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Cool stuff to do with kids this summer #2

Okay, so that’s a couple of weeks done, but there are still a couple more to go. So if you’re feeling frazzled here are a few more ideas for days out with the kids. Though if the sun is shining, a day at home under the sprinkler is a fave in the Muddy Surrey backyard. You can also check out my guide to book-ahead workshops and summer camps right here. I’ll be updating this list thoughout the summer so keep checking it!


The Medicine Garden, Cobham


Children’s entertainers, Dazzle and Fizz are holding workshops twice a week at the the Medicine Garden in Cobham. They’ll cover sports, circus, craft, science, games and dance.  They’re for children up to 12 years and they’re on every Tuesday and Thursday until 8 Sept. They’re an hour long and cost £12 per child (plus a £1.79 booking fee), so this probably isn’t something you’ll do every day, but might be nice for a special outing. The early years workshops are from 10.30, those for kids aged 4-7 years are at 12.30, 8-12 years at 2.30 and for kids with special needs workshops are at 2.30. Booking is essential.

The Medicine Garden, Downside Road, Cobham, KT11 3LU.


The Ashley Centre, Epsom


If you’re kids aren’t glued to the telly watching the best of what’s going on in Rio, there are free events every Wednesday at the Ashley Centre in Epsom to get them in the Olympic mood. The workshops are on from 10am-4pm outside House of Fraser, and include decorating a gold medal cookie (17 Aug), making Olympic gymnast shapes of sportsmen and women competing on the parallel bars, beams pommel horse or rings (24 Aug), and making and decorating Olympic sweatbands to take home (31 Aug). Parents are requested to stay with their kids, so don’t get ideas about leaving them while you do a spot of shopping. But they are free, and it’ll keep them occupied for an hour to two!

Ashley Centre, Ashley Road, Epsom KT18 5AB.

RHS Wisley, Woking


Wisley throws everything at the summer holidays and this year they’re theming it around rockets and space, following Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the International Space Station. There are a variety of workshops throughout the summer, covering craft, cooking and gardening. For a full list of workshops click here. All of the activities are free, except the space cookery and craft sessions on Tuesdays that you must book in advance. Call the booking line on 020 3176 5840. Most of the activities are on from 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.30pm. Normal garden admission still applies.

On the weekend of 6-7 August, there will be birds of prey demonstrations. You’ll have the chance to get up close to the birds and watch them agility displays at 11am and 2pm on each of the days.

Wisley RHS Gardens, Woking, GU23 6QB. Tel: 0845 260 9000.


Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey


There’s plenty going on all summer at the the former home of King Henry VIII. From 6-21 August there’s the Summer Garden Adventure, where you pick up a trail map from the information centre and go off in search of Henry and Mary’s ambitious ideas, big spending and exotic wonders. This is recommended for families with children aged 5-14 years. The cost is included in the palace admission price, and it’s from 11am-4pm.

If you can’t prize your kids away from their screens, you could download the Time Explorers app and go on an interactive adventure at the palace. Download the app before you visit – there are three options: The Clerk’s Fantastic Feast, The Ambassador’s Secret Assignment, and The Architect’s Design Dilemma. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Tel: 0844 482 7777.


Brooklands Museum, Weybridge


Brrrm brrrm. Throughout the summer holidays, every Monday to Thursday, Brooklands Museum will be operating car rides. The team will take you in a vintage-style motor car up the steep Test Hill, along the awesome banked track and back down the Finishing Straight where you will be dropped back. You’re allowed to go as many times as you like but they do ask for a minimum donation of £1 per passenger, per ride.

There will also be family workshops. These change frequently and range from building your own powered ‘Peg Car’ using every day household materials, launching your own ‘Mousetranaut’ to making your own magnetic racing car and track or building your own paper helicopter. This week, from 25 – 29 July, it’s Ticket to Fly, where you’ll celebrate 105 years since the world’s first flight ticket office opened at Brooklands, and kids can design and create their own flight ticket, before using it to board one of our aeroplanes.

Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Rd, Weybridge KT13 0QN. Tel:


The Lightbox, Woking


The Lightbox is another one that throws the kitchen sink at summer school holidays. There are a range of book-ahead workshops, which I’ve included in my summer camps and book ahead guide. Or for a full list you can also click here. There are also free daily drop-in workshops throughout the summer, with everything from balloon modelling to circus skills. The times differ for each of the workshops. For a full list of what’s on, and the times, click here.

The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking GU21 4AA. Tel: 01483 737800.


Peter Pan All-day Spectacle, Groombridge Place, near Tunbridge Wells, until 31 Aug


Photo by Matt Salmon photography

Meet the boy who never grow up, Captain Hook and Tinkerbell at these themed events with 15 and 45 minute performances throughout the day, musical workshops, boat rides and the chance for youngsters to get their faces painted. There’s heaps more too do besides with an enchanted forest, zip wires and more. Entry to Groombridge Place is £14.95 for adults, £10.95 for children and £45 for families.

Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9QG.


National Trust

Family in the grounds at Castle Ward, Northern Ireland.

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
Once the playground of princesses, Claremont Landscape Garden is now yours to explore. Children’s ‘carnival’ activity week is from 6 to 14 August, where there will be activities in the thatched cottage every morning from Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 12.30pm. Activities cost £1.50 plus normal admission. A children’s trail is also available at Claremont throughout the summer holidays (the cost is a just 50p).

Claremont Landscape Garden, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9JG. Tel: 01372 467806.


Dapdune Wharf, Guildford 
Take the kids on a journey back in time down on the Wharf, in the centre of Guildford, where you can try on Victorian clothes and take a boat trip on the River Wey. There are activities every Tuesday and Thursday in August plus star gazing and model railway events.

50 Things Tuesday: Every Tuesday in August, 11am – 5pm
With different activities to try every Tuesday, make Dapdune Wharf your base for trying out 50 Things activities this summer. There is also pop-up children’s willow-weaving on Tues 2 and 9 August for a small additional charge.
Normal admission

Wild Wey Water Fun: Every Thursday in August, 11am – 5pm
Join the Learning Team every Thursday for fun water-themed activities. Take on the water wall challenge or build your own water-wey, plus lots more. Bring a towel and a change of clothes.

A Night With the Stars: 13 August, 8.30pm
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: 20 August, 11am – 5pm
If model trains are your thing, then head to the wharf for the Astolat Model Railway Circle open day. See their layouts, have a go and learn how they are built and operated. Bring your own OO/HO or N locos to run. Normal admission applies.

Dapdune Wharf, Wharf Road, Guildford, GU1 4RR. Tel: 01483 455056.


Leith Hill Place, near Dorking
An atmospheric house, with panoramic views across the Surrey countryside, Leith Hill Place was once the childhood home of one of England’s greatest composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

‘Into the Wild’ Children’s Book Festival: Tue 26 Jul, 11am – 4pm
A day to celebrate books and stories, packed with author events, craft activities, storytelling, face painting, treasure hunts, fun competitions and much, much more. Come dressed as your favourite book character. Suited to kids aged 3 – 10. Tickets are £10 per child and give free entry to any author talks but these are first come, first served on the day.

Leith Hill Place, Leith Hill Lane , Leith Hill, nr Dorking, RH5 6LY. Tel: 01306 711685.


Hatchlands Park, Guildford
An historic parkland with beautiful wild flowers, ancient trees and plenty of space for all the family. This summer there are family activities every Friday at Hatchlands Park, plus a new tree house to explore, Sylvanian Families nature trail and Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren natural play area.

Funday Fridays: 5, 12, 19, 26 Aug, 11am-4pm
There will be arts and crafts, trails, giant garden games and fun activities. Cost is £2 per child plus normal admission.

Bat Walk: Thu 11 Aug, 8-10pm
Enjoy a twilight walk in the parkland and see how many of our bat species you can spot. Bat detectors provided.
£5 adult, £2.50 child booking essential

Hatchlands Park, East Wing Hatchlands, East Clandon, Guildford GU4 7RT. Tel: 01483 222482.


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.

Summer holiday crafts: Weekdays 25 July to Fri 26 August
Make a different Edwardian toy each week of the summer holidays. The cost is £2 per activity plus normal admissions.

Polesdenopoly: Every day in August
Be silly to get rich quick playing on the life-sized version of the classic board game with your family and friends. The cost is £5 per group of up to 5

Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, near Dorking, RH5 6BD.


Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming
Children’s summer trail: 23 Jul to 3 September
Winkworth Arboretum’s gorgeous trees and plants are set in a dramatic hillside location, surrounding a lake and wetland area. The 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.

Teddy bear’s picnic and storytelling: every Monday in August
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, cost is £3 per child plus normal admission.

Bat walk: 20 August, 8pm to 10pm
Explore the Arboretum with a bat expert to see if you can track down some brilliant bats.  Cost is adults £10, child £5.

Winkworth Arboretum, Hascombe Rd, Godalming, GU8 4AD.


Winnie-the-Pooh trail, Chartwell House, Westerham, until 1 Sept


Chartwell House just over in Kent has a special family trail featuring characters from the well-loved children’s story. Help Winnie-the-Pooh find all the bees that are hiding the honey on an adventure through the woodland and gardens . It runs daily until 1 Sept so plenty of chances to dive in when the weather’s good. Normal admission charges apply. The trial is a suggested £1 donation.



Colour and Vision Exhibition, Natural History Museum, London, now until 6 Nov

Colour and Vision exhibition graphic

If you’re all tuckered out from soft play or theme parks then I think kids will really enjoy this exhibition. Go behind the eyes of dogs (they can’t see red) and snakes (they have heat vision) with a stellar light installation created by British artist Liz West to illustrate how colour has shaped 565 million years of evolution. There’s lots more to see and do – I was (unsurprisingly) drawn to the special event on 29 July trying three colourful botanical cocktails as you learn about the natural world’s vibrant spectrum of colours. Ok, if you insist. Tickets: Adults £10.80; Children £5.40.


Fire! Fire! Museum of  London, until 17 April 2017

60134af2-0df3-4e83-a473-81fb30d4d2e7Just in time for the school hols this new interactive Great Fire of London exhibition has started at the Museum of London, bringing history lessons to life. Step into Pudding Lane and see what life was like for ordinary Londoners in the 17th century. Walk into the bakery where the fire started and see how the flames spread across the city. Play archaeologist and identify real objects melted by the flames. Hear personal stories of the people affected by the disaster. There’s even a restored 17th century fire engine on display. Tickets cost from £8 for adults if booked in advance, £4 for 5-16s.


Finding the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter Studios, Leavesden, Herts, now until Mon 5 Sept


The Harry Potter Studios manage to come up with new ideas every year to hoik Harry fans into its attraction, and this summer they’ve managed it again. For the first time, there’s a moving display of the Devil’s Snare that the trio encountered in their hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone in Creature Effects, plus the chance to  touch the giant tentacles that have been specially created as they were in the films. Kids can learn how one of Ron Weasley’s favourite games, Wizard’s Chess, was brought to life on a large scale with the giant chess pieces moving across a chequered board, as if by magic, on the HP backlot.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Herts.



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