25 fun things to keep the kids entertained this summer
Schooools out for.... erm... ever it feels like, but at least we can sack off homeschool and do some some fun stuff. Here's 25 fab ideas to keep the little ones off their screens. For a bit.
THEATRE AND FILM
“Hang spring cleaning” and get the kids down to Evenley Wood Garden, for a colourful outdoor performance of Wind in the Willows at Uncle Geordie’s Shed. There are measures in place to enable safe social distancing, but still plenty of opportunity for audience participation and singing along to the toe-tapping tunes.
Expertly coiffed facial hair, brightly coloured socks and, err, bicycles. The Handlebards Present Romeo and Juliet on the grass at Lamport Hall – the tiddliest Mudlets might not quite follow the story but it’ll be bang on the money for tweens and teens. The Handlebards always guarantee a lorra lorra laffs and some hilarious audience participation. You can even pre-order your champagne picnic hamper and a gazebo. Pass the scotch eggs.
If you didn’t know that drive in cinema is the new socially distanced must-do activity then where have you been hiding? Delapré Abbey plays host to a summer season of movies from Northampton Filmhouse including Jurassic Park, Mary Poppins, Paddington and The Lego Movie among many others.
Movies by the Lake is an outdoor cinema event at Stanwick Lakes, which will be showing Moana and Dirty Dancing this weekend, plus loads more thoughout the summer including Toy Story 4.
OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE ADVENTURES
When the weather is dry and sunny is there anything more fabulous than messing about on the river? SUP Oundle and River Spirit SUP in Ringstead both offer group and private 121 paddle boarding trips along the glorious River Nene. You can even take you pet pooch along for some sessions.
Canoe2 at Rushden Lakes are our go to for a peaceful paddle on the river. Once you leave behind the shoppers you’ll soon find yourself immersed in glorious countryside and splashing about next to swans, herons and moorhens. You can also book overnight trips with camping or B&Bs all booked for you.
The Easter Bunny is late for a very important date. If your Mudlets were gutted to miss out on their annual Easter egg hunt this year, then they will love this. Clever old Evenley Wood Garden have laid on (geddit?) an Easter Eggstravaganza to make up for it from 23-26 July. Just make sure the chocolate all gets gobbled up before it melts in the sunshine.
The Weedon Project bouldering gym at The Royal Ordnance Depot have re-opened for very limited numbers, with a maximum of 6 climbers per session which means you get plenty of space to yourselves, and you can even book the whole place out for a group of you.
West Lodge Farm Park in Desborough is officially open, with 500 acres of walks and nature trails to tire out the Mudlets, plus piglet racing, small animal handling, goats, ponies, sheep, pony rides and a giant adventure playground, there is easily a full day’s worth of activities for your little ones here. Bring a picnic or grab lunch at one of the three on-site food hubs.
The menagerie at Castle Ashby Gardens has meerkats, marmosets, pigs, goats, rabbits, ponies and an aviary, plus there’s a fantastic play area, acres of grounds to explore and a cafe with plenty of outdoor seating for a well-deserved, socially distanced slice of cake.
Fresh air and healthy food they will actually eat, what’s not to love? Grange Farm in Harpole have still got plenty of strawberries to pick and the raspberries are starting to get going too. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours with the kiddos and, if they haven’t eaten them all by the time you get home, you can always get jammy in the kitchen (careful of the hot sticky sugary stuff though) or knock up some summer tarts. Easy peasy…
Dovecote Farm Buttery in Newton is a country style restaurant and farm shop with loads of outside seating and a kids’ play area where you can also spend an hour or two picking strawbs in the sun (crosses fingers).
MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS
Built by William the Conquerer, historic Rockingham Castle garden and grounds are open, with the flower borders putting on a colourful display of scented roses and lavender and a wilderness woodland perfect for explorers to run amok. The views from Rockingham across the surrounding landscape are magnificent and make for a perfect fortress for your marauding hoards. There’s also a tea room with plenty of outside space.
The Museum of Rural Life at Lamport Hall is most kids’ idea of absolute heaven, with working farm machinery from a bygone era on display. There’s also an exhibition on the history of the house and estate, plus ten acres of gardens to explore, so bring a picnic.
A potter along the tow path at Stoke Bruerne is a summer staple and, whilst the Canal Museum is currently still closed, you can now enjoy narrow boat journeys through the Blisworth Tunnel aboard the two resident boats, Charlie and The Indian Chief from 25 minutes long up to 6 hours, and there’s always a pub meal at the Boat Inn when you return.
The stunning Grade I listed gardens and working kitchen gardens at Holdenby House, as well as the falconry centre and tea rooms, will be open to visitors every Sunday from 2 August, as well as bank holiday Monday, pre-booking is essential.
Sulgrave Manor has re-opened its impressive Tudor doors to the public. You’ll need to pre-book a timed slot, but there’s plenty to enjoy at George Washington’s ancestral home with kids’ activities that change each week, including an Olympics themed trail.
Be sure to book a slot for National Trust Canons Ashby, where the kitchen gardens are starting to fill up with pumpkins and summer fruit, and there are kids’ treasure trails to enjoy inside the house too. You can also enjoy a number of circular walks in the surrounding park and farmland.
Boughton House, often referred to as the English Versailles, will open on 1 August for the gardens and parkland only, which must be booked in advance. There is plenty to enjoy outside at Boughton though, with historic 18th century gardens and a more modern 21st century landscaping project offering loads of space to run around in and burn off some energy.
The Gardens and cafe at Coton Manor will be open every afternoon except for Mondays and you do not need to book in advance. The gardens are stunning but we obviously go for the flamingoes and the fabulous courtyard cafe, which is a delight to sit in on a sunny summer’s day.
The walled gardens and Orangery café at Delapré Abbey in Northampton are now open for pre-booked tickets, with the house itself due to open to visitors on 7 August. There are a whopping 500 acres of parkland to explore here, so bring your comfy shoes and let the kids run wild.
ART AND CRAFT
Illustrator Katie Cardew has produced a brand new workshop, the ‘Draw With Katie Kids Club’ designed for children and young teenagers. A 50 page A3 book, broken down into 6 weeks worth of drawing exercises, interactive pages and ‘how-to’s’ to get your children drawing this Summer. Each week has a different theme, from pets to people, minibeasts, food and buildings, all designed to build confidence and skills.
Naseby Summer Vintage Festival takes place on 25-26th July with social distancing measures in place. There are loads of fun family activities and stalls from pet and farm animals to antiques and salvage, wellbeing, artisan food and drink, local producers and home decor. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a summer’s day.