Summer holidays

The Summer School Holidays Activities Guide

Culture /


The best activities for families & kids in London & the UK

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Wondering how to keep the kids happy during the summer holidays? Foreign opportunities may still be limited, but there’s plenty to explore here in the UK. From child-friendly activities in London to country kids’ clubs, fetes and camping adventures, we’ve found a host of summer holiday activities and luxury family experiences to check out with the children this summer. You never know, you might even enjoy it…

Family-Friendly Festivals 2021

The Summer Holidays Guide 2021

 

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London for kids, Photo by Robert Tudor on Unsplash

Summer school holidays activities for kids in London… 

Maggie & Rose

Summer of Play at Maggie & Rose

Every Wednesday in August, members’ club Maggie & Rose is hosting a series of child-friendly activities. Think crafting sessions, bubble discos and picnic feasts – plus cream teas for grown-ups.

HOW? 3 – 5pm every Wednesday in August. maggieandrose.com

Somerset House Dodge

DODGE at Somerset House

On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings under 12s get unlimited free rides on the dodgems that have popped up in the Somerset House courtyard. Enjoy alongside street food and sundaes from Jimmy Garcia – probably best consumed post-dodgems.

HOW? Until 22 August 2021, book at somersethouse.org

Harry Potter Bus Tour

Allow Harry Potter fans to dive into the magic of their favourite books and films through a bus tour around the capital’s key locations from the series. The three-hour coach tour covers shooting locations from all eight films, from King’s Cross Station to the Leaky Cauldron via 12 Grimmauld Place.

HOW? Book at isango.com

Underbelly

London Wonderground

Underbelly’s famous purple tent is a regular fixture on the South Bank, where it hosts an annual summer festival. But this year the live entertainment company is going west, popping up in Earl’s Court as part of London Wonderground. The programme includes plenty for children to see and do. Julia Donaldson will be there to bring her beloved stories to life, featuring songs, puppetry and magic plus an appearance from her guitar-playing husband Malcolm. Also joining the line-up is Fireman Sam Live – Saves The Circus, a fun on-stage performance from Sam and the gang. Elsewhere, little visitors can prepare to be wowed by bubble artistry from the Amazing Bubble Man, plus get involved with The Wonder Games with Maddie and Greg, described as ‘the silliest science show around’.

HOW? Free to enter, londonwonderground.co.uk

The Natural History Museum

Sleepovers at the Natural History Museum

Little ones can spend the night beneath the Natural History Museum’s famous blue whale skeleton as part of the venue’s sleepover series, which returns this August. The Dino Snores for Kids events are aimed at children between seven and 11, offering an evening of fun activities with an educational science show thrown in for good measure.

HOW? Dates including 13 August and 3 September, £65pp. Book at nhm.ac.uk

The Gruffalo at Alexandra Palace

The Gruffalo at Alexandra Palace

Julia Donaldson’s rhyming story of a mouse and a monster has been beloved by children since it was first published back in 1999. This summer, it’s coming to Alexandra Palace for a limited season, brought to life by theatre company Tall Stories. Why not make a day of it by heading to the venue’s idyllic boating lake afterwards?

HOW? 30 July – 29 August, alexandrapalace.com

GoBoat

GoBoat

Spend the afternoon with the family on a boat on one of the city’s rivers. GoBoat offers private hire for groups of up to eight in Paddington, Kingston and Canary Wharf. The best bit? You can enjoy your on-water experience without harming the environment, as the boats are made from recycled plastic and use electric engines. No boating experience is necessary.

HOW? Book at goboat.co.uk

Seaside, Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Summer school holidays activities for kids in the rest of the UK… 

Carlyon Beach

Carlyon Beach

Cornwall is heaving this summer – but you can escape the crowds at lesser-known gem Carlyon Beach, perched on the south coast. Head there this summer to explore a collection of local food and drink pop-ups, plus opportunities or kayak hire and kids bootcamps.

HOW? Check out visitcornwall.com for more information

Wilderlands

Wilderlands’ Wild Weekends, Sussex

Den-building, wood carving and live music: just some of the activities on offer at Wild Weekends, a series of events from Wilderlands, which is a new initiative aiming to support nature in the UK. The weekends take place in Chiddinglye estate in the Sussex countryside, with camping and food facilities on-site and a whole host of al fresco activities for children to get involved with.

HOW? Until late September, book at wilderlands.co.uk

Bike ride

Family-Friendly Bike Rides

Get outdoors this summer (weather permitting) and explore some of the best routes of the National Cycle Network. We have a guide to five of the best routes suitable for kids.

HOW? Check out our round-up of the best family-friendly bike rides in the UK

Big Feastival

Big Feastival, Cotswolds

Held on founder and Blur star Alex James’ farm in Kingham, the Big Feastival features a host of big names in family-friendly entertainment. This year’s line-up features CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher and Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Five, whilst adults will enjoy performances from the likes of DJ Sigala, Rag’n’Bone Man and Nile Rodgers & CHIC.

HOW? 27 – 29 August 2021, book at thebigfeastival.com

See more family-friendly festivals in our guide

Tennis Sign, Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Tennis For Free, Nationwide

If the kids are driving you mad and they need to work off some energy, get them started with some tennis lessons. Before you sign up for weekly coaching at your local club, why not give them a go through sporting charity Tennis for Free, which offers free weekly two-hour coaching sessions across England and Scotland for ages three and up.

HOW? Find your nearest session at tennisforfree.com

The Story Museum

The Story Museum, Oxford

The Story Museum in Oxford makes a lovely trip for the family, with plenty of activities for a range of ages. The Enchanted Library will once again invite visitors to step inside iconic scenes from children’s books such as The Chronicles of Narnia, while The Whispering Wood’s indoor forest will share spoken tales from all over the world. Young children aged 0-5, meanwhile, will love the Small Worlds play space.

HOW? storymuseum.org.uk

Woodland, Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

National Play Day, Nationwide

From street parties to group woodland explorations, National Play Day happens across the country on 4 August this year, with a host of free family activities to join in with without spending a penny.

HOW? Visit playday.org.uk for your nearest event

Tiger Lodge at Port Lymphe

Port Lympne, Kent

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.

HOW? aspinallfoundation.org

Forest Nets at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

Forest Nets at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

If you want to drag the kids away from their screens and get them playing outside this summer, take a day trip to the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales and check out the Forest Nets, where kids can clamber through the trees bouncing on suspended nets. It is absolutely as fun as it sounds, for the young and young-at-heart alike.

HOW? celtic-manor.com