Where: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, Rhs.org.uk
When: 3-8 July
The UK’s biggest gardening event has lots to amuse any budding gardener with a Children’s Zone taking place over the weekend (7 & 8 July) where green-fingered kiddies can enjoy interactive seed sowing and flower-crown-making workshops, a scarecrow competition, bee house and garden, butterfly jungle and a children’s trail to follow around the show.
Cost: Two children under 16 go free with any paying adult. Adult tickets from £18.50 (discount for members).
Where: Libraries nationwide
When: From 14 July
Visit your local library and sign up to the Reading Challenge organised by national charity The Reading Agency. Every child aged between 4 and 11 years who reads six or more books of their choice from their local library during the summer hols will receive a certificate or Olympic style medal for completing the challenge, plus stickers for every book they read along the way. This year’s theme is ‘Story Lab’ - set in a city hosting the Olympic Games. Research shows that children who take part in the Challenge go back to school with improved reading skills and a boost to their confidence.
Where: Various locations including London, Aylesbury, Windsor, Cheltenham, Ruislip, Bedford and Cambridge, Tommys.org/babyrace
When: July 1 to October
Tommy’s is a national charity, funding medical research into pregnancy complications - such as stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth. Organised with pre and post-natal fitness experts, Buggyfit, the Tommy’s Baby Races are a series of 8K events to run or power walk with your baby in the buggy. The routes all follow paths perfect for buggies in beautiful parks and each event begins with an aerobic warm-up, led by Buggyfit’s qualified instructors. At the finish line, each participant is awarded a fun-packed goodie-bag, which includes goodies from sponsors - Cow & Gate, Forever Friends and Jump. With children’s entertainers to keep little ones happy, the event is something the whole family can enjoy. Tommy’s asks each participant to try and raise £50 sponsorship.
Cost: Entry cost is £14.50, which includes a T-shirt, goodie-bag and training plan. Once registered, participants will be directed to set up a fundraising page that can be sent on to family and friends to raise sponsorship money.
Where: Cardiff, Nottingham and London Wembley Arena, Iceagelive.com
When: From 18 October (but booking now)
Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure is a groundbreaking arena show where everyone’s favourite Ice Age characters are brought to life, taking audiences on a jaw-dropping all-new adventure. Tickets are now on sale for the new production, set to celebrate its world premiere at Wembley Arena on 2 November - the start of a five-year global tour. This will be preceded by preview shows at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on 18 - 21 October and Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena on 25 - 28 October. (They’ll be snapped up fast, we predict, which is why we’re telling you about the tour now!). The show will include eye-popping effects, mischievous humour and toe-tapping songs as the loveable characters Scrat, Manny, Diego, Sid, Ellie, Peaches, Buck, Eddie and Crash embark on a journey of discovery with several new characters created for the live show.
Cost: From £20, (book online at Ticketzone.co.uk)
Where: Manchester, Nationalfootballmuseum.com
When: Opens 6 July
Be one of the first visitors to this new museum which promises to provide a world-class home for the greatest collection of football memorabilia ever assembled - including The 1966 World Cup Final Ball and the shirt worn by Maradona during the infamous ‘Hand of God’ quarter finals match between England and Argentina. There’ll be plenty for families including interactive games, simulators and a Discovery Zone for dressing up as a football superstar and even an interactive baby pod where pre-walking children can play and learn. Older children will love the Football Plus+ interactives. Step up to the spot and find out if you could hold your nerve in the Penalty Shootout. Or, if you fancy yourself as the next superstar goalkeeper, test you reactions and prove yourself as the top Shot Stopper.
Where: Peterborough Arena, Eastofenglandshow.co.uk
When: 6-8 July
Enjoy the region’s celebration of the countryside. Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th are family fun days. There’ll be a pets’ corner and heavy horse demonstrations, a Championship Dog Show, kids’ kitchen, food hall and an interactive children’s eco stand.
Cost: Adults: Fri, £10 Sat, £17 (including entry to the evening concert featuring X Factor stars Marcus Collins & Janet Devlin) Sun, £15. Under 16s: Fri, Free Sat, £9 Sun, £7. Under 5s: Free across all three days.
Where: At-Bristol, At-bristol.org.uk/ourworld
When: Opens July 20
This new interactive exhibition, funded by the SITA Trust, teaches us all about how nothing goes to waste in the natural world: volcanoes and bacteria made the air we breathe, oceans make sand from rocks, and plants are made from the gases we breathe out. Track up-to-date hurricane patterns on the interactive globe, present a weather forecast in the future, blast balls of air to see air currents and change the way water moves. Discover Living Timeline - using the latest technology, you’ll be able to meet little critters that respond to you and crawl onto your hands.
Cost: Adults, £12.50, Children, £8; Family of fiour, £35.
Where: Builth Wells. Rwas.co.uk/society
When: 23–26 July
Set in the heart of Wales, this show is not only about the cows and sheep! There’s live music, stunt and spitfire displays, craft stalls, pony shows and delicious food too.
Cost: Discounted online prices until 16th July, adult £19, child, £5, Family of five, £48.
Where: Newcastle and Gateshead, Eatnewcastlegateshead.com
When: 13-29 July
The festival opens with Cakebook Britain, an ambitious plan to create a 100sq metre map of Great Britain - made entirely of cake! There’ll also be a Food Adventure Playground, children’s cookery workshops, and live music and performance. Through the festival there’ll be masterclasses, eat-a-long stories for children with cup-cake decorating, rockpooling and fishing opportunities (fishy lunches included). The Big EAT! Weekend (Fri 27 - Sun 29 July) sees everything from a pop-up cookery school, Chilli & Beer Festival to a street food celebration and a Loaves and Fishes themed City Fête
Cost: For details of ticket prices for each event, see online.
Where: Weymouth, Dorset, Weymouth-tower.com
When: Open daily
Soaring 53 metres above the Weymouth shoreline, the new Weymouth Sea Life Tower offers an amazing bird’s eye view of the Jurassic coast and the Olympic/Paralympic Sailing Arena. Over a fifteen minute ‘sea flight’ the observation deck rises from ground level to full height as it slowly revolves to give full 360 views, before gradually descending again. Take in dramatic views of the Jurassic Coast, a natural World Heritage site, famous for its fossils.
Cost: £8 per ticket prebooked online. Or a joint ticket with Weymouth’s SEA LIFE Adventure Park starts at £72 for a family of four offering a 10 per cent saving on the regular walk up price.
Where: From YO! Sushi restaurants nationwide, Yosushi.com
When: Until end of August
We’re sure you’ll be putting together lots of picnics through the summer holidays so give yourself a day off from soggy sandwiches and grab one of these limited edition fresh feast takeaways from YO! Sushi. You get a free YO! Sushi cool bag and Frisbee with every £12 and £15 picnic purchased while stocks last. A £15, picnic contains two bottles of Asahi beer or bottle of wine, a sushi selection-sharing platter with crunchy prawn iso, tuna, salmon and prawn nigiri and the signature YO! Roll. To finish, there are dorayaki pancakes, or snackpacks of chilli rice crackers and wasabi peas. The £12 picnic comes with soft drinks instead. Kids will love the individual fish, meat or veggie bento boxes for £5.
Cost: From £5
Where: Vue cinemas nationwide, Myvue.com/offers-savings/kids-am
When: School summer holidays and weekend mornings
You don’t have to take out a second mortgage to take your family to the flicks thanks to Vue’s Kids AM scheme. Available on weekend mornings and throughout the school holidays, selected recently released family-friendly movies cost just £1.50 for children and accompanying adults alike. So a family of four can enjoy the latest kids films for as little as £6. Family tickets - based on four people - are also available for all screenings (even brand new releases) where everyone pays the child price.
Cost: Kids AM screenings, £1.50 pp for 2D films and £2.75 pp for 3D films.
Where: Cowdray Ruins, Midhurst, West Sussex, Cowdray.co.uk/historic-cowdray
When: 1st July
A chance to meet 18th century pirates and smugglers in an authentic setting, this family day will be full of dastardly activities, skirmishes between sworn enemies, combat and derring-do! Plenty of crafty activities to join in, and costumed characters to talk to, too.
Cost: Adults, £6.50, children, £3.75, family ticket (two adults and three children, £16.
Where: Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/dahl
When: 7 July
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Roald Dahl Festival in 2012 will be the biggest yet. A special day of family activities, theatre, dance and shows all to celebrate the work of the world-renowned author. All the amazing Roald Dahl themes covered over the last ten years will be brought back for one spectacular Roald Dahl Parade, with giant puppets and artwork made by children and young people in the local area. After the Parade, Aylesbury town centre will hold a host of entertainment, as well as the Dahl Games in Vale Park as part of London 2012 celebrations and Aylesbury’s legacy as the Birthplace of the Paralympics.
Where: Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly.gov.uk/bigcheese
When: 27-29 July
A weekend of food, fun, fire-eating and falconry and an extravaganza of street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, minstrels, troubadours and more, all set in the shadows of one of Europe's largest Castles.
Where: Harrogate, Greatyorkshireshow.co.uk
When: 10-12 July
Organised by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, England’s premier agricultural event attracts more than 130,000 visitors over three days to the 250-acre showground in Harrogate. Watch thousands of animals compete for the coveted red rosettes. But it’s not all about livestock. There’s juggling, plate spinning and clowning skills on offer plus other hands-on activities for all the family including off-road mountain biking, zumba, hip hop and cheerleading sessions, bread baking, hedge laying, stained glass making and environmental fieldwork.
Cost: Discounted advance tickets available until 9th July to book online at cost £20 for an adult, £9 for a child or £52 for a family of five.
Where: 27 sites nationwide including
When: Throughout the summer
Start the school summer holidays with a swing. Go Ape! Tree Top Adventure sites are situated in beautiful British forests where you can swing through the forest on zip wires, cross wooden walkways and bridges, climb tree-top ladders and fly through the air on Tarzan Swings whilst safely attached to a harness. Instructors are on hand to give a thorough safety briefing before you’re let loose on an adventure in the forest canopy. Courses are suitable for children aged 10 years old or above, and who are at least 4ft 7in (1.4m) tall and weigh under 20.5 stone (130kg).
Cost: Gorillas (18 years plus) £30, Baboons (10 to 17 years) £20
Where: Various venues including Ayrshire, Leicestershire, County Kilkenny, Leeds, Chapterhouse.org
When: July and August
Pack a pre-show picnic and take your seat at the Chapterhouse theatre open-air Garden Theatre Tour. Sleeping Beauty waits for her prince in a magical new version of this best-loved fairytale set in the 1940s and taking you on a thrilling journey all the way to fairyland. Come along in your favourite fancy dress outfit and join the parade during the performance.
Cost: Tickets range from £8 to £13.50, see website for details.
Where: Stoke Park, Guildford, Guilfest.co.uk
When: 13-15 July
This family festival features headlining acts like Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Olly Murs and Bryan Ferry, comedy, cocktail bars and boutique camping, plus a great Kidzone aimed at under 12’s with children’s theatre, circus workshops, refreshments, balloon makers, fun rides, face painting, costume making and more - the weekend culminates in a themed parade around the festival on Sunday, where kids get a chance to show off what they’ve been making. Expect VIP guest appearances from well-known children’s icons Postman Pat, Zak and Panzee and The ZingZillas. Right next door to the festival is the Guildford Lido – many festival goers visit for a swim or a sunbathe and use the showers in the morning, heading back to the festival for when the bands start at midday!
Cost: Tickets prices range from £35 - £135, with Under 12s free when accompanied by an adult) and reduced fares for Under 16’s.
Where: Moors Valley Country Park, near Ringwood, Dorset, www.moors-valley.co.uk
When: Daily until 16 Sep
Calling all Gruffalo fans! Enjoy a walk through ‘the deep, dark, wood’ following a family trail featuring characters from the well-loved children's story. There’ll be questions to test your knowledge of the story and nature using some of Axel Scheffler’s classic artwork en route. Plus the chance to try out some activities along the way - can you make a house for a mouse or collect a natural colour to match each of the characters?
Cost: A Gruffalo Trail Card costs £2. There are no admission charges to the park, however parking charges do apply and prices differ through the year and on how long you stay at the park.