With the long summer holidays stretching ahead it can seem a daunting prospect keeping young minds active and entertained for at least six weeks, with the thought of prising hands off precious tablets and prized consoles quite overwhelming. But with so much to much see, do and experience here in Yorkshire there’s bound to be something to tempt even the most hardened screen addicts to take part in one of the many brilliant days out on offer right across the county.
Yorkshire is lucky enough to be home to a number of national museums and this summer at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, check out the free family friendly show “Hello Universe”. This is perfect for anyone who has had their eyes to the stars in the year we mark 50 years since the moon landing. The action-packed live show teaches you how astronauts explore our universe, from the first small steps to today’s giant leaps. You will also learn what distant planets and stars can tell us about our world, and then see the museum’s very own rocket take off for an explosive grand finale!
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is very much living up to its name this summer with free activities every day with a regal theme. Experience an action-packed day out including live combat demos, dramatic performances, hands-on history and a museum full of amazing treasures to explore. Younger visitors will enjoy The Mess on floor 5 which is open for dressing up and craft activities. And don’t miss the chance to ‘Meet the Monarchs’ over the August bank holiday. ‘Merry Monarch’ Charles II will be ruling supreme over the weekend and hosting a spectacular cavalry riding skills horse show “Cavalcade for a King.”
At the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield you can grab your bucket and spade and travel back in time to the 1960s to see how miners spent their summer holidays. A huge sandpit has been installed with multicoloured beach huts and deck chairs to chill on while the sandcastles are built. On August 14th and 26th they will be welcoming donkeys to the beach and there will be summer crafts each week from Sunday to Friday. If the summer heat gets too much you can always cool off by heading underground. Venture 140 metres below the surface into England’s last deep coalmine in the company of a former miner to find out what working in the pits was really like for both adults and children. Going back to school after the holidays might not seem quite such a bad option after all by comparison.
For a full-on day of action head to Xscape in Castleford which just keeps adding more exciting activities to its menu. You can now choose from 16 fun-fuelled things to do including Adventure Golf, Cineworld with 4DX Screen, Gravity Aerial Adventures, Gravity Trampoline Parks, LaserZone, Snozone, Tenpin and The Escapologist escape rooms.
Riding a fire engine, climbing aboard a full-sized lifeboat and getting up close and personal with one of the UK’s last horse-drawn ambulances are just some of the treats awaiting visitors to Sheffield’s National Emergency Services Museum this summer. It’s free entry for all, and every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in August there will be craft sessions where kids will be shown how to create their very own art and sculptures from recycled materials, clay and watercolour.
At the Tropical Butterfly House at North Anston, Sheffield you can get the seaside feeling right on your doorstep. There is swashbuckling fun with a pirate and mermaid theme over the summer. This include dress-up competitions, a treasure trail and on certain days pirate themed bird and animal displays where you can meet the captain his scruffy gang pirates and their feathery friends and animals who live on board ship. There is also a playful pirate puppet show with ‘under the sea’ characters, a baby shark singalong, sparkle face painting and themed crafts in the activity centre. The play parks, splash zone and zip wires are open every day with traditional summer ball games, frisbee, skipping and hula hoops too.
For the perfect place to cool down if it’s hot or shelter from the rain if it’s not, set sail for Calypso Cove Waterpark, Barnsley where you will find a summer of pool parties and a treasure trove of fun! Open every day of the summer holidays, kids of all ages can enjoy a bounty of slides, flumes and pools, before retreating to The Hideout on the poolside to refuel and relax! Under 8’s can have a super splashing time in the interactive Barnacle Bay zone.
If your kids are starting to climb the walls, a trip to Clip n Climb - in either Ilkley or Leeds - might just rock their world. You’ll find something for both beginners and more experienced climbers at both sites. In Leeds, there are 32 climbing walls ranging from seven to nine metres, plus a nine-metre vertical drop slide. In Ilkley, there are 21 climbing walls including the Jungle Vine, the Sky Scraper and Spaghetti Junction. There is also a speed climbing challenge and the chance to race your friends up the Stairway to Heaven. Check the website for offers and always book online to make sure your day out doesn’t end up on the ropes!
If there’s a Tinkerbell in your family, their imagination will certainly sparkle at the unique Northwood Fairy Trail at Jollydays Glamping near York. This sweet back to nature attraction has a magical fairy trail through the woods with tiny fairy houses and artefacts. Add to that a beautiful collection of fairy clothes and furniture on display in the North’s only fairy museum. Set in stunning woodlands, it’s just next to the next to fabulous glamping site, if you fancy staying over. There are no nylon sleeping bags here, instead you will find four poster beds, chandeliers and sofas by the fire in the most picturesque setting. There’s also a great café area for day trippers.
For the perfect antidote to our tech obsessed culture, head to Williams Den at North Cave. Created with input from the UKs top play experts, it's all about getting kids active with a focus on bringing the great outdoors in and the indoors out. There’s a huge indoor play barn and extensive outdoor play area with a 50-metre zip wire, den making area and 'mountains and molehills' space for kids to run, jump and roll around freely. Inspiring adventure and fuelling young imaginations, children have the freedom to be creative, curious and run wild with great staff who make sure everyone has a great day out.
An ideal way to keep active this summer is to get on a bike. York Cycling Tours cater for older children (12+) and adults, taking you off the beaten track to fascinating places that you won’t see on a typical bus or walking tour. Travelling on cycle paths and designated lanes at a safe and leisurely pace - you’ll get a factual but good-humoured look at York’s fascinating and often grisly history. Tours take about two hours with an average travelling speed of 1,000 years an hour. Starting and finishing at a city centre pub there’s a chance to fully rehydrate after the ride.
For a truly traditional family day out head to either Whitby or Scampston for the Yorkshire Traction Rally. A must for steam enthusiasts who love nothing more than the smells and sounds of traction engines there’s something for all the family with country sports and classic cars too. The StuntWorld Stunt Show is bound impress the thrill seekers with a mix of car 2-wheel driving, motorcycle and quad stunts with the all-important warning “don’t try this at home kids”. Away from the high-octane action there is a full programme of steam fair attractions including: tractor pulling, fairground organs and miniature steam engines plus a vintage stage show with dancers and singers, food drink and a licensed bar.
A trip to the cinema is a staple of any school holiday but why not try viewing al fresco as the Open Air Cinema returns to Bolton Abbey this August. This year’s films are the Oscar winning 'Bohemian Rhapsody' on August 21st and the remake of the classic 'Mary Poppins Returns' on August 22nd. You can bring a picnic or enjoy the fantastic food and full bar on site, but all tickets must be booked in advance.
For those who like the outdoor life, a day out at BBC Countryfile Live as it heads North for the very first time, is essential. Hosted at Castle Howard, one of the UK’s finest historic houses, the event will showcase the very best of the northern countryside and promises to be a fantastic day out for all the family. Running from 15th-18th August, there will be a fantastic range of attractions, including the Countryfile main stage featuring local star presenters Anita Rani and John Craven, as well as the Wildlife Zone, the Farmyard Zone and the Dog Lover’s Arena. This stunning setting is the perfect location to experience and find out more about Yorkshire’s finest food and drink, brilliant music and world-class exhibitions.
Seafest Maritime Festival in Scarborough comes of age this year, celebrating its 21st anniversary. The festival at Scarborough South Bay will be serving up a feast of maritime delights for all the family. Sample the food stalls and enjoy free seafood cookery demos in the Seafest Food Theatre with leading Yorkshire chefs, plus the Great Yorkshire Brewery hosts a real ale and beer festival with over 40 local real ales, beers and ciders.
If you want a turtle-y awesome summer day out, head to The Deep, Hull. As well as all the regular attractions, during August there is a chance to experience the ‘turtle hospital’, where youngsters can get up close with a giant turtle (a cuddly one, of course) and find out what it takes to look after our flipper-ed friends. Learn all about turtle anatomy and even help the team carry out a turtle health check. There is also a turtle trail to take part in, where you can find out about more about the different species that live all around the world and the challenges they face.
For the budding Attenborough’s in your brood, a day at Bugtopia Hornsea will be perfect. Immerse yourself in an enthralling tropical rainforest experience, as you go on an educational adventure, fuelling a passion for the natural world. On the Jungle Trail you can learn about a variety of incredible animals from around the world, or get up close to the many butterflies, birds, reptiles and thousands of amazing stick insects who live free roaming in the Tropical House. And when you are all bugged out, there’s a variety of charming shops at Hornsea Freeport Outlet Shopping Village with Beach Cove play area to burn off any remaining energy! (Separate charges apply for Beach Cove)
For something really different, head for a stroll around the Settle Flower Pot Festival. Prepare to be amazed, amused, entertained and astounded by the weird and wonderful flowerpot displays decorating the town. Make sure you pick up the Flowerpot Trails and Quiz to enjoy all three trails covering different parts of the town. Each one takes about 2 hours and are buggy and wheelchair friendly.
For outdoor fun that will engage the whole family head to Puzzlewoods in Barnsley. This live action escape style game is riddled with dexterity challenges and mental conundrums. You and your team will have an hour to decipher your way through a themed outdoor course, testing your mental agility, physical nimbleness and ability to think outside of the box. Success will see you gain your freedom and a toasted treat over an open fire, while failure will lead to certain incarceration. The current theme is The Miner's Revenge.
A great day out for all the family can be found at Burton Constable Hall. Set in 300 stunning acres of grounds and home to the Constable family for over 700 years this is one of the most fascinating English country houses to survive complete with its historic collections. Explore the historic parkland designed by 'Capability' Brown with walks and nature trails or relax and find your favourite spot to picnic and play in this glorious setting. Children will be happy to hear the Teddy Bears have taken over this summer - while you enjoy the house, the kids can search for the dozens of bears hidden throughout the 30 rooms - every day until 1st September, under 5’s go free.