Keep the whole family entertained on days out with the kids in 2024

Playful toddler having fun during family hike

by Rebecca Lancaster |
Updated

If your children are in school you might be looking for things to do in the summer holidays to keep them entertained. Even if your children are younger, you'll probably want to spend summer days out enjoying the longer, and hopefully sunnier days. Luckily, there's a jam-packed calendar of events going on across the UK, from jousting to festivals, and fantastic ideas for days out with the kids.

While some of these are ticketed events, we've also sourced a selection of free or low cost family days out to make money go a little further this summer. From following in the footsteps of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest to tracking the Gruffalo or creating your own interactive storybooks with Apple, there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained, without spending too much.

If you're heading out for the day, you'll want to be prepared so let's be optimistic and pack sunscreen to protect your little one's delicate skin. But of course, as it's the UK the weather might not always play along, so make sure to pack the kids' waterproof rain coats and jackets and you'll be able to make the most of any activities, come rain or shine.

From days out with toddlers to entertaining teens, there's no end of options for family days out. Read on to discover our ideas for days out with the kids this summer.

Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent

Step back in history this summer as the Knights of Royal England don their armour and battle it out in the saddle and on foot in one-to-one combat. Expect exhilarating displays in an authentic arena complete with a Royal Box, where you might catch a glimpse of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

There's the option to either watch the action from your own picnic blanket or watch from the medieval spectator stands (£2.00 per seat, payable on the day on a first-come, first-served basis). Kids will love picking their favourite knight and cheering them on as they battle in an attempt to be crowned the season’s ultimate champion. You can even track your favourite's progress through the season on the Jousting League Table.

Not only can you expect medieval adventures, but Hever Castle's adventure playground is one of the best adventure playgrounds in the UK.

Weekends from July 13th - September 1st 2024

Entrance to the Jousting Tournament is included in a Gardens Only or Castle & Gardens admission ticket

Norfolk and Devon

Coloured powder being thrown at Bear Grylls' Gone Wild FestivalGone Wild

Combining live music from the likes of James, Sam Ryder and Ocean Colour Scene with outdoor adventures including archery, SUP boarding and coasteering, this is the ultimate family adventure festival (line up and activities vary). Hop in a kayak, take on an obstacle course or learn how to light a fire without matches from the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, before settling down and listening to inspiring speakers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Running across two weekends at Holkham Hall, Norfolk and Powderham Castle, Devon, this family festival from Bear Grylls is ideal for mini-adventurers.

Norfolk, Holkham Hall: 8-11th August 2024
Devon, Powderham Castle: 22-25th August 2024

Alnwick, Northumberland

Fire-breather at Alnwick CastleAlnwick Castle

One of the UK's most iconic castles, Alnwick will be familiar to Harry Potter fans as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films, and this summer's activities promise to be just as entertaining. From longbow demonstrations to mediaeval falconry and interactive shows from the Silly History Boys, there's an exciting schedule of events planned for all the family.

Watch as two of the country’s finest and longest established historical falconers create a fantastical display with their birds, be entertained by the tomfoolery of the castle's resident jester, or learn about the the role of an artisan in the Medieval and Tudor period.

Various dates throughout the summer.

Halifax, Yorkshire

Pixel Play at Eureka! HalifaxEureka!

Perfect for a rainy day, this digital exhibition is a brilliantly interactive installation that invites families to become part of the art. If you’ve got little ones who can’t sit still, let them jump, dance and move around and see how thousands of tiny particles respond on a huge projection screen. Move about the room and watch the illuminated geometric shapes follow your every move like a giant kaleidoscopic shadow or dance about and watch the pixels move.

Eureka! isn't your normal museum, this is one especially for children aged 0-11 (though they do let grown ups in too to share the fun). With six unique zones to discover, and 400 hands-on exhibits, it lets little explorers find out about themselves and the world around them through play.

Pixel Play runs from 18th March - 31st December 2024

Edinburgh, Scotland

Singsing Bathtub and Fernando, the Space Elephant at Edinburgh FringeEdinburgh Fringe/David Monteith-Hodge

It’s easy to get the kids excited about the Edinburgh Fringe this year with plenty of child-friendly performances on offer. There’s tonnes to choose from but very little ones will enjoy the puppets in All-New Crazy Puppet Magic Show and the incredible display of the Amazing Bubble Man, while older kids will appreciate the comedy of Magic & Crazy Stunts with Frisco Fred.

The buzzing streets, filled with street theatre, visitors and the occasional bagpiper, will keep children occupied even if you're not watching a show, and walking them to the top of Arthur's Seat will tire them out nicely for bedtime.

2nd - 26th August 2024

Battersea, London

Split image of the inside of the Battersea power station lift 109 and the view from the topMother&Baby/Digital Writer, Rebecca Lancaster
Price: Child's ticket from £12.60

lift109.co.uk

For an unbeatable bird's eye view of London, head to the newly restored and revamped Battersea Power Station. As well as an exhibition offering an insight into the history of the iconic London landmark, you'll travel up one of the four towers in a glass lift that pops out of the top for a 360 degree view of London.

Mother&Baby's Digital Writer, Rebecca, experienced this with her 7-year old and both were awed by the view, which takes in Wembley, the Royal Albert Hall, Canary Wharf, the City, the Shard and many other famous sites. Rebecca said "while it would certainly have been better on a clearer day, the view is spectacular. The information in the exhibition was a little lost on my 7-year old but she loved the interactive nature of it, and my 10-year old would have gotten more out of it. I'd have liked to have more time at the top, as you only get seven minutes, but the whole experience was fascinating." The on-the-day ticket prices are higher so we'd recommend planning ahead and booking in advance to get the best value from this experience.

Battersea Power Station is also a great destination for a day out - two large board games are set outside, with handy deck chairs for parents to take a little breather while the kids play, and the Power Station is full of shops, restaurants and a cinema so there's plenty to keep you occupied. A kids play area sits behind the Power Station, so you can easily spend the day here. For an added something extra, why not take the Thames Clipper boat to Battersea Power Station Pier - there's step-free access so it's easy for prams.

Henley

Performer at the Playdate at Henley FestivalMother&Baby/Commercial Content Writer, Laura Healy

Part of the weekend-long Henley Festival, the Playdate at Henley Festival is a Sunday morning of fun and entertainment especially for little ones. While the rest of the Festival has a Black Tie dress code, the Playdate is rather more low-key (you can put your toddler's tux away). Gates open from 10am until 1.30pm with a schedule of entertainment that includes award-winning comedian, Jonny Awsum, Twistopher's Punch & Judy, a kids' Silent Disco, face painting and a Bubble Fairy. Wannabe performers can learn circus skills in a workshop, nature fans can meet Zelva, the amazing giant tortoise, and budding artists can experiment with different techniques as part of a live doodle jam.

Mother&Baby's Commercial Content Writer, Laura Healy recommended Playdate, saying "the Henley Festival family day is great fun for all ages. We have been a few years in a row now and there is always entertainment for both older and younger children with a varied programme of acts. Throughout the festival site there is constant wonder with stilt walkers, giant bubbles, and one year beautiful life sized butterflies which glided through the crowds. Not forgetting face painting, magicians, music and plenty of choice for food, drink and of course ice cream. Located on the banks of the Thames, spending time at the festival is a fun family day with lots to see and do in an idyllic setting with boats moored along the banks, and families enjoying food and drink while soaking up the atmosphere. For a day out, we love attending with our young children who look forward to it every year."

Sunday 14th July 2024

Doncaster, Yorkshire

Giraffe at Yorkshire Wildlife ParkMother&Baby/Senior Digital Writer, Samantha Ball

While the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a brilliant day out with kids at any time, there's a fantastic line-up of special events over the Summer holidays, including Indiana and Bones Breakfast Adventure, a Night out at the Zoo, Wild Live Weekender, and music from JLS and jessie Ware.

Hear from the lion rangers, see the largest collection of Polar Bears in England, spot giraffe foraging in the treetops, and walk along the elevated platforms to watch the tigers play. With multiple play areas, an extraordinary diversity of wildlife, and Real Ranger Experiences (bookable at an extra cost), there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained for a whole day out.

Mother and Baby's Senior Digital Writer, Samantha Ball, is a regular visitor to the park and bought annual passes as every time they go there's something new and different to see. "We love the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, there's plenty of rest areas and places for kids to play along the way, and there are areas to bring your own picnic. They have a huge range of different animals and even a walk-through dinosaur area! It's a large zoo, but everything feels easy to get to and it's easy to push a pram along too!"

Various dates in July and August

Nottinghamshire

Visitors to the Robin Hood Adventures at Nottingham CastleNottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle combines museums, galleries, gardens and caves, along with thrilling tales of Robin Hood, an adventure playground, cafes and shops. From the Nottingham Lace Gallery to the immersive and interactive games that let you pretend to be an outlaw in the Robin Hood Adventures, the castle hosts a wealth of activities and experiences for all ages. It's located in the heart of Nottingham, within walking distance of the train station so it's easy to get to and children under the age of 15 are admitted for free (adult tickets are £15). Even better, your entrance ticket allows entry for a whole year so you can return as many times as you like.

If visiting the castle gets your kids excited to learn more about Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest has a Robin Hood Festival running this summer, scroll down to find out more.

Read our full Mother&Baby review of Nottingham Castle

Watford, London

Dragon Alley set at Harry Potter - Warner Bros Studio Tour Warner Bros Studio Tour

Wizards and witches in training, or fans of the Harry Potter books and films are in for a treat with The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studio Tour, London. Wander through the spectacular Great Hall, stroll along Diagon Alley, see the costumes and learn all about the special effects that added the magic and drama to the films. There are also special exhibitions coming up built around the Dark Arts and Hogwarts in the Snow.

Tickets do book up far in advance, especially during the summer holidays so it's worth planning around 6 months in advance for this experience. It's suggested that you'll want to spend around 3-4 hours there, so bear this in mind when booking tickets as it's often the later entry tickets which are left but these might not allow time to explore as much as you want!

The Studio Tour is pushchair friendly and there's also a Parent and Baby Room with a nursing chair, a baby changing unit and space for a pushchair.

Birmingham and Manchester

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre - Merlin's Apprentice RideLEGOLAND Discovery Centre

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre describes itself as the 'ultimate LEGO indoor playground' and Mother&Baby's Digital Writer, Rebecca, agrees after visiting the Birmingham centre a few times. "It's perfect for rainy days (and we've had a few of those this summer!), with a few rides, plenty of LEGO and a small soft play area." She goes on to say that "it's got something for all ages (apart from very little ones of course, who you'd have to watch closely!) with a ramp where you can make and race your own car, a LEGO Friends build area, a play space space for under 5s and a fun ride." The 4D cinema is a particular highlight, with various showings of different films throughout the day, all involving a 4D experience - expect to get a little wet!

With a Half-Price Kids ticket offer meaning little ones can visit from just £12.50 this summer, there's never been a better time to go to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre! There are centres in Birmingham and Manchester.

Alton Towers

Cbeebies LandAlton Towers

After celebrating its 10th Anniversary earlier this year, Cbeebies is still a firm favourite with kids. From the chance to meet Bluey to heading off on an Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure with Captain Barnacles and his crew, a day out with kids at Cbeebies Land is a chance to experience all their favourite characters. Cbeebies Land is part of Alton Towers, so even older kids will be happy with a day trip.

And if you needed any more reasons to visit Cbeebies Land and Alton Towers this summer, they're offering £19 kids tickets this summer for visits from 8th July - 3rd September (ticket numbers are limited so book soon to take advantage of this offer).

If you want to make it more than a day, the Cbeebies Hotel has some fantastic themed hotel rooms which are perfect for kids (and big kids!)

London

Paddington Bear ExperiencePaddington Bear Experience

Explore Paddington's world across multiple, immersive rooms in this experience at County Hall, on London's Southbank. You begin your adventure in the hustle and bustle of Paddington Station and step aboard the full-sized train carriage that takes you through the sights and sounds of London to the Brown’s house at No. 32 Windsor Gardens. Help Paddington and the Brown Family prepare for the Marmalade Day Festival, and explore the house before travelling further afield to the jungles of Peru. Top off the Paddington Bear Experience by joining the celebrations of the Marmalade Day Festival at Windsor Gardens with Paddington and his friends.

From 31st May 2024

Low cost family days out

Apple stores worldwide

Designed for kids aged 6-10, Apple Camp is a free educational programme hosted in Apple stores around the world throughout the summer. This year’s Apple Camp is a 90-minute experience called “Create an Interactive Story of Kindness,” where campers get to make their own storybooks around what kindness means to them. Kids will have the opportunity to draw, record sounds, add fun 3D shapes and more using the Pages app on the all-new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil Pro.

This workshop is a chance for kids to both test out their tech skills, practice creative storytelling and explore ways to visualise their ideas about acts of kindness. At the end of the session, families can share their projects using AirDrop to be displayed for everyone to enjoy, and every family will leave the session with an Apple Camp t-shirt and their very own book as a keepsake to treasure.

Sign up for notifications to get the latest up-to-date information on Camp.

Apple Camp sessions in the UK will become bookable on 5th August and sessions will then run from 11th August until 8th September

Trails across England

Little girl looking at the Gruffalo Trail boardForestry England

The Gruffalo turns 25 this year and this summer you can head out on a Gruffalo Party Trail to find missing party items and complete fun woodland activities and rubbings along the way that will teach little ones about the forest and its inhabitants. When you get to the end, remember to take a photo with the Gruffalo as a little keepsake!

There are trails across England where you can pick up a £4 trail activity pack full of party necessities, including a kraft bag to colour in, pencils, a party headband, party trail activity leaflet, stickers and a keepsake sew-on Gruffalo Party patch.

Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

2024 marks the 38th Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest and this year promises more spectacular displays of jousting, medieval hand-to-hand combat, historic re-enactments, comedy, music and more. Activities and events take place every weekend through August, including a horseback jousting display by the Knights of Nottingham, circus skills performers, potion-making workshops and archery.

With the exception of certain activities, the festival is free. Parking is £15 per car on certain event days.

If you're in the area, why not visit Nottingham Castle - scroll up to find out more about the museums, galleries and Robin Hood Adventures children and families can enjoy.

3rd to 26th August 2024

Rebecca Lancaster is a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby, drawing on ten years of parenting her two children to help others navigating their own parenting journey. As a freelance writer, she spent ten years working with leading lifestyle brands, from travel companies to food and drink start-ups, and writing everything from hotel reviews to guides to the best British cheeses. She’s particularly interested in travel and introducing her children to the excitement of visiting new places, trying different foods (less successfully) and experiencing different cultures.

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