Summer holidays are GO!
Summer's here, school's out and right on time, here's our bumper summer holiday guide to what to do with kids of all ages in Somerset and Dorset
We’ve found you open air theatre and cinema, scavenger hunts and trails, water sports, arty crafty stuff, theatre summer schools, fireworks, fairs and Bath’s newest – creepiest – visitor attraction. Summer sorted then, eh?
THEATRE, FILM & PERFORMANCE
Hold your nose for Heartbreak’s outdoor theatre production of David Walliam’s Mr Stink. At Bishop’s Palace Wells, Thurs 15 July, Maumbury Rings Sat 14 August and Bowood House, near Bath, Sat 21 August.
Get in the car for a drive-in movie at The Old Holmesley Arerodrome, Bransgore near Christchurch from Weds 18 – Sun 22 August. Choice of 15 films including ET, Moana and Jaws.
Join Mole, Ratty and Badger as they save Toad and his shiny new motorcar from deep trouble in a live music, open air production of Wind in the Willows at The Holbourne Museum in Bath on Sat 21 August.
Stay on point, with The Secret Garden family-friendly ballet at Nothe Fort, the Jurassic Coast’s historic sea fortress. Sun 8 August.
Find out how Little Red Riding Hood joins forces with the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks to outwit the Big Bad Wolf in the Folksy Theatre open air production of Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf at the ECOS amphitheatre in Frome. Sat 31 July and the Walled Gardens at Cannington on Sat 28 August.
Watch a film at a castle. The castle is Lulworth Castle, near Wareham, and the films are Bohemian Rhapsody, Star Wars: A New Hope and The Greatest Showman. Tues 10 – Thurs 12 August.
Meet Long John Silver at the open air production of Treasure Island at Highcliffe House, near Bournemouth.
Watch fireworks at sea over The Cobb in Lyme Regis on Thurs 5 August. Part of the Lyme Regis Regatta & Carnival Week from Sat 7 – Sat 14 August. More fizzes and bangs at Poole Quay Summer Fireworks every Thurs from Thurs 29 July and on Bournemouth seafront every Friday in August.
Hold your breath as Chris Bullzini conquers the summit of Burrow Hill near Kingsbury Episcopi on a 50m+ high wire, performing acrobatics and headstands as he goes. Eeek. Sat 24 July.
Go In the Night Garden with Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and friends live on stage at the Lighthouse Poole, on Sat 28 & Sun 29 August.
Catch a – perfect – wave at inland surf spot The Wave in Bristol. Lessons ans sessions for all levels including complete beginners. Suitable for 6 years+
Take archery lessons at Moors Valley Country Park & Forest, near Bournemouth. Sessions throughout the summer starting from Sun 25 July for for 8 years + and adults.
Swim outdoors without going to the sea. Splash about in a lido, water park or river.
Go Ape – 11 m high Treetop Challenge, Treetop Adventure+, all terrain Forest Segway and Nets Adventure 30 feet above the forest floor – at Moors Valley Country Park & Forest, near Bournemouth.
Tackle a floating obstacle course or a mud run at the Dorset Adventure Park in Corfe Castle. Brilliant fun. You can join in too.
Take to the water with Channel Adventure’s Adventure Squad at French Weir in Taunton. Kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, tree climbing and more. Come for one day or every day. Various dates from Mon 26 July through to Fri 27 August.
Learn to ski in a day. Summer holiday courses at Snowtrax near Christchurch, for 6-16 year olds, sessions include 5 hours tuition and lunch.
Head for the beach. Here are 18 of the best beached in the South West and beyond, with the inside line on what to do and where to eat and drink.
Go on a sports & activity course at Millfield School in Street, one of the UK’s top sports schools. Football, athletics, golf, rugby, tennis, netball, hockey – can’t decide? There’s a multi-activity course too. Throughout the summer. Suitable for 5-17 years.
Zoom down the world’s first pier-to-shore zip wire at RockReef in Bournemouth.
Get behind the wheel on a day out at the Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford, near Yeovil. Learn how a car works, Paint a Mini, Top Trumps trail, brass rubbings, outside playground, coin-operated go-karts, interactive garage and mini road system and more.
Meet a Marvel super hero chopper. Scarlett Johansson jumped out of the Helicopter Museum’s Russian Mil-8 in the Marvel Studio’s newly released blockbuster Black Widow. The Weston-super-Mare museum, which holds the world’s largest collection of choppers, also runs cockpit days and flights.
Follow a trail through the Jurassic era at the Dinosaur Museum – dinosaur skeletons, life-size reconstructions including Stegosaurus and T-Rex, interactive displays – in a converted Victorian school building in Dorchester. From Tues 20 July to Weds 1 Sept.
See tanks in action at the Tank Museum at Bovington. WWII exhibition, Top Trumps Trail and summer activities from Sat 24 July to Sun 29 August.
Super slime, super heroes and crafts at the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester.
Create aweome artworks out of scrap at Bootmaker’s Workshop in Wincanton. Sessions for everyone from toddlers to adults and very nice wood-fired pizzas too.
Draw cartoons with Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown. Sat 24 July at the Somerset Museum in Taunton. An exhibition of his work runs until Sun 31 Oct.
Carve a Portland stone sculpture at the Burngate Stone Centre near Swanage. Sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the school holidays.
Put on a panto in a week with the Castaway Summer School at Westlands in Yeovil. From Mon 9 to Fri 13 August, with a performance of Aladdin on the Friday.
Be colourful at the brilliant Arnolfiini gallery in Bristol. Taking inspiration from the current Frank Bowling, Land of Many Waters exhibition, Make Art will be transforming their light studio into a colour lab every Weds from 28 July to 1 Sept.
Design a pair of shoes at the Fashion Museum in Bath. Family activity sessions on 27 July, 3, 10, 17 & August.
Be a busy bee at a summer art camp. Try everything from textiles and ceramics to fine art and landscape drawing in the grounds of Leweston School near Sherborne. For any 7–14 year olds.
Catch creepy crawlies and then make your own out of twigs and clay at Ham Hill Country Park near Yeovil. Suitable for 2-5 year olds. Tues 27 July.
Sing, dance and act at New York’s High School of Performing Arts – join the Fame Summer School at the Swish of the Curtain Theatre School in Christchurch. Various locations and dates. For 8-15 year olds.
Wander around Bath on Sundays throughout the summer for free arts and crafts, face painting, balloon modelling as well as pop-up samba music, dancers, stilt walkers and more.
Meet Dr Frankenstein’s monster, weird artefacts and assorted body parts – if you dare – at the new Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein in Bath. (She wrote part of her famous novel in the city). Kids of all ages welcome but under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
Go on the Big Summer Scavenger Hunt around the city of Bath, with Super Spies for young kids and Code Breaker Trail for 12 years+. Crack the code and be in with a chance of winning tickets to Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, Chew Valley Animal Park and tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel. In aid of charity Julian House. From Tues 27 July to Sat 7 August.
Feast on foraged foods – nettle fritters, wild parsnip crisps, elderflower juice – at the Wild Food Cafe, Ham Hill Country Park near Yeovil. For 8-12 years. Fri 30 July.
Escape from jail. You’ve got one hour to work out how to get out of the Cell Escape Room at Shepton Mallet Jail before mean Mr Big comes to get you. For 8 years+ and families. Dates throughout July and August.
Make like the Medievals at the Medieval Weekend at The Bishop’s Palace in Wells, Sat 28 – Mon 30 August, with Bowlore’s re-enactments of battles, medieval life and more weapons than you can shake a metal studded club at.
Meet the residents – alpacas and goats, miniature Shetland ponies, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and more – at Kingston Maurward Animal Park and Gardens near Dorchester for free.
Partake in a Wind in the Willows afternoon tea at Moonfleet Manor near Weymouth, which includes finger sarnies, crudites, a Toad in the Hall sausage tartlet, and a Mole’s ‘boiled egg’ of marscapone and mango gel with chocolate pastry soldiers.
Take a ride on a vintage fairground, milk a cow, see birds of prey at the Bath & West Country Festival, Shepton Mallet, Fri 27 – Sun 29 August.
Explore the 40 acres of Puxton Park near Weston-super-Mare. The adventure area, water play, farm animals, mini railway, tractors will keep littlies busy.
Watch badgers and other night time wildlife. Arrive at Badge & Wildlife Night Watch around 6.15 and stay until midnight (if you like) to watch badgers emerge from their setts and forage for food – you might see owls, foxes, rabbits and bats, too.
- The Muddy pick of the best attractions in Dorset and Somerset, from the big beast destinations to our cool insider alternatives.
- Around 100 of our favourite walks – some with pitstops – in Somerset & Dorset.