Summer hols guide
What's on for big and little kids in and around Somerset and slightly beyond throughout July and August
SUP, Original Wild, Bath, throughout the summer
SUP – stand up paddleboarding – originated as an offshoot of surfing in Hawaii but you can try it out in the centre of Bath. 8+
Big Tree Climb, National Trust Stourhead Estate, various dates throughout the summer
Climb up into a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and carabiners (tho’ securely attached in a harness at all times!) then abseil to the ground. Suitable 6+
Forest school holiday clubs, Hidden Woods, Farleigh Woods, nr Frome, Mons–Thurs throughout the summer
Forest school adventures with rope swings, environmental art, bush craft and survival knowledge, campfire cooking and free range play. No two days are the same. Each day runs from 10am–4pm and costs £35/day; supervised play from 8.30–10am and 4pm–5.30, £6. For ages 8+
Dorset Adventurepark, Corfe Castle, throughout the summer
Water or mud? You choose. Bounce around a giant inflatable obstacle course over two woodland lakes on Dorset’s total wipeout waterpark or tackle their new 2km mud assault course with balance beams, cargo nets, mud slides and more. Let the kids have a go too.
Grom Holiday Club, Channel Adventures, French Weir Park, Taunton, Mon 29 July – Fri 2 Aug
Kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, tree climbing and more. Come for one day or every day. £35/day. From 8.30am–5.30pm, suitable 8 to 16.
Lyme Rib Rides, Lyme Regis, throughout the summer
Get the adrenalin pumping on a fast-paced boat trip along Dorset’s Jurassic coast.
Adventure Day Camps at Mill on the Brue, Bruton, Mon 22 July – Fri 16 Aug
Over 40 activities for 7-12 year olds– zip wires, raft building, assault courses and more – over 25 glorious acres. Mini Mobster adventure mornings for 5–6 year olds Thurs 8 & 15 Aug.
Langport Boat Hire, Langport, Thurs & Fri evenings and weekends over the summer
Paddle your own canoe, kayak or paddle board and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and local wildlife along the River Parrett.
CASTLES, HOUSES & MUSEUMS
Hunt for the Were-Rabbit at Montacute House, Montacute, until Mon 4 Nov
Did you know that Tottington Hall from The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was inspired by Montacute House? See the Aardman model and join Gromit on his hunt for Wallace and help stop the Were-Rabbit from making an appearance.
Hestercombe Gardens, nr Taunton, throughout the summer
Circus skills, fairy tales, exotic animals and bugs (eek) and kids’ yoga each Terrific Tues (Tues 30 July–20 Aug); model boats on the mill pond (Fri 2 Aug) and the fabulous Folksy Theatre’s al fresco production of Quentin Blake’s Mister Magnolia (Sun 4 Aug).
Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford, throughout the summer
Explore the museum’s super shiny collection of cars and other vehicles on a Top Trumps trail, then jump into a 200cc and 120cc kart for a whizz around the same test circuit where Jenson Button used to practice.
Climate Action at We Are Curious, Bristol, Weds 24 July – Sun 3 Aug
Don’t glue yourself to railings, take your kids to find out more about the challenges our planet faces and what we can do about it. Workshops, experiments, re-wilding the planet, building a Martian house, harnessing energy from the sun, wind and more.
Wild Hares and Hummingbirds, Museum of Somerset, Sat 20 July – Sat 26 Oct
Discover the county’s animals, plants and birds in this family-friendly exhibition based on the book of the same name by Stephen Moss, one of Britain’s leading natural history writers, broadcasters and wildlife television producers, and illustrator Stephanie Cole. Workshops on Weds.
Dunster Castle, Dunster, throughout the summer
Archery, pistol shooting, Victorian explorers and creepy crawlies and a whole weekend devoted to the English Civil War (Sat 21 & 21 July) at this ancient castle with spectacular views towards the Bristol channel, Exmoor and the Quantocks. The Dunster Castle Express, a steam train from Bishop’s Lydeard to Dunster, sounds fun.
Tyntesfield, near Wraxall, throughout the summer
Build a den, hunt for bugs, enjoy an evening nature walk with a ranger or grab a picnic and watch an outdoor performance of Alice in Wonderland (Fri 16 Aug).
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, selected dates between Weds 24 July – Weds 28 Aug
Arty workshops including creating 3D bugs, mixed media portraits and other gallery-themed activities.
Bishops Palace, Wells, throughout the summer
Craft sessions Tues and nature fun on Thurs. Croquet, face painting and a bouncy castle at the Midsummer Mayhem Family Funday (Sun 4 Aug) and medieval weaponry at the Bowlore Medieval Weekend (Sat 24–Mon 26 Aug).
Fashion Museum, Bath, every Tues throughout the hols
Budding Alexander McQueens and Coco Chanels: design a dress, hat, gloves…
Stone Age Summer, Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Sat 20 July – Sat 1 Sept
Relive the Stone Age in Somerset’s pre-historic caves. Learn about Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest most complete skeleton discovered in Gough’s Cave. Discover the story of early man via the Dreamhunters multimedia experience. Dress up as Stone Age person, make thumb clay pots and brass rubbings of a woolly mammoth. See original artefacts and meet a hunter-gatherer. Then go and have a cuppa.
The Invisible Circus onboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol, Sat 20 July – Thurs 1 Sept
Roll up, roll up! Acrobats and aerialists from The Invisible Circus fling themselves from the rigging and juggle passengers’ luggage as they tell the tales of life-changing voyages on board Brunel’s SS Great Britain.
Australian Summer at Longleat, Warminster, Sat 20 July – Mon 2 Sept
Go down under at Longleat with an indoor beach, surf style wobble boards, games, daily dance performances, live didgeridoo music – and koalas.
Roman Baths, Bath, throughout the summer
Living history on the doorstep. Audio tours, dressing up in togas, Roman wig-making, tasting the waters (yeuch) and rescuing a Roman slave in their version of an escape room (Mon 22–Sun 28 July).
Family Day, East Somerset Railway, nr Shepton Mallet, Weds 16 August
Dress up as your fave fictional character, get a free ice cream and a ride on a steam train.
THEATRE, SHOWS & FAIRS
Carter’s Steam Fair, Victoria Park, Bath, Sat 3 – Sun 18 Aug
Authentic travelling funfair consisting of rare vintage fairground rides and attractions, showman’s wagons, caravans all transported by a highly-decorated fleet of vintage lorries. This is a brilliant – very noisy – fair. Fairground art tour Sun 4 Aug.
Alice in Wonderland, Strode Theatre, Street, Sat 27 July
Alice in Wonderland portrayed by just two actors. Suitable 5–9.
The Kid Who Would be King, Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Fri 23 August
Watch the movie where it was filmed. When Alex finds the mythical sword Excalibur, he and his mates join forces with Merlin to save the rest of us from evil Morgana and her supernatural warriors.
Horrible Histories, Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, Wed 24 – Sat 27 July
The Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians on stage with live actors and 3D effects. Hilarious, stuffed full of blood, gore and the crude bits of history, and amazingly educational too.
Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show, Brean Leisure Park, Brean, Weds 28 August
The ground rumbles with the extreme power and roar of the monster trucks, metal twists and crunches in car smashes and rubber burns during full throttle motorcycle stunts. Could this be the greatest show on wheels?
BACK TO NATURE
Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Hambridge, Tues 30 July & Thurs 1 Aug
The charity that rescues and rehabilitates otters, badgers, foxes and birds of prey and more is only open to the pubic a few times a year. Two events coming up: Wild Academy birds of prey (Tues 30 July) and British mammals (Thurs 1 Aug).
Avalon Marshes, throughout the summer
Explore the internationally renowned wetland landscape by canoe, go on a mini beast safari, a family sculpture trail, a dragonfly walk, learn about birdwatching and more.
Open Day at the North Somerset Birds of Prey Centre, Congesbury, Sun 4 Aug
Not just over 50 birds of prey including hawks, owls, buzzards, red kites, falcons and eagles but foxes, marmosets, raccoons, ferrets, skunks, raccoon dogs, genets, civits, coatis, meerkats, reptiles….
Build your own bug house, Newton Farm, Newton St Looe, nr Bath, Thurs 8 Aug
Professional gardener Colin Hale will show you how. £25 includes everything you need. Suitable 8+. Call Roz on 01225 873707 option 3 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Lulworth, Thurs 25 – Sun 28 July
The kids alternative to Bestival, with loads to keep little people happy while you empty that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, Thurs 8 – Sun 11 Aug
The awesome spectacle of over 130 hot air balloons from around the world rising into the sky, with live music, stalls and iconic nightglows and firework finale.
Valley Fest, Chew Valley Lake, Fri 2– Sun 4 Aug
Super family friendly music and food festival with a Junior Jungle for mini ravers, hobby horse gymkana, crafts, yoga and model making with Aardman animations and more. Oh and Basement Jaxx (DK Set), Tom Odell and Razorlight for you lot.
Great Dorset Steam Fair, nr Blandford Forum, Thurs 22 – Mon 26 Aug
600 acres covered with vintage steam engines, fairs, hurdy gurdies, agricultural machinery, vintage vehicles, food, drink, six live music stages. Truly a sight to behold, hear and smell, esp the steam fairground at night.
Summer storytelling, Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Thurs 25 July & 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Aug
Sit in in the Farmyard, Oudolf Field or Radić Pavilion (the spaceship/potato-shaped Serpentine Pavilion 2014) for a story inspired by Richard Scarry (the Cat in the Hat man) which includes original drawings and props.
Amazing Animals, The Brewhouse Taunton, Thurs 1 – Sun 31 Aug
Family workshops – making giant seagulls, dinky creatures and puppet monsters – a puppet show and a cycle-powered animal carousel.
Bootmakers’ crafty summer camp, Bootmakers, Wincanton, Tues – Fri, throughout the summer
Super inventive, scrap-based craft sessions with a wood-fired pizza thrown (not literally) in. Free-for-all arts and crafts sessions Tues to Fri, from July 16 – Fri 9 Aug and Summer Special master classes Tues to Fri, from Tues 13 Aug – Fri 30 Aug. 11am –2pm; 2.30pm – 5.30. Half day £12; whole day £20, incl the pizza and drink. For 8+ but they also have activities for younger kids.
ImmotionVR, Bristol, throughout the summer
Explore space, go back to prehistoric times and swim with humpback whales using state-of-the-art tech.
Escape Hunt, Bristol, throughout summer
Help Dr Who prevent the Cyerman from attacking the earth; destroy Nazi superweapons; steal Blackbeard’s treasure from his sinking galleon; defeat an evil Samurai warlord or save the world from a deadly virus on a citywide game using augmented reality and geolocation technology. These five immersive escape games sound awesome.
Upstaged Musical Theatre Summer School, The Brewhouse, Taunton, Mon 5 – Fri 5 Aug
Learn the songs and dances from fave West End shows with members of the creative team behind the theatre’s hit Christmas show The Wizard of Oz.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
The Muddy guide to the best lidos, water parks and wild swimming near you.