Stuff to do for kids of all ages this summer
What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster? Well, yes, it's the summer holidays to be precise and if you don't want to hear "I'm bored" 30, 546 times a day from here on in check out our essential guide to keeping the teens, tweens and tots entertained all summer long.
Searching for an active holiday club for your woodlanders? Muddy Feet returns to Evenley Wood Garden for various dates in July and August. Ideal if your kids love being outdoors, having adventures and letting off steam. They’ll learn shelter building, fire skills and natural arts and crafts, whilst you can relax in the knowledge that they’ll be ravenous enough to eat all of their supper by the time they’re handed back to you. Suitable for ages 5 and up.
A day out at Rushden Lakes is about much more than shopping, especially if you’re juggling teens who want to shop and youngsters who need a bit more entertaining. Try one (or all!) of these fantastic activities to burn off some of that small person energy: 360 Play is an indoor soft play centre where the tiddlers can scramble around safely while you relax enjoy a coffee (that’s how it works, right?); Canoe2 offer canoe and kayak and pedalo hire, allowing the adventurous to get out on the River Nene, or the more sedate to have a potter about on the lake; Flip Out is an indoor trampoline and inflatable park suitable for all ages from toddlers to adults; Paradise Island Adventure Golf has two 19 hole golf courses set in a tropical island paradise with a maze of obstacles to overcome; and Rock Up is an indoor climbing centre with a stonking 26 fun climbing walls to scale suitable for kids age 4 and up. Plus there’s always the Nene Wetlands Nature Reserve, with picturesque walks around the lake and sculpture trails to explore. There’s enough here to keen them entertained for the whole week. Then make sure you head to Jurassic Grill with the littles for a dino-themed dinner. Mini palaeontologists will love the fun menu, which includes a Where’s The Goat? burger and Footprint Pizza. Not sure if Chris Pratt will be on hand to serve tables but I’ll take my chances.
Warts and All Theatre, based at Delapre Abbey in Northampton, are running a week long Film-Making Fun workshop for 8-13 year olds from 2-6 August and a Wilderness Week from 23-27 August with loads of outside activities and and making thrown in.
A free Dinosaur Crafts Workshop for younger kids on Saturday 24 July at Northampton Museum and Gallery will coincide with an epic Dinosaur takeover of Northampton town centre, offering kids the chance to meet some larger than life VIP guests and get involved with entertainment throughout the day. Make a mini dinosaur, dinosaur tail, mask or a pair of dinosaur feet to stomp around in.
Running on 9th and 10th July at the Royal and Derngate, The Masks We Wear is a brand new musical compilation of scenes, songs and ideas written and performed by young artists exploring the complexities of who we really are and the masks we hide behind. Great for teens.
Core Create, the young theatre makers at the Core at Corby Cube have put together an exciting production called Hopes and Dreams, which is inspired by their ambitions for the future. Looks set to be optimistic and uplifting – exactly what we’re all in need of right now. Wednesday 7 July.
Shakespeare comes to Wellingborough on 13 July with a slapstick and feel good performance of The Comedy of Errors at The Castle Theatre, in which a downward spiral of chaos finally gives way to a gloriously happy ending. Just the way we like it.
More Shakespeare incoming on 17th July, with Illyria performing their uplifting production of Much Ado About Nothing on the beautiful lawns at Lamport Hall.
On Tudor History Day at Rockingham Castle ( 25 July) visitors can get to know some famous faces from the past including the six wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, whilst Civil War History Day (8 August) and Medieval Jousting Day (15 August) look set to be fab family days out, especially of you’re a clan of history nerds like the Muddy Crew.
This summer sees the loong awaited re-opening of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery , following its massive re-development project and it is set to be one of our favourite hangouts from here on in. With the largest collection of shoes and shoe heritage in the world plus loads more historic collections, modern art and a fab new cafe and shop, it’s a great place to take the kids for a day of culture. Open daily and free to visit.
Head to the Royal and Derngate in Northampton for The Whisper Tree, a free audio performance that guides you and your Mudlings as you walk through nature in Becket’s Park. Starting out at the R&D, you’ll follow a beautifully illustrated map, created by the brilliant Fridge Street, as you’re immersed in the story of Rory and Tilly’s adventure to find the Whisper Tree. You can also book online workshops (available for 7-8 or 9-13 year-olds) to accompany your adventure.
Delapré Abbey in Northampton is a great day out with the kids. There are so many inspiring elements at Delapre from the Mudlets’ perspective, not least of which is the Stable Yard, which houses the brilliantly engaging, Battlefield Rooms. Visitors are immersed in a compelling, interactive experience that tells the story of the War of the Roses through the experiences of the women and children living through it. There’s also 500 acres of parkland and gardens to explore.
Strictly star and founder of Soo Yoga in Northampton Kristina Rihanoff will be hosting a Family Wellbeing Fair on Saturday 18 July in Becket’s Park alongside Professor Pilates, to raise money for The Lewis Foundation cancer charity. Book in advance for a day pass for all classes and talks or you can give a donation to browse the stalls. Expect face-painting, yoga and dance classes, sound baths and talks. Perfect for those anxious or stressed kids and teens (and parents).
Fancy some supercharged fun? Here’s one for the speed freaks and Hamilton fans, The Silverstone Interactive Museum has a fab kids’ trail, interactive cinema and a journey through the past, present and future of motor racing.
Sound the adrenaline klaxon! Head to at Wicksteed Park in Kettering where you can spend the day bingeing on rides like the Water Chute, Dropslide and Dinosaur Valley and explore a whopping 147 acres of parkland and boating lakes.
Dino thrills at The Deco on 14 & 15 August, as Jurassic Earth Live comes to the stage with animatronics, close encounters and an opportunity to get up-close and personal with some mahoosive monsters.
But that’s not the end of the wild action at The Deco. 11 August sees The McDougalls in their brand new live show Safari Adventure. Dress up as your favourite animal for musical mayhem, giraffes that laugh, monkeys going bananas and plenty of interactive fun for younger children.
GET FURTHER AFIELD
Willen Lake in Milton Keynes is a dead cert and has a flash new watersports centre with posh changing rooms and cafes. Go for canoeing, wakebording, windsurfing, swimming and other watery shindigs.
Coders will love learning about the code breakers at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes but younger kids will be more interested in this summer’s teddy bear trail inspired by Alan Turing’s teddy bear, Porgy. Pick up a map and find the bears hidden in secret locations around Bletchley Park. Adults £21, teens £12.50, under 12s free.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford, is a guaranteed hit with kids who love all things furry, creepy and crawly. It has the little fellas – penguins, lemurs and reptiles – as well as the big guns, including lions, zebras, rhinos and giraffes (try out the Giraffe Walkway where you can stroll up to eye-level with the animals). There’s also the adventure playground and children’s farmyard, although the mini railway is still temporarily closed (that’s your pre-visit tantrum avoiding warning).