Where: Alton Towers Resort, Alton, Staffordshire, Altontowers.com
When: Until 1st September
If you book a family short break between now and 1st September at the Alton Towers Resort, kids under 12 get free Theme Park and Waterpark tickets, overnight hotel stay (we recommend the Alton Towers Hotel with resident Pirate Bill on hand to entertain), plus breakfast and early evening meal.
It’s a great time to visit with kids because as well as the usual white-knuckle rides for you (if you’re mad enough), the park now hosts Ice Age The 4D Experience, a cinema show combining 3D footage plus physical effects such as icy blasts, snow and soap suds and more (we won’t spoil it for you!) Watch out for Sid and Scrat around the Alton Towers Resort, too. For fearless older kids and adults, try out the new Nemesis SubTerra experience. Again, we won’t let you in on everything that happens on this psychologically unnerving experience, but prepared to be terrified as you head underground to view an alien egg. Put it this way, you’ll want to escape. Finish off your day with a relaxing or manic splash in the Waterpark’s lazy river or Master Blaster water rollercoaster. Great fun.
Cost: From £155 per room, based on four sharing. This offer is only valid between for stays up to September 1st, with limited availability. See website for terms and conditions.
Where: Pets at Home stores, Petsathome.com/storelocator
When: Through the summer holidays
Join in the fun at a free pet workshop designed to teach children all about responsible pet ownership and pet care in a friendly environment. ‘Furry Friends’ workshops teach kids how to look after a variety of small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats or gerbils. The ‘Scales and Fins’ workshops will focus on reptiles and fish. Workshops take place at least three times a week and will last approximately 30 minutes. Children taking part in the Kids’ Holiday Pet Club will receive a free activity book, which includes puzzles and activities as well as stickers and a certificate after the workshop.
Cost: Free. Contact your nearest store for times.
Where: Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire, Nottinghamshire.gov.uk/robinhood
When: 13-19 August
Enjoy the intrigue and excitement of medieval times brought to life deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest. There’ll be jousting, archery, falconry displays, a medieval rat catcher, musicians and entertainers to transport you back to the days of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Where: Westonbirt Arboretum, Forestry Commission, Tetbury, Glos, Forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-treefest
When: 25-27 August
Join in family activities to discover the intrepid world of plant hunting, watch expert carvers create huge works of wooden art, enjoy live music and cookery demonstrations and join in woodland art and craft skill workshops.
Cost: Advance weekend tickets, £30 for adults. Advance daily admission is £10 for adults. Kids go free throughout the event.
Where: Varous West End Theatres, Kidsweek.co.uk
When: 1-31 August
During Kids Week (which actually runs for the whole of August), a child aged 16 and under can go free to any participating West End show, when accompanied by an adult paying full price. You can also purchase up to two extra children's tickets at half price per transaction. There’s also a great range of free activities and events such as Q&As with the stars, song and dance workshops on stage and sneak peeks behind the scenes. Shows taking part include The Lion King, Horrible Histories and Shrek the Musical.
Cost: Free to children accompanied by full-paying adult
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Green-events.co.uk
When: 26 August
This international sporting event takes place annually in a dense peat bog on the outskirts of the smallest town in Great Britain. Competitors have to complete two lengths of a 60 yard trench of the peat bog in the quickest time possible wearing snorkels and flippers - and without using any conventional swimming strokes. Yuck!
Where: Various locations nationwide, Mariecurie.org.uk/walkten
When: Through August
Take part in a 10k summer evening twilight walks taking place at 25 beautiful locations across the UK, such as stately homes and parks. After each walk, there will be fun activities such as fireworks, picnics and live music throughout the evening to celebrate the work of Marie Curie Nurses. All funds raised will help Marie Curie Nurses provide more free care to people with terminal illnesses in their own homes.
Cost: Registration is £10 per person (children go free)
Where: Cardiff Bay, Doctorwhoexperience.com
When: Through August
Step through a crack in time and join the Doctor on this brand new walk through adventure. Escape from the Daleks, fly the TARDIS and come face-to-face with some of the Doctor’s scariest monster enemies. Featuring exclusive filmed sequences with Matt Smith and packed with special effects this multi-sensory experience is fun for the family. There are also original Dr Who costumes, props and monsters on display.
Cost: Advance tickets: adults, £13, Children, £9
Where: Market Place, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, Thisishelmsley.co.uk
When: 1st Aug
Celebrate Yorkshire-themed fun, games and goodies from flat cap throwing and a Yorkshire Pud-off to WI demos, North York Moors National Park Ranger interactive displays and children’s entertainment. A Yorkshire Recipe Recycle will showcase the best menu ideas the region has to offer, and there’ll be locally produced goods including food, drink, jewellery and artwork.
Cost: Free entry
Where: Compton Hall, Fakenham, Norfolk, Jellyfestival.com
When: 17-18 August
A music festival that ‘breaks the mould’, this ‘Banquet of Sound’ and summer entertainment includes Folk, Indie, Funk, Soul, Reggae and Swing bands to keep people wobbling to the beat. Kids will love the Jelly Monster, a children’s field filled with fun fair rides, music and puppet making workshop.
Cost: Saturday Day ticket, £29.50, Saturday Day plus Camping, £44.50 Saturday Day ticket plus Friday & Saturday camping, £49.50. Kids 12 and under go free.
Where: Rode Hall Park, Cheshire, Justsofestival.org.uk
When: 17-19 August
This boutique, weekend-long festival of creativity aimed at children, young people and families won Green Parent Magazine’s Best Family Festival last year. With breastfeeding tents, baby change facilities, baby bath time, family-friendly food, a sling library and buggy park, we can guess why. Enjoy music, games, stories, juggling, trapeze, make your own den workshops, pillow fights, sensory baby experiences (even clay pot making for tiny tots!)
Cost: Day tickets, £25 adults, £12.50 children.
Where: Various events in Scotland, Visitscotland.com/brave
When: Through August
The new Disney Pixar Action Adventure “Brave” - in cinemas from August 13th - is set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland and follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). To celebrate the film, Disney Pixar is collaborating with Scotland’s national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, to provide some “Brave”- inspired activities to pursue on a visit to Scotland. So you can practice Archery like Merida at Beecraigs Country Park, explore mythical forests at The Hermitage, Perthshire or be Be King of the Castle at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven. For lots more ideas, visit the website.
Cost: Various prices
Where: Ashton Court, near Bristol, Bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk
When: 9-12 August
Watch hundreds of balloons take to the skies, plus special shapes balloon displays, the world famous Bristol Nightglow, where balloons glow in time to music, fireworks, balloon flights (book in advance), plane stunt shows, an Entertainment village plus a special visit from Optimus Prime from the Transformers.
Where: Regent’s Park, London, Lollibopfestival.com
When: 17-19 August
This three-day event is the UKs only festival where the entertainment is all for children. The Big Bash for Little People up to the age of 10 includes live performances from Dick and Dom, the ZingZillas and the Mr Men & Little Miss Party Roadshow. Moshi Monsters will also be on site, there’s a ‘Disco Shed’ and a Science Museum zone to bring some education to the mix.
Cost: £22 per person
Where: Millets Farm Centre near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Milletsfarmcentre.com
When: Throughout August
Millets Farm’s Maize Maze has over three miles of pathway covering eight acres. This year, the maze takes the form of ‘The Animal Games’ (although the shape of the maze will not be unveiled until the opening at the end of July Millets Farm can reveal that there will be a host of animal Olympic themed games to play in the three individually designed mazes). Other activities on the farm include a nautical zone, featuring a wooden fort maze, pedal go-karts and a woodland hunt. Torchlight Evenings where families can enter the mazes and test their navigational skills by night take place on selected summer evenings from the end of August until the end of the maze season.
Cost: Adults, £6, Children, £5.50
Where: John Rylands library, Library.manchester.ac.uk
When: 12 August
An opportunity to take part in wizarding fun! Have a go at making your own wand, mixing potions, transforming yourself (with facepaint) and even following the trail of the Order of the Phoenix to join Dumbledore’s Army. A screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix follows and there is the chance to win a special prize for the best Harry potter themed fancy dress of the day.
Cost: Free, but booking is essential
Where: Various shopping centres nationwide, Cartoonnetwork.co.uk/ben-10-event
When: Through August and September
Cartoon Network wants your help to build a giant alien and to set a new world record. You can be part of the world record attempt by adding your brick to the alien - Bloxx - who will be visiting a new shopping centre every Saturday from 4th August (find out where Bloxx will be on the website) getting bigger and bigger along the way. ‘Bloxx’ is one of 10 new featured aliens in the brand new series of hit show Ben 10: Omniverse, which premieres on the network this autumn. To take part in The Alien World Record challenge you can bring your own plastic brick (Cobi or Lego) to place on the giant sculpture or choose a brick from the existing selection at the event. The tour kicks off in Glasgow on 4th August, and the final sculpture will be taller than a double decker bus.
Where: Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield, Sheftival.com
When: 4-5 August
Try Olympic sports for free at this festival combining music and sport. ‘Sheftival Live’ is a free Olympics viewing zone at Don Valley Stadium. ‘Sheftival of Sport’ in the English Institute of Sport offers lots of free ‘have-a-go’ sports activities, demonstrations and tournaments including Sheffield Eagles tag rugby, pop-up boxing rings, futsal, an inflatable hockey ring and more. The ‘Tramlines Main Arena’ stages a music festival and outdoor pop concert - tickets are required to access this part of Sheftival. The line up includes Joe McElderry and The Lightning Seeds.
Cost: Adults, £12, Children, £10.
Where: Battersea Park, London, Gorillacircus.com
When: From 1st August
London’s first outdoor trapeze school - Gorilla Circus - is setting up its second full size trapeze rig in the heart of Battersea Park (This will be in addition to their current site in Regents Park) Pop along for a thrilling class or book a longer course to progress your flying skills. The site is located in the shadows of the Millennium Athletics Arena, an official Olympic training and preparation venue, so you can watch athletes prepare for the games and get a panoramic birds’ eye view of London as you fly through the air.
Cost: £23.50 for a two-hour class. Book ahead to be sure of space.
Where: Various course nationwide, Lovetheraces.com
48 racecourses are letting children under 16 in for free through the school holidays at over 200 race events. Family days not only feature racing, but there’s usually extra entertainment ranging from from fun fairs and face-painting, to magic shows and appearances by children’s TV characters like Peppa Pig and George.
Cost: Adult admission starts from £4, children go free.