101 fantastic activities for the summer 2019 school holidays
Summer holidays 2019 family activities in England
What: Get ready to witness dare-devil aerial feats and astonishing acrobatic displays on board Brunel's historic SS Great Britain as the Invisible Circus commandeer the ship to tell stories of sea-faring life in this summer spectacular. Bringing to life stories of Victorian dock workers, passengers and crew as they board the world's first ocean liner, the performers will create death defying aerial displays as they fling themselves from the rigging while passengers precariously juggle luggage below.
Where: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol, BS1 6TY
When: 20 July - 1 September, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Tickets £17 adult, £10 child (5-16 years old)
Image: © Brunel's SS Great Britain
A right royal knees-up!
What: Get ready to go for (Tudor) gold at Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy at Hampton Court Palace. You can try your skills at crossbow, football, fencing and archery – or even join in with a Tudor dance-off to see if you’re good enough to get a medal from the King himself. Plus, go on the hunt for the fiery beasts hiding in the palace grounds on the Dragon Trail and run wild in The Magic Garden playground.
Where: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey KT8 9AU
When: From 20 July (Sporting Academy 3-11 August), 11am-4pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £53.10.
Fun with food
What: Enjoy gastronomic games for all the family at The Big Feastival – the brainchild of chef Jamie Oliver and Blur's Alex James – down at James's Cotswolds farm. There's plenty of good music, street food, local producer stands, cookery classes and top chef demos alongside lots for the kids with TV faves Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig and CBBC star Justin Fletcher, as well as arts and crafts workshops, big top games and vintage funfair.
Where: Alex James' Farm, Near Kingham, Oxfordshire OX7 6UJ
When: 23-25 August, 11am-10pm
Need to know: Adult day ticket from £67, under 12s go free
What: Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the famous Staffordshire Hoard with an Anglo Saxon Festival in Stoke. Find out how an Anglo-Saxon warrior grave is excavated, have a go at gold rolling, help match skulls, advise King Penda on matters of war and peace and discover the importance of birds of prey in Anglo-Saxon society after meeting some live raptors.
Where: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Bethesda St, City Centre, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW
When: 20 & 25 July, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Free
The big questions
What: Think global at Bristol’s We The Curious and investigate the challenges planet facing the Earth through workshops, experiments, storytelling and poetry. Explore how to rewild the planet in a ground-breaking augmented reality experience, build a Martian house and take your taste buds on a journey to discover some of the stories behind your favourite foods, before making your own promise to the planet.
Where: We The Curious, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5DB
When: 24 July - 31 August, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £40.78.
The play’s the thing
What: Inspired by RSC’s current season of Shakespeare plays, join in with a plethora of fun activities, performances and workshops all based around a different play each week, including Hamlet, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and As You Like It. Highlights include free trails, a dressing up cabinet, amazing Lego mosaic, very big bear, shining stars installation and peep hole mural.
Where: RSC, Bancroft Terrace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6BB
When: 24 July - 1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Most events free and drop-in, call 0844 800114 for info.
What on Earth?
What: Discover the incredible evolution of life with Earth Story, a brand-new exhibition at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Meet a host of weird and wonderful creatures from the planet’s past and present; come face-to-face with an ice-age mammoth skeleton, listen to the incredible story of the mountain gorilla, or even meet giant armadillos on a VR safari. You can also find out how people are helping to protect endangered wildlife around the world and learn what changes you can make at home to help save our natural world.
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When: 24 July - 3 September, 9.30am-6.30pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £67 online.
Food, glorious food
What: Don't miss the V&A Museum’s latest, tastiest summer exhibition, FOOD: Bigger than the plate. Inviting visitors to participate, taste and debate, it looks at every stage of the food system from compost to table. You can also check out fun workshops on designing new earth-friendly food packaging, create some fruity collages and even craft your own sensory ceramic plate.
Where: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
When: 21 July - 26 August, 10.30am-4.30pm
Need to know: Exhibition £17 adults, £13 12-15 years, 11 & under free. Workshops mostly free, plate workshop £8.
Catch a cliff-hanger
What: Enjoy a special family-friendly storytelling show 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. Shows this year include a child-friendly version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a comedic retelling of Greek myths and a chance to meet your Stone Age ancestors.
Where: Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JU
When: 15 July - 6 September, 10.30am
Need to know: Tickets £5 adults, 12-15 years £2.50 and 2-11 years 50p. Book online or call 01736 810181.
What: This summer the Just So Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its biggest ever programme, combining art, music and literature all against a natural woodland backdrop. As well as live music, dance and circus performances you can play super-sized versions of musical statues, pass the parcel, Ludo and even Whole Festival Tag if you’re feeling brave enough! Or have a go at the Big 10th Birthday Bake Off, try a creative workshop (everything from clowning to journalism), compete in the Tribal Tournament – or just relax in a hammock and read.
When: 16-19 August, 9am till late
Where: Just So Festival, Rode Hall Estate, Scholar Green, Cheshire, ST7 3QT
Need to know: Day tickets £45 adults, £20 children; weekend tickets £100 adults, £40 children and must be booked online.
What: Embrace your inner Andy Murray with TFF, a UK-wide scheme that lets everyone have a go at playing tennis for free. Available at tennis courts across the whole of the UK, just search for your nearest venue to walk up and play at weekly coach-led sessions for both children and adults.
Where: Selected courts throughout the UK
When: Over the summer
Need to know: Courses are free. Book to confirm a place.
The tide is high
What: Go with the flow at the Museum of London Dockland with their new exhibition, Secret Rivers. For centuries Londoners have existed beside waterways that have shaped their city and people within it. Using archaeological artefacts, art, books, photography and film to reveal the stories of London’s rivers, streams, and brooks, the exhibition explores why many were lost over time. You can also dive in to the sewers and discover tales of pirates, poo, and pollution in a fun interactive family show.
Where: Museum of London Docklands, No 1 Warehouse, East India Quay, London E14 4AL
When: 7-31 August. Show times: 11.30am, 1.30 & 3pm. Exhibition: 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free. Reserve show places online or call 020 7001 9844.
What: Get back to nature with this series of eco-inspired workshops at WWF UK based around Our Planet, a ground-breaking documentary series which raises awareness of the world’s rarest wildlife and most precious habitats. Each session begins footage focusing on one habitat, from with the wildlife on your doorstep to rivers, lakes and oceans, forests, grasslands and the frozen world. Discover the wonders of the world, create colourful artwork to take home and help build a huge Our Planet Our Home mural. At each session, the WWF UK pledge tree will flourish with actions everyone can take to protect the planet.
Where: WWF UK, The Living Planet Centre, Brewery Rd, Woking, Surrey GU21 4LL
When: 6-22 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Suggested donation £3. Book by calling 01483 426333.
Climb a faraway tree
What: An adventure in a wood complete with climbs, slides, building, swinging, den building, boats, story-telling and imagination, this Norfolk nature park comes with Twiggles, Boggles and even an enchanted tree houses – all based on a story by local children’s author, Tom Blofeld. You can get your faces painted for free, create and decorate your own feather crown, then join the noisy bubble parade around the park with puppets and lots of musical mayhem.
Where: BeWILDerwood Norfolk, Horning Road, Hoveton, Norfolk NR12 8JW
When: Throughout summer, 10am–5.30pm
Need to know: Adult £16.95, children £14.95 – check online as prices vary by date.
Fun on the farm
What: Go get rural this summer with a host of fun countryside activities at Tatton Park Farm. Go from field to fork to discover where your lunch comes from and how it gets onto your plate, meet the newly hatched chicks in the hatchery and greet some larger new arrivals as part of the daily farmyard facts. You can also see the mill machines running, enjoy some storytelling and have a go at milking and butter making.
Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
When: 23 July - 23 August, 12-4pm
Need to know: Free with family admission, £19.
On your marks, get set... PLAY!
What: Analysing risk, building self-confidence and developing decision-making ability are just some of the amazing skills children learn as they play, so make time for some serious fun on 7 August, the UK's national day of play. Go onto their website to check out all the free community play activities happening near you.
When: 7 August, all day.
Where: All around the country
Need to know: Playday is the national day of play in the UK and as well as a celebration of children's right to play, aims to highlight the importance of play in children's lives.
Go show boating
What: Want a theatre trip with a difference? Then take to the water to see The Three Little Pigs and Captain Grimey or The Insect Circus performed by unique hard-carved marionettes in this 55-seat theatre set on a canal barge.
When: 20 July - 6 October, 2/2.30pm
Where: Puppet Theatre Barge, opposite Terrace Gardens, Petersham Road Richmond TW10 6UT
Need to know: Ticket prices £13 adult, £9 child, call 020 7249 6876 to book.
Trip the knight fantastic
What: Step back to the days of fearsome battles and secret romances and find out what life was really like for knights at Windsor Castle in medieval times. Try on some shining armour, meet a mail armour expert or make a sparkling Garter star to wear as you explore the home of some of Britain’s oldest and most senior band of knights.
Where: Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
When: 1-30 August, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket costs £58.
What: Get set for a range of biological-based workshops looking at the human body all held in a unique cell-shaped pod suspended above the laboratories of London's Blizard Institute. You can get excited about evolution, giddy about genes or even learn about how and why your body makes snot, sick and scabs.
Where: Centre of the Cell, Blizard Institute, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel London E1 2AT
When: 5-9 August, 10am-12.15pm or 2-4.15pm
Need to know: Adults cost £8, children (3-15) £6. Book online or call 020 7882 2562.
Take the Tower!
What: Experience the real-life story of Dover Castle under siege. The year is 1216, and Prince Louis of France sees an opportunity to seize the English throne. As this would-be conqueror attacks, will you help to defend the castle? Wander among the encampments and meet heroes and villains from both sides. Discover the realities of 13th century life in a medieval marketplace, and watch armourers, fletchers and blacksmiths ply their trade. As battle commences watch siege engines begin their advance on the castle, and cheer on the defenders to their historic victory.
Where: Dover Castle, Castle Hill, Dover, Kent CT16 1HU
When: 10-11 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free with admission, family ticket £60.80
Wet, wet, wet…
What: Make a splash at the WWT London Wetland Centre with some watery challenges including pond dipping, wild painting and raft building. Head to Wetland HQ to pick up a trail map and set off into the wild to get wet and muddy and develop your explorer skills with wild play challenges to see if you can join the 'Swamp Survival Squad'. Or dry off and have a go at being the next Springwatch wildlife presenter.
Where: London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth Walk, London SW13 9WT
When: 4, 11, 18, 25 August, 7-10pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £31.99 online.
What: Discover the hidden history of smuggling, past and present, this summer with hands-on activities inspired by Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. You can handle objects from a smuggler’s hoard and discover some tricks of the trade, find out about animal smuggling and create colourful crafts based on seized animal contraband, search a ship for signs of smuggling, meet a sniffer dog or create your own cutter boat.
Where: Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AQ
When: Throughout the summer, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Admission and activities free. No advance booking required.
What: Celebrate the early days of canals in Cheshire with these special four-legged visitors, which helped keep canal boats moving for over 200 years! See how the heavy horses towed a narrow boat down the canal, meet and ride the ponies and learn how to groom them and play traditional games as well as visiting a World War I medic tent to see what it was like to serve behind the lines in war.
When: 11 August, 10am-5pm
Where: National Waterways Museum, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FW
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket costs £25.
What: Created by a panel of mini ‘mud experts’, this mile-long obstacle course will challenge even the toughest new recruit. Each of the obstacles (including the tunnel of terror, mount mud and secret agent squeeze) aims to encourage participants to explore their adventurous side and have fun together while developing teamwork. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!
Where: Lidl Mudder courses held at various locations and times throughout the UK
When: 27-28 July (Yorkshire), 17-18 August (South West)
Need to know: Tickets £10 children, £10 spectator. Suitable for 5-12 years (1.1 metres tall).
Full of bounce
What: Springing back to Kent for the August bank holiday is the bOing! Festival. Featuring performers from across Europe including Spain, Belgium, Norway and the UK, it’s free to enter with many performances free too. You can visit the Anarchists Mobile Library (which takes you on a journey through the pages of the most exciting children’s books in history), have a go at becoming a crime scene investigator or take a trip around the amazing Daedalum Luminarium – a maze of 19 egg-shaped domes filled with ever changing light and music.
Where: bOing! Festival, Gulbenkian, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NB
When: 24 & 25 August, times vary.
Need to know: Many events free. Ticketed events capped at £6 per person.
What: Explore an immersive world of games, challenges, and triumph in this must-see exhibition looking at the impact of moment on your body at Coventry Transport Museum. Move and Play takes you through 19 different activities, looking at everything from disco donuts to nostalgic tennis, thermal cameras to tightrope walking. You can also check out This Makes That with These, workshop sessions that explores how things work, and create your own inventions including speakers, a mini cycle and a mini engine.
Where: Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place, Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD
When: 26 July – 31 August, 10.30am-3.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs £35. Workshops cost £3 per child.
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 kids' 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 to come away without buying anything!
What: Turn back time at Blists Hill this holiday and discover how people lived, worked and played in Victorian Britain. You can sit through a Victorian school lesson, follow Queen Victoria’s Lost Luggage trail, join in with singing and games on the village green (croquet, stilts, quoits) and don a hat, scarf, bonnet and waistcoat for your very own Victorian selfie. Or try tea packing in the grocers, roll your own pills in the chemists' or make a wax candle. There’s also a traditional fairground and a dog show to enjoy.
Where: Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Madeley, Telford TF7 5UD
When: 20 July - 1 September, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Most events free with admission. Online family ticket from £47.50.
When seeing isn’t believing…
What: Can you believe your eyes and ears? Turn your senses upside-down with these mindboggling ZOOM art activities at Nottingham Contemporary. Have a go at tackling the curtain mini-maze, play games with light, spin your own art, and develop super-sonic hearing. Look in the infinity mirror or experiment with a green screen, and see lots of very strange versions of yourself.
Where: Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2GB
When: 30 July - 1 September, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Drop in. Free.
What: Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide at the British Museum this summer, in the largest exhibition of manga (the famous Japanese narrative art form) ever to take place outside of Japan. Explore the history of this unique art form and discover how it has become a global multimedia phenomenon and cultural crossover in its many guises, ranging from anime films to ‘cosplay’ dress up.
Where: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
When: Until 26 August, 10am-5pm (closes at 8.30pm on Friday)
Need to know: Adult tickets £19.50, children under 16 are free.
What: Research by the national governing body of swimming, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) shows that 1 in 10 parents say their child only swims on holiday, yet most have no awareness of the dangers of open water. This handy Swim Safe initiative offers young swimmers the chance to learn about beach and sea safety through a 10-minute talk with RNLI lifeguards, followed by 30 minutes of in-water tuition with ASA-qualified swimming teachers.
Where: Course held all around the coasts of the UK
When: From 23 July to 26 August
Need to know: Free. Suitable for 7-14 year olds.
What: Enjoy seven weeks of summer holiday activities including magic, puppetry, fun, science, bush craft, outdoor activities and more at Conkers, an indoor and outdoor playground set in a 120-acre woodland site in deepest Derbyshire. From science and magic to bubble shows, there's a huge range of activities each day as well as the outdoor play area, enchanted forest, wobbly bridges, assault course, fairy labyrinth, maze, high and low rope course and barefoot walk.
Where: Conkers, Rawdon Road, Moira, Nr. Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Derbyshire DE12 6GA
When: 15 July - 3 September, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket costs £35.95.
Does not compute
What: Prepare to meet the future of artificial intelligence at the Barbican as 'AI: More than Human' explores the evolution of creative and scientific advancements in artificial intelligence. Follow the history of AI from its origins in myth and legend to the cutting edge-research projects of today, then see AI in action as you strike up a conversation with a chatbot, explore an immersive digital ecosystem or try to keep up with the dancing avatar.
Where: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
When: Until 24 August, 10am-6pm Sun-Wed, 10am-9pm Thu-Sat
Need to know: Tickets £15 per person weekdays, £17 weekends, advance booking recommended.
What: Celebrate the art of illustration at Seven Stories in Newcastle with their new exhibition Drawing Words, curated by award-winning artist and author Lauren Child. Featuring the work of 10 up-and-coming UK children’s book illustrators, you can journey through the play space inspired by the artwork like a pop-up book, roaming from one world to the next through a tree house, a night’s sky or under a bed. You can also have go at creating your own world!
Where: Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle NE1 2PQ
When: 16 July - 1 February, 10am-5pm Tue-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun.
Need to know: Entry to Drawing Words included with admission. A family ticket from £23.10.
Prom, prom, prom
What: Fancy the chance to perform at the Royal Albert Hall? Well, thanks to these workshops and special performances you could practise with professional musicians. It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding Mozart or musically clueless, just bring an instrument (if you have one) and plenty of enthusiasm and join in!
Where: Imperial College Union, Beit Quadrangle, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BB, and The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP (For event on 26 Aug).
When: 27 July, 5.45pm, 3 August, 5.45pm, 15 August, 5.15pm, 31 August, 5.45pm; Event on stage at Royal Albert Hall 26 August, 10am
Need to know: Free. First come first served. Suitable for 7. For event on 26 August book tickets online.
3, 2, 1, lift off!
What: Get ready to blast off for a summer filled with science-y fun, courtesy of Eureka!, the National Children’s Museum. As well as a chance to build stomp rockets, code your own music and create Glitch Art in a variety of creative workshops, you can discover the amazing story of the first Moon landings 50 years ago and witness the antics of Professor Pumpernickel and his exotic chemical compounds, unfathomable physics phenomena and groan-worthy jokes. There’s also storytelling with Gacko and Ian Douglas, Sphero Speedway racing, astronaut training and much more!
When: 20 June - 1 September, 10am-5pm
Where: Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
Need to know: Adults & 3-15-year olds are £13.15, 1-2-year olds are £5.95 each.
What: Get a taste of life behind the scenes of the Zoo over the summer holidays with Zoo It Yourself! at London Zoo. Marking the opening of the Animal Adventure playzone, you can find out exactly what it takes to build a new exhibit, and help the works crew flatten the ground with a ride-on digger, solve puzzling pipe problems, join the gardening team and choose the right plants, flowers and herbs to mimic animals’ natural habitats, and carry out health checks on soft toy animals with the veterinary team.
Where: London Zoo, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY
When: 31 July - 1 September, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Activities included with zoo admission, adult tickets £26.59, £17.28 for 3-15 year old children, under 3’s go free.
What: Play archaeology detective in Northumberland this summer and you'll uncover clues, handle artefacts, and enjoy a sand pit dig. Or join the Roman Army, enrol in sword school and have a go at mastering their marching drills before becoming a Roman soldier yourself. Chaaaaarge!
Where: Chesters Roman Fort, Chollerford, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4EU
When: 20 July - 1 September, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket £20.80 includes entry to the event and site.
What: Find out if you've got what it takes to become a top surgeon at Thackray's Museum in Leeds. Led by medical professionals, these heart and eye workshops will give you the chance to actually dissect a real organ. Make sure you have a steady hand as you get to grips with a scalpel as well as other surgical equipment and learn how the inner workings of these organs enable us to do the things we take for granted like seeing and breathing!
What: Thackray Medical Museum, 141 Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN
When: 8 & 29 August, 11am-2pm
Need to know: Ticket £10, suitable for 7+. Book in advance.
What: Get your walking boots on for ‘Books about Town’, a public art trail celebrating the love of reading. Launched by the National Literacy Trust in collaboration with Wild in Art, the trails bring 50 unique BookBench sculptures to London, designed by local artists and famous names to celebrate the city’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment, including a Wind in the Willows, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and even a Jacqueline Wilson BookBench! There are tons of literacy-themed events too, including storytelling sessions and book swaps running throughout the summer.
Where: Across London – look out for trails in Greenwich, City, Riverside and Bloomsbury.
When: Up to 7 October, when the benches will be auctioned for charity
Need to know: Free. Trail map and quiz available as download from the website.
Whale of a time
What: Help mark National Whale and Dolphin Watch Week by carrying out a seaside survey at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire. You can help to monitor whales and dolphins at this special seawatch event on the cliff tops to find our more about these awesome creatures of the ocean and then have a go at some aquatic games and activities too.
Where: RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Cliff Lane, Bridlington, Yorkshire YO15 1JF
When: 27 July - 4 August, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Events included in admission. Adults £5, children £2.50, first child free. Under 5s free.
What: If you’re going down to the River & Rowing Museum today watch out for bears – thanks to their new hairy, scary exhibition! Revisit your favourite furry stories and meet some of literature’s most famous bears, including Rupert and Winnie-the-Pooh, before discovering new tales filled with polar bears, panda bears and toy bears. Go on a bear hunt through the bears’ glade, curl up with a book in the bear cave and dress up as your favourite bear-y character.
Where: River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF
When: 3 August - 3 November, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission. Adult £9, child £6. Under 4s go free.
What: Immerse yourself in the sights, smells and excitement of the Middle Ages in the fairy tale setting of Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. Now in its 25th year, England's Medieval Festival features jousting, archery, traditional crafts and music, hands-on demonstrations and realistic historical battles. There's plenty for children too, with wandering wizards, jesters, knights, dragons and princesses and drum, sword and axe throwing schools, living history village, forest adventures, moonlit cinema and even a mud show!
Where: Herstmonceux Castle, Wartling Road, Hailsham, East Sussex BN29 1RN
When: 24-26 August
Need to know: Family day tickets from £48, family weekend tickets from £275.
What: The National Marine Aquarium is set to go big or go home with a colossal celebration of some of the Ocean’s greatest giants. Enjoy themed talks, shows, games and crafts based on the biggest beasts found in the deep. There’s also a chance to visit the new Sea’cret Garden and take to the water on a boat trip with NMA conservationists exploring the wonders of Plymouth Sound, its habitat and the animals that live and visit it.
Where: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
When: 27 July - 3 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission, family ticket from £48.15 online. Boat trips every Sat in Aug £20 adult, £18 child and include entry to the Aquarium.
Transport-ed through time
What: Travel through 800 years of history at Beaulieu, from medial monks to the present day. Discover the importance and history of falconry before meeting Lord Montagu’s falconer, play traditional Victorian games and puzzles on the lawn, watch daily parades of veteran and vintage vehicles (see if you can spot Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Del Boy’s iconic Reliant Regal van) and don your habit inside the historic Beaulieu Abbey to pose for your best monk selfie!
Where: Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire SO42 7ZN
When: 20 July - 1 September, 11am-6pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £49.
What: Embrace your inner artist with these creative workshops at the Royal Academy. You can create a collaborative masterpiece inspired by an tour of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition (the world’s largest open-submission contemporary art show) or explore how self-portraiture can paint a picture of who you and make your own portraits to show different moods, memories and the things that make you ‘you’.
Where: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0BD
When: Face to Face workshop 25 August, 11am-3pm. Gallery Works workshop 24 & 31 July, 2, 7 and 9 August, 11am-12.30pm
Need to know: ‘Face to Face’ workshop free, no booking required, ‘Gallery Works’ workshop £18 adult, £13 child, with a 20% discount if three or more tickets are booked.
What: See Roman Britain come to life as historical characters, storytellers and shopkeepers take over Segedunum Fort to pay homage to the Roman emperor Hadrian at his summer festival. Browse the Roman Market and watch all the action in the arena as the gladiators train and fight, then have a go at archery or get involved in the hands-on historical craft activities.
Where: Segedunum Roman Fort, Buddle Street, Wallsend NE28 6HR
When: 10 August, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Adults £5.95, under 16s free.
What: Summer is here and it’s time for Shakespeare’s Telling Tales, a three-day celebration of storytelling. Now in its fourth year, the festival gathers together children’s authors, performers and storytellers (including Kes Gray, Paul Coelho, David Melling) under one historic roof to celebrate the power and magic of your favourite tales from magic and mischief, tombs and treasure to dog-eating boa constrictors!
Where: Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 7DT
When: 26-28 July, times vary.
Need to know: Bottoms Book Market is free. All other events have charges and must be booked.
What: Embrace brave new worlds in Coventry with an immersive exhibition inspired by the museum’s collection. WONDER – Where Reality And Imaginary Collide takes you from urban landscapes to reimagined cartoon characters, dolls' houses, fairy tales, a light pavilion and even creatures brought to life by augmented reality. You can create your own works of wonder with life-sized self-portraits, wool wrapped letters, giant faces, playful puppets, hot air balloons, mono prints, wind chimes and more.
Where: Herbert Art Gallery, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
When: 23 July - 31 August, 10.30am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Exhibition free. Workshops £2.50 per child.
What: Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Judith Kerr’s iconic picture book, The Tiger Who came to Tea, with this exhibition at Newark Park. Since it was first published in 1968, the book has sold over five million copies and has even been translated into 11 languages! The exhibition comes complete with a giant cuddly tiger and interactive kitchen where you can make your own tea for the tiger, as well as a display of original artwork from the book.
When: 6 July - 1 September, 11am-5pm
Where: Newark Park, Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, GL12 7PZ
Need to know: Free with admission, family ticket from £22.50
The spies have it
What: Delve into the world of code breaking, secret communications and cyber security at Top Secret, the new exhibition marking the centenary of GCHQ. From the trenches of the First World War to the latest in cyber security, Top Secret explores over a century’s worth of communications intelligence. Explore the story of Alan Turing and the Bletchley Park code breakers, uncover spy-craft from 1960’s Cold War espionage and become code breakers in the interactive puzzle zone. You can also take a glimpse into the AI-driven tech (including even a life-sized model of Boaty McBoatface) that could shape the world of tomorrow with Driverless: Who is in Control? and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing with the Science Museum's Summer of Space festival.
Where: Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
When: Until 3 September, 10am-6pm
Need to know: £15 for adults, £13 for concessions (suitable for age 8+)
What: Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of faraway lands her father once mapped. When a girl from the village disappears into the island's Forgotten Territories, Isabella and her lifelong friend Pablo go in search of her. The Girl of Ink and Stars is full of myth, magic and map-making – a play about bravery and curiosity which uses immersive technology to transport you to Isabella's world and experience her journey along with her.
Where: Libraries and Community Centres in the East Midlands
When: 26 July - 24 August, times vary
Need to know: Book online. Ticket prices vary with location. Family ticket from £8-15.
What: Get your very own art award at Gloucestershire’s Corinnium Museum. Working through your own log book explore the museum to find out about ancient artists. Then attend a one-hour workshop to draw museum objects on a bag, make a medieval tile or design a mosaic using foam shapes before sharing your work on the online gallery to receive a Discover Arts Award certificate, accredited by Trinity College London.
Where: Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2BX
When: 31 July & 12 August, 10.15am-1.30pm
Need to know: Workshop £14.25 per child. Suitable for 7-15. Booking essential. Bring a packed lunch.
What: Get set for four days of theatre, circus, dance and music as Stockton International Riverside Festival returns this summer for its 30th year. Featuring over a hundred performances including the spectacular launch (a troop of 20 performers transform seven white cars as they progress along Stockton High Street!) there’s a whole host of free family entertainment too, including The Quest for the Tees Tusk, a puppet-filled, puzzle-fuelled adventure. Encounter a cast of colourful characters as you use your powers of deduction to uncover a series of hidden locations whilst exploring familiar and not so well known features of the town.
Where: Various locations around Stockton-upon-Tees
When: 1-4 August, times vary.
Need to know: All events free.
What: National Fishing Month begins on 22 July this year and aims to encourage everyone, no matter what age, to pick up a rod and wait for a nibble. Find a qualified coach near you at one of the free angling events up across the UK. You can also hook up with Canal & River Trust and make a splash at one of their 250 free Let’s Fish fishing events up and down the country.
Where: Various locations throughout the UK.
When: 20 July - 3 September, times vary.
Need to know: Coaching and entrance fees should be free. There may be charges for tackle.
What: Immerse yourself in an imaginative world of sculpture making with these large-scale organic outdoor workshops. Will you make an enormous cartoon character or a mythical monster, a sculpture from another world or something that celebrates shape and pattern? Let your imagination guide you as you choose from branches, stones, pipes and other found material.
Where: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, YSP Centre, West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG
When: 25 July - 29 August, times vary
Need to know: £3 per person. Each session approx. 1hr. Please wear sturdy footwear, outdoor clothing and sun protection, if needed. Children must be accompanied by an adult
Make a splash
What: Discover the wonders of water with an expert-led pond dipping session in Hyde Park's private pond and see if you can spot a newt or dragonfly nymph. You can also follow a nature trail, craft your own wild water creature and have a go at joining in with the massive pond mural.
Where: The LookOut Discovery Centre, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
When: 7-8 August, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Suggested donation £2. Suitable for the whole family. Booking not necessary.
What: Discover the incredible story of the Sun in the Museum of Science & Industry’s new blockbuster exhibition. Feel the heat on the indoor beach, stand in the middle of a solar storm and watch the sun rise over Antarctica as the science behind the Sun is brought to life. From an ancient Scandinavian sun horse to Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the White House, The Sun tells the story of our closest star. You can also make a sun detector, colour-changing band and check out the daily Sun science show.
Where: Museum of Science & Industry, Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP
When: 20 July - 5 January, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Sun exhibition costs £8 adults, children free.
What: Can you help Coleton Fishacre on its Big Butterfly Count this summer? Just sign up and grab your butterfly ID sheet and map with some of the best butterfly-hunting spots marked on it. Find your perfect pitch and see how many butterflies you can count in 15 minutes – can you tell your tortoiseshells from your red admirals or your common blue from your commas?
Where: Coleton Fishacre, Brownstone Road, Kingswear, Devon TQ6 0EQ
When: 19-31 July, 1-11 Aug, 10.30am-4.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £30.50
World of wonder
What: Get arty at Quex Park in Kent with global-themed craft workshops. Learn about African Kangas and print your design onto a bag, discover the secrets of dioramas and create your own, have a go on the Museum’s African instruments and make a thunder drum to take home or explore Netsuke miniature models and craft one in clay.
Where: Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex Park, Park Lane, Birchington, Kent CT7 0BH
When: 30 July - 30 August, 11am-12.30pm & 1.30-3pm
Need to know: Pre booking essential. Adults free, child £4 (this does not include admission to museum, house and gardens).
Full STEM ahead
What: Make tracks for London Transport Museum and six weeks of STEM-inspired workshops. Find out what it takes to make a great transport uniform, become a digital detective and discover how data patterns can flag fraud, or even find out how codes keep London's transport on the move and try out coding a sequence of events yourself.
Where: London Transport Museum, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza (south east corner), London WC2E 7BB
When: 20 July - 1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Adults from £16.50 online, under 17s go free.
Trip the knight fantastic
Where: Experience an all-action contest as four teams of knights battle it out for victory armed only with clubs and shields or bows and swords. Soak up the atmosphere in the medieval encampment as food cooks over an open fire, colourful banners flutter and musicians play. You can also have a go at mastering a battle drill yourself and get hands on with medieval activities such as dressing up and sword fights, dancing and crafts.
Where: Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Belsay, Nr Morpeth, Northumberland, NE20 0DX
When: 24-26 August, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Family tickets from £29.90.
The big sleep
What: Discover nature after dark with the RSPB Big Wild Sleepout and have a brilliant night out under the stars. Discover the wildlife that’s awake when you're normally in bed, toast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate around the campfire and listen to bedtime stories before you tuck in.
Where: At RSPB nature reserves across the UK, check the website for one near you!
When: 17 July - 23 August, times vary
Need to know: Costs £25 adult, £12.50 child. Bring tent and bedding, PJs, socks, wellies, torch and camera along with snacks, water bottle, pencil and notepad – and, of course, teddy.
A head start
What: Find out everything you needed to know about Roman hairdos and hair-don’ts in this sartorially savvy family workshop. Discover how different Roman classes would wear their hair, what their hairstyle says about them and then make a wiggy wonder for yourself.
Where: Roman Baths, Stall Street, Bath BA1 1LZ
When: 5-9 August, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30-4pm
Need to know: No booking is required. Event free with admission. Family ticket from £49.05 online.
Fly me to the moon
What: Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings at Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum with a new exhibition charting the history of our closest celestial neighbour. The exhibition features over 180 objects, including lunar samples from NASA’s Apollo and the Soviet Luna programmes, and artefacts from the Apollo 11 landing including the communications cap worn by Buzz Aldrin. You can also make a lunar rover, find out how rockets work, or discover how and why humans might set up a colony on the Moon.
Where: National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich SE10 9NF
When: 19 July – 5 January, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Tickets £9 adult, £5.85 child. Workshops and museum admission are free.
What: Have the slime of your life at Weston-super-Mare with some spectacular science and slime workshops held on The Grand Pier. After an interactive hour of fizzing potions, bubbling concoctions, astonishing giant smoke rings and a whole array of magical, weird and wacky science tricks, you can head off to the slime creation station to craft your own brand of goo to take home, complete with a Professional Slime Maker certificate.
Where: The Grand Pier, Marine Parade, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset BS23 1AL
When: 17 & 26 August, 11am-12.30pm & 2-3.30pm
Need to know: Costs £6 child, £3 adult. Suitable for 7-12 years. Price includes admission to Grand Pier.
What: Have fun, get creative and spread a little love this summer at the Geffrye Museum. Spend some time exploring the theme of kindness through hands-on art, craft, digital and multi-sensory activities and take a tour of a restored 18th century almshouse and go on a trail in the museum’s gardens. Inspired by Charles Dickens’ boy-hero Pip and his journey of self-discovery in the novel Great Expectations, you can create small acts of kindness whilst learning about Victorian family life (you can also catch a performance of Great Expectations).
Where: Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8EA
When: 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 August, 10.30am-4.30pm
Need to know: Free. Suitable for 5-16. Workshops on a first-come, first-served basis.
Out of this world
What: Reach for the stars at Newcastle's Life Science Centre with a special week of activities designed to mark 50 years since humans first walked on the moon. You can also build and explore imaginative virtual worlds in their Game on 2.0 exhibition, develop your own powers with some Super Hero Science and get hands-on with a changing programme of activities in their new Making Studios, including lino cutting, block printing and super-hero costume designing.
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP
When: 20 July - 3 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket costs £34.
What: Find yourself a spot on the sand and laugh out loud as you enjoy a traditional show of Punch & Judy on Osborne's beach. See Mr Punch and friends getting up to mischief have a go at traditional Victorian games and go for a dip in the Solent. Don't forget to visit the Swiss Cottage, where the royal children played at Osborne, as you explore the glorious gardens of Queen Victoria’s seaside retreat.
Where: Osbourne, York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JT
When: 29 August - 1 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £47.10
What: Set sail for the Port Elliot Festival in the idyllic woodland setting of the St Germans estate on south east Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula: there's a dedicated children’s area hidden in the wood providing a haven for adventures, performances, theatre, and activities galore. Look out for a story writing competition from Charlie Higson, model making with the animators from Aardman, forest and circus skills, tree climbing, Viking tournament games and making everything from swimming hats to Star Wars masks. You can also have a go at kayaking or archery and spot street magicians, dance troupes, hula-hoopers, jugglers and clowns aplenty.
Where: Port Eliot, St Germans, Plymouth, Cornwall PL12 5BQ
When: 25-28 July
Need to know: Adult day ticket £68.90, teen day ticket (13-17) £45.05, child day ticket (8-12) £34.45
What: Enjoy a performance of The Piped Piper followed by a family workshop at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. The story of the Pied Piper is set in Hamelin, a pretty European town plagued by rats! Help create a miniature Hamelin by making all the little houses and put them on the map so they can be used in the actual performance.
Where: Norwich Puppet Theatre, St James Whitefriars, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1TN
When: 8 & 10 August, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs £44, book online or call 01603 629 921.
Take to the skies
What: Discover what it was really like to be a member of a Lancaster bomber crew at IWM Duxford and take a tour around one of the iconic aircraft. You'll learn about the principles of flight to build your own aeroplane, listen to personal stories of life during the war by meeting wartime veterans and eyewitnesses and watch live military vehicle demonstrations from trucks to main battle tanks. And why not have a go at riding a FV432 armoured personnel carrier?
Where: IWM Duxford, Duxford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR
When: 28 July & 8 August (tank rides), 20 July - 31 August (Lancaster tour), 11am-12.45pm & 2.30-3.45pm
Need to know: Family ticket from £45 online. Additional charges for tour & rides.
Pirates on parade
What: Get your swash well and truly buckled in Cheshire as the Anderton Boat Lift stages its Pirate Festival Weekend. Featuring real cannons, pistols and blunderbusses and a raucous Pirate Tavern where you can enrol in pirate school and have a go at pirate games as well as listening to music and infamous dark tales of adventure on the high seas from real salty sea dogs...
Where: Anderton Boat Lift, Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 6FW
When: 20-21 July, 10am-3.30pm
Need to know: Entry and activities all free.
Shapes and senses
What: Get hands on with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s latest work at the Tate Modern. Experience his artwork for free and make your vision of a future city using blocks of pure white Lego. The models you make can be modified and expanded by other visitors while you decide what to keep up or take apart and rebuild. You can also catch his full In Real Life exhibition, complete with moss wall, 11-metre-high waterfall sculpture and tunnel of fog.
Where: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
When: 26 July - 18 August
Need to know: Lego artwork free. Exhibition £18 adult, £5 12-15 years, under 12s free.
What: Stunning photography featuring breath-taking images of some of the natural world’s most astounding sights can be seen in Wolverhampton this holiday. Now in its 54h year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition showcases the world’s very best nature photography and is comprised of 100 images and 45 digital shots, displayed on large-scale light boxes. Visit and take part in animal crafting sessions too, creating everything from jellyfish to monkeys.
Where: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton West Midlands WV1 1DU
When: 29 June - 1 September, 10.30am-4.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs £14.50. Drop in workshops cost £2-3 per child.
What: Dare to experience the dangers and delights of Dinosaur World Live in this roar-some interactive show for all the family. Meet Miranda and her host of impressive creatures including everyone’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Stegosaurus! There’s also a special meet-and-greet after the show offers for all explorers brave enough to make a new dinosaur friend.
Where: Wembley Park Theatre, 1 Fulton Road, London HA9
When: 18 July - 1 September, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £15.
What: Fish that can pluck fruit from trees, no longer need eyes, or even live out of water for more than two months are just some of the incredible species to call ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Aquarium home. The first aquarium in the UK dedicated to conserving threatened and extinct-in-the-wild freshwater fish, it takes visitors on a round-the-world journey through 10 of the planet’s most extreme aquatic habitats, bringing them face-to-face with some of the rarest fish in existence including the dusky narrow hatchetfish, Caribbean mangrove killifish and Omani blind cave fish.
Where: Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2LF
When: From 26 July, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Adult ticket from £21.60, child ticket from £14.04.
What: Head to London’s Horniman for some real summer sunshine, filled with installations, music, dance and exhibitions – and even crazy golf! Visit the new butterfly house in the tropical indoor garden, enjoy a summer welly walk or go on the lookout for bats. You can also create your own turtle or bug puppet and or take a trip round the Museum’s current Brick Wonders exhibition, featuring wonders from around the world made entirely from 500,000 Lego bricks.
Where: Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ
When: 19 July - 29 August, 10.30am-5.30pm
Need to know: Admission to museum and garden free. Bat walk £5 child, £7.50 adult. Welly walk £2.50 child, £5 adult. Brick Wonders, £18 for family ticket. Butterfly house, £16 family ticket.
It’s a peach!
What: Calling all Roald Dahl fans! The Roald Dahl Museum’s Peachy Summer will be a delight of giant proportions thanks to a new multi-sensory exhibition and series of fun workshops that explore how Dahl and original James and the Giant Peach illustrator Nancy Ekholm Burkert worked together to create a classic. Central to the display are 15 original images, including full colour and black and white illustrations, along with a number of unpublished, early sketches. You’ll be able to listen to extracts from Roald Dahl’s story, hear a ‘peachy’ soundscape created with Museum visitors and also smell the fragrant peach to create the impression of being right inside the book.
Where: Roald Dahl Museum, 81 to 83 High Street, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0AL
When: 20 July - 1 September, 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Sat & Sun)
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket costs £22.60.
What: Make for BALTIC Newcastle and play away with an interactive experience that allows you to create your own sculptures, installations or playscapes. Make dens, seats and obstacle courses and climb, slide, crawl, balance, jump and roll... and even create a game of giant 3D Tetris! You can also try your hand at some experimental making techniques inspired by BALTIC’s current exhibitions: plan practical jokes, mix slime, build your own inventions or get crafty with recycling.
Where: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA
When: PlayShapes 20-25 July, 10.30am-5.30pm. Drop in making throughout summer.
Need to know: PlayShapes £3.50 a session. Must be booked online. Drop-in workshops are free.
Messing about in boats
What: Cast away for Cowes Week, one of the longest-running regattas in the world. Held in early August since 1826, up to 1,000 boats race every day for eight days on the Solent between the south coast and the Isle of Wight. Free to attend, there’s a whole range of family-friendly activities on offer from treasure hunts to children's crafts. You can also try your hand at sailing or enjoy a trip on a RIB or spectator boat to get closer to the action.
Where: Cowes Parade Village, Cowes Yacht Haven and Shepards Marina
When: 10-17 August; Family Day 11 August
Need to know: Event and many activities free. Boat trip £12.50 for an adult and £8 for a child.
What: Keep your eyes peeled for Sculpture in the City this summer as it celebrates its ninth year with works by 19 artists from 10 countries dotted around London’s Square Mile. Featuring works by British artists including Nathan Coley, Michael Lyons and Jyll Bradley, follow the trail and take a tour spotting pieces displayed next to some of the City’s most iconic buildings, including 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin), The Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater), as well as new public spaces opening this year, including 70 St Mary Axe and Aldgate Square.
Where: Various location around the City of London
When: From 27 June onward
Need to know: Free
What: Build and fly a kite, take a journey to space and craft some kitchen chemistry at the award-winning Lion Salt Works Museum this holiday. Each week will feature a different theme, from celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table to Pirate Adventure Week and creating your own stained glass window.
Where: Lion Salt Works Museum, Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich, Cheshire. CW9 6ES
When: 31 July - 1 September, 10.30am–1pm & 2-4.30pm
Need to know: Workshops £2 per child. Drop in. Family admission £16.40.
What: Learn about nature’s architects and biomimicry and discover how architecture is inspired by animal builders at these summer classes at the School for Creative Thinkers. All sessions are held outdoors and themes include nest weaving from birds, building cellular structures like bees, cave dwellings and more. You’ll learn about architectural and urban design principles and build a structure inspired by nature to take home with you.
Where: Museum of Architecture, Growing Space, Christ church, Kensington, London, W8 5RQ
When: 15 July - 15 August, 10am-12pm
Need to know: Suitable for 4-11 years. £35 per workshop or £63 for two sessions in one week.
Brush up your bushcraft
What: Build a shelter, light a fire, cook a meal and make something to take away at these survival skills days in County Durham. Find the right materials to build a shelter that can stay strong, build and light your own working camp fire with no matches so you can eat, and then once your food is cooking sit round the fire and have a go at making an elder-wood pea-shooter.
Where: Hamsterley Forest, Redford Lane, Bedburn, Hamsterley County Durham DL13 3NL
When: 4 & 25 August, 1-4pm
Need to know: Suitable for 5+. £40 per family (2-4 people), £10 per additional person.
Summer holidays 2019 family activities in Scotland
To infinity and beyond!
What: Join Aberdeen Science Centre for a week-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Take part in an interactive Meet the Moon show and find out where the moon is, why we can’t see the far side of the Moon, discover what the moon smells like and collect rocks like a real Apollo astronaut. You can even create your own Lunar Rover and use it to explore the Apollo 15 landing site.
Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, The Tramsheds, 179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen AB24 5TU
When: 20 July - 26 August, 10am-5pm (closes at 3pm on Tuesdays)
Need to know: All activities included in admission price; family ticket £19.50.
Brock 'n' roll
What: Go badger watching with a difference in Glasgow's Clyde Valley. Famous for its spectacular waterfalls as well as badgers, you can go on safari through the woodland reserve with the Rangers in their 4X4 and be pampered with blankets, after watch drinks and a souvenir. Or 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, 20, 27, July and 10, 15, 24, 31 August, 6.30-10pm; badger safari, 3 August, 7-10pm
Need to know: Badger watch costs adult £10, child £5. Safari costs £25 per person. Book online. Badger watch for over 5s only, badger safari for over 8s.
What: Discover the skills engineers use to do their jobs and solve some of the challenges they face with a series of workshops and activities taking place in the shadow of the famous Forth Bridges. Walk across the Forth Road Bridge and explore its scale and structure alongside its neighbours (the Forth Rail Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing), take part in workshops led by professional engineers, or see if you can complete a bridge design, deck construction or Lego challenge!
Where: The Forth Bridges Contact and Education Centre, Ferrymuir Gait, South Queensferry, EH30 9QU
When: Until 9 August, 10am-12pm & 1-3pm
Need to know: Free. Book workshops in advance
What: Feeling peckish? Celebrate 50 years of Eric Carle’s classic picture book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by dropping into Story Box at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for plenty of imaginative colouring and craft activities inspired by the much-loved tale. You might even get the chance to meet the greedy insect himself!
Where: Edinburgh International Book Festival, 5A Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR
When: 10 & 11 August, 11am-4.30pm
Need to know: Free, drop-in
What: Celebrate high summer with creative free activities in Glasgow this summer. Admire Kelvingrove’s impressive art collection, including the latest addition, a major retrospective photographic exhibition from Linda McCartney curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, before creating your own colourful masterpiece, a printed flag, or even, an album cover for your favourite song.
Where: Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG
When: Until 28 August, 1.30pm-4pm
Need to know: Free, drop-in. McCartney exhibition, £7 adults, under 16s free.
Summer holidays 2019 family activities in Wales
Shiver your timbers…
What: Set course for a swashbuckling week of pirate-themed fun at the Gower Heritage Centre. Climb aboard the good ship Gower Heritage, with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Charlotte DuBerry at the helm, and prepare yourself for pirate mischief with treasure trails, plank walking and pirate training games galore. Afterwards, watch a puppet show, take part in some arts and crafts and sing a sea shanty or two!
Where: Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill SA3 2EH
When: 27 July - 4 August, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event included with admission, family ticket from £25
What: Dissscover the secret lives of slithering snakes with this family-friendly exhibition from the National Museum Cardiff. Come face to face with a boa constrictor and a royal python, learn about the importance of conservation and discover what life is like in countries where encounters with deadly snakes are a daily occurrence. Objects on display include a Burmese python skeleton, preserved snakes and award-winning photographs of snakes from around the world. Take part in snake puzzles and even find out what snake weight you are!
Where: National Museum Cardiff, National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
When: Snakes!, 22 June - 15 September; handling sessions 7, 14, 21 & 28 August, 11am, 1pm & 3pm
Need to know: Entry to museum free, a family ticket for exhibition costs £18.50, handling sessions £5 per person
What: Embrace your inner Steve Backshall and head to WWT Llanelli for an adrenaline-filled wildlife weekend. Jump aboard the canoe safari and get close to a range of wildlife including kingfishers, dragonflies and water voles as you paddle your way through the kilometre-long ride. Or get your helmet on and mountain bike your way along the winding wildlife trail to experience the wetlands on wheels!
Where: WWT Llanelli, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: 23 July - 2 September, 12am-4pm
Need to know: A family ticket to Llanelli costs from £24.40, canoe hire £5 and bike hire £2 per person. Children must be over 5 to ride on the canoes. Donations welcome.
A trip through time
What: Step back in time at Big Pit National Coal Museum with a new immersive VR experience, which uses audio storytelling and 3D technology to display the town’s industrial history through three virtual reality films featuring real characters from Blaenavon’s past. Experience the trials and tribulations encountered by industrial workers, including the hardship of working life at Big Pit with local miner, Henry Underwood. Be amazed as modern-day Blaenavon landmarks and buildings return to a momentous time gone by.
Where: Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, Torfaen NP4 9XP
When: Until 2 April 2020, 9.30am-5pm
Need to know: Free. Requires a personal smart device and can be viewed with or without a VR headset (available to borrow for £5 deposit).
What: Feeling peckish? Head for the South Wales town of Caerphilly for The Big Cheese, a three-day extravaganza celebrating the cheese-making town's history with street entertainers, falconry, living history encampments, music, traditional funfair, craft stalls and a food hall. The whole event kicks off with a relay race carrying a Caerphilly cheese around the grounds of the Castle, which then becomes the backdrop to an amazing firework display once night falls.
Where: Various locations in and around Caerphilly, Wales
When: 26-28 July
Need to know: Event is free. Additional charges for food, funfair rides, etc.
What: Explore Carmarthen's dark past on a spooky evening tour fusing real events from the town’s past with spectacular magical twists. Meet 'murderers' and their victims (not real ones, honest!), visit the sites of grisly executions and uncover secrets from bygone days with the help of your guide, the spooky Dr Grimoire. Discover the gruesome way one young man dodged army service, the nastier side of a great war ‘hero’, how the Roundheads punished rebels, and even sneak a peek inside the town’s original Victorian police station.
Where: Carmarthen Guildhall, Guildhall Square Carmarthen SA31 1PR
When: 27 July - 7 September, Wednesdays, 7pm
Need to know: Family ticket £23. Booking is essential on 07752 438901.
Summer holidays 2019 family activities in Northern Ireland
What a mess
What: Mr Mess is trying to go about his day but accidents are never far away – from uppity umbrellas to bursting balloons, nothing is going to plan. With a smile on his face and a giggle in his heart, Mr Mess fumbles his way through the simplest of tasks. He is lanky, he’s foolish & there’s more to his briefcase than meets the eye! Expect lots of interactive fun & balloon popping in this fun family show.
Where: Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, Limavady, County Londonderry BT49 0FJ
When: 24 August, 2.30pm
Need to know: £5 or family ticket for four, £18
Reach for the stars
What: Celebrate 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing with a spectacular ‘One Giant Leap’ summer programme at Armagh Planetarium with talks, activities and the new CapCom Go full dome show and historical documentary showcasing the stellar achievements of the Apollo programme. You can also join Scientific Sue for a Super Summer live science show – but be prepared for lots of explosions, mess, fun and, most importantly, learning!
Where: Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DB
When: 20 July, 17-18 August
What: Step into AMAZE: W5's new technological space for the immersive experience Land of Legends, including illustrations from Emmy award-winning ‘Game of Thrones’ storyboard artist William Simpson. Bringing together multi-screen projection, an immersive soundscape, stunning photography, film, illustration, motion graphics, props, original music and more, Land of Legends will take visitors of all ages on a whirlwind tour through some of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular landscapes and uncover some thrilling tales along the way.
Where: W5, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ, Northern Ireland, UK
When: 1 June - 1 September, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £35.40.
Fly a kite!
What: This high-flying spectacle returns for its ninth year, bigger and better than ever, offering fun for the whole family as a kaleidoscope of kites adorn the skies over this stunning coastal estate. Topping the bill will be internationally acclaimed flying exhibitions including synchronised acrobatics and altitude sprints, whilst an array of animals and figures take to the skies, some as big as a house! There are also quad pod rides, kite making, helicopter rides and much more.
Where: Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, Mussenden Road, Castlerock, County Londonderry, BT51 4RP
When: 29 July - 4 August, 12-5pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £15.50.
What: The annual celebration of the traditional Celtic festival of Lughnasa returns to Armagh, marking the beginning of the harvest season. Join the clan as they prepare to honour the Celtic Sun God, Lugh, culminating with the fire ceremony finale – a series of burning structures telling stories through fire. Local bands will provide musical entertainment, and you'll have a chance to observe the awe-inspiring World of Owls and get into step with dancing. And why not dress as a traditional Celt, with summer Celtic headdresses and face painting making you feel even more like a clan member?
Where: Navan Centre and Fort, 81 Killylea Rd, Armagh BT60 4LD
When: 3 August 6.30pm-9.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket from £48 online.