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Summer Holidays Activities in London & the Country

Culture /

Summer Holidays Activities in London & the Country

Ideas for sunny days, ideas for rainy days...


The summer holidays aren’t over yet, but if you’ve run out of ideas, help is on hand. From child-friendly activities in London to country kids’ clubs, fetes, camping adventures and the odd exotic escape, we’ve found a host of summer holidays activities and events to check out with the kids this summer. You never know, you might even enjoy it…


RA Summer Exhibition 2018

RA 250th Summer Exhibition

Summer Holidays Activities in London 2018

RA Summer Exhibition Creative Workshops

Activity dates: across the summer

*Rainy day summer holidays activity idea*

RA 250th Summer Exhibition

RA 250th Summer Exhibition

What’s On? If the sun lets you down, soak up some culture with the whole family this summer at the Royal Academy of the Arts’ 250th Summer Exhibition. At the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show. Spread out over the Academy’s newly-expanded cultural campus and spilling out onto the streets of the West End with over 200 flags designed by Royal Academicians. Visit on 25 and 27 July and 1, 8, 15 and 17 August from 11am to 1pm to attend the creative workshop for families (ages 7+) inspired by the Summer Exhibition, offering the chance to explore the galleries together and create a collaborative artwork in response to it. There are also story telling workshops inspired by the works on 3 and 10 August from 11am to 12.30pm. Workshops cost £15 per adult and £5 per child and are suitable for ages 7+ |

Life in the Dark Exhibition, Natural History Museum

Dates: All Summer

Life in the Dark Exhibition Natural History Museum

© Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London [2018]. All rights reserved.

What’s On? Perhaps not suitable for the youngest or dark-fearing children, the Natural History Museum’s immersive Life in the Dark exhibition has received glowing reviews since it opened on 13 July. Take the whole family to explore the world of nocturnal animals, entering the world of a host of weird and wonderful species. See through the eyes of a cave boa, experience the sights and smells of a bat cave, and listen to the cacophony of calls from a world of animals who rely on sound over sight to survive.

Make a mini-break of your visit with The Bailey’s Hotel’s British Natural History and Me package, which includes a one night stay in a luxury family room, breakfast, tickets to the exhibition and a gift for young children. Bookings from 22 July – 3 September | from £289 per night exclusive of VAT, based on a family of four sharing a Luxury Family Room |

Ice Cream Sundae Building at Fortnum & Mason

Ice Cream Sundae at Fortnum & Mason

Dates: all summer

What’s On? If unplanned fun is more your bag, work an impromptu ice cream stop into your next West End visit with the kids this summer holidays, where they can build their own ice cream sundae in The Parlour restaurant. They’ll be able to pick three flavours from the 22 available, including rose ripple, crème caramel, chocolossus and new vegan flavours avocado & lime and chocolate & cashew, and then top their creation with a range of sauces, toppings and sides. They’ll feel like Willy Wonka in their (quite fancy) ice cream lab. From £6.50.

London Southbank Centre’s MONSTERSAURUS

London Southbank Centre’s MONSTERSAURUS

Dates: Tuesday 7 – Sunday 12 August, 11am & 2pm

What’s On? Another rainy day summer holidays activity idea; get down to London’s South Bank Centre and check out their full programme of child-friendly workshops and shows this school break. In ‘Monstersaurus’, young inventor Monty creates a whole world of wacky inventions and incredible monsters. From the creators of Aliens Love Underpants, Monstersaurus is an action-packed show full of magic and mayhem for the whole family. Expect crowd participation and quite a lot of monster noises. Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room | 3+ | £8-16 |

Summer Screenings in Leicester Square

Activity dates: 4-5 & 11-12 August 2018

What’s On? Over the first two weekends of August, Leicester Square Gardens will play host to a mammoth family film screening event with an action-packed outdoor cinema experience. The line-up will include The Incredibles, The Lego Movie, Sing,  Finding Nemo and other family favourites. The screenings for up to 750 film fans will be interspersed with a series of free fun activities and giveaways from Leicester Square’s West End neighbours, with exclusive discounts from neighbouring businesses and restaurants.

Frieze Sculpture Family Trail and Family Workshops

John Baldessari Penguin Frieze Sculpture

John Baldessari, Penguin

Dates: 4 July – 7 October

What’s On? Take the kids to see a free display of international outdoor artwork in Regent’s Park in this summer for guaranteed outdoor fun. Frieze Sculpture sees twenty-five of the world’s leading artists, spanning five continents, all in one place. Children can follow along the Frieze Sculpture Family Trail to find Frida the squirrel and Andy the hedgehog, as they learn a little about some of the works on display.

Royal Society of Sculptors Family Workshops

Dates: 28 July, 4 & 25 August from 12-4pm

What’s On? Spend one of your Saturdays during the summer at a free family workshop with Royal Society of Sculptors. Children are given the opportunity to create their very own miniature works of art after being inspired by the sculptures already on display through the Frieze Sculpture Trail. Just look out for the red and white tent!

Find the Fox at London’s Bankside

Find the Fox at London’s Bankside

Dates: 25 June – 31 August

What’s On? Explore London’s Bankside area this summer with the family, as the Hilton London Bankside and the London Wildlife Trust collaborate to bring the area to life with a fox-inspired visitor trail entitled ‘Fox Marks the Spot’. Inspired by the ‘Bankside Fox’ who left dusty par prints in the concrete while the hotel was being built, little ones can explore the area following the trail market out on the illustrated map. The path will be marked by bespoke foxes created by local businesses and also included secret urban wildlife spotting areas handpicked by London Wildlife Trust. Highlights to look out for include a three-metre high 3D fox artwork by 3D Joe & Max, plus a bespoke gold fox with silver tail created by jewellery designer Alex Monroe, 49 hidden fox designs and artworks to spot at Hilton London Bankside and a large fox installation marking the entrance of Flat Iron Square’s new outdoor space, Secret Garden. Maps can be collected from the Concierge desk at Hilton London Bankside or will be given out with any guest’s stay. Work a fox hunt into your next London trip, or book a family stay at Hilton London Bankside, from £299 for an interconnecting room, based on four people sharing, including breakfast. 

Summer Holidays Activities in the UK 2018

Grange Festival Time Capsule Project

Grange Festival Time Capsule Project

Dates: 27 – 31 August 2018

What’s On? Approximately 60 young people will participate in a week-long opera project at The Grange as part of Grange Festival to create and perform a completely original opera. Participants will debate and brainstorm Time Capsule ideas, creating words and musical material, then rehearse and perform their contemporary operatic piece, all in just 5 days. Unlike other productions, the young people will take creative ownership in all aspects from devising the piece to creating costumes and set pieces.  They will not only gain vocal, dramatic and artistic confidence but also develop collaborative, quick thinking and leadership skills. Find out more about the project in our Q&A with Grange Festival artistic director Michael Chance CBEFor more information visit or to book please email Susan Hamilton.

Royal Photographic Society Free Kids Competition

Sharp Shots

Dates: Closes on 31 August 2018

What’s On? Keep the kids busy this summer with a photography challenge from the Sharp Shots Photo Club and The Royal Photographic Society. The duo has teamed up to launch a competition encouraging young people to explore their identity through photographs by taking an ‘alternative selfie’. ‘The Alternative Selfie’ calls for young people, aged between 7-15 years, to capture a series of images that tell the story of who they are, going beyond the standard ‘selfie’. Judges will select their winner based on originality, creativity and the most cohesive story told, as well as photographic skill, with Nikon cameras up for grabs for the winners of both the 7-11 and 12-15 age categories.

Daylesford Wildwise Children’s Summer Event, Cotswolds

Daylesford Wildwise

Activity dates: 6-10 August & 27-31 August

What’s On? Let them go wild for a week with Wildwise at Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds. Aimed at young adventurers aged 8-12, this hands-on activity week will include bushcraft, storytelling and natural world experiences. Attendees will learn varied and vital skills such as den and shelter building; the art of firecraft, the key principles and practice of knife work and campfire cookery. They’ll also learn more about their surroundings, with plant, bird and wildlife identification workshops, learning to recognise each animal’s language and mammal tracking. The programme will be dependent on weather conditions, and children should dress appropriately for outdoor activities. A Daylesford packed lunch is included, and sure to be delicious. Children can attend individual day sessions, or for the whole week.

Bee in the City Weekender, Manchester

Pif-Paf Theatre Company’s The Bee Cart

Pif-Paf Theatre Company’s The Bee Cart

Dates: 28-29 July 2018

What’s On? To celebrate the opening weekend of Bee in the City – the public art trail of 100 giant 3D Bee sculptures taking over Manchester city centre this summer – the Bee in the City Weekender sees a ‘hive’ of activity throughout the city including workshops, street performers, bee-inspired artisan markets, live music and more. There will plenty of free activities for all the family to enjoy, with performances from the likes of the Manchester String Quartet on the live music stage and walkabout theatre in the form of Pif-Paf Theatre Company’s The Bee Cart. There will also be workshops at Manchester Cathedral, craft activities, honey tasting and pot-painting for little ones on New Cathedral Street and free tours of The Printworks rooftop garden, home to bees, beetle hotels and a wealth of plant and veg where the whole family can learn about honey bees while enjoying the views. It’s sure to get Manchester buzzing for summer… Free | #beeweekender |

Dragon Slayer at Warwick Castle

Dragon Slayer at Warwick Castle

Dragon Slayer at Warwick Castle

Dates: From Friday 3 August 2018, with eight performances throughout August

What’s On? This interactive evening show is the first night event designed exclusively for Warwick Castle, showcasing the epic tale of England’s greatest forgotten legend, Guy of Warwick, as he battles beasts to win the heart of Princess Felice, the Earl of Warwick’s daughter. Expect fire jousts, equestrian acrobatics, stunts and more, including an interactive procession through the Castle grounds to the Central Courtyard where Guy of Warwick faces his final battle, brought to life with a light show and projections onto the Castle’s walls, concluding in a battle of man versus dragon featuring real flames and impressive pyrotechnics. Dragon Slayer premieres on Friday 3 August 2018, with eight performances scheduled throughout August. Tickets from £15 per person for Bronze level, with dining and enhanced VIP options available in exclusive Silver and Gold packages.

Big Feastival, Kingham

Big Feastival

Dates: 25-27 August 2017

What’s On? Held on founder and Blur star Alex James’ farm in Kingham, the Big Feastival features a host of big names in family-friendly entertainment, from Justin Fletcher and Andy & the Odd Socks of CBeebies fame to Peppa Pig, the Gruffalo and Paddington. Buy Big Feastival tickets

Find out which other music festivals are worth taking the kids to this summer in our round-up. 

Port Lympne

Dates: all summer

What’s On? A must-visit for animal-lovers; this Kent-based conservation charity is not your average UK wildlife experience. Whether you opt for a day visit or a short stay, you’ll come face to face with big cats, gorillas, giraffes and many more. If you really want to push the boat out, (and blow their minds in the process) book in for a stay at Tiger Lodge, where tigers play right outside your (very sturdy) windows. Hurry though, it’s booking up fast.

Tiger Lodge at Port Lymphe

Not the worst view. Just remember to lock the doors.

Subscribe to our What’s On Podcast where we’ll be bringing you new child-friendly activities every episode throughout the summer…

What’s on this week? Check out our culture diary


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