The Summer School Holidays Activities Guide

The best activities for families and kids in London and the rest of the UK

Wondering how to keep the kids happy during the summer holidays? Even without venturing abroad, there’s plenty to explore, from child-friendly activities in London to country kids’ clubs, fetes and camping adventures. Here’s a list of summer holiday activities and luxury family experiences to check out with the children this summer in London and across the UK (click here to skip ahead to non-London events). You never know, you might even enjoy it…

Summer Holidays Guide 2023: The Best Things To Do In London

David Attenborough’s BBC Earth Experience

The Daikin Centre, Empress Place, London SW6 1TT

BBC Earth Experience

Fancy introducing the kids to London’s freshest eco-attraction this summer? This BBC Earth Experience explores the natural world across three breakout zones in a 360° audio-visual journey with narration from David Attenborough. Little ones can learn all about the world’s extraordinary biodiversity across all seven continents and seas – plus, at the end, hear David Attenborough’s top tips to protect our planet.

BOOK IT: Tickets are £21.50 for adults and £18.50 for children aged 3-15; children under 3 go free. bbcearthexperience.com

Meet Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking

The Other Palace, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA

Meet Pippi Longstocking

© Martin Bamford

Olivier award winning director Helena Middleton and award-winning storyteller Danyah Miller’s quirky adaptation of Pippi Longstocking is coming to Victoria this July, providing a 45 minute window for little ones to explore her playful world. There’s also an optional post-show craft activity to enjoy.

BOOK IT: 13–16 July 2023. Book tickets at theotherpalace.co.uk

Summer On The Square

Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS

The National Gallery

© National Gallery, London

Throughout August, the National Gallery will return with its Summer On The Square programme, bringing free daily creative sessions and activities to the heart of London for all to enjoy. nationalgallery.org.uk

Chess Fest

Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS

After the incredible success of its inaugural appearance in 2021 and another great year in 2022, Chess Fest is back in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 16 July. Showcasing the inclusivity and educational benefits of chess through a series of free events, Chess Fest is expected to attract a crowd of over 10,000 people. chess-fest.com

Embark on a Harry Potter Bus Tour

King’s Cross St Pancras Station

Photo by Vitor Monteiro on Unsplash

On Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer holidays, Harry Potter fans can dive into the magic of their favourite books and films through a bus tour around the capital’s key locations from the series. The three-hour coach tour covers shooting locations from all eight films, from King’s Cross Station to the Leaky Cauldron via 12 Grimmauld Place.

BOOK IT: £32.50 per person. isango.com

Chelsea Physic Garden

Take a trip to London’s oldest botanic garden, Chelsea Physic Garden, for a range of family-friendly activities. Open Sunday to Friday, events are running throughout the summer holidays, from Wild Immersive Theatre to a Chocolate Workshop to making paint with plants. chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk


Kingston, Paddington or Canary Wharf

goboat london

Spend the afternoon with the family on a boat on one of the city’s rivers. GoBoat offers private hire for groups of up to eight in Paddington, Kingston and Canary Wharf. The best bit? You can enjoy your on-water experience without harming the environment, as the boats are made from recycled plastic and use electric engines. No boating experience is necessary.

BOOK IT: goboat.co.uk

Shakespeare’s Globe

21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

Family Guided Tour at Shakespeare's Globe

Family Guided Tour © Pete La May

Start them young at The Globe this summer on London’s Bankside. It’s not just plays the kids can enjoy: try an interactive family workshop brining A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life (until 26 August); embark on a guided tour of the theatre, exploring the gritty context Shakespeare worked in (until 29 October); or watch Midsummer Mechanicals, the Olivier Award nominated family show based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which follows Peter Quince’s acting troupe as they attempt to recapture the success of their first hit Pyramus and Thisbe, a show so bold, brilliant and chaotic that it went down in theatre history (22 July–26 August). shakespearesglobe.com

Summer Holidays Guide 2023: The Best Things To Do Across The UK

War Of The Roses LIVE

Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU

War of the Roses live

Warwick Castle’s ever-popular mediaeval event is back for its longest run ever. Expect to be immersed in a world of knights, battles and jousting – plus, see huge projectiles, falcons and archers.

BOOK IT: Tickets from £26 per person. warwick-castle.com

Circus Skills Workshop

Eastnor Castle, Eastnor, Ledbury HR8 1RN

A man performing circus skills with a crowd

At the foot of the Malvern Hills, Eastnor Castle is surrounded by a beautiful deer park and lake. Enjoy a summer holidays day out there with the woodland play area, Knight’s Maze, ice cream parlour all summer. Or, at the start of August, clown around with Thomas Trilby and join in with interactive circus fun.

BOOK IT: 30 July–3 August 2023. eastnorcastle.com 

Visit Carlyon Beach, Cornwall

Saint Austell PL25 3RG

Carlyon Beach

Cornwall is always heaving during the summer holidays – but you can escape the crowds at lesser-known gem Carlyon Beach, perched on the south coast. Head there this summer to explore a collection of local food and drink pop-ups, plus opportunities for kayak hire and kids bootcamps. visitcornwall.com 

Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo

Symonds Yat West, Ross-on-Wye HR9 6DA

Opposite Symonds Yat Rock in Herefordshire, the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo is a peaceful attraction where youngsters can explore the tropical world of butterflies. There’s also a hedge maze – great fun for all the family.

BOOK IT: Open 10am–5pm everyday. butterflyzoo.co.uk 

Family-Friendly Bike Ride

A young boy learning how to ride a bike in a field

Get outdoors this summer holidays (weather permitting, of course) and explore some of the best routes of the National Cycle Network. Check out our round-up of the best family-friendly bike rides in the UK.

Big Feastival

Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6UJ

Big Feastival

Held on founder and Blur star Alex James’ farm in Kingham, the Big Feastival features a host of big names in family-friendly entertainment. This year’s family friendly line-up features CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher, Paw Patrol and Alice in Aerialand, while adults will enjoy performances from the likes of Rick Astley, Sigrid, The Vaccines and example.

BOOK IT: 25–27 August 2023. thebigfeastival.com

See more family-friendly festivals in our guide

Play Tennis For Free

A girl playing tennis

If the kids are driving you mad and they need to work off some energy this summer, get them started with some tennis lessons. Before you sign up for weekly coaching at your local club, why not give them a go through sporting charity Tennis for Free, which offers free weekly two-hour coaching sessions across England and Scotland for ages three and up. tennisforfree.com

The Story Museum

42 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP

The Story Museum

© John Cairns

The Story Museum in Oxford makes a lovely trip for the family, with plenty of activities for a range of ages, with multiple events running throughout the summer. Young children aged 0-5, meanwhile, will love the Small Worlds play space. storymuseum.org.uk

Port Lympne

Aldington Road, Lympne, Hythe CT21 4LR

A must-visit for animal-lovers, this Kent-based conservation charity is not your average UK wildlife experience this summer. Whether you opt for a day visit or a short stay, you’ll come face to face with big cats, gorillas, giraffes and many more. If you really want to push the boat out, (and blow their minds in the process) book in for a stay at Tiger Lodge, where tigers play right outside your (very sturdy) windows. aspinallfoundation.org

Forest Nets at Celtic Manor Resort

Caerleon, Newport NP18 1HQ

Forest Nets at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

If you want to drag the kids away from their screens during the summer holidays and get them playing outside instead, take a day trip to the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales and check out the Forest Nets, where kids can clamber through the trees bouncing on suspended nets. It is absolutely as fun as it sounds, for the young and young-at-heart alike. celtic-manor.com