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Things to do with the kids this summer

Stuck on what to do with your children for SEVEN whole weeks? Breathe deep, Muddy has you covered with the best bits of Northants and beyond.

La-la-la!!! That’s the sound of me with my fingers in my ears and eyes firmly shut – I mean, the school holidays can’t be happening, can they? Oh God, they are happening! And if you don’t want to hear “I’m bored” thirty-seven zillion times a day from here on in check out our essential guide to keeping the teens, tweens and tots entertained all summer long.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

family festivals northants

Lo-fo indie festival Shambala at Kelmarsh Hall (25-28 Aug) isn’t big on household name music bookings for its 12 (yep, 12!) stages but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at and it’s very family friendly.

Also happening on the August Bank Hol (26-29 Aug), Greenbelt Festival at Boughton House is a celebration of diversity and culture like no other, where spiritual meets secular and nurtures everything in between, with music, performing arts, literature, comedy, spirituality, workshops and children’s entertainment.

PARK LIFE

wicksteed rocky river falls northants

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. Plus 16 July sees the return of Wicksteed’s annual Soapbox Derby, with competitions for both kids and adults (*Makes quick call to Mercdes-AMG F1 Team*).

Budding palaeontologists can channel their inner Jeff Goldblum this summer on a Jurassic style adventure to Dinosaurs in the Park at Delapré Abbey from 21 July – 7 Aug. You’ll meet life-sized animatronic dinosaurs as the Dino Trail winds its way past Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Velociraptor, T-Tex and loads more as well as learning dino facts. There’s also plenty of other fun dinosaur activities, as well as food and drink. It’ll be roarsome (sorry).

On 13 & 14 Aug you can also head to Delapré for Funtopia, designed for under 10s and taking over the grounds of the Abbey with a fun-filled event featuring bouncy castles, an obstacle course, inflatable slide, bungee run, giant games, Space Hopper races and more – all included in the price of your wristband! There’s also food court and live entertainment

MUSEUMS AND HERITAGE

shoe museum

Stomp around Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, one of our favourite local hangouts and it’s FOC. Even better. The museum boasts the largest collections of shoes and shoe heritage in the world, representing Northamptonshire’s historic shoe industry. With a whopping 15,000 plus loads more historic collections, modern art and a fab cafe and shop.

Delapré Abbey makes a fabulous day out for kids, especially the extensive grounds and the Stable Yard, which houses the brilliantly engaging, Battlefield Rooms where visitors are immersed in a compelling, interactive experience that tells the story, not just of the downfall of the King in the Wars of the Roses, but the experiences of the women and children living through it too.

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.

You can see the English Civil War come back to life at Rockingham Castle‘s Civil War Day on 7 Aug, as an Officer of the Garrison shares his tales of derring do. Kids and history buffs will love this one-of-a-kind event.

STAGE AND SCREEN

pantaloons on stage at canons ashby

The brilliantly funny and anarchic theatre company The Pantaloons take on Shakespeare’s timeless summer comedy of masks, music and mistaken identities, Much Ado About Nothing, in an open air performance at National Trust Canons Ashby on 16 July. Bring a picnic and rugs or picnic chairs.

Every kid, geeky or not, must surely love Horrible Histories? Well here are some of history’s most horrible figures, as the Terrible Tudors tread the boards at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough from 5-7 Aug. From the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth, hear the legends (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. Find out the fate of Henry’s headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. Meet Bloody Mary and see Ed fall dead in his bed. Survive the Spanish Armada as they launch their attack! It’s history with the nasty bits left in!

Enjoy a summer’s evening on the lawns at Rockingham Castle for an outdoor performance of Pride and Prejudice on 11 Aug. You can brings along a picnic to scoff in the gorgeous surroundings and lose yourself in this classic love story. Is it still on the A-level English Lit curriculum? Say it is!

On 20 Aug, Quantam Theatre heads to National Trust Lyveden for an outdoor performance of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Grab the kids, a blanket and a picnic and settle in for a magical evening of family fun.

Luna Flix outdoor cinema is back in the spectacular grounds of Boughton House at the end of the holidays, with screenings of The Lost City (12A) on 2 Sept and Encanto (U) on 3 Sept.

ANIMAL MAGIC

penelope peacock

West Lodge Farm Park in Desborough has 500 acres of walks and nature trails to tire out the tiddlers, plus piglet racing, small animal handling, goats, ponies, sheep, pony rides, peacocks (including the rather characterful Penelope, above) 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. Rookery Open Farm in Stoke Bruerne is another fab hands-on experience for kids, with farm animals to feed, a petting area, tearoom and loads of indoor and outdoor play activities.

Head to Holdenby‘s Icarus Falconry Centre, where you can see a collection of thirty Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Buzzards, Owls and Vultures, learn all about them and see them fly on every open day. Both King James I, who owned Holdenby and Charles I who was imprisoned here, loved falconry and would have practiced it here. You’ll also get to meet Roxy the Fox, Norma the Hedgehog, Neil and Neon the Rats and other members of our county’s native animal kingdom plus Sly and Simba the tortoises.

OUTDOORS

wappenham farm sunflowers

Wappenham Farm’s brilliant sunflower patch and maize maze are back this year from 20-29 Aug for PYO sunflowers (last year I hauled home practically the whole field) and a really impressive maze with fun facts for kids to find as they explore. There’s also a pop-up cafe, straw-bale stack for intrepid climbers and farm animals to feed.

Take your favourite bear to Rockingham Castle on 21 Aug for a Teddy Bears Picnic! Meet Goldilocks and the Three Bears and take part in a Teddy Bear Trail around the stunning castle grounds. Perfect for younger kiddos and their humans.

SUMMER CAMPS

Northants school summer holidays clubs camps

And if you want something for your kids to do all day without you being with them, try these for size. Nene Extreme Adventures, located at Oundle Wharf, runs holiday clubs where kids can take part in a huge range of adventurous activities incouding canoeing, kayaking, SUP, raft building, climbing, archery, bushcraft, shelter building, fire making and cooking.

 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.

Play In A Week at The Castle Theatre in Wellingborough from 25-27 July is a fab opportunity for avid performers from 6-11 years to perform Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book on the Castle Theatre stage, learn new skills, meet new friends and develop themselves as a performer. Throughout the sessions they will rehearse the show, make props and costumes, and then finally perform on stage to their families.

Kings Camps are running week-long sports clubs at Northampton High School in Hardingstone throughout the summer holidays. There are separate activities for different age groups, tailored for children from 5-17, and they offer a huge range of different sports and games, including swimming. Ultimate Activity Camps also run holiday clubs for kids ages 4-14 at Beachborough School in Westbury, offering a wide range of activities from sports to survival.

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