Where: Dinefwr Park and Castle, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Dinefwrliteraturefestival.co.uk
When: 29 June to 1 July
An exciting three-day boutique and bilingual festival, new for 2012, with an eclectic mix of literature (see authors Philip Ardagh, Jeremy Strong and Jez Alborough), music, comedy, cinema and activities for children, against a backdrop of the beautiful Dinefwr Park. The line-up this year will include Howard Marks, Julian Cope, Sir Andrew Motion, Gruff Rhys, Gillian Clark and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans.
Cost: Day tickets, adults £25, children (6-16) £5. Weekend tickets, adults £65, children £10. Camping tickets are available for £20 per tent for up to four sharing.
Where: National Railway Museum, York, Nrm.org.uk/railfest2012
When: 2-10 June
If your little one loves trains, then a visit to Britain's biggest rail celebration might just be the ticket. There’ll be a grand gathering of over 30 record breaking locomotives from the past and present including Flying Scotsman, City of Truro, Tornado and locos from the modern industry too. Climb inside drivers' cabs, stand on the footplates and ride on trains big and small. Get up close to the fastest, strongest, smallest and newest locos, and catch rarely seen railway giants like snowploughs, leaf blowers and even a sail-powered railway vehicle. Plus chill out in the rail-themed under-6s area and Chuggington Activity Area browse the trade stands and check out the latest trains on the tracks.
Cost: Advance online tickets: Adults, £13, Children, £8. Family tickets available.
Where: Rochester, Rochesterdickensfestival.org.uk
When: 8-10 June
Celebrate the Dickens 2012 bicentenary at the Rochester Dickens Festival with costumed parades, street acts, a traditional children’s fun fair and readings. Friday 8 June is Children’s Day - there’ll be barge river trips, circus skills, dressing up workshops, dress-up and gurning competitions, magic lantern shows, a workhouse tea party and more.
Cost: Entry is free, charges for some activities.
Where: Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire, English-heritage.org.uk
When: 17 June
Dads and kids can battle it out in a hobbyhorse joust, join in sword training and try on armour in this special knights’ school for Father's Day.
Cost: Adults, £8, children, £4.80
Where: Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, Cornburyfestival.com
When: 29 June - 1 July 2012
The eclectic and eccentric musical carnival has been described as a ‘country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist’. As well as top class acts like Elvis Costello, Will Young, Jools Holland, Pixie Lott and Hugh Laurie, there’s masses on offer for kids in the Children’s Zone - a circus tent where kids can have a go at juggling, plate spinning and stilt walking, a magic show and skills class, ventriloquist show, dream drum sessions, eco music, kids yoga, clay-making, face painting and lots more.
Cost: Day tickets are £65 for adults, £30 for young people aged 13-16, £10 for children aged 3-12; Weekend tickets, £150 for adults, £75 for young people aged 13-16 and £10 for children aged 3-12.
Where: Polkemmet Country Park, West Lothian, Scottishowlcentre.com
When: through June
Visit one of the world’s largest collections of owls in the newly opened centre where you can get face-to-face with all sorts of wise owls including the giant Siberian Eagle Owl and the tiny Scops Owl. As well as flying displays you can also learn more about the habits and habitats of these beautiful birds in Professor Hoot’s Owl School, plus get your picture taken holding an owl and enjoy the adventure playground and picnic area too.
Cost: Adult: £7.50, Child (age 3-15): £5.50, Family (2+2): £24.
Where: Princes Park, Southport seafront, Visitsouthport.com
When: 8-10 June
This feast for food-lovers includes street food vendors, regional producers, live cookery demos, entertainment, plus a special Children’s Festival with a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, face painting, a Little Leapers Exercise Class, climbing wall, bouncy castles and chocolate fountains.
Cost: Free entry. Charge for some activities.
Where: Theatres nationwide including Hertford, Rotherham, Bromsgrove, Andyandmike.com
When: 2-30 June
Starring BAFTA-nominated CBeebies’ presenter Andy Day and comedy partner Mike James, this fast-paced show full of slapstick and songs tells the story of a magical and mysterious box that appears in Andy and Mike’s ‘fun pad’. Try as they might they can’t open the box so the boys must journey the skies and seas to try to find the password to the box but they need help - from an audience of house sitters! You’ll get to meet Poppy the Pet Porpoise, Andy’s Mum and the mysterious man in the TV and to help reveal the mystery of the Big Magical Box.
Cost: Ticket prices vary, see website.
Where: Jamie’s Italian Restaurants nationwide, Jamieloliver.com
When: Through June and onwards
Jamie’s Italian restaurants have always been kid-friendly (what little one wouldn’t love love their funky ‘viewfinder’ menus), but the restaurant has recently upped its game, with a fresh new children’s menu including tasty mini sliders (burgers made from beef and turkey mince), chicken lollipops and ‘happy fish fingers’ made with sustainable fish, as well as everyone’s favourite spaghetti Bolognese and ‘Mac ‘n’ Cauli Cheese’, homemade macaroni pasta with cauliflower béchamel sauce. Each new kid’s meal comes plated up on a chunky wooden serving board with a colourful Jamie’s Italian 'shake me' salad plus unlimited organic cordial. Kids get an ‘I’ve eaten my greens’ badge when they leave too. A relaxed atmosphere with delicious fresh antipasti, free-range meats and fresh homemade pasta with plenty of lovely fish specials means a trip to Jamie’s is not only a treat for kids, but us parents too.
Cost: Children’s menu, £5.95.
Where: Sensation, Dundee Science Centre, Sensation.org.uk
When: From 2 June to 30 September
Dundee Science Centre is bringing an exciting exhibition to the city. Meet fantastic robots and cyborgs from both film and television - from ‘Mars Attacks!’ to ‘Iron Man’, and ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Red Dwarf’. Play with robotic pets and be entertained by Robothespian: the only interactive humanoid, life-size robot of its kind in Scotland.
Cost: Day pass, Adult, £7.25, Child, £5.25. See online for Holiday Pass prices.
Where: The Brunswick Centre, London, http://www.facebook.com/thebrunswickwww.facebook.com/thebrunswick
When: 8- 10 June
Featuring Build-a-Biscuit Workshops where you can create your dream biscuit with a range of luscious fillings, bases and toppings. Plus watch the ‘Guerrilla Science’ show and learn about the role of the Biscuit in scientific exploration and discovery and try out the Best Dunking Biscuit Experiments. Design your own piece of Bisc-ART. Six of the best will be showcased on the day with one crowned the winner - whether it’s a portrait of the Queen made out of cream or a building made of bourbons. See the facebook site for how to enter.
Cost: Free entry.
Where: The Titanic Slipways, Belfast, Landofgiants.info
When: 30 June
Land of Giants will be the biggest outdoor arts show ever seen in Northern Ireland. It will feature state-of-the-art digital animation, dramatic special effects, fireworks, gravity defying aerial performances and a stage almost 200 metres long.
Cost: Adults, £10, Children, £6, and £28 for a family.
Where: Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham, Lincolnshire, Eastonwalledgardens.co.uk
When: 3 & 4 June
Walk around a picture perfect British meadow and orchard and learn the importance of protecting this natural landscape and the British wildlife it houses. There are art and craft activities, plants to buy, local food and drink producers exhibiting their wares, a demonstration beehive, ‘Bee Walks’, owl flying displays, plus you can even have a go at Morris Dancing and help to make a ‘bug hotel’.
Cost: Adults, £6.25; Children, £2.
Where: Excel, London, Senishow.com
When: 2 & 3 June
If your kids love karate, taekwondo, judo and more, then this is the day out for them. SENI (Japanese for fighting spirit) is an interactive live combat event. With workshops, demonstrations, tournaments and open mat sessions it’s the ultimate thrill packed weekend. Six expo zones include ‘the Box Fair’, the UK’s only boxing consumer event and the ’MMA Weekender’ for wrestling fans.
Cost: Adult, £20, Child, £10
Where: South Shields Seafront, Southtyneside.info
When: 3 Jun - 26 August
The South Tyneside Summer Festival is one of the biggest free music events in the UK, with live performances running throughout June, July and August and open to all ages. There’ll be large-scale concerts headlined by big name acts, brass band shows and outdoor gigs featuring regional and emerging talent. Highlights this year include performances from Scouting for Girls and Matt Cardle.
Where: Nationwide, Farmsunday.org
When: 17 June
Open Farm Sunday sees hundreds of farmers across the UK opening up their farms for visitors so you can soak up the scenery and really get in touch with the land. Each event is unique with its own activities - based around the farm’s own individual story. Activities during the day may include meet the animals, a farm walk, nature trail, tractor and trailer rides, pond dipping, children’s activities, a mini farmers market or picnics (and maybe even piglet racing!). Plus on some farms, there’s the chance to help out with the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey, which aims to find out more about how insects like bees, ladybirds and butterflies help with pollination.
Cost: The majority of events are free, but some farms may charge a small fee, see website for details.
Where: Nationwide, Trainwalk.org.uk
When: 2-10 June
Full steam ahead - and join in a Thomas & Friends™ themed sponsored walks in aid of The National Autistic Society (NAS) during Train Walk Week. You can organize your own walk or find one happening near you (see website) then join friends, family, neighbours and kids to make a train-like formation as you stroll along your chosen route. NAS has lots of ideas and materials to help give your walk a real Thomas & Friends feel too.
Cost: Free to enter
Where: Nationwide, Treasuretrails.co.uk
Treasure Trails make great days out for families and are a fun, alternative way of exploring the local area, giving you the chance to see things you may never have noticed before. There are three types of trail to choose from: Treasure Hunt, Murder Mystery or Spy Mission. Simply choose a trail online, follow the simple directions and route in your own time (this usually involves around two miles of walking). Hunt for the answers to the clues along the way; you’ll find them on monuments, buildings and structures. After you’ve solved the mystery you can submit your answer online or via the Treasure Trails Player on your smartphone to be entered into a draw to win £1,000.
Cost: From £5.99.
Where: Hendra Holiday Park, Cornwall, Hendra-holidays.com
When: 8-10 June
Aimed at providing a family camping experience for kiddies who have never camped, this annual event sees tents pitched around the perimeter of the Campout Field so that a 'village green' is created in the centre. Entertainment is provided on the Friday and Saturday evening including story telling, music and lots of family field games like welly wanging and parent races. Bring your own burgers to pop on the communal BBQ and sit around the campfire amongst haybales. There are free land-train rides with Henry and Henrietta Hippo who come for a visit to the Campout Field each evening.
Cost: £11 per adult and £6 per child for the whole weekend, including entertainment and a family ticket for Oasis Fun Pools complex.
Where: The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Wolseytheatre.co.uk
When: 15 June - 8 July
Performed by 'immersive' theatre company Punchdrunk, this live and interactive Dr Who adventure gets the audience in on the action. With no stage you are at the heart of the action. It's your story, your mission and you are the hero who can save the world - or can you? Family performances for ages seven to 12 and After Dark performances are for ages 13 and over.
Cost: Family shows, £20, After Dark shows, £25.