Top Ten Events for Families

School's out and Summer holidays are here, but the fun doesn't have to end when September arrives. From knights and dinosaurs, to crafts and waterfalls, there’s so much for families to explore during the festival – and the best part: it’s all free! Here are ten we’d recommend checking out...

© National Trust / Jonathan McMeekin - Join in this September and celebrate heritage that is fun for all the family

For a day of medieval culture and activities…

Be a knight for the day at Bradwell Abbey

Bradwell Abbey Medieval Fayre - Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire 

Step into the Middle Ages for a day of medieval family fun at Bradwell Abbey. Young visitors can dress up in knights’ armour, or even come ready in their own fancy dress, and channel their inner Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen in archery workshops. Around the site there will be plenty to please all ages, with birds of prey to meet, hot food and drink to enjoy, and historical market stalls to peruse.

For those who dig dinosaurs…

Find dinosaurs in London at Crystal Palace Park

Dinosaur Day - Crystal Palace Park, London 

There may be many parks in London, but this one stands out from the rest with its unique but magnificent series of dinosaur statues. You’ll be as close to the fictional Jurassic Park as you can get, with expert-led tours of the Dinosaur Islands, hands-on workshops for kids and a chance to participate in the park’s Paleo Planting Project. If that’s not enough, a visit here is actually a step into the small screen, as the site was most recently featured in TV series Good Omens. Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, the series uses the location for a scene in which Michael Sheen and David Tennant’s characters talk while looking out on the statues – and now you can too.

For the actors and theatre-lovers…

Go behind the curtain at the Playhouse Theatre

Playhouse Theatre - Whitstable, Kent

For one day, visitors can go beyond the limits of the audience and explore the inner workings of the Playhouse Theatre. Take the opportunity to see backstage on a guided tour of the Victorian venue, see inside the control room, and visit the costume wardrobe. With demonstrations on offer in lighting, sound and makeup, you’ll get a real insight into what really goes into putting on a show.

For performance and creative storytelling…

Delve into your imagination with interactive storytelling

Stratford on Avon Music Festival Community Weekend - Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Storytelling is synonymous with Stratford-upon-Avon as Shakespeare’s hometown, but this weekend is promising something a bit different. Stratford Playhouse shall be converted into an installation, hosting a two hour-long ‘playathon’ performance, a ‘human library’ comprised of people embodying book covers, and youngsters can let their imaginations run wild in an interactive hour of story-telling. This is an ideal event for families looking to have a unique and creatively inspiring day full of performances and stories, in the ideal town to do so.

To explore wildlife and nature…

Discover Dob Croft - Preston, Lancashire

The Intact centre is opening their recently-acquired nature reserve for a day of exploring local wildlife. Visitors will be able to do crafts such as making bird feeders, take tours of the reserve, and learn about the local wildlife this place aims to be a haven for, including the Great Crested Newt, whose discovery at this site prompted Intact’s involvement and protection. Promising to be both fun and educational, this event is the perfect opportunity for families to get outside and explore the natural world.

For train fans wanting to discover more…

Discover trains of the past at the Train Story Discovery Centre

Heritage Steam Railway - Ryde, Isle of Wight

Whether local to the Isle of Wight or looking to take a trip there, this promises to be a fascinating day out for train fans both young and old. Their £1.2million Train Story Discovery Centre provides the opportunity to learn about the history of the railway, and experience the machines up close in an exhibition space, with a collection of both Victorian and Edwardian locomotives. Plus, the chance to take guided tours of restricted workshop areas and watch a display by birds of prey. With the entry fee waived for this event only, this would be the ideal time to climb aboard this experience.

To get hands-on with natural heritage…

Get hands on with natural heritage at Chopwell Woodland Park

Family Hands on Heritage @ Chopwell Woodland Park - Tyne & Wear

Learn new skills and try something different as a family at this event celebrating 100 years of forestry. Discover vintage vehicles and heavy horse logging. Get stuck in to demonstrations and workshops on wood working, willow weaving, and wool spinning with Land of Oak & Iron – only a few of the things for you to see and do throughout the day.

Take your aim at archery at this hidden gem of the Forest

To discover a (haunted) castle… 

St Briavels Castle - Gloucestershire

Though now a youth hostel, this castle is much more than a place to stay. Visit this hidden gem of the forest to explore a building steeped in history, as you take a tour by the costumed staff, while young visitors have the opportunity to learn archery and participate in craft workshops. There are even rumours that the castle is haunted, but you can discover that for yourself.

To explore deep river gorges and hidden waterfalls...

Look for this hidden waterfall at Lydford Gorge / © Mel Peters

Lydford Gorge - Nr. Tavistock, Devon

Being the deepest river gorge in the South West, this National Trust site is no stranger to adventure. Here is the perfect place for an active family day out, whether you’re after an energetic hike or a calm wander through the woods spotting wildlife. Take this free opportunity to explore these woodlands, find a magical waterfall hidden within the forest, and discover the Devil’s Cauldron.

For a bit of everything…

North Leverton Windmill Family Fun Weekend - Retford, Nottinghamshire

Visit this event to not only check out the active and functioning windmill, but also for a fun family day out. Among the many attractions on offer include vintage tractors on display, heavy horses to meet and a dog show, while freshly made pizzas are on the menu.

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