Ten summer holiday activities for families

Published 20 July 2017

Looking for something to do with the kids over the holidays? From dinosaur sleepovers to space discos, we’ve rounded up 10 arty activities to get the whole family inspired this summer.

If you're wondering how to keep the kids occupied over the summer, worry not: museums and galleries around the UK are hosting plenty of special events, from workshops and exhibition-related activities to one-off experiences.

We've selected a few highlights below – some are free and drop-in, others are paid for and require booking in advance. Happy holidays!


Jupiter Artland

Kids can respond creatively to the current exhibitions at Jupiter Artland through a number of workshops this summer, including a session with emerging artist Marco Giordano, who’ll lead the group in making weird and wonderful portraits in pencil, paint and clay (9 Aug, for children and young people ages 10-13). You can also explore Pablo Bronstein’s new pavilion piece for Jupiter, then make your own structure and populate it with costumed characters (9 & 10 Aug, ages 5-9).

Out of This World

Tate Liverpool

Aleksandra Mir’s huge wall-hanging, Space Tapestry, forms the inspiration for a series of space-themed workshops at Tate Liverpool, where artist Antony Hall will help kids of all ages create model spacescapes (16-19, 23-26 & 28 Aug). There’s also an ongoing Space Disco in the Clore Learning Centre, where you can don a spacesuit, build a shelter and, well, dance. It’s a disco!

Shakespeare’s New Place: One Year On

Shakespeare’s Family Homes

Among a host of family friendly events at Shakespeare’s Family Homes this summer, there’s one particularly special occasion: the first anniversary of Shakespeare’s New Place, where you can celebrate with a party packed full of games, activities including origami workshops, and live music. There’s something for the grown-ups, too: free gin tastings courtesy of the Shakespeare Distillery (20 Aug).

Moonorooni Colourscape

Compton Verney

Children and adults can step into a spectrum of light this summer as the Colourscape experience comes to Compton Verney on 20 Aug. A series of 25 interconnected chambers flooded with intense colour create an audiovisual playground (and plenty of Instagram photo ops), while you can continue your sensory adventure at one of a series of Optical Art workshops, all related to the gallery’s Art of Perception exhibition (25 Jul-1 Sep, Tue-Fri and bank holidays, weekdays only).

Dino Snores for Kids

Natural History Museum

Ever dreamed of a night at the museum? Dreams become reality – then dreams again – at the Natural History Museum’s summer sleepovers, where kids can enjoy an action-packed evening of torch-lit trails and science shows and then snuggle down in one of the museum’s atmospheric galleries. There’s even breakfast and a live animal show in the morning (11 Aug & 9 Sep, ages 7-11).

Robots and Wonderlab

Science Museum

As well as visiting the Science Museum’s fascinating survey of humanoid robots, families can get hands-on at its recently opened Wonderlab gallery, where seven zones delve into the beauty and secrets of science and maths. You can ‘order’ live experiments at the Chemistry Bar, discover the solar system through a giant interactive orrery, and much more.

Glow in the Dark Park

Manchester Art Gallery

Inspired by Manchester Art Gallery’s current exhibition True Faith, which explores the visual legacy of iconic Manchester bands Joy Division and New Order, kids can make glow in the dark art and help build a new environment in the gallery’s learning studios (2-5 Aug, 9-12 Aug, 16-19 Aug, 23-26 Aug, all ages).

Summer Holiday Fun

National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art

One of our finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017, the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art are getting into the spirit of things with a series of activity-filled weekends where you can have a go at grooming a pony and learn more about the stables’ inhabitants (12-13 Aug, 19-20 Aug).

Our Studio by the Sea

Tate St Ives

Water babies will love the range of events on offer at Tate St Ives this summer, from the Great Aquarium Adventure – a daily drop-in session where you can make models and environments for aquatic creatures – to Beach Art Explorers, where you can scour the beach and make your own art inspired by Jessica Warboys’ sea paintings (2-30 Aug, every Weds, ages 5-12).

Summer Fun with Paint

House of Illustration

Led by illustrator Anna Rumsby and inspired by House of Illustration’s current exhibitions, this lively workshop will result in lots of colourful creations, from a wall drawing of an ice cream parlour to a tropical still-life and a hand-painted Japanese fan you can take home (26 Aug, ages 5-12).

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