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Summer Survival Kit

girl lying on the grass hair with yellow flowersWorried how the hell you’re going to do to keep those little balls of energy we call our children entertained for the looong summer break? No problem! We’ve searched high and low for the best days out, fab museums and castles, high-energy indoor and outdoor fun and camps and classes to keep your calendar packed throughout the holidays. You’re welcome!



Longleat, Warminster, Wilts

Enter a land of adventure where lions roam, tigers stalk, monkeys swing and predators terrify in the new Predators Season – yep, the UK’s No 1 safari park just keeps getting better and better. With a safari drive-through, Longleat House and Grounds, Jungle Kingdom, Adventure Castle, Family Farmyard, Longleat Railway, Little Explorers Garden and a penguin walk-through (and that’s just for starters) it’ll keep your Mudlets entertained for a day or three. Or book into The Bath Arms next door and bunk up for the whole summer…New this July are the Amur tigers (the largest big cats in the world. Yikes), painted pop-up pandas everywhere you look and of course T.rex: The Killer Question. All the way from the Natural History Museum, T.rex is a prehistoric installation of epic proportions with 8 animatronic dinosaur models taking you on a journey to decide: was the T.rex  a predator or a scavenger? Phew!


Go Ape, Mallards Pike Lake & Beechenhurst Lodge, Forest of Dean, Glos

Deep in the beautiful royal forest, hours of aerial fun await with tree climbing, rope bridges and zip lining. And if you’re no Tarzan, you can keep your feet on the ground and zoom around on the forest Segway trail instead. (Note: if you have very little people, check the height restrictions before you head off.)


Roves Farm. Sevenhampton, Wilts

Meet and feed the farmyard residents, collect eggs from the chickens and take part in loads of family activities scheduled throughout the week. The end of July sees the big bear hunt and if you feel like making a weekend out if it, you can set up camp for fun, games and BBQs.


Monkey World, Warehams, Wilts

Get up close and personal with our furry cousins at monkey world. There’s always guaranteed entertainment from jokester orangutans, as well as four different types of gibbons to meet. Run wild around the giant parks, but no monkey business!


Jungleparc, Lydiard Park, Swindon, Wilts

Swing in the treetops at Jungleparc this summer, with loads of activities are suitable for children as young as three. And if you’re a big kid or adult – and are feeling extra brave – there is the Xplorer course which, be warned, is VERY high.


Cholderton Charlies Farm, Cholderton, Salisbury, Wilts

This lovely family farm makes for the perfect relaxing day out meeting animals, playing in the indoor soft play area if it’s wet, enjoying lunch at the Ewe café. All the pens are designed to be interactive, so you can get up close and personal with all the wildlife.


Kids Combat Adventures, near Chippenham, Wilts

Enter the battlefield and get ready for a fight at Kids Combat Adventure. Outdoor laser tag will tick most kids’ boxes (and is a lot less painful than paintball apparently).


Puzzlewood, Coleford, Forest of Dean, Glos

This beautiful woodland in the heart of the Forest of Dean is like something out of a fairy tale – or a film or the telly, literally; Star Wars: The Force AwakensDr Who and Merlin were all filmed here. Puzzleford’s unworldly, 14-acre forest has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, including winding vine paths and a willow maze. And if you want to stay for the weekend, you can even book your own cottage tucked away in the greenery and enjoy a weekend in your own little mythical utopia.


Lydiard Park, near Swindon, Wilts

The super stunning Lydiard Park set in 260 acres of beautiful parkland has a jam-packed schedule of events over the holidays that could keep you busy all summer, including outdoor cinema nights, teddy bear picnics and family fun days.


Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power, near Cheltenham, Glos

Warning, extreme cuteness incoming. Keep your phone on camera mode as you watch your little ones hand feed lambs, kid goats, chicks and rabbits (I know, aww). There’s also a chance for them to become fully-fledged farmers at tractor school, run wild around nature trails, zoom down zip wires and race around the giant maze.


Slimbridge Wetland Centre, near Dursley, Glos

Take canoe tours around the water trail to spot the varied wildlife that settles in Slimbridge’s gorgeous surroundings, follow the giant Lego trail, get stuck into nest building and survival camp – basically, you can move in here for summer. All bases covered.


Castle Combe Circuit, Castle Combe, near Chippenham, Wilts

This home of motorsport has been welcoming petrol-heads for 65 years with a whole load of driving experiences on offer, from rally driving to super-car fun. And kids don’t just have to be passengers – there’s an under 12 driving school where they can get behind the wheel themselves – eek!


National Dive Centre, Tidenham, Chepstow, Glos

Surrounded by a jaw-dropping quarry and slightly terrifying cliff edge, the National Dive Centre has a whole host of wet and dry fun to keep any adrenaline-junkie family happy. Soar through the water with fly boards or go deep below in diving classes. And if you fancy keeping dry, the giant 3G swing or zip wire will get your heart pumping. And if you want to stay over, there are fab glamping pods to hole up in.



Funky Warehouse, Cheltenham, Glos

This trampoline park takes the whole jumping experience to the next level with something for everyone – from babies to grannies (sprightly ones anyway)! With a toddler soft play area; 28 trampolines; Ninja Warrior ropes, hoops and cargo nets; a wobbly monkey bar; jump boxes; a gladiator-style battle beam; and foam pits galore, do you need anything else? I don’t think so.


Rush Skatepark, Stroud, Glos

The biggest skate park in Europe, Rush offers jaw-dropping ramps in its five sophisticated parks in the 40,000 sq ft space that was once the warehouse studios of Damien Hirst. Yes, creativity runs in its veins. It’s awesome and, if you want to put a date in your diary, on Sat 28 July there’s the Summer Skateboard Jam with thrills and prizes up for grabs.


Wessex Raceway, Salisbury, Wilts

This massive 700m indoor track is exactly what the doctor ordered for any rainy day during this summer break. Completely weatherproof, it’ll burn off even the most hyper child’s pent-up energy.


JDR Karting, Gloucester, Glos

Boy racers will absolutely love this one, and it’s a great option for a birthday party. Suit up ‘The Stig’-style, put the pedal to the metal and race around the amazing indoor track. You may even end up on the podium and bringing home a trophy at the end of the day.


Jolly Roger Adventure, Swindon, Wilts

Bouncy castles, arcade games, slides, and climbing nets – does a kid need anything more? One of the largest indoor play centres in the South West, this is a great day out for small and big kids alike, and, if you’re lucky you might meet the famous resident mascot, Charlie the parrot.


The Warehouse Climbing and Caving Centre, Gloucester, Glos

I recently went to a talk by an Everest adventurer who started his ‘career’ aged 13 on a climbing wall. So if you’re harbouring a young Ranulph Fiennes, who knows what you might trigger as she or he scales the impressive 13m wall here or ditches the ropes and goes bouldering in the lower levels. There’s also a dedicated kids’ room for anyone who’s a bit too small for the big wall. And a cave, built with tunnels and chambers, which feels like you’re really caving somewhere deep down below.



Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Glos

This ancient fortress where the Berkeley family has lived since the 12th century (and where Edward II was imprisoned and died, some suspect under dubious circumstances) is one of the country’s most amazing living pieces of history with its arrow slits, murder holes, battlements and fairy-tale warm pink stone. During the summer there are endless activities ­– from storytelling and circus shows to archery, falconry and loads of arts and craft. Plus, every Monday throughout July and August, grandparents go free – and they can get a complimentary cup of tea too!


Museum in the Park, Stratford Park, Stroud, Glos

Fossil rubbing, garden printing, magical box making, print making – is there any creative activity that Stroud’s Museum in the Park doesn’t do?! Plus there are bee and butterfly trails to explore, as well as the inspiring permanent exhibition and beautiful art exhibitions.


Corinium Museum, Cirencester, Glos

Study local and ancient history at Cirencester’s brilliant Corinium Museum with exhibitions that take you on a journey through time, marking the development of the Cotswolds from the early prehistoric landscape to modern-day society.


Wiltshire Museum, Devizes, Wilts

This award-winning gallery in Devizes contains the largest collection of early Bronze Age gold ever displayed in England, as well as 500 Stonehenge artefacts and makes a great day out for budding historians and archaeologists.


The Salisbury Museum, Salisbury, Wilts

Journey back to medieval times to the earliest evidence of human occupation in Salisbury. Learn how the people lived and what struggle they went through to reach where they are today. Plus, make a note in your diary – on Saturday 21 July, The Festival of Archaeology comes to the museum for a unique weekend celebrating local history.


Chedworth Roman Villa, Yanworth, near Cheltenham, Glos

One of the grandest Roman villas in Britain are sticking to their roots and inviting families to join in on celebrating roman culture. Kids can dive head first into the dress up box and dress themselves in traditional robes, walk around the beautiful nature trails and become part of history by mucking in on the big mosaic excavation.


Steam Museum, Swindon, Wilts

All aboard the Steam Museum express! Come along and learn the history of the Great Western Railway which helped make the West Country what it is today. With plenty of interactive displays and historical talks, it’s a great day out for curious children who love a bit of history – and train-obsessed toddlers!


Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Glos

With its fab adventure playground and Summer Children’s Wednesdays – where there’ll be bouncy castles, an inflatable activity centre for under fives, storytelling and arts and craft – this stunning castle set in equally stunning grounds is a day out no-brainer.



Summer School, Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wilts

There is honestly something for everyone at Marlborough College this summer, and it’s for the whole family too – you can send your kids as day students or the whole family can stay on site together, like a mini holiday.  Children are split into Junior Troopers, Young Adventurers and Teenagers, with a bonkers amount of action-packed courses to choose from including Mountain Biking, Yoga, Cricket, Water Polo, Jewellery Making, Drama and Performance Skills, Stay Alive Survival, Light Saber Combat and Duelling Training (yup!) and a Young Chef’s Academy courtesy of Vaughan’s Kitchen (see below). For adults, courses include arts & crafts, landscape and architecture, literature and creative writing, history, music, dance, theatre and film, technology and computing, life skills, sport, country pursuits…phew!


Young Chefs Academy, Vaughan’s Kitchen, Devizes, Wilts, Thurs 9 Aug

Aimed at ten to 16 year olds, this course will give children the confidence and skills they need to fend for themselves (hurrah, I’m off to the pub then!). Seriously though, they’ll learn knife skills (safe ones), how to handle ingredients, timings and lot of other food know-how. They’ll also get to make lots of mess, have loads of fun and come home with a whole load of new recipes to try out on the family.


Family Cooking Together, Daylesford Cookery School, Daylesford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Glos, Sun 12 & Sun 26 Aug

They say the family that eats together, stays together, so this fab day’s cooking in the salubrious surroundings of Daylesford will be good for you in more ways than one. There will be lots of late-summer flavours from the market garden to experiment with and a chance to explore the 25-acre horticultural wonder. Suitable for ages four plus, ingredients, refreshments and lunch all included.


Kids Cookery Course, Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wilts, dates throughout July and August

These half-day courses for adults and children are a great way to introduce your kids to the basics of cooking and teach them the importance of fresh, seasonal produce. Suitable for ages six to 13, you’ll enjoy an excellent bonding experience and go home with lots of yummy treats, including pork meatballs, pancakes with chocolate sauce and blueberry cupcakes.


Theatreland Workshop, Southrop, Glos, Mon 27 to Fri 31 Aug

Got Mudlets between the ages of seven and 17 who were born to go on the stage? Do they love performing and having fun? Then look no further, as Theatreland Workshops return to the Cotswolds this August. The workshops give young people a chance to work with inspiring professionals from across the business, and whatever your ability you will be pushed to a new performance level, covering musical production numbers, acting pieces, audition technique, choreography, singing and whole bag more. And this time it’s a workshop themed around The Greatest Showman – get ready to hear the songs on loop!


The School of Wizardry, Dean Close, Cheltenham, Glos, Tue 7 to Sat 11 & Mon 13 to Fri 17 Aug 

A spellbinding week of magic and wizardry awaits courtesy of the Cheltenham Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’s wand-erful School of Wizardry. Kids will walk into the pages of Harry Potter and be immersed in a Hogworts-style environment for the week where there’ll be music to sing, stories to act out and, of course, spells to be cast taught to them by bona fide magicians from The Magic Circle. Email the Magic Team at or call 07545 345655


Youth Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Glos, Mon 13 to Fri 17 & Mon 20 to Fri 24 Aug

This professional-level stage school dispenses two weeks of high kicks, music hits and brilliant one liners and a chance for your kids to bond, gain confidence and learn independence. Plus, you’ll get to see your shining star in action on the theatre main stage.


Theatre Studio Summer School, Cheltenham Playhouse, Cheltenham, Glos, Mon 20 to Fri 24 Aug

Performing arts is a great way for kids to build confidence and develop creatively and the Theatre Studio’s courses are fab. And it’ll fill a week of the summer holidays! For young performers between the ages of four and 19, it’s a great way for kids to mix with all ages too. And you’ll get to watch a performance at the end of the week.


Junior Golf Camps, Bowood Golf Course, Calne, Wilts, Mon 6 to Fri 10 & Mon 13 to Fri 17 Aug

Got the next Tiger Woods on your hands? Send him or her off to this brilliant golf camp, where they will learn to swing a club, putt and get a hole in one. Golf clubs and balls are provided, and the first week is for six to eight year olds, the second week for ages nine to 12.


Sloggerz Holiday Camps, Wiltshire Cricket, various venues, Wilts, dates in July and August

No experience necessary, these jam-packed camps focus on fun games, individual skill development and soft ball matches for boys and girls, with everyone getting a chance to play a match and make friends.


Words by Amy Ballantyne

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