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Days Out

10 children's days out this summer

Great places to visit with special activities for little ones from Scotland to Cornwall.

Whether your little ones have a long way to go before school beckons or they are enjoying the holiday break, there’s a wealth of ideas for days out, many either free or low price. Think about checking out what your local RSPB have going on for families (pond dipping to bird spotting), or nearby National Trust places with costumed activities, and don’t forget that many museums large and small are free and will always have activities designed to amuse their younger guests…

10 ideas to amuse the children this summer

All creatures great and small  Bristol, until August 27th
To celebrate the Year of Biodiversity, Bristol Zoo is having daily summer holiday activities. Find out more about the animals at the zoo – from the emotions of a gorilla to what fruitbat poo has in it! Activities are free and take place Monday to Friday, 10.30am - 4.30pm.
Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA
Tel: 0117 974 7399

Pirate Play Days  Chatham, until August 30th
Chatham Dockyards is really ‘pushing the boat out’ this summer. There’s creative activities, storytelling, puppet shows and a chance to get a taste for pirate life with costumed displays. Kids can build a model pirate ship and test it in the brand new testing tank or roll about on the giant pirate themed inflatable obstacle course so scan the desert island and dig for treasure. Entry to Pirate Play Days is included in the Dockyard entry fee (day tickets allow you free entry anytime for the next 12 months).
The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TZ
Tel: 01634 823 807

Summer Fun  Brighton, until September
At all the Brighton museums you’ll find Early Years sessions which include art activities, a museum expedition, a story and handling some museum objects. The sessions are for two- to five-year-olds only so they’re nice and relaxed for little ones. Sessions are £4.50 in advance, 10.30am-12noon.
Brighton Museum, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1EE
Tel: 01273 292 882

Summer Splash!  Cornwall, until September 5th
The Eden Project has all kinds of lovely summer activities for children, including den building and their ‘survival challenge’, but the big draw has to be water, plain and simple. Summer Splash! is a chance for children to bring along their swimming costumes or their waterproofs and get stuck into all kinds of weird and wonderful watery games and experiments in the splash zone.
Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
Tel: 01726 811 911

Kids Week  London, August 13th-September 3rd
Not so much a week as four weeks of great theatre-inspired children’s entertainment. Aimed at encouraging children to come to the theatre by allowing 5- to 16-years-olds into shows free when accompanied by a paying adult. As well as performances, there are themed activities, workshops and backstage tours where children can dance, sing, and generally get close to the action.
Tel: 0844 248 5151

Family day  Manchester, Aug 21
Manchester Art Gallery has lots of free activities for children of all ages. Drop-in activities include a 45-minute interactive tour of the gallery for families with children 5+ (1-1.45pm and 2-2.45pm). For children of any age on the same day, there’s an Interactive Laboratory of activities and experiments, suitable for children of any age (12-4pm).
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
Tel: 0161 235 8888

Lanark Medieval Festival  Scotland, August 21st - 22nd
Although this is tied to the Medieval Festival there are all kinds of intriguing eras of history covered in a costumed cavalcade of fun including hands-on activities for little ones (all under-16s £1). Both days 10am-4.30pm.
Lanark Racecourse, Hyndford Road (A73), Lanark ML11 9SZ.

Designs for Chocolate  London  August 24th, 27th & 31st
The Museum of London Docklands is free for children and adults all year round, with a fabulous under-5s play area and plenty to interest older children around the galleries. There are many wonderful activities going on through the holidays, but this chocolate workshop for children 5+ will be great fun. The sessions are free but you should book tickets in adv. (Sessions for each day 12.30-1.30pm and 2.30-3.30pm.)
Museum of London Docklands,
No1 Warehouse,
West India Quay,
London E14 4AL
Tel: 020 7001 9844

World Party Weekend  Swansea, August 28th - 29th
This lively free day out at Museum Park is a chance for families with children of all ages to sample the delights of culture and food from all corners of the world. There are live performances, food stalls and activities.
Museum Park, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea
Tel: 01792 468 321

Dahl Weekend  Newcastle, September 11th - 12th
Seven Stories is a wonderful children’s book centre in Newcastle with many summer activities to enjoy. These include their Dahl Weekend (Sept 11, 12) with all kinds of hands-on crafts and games themed to the children’s books of Roald Dahl.
Seven Stories 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ
Tel: 0845 271 0777


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