This Morning: Simon Calder discusses summer holidays
The summer holidays are just around the corner. While kids can’t wait to finish the school year, parents are anxious about keeping their children busy for six weeks. Not sure where to take them? For inspiration, Express.co.uk reveals the 19 best places to go with children during the summer holidays in England.
Thorpe Park Resort
Thorpe Park is a classic summer holiday trip for kids and adults alike.
It’s the UK’s most thrilling theme park, but there are rides for every age group.
Don’t miss out on ParkVibes, Thorpe Park’s brand new summer event for 2021.
The event is running every day from June 21 to July 25 and invites thrill-seekers to spend a day hopping on and off the rollercoasters, whilst soaking up the summer vibes with street dancers, live music, limited-edition menu items, and street entertainment.
The UK’s First Black Mirror Experience has also launched at Thorpe Park this year, and anyone over 13 can give it a go if they’re brave enough!
This twisted, sensory-defying maze puts you at the core of the Black Mirror universe and it wants to keep you there… your mission is to escape!
Buy tickets to Thorpe Park here
Head to Plymouth for the day in the car, on the train or on the Ferry to explore everything this seaside town has to offer.
Take the kids to see the breath-taking scenery of Dartmoor national park, tour the deserted Drake’s Island, visit the National Marine Aquarium, or climb one of the historical fortresses or lighthouses in the town.
Fancy getting close to the water? Go wakeboarding, coasteering, kayaking, paddleboarding or even just chill by the beach.
Alternatively, take the kids to Tinside Lido! The outdoor saltwater pool has been voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe.
If you want to take it easy while the kids play, the lido features a sun deck, which is one of the best places in Plymouth to soak up the sun.
READ MORE: The 9 places to go with kids this summer holiday in Scotland
The 19 places to go with kids: Stuck for ideas? Here’s 20
The 19 places to go with kids: Thorpe Park has a whole range of fun planned
Cornwall theme parks
If you’ve got slightly younger kids and you’re heading to Cornwall, Camel Creek Family Theme Park is a must!
At just £13.95 per person with kids under 92cm going free, this is an affordable family day out as part of a weekend in beautiful Cornwall.
The park has special guest appearances throughout summer such as Official Hey Duggee, Peppa Pig and George, PJ masks Catboy and Owlette, Minions Duo Bob and Kevin, PAW patrol Duo Chase and Marshall and Trolls Duo Poppy and Branch.
There’s a stream and peaceful picnic area to eat your lunch and spend time completing the trail map to try and win a prize, and of course, there’s roller-coasters and rides!
The park even has animal attractions, so you can visit the crocodile Corner with caimans, lizards, snakes and frogs, the Shire Horse enclosure where you can get up close with these gentle giants. not forgetting the emus, pigs, meerkats and deer at the Camel Creek.
If you’ve got older children or you’ve got young thrill-seekers, try Flambards Theme Park in Helston, Cornwall.
Flambards is open daily during school holidays and many Wednesdays and weekends in between with a mix of rides and outdoor attractions for all ages.
It’s not too expensive either, with adults going for £19.95, children for £14.95 and infants for free.
Wilderfest at Chessington (Kingston upon Thames)
Chessington has just announced a new music festival called Wilderfest and it will run from Saturday, July 24 to Tuesday, August 31.
Children of all ages will love the theme park, zoo, aquarium, live music from acts like Lady Rara and Led Zebra, roaming entertainment, street food and themed hotels.
Don’t forget to go on the resort’s brand-new ride, Croc Drop, the 25m drop tower straight into the jaws of Egyptian Crocodile God, Sobek.
If you want to spend the night with the kids, why not enjoy a night under the stars with Explorer Glamping?
Prices start from £37 when pre-booked online (under 3’s go free) and Wilderfest runs each day from Saturday, July 24 to Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 10am to 7pm.
Buy tickets to Wilderfest
The 19 places to go with kids: Wilderfest at Chessington is on till August 31
The 19 places to go with kids: Monkey World or any zoo or wilderness park will be great fun
The Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre is a 65-acre ape and monkey sanctuary and rescue centre near Wool, Dorset.
Home to hundreds of monkeys, chimpanzees and more, the primate rescue centre boasts an array of animals to see – including the largest group of chimpanzees outside of Africa, three groups of orang-utans, five different species of gibbon and 14 species of monkeys and prosimians: capuchin monkeys, common marmosets, Geoffroy’s marmosets, cotton-top tamarins, patas monkeys, red-bellied guenons, ring-tailed lemurs, white-faced saki monkeys, slow loris, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, stump-tailed macaques, unknown marmosets and woolly monkeys.
Children can let off some steam at three adventure playgrounds, and learn more about the animals with daily Q&A sessions.
Tickets start at £45 for a family with two adults and children.
Lightwater Valley is a theme park in Ripon, North Yorkshire that is open daily during school holidays and on weekends.
With more than 30 rides and attractions, there’s a whole host of fun adventures to be enjoyed, especially the new attraction for the 2021 ‘Go Safari’.
Alongside rides, there’s a net walk, swan boat, vintage car rides, and more, all for £18.50 per person.
Birdland Park and Gardens
If your kids love birds and you’re going to the Cotswolds, there’s no better place than Birdland Park and Gardens.
Meet over 500 birds from magical owls, large cassowary and rare species such as the Waldrapp Ibis.
Spot flamingos, pelicans, cranes and waterfowl that live in our riverside habitats with many more inhabiting more than 50 aviaries.
You’ll also get the chance to see England’s only breeding group of King Penguins and the comical Humboldts and meet hornbills, village weavers and many more amazing birds from across the continent.
Get your tickets for £10.95 per adult and £7.95 per child.
Goodwood Motor Circuit Supercar Event
The Supercar Event at Goodwood Motor Circuit is a great day for the whole family!
The event takes place on 24 July and a family ticket for two adults and two children aged 4-16 starts from £35, with under 4’s going for free.
The event offers the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime passenger ride in one of the 150 world-class supercars that are present, as well as a wide range of fun activities and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.
This includes helicopter rides, young drivers school, a drive in the Sussex countryside with Sporting Bears Dream Rides and so much more!
Try the Supercar Driving Experience at Goodwood Motor Circuit
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Art of Banksy London
The Art of Banksy is a trip suitable for every member of the family.
It’s the world’s largest collection of privately owned Banksy artworks, and we’re lucky enough to be able to see them on display in Covent Garden!
There’s a family ticket available for £19.50 per person and under 6s go free.
With West End theatres reopening and shows like Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and Cinderella resuming, why not take the kids to see a show?
What the Ladybird Heard is on at the Palace Theatre in the West End from July 15 until August 29 and it’s the perfect thing for younger kids who want a bit of fun.
The acclaimed show is an adaptation of the much-loved children’s book What The Ladybird Heard from Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) and illustrator Lydia Monks.
This family favourite brings the farmyard to life in a rollicking musical hoedown, complete with puppets!
The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
If you’re stuck for ideas to entertain the kids and you live in London, take the kids to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
With lots to explore in the Painted Hall and Visitor Centre with its illustrated family trail, plenty of space to play and picnic outside, and Kids Go Free tickets, the Old Royal Naval College is perfect for all the family this summer.
Children can track down the kings, queens, gods and mythical creatures on the walls and ceiling of the Painted Hall with an explorer pack, which includes an activity book, toys, puzzles and games.
If all of this tires you out, head to the grounds outside to stop for some lunch or even play lawn games such as skittles, quoits, cricket and croquet by the river.
Or take the short walk across Greenwich to visit the Cutty Sark, nestled in a prime spot along the banks of the River Thames.
The 19 places to go with kids: You can’t go wrong with a trip to the theatre
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers
Taking your kids out and about in London? Make Uber Boat by Thames Clippers your mode of transport – a great addition to your day if you’ve just stopped off at the Cutty Sark, for example!
Take to the river to travel in style and rediscover the city these school holidays.
Don’t panic about prams and bags, the boats have easy ramp access for buggies, comfortable indoor cabins, outdoor back decks, and onboard facilities, so the River Bus is the perfect way for families to travel.
Sail with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers for just £36.70 with a Family River Roamer, an all-day hop-on hop-off ticket with access to 23 piers across London, valid for two adults and up to three children (15 years and under; 4s and under travel for free as standard).
The Holkham Estate
The Holkham Estate in Norfolk is an ideal place to visit with the whole family if you’re in the area.
The breath-taking outdoor paradise is set within 25,000 acres on the majestic north Norfolk coast.
The Holkham National Nature Reserve and golden sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, and the estate is full of outdoor space and activities, creating the perfect backdrop for a much-needed escape in the British countryside this Summer.
Holkham’s Feast in the Park, cycle & boat hire, outdoor theatre, a ropes course and woodland play area aren’t enough to tempt you to visit, stop by for the Festival of Sport from August 13 to 15 (£105 per day ticket for one child and adult)
This festival promises children a chance to discover an array of sports, improve skills and play against sports legends (from British World Champions to Olympic medallists) and families can join for the day or stay for the whole weekend with camping and glamping experiences available.
Evenings will play host to a mix of live music, delicious food, silent discos and an open-air cinema providing entertainment for the whole family from dawn to dusk.
Ducal Estate of Welbeck in the Sherwood Forest
Visit the Ducal Estate of Welbeck in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire for a variety of activities for children this summer.
The 15,000 acre Welbeck estate is on the edge of Sherwood Forest in north Nottinghamshire and surrounds the historic Welbeck Abbey.
This summer, kids can get involved in creative activities from sculpture to performance at The Harley Gallery, take part in paint-a-pot sessions, or join the arts and crafts Summer School (August 2 to 6) for six to 12-year-olds.
The 19 places to go with kids: There’s lots to do in the Sherwood Forest
Crystal Maze LIVE Experience
Bring your kids to the Crystal Maze LIVE experience, purchasing the family package for £34.99pp in Manchester or £56.99pp in London.
The exhilarating immersive experience, based on the popular nineties’ TV game show will be launching its new family package on July 26 and it will be available between 10am and 2pm Monday to Thursday until September 2.
The Maze has lowered its playing age and adapted a selection of games to introduce the Maze and the iconic Crystal Dome to a new generation of adventure seekers.
Young people aged nine to 14 can bring along their own Mumsie while they battle it out to win crystals within the attraction’s famous four zones – Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic, and Medieval and face a range of crazy challenges against the clock.
Whether you want to challenge dad or beat your sister, award-winning Maze Masters will also be on hand will be there to gear up the team for some family competitiveness.
The family package will include a goodie bag for the whole team and an exclusive photo.
PGL’s family activity holidays are the perfect break for families with young children, and they currently have some amazing last-minute deals with 20 percent off all summer breaks.
There are seven locations across the UK (Sussex, Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Dorset, Lincolnshire, Dunkeld and Devon) for families to choose from and everything is included from accommodation and food to activities.
Prices start at £604 for a two-night stay for two adults and two children.
Van Gogh Alive
Take your kids to the Van Gogh Alive experience to learn more about artist Vincent Van Gogh.
After mesmerising a global audience of over 7 million people in 65 cities, Van Gogh Alive has arrived in London and runs from June 4 to September 26, 2021.
Van Gogh Alive combines state-of-the-art Sensory4 immersive gallery technology, high-fidelity sound and the aromas of Provence that give visitors the sensation of walking right into his paintings as if they are living and breathing, so you’ll be using most of your senses!
There are also interactive installations, art classes and the ‘Sunflower Selfie Room’.
Tickets are on sale now and priced from £24.00 for adults and £14.00 for children, with concessions available.
The 19 places to go with kids: The Van Gogh Alive experience is back!
O2 Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park
Are your little ones bouncier than you’d like? Embrace the spring in their step at The O2’s Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park.
With 150 wall-to-wall trampolines, kids and adults alike can show off their greatest moves.
If you want to make use of the exhilarating airborne zones, sign up for the Oxygen School of Trampolining to learn under the guidance of a British Gymnastics Coach and channel your inner Olympian.
Jurassic Encounter Tour
Does your little one love dinosaurs? You should definitely get tickets for the Jurassic Encounter Tour in London, Birmingham, Cardiff or Glasgow.
Each of the cities will play host to prehistoric playgrounds, featuring more than 50 animatronic dinosaur scenes, including a fearsome, 18m tall T-Rex that breathes and sways its tail as it hunts for prey; an Iguanodon’s furious battle against a Deinonychus; Pterosaurs that screech as they soar through the trees; a 15m tall Brachiosaurus, guarding her eggs and a 16m long Diplodocus, who cries out to passers-by.
The new event will allow guests to get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating beasts ever to roam the earth, with the promise of an encounter with a meticulously life-like dinosaur around every corner of the beautiful parkland trails.
It’s a thrilling day out for guests of all ages, and you’ll learn loads via the interactive exhibits, excavation pit, and more.
There’s also a thrilling Virtual Reality experience that will also allow guests to explore the Prehistoric, Triassic and Cretaceous periods.
The tour begins at Grovelands Park in London at the start of the summer holidays (every day from July 24 to August 10) before moving to Cardiff Bute Park (Aug 21 to September 5), then to Glasgow Cuningar Loop (October 2 to 17) and finally to Birmingham Botanical Gardens (October 23 to November 7). Ticket prices start at £11.50.