Thursday 28 July 2011

Summer in Europe | 10 days out for kids

The school holidays are well under way, and if the kids are driving you mad, check out our latest events and activities for children, from enchanted princesses to electric guitars
Far, far away at Manchester Art Gallery

Far, far away, Manchester

From 2 August, the normally hushed rooms of Manchester Art Gallery will be disrupted by the squeals of children as they discover a fantasy world of princesses and knights. Set over the two top floors of the gallery, the transformed space will include three tents where kids under 12 can create costumes and make films of their stories to project on to the gallery walls. Artists will also be on hand to organise art activities, and there will be sensory play areas for babies and toddlers. Free, 2-28 August, Tuesdays to Sundays, 1-3pm

Bike It, nationwide

Britain has 13,000 miles of walking and cycling routes, among them plenty of short, traffic free ones suitable for children. UK charity Sustrans is promoting its best family-friendly routes as part of its Free Range Kids campaign, aimed at ensuring future generations of independent, active children. The routes include the Spen Valley Greenway, near Bradford, a 5½-mile route along the River Exe in Devon and a nine-mile ride into the heart of the New Forest with Holmsey tearooms providing a handy pitstop. Or get a breath of sea air on a five-mile ride from Frinton to Clacton in Essex, building up an appetite for fish and chips.

Steam fair and vintage vehicle rally, Somerset

Sometimes the old ones are the best. A nostalgic day out is on the cards at the West Somerset steam fair and vintage vehicle rally held at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, on 6 and 7 August. Steam engines, fire engines, tractors, steam rollers and buses will be on display, giving kids the opportunity to ride them and witness the huffing and puffing of the engines, not to mention all the fun of a fair(ground). 10am-5pm each day, adults £8, children £4, family ticket £20

Traquair Fair, Scotland


Traquair Fair, held in the grounds of Traquair House on the Borders on 6 and 7 August, is one of Scotland's longest-running fairs, offering theatre, outdoor spectacles, music, dance, storytelling. This year's theme is fire, and so there will also be flame-eating, glass-blowing demonstrations, forging and pottery-making. Included in the ticket price is a tour of the house, which dates from 1107 and was a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland. Bed and breakfast accommodation is available in the house (doubles £180), or you can camp in the grounds. Adults £19 booked online, children over five £13, family ticket £46

Record-breaking, Carmarthenshire

The Campbell family, famous for breaking land and water speed records in the 20th century, celebrate the centenary of their Bluebird car this year, and are showing no signs of slowing down. On 13 and 14 August, Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, will attempt to break his own electric land speed record of 137mph, as he aims for 150mph on a four-mile stretch of Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire, where his grandfather set the world land speed record for the first time in 1924. With high adrenaline and fast cars, this will be an exciting weekend, with speed trials for the 500mph land speed attempt taking place, too. Free. Record attempts 3pm on Saturday and Sunday


School of Rock, Brighton


Kids might balk at the idea of going to school in the holidays – unless it's the School of Rock. The Brighton Institute of Modern Music (Bimm), which runs rock'n'roll colleges in Brighton and Bristol, has teamed up with Total Guitar and Metal Hammer magazines to offer three courses in August. The Total Guitar summer school (1-4 August, limited availability) covers artists from Bloc Party to Eric Clapton, with tutors including Paul Weller. The Skindred-to-Black Sabbath Metal Hammer school is from 8-11 August. £299 for four days, accommodation extra (local B&Bs from £25 a night), over-12s only, not suitable for absolute beginners 

Wild Weekends, Staffordshire

Any budding Bear Grylls needs to learn survival skills before they embark on a perilous journey into the wilderness. A Wild Weekend on 6-7 August at Trentham Estate, near Stoke-on-Trent, will prepare your intrepid explorers by teaching them to use a selection of hunting tools, stalk their lunch, use a compass and make camouflage using natural materials. They will then get the chance to put these skills into action on navigation courses set up around the estate, culminating in a gruelling "circular challenge". Parents in search of some peace could head to the Trentham Gardens, described by Alan Titchmarsh as "one of the UK's must-see gardens." Wild weekend 10am-2pm each day, no booking necessary. General admission adult £7.75, child 5-15 £6.50, family £26.50


Mr Stink, Salford and Nottingham

Written by Little Britain star David Walliams, this children's musical is literally causing a stink. It is described as Britain's first scratch n' sniff production, and children are given a booklet that they are encouraged to scratch and sniff at key points in the show. Despite an abundance of farts, belches and smelly socks, a touching tale emerges of 12-year-old Chloe, who is bullied at school and ignored at home. She befriends homeless Mr Stink and his dog, Duchess, but is met with opposition from her snooty, air-freshener-wielding mother. 2-14 August, The Lowry, Salford Quays, from £16.50 (0843 208 6000, 16-28 August, Nottingham Playhouse, from £11 (0115 941 9419, Touring to November

Gruffalo Day, Norfolk

Legend has it that the sleepy county of Norfolk is home to one of the most infamous characters in children's literature – the Gruffalo. Holkham national nature reserve will be holding a storytelling session on 5 August to mark Gruffalo Day, inspiring kids to explore its 4,000 hectares in pursuit of the grizzly creature, along with other rare species including natterjack toads, barn owls, marsh harriers, lapwings and the monstrous-sounding garganey, which is in fact a harmless rare species of duck. The reserve includes sand flats, sand dunes, saltmarshes and woodland and offers beautiful views of the coast. Free, Beach Road, Wells-next-the-Sea

Championsheeps, Bristol


Walk through a tornado, take a trip to the stars, frolick in a farmyard - the kids could do all this without having to even leave the country, at At-Bristol, a science centre with 300 interactive exhibits. From July 30 to August 31, Shaun the Sheep and his friends will be at the centre, putting families through their paces with their "Championsheeps" events including a farmyard assault course, sack races and Shirley-shaped sheep hoppers. Elsewhere, the Boggling Brain show (twice daily, free) focuses on how our brains make sense of the world, and storyteller Hannah Broadway will bring her Monkey and Robot books to life from 1-3 August. adult £12.50, child 3-15 £8, family £35.50, Championsheeps places £1.50pp

Author | Source | Nalini Sivathasan | The Guardian, July 27th

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