Saving summer: 20 great free family days in Britain | UK public holidays

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1

Roskilly Farm, St Keverne, Cornwall

Get hands-on at this working farm near the southern tip of mainland Britain, where you can see how From Roskilly the famous organic ice creams are made from the farm’s Jersey cows. Take a wildlife walk, feed the ducks and try a cone or two.


2

Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

Photography: N-Photo Magazine/Future/Getty Images

Run wild through a prehistoric marvel without the tourist circus of Stonehenge, a 30 minute drive. Much of the village is inside Britain’s largest stone circle – originally around 100 stones – which in turn encloses two smaller circles.


3

Strawberry Fair, Cambridge

The popular festival returns after a break imposed by Covid with a new theme: Love the Planet. Attractions include a band contest, the Portland Ballroom, a family space with crafts and bubbles, the solar-powered Scarecrow Corner, and live music ranging from samba to drum ‘n’ bass and more by jazz.
Midsummer Common, Cambridge, June 11


4

Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh

Illustration of a woman looking at flowers

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse collection of microbiomes than in these 70 acres: there is a rock garden, a Chinese hill, mountains, an arboretum and the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden, with native plants such as marsh myrtle. The greenhouses are closed, but visitors can still enjoy great panoramic views across the city skyline to Edinburgh Castle. Current free exhibits include Yan Wang Preston’s audio-visual installation With love. of an invader, in which the artist conducts a study of wild rhododendron in the context of rising xenophobia and racism caused by Brexit and the pandemic. There is also a weekly chance to meet and question the gardener.


5

Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Go on a fossil hunt on the many trails that cross Walton-on-the-Naze, billing itself as “England’s friendliest seaside resort” and one of the sunniest spots in the country. Shark teeth are a particularly impressive find on the beach.


6

salt mill, Saltaire, West Yorkshire

David Hockney's greatest work
Photography: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Visit the former Grade II listed textile factory to see David Hockney’s A Year in Normandy, which takes you through the four seasons in a huge frieze longer than the Bayeux tapestry that inspired it. The work has never been shown in the UK before. If you find yourself with free time afterwards, Salt Mill has an eclectic selection of shops, including one that sells antique musical instruments: ideal when only a lute will do.


One for older children and adults, the new, larger museum opened in east London in March. There is a permanent exhibition on gynecological anatomy, a temporary exhibition on menstruation, as well as a community gallery, an events program and a cafe.


8

The Burrel Collection, Glasgow

Illustration of a woman looking at four paintings

Re-opening after six years of £68million refurbishment, the collection features 9,000 objects acquired by shipping magnate William Burrell, including armour, paintings, Chinese porcelain, and Roman and Egyptian antiquities. Highlights from one of the largest private collections in the world include a Meiping Vase from the Ming Dynasty, as well as paintings by Manet, Cézanne and Degas.


Built on the site of a mining complex, Heartlands combines social story with adventurous play – plus a café housed in a Grade II listed former carpentry shed. It occupies 19 acres of a Unesco World Heritage Site and features a number of exhibits celebrating the mining heritage of the area, giving a sense of what it was like to descend into the pit. There are also landscaped botanical gardens, an adventure playground, and arts and crafts workshops.


ten

Formby Beach, Merseyside

Formby beach and sand dunes
Photography: Gemma Howarth Rymill/Getty Images/EyeEm

Look past the umbrellas and lollipops and stroll along one of Europe’s best moving sand dune habitats at Formby Beach; you might even spot red squirrels in Forest maintained by the National Trust in Formby, as well as 15 species of orchids.


11

National Wool Museum, Carmarthenshire

Wool was once big business in the Teifi Valley in West Wales and these restored mill buildings near Newcastle Emlyn tell the story. Discover the journey from fleece to fabric on the A Woolly Tale trail, watch demonstrations on historic looms, then try your hand at carding, spinning and sewing.


12

Coed y Brenin Forest Park, near Dolgellau

Illustration of two people and a dog wearing walking gear, hats and backpacks, three birds in the sky above them

It can be hard to persuade kids to put on their hiking boots and head out into the hills. One solution is to turn it into a giant outdoor game of hide and seek using geocaching. To this park In the heart of Snowdonia there are hidden caches, or treasure troves, along two trails that you can find using maps and Global Positioning System-enabled devices (if your phone isn’t at height, hire a at the visitor center). The circular paths follow forest roads and pass disused gold mines, the Roman road to Sarn Helen and a medieval forge. For more adventure, there are mountain bike trails; for a quieter visit, head to the playgrounds and cafe.


13

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Kids will love to run the museumthe giant hamster wheel to generate energy, take selfies with Dolly the sheep, and say hello to a life-size T rex (the cast of a skeleton found in Montana in 1988). They can also drive a Formula 1 simulator and release a hot air balloon.


14

Morecambe Bay, Lancashire

The statue of comedy legend Eric Morecambe at Morecambe Promenade on October 16, 2020 in Morecambe, England.
Photography: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There is a definite buzz around Morecambe, with the hope that the ground will soon be open for the Eden Project North. The northern sibling of the Cornish site will focus on the marine environment and will be built into giant, transparent domes on the promenade. Before the crowds descend, why not head to the seaside resort and stroll along the prom, stopping to play double penny slots and some pink sticky cotton candy before grabbing a family photo next to the hopping statue of Eric Morecambe by the shore and eating cake at art deco glamor Midland Hotel.


Become an art detective at Out of the box exhibition, where the public can see behind the scenes of Manchester’s state-owned sculpture collection. About 60 are on display; previously in storage, they were simply unpacked and left for public inspection, without any information about their historical significance.


16

The donkey sanctuary, Devon

A donkey looking through a fence at the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, UK
Photography: Nathan Fry/Getty Images/iStockphoto

From its humble origins as a charity in 1969, the donkey sanctuary has become an international animal welfare advocate and now has around 200 donkeys at its site on the Jurassic Coast near Sidmouth, complete with a footpath, education area, play area and cafe. Admission is free but tickets must be reserved.


17

promenade gardens, St. Anne, Lancashire

Illustration of a Woman in an Orange Swimsuit and White Swimming Cap Diving, with Water Splashing Below Her

If the Irish Sea seems a little chilly, kids aged 3-12 might prefer to get wet at this time. colorful water park. There are spray loops (which drench you from all angles), bucket drops (which gradually fill up and dunk you when you least expect it), and spectator seats (which hopefully , will stay dry). Admission is free but reservation is essential.


18

Great eastern pingo trail, Norfolk

A fascinating eight-mile walk through a watery and forested landscape formed during the last ice age. pingo ponds were created when the water below the ground froze and expanded, pushing the earth up. As the area warmed and the ice melted, the ground collapsed, leaving small circular craters, many of which filled with water.


19

Chatsworth House, derbyshire

The Attrata, a sculpture by artists Margaret Long and Orion Fredericks, which features in the exhibition 'Radical Horizans: The Art of Burning Man' in the grounds of Chatsworth House near Bakewell, northern England, on March 24 2022
Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Moved from the Nevada desert to a park outside a stately home in England, Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man at Chatsworth will feature 12 major pieces showcasing the creative spirit of the festival, in which teams of volunteers gather in the desert to build new works of art. Three sculptures will be made in the park with the help of visitors and local community groups over the course of the year.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, until October 1


20

Southern Marine Park, Southern Shields

This seaside park includes a miniature steam train, paddle boats on the boating lake and two soft play areas. There is also an unusual inhabitant: the Herma Merma Dragora, a half-dragon, half-human, half-fish, half-horse statue. It was created by sculptor Richard Broderick with the help of local schoolchildren and is part of a 10-piece trail reflecting the region’s heritage and landscape. The Friends of the North and South Marine Parks hold regular events, many in the Victorian bandstand, and there are free live music from local bands on Saturdays.

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