Most of the activities in this article have reached us as emails. We have not checked them for accuracy, and (with one exception) we are not offering them as recommendations based on experience. We include them because they look interesting.* Siblings Together
* Westonbirt Arboretum
* 101 Holidays
* Alnwick Castle
* The New Forest
* Woburn Safari Park
* Museum of London Docklands
Siblings Together founded the first ever siblings camps and projects in the UK 2007 and since then they have supported children aged 8 to 18 in a variety of locations across the UK, through our camps and arts performance programmes at the Young Vic Theatre Waterloo and Temple Druid in Pembrokeshire. The Prince’s Trust venture staff have worked closely with their teams.
They present a refreshing therapeutic approach, facilitating essential contact for children and young people separated by care, kinship care or adoption, and they prioritise children whose lives are lived in transition and who often face unimaginable isolation and loss upon leaving care. They offer challenges and exciting adventures for young people within a safe accepting environment to be themselves. Projects are managed by a highly skilled youth workers, arts therapists and other professional volunteers, including social workers, youth workers, musicians, poets, performers, ensuring a well balanced integrated team service.
As a new venture they now offer monthly sessions at the Leaside Trust Centre, Clapton, London, where children can learn new skills, partake in energetic and creative ventures and challenges, such as canoeing, mountain biking, orienteering, art, photography, film, performance and music. All activities are accessible.
Although our programme are free for all looked after young people, Siblings Together are seeking sponsorship and funding for their work. Referral forms can be downloaded directly from our website www.siblingstogether.co.uk.
This summer, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is helping families to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Forests with free admission for children from 23 July to 31 August and a host of activities exploring the hidden life of forests.
Families can take part in a programme of exciting activities throughout August, finishing with the ultimate celebration of trees at Westonbirt’s new summer Bank Holiday event, Treefest.
Uncover wildlife from mini-beasts and mud to fungi and roots at Life Beneath our Feet, 2-4 August. Look closely with microscopes, add to the large soil artwork and create crafty creatures to take away.
Discover the giants of the forest with Tree Architecture, 9-11 August.
Look inside a tree to tell the story of its life, explore the tree’s transport network with microscopes and help create a giant trunk from clay bark tiles.
Become a green detective at Growing Green, 16-18 August. Find out why our forests are green and the importance of the colour for all forest wildlife. Make giant leaves from willow and tissue paper and create leaf art to take home.
Leading up to and part of Treefest (26-29 August) explore trees from around the world with Forests for the Future, 24-29 August. Take part in a forest quiz, connect your thoughts to the ‘tree for the future’ and take part in a different craft activity each day.
Find out more about summer activities at www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-families.
The latest out of the 101 Holidays stable – a new dedicated family holidays website which has just gone live – www.101familyholidays.co.uk.
In celebration of the last Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows : Part 2, being released in cinemas in July, Alnwick Castle – AKA Hogwarts – is celebrating all things Potter!
Become a whimsical magician at one of the Castle’s wizardry weekends, learning how to handle magic wands, create magic potions with Hagrid and Dumbledore and dress as your favourite JK Rowling character! Wizardry magic will be taking place every weekend throughout the summer holidays.
And magicians won’t be the only mythical characters lurking around the Castle grounds this summer, medieval monsters will also be making an appearance. An enormous 10ft high animatronic dragon, with smoke bellowing from its nostrils, will be lurking around Alnwick Castle during Dragon Quest weekend (13 and 14 July).
To keep those dragons at bay during July and August, the daily Knight’s Quest is back by popular demand, with dragon-slaying challenges professional jousting lessons and archery.
If you’re struggling to think of ways to keep the kids entertained this half term, why not book a last minute Keycamp holiday to the beautiful Vendee region of France, for a week of family fun. With prices starting at just £330 per party, including travel – there’s some great last minute deals just waiting to be snapped up.
A popular and lively parc, perfectly situated next to a sandy beach – Keycamp’s Les Genets is a winning holiday destination for families seeking an action-packed break.
There’s an array of sporting facilities on offer, from cycling and volleyball to tennis and badminton. Plus, the on-parc pool complex complete with waterslide and lazy river provides endless hours of splashing good fun for the kids. Meanwhile, parents can relax in the parc’s very own Jacuzzi, or enjoy a drink from the welcoming bar on the outdoor sun terraces.
A seven-night break from 28 May for a family of two adults and up to four children staying in a two bedroom Villagrand mobile home will cost just £330 per party, including a return Dover to Calais ferry crossing.
Keycamp’s La Forêt parc is set in the peaceful grounds of a nineteenth century French château – providing a tranquil holiday escape for families wanting to enjoy the great outdoors and catch up on some rest and relaxation over the half term break.
With two pools, three fishing lakes and a wealth of on-parc activities such as mini golf and horse riding, there’s no end of things to do for kids big and small. Sightseers can sample the delights of a quintessentially French village, just a ten-minute stroll away in nearby St Julien-de-Landes. Plus, an on-parc bar set in ivy-clad stables provides a relaxing sanctuary for adults to unwind after a busy day of family fun.
A seven-night break from 28 May for a family of two adults and up to four children staying in a three-bedroom Grand 29 mobile home with decking will cost just £365 per party, including a return Dover to Calais ferry crossing.
Alternative ferry crossings or fly-drive packages are available through Keycamp at a supplement.
For further information, or to book, call Keycamp on 0844 406 0319 or visit www.keycamp.co.uk.
Eureka! in Halifax is designed especially for children age 0-11, with over 400 hands-on exhibits inspiring them to learn about themselves and the world around them through imagination, play and discovery. For visitor information call 01422 330069, visit www.eureka.org.uk, read the Eureka! blog, All in a day’s play, become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
The New Forest
The New Forest provides the opportunity to go as green as you like – arrive by train or park your car and take a tour in an open-top bus. Enjoy the freedom and all the pleasures that make great summer holiday memories. Get close to nature with wildlife adventures in the heart of the forest or feel sand underfoot on glorious, open beaches.
The New Forest is only 90 minutes from London Waterloo and taking a journey on a train can be a fun start to any family holiday. Jump aboard the open-top hourly New Forest Tour and use it as your guide to see the best of the forest from the highest possible vantage point! As well as the original route from the centre to the coast (June 25 to September 18), a new red route is being launched to take visitors from the heart of the New Forest to the beautiful Avon Valley and back (July 23 to September 4).
Step into a whole new world of forest life. A walk through idyllic forest glades can be a do-it-yourself ramble along one of the myriad of trails which criss-cross the National Park – or you can follow a ranger on one of the calendar of walking events throughout the summer. Try an impromptu bug hunt en route to get children looking closely at the wonderful wildlife around them. All you need is a stick to lift logs on the forest floor and let them discover a whole bug world they never knew was there.
If you take your bikes, or hire them when you arrive, the New Forest has over 150 miles of way-marked car-free cycle tracks which get you close to the wild deer, ponies, cattle and pigs which enjoy the right to roam over ancient woodland and wild heathland.
The New Forest has 43 miles of coastline, and Lepe Country Park is a great setting for a family day out, being popular for walking, swimming, fishing, windsurfing and bird or boat watching with stunning views across the Solent from its mile of beach, pine fringed cliffs and wild flower meadows. The children’s play area, picnic and barbecue sites are all free of charge.
For more information log on to www.thenewforest.co.uk.
Woburn Safari Park
Woburn Safari Park is a fantastic day out for families and animal lovers alike. For a day packed with animal encounters and wonderful wildlife, visit with over 80 species of animals. Drive through the park and enjoy unparalleled close encounters with some of the world’s most magnificent and endangered animals. Woburn also incorporates an Abbey, Golf Course and Gardens. It is the ideal destination for a glorious and iconically British day trip, which are all part of the Duke of Bedfordshire’s Woburn Estate and perfect for any Summer days out you might be planning.
Museum of London Docklands
Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story, a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands focuses on the legendary privateer turned pirate, Captain Kidd. The exhibition reveals the surprising truth of how London’s corrupt political activities were entrenched in piracy. Captain Kidd’s execution was on 23 May 1701 in Wapping.
From cannons and hidden treasure maps to female pirates and gibbet cages, the exhibition explores the myths and mysteries surrounding common perceptions of pirates, together with 17th and 18th century English society, including gruesome ritual executions and the greed and manipulation of the infamous East India Company.
Having just visited this Museum, we can vouch for this one. It follows the history of the docklands from the beginnings of Roman Londinium through Saxon, Viking and mediaeval times, showing the growth of trade in sugar, slaves and other commodities, and ending with the blitz and modern London. Well worth a visit, and nicely laid out.
For further information visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk.