25 things to do with the kids
Don’t panic, stay strong, the summer hols will be a doddle with your must-read Muddy Guide. Stock up on wine, get planning… we will survive.
Schoooooooooool’s out for summer! *Reaches for the Tramadol with a gin chaser*. Weeks and weeks of fridge raiding, refereeing, ‘what are we we doing today?’ breakfast chat, peaking with a Kevin and Perry style ‘I’m bored’ strop. On a positive note, the weather’s nice. Take a collective deep breath, perhaps a picnic, definitely wine and your Muddy Guide. We’ve got your back.
Summer Festival, The Jelly Lounge Windsor, Fri 17 – Sun 19 Aug
What makes a festival? Food, music and glitter… lots of glitter. The pear cider may have been swapped for juice but the shorts are just as short at The Jelly Lounge’s inaugural Summer Festival, all aimed at the little people. Get your kids making street food in the mini chef sessions, there’s hair braiding and glitter face painting leading up to the headline act – the Muddy award-winning Concertini with CBBC’s Rob Castell performing music from stage and screen.
Multi activity days, Bray Lake Watersports, all summer
Ready, set… get wet. Drag your tech obsessed kids away from their screens and throw them out into the fresh air. Bray Lake Watersports near Maidenhead offer daily or weekly watery activities – sailing, paddle sports, windsurfing, or multi activity fun for kids 8+. Drop them off for the day, they’re occupied and you can get some work/ life admin done. Everybody wins.
Cookie Club, Top Treats Newbury, Sun 12 Aug
A shot of sugar and life is sweet. Top Treats in Newbury is running a workshop for ages 3+ to decorate their own giant cookie and mini cupcakes. Anything not eaten will be packed up and sent home. Chances of getting you hands on any scraps? Zero. It costs £7 and includes a hot drink for the adults. Top Treats is also running a mother and toddler session on Aug 22.
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Let your little blighters let off steam at Wellington Country Park near Reading. With 350 glorious acres to explore, adventure playground, splash pad and themed weeks – pirates and mermaids, unicorns and dragons, dinosaurs and the big inflatable takeover – it’s a guaranteed hit for those with younger children.
The Big Tree Climb, Cliveden Taplow, July and August
Fancy getting a new perspective on the world? The Great Big Tree Climbing Company will teach you and yours how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners (no idea what that is, let’s move on) before doing the fun bit and taking the zip wire back down. I humiliated myself on a zipwire (I will need 3 gins to spill that story) so have a go just for the laughs. Coming to Cliveden Wed 29 – Thu 30 August; Stonor Thu 9 – Fri 10 Aug and Hughenden Thu 30 Aug. Minimum age: 6.
Summer of Fun, Legoland Windsor, now – Sun 2 Sep
This way to the beach… As the Lego figures wrestle with their Love Island style short shorts and high cut wedgie swimwear, your kids can go wild at Legoland Windsor’s first ever Beach Party with pop music, activities, challenges, sandy beach, splash safari and drench towers.
Lagoona Aqua Park, Reading
If wallowing like a hippo in the water, isn’t your bag, head to Reading’s inflatable Lagoona Aqua Park in Pinewood Road South is massive! The 3,700 square metre area makes the second biggest in Dubai look like a paddling pool. There’s an obstacle course, and loads of watery activities including jet skis. If you’re not brave enough to hit Berkshire’s wild waters in a cossie, you can hire a wetsuit. Cost: £15 per person fro 50 minutess.
Fame The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Mon 3 – Sat 8 Sep
Fight your way into your leg warmers and leotards, and leap off your bed because Fame… I’m going to live forever, er, too much? Anyhoo, Fame The Musical based on the 80s TV series is coming to Reading! Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and rappers as they transform from star struck pupils to superstars.
Family fun, Stonor Park Henley, throughout summer
Hop across the border to visit, Stonor, one of the few privately owned estates in the area – and is still owned by the same Catholic family. William and Lady Ailsa Stonor live with their 3 children in the main house and this summer has a family-friendly flavour. Don’t miss Gifford’s Circus, Luna Open Air Cinema showing Moulin Rouge, Casablanca and Harry Potter and the Big Tree Climb.
Terrible Tuesdays, Runnymede Old Windsor, Tue 21 Aug
National Trust run Runnymede is the birth place of the Magna Carta. On 21 August, listen to King John’s sensational stories in the magnificent meadows that made him infamous. Suitable for children aged 5 and up. It’s from 11.30am.
T Rex The Killer Question, Longleat Safari Park Wiltshire, now – 3 Sept
Longleat is positively prehistoric – and no we’re not referring to Lord Bath (aristocracy’s answer to Hugh Hefner). T Rex has arrived at the safari park all the way from the National History Museum to star in T Rex: The Killer Question – a prehistoric installation of epic proportions; 8 animatronic models and static scenes will take you on a journey of discovery. But was Big T more of a scavenger than predator? You decide. Longleat.co.uk
Liquid Lesiure Windsor
Home to Europe’s largest aqua park, Liquid Leisure in Datchet, has long been the place to slide, bounce, jump, climb and get dumped into the water. Inflatable obstacles not your thing? There’s more – try wake boarding, paddle boarding, the banana boat and loads more. If your kids are older (8+ years) and you’re looking for a more thrilling experience, add it to your list.
Open air cinema, Cobbs Farm, Hungerford, Sat 25 Aug
Remember life before iPads? Oh, do we really need to go back to those dark days? Yes we do. Kids were footloose and fancy free up to mischief, adventure and initiations. Sounds good, when you can fit it in. But it’s worth reminding ourselves of what it’s all about and enjoy Chunk’s truffle shuffle one more time. It’s a classic, must-watch rite of passage and The Goonies is being shown at Cobbs Farm Open Air Cinema night. Doors open 7pm.
Open air cinema, Caversham Court Gardens, Caversham, Wed 15 & Fri 17 Aug
Merman meets mute maid, The Shape Of Water it’s a modern love story-fantasy flick that scooped up not one but four Oscars. There’s nothing fishy about this movie – well, apart form the amphibious man kept in a secret government facility, director Guillermo del Toro’s film is a clever and affectionate update of the classic monster movie. It all gets quite hot and heavy, and you may even leave having saucy thoughts (not ones that come with chips) for a fish. It’s got a 15 rating so one for older kids. Not your bag? How about Inception (Thu 16 Aug) with a hottie cast – Leornardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy – entering into dreams to steal secrets.
Dinton Activity Centre, Wokingham
Always wanted to join the Boaty McBoatfaces of Berkshire, messing about on the water? You don’t need a Lotto win, just the ability to have a laugh. Throughout the summer, Dinton Activity Centre’s running taster sessions in kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing. The taster sesh costs £20, pre-booking is essential and it’s suitable for adults, families and over 8s.
Life in the Dark, Natural History Museum, London, now until Jan 2019
Touch and smell the animals as you immerse yourself in a sensory journey into worlds where animals survive and thrive without light. How do they do it? You will find out! Feel your way through a cave full of fluttery bats and watch a deep sea light show. FREE for under-16s!
The Future Starts Here, V&A London, now – Sun 4 Nov
With phone obsessed kidults in mind, the V&A’s new The Future Starts Here exhibition is a brilliant day out with older kids. The V&A’s Sainsbury Gallery has been turned into an interactive playground of techy gadgets, detailed dioramas and video installations – there’s even a sandpit to run your RSI-riddled fingers through, an emotion-reading mirror, a self-rocking crib and a robotic cuddly seal designed to keep dementia-sufferers company. Basically, it’s the V&A does the Science Museum, and might even spark a conversation with your teen that’s longer than a series of grunts.
Superhero Academy, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Beds, Sat 21 Jul – Sun 2 Sep
Personally I prefer the breezy spaces of Whipsnade to the claustrophobia of London Zoo, and if you have young kids they’ll absolutely love the train ride, enormous play park, and the bird of prey and seal displays. This summer there’s also a whole load of activities and events to celebrate those superheroes who tackle threats to wildlife, plus a maze thats put Superhero Academy graduates to the test.
Bucklebury Farm Park, Bucklebury
You are going to be overdosing on cuteness at Bucklebury Farm Park. Who an resist the lure of newborn furry friends – and they don’t get much cuter than Anglo Nubian goat kids and new deer calves. Plus there’s go karting, whizzy slide, adventure course, bouncy pillow and so much more. On Aug 8 there is a special Teddy Bears Picnic in aid of Helen & Douglas hospice for children.
The Making of Harry Potter, Watford, Herts, until Sun 23 Sept
This WB Studio Tour company never runs out of new reasons to get families back to this paean to the boy wizard. A new special feature dedicated entirely to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth instalment of the magical film series, revealing secrets behind the characters, costumes and props that made it so special.
Glass workshop, Pisces Glass Creations Warfield, Tues 31 Jul– Fri 31 Aug
If the wether’s a bit meh, or you have a crafty kid, why not hang out and do something together. That’s right TOGETHER… Pisces Glass Creations has a fab studio at Moss End Garden Village, and Jackie’s running fun glass fusing workshops throughout the summer (Tues-Fri, 11am-1pm). Create and craft a glass coaster, creature or sun-catcher.
Go Ape, Swinley Forest Bracknell, open all year
No matter what the weather, if you want to get outdoors, get some fresh air and have some fun head to Swinley Forest and tackle the Go Ape course. You’ll enjoy a fun-filled hour exploring the canopy, trail blazing and tackling obstacles – finishing on the zip wire. The Junior Adventure is aimed at 6-12 year-old Tarzans, but if your child is under 6 but over a metre tall they can still join in.
Zombie Hunt, Thorpe Park, Sat 21 Jul – Mon 3 Sep
Tramadol at the ready if you’re going to join your teen in this live action battle with the walking dead. Basically it’s an elaborate laser quest from the Thorpe Park woodland back to safety of the the park. Only on during the summer, it sounds horrific. Your kids will love it.
Warwick Castle, War of the Roses Live, from Sat May 26
This spectacular castle is always a winner with Muddy and they are very good at luring us back. Not only is there the return of the live action show, War of the Roses (more stunts and tricks than you can shake a stick at) this August you can enjoy the new nighttime spectacular, The Dragon Slayer – fire jousting, light show and immersive supper. Add the regular birds of prey demos, the mighty trebuchet, archery and ramparts to rampage and it’s good value. (Top tip: if it’s a sunny day it might be worth your while to bring a picnic, you can queue for ages for food).
Zip Now London, Southbank London, now – Sun 9 Sept
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope it’s a human torpedo whizzing down a 738ft wire, 100ft above Archbishop’s Park at 50mph. Beats the tube anyway of the week. What we’ll do to avoid our faces been wedged in someone’s sweaty armpit. Get yourself down to South Bank, climb to the top the tower and wheeeeeeee. It’s not cheap – adults pay £22.50 and children get to ride it for £16.50. Suitable from 8+, book online.