Summer holiday activities 2016

kids at aquarium

Searching for activity venues, classes or holiday camps to keep your children entertained during the long break? Our Local editors recommend outdoor and indoor activities (because we all know how reliable British 'summer' can be) across the UK

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East of England

Hirsty's maze

Hirsty's MegaMaze and Family Fun Park Great Yarmouth

You'll have hours of fun wandering around the 6-foot tall maze - race to the other side and learn some fab farming facts along the way. Also at Hirsty's, you can take a tractor ride around the farm, race go-karts, speed down the zipwire and wind your way around the Crazy Croquet course with wellies.

Out and About Wednesdays Bury St Edmunds

27 July

Complete some of the National Trust's 50 Things challenge for free at Ickworth House, Park and Gardens. Enjoy the feel of grass between your toes - and then squish your feet into some paint and make foot prints. Join a snail race and plant seeds to grow some tasty cress. 

The Wiz at Watford Palace Theatre Watford

27-30 July

The timeless tale of Dorothy's adventures through the Land of Oz has been transformed into a fun, family-friendly, modern musical which will delight all ages. Vivo D'Arte bring the beloved show to Watford with a dazzling mix of rock, gospel, and soul music.

Playmobil Roadshow at Hamleys Thurrock

2-5 August

Get hands-on with a great selection of toys at one of the play tables, take a #hamleys selfie with one of the life-size figures, get your thinking cap on for the guessing game, enter a colouring competition and meet the one and only Playmobil Knight!

Thetford Voices' Summer Singing Workshops Thetford

2-3 August

A two-day course for six- to 16-year-olds with the theme of Fun (fun, fun) and Games - it promises plenty of up-tempo numbers. Rehearse a group of songs in various styles and perform for friends and family on the last evening.

Danny, Champion of the World Bishop's Stortford

Saturday 6 August

This magnificent tale by Roald Dahl is brought to life at National Trust site, Hatfield Forest. The story of a young boy who sets off to rescue his missing father, with epic consequences.

Knebworth dinosaur trail

Knebworth Park Adventure Playground Stevenage

Make the most of the fantastic adventure playground at Knebworth Park this summer, with astro and drop slides, a bouncy castle, zip wire, splash water, maze and the famous Knebworth dinosaur trail. Bring a picnic and stay all day.

Roman Inventions St Albans

Saturday 6 August

Drop in to the Verulamium Museum and see some of the amazing Roman inventions found around the house. Can you work out what the mystery objects were used for?

Summer Tech Camp Cambridge 

15-26 August

Join HackLab at Microsoft Research for courses on web development, apps, games and more plus plenty of unplugged activities. Suitable for eight- to 16-year-olds, at various levels. Come for one day, two days or the whole week.

Colchester Zoo Essex

With over 270 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, Colchester Zoo is well worth a visit. As you walk around there are plenty of play areas to try out including the brand new indoor soft play, Jungle Tumble, with a section for under-threes.

Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground St Albans

Willows Activity Farm brings together locations and characters that children love from the CBeebies animated Peter Rabbit series. An adventure playground, woodland trail and live performances have been specially created with a focus on learning through imaginative play. 

Chocolate City Norwich

Explore the process of chocolate making in a special trail around the Museum of Norwich and have a go at making your own little box, or design a chocolate bar wrapper.

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South West


i-Bounce Teignbridge

Come and experience Devon's first trampoline centre - with facilities and activities including wall-to-wall trampolines, dodgeball, airbag, somersault track and much more.

Super Sharks at the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth

Find out how super sharks really are. This summer, explore sharks' six amazing senses at the aquarium with shows and creative activities, superhero fancy dress and the jawsome (sorry) new shark and ray exhibit.

Daily Discover Scuba Diving sessions Ilfracombe

Daily sessions run by Easy Divers include a chance to experience the thrill of breathing underwater, use scuba diving kit, learn basic dive skills and play underwater games. The sessions are open to all aged 10+ who are able to swim independently.

Young Dartington Summer Camp South Hams

A children's holiday camp that runs for the first three weeks of the summer holidays at Park School in the grounds of the beautiful Dartington Hall Estate. Each child chooses their favourite activities and get to do two half days of each, with friends and activity instructors.

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South East

inflatable course

Betteshanger's Bouncing Deal

30-31 July

Scale heights, crawl, jump and slide through a giant inflatable obstacle course. An energy-fuelled, fun weekend for the whole family.

Wild Clay Sevenoaks 

10-14 August

Chidren can create their own sculptures using sticks and clay at this fun session at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens. Free with admission to the gardens.

Dotty the Dragon at the Open Air Theatre Guildford

11 August

Blunderbus Theatre bring the story of Dotty the Dragon to life in this enchanting fairy tale. Bring a picnic, sit back and enjoy this magical open-air theatre set on the lawns at Hatchlands Park. Book tickets in advance.

Free Children's Activity Summer Trails Guildford

Monday-Friday, until 9 September

Spend an afternoon exploring an iconic historical landmark, Guildford Cathedral, as it undergoes groundbreaking conservation work. Watch history being made and take part in tailor-made children's activities. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds if it's sunny.

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Greater London

sports day

The Shadbolt Park Sports Day Worcester Park

Saturday 23 July

All ages are welcome to come and join in some active fun. Bring your own picnic and enjoy the races. Money raised will support the renovation of the children's play area.

Just Sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Wimbledon

Saturday 23 July

Celebrate the fantasmagorical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and sing songs from the well-loved musical at this workshop for all the family.

Pre-schoolers Jollytime Playgroup summer play scheme Mitcham

Suitable for children aged two to five, this play scheme runs Mondays to Fridays, 9.30am - 12.30pm until the end of July. Booking required.

Summer Performing Arts Activities Muswell Hill

25 July - 2 September

Musical theatre, dance, drama and music courses taught by industry professionals. Suitable for children aged from three to 17 years old who want to try something new, or those who want to further their skills. Courses culminate in a showcase for friends and family.

Watery Wednesdays at the London Canal Museum Kings Cross

3-31 August

Childrens' activity days involve a range of fun learning activities for children aged six to 12, including a short boat trip on the Regent's Canal. Children can make models of a narrow boat, build a bridge in the Activity Zone, paint plates, make cardboard models and more.

Dramarama summer holiday drama courses Hampstead

Until 7 August

Action-packed drama, musical theatre and street dance courses. Children aged five to 11 can take part in daily dramatic technique workshops while rehearsing for shows which are presented at the end of the week.


Whippersnappers Fairyland West Dulwich

30 July - 14 August

Take part in a series of adventures, exploring the Wyld Wood, visiting the Pixie Encampment and helping Sugar Plum complete her daily Bake Off challenge. There will be plenty of magic (of course), dressing up, and a performance of Seamus and the Puca.

Pinot The Musical at Colour House Theatre Colliers Wood

Saturdays & Sundays until 28 August

A fun, family singalong-in-French show which tells the story of a young Russian cyclist and his dream to win the Tour de France. Suitable for children aged eight and older, particularly those in Key Stages 2 and 3.

Birds of Bray birds of prey display Highgate

10 August

Come and meet an amazing collection of owls, falcons, and hawks, all rescue birds hand-reared by one couple who will be available to answer questions and share their knowledge - as well as doing a flight demo and allowing children to hold some of the birds.

Summer Circus Fun Sutton Central

20-21 August

Come join in a family fun day and have a go at circus skills. Challenge yourself to do some feats with juggling balls, spinning plates, peacock feathers - or test your balance upside down! The workshop is led by aerialist and Sutton Theatre's first resident circus artist, Jesus Capel.

Pro Arts Summer Drama Camp Croydon

Drama, musical theatre and singing classes to help children develop performance techniques, imagination, confidence and fitness in a fun group environment. 

Free summer events for families at the Museum of London Barbican

If you're looking for something fun and free for all the family then come along to the Museum of London for a great day out that everyone can enjoy, from under-fives to over-60s! There's a host of shows, storytelling and hands on activities for all ages throughout the summer. 

Camden beach

Camden Beach at the Roundhouse Camden

Until 23 August

Bring the family to the sun-drenched Roundhouse terrace, filled with 150 tonnes of the finest sand, tasty pop-up restaurants, more bars than you can shake a spade at, deckchairs, beach huts, ping pong, rooftop gardens and so much more.

Little Explorer Wednesdays Kingston-upon-Thames

Until 26 August

Dig for mini beasts, build a shelter, create your own magic potions and so much more. A session for parents and kids who love to be outside and explore, every Wednesday morning.

Summer Holiday Activities Olympic Celebration Carshalton Beeches

Wednesdays - Sundays, 23 July - 2 September

Drop-in crafts, trails, puzzles and colouring available throughout opening hours - plus on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, enjoy building sand castles (weather permitting) in the sand pits. No booking required.

Confidence and resilience courses Marylebone

30 August - 2 September

Role Models' courses teach children to present themselves effectively, be unafraid of complex challenges and to develop a positive and robust approach to setbacks. The courses include debating, public speaking, team building exercises and interview practice.

Appearing Rooms Southbank

Until 18 September

This interactive sculpture returns to Southbank Centre after popularity in previous summers. Shooting jets of water into the air, the fountain creates rooms that disappear as quickly as they emerge. If you guess wrong you might get soaked - but it is summer after all.

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summer in southside

Summertime in Southside Birmingham city centre

23-24 July

This free festival has something for everyone: wooden street games, acrobatics, a marching band with a difference - and an enormous whale! Join in the carnival atmosphere with seaside sights, sounds and smells. 

Camp Wilderness and Bushcraft Sutton Coldfield

25-29 July

Bushcraft residential camps for children aged six to 15, where they'll be fire-lighting, shelter building and wild swimming in a beautiful lake. A magical summer adventure for your child.

Play Factory Nottingham Contemporary

26 July - 31 August

Free family art and construction workshops every day during the summer holidays.

Outdoor Adventure Days Matlock

Selected dates 1 August - 2 September (check listing)

Adventure Days are all about having fun, working as a team and making great friends! Try a range of outdoor activities across 25 acres of parkland. Instructor supervision and all specialist equipment is provided. BYO packed lunch, drinks and snacks.

We Dig the Castle! Nottingham Castle

Until 19 August

Be part of a training excavation carrying out a real dig, looking for evidence of the Civil War and the medieval castle. Work side by side with archaeologists to gain archaeological skills on the job. There'll also be daily workshops, with training on techniques and equipment.


GameCamp National Videogame Arcade, Nottingham

1-5 August

The Beginner Camp is perfect for young gamers who would like to get started learning the basics of programming concepts. The group will work toward having a working game by the end of the week, for parents, friends, and the public to play!

Wildlife Explorers Beeston

2 August

Join in fun-filled activities at Attenborough Nature Reserve and find out more about the wonderful wildlife. Suitable for children aged four and above. Book in advance and come dressed for the weather!

Lark in the Park West Bridgford

3 August

Come along to Bridgford Park for a mammoth play day with free shows, workshops, have-a-go sports and community displays. Admission is free though some activities are charged. This year's theme is Heroes - come dressed as your favourite hero and join in the fun. 

Summer School: Noughts & Crosses Nottingham Playhouse

15-27 August

Join the Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre to create a performance of Noughts & Crosses - the bestselling young adult novel by Malorie Blackman. Teens aged 14-19 can work with theatre professionals to bring this exciting and relevant story to life and at the wnd of two weeks' rehearsal, perform on the main stage.

Big Read BookBench Trail Birmingham city centre

Until 13 September

Benches shaped as open books - individually designed by nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges - will be exhibited across the West Midlands this summer. There's also a host of literary-themed events and activities taking place.

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North West

One Big Summer

One Big Summer Weekend Manchester city centre

22-24 July

Manchester Jazz Festival, Science in the City, The Manchester Picnic and Manchester Specialist Markets come together to celebrate the start of the summer holidays with a family-friendly weekend filled with food, science, music and shopping!

Wild and Wonderful Woods Stalybridge

2 August

Enjoy a family day outdoors and try some den building, get creative with nature and join the Cheshire Wildlife Trust in Eastwood Nature Reserve for some forest school activities.

Portland Basin Museum Ashton-under-Lyne

An exciting family-friendly museum, with something for everyone. Step back in time, and explore the area's industrial heritage, discover what life was like down the mines, or on the farm. Younger children can also enjoy the Nuts and Bolts educational play area.

The Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester city centre

There will be plenty of children's activities on during the school holidays. Pick up an art picnic hamper, filled with art materials which encourage little ones to explore the gallery.

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North East

Bowes Museum

National Play Day Teesdale

Be part of National Play Day at the Bowes Museum and let your child's imagination run wild as they create their very own game to take home during this drop-in session. 

Story Telling with Crafts Teesdale

9 August

Get crafty and enjoy stories inspired by the work of Roald Dahl with imaginative and magical tales in the storytelling corner, plus exciting craft activities throughout the session.

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Northern Ireland

Spanish lessons

Minilingua Summer Camp Belfast / Lisburn

25-29 July / 1-5 August

Northern Ireland's leading language club allows children to discover a world of languages and cultures through structured activities, games, songs and crafts. The camps are educational and fun. This summer, let your child immerse themselves in French or Spanish.

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Quest for Excalibur

Theatre Alba present The Quest for Excalibur Duddingston 

30 July - 14 August

Legend has it King Arthur threw Excalibur into Duddingston Loch. Travel through the beautiful gardens overlooking this loch in search of the enchanted sword. Solve the clues, sing songs and meet magical and mythical creatures along the way.

Festival of Archaeology Lochgilphead

Until 29 July

Take part in free, drop-in activities with the opportunity to design and create hunting tools, miniature shelters, rock art, Bronze Age pots, or a bird of prey. Examine archaeological evidence, take part in guided walks and feast through the ages at a celebratory banquet.

PAC Bushcraft Camp Biggar

1-5 August

Children can learn to survive out in the wild (in the woods of Netherurd House) learning about shelter, fire, water and food. Suitable for children aged 10+.

Corgi Treasure Hunt Edinburgh 

1-28 August

Clarence the Corgi will be hiding around the Royal Yacht Britannia for children to find. The whole family can join in so keep a look out and receive a small prize at the end of your tour.

Robot Exhibition Aberdeen

Until 21 August

Meet iconic characters from films and TV shows like Star Wars, Dr Who, The Terminator and I, Robot. Throughout the summer, visitors will also be able to attend interactive shows and hands-on workshops to explore the fascinating world of robots, cyborgs, androids and more.

Play on Pedals drop-in sessions Glasgow

Pre-schoolers can attend drop-in taster sessions throughout August and learn to ride a bike with experienced instructors.

Sylvanian Families Live at Hamleys Glasgow

20 August

Bring your children to meet iconic characters from Sylvanian Families: Freya Chocolate, Ralph Walnut and Tiffany Golightly. Take photos with them, have the chance to win great prizes and browse the range of toys in store.

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Hunting the Snark

The Hunting of the Snark Cardiff

19-30 July

Enter the imaginative world of Lewis Carroll in this adaptation of his beloved classic poem. A musical comedy adventure featuring puppetry, lashings of silliness and an original soundtrack that will delight, excite and entertain families.

NERF Vault at Hamleys Cardiff Bay

4-7 August

Nerf has a range of blasters and accessories with a focus on speed, accuracy and performance. Come and visit the Vault at your local Hamleys and take the blaster challenge - load up the blaster of your choice and see how many targets you can hit.

Hamlet Narberth

18 August

Presented in full costume, an all-male company brings the excitement of this great Shakesperean thriller to life: intrigue, ghostly visitations, passion, a play-within-a-play, a gripping duel and humour, all in a crystal-clear and fast-paced, open-air production.

Become a Nature Explorer Llanelli

21 July - 4 September

Pick up a passport when you visit Llanelli Wetland Centre and collect stickers along the way as you take part in special activities like pond dipping, minibeast hunts and flamingo watching, to become a fully fledged explorer.

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    Last updated: 5 months ago