Summer holidays and longer warmer days are just begging to be filled with fun and with so many attractions and events to enjoy, you’re spoilt for choice
Bracing yourself for cries of “I’m bored, what can I do?” Don’t fret, there are so many activities and events on offer to entertain the little ones and not so little ones this summer, they’ll soon be wanting time to just do nothing!
Hatchlands Park is bringing everything but the sea to Surrey this summer. Children will love dressing up and captaining the straw bale boat in the Walled Garden complete with ship’s wheel and bell! There’ll also be games and sports on the lawn and early years play by the new donkeys’ stables. Inside the house, discover extracts from the letters between Admiral Boscawen and his wife, Frances and explore the fascinating stories of some of the sailors who sailed with the Admiral. Plus outdoor theatre in the evening! www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/surrey/hatchlands-park
Journey back through British motorsport and take a trip in a vintage-style car up the infamous Test Hill or along the Members’ Banking of the old race track at Brooklands Museum near Weybridge.
There are animals to view and pet at Godstone Farm, hop on-board the popular tractor ride, explore the indoor and outdoor play areas or simply enjoy the cute farm animals. Want more animals? Merrist Wood near Guildford has recently been granted a zoo license, so this summer you can get up close to an amazing array of animals.
Here’s a different but charming way to spend a day during the hols. Meet The Llamas at Merry Harriers where every Saturday you can dine and meet the furry creatures. The trekker will take you to the field where you can feed them, stroke and learn a little about the lovely herd of 12 llamas. Book at [email protected]
For a more relaxed day out explore the woods at National Trust property Hughenden during the school holidays with geocaching. Compete against each other in garden games or croquet on the lawn. Dress up in costumes for the performance stage area and get creating in crafting workshops. Booking not necessary for the Summer of Play which runs from July 22nd to September 4th.
Buckinghamshire’s much-loved family arts and literature festival, WhizzFizzFest, is back for 2023 and this year it’s going on tour over three weekends in July sharing the creative activities and memorable experiences all on the theme of friendship. Sunday 2nd, WhizzFizzFest
@Aylesbury on Sea with Aylesbury Town Council lands in Vale Park bringing a vibrant celebration of children’s creativity alongside plenty of beach-based fun at Aylesbury on Sea. Saturday 8th WhizzFizzFest @Desborough Carnival with High Wycombe BIDCo for a celebration of music and culture, free creative workshops, circus performances, street entertainment and more. WhizzFizzFest at Hats Off Chesham with Chesham Connect celebrates Chesham’s High Street, with added creative fun for all the family. Music, magic shows, crafting, climbing walls, giant bubbles and more on Saturday 15th – just don’t forget your hat!
Zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders and a variety of obstacles and crossings are the challenges in store at Go Ape Wendover Woods. High up in the Chilterns, the leafy hideout is a hidden gem in the county and includes an ‘extreme’ site where you can take on the thrills and spills of the Chilterns Crossing and the Monkey Shuffle among other feats. Tree Top Adventure gives younger adventurers a chance to battle through obstacles and fly down zipwires with over 30 different crossings and two 80m zipwires for your little monkeys to try out.
Experience the thrill of being a medieval falconer and get up close and personal with magnificent birds of prey. Witness these graceful creatures soaring through the air, diving for their prey, and showing off their incredible hunting skills in Oxford Castle & Prison’s Castleyard on July 22nd. Join Knight School this summer there too. Don your armour, sharpen your sword and prepare to set out on a quest. Join in the Castleyard for medieval weapons training, jousting and archery – all under the supervision of the Castle’s knights. Once you’ve been trained, you will be knighted and presented with your own sword to take home. Select dates between July 24th and August 14th.
Abingdon’s Abbey Meadows is the scene for The Puppet Theatre Barge, one of the UK’s most unique venues, a 50-seat puppet theatre inside a converted Thames barge. The theatre will visit Abbey Meadows this summer with their new show The Selfish Giant, a puppetry production for all the family from July 22nd to August 13th.
Cogges Manor Farm‘s legendary Beer and Cider Festival is back with a bang on August 5th. Join them for a celebration in the Barns, for the 10th annual festival. Try over 40 different craft beers and 15 ciders, with live music to get the crowd dancing if the beer doesn’t help to loosen your inhibitions. The historic farm is also the location to enjoy summer theatre in the barn with Wind in the Willows on July 9th while Illyria bring Pride and Prejudice to the lawn on July 11th and Robin Hood on August 23rd.
Keep younger members of the family amused with Oxford Playhouse shows during the holidays including Zog, July 18th to 23rd, with his adventures through dragon school; go on an interactive adventure around the brain with Mind the Monsters at BT Studio, July 19th to 30th for 5-11 year olds. Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour is the ultimate curiosity adventure with monster trucks, excavators, and garbage trucks galore. Shake your wiggles out and OJ Twist your way through this brand-new musical party from August 15th to 26th for 2-7 years.
West Berks & Wiltshire
Wildfest 2023 on July 15th is BBOWT’s summer celebration at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. Guided walks, talks, music and family activities will fill the day, with local food and drink to enjoy. The newly-refurbished visitor centre offers a fun day out while the lakeside location is a haven for wildlife, woodland and trails to explore. bbowt.org.uk
The beautiful surroundings of Shaw House are the setting for a Summer Fair on July 16th where you can browse over 45 craft stalls from local makers with hot food and drinks from local caterers. Live music, craft activities with Ugly Duckling Pottery, performances from Mr Muddle the Magician and children’s rides will add to the fun and don’t forget your four-legged friend to enter into the dog show.
A monster truck display and rides, a motorcross display team, skydiving and aerobatic flying displays, hot air balloons, arena displays, live music and fireworks are all part of the attraction at Newbury Summer Fest on July 22nd, new for 2023. This big family day out is the way to start your summer holiday.
Top Gun: Maverick screams across the open air big screen at Cobbs Farm, Hungerford on July 22nd and there’s Shakespeare in the Garden the same night at The Hinds Head, Aldermaston when four actors will play numerous parts in Open Bar’s production of Twelfth Night.
All summer long you’re invited to come and play at Basildon Park. From July 1st to August 31st, take part in a variety of outdoor play activities. Test your skills on the wild play trail, where you can balance on logs, create your own ball run, and explore the great outdoors. Or try your hand at some lawn games, perfect for a family friendly competition. For the more active family members, there are a range of outdoor games to keep you moving. Don’t forget to take a picnic and enjoy a break in the beautiful grounds. Go along and join an adventure-filled summer at Basildon Park.
Building Royal Connections: Three women of Greys Court is a new exhibition running at the charming Henley property from July 20th until the end of October. Learn about the exceptional lives of three women, and how their influence contributed to the shifting landscape of Greys Court. Enter the worlds of Lettice Pennyston (c.1485-1558), Katherine Carey (1523-69) and Lettice Knollys (1543-1634).
Silent Summer Screenings are your go-to outdoor cinema for an unforgettable movie experience this summer. Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out, a family-friendly activity, or just fun with friends there are a variety of movies to choose from including at Henley’s Mill Meadows where you can enjoy Notting Hill on July 13th and Cool Runnings on July 14th.
Here’s a great way to get the summer off to a spectacular start. The Vyne Music Festival runs at the popular National Trust site from July 7th to 9th with three nights of music featuring Feel Good Friday when The FB Pocket Orchestra come complete with all of their electronic gadgets and the Still Moving DJ’s with their upbeat vibes, live percussion, ships’ lanterns, original vinyl records, gramophones, tankards and…dinosaurs! Absolutely Elton John takes to the stage on Saturday with a Gin & Jazz Party rounding off the weekend when you can grab your pearls and party like it’s 1929! Booking essential, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/hampshire/the-vyne/events
The Vyne is also the setting for some fabulous outdoor cinema in July. Watch Elvis, 28th; Dirty Dancing, 29th; Top Gun, 30th and Mamma Mia, 31st. On August 5th join the star-crossed young lovers Romeo and Juliet as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men invite you to take your seat under the night sky. Bring your picnics, blankets, camping chairs and torches to the north lawn for an evening of lively entertainment. Book at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/hampshire/the-vyne/events/d865e0b2-8794-48f2-a1b1-38f149970531?origin=search
This summer, join young Mary Lennox on a journey of discovery as she is sent to her uncle’s house in the countryside, where mysteries and secrets lurk around every corner in The Secret Garden… As she makes new friends and encounters magical creatures, Mary has one burning question: where is the location of her uncle’s secret garden, and where has he hidden the key? This enchanting story, loved by children and adults alike, is presented in the historic surroundings of Winchester Cathedral’s Lower Deanery Garden. Relive this tale of secrecy and curiosity in what will be one of the highlights of the summer on July 29th. Book at winchester-cathedral.org.uk/event/the-secret-garden-by-chapterhouse-theatre-company/