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50 things to do with kids

Don’t panic, stay strong, the summer holidays will be a doddle with your must-read Muddy Guide


Summer schools
■ Rose Theatre, Kingston ■ various dates

Rose Theatre Kingston’s Summer Schools are back, running from Sat 22 July to Sat 2 September, for ages seven and up, ranging from three days to a week. There are three different options: three day courses, plays-in-a-week and the Rose Academy.

The three day courses are an introduction to performance for those with an interest in theatre and acting. Plays-in-a-week are intensive performance-based courses end with a full, costumed production with each cast working on a script and learning techniques with top-level directors, friendly assistants and stage management. This year’s titles include: The Jungle Book, The Wind in the Willows, Gulliver’s Travels, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1984 and Macbeth.

The Rose Academy is by audition only. This course is for those who are serious about a career in acting and who are considering professional training, and helps applicants maximise their chances of a place at drama school.


Summer Nights Film Festival
■ Wisley RHS Gardens ■ Fri 14 & Sat 15 July

Nothing screams summer like a spot of culture under the stars. Pack your picnic, and (and let’s be realistic here) a brolly and a blanket, and prepare yourself for some fab films under the stars. On Friday it’s Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in Grease and Tom Cruise flies in on Saturday with Top Gun. Doors open at 7.30pm, and the films are expected to start about 9.45pm.


Theatre in the Park: The Wind in the Willows
■ Frimley Park Lodge, Frimley Green, Camberley  ■ Sat 15 July

Pack your picnics and join the boat-loving Ratty, the sensible yet curious Mole, wise old Badger and the fantastically irrepressible Toad as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime culminating in a colourful battle with the sly weasel to save Toad Hall!


Room on the Broom
■ New Victoria Theatre, Woking ■ Fri 21 – Sun 23 July

The classic combination of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler takes to the stage in this wonderful story. Songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3 and up and their grown-ups, in the Olivier Award nominated show that’s toured Britain and the world!


Outdoor theatre: The Wind in the Willows
■ Claremont Landscapes Gardens, Esher  ■ Sat 22 Jul

Chapterhouse Theatre Company bring to life the timeless story of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, The Wind in the Willows, performed in the pretty lakeside setting. Pack a blanket, torch and insect repellent.


An Outer Space Adventure (Guildford Fringe Festival)
■ Bellerby Studio at G Live, Guildford  ■ Tues 25 July

Through the use of imagination, this interactive workshop will take the children on a journey of discovery to outer space.They will go an adventure to outer space and learn about our Solar System through an interactive story with visual delights, enhancing their creative abilities and encouraging the children to be curious, playful and to take the lead. Shows at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm, and it’s best suited for 4-8 year olds.


The Girl and the Giraffe
■ Leatherhead Theatre, Leatherhead  ■ Wed 26 July

Half Moon Theatre presents this uplifting show about friendship. One day whilst Girl is playing in her garden, she spots something peculiar on the other side of the fence. Climbing up as high as she can to get a better view, she is surprised when she comes face to face with… Giraffe! Suitable for children aged 3-6.


Outdoor Theatre: Peter Pan
■ Leith Hill Place ■ Wed 2 Aug

The popular story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up. This is a great family friendly show, with the energy and passion of Chapterhouse Theatre. JM. Barrie’s timeless classic is brought to life in a brand new adaptation by award winning writer Laura Turner, with original music and songs, and beautifully designed costumes. Join Peter and his friends for what promises to be a most magical evening.


Outdoor theatre: Dogs Don’t Do Ballet
■  Hatchlands Park, East Clandon ■ Thurs 3 Aug

Bring friends, family and a picnic and join the Blunderbus Theatre Company for a very funny tale of a small dog with big dreams based on the bestselling book by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie. Biff is not like other dogs, he likes moonlight and music and walking on his tiptoes. Biff doesn’t think he’s a dog, he thinks he’s a ballerina.


Outdoor theatre: The Wind in the Willows
■  Hatchlands Park, East Clandon ■ Wed 9 – Thurs 10 Aug

Bring friends and family and join Immersion Theatre in their musical version of Wind in the Willows, performed on the lawn at Hatchlands. Pack your picnics and join the boat-loving Ratty, the sensible yet curious Mole, wise old Badger and the fantastically irrepressible Toad as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime culminating in a colourful battle to save Toad Hall.


An Evening at the Races with Olly Murs
■ Sandown Park Racecourse ■ Thurs 10 Aug

Okay so this one is probably best suited to older kids. It’s an evening race meet at Sandown Park, followed by live music by Olly. The ‘Troublemaker’ star and former X-Factor runner-up will take to the stage at 9pm. And only two kids (5-17 year old) are allowed for each adult. Gates open at 4pm, racing is from 6pm.


Dogs Don’t Do Ballet
■ Priory Park, Reigate ■ Sun 13 Aug

Blunderbus Theatre brings to life the best-selling children’s book about Biff the dog who instead of chasing sticks takes to practising pirouettes in the park. This feel-good family show features music, songs, hand-crafted puppets and Biff, the ballet-dancing dog; and is best suited to those with kiddies aged 3 and up.


Dinsoaur World
■ G Live, Guildford  ■ Fri 18 – Sat 19 Aug

Discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs in this interactive now. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan and Segnosaurus, to name a few!


Open air cinema: Junglebook, Footloose & Pirates of the Caribbean
■  Guildford Lido ■ Fri 18 – Sun 20 Aug

Guildford lido is hosting three film nights during the summer holidays. Before settling down for the films at 8.30pm, guests are welcome to enjoy an evening swim and slides from 7-8pm, which is included in the ticket price. There will be cocktails and the Burrito Loco shack will be serving Mexican snacks. On Fri 18 Aug it’s the 1967 Disney classic, Jungle Book, followed on Sat 19 by Kevin Bacon in the 1984 dance classic Footloose. On Sunday, it’s ahoy shipmates for Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Book is a must.



Crafternoons: Timetravellers
■ Museum of Farnham ■ Thurs 27 July & Thurs 3, 17 & 24 Aug

Drop-in for sessions of art and craft activities, storytelling and fun! Travel back in time to explore the art and craft of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. All materials included. It’s on from 2-3.30pm for children aged 3-11. Cost is £1 and children must be accompanied by an adult.


Creative Arts Week
■ G Live, Guildford  ■ Mon 7 – Fri 11 Aug

This is a week-long course where the kids will learn skills in acrobatics, trapeze, hoop diving, street dance and more with circus ensemble Silver Linings. Each day kids will try different skills and then to spend time developing performances to showcase to family and friends at the end of the week. The 5 day course runs from 10am-4pm each day, with a chance to show parents a range of skills learned on the Friday afternoon.


■  Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village, Compton  ■  Every Tues in Aug

This is a drop-in event (10.30am-4pm), free with entry to the Gallery and Artists’ Village. Children will hunt for different colours around the Artists’ Village and then head to the studio to see how paints used to be made. They’ll paint inside and outdoors and make spontaneous colourful paintings using watercolours with oil, salt and plastic wrap. The Make Space is free (with admission) to drop-in any time on a Sunday from 11am-4pm. Families can explore different types of making, from printmaking to painting and sewing to sculpture.


Summer Art for Young People
■  Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village, Compton  ■  Mon 24 – Fri 28 July

Get a taster of Art School with artist Becci Kenning, and try sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing and photography. Finish the week by curating an exhibition for your family and friends. Cost is £120 for the week including materials and booking is a must. It’s best suited to 13-18 year olds.


Summer Family Fun Festival
■  The Lightbox, Woking  ■ Tues 25 – Fri 28 July

The Lightbox throws everything at the summer holidays. There are a range of book-ahead workshops as well as free daily drop-in workshops throughout the summer, with everything from balloon modelling to giant garden games. The times differ for each of the workshops. For a full list of what’s on, and the times, click



Camberley Big Day Out
■  Camberley Town Centre  ■ Sat 15 July

Kick start the summer with a Big Day Out in Camberley. As well as an urban beach you’ll find the Farmers’ and Artisan Market offering some of Surrey’s best local produce, a climbing wall, bungee wall and live music. And it’s free.


Tudor Jousts
■ Hampton Court Palace  ■ Sat 15 – Sun 16 July

Recreating all the pomp and ceremony of a lavish court entertainment, visitors to Henry’s old gaff will be immersed into the sights, smells and sounds of the Tudor court, brought to life with displays of sword fighting, courtly games, and music. There’ll be a host of weird and wonderful Tudor instruments to discover, and the chance for young visitors to try out pieces of armour for size.


Summer Holiday Family Fun
■  Brooklands Museum, Weybridge  ■ Mon 24 July – Thur 24 Aug

Brrrm brrrm. Brooklands will be operating its popular car rides every Monday to Thursday throughout the summer holidays. The team will take you in a vintage-style motor car up the steep Test Hill, along the banked track and back down the Finishing Straight where you will be dropped back.

There will also be family workshops. These change frequently and range from building your own powered ‘Peg Car’ and launching your own ‘Mousetranaut’ to making your own magnetic racing car and track. Click here for more information about the workshops.


Family Fun Day: Superheroes Return
■ Epsom Downs Racecourse  ■ Mon 28 Aug

An action packed day of racing at Epsom Downs Racecourse, with free family entertainment from face painters and bouncy castles, to the high rope assault course and zip wires. Batmobile, the infamous crime fighting supercar is back, and dressing up as a superhero is optional but definitely encouraged! Children under 18 go free with an adult.



Five Go On A Gardening Adventure
■ RHS Wisley, Woking  ■ Sat 22 July – Sun 3 Sep

The summer holiday activities at RHS Wisley are following in the garden adventure footsteps of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Join in on the jolly japes around the garden, following the self-guided trail to help Uncle Quentin uncover the clues about the Robo Bees. Throughout the summer there will be themed crafts, den building, garden games and storytelling, and on Fr 11 Aug join in the themed tea party to celebrate Enid Blyton’s birthday. No need to book. For a full list of what’s on and when click


Narnia Trail
■ Banstead Woods and Chipstead Downs Nature Reserve, Banstead CR5 3NR ■ ongoing

The iconic characters from the children’s classic tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have been brought to life at an enchanting new Narnia themed nature trail at the Banstead Woods and Chipstead Downs Nature Reserve. The trail takes about half an hour to complete and is largely pushchair friendly but there are some gravel paths and steep inclines.


We’re Going On A Bug Hunt
■  Museum of Farnham ■ Thurs 10 Aug

Join us for a fun and informative session in our beautiful garden exploring the amazing world of insects in the garden at Museum of Farnham. Take part in a minibeast safari, find out about food chains and build a bug hotel. It’s for ages 5-11, cost if £5 per child per session and all materials are included. There will be two sessions: 10.30am-12.30pm or 1.30-3.30pm. Booking is essential.



You can always count on the National Trust to come up trumps when you’re looking for stuff to do. And there’s plenty going at all their properties throughout Surrey. Here’s our pick of the best.

■ Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher
Claremont goes back to its origins and celebrates all things Georgian. Kids will love pretending to be princes and princesses, dressing up as lords and ladies, playing Georgian games and making regal crafts.

  • Princes and Princesses Week: Sat 5 – Sun 5 Aug
    In the early 19 century, the Prince Regent’s daughter lived at Claremont with her husband. In this week Claremont will go back 200 years to Princess Charlotte’s time for a themed week of family activities for kids of all ages, including a garden trail, craft workshops and Georgian games.
  • Summer Storytelling Sessions: every Tuesday from 15 – 29 Aug
    Settle back under a shady marquee in the garden as you listen to the tragic tales of princes and princesses, brought to life by Emma Smyth. Sessions for both younger and older children run on Tuesdays from 15 August to the end of the holidays.


■  Dapdune Wharf, Guildford 
There’s lots of summer holiday fun at Dapdune Wharf on the River Wey in Guildford, from rock climbing, a night with the stars and summer children’s activities based on Peter Pan.

  • 50 Things Tuesday: every Tuesday in August, 11am – 5pm
    With different activities to try every Tuesday, from bug hunting and pond dipping to flying a kite and building a den, there’ll be different activities to have a go at each week. make Dapdune Wharf your base for trying out 50 Things activities this summer.
  • Wharf Weenies: Thurs 13, 20 & 27 July, 10am – 11am
    Special sessions for younger kids involving story time, fun craft activities and a chance to run around outside all based around children’s stories. Dressed for the outdoors, as there will be some walking involved. For kids 18 months plus.
  • Let’s Meet in Neverland: every Thurs in Aug, 10am – 4pm
    Peter Pan-inspired activities and crafts. Come and discover the Neverland Island, where pirates, fairies and children play. Follow the magical fairy trail, have a go at sword fighting on a plank and much more. Come dressed as Peter Pan.
  • A Night With the Stars: Sat 12 Aug, 7.30 – 10pm
    If the weather’s fine, get out and to count shooting stars – the Perseids should be at their most visible on this night. Take a blankie. Hot drinks and snacks available. The cost is £5, and booking is essential.
  • Model Railways Open Day: Sat 19 Aug, 11am – 5pm
    If model trains are your thing, then head to the wharf for the Astolat Model Railway Circle open day and 50th anniversary. See their layouts, have a go and learn how they are built and operated. Bring your own OO/HO or N locos to run.


■  Leith Hill Place, near Dorking
Race down the hill to Leith Hill Place where summer adventures await.

  • Wedgewood Day: Mon 7 Aug, 11am – 3pm
    Join in a day of crafting with self-drying clay and silhouette making, inspired by the work of Josiah Wedgwood. You can also visit the collection on display in the house. Normal admission charges apply, plus £1 per child for materials.
  • 50 Things Activities: Wed 9, 16, 23, 13 August, 11am – 3pm
    Join the Leith Hill rangers for some fun crafting and outdoor activities. Create a house for a bird, or hunt for bugs on the lawn. It’s free to join in but the National Trust has suggested you leave a donation for materials. 


■  Hatchlands Park, Guildford
An historic parkland with beautiful wild flowers, ancient trees and plenty of space for all the family. This summer there are lots of outdoor activities for families. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

  • Sylvanian Families Nature Trail: every day
    This children’s trail featuring the collectible toy brand Sylvanian Families is in the woodland at Hatchlands Park. It’s free to all visitors, and focuses on inspiring children to explore the outdoors. You can find the Sylvanians in Centenary Wood.
  • Wizard Wixes Willow Warrenevery day
    Grab a map from reception and head out along our blue walk into Great Wix Wood. As you enter the wood you’ll find Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren, a natural adventure area for children. There is plenty to keep the kids occupied here including balance beams, leaping logs, tunnels and domes, and den building.
  • 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾: every day
    You’ll tick off 19 of the 50 activities here. Build a den in our adventure area, fly your kite on a windy day, find a huge hollow tree to explore in or hunt for bugs under parkland log piles. The whole park is your playground.


■ Polesden Lacey, near Dorking
Polesden Lacey’s classic house and gardens are the perfect backdrop to your summer family adventures. Try activities, bring a kite, play our life-size version of a classic board game and don’t miss the rum and raisin ice cream.

  • ‘Go Wild’ activity packs: week days until Sun 3 Sept
    Get crafty this summer and pick up a bag full of craft activities and games to explore the woods. The cost is £3 per activity pack and normal admission applies.
  • Polesdenopoly: every until Sun 3 Sept
    Be silly to get rich quick playing on the life-sized version of the classic board game with your family and friends. Buy up different parts of the property, do silly challenges to earn more money, and cheat when no one’s looking! The cost is £5 per group of up to 5.


■ Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming
The wild woods of Winkworth are ripe for family adventures this summer. Head out on a trail and, in amongst the trees, discover a secret place where we’ve carved stairways, hollows and hidey-holes into trees. Our new natural play area is all yours to explore.

  • Summer trails: every day
    Winkworth Arboretum’s gorgeous trees and plants are set in a dramatic hillside location, surrounding a lake and wetland area. Get the kids outdoors and have fun with on the children’s trail throughout the summer holidays. The cost is 50p per trail plus normal admission. There’s a new trail each week.
  • Teddy bear’s picnic and storytelling: Mon 14, 21 & 28 Aug
    Take the littlies along to the popular Teddy Bear’s picnic and storytelling session that takes place outdoors. It’s on from 1.30 to 2.30pm, it’s free with normal admission.
  • Bat walk: Sat 26 Aug
    Explore the Arboretum with a bat expert to see if you can track down some brilliant bats.  It’s from 8-10pm. Cost is adults £10, child £5.


■ Runnymede, Old Windsor
Runnymede’s patchwork of ponds, meadows and woodland is the perfect place for exploring this summer. Pack a picnic, grab an adventure backpack and get ready to start your adventures.

  • Riverside Ramble: Sat 22 Jul – Sun 3 Sept
    Follow an “I Spy”-style family trail along the River Thames. It’s suitable for all ages.
  • Meet King John on Terrible Tuesdays: every Tuesday in August
    Two terrible tyrants are historically tied to Runnymede. Come and meet King John on Tuesdays in August and he’ll tell you all about their wicked ways. It’s from 11.30am-4pm.
  • Become a History Hunter: every day
    Borrow an adventure backpack and follow a trail across the landscape investigating the history, heritage and habitat of Runnymede. Adventure backpacks are full of fun activities, including a scavenger hunt, bug hunting, and working out the age of a tree. What weird, intriguing things will you discover? Free with a returnable £10 deposit.


Junk Orchestra, Leeds Castle, 5 – 6 August

Join The Junk Orchestra on a supersonic journey of the UK’s finest recycled objects in this show for the whole family in the Maze area from 11am – 4pm. Learn how to build an orchestra, shake it to a recycled rave and join the band for a recycled rock concert. All that off-the-wall fun included in the price of admission.


Heroes, Heroines and Hoods, Leeds Castle, 12 – 13 Aug

The stories of legends, of Kings and Queens and other historical heroes are brought vividly and often hilariously to life in this interactive children’s theatre with a difference. Have a go at circus skills before and after the show including stilts, juggling, hula-hoops, diabolos, spinning plates and juggling machines.The stories of legends, of Kings and Queens and other historical heroes are brought vividly and often hilariously to life in this interactive children’s theatre with a difference. Have a go at circus skills before and after the show including stilts, juggling, hula-hoops, diabolos, spinning plates and juggling machines.


Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show, Leeds Castle, 19 to 20 Aug

Mr Alexander brings his amazing Travelling Show to Leeds Castle for the first time. A traditional vintage style family variety show with three different programmes per day including magic, juggling, unicycling, balance and illusion performed on a traditional theatre stage which has the flavour of a Victorian Theatre. Included in the price of admission. 


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