Days out while school’s out

With parents spending £468 entertaining their kids during the school holidays, we’ve hunted out the best this summer


The summer holidays are looming once again — and if you’re racking your brains about how to enterain the kids for six long weeks, we’ve tracked down the summer’s highlights, as well as great days out in London and across the country.

Cheer Team GB

The World Athletic Championships are coming to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from August 4-13, with more than 3,300 athletes battling it out for medals on the spot where the 2012 Olympics played out. Adult tickets from £20, child tickets £9.58 — matching Usain Bolt’s 100 metres record time.

Discover dinosaurs

Walk with the dinosaurs this summer — more than 30 animatronic models are touring the UK as part of the Jurassic Kingdom attraction, from a roaring T-Rex to its flying, grazing and fighting companions. It’s running in Manchester until July 23 before moving to Blackpool from August 3-13 and Glasgow from August 26-September 10. Tickets £9.50 for children, £11.50 for adults.

Or see the real thing in Nottingham at the Dinosaurs of China exhibition in Wollaton Hall until October 29, featuring fossils and specimens not seen outside Asia before. £5 for children, £7 for adults.

Open Harry Potter’s wardrobe

After opening up the Forbidden Forest to visitors earlier this year, the Warner Bros Studio Tour is launching Wizarding Wardrobes from July 21 to September 4, showcasing thousands of costumes created during 10 years of filming the Harry Potter movies. As well as discovering how to make ghost costumes appear transparent, visitors can see how initial designs changed over time. Tickets £39 for adults, £31 for children.

Relive history

With 2,000 years of British history crammed into one open-air show, Kynren — an epic tale of England, is back to Bishop Auckland this summer, after being called one of the world’s ‘top 10 must-see tourist attractions’ last year. The action on stage, the size of five football pitches with a lake at its centre, follows Romans and Vikings via Tudors and the Industrial Revolution to the Second World War, featuring more than 1,000 volunteers. Tickets cost from £19 for children and £25 for adults.

Family festival

The Udderbelly and Wonderground festivals have combined for this year to form the new Underbelly Festival at the Southbank until September 30.With live comedy, circus, cabaret and family entertainment — including a street dance Jungle Book — there’s also street food and live music. Ticket prices vary.

Or head to Rode Hall in Cheshire for the eighth Just So festival, from August 18-20, an arts camping festival dedicated to children and families, from literature and theatre to dance, music and comedy. Tickets from £50 for adults, £20 for children.

Lashings of picnics

Celebrating Enid Blyton’s birthday on August 11, and 75 years of the Famous Five, the four RHS Gardens -—Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire — will be holding a giant picnic party. Each garden will have family activities from adventure trails to writing and craft workshops, along with storytelling. Entry prices vary.

The exhibitions

London is being taken over by the Romans this summer, with the three-month-long Londinium programme, celebrating the city’s heritage. Running from July 28 to October 29, events range from storytelling at the Museum of London to family fun days at the Guildhall Art Gallery, including a mini dig at the Amphitheatre Family Fun day on August 8-9, and the Gladiator Games from August 25-28 at Guildhall Yard. See for more details.

Or discover life below the waves at the Natural History Museum’s new Whales: Beneath The Surface exhibition, with more than 100 specimens from the museum’s research collection on display for the first time — plus the chance to get up close to a double decker bus-sized sperm whale. Runs July 14 to February 28, tickets from £7.50 for children, from £11.50 for adults.

London’s newest heritage attraction, the Postal Museum is opening on July 28 in Clerkenwell, including interactive family play space Sorted! for under-eights, as well as five centuries of history following Britain’s earliest social network. Adult tickets cost £16, entry to Sorted! costs £5. 

Best of the rest

The Robots exhibition at London’s Science Museum looks at 500 years of attempts to create humanoid robots, with more than 100 on display. Adults £15, children £13, to September 3.

Or meet robotic animals at the Horniman Museum’s Robot Zoo until October 29, including a squid with 18 foot tentacles. Adults from £7, children from £4.

Sci fi lovers can venture Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction at the Barbican Centre until September 1, with more than 800 works from science fiction. Adults £14.50, children from £5.

And Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition runs at the O2 until September 3, with props, models, costume and art from the classic movies. Adults from £20, children from £10.

Art & Culture

Kids Week returns to the capital, with one child free at many of London’s most popular shows alongside a full-price adult ticket, plus two more child tickets half-price. There are also activities staged by some of the casts. From August 1-31, prices vary.

And along with its ongoing Amy Winehouse exhibition, the Jewish Museum has several workshops aimed at kids over the summer. The Spoken Word with Sonority Turner workshops on August 2 look at song lyrics and how to write and perform spoken word poems, children £5. Or 12-16-year-olds can sign up for the Animated Museum from August 14-17 to learn the secrets of stop-frame animation, priced £15.

Explore Wonderland as you search for Alice at The Vaults arts space near Waterloo, with two immersive story experiences — Alice’s Adventures Underground for 11+ and Adventures in Wonderland for over fives. Until September 23, tickets £39.

Or use augmented reality to discover more about the artworks in this summer’s Polish exhibition at the Ben Uri gallery, celebrating Polish artists in Britain. Further summer activities are planned, visit for the latest details.

Best of the rest

Explore London’s cultural explosion at the Guildhall Art Gallery’s free #Londontrending exhibition until August 28, or relive the music and design of Pink Floyd at the V&A until October 1, £20-24.

At the V&A Museum of Childhood, the free Seen But Not Heard exhibition features images showing children as they prepare to leave primary school and move to secondary school.

And The Adventures in Moominland exhibition at the Southbank Centre has been extended to August 20, for ages 7+ £12-18.

For more ideas on events in London, check out the family activities here.

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