summer Explorers, £22 per person, suitable for 4-8 years. Anima-lympics free with admission, £26.50 adult, £17 child.

Castell Conwy © Hawlfraint y Goron / © Crown copyright (2024) Cymru Wales


Image: Castell Conwy © Hawlfraint y Goron / © Crown copyright (2024) Cymru Wales
Fooling around 
What: Enjoy some knockabout fun and discover if you’ve got what it takes to become a medieval merrymaker at Castell Conwy this summer. Meet resident jester and master juggler Erwyd le Fol, be amazed and amused by the enchanting antics of Jay Gatling the wizard, or enjoy ancient tales of Welsh dragons, fairies.
Where: Castell Conwy, Rose Hill St, Conwy LL32 8AY
When: Fridays, 26 July-30 August, 10am-4pm 
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £40. 

Making tracks
What: It’s full steam ahead as Bala Lake Miniature Railway hosts its annual Steam Gala again this summer. You’ll be able to admire the railway’s entire collection of vintage steam and diesel locomotives, watch special freight and shunting demonstrations showcasing Bala’s slate-mining past, then head down the line on a nine-mile journey, passing through the beautiful lakeside, woodland and mountain scenery of Snowdonia National Park.
When: 24-26 August, 10am-6.30pm 
Where: Bala Lake Railway, Station Rd, Llanuwchllyn, Bala LL23 7DD
Need to know: Event included with return train ticket, family price from £34 online.

No place like home
What: Follow the yellow brick road to the Wales Millenium Centre and you’ll find the magical musical spectacular The Wizard of Oz! Featuring the classic score from the Oscar-winning 1939 film and a star-studded cast including Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood and JLS’ Aston Merrygold, meet all kinds of crazy characters as Dorothy, Toto and her friends set off on their journey to the Emerald City and beyond to explore the merry land of Oz – but watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West! 
Where: Donald Gordon Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff CF10 5AL
When: 23-28 July, 2pm and 7pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £17 per person.

Do the dinosaur
What: Journey back several million years as fabulous fossils and dramatic dinosaurs take over National Museum Cardiff! Explore the new exhibition Fossil Swamp, where you can learn about the wetlands that covered Wales 300 million years ago and discover what strange flowers, fruit and insects called it home. Then meet Ranger Chris for the Dinomania show, where you can travel back in time and meet some roar-some lifelike dinosaurs – from the terrifying T-Rex to adorable dino babies – while joining in with interactive games and learning fascinating facts.
Where: National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff CF10 3NP
When: Fossil Swamp throughout summer, 10am-5pm. Dinomania, 27-28 and 30 July-1 August, 11am, 2pm and 4pm.
Need to know: Fossil Swamp exhibition until 2 March, free. Dinomania, £15 per person.

Slow boat safari
What: Come face to face with some wetland wonders at WWT Llanelli. Embrace your inner Steve Backshall and take to the water in a traditional Canadian canoe – will you be lucky enough to see a family of swans, vibrant kingfisher, or even an elusive water vole? Or stay on dry land and follow one of the reserve’s experienced nature wardens on a special guided walk, learning more about the wetlands’ birds and reptiles and the dragonflies and damselflies you might spy flitting about in the summer sun.
Where: WWT Llanelli, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: Canoes, 20 July-1 September, 9.30am-5pm. Ranger walks, 20 July and 17 August, 11.30am-1pm.
Need to know: Canoe hire, £12.50 per canoe (two adults and one child, 5-10 years, per canoe), ranger walks free with admission, family ticket £28.45.

Prehistoric peril
What: Use augmented reality technology to step into a forgotten world as the new Giants of the Past experience launches at Plantasia Tropical Zoo. As you make your way through the exhibits spotting exotic animals, you’ll be able to discover some of the largest creatures ever to have lived and learn more about these ancient ancestors of modern-day wildlife. See life-sized models of Sarcosuchus Imperator, the biggest ever crocodile, the gigantic snake Titanboa, and the scary spider Megarachne, then watch these ancient giants come to life through this special app.
Where: Plantasia Tropical Zoo, Parc Tawe Retail Park, Swansea SA1 2AL
When: From 10 July and throughout summer, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Free with admission, family ticket, £28.95. 

Play away
What: Celebrate the UK’s national day of play with tons of activities and entertainment on offer at the National Waterfront Museum for Playday! Get stuck into nature-themed arts and crafts, listen to some Welsh rhymes, have a go at building your own den or expressing yourself with face painting then get your groove on with live music before catching the confetti-filled finale.
Where: National Waterfront Museum, Oystermouth Rd, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3RD
When: 7 August, 11am-2pm
Need to know: Free.

In a flap
What: Watch golden eagles, red kites, and peregrine falcons soar through the sky with these fantastic flying displays at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Courtesy of the British Birds of Prey Centre, you’ll be able to find out all about these fierce, feathered creatures that live or holiday in the UK. Plus, you’ll also be able to enjoy the summer sunshine with pond dipping, den building and bug hunting as well as outdoor cinema screenings of family favourites Encanto, Wonka, Frozen, Grease and The Goonies – just make sure to bring along a picnic blanket.  
Where: National Botanic Garden of Wales, Middleton Hall, Llanarthne SA32 8HN
When: Birds of Prey Centre, daily flying displays, 11.30am and 2.30pm. Outdoor cinema, 2 and 23 August, 6pm-8pm and 8pm-10pm. Go wild, 22 July-30 August, 10.30am-2.30pm.
Need to know: Admission, £49.50 for a family ticket, £3 per person for Birds of Prey Centre. Outdoor cinema, £10 adult, £6 child. All go wild activities free with admission.

Fromage homage
What: Feeling peckish? Head for the South Wales town of Caerphilly for their annual Cheese Festival, a two-day extravaganza celebrating the town’s long and proud cheese-making history. In the heart of the town, you can expect live music across multiple stages along with musical workshops, living history encampments, a traditional funfair, craft stalls and activities and food halls too.  
Where: Various locations in and around Caerphilly, Wales.   
When: 31 August-1 September, various times.
Need to know: Event is free. Additional charges for food, funfair rides etc.

The Creatures of Phoenix Island © W5

Northern Ireland

Image: The Creatures of Phoenix Island © W5
Winged wonders 
What: Embark on an epic adventure at Belfast’s W5 as you take a trip to the magical Phoenix Island. Meet a team of intrepid explorers and find out how they discovered this strange land lost in time through an interdimensional portal. 
Where: W5, The Odyssey, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ
When: 10 July-31 August, 10am-4pm  
Need to know: Free with admission, family ticket from £32. 

Big ideas
What: Head to Northern Ireland’s Country Down for some seriously big fun with the annual Wake the Giant Festival. This year, the legendary giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill has company and will share the tale of his temporary retreat to Cooley Mountain before welcoming two new giant guardians to the area. Set alongside the picturesque Carlingford Lough, you’ll be able to celebrate the heritage and legends of Warrenpoint with live music and performances, funfair and food trail and lots of family activities – don’t miss the ‘Land of Giants’ parade, where a series of enormous puppets, including the two new giants, make their way through the centre of town. 
Where: Warrenpoint, County Down, BT34 3HW
When: 17-18 August, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free. Charges for some activities, many free. 

Funny bunny
What: Hop along to Hillsborough and see all your favourite Beatrix Potter characters brought to life in a special Peter Rabbit adventure. Explore the walled garden, woodlands and waterways as you hunt for them all, take part in wildlife-themed activities, and don’t miss a chance to meet Peter himself! You can also pay a visit to their spectacular Summer Fair and sample all kinds of tasty treats and local crafts, while enjoying live music and fun outdoor games. 
Where: Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, The Square, Hillsborough, BT26 6AG
When: Peter Rabbit, 29-1 September; Summer Fair, 24-26 August, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission, castle and garden adult ticket from £20.20, child free (from 29 June-1 September) apart from 24-26 August Summer Fair dates where a gardens only ticket costs adult, £10, child, £5.

Water lot of fun
What: Get ready to make a splash with all kinds of nature-themed activities at WWT’s Castle Espie reserve. Help Pelican Postie collect missing postcards and find out where all their feathered friends spend their summer holidays, discover stories and secrets of the natural world contained in the adventuring journals of Great Great Uncle Arthur, or bring along your favourite teddy bear and go down to the woods for rhymes and games galore inspired by the animal kingdom.
Where: Castle Espie Wetland Centre, 78 Ballydrain Road, Co Down, N Ireland, BT23 6EA
When: Postcard Trail, 28 June–1 September, 10am-4pm. Teddy Bear’s Picnic, 15-28 July and 12-16 August, 12-1pm. Uncle Arthur’s Adventures, 15-26 July and 12-23 August, 2-3.30pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket from £26.50. Teddy Bears picnic, suitable for 4-5 years. Uncle Arthur, suitable for 6+.

Feeling swamped
What: Join in with everybody’s favourite grumpy green ogre as Shrek the Musical arrives at Belfast’s MAC this August! Upon finding all the kingdom’s fairytale characters dumped in his beloved swamp, Shrek sets out alongside the wisecracking Donkey on a heroic quest featuring a small villain with a big temper, a biscuit with an attitude and a princess who doesn’t need saving, in this hilarious Tony Award-winning spectacle for the whole family to enjoy.
Where: The MAC Belfast, 10 Exchange St, West, Belfast BT1 2NJ
When: 28 August-1 September, 2.30pm or 7.30pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £20, child £15.

Rove reviews
What: Jump into the driver’s seat at the historic Glenarm Castle as you get behind the wheel of a mini Land Rover! After getting to grips with the battery-powered vehicles, you can put your skills to the test by completing a series of challenges along the jungle-themed driving course. Afterwards, don’t forget to enjoy a peaceful woodland walk through the scenic estate, keeping an eye out for red squirrels, robins, rabbits and other wildlife, or explore the castle’s luxurious interior while discovering the history of the Earls of Antrim. 
Where: Glenarm Castle and Garden, 2 Castle Lane, Glenarm, Ballymena BT44 0BQ.
When: Land Rovers every weekend (Friday-Sunday) from 5 July to 30 August, plus 29 July, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Garden/woodland admission, £10 adult, £5 child. Castle tour, £18.50 adult, £5 child. Land Rover experience, £17.50 per 2 children. Suitable from 3+ to maximum height limit of 150cm. A parent/guardian must walk beside the Mini Land Rover along the course.

Crafty creations
What: Celebrate historic crafts and skills of all kinds as you pay a visit to this year’s Making Festival at the Ulster Folk Museum. A whole bevy of craftspeople will be on hand to demonstrate their talents in forging, weaving, goldsmithing, shoemaking, masonry and many more, with plenty of opportunities to get involved with making your own cyanotype prints, musical paper drum, knot-tying or even sculpting your own clay cottage. You can also enjoy horse-and-carriage rides, plenty of traditional tunes, and film screenings too!
Where: Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra, Holywood BT18 0EU
When: 17-18 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: One day family ticket, £41.50.


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