Your Muddy Summer Guide has landed!
Muddy has you covered with the best things to do with kids in Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond this summer from foam parties to foodie festivals and Art in the Park!
Words by Rhiannon Pursall
NATURE & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Stratford Butterfly Farm
Plonking a giant hissing cockroach into their hands should keep them quiet for a while! The popular Meet the Mini-Beast handling session takes place twice a day throughout the summer. Once any squeamish tendencies are well and truly overcome, explore the rest of the Stratford Butterfly Farm and inspire young zoologists with hundreds of insects, reptiles, spiders and birds. There are also some new residents to meet, including tropical birds alongside stunning butterflies. New avian additions include Kakarikis, Diamond Doves, Java Sparrows and Rosy Bourkes – all striking in colour and mischievous in nature! Found in the Flight Area, the birds happily co-exist with the butterflies in their natural style habitat. Latest butterflies include Dero Clearwing from the rainforests of Columbia, the Procilla Beauty originating from Costa Rica and the Blue Pansy from Thailand.
Meet the Mini-Beast handling sessions take place at 11.30am and 2.30pm from 20 Jul to 01 Sep. Visit the website for more info or call 01789 299288.
Warwickshire Country Parks
Let ’em get their little mits grubby and their wellies muddy in Warwickshire’s 5 fabulous country parks. A wealth of activities throughout the summer will keep them so engrossed in wonderful wildlife they’ll never notice that you’ve slunk off for a cappuccino. There’s pond dipping and angling for water babies; paint mixing from natural ingredients and making insect cards for budding artists; shelter building and s’mores toasting for happy campers; and fairy rescuing for…erm…daydreamers. Activities are ticketed, bookable via the Warwickshire DC website, which serves all parks - Ryton Pools, Kingsbury Water, Pooley, Burton Dassett Hills and Hartshill Hayes.
Hatton Adventure World
The Great Summer Adventure takes place from July 20 – 1 September and features two brand new activities – foam parties and sports day races! The sports day races, which include traditional sack races, egg and spoon, and relay races, will take place at 11am & 1.30pm daily. Foam parties are the latest craze this year and will take place from 3.15pm – 4pm. Children can play in a giant inflatable foam pit which is continually topped up with foam while they play – sounds great fun – am wondering if adults can dive in too !!?. Plus there’ll be all the usual activities.
Zoo Club & new BRICKLIVE Big Cats exhibition, Twycross Zoo
From arts and crafts to poo picking, this is a true animal-loving kid’s paradise for 8-14-year-olds! Each day follows a different zoo related topic, involving fun and engaging activities. There is no physical contact with animals, due to Twycross Zoo’s policy to allow their fauna to behave as naturally as possible. Twycross Zoo is also the first place in the Midlands to host the LEGO® BRICKLIVE Big Cats exhibition, joining a roarsome summer line up including the arrival of two stunning new resident Sumatran tigers!
Zoo Club costs £25 per child per day or £110 per week and is available Mon-Fri from 22 Jul-23 Aug. Find out more and book
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Visited Orchard, 22 July-1 Sept – follow a unique treasure hunt around the site picking up clues that will unlock the stories of visitors from the past and present, including Second World War sweethearts, migratory birds, writers of letters and famous visitors. And write the story of your own visit and hang it on a special tree. If you have a four-legged friend don’t forget Shakes-paw’s Day, on 24 Aug, 10am-4pm – Bring your dog, a picnic and join in the fun with plenty of activities and competitions on National Dog Day. See all the family events at Shakespeare family homes.
Hillers Farm Shop, Alcester
The 4-acre Maize Maze is due to open daily from early August (date to be confirmed), £3 per child, and the miniature railway will be in action on Aug 24 & 25. Over the summer holidays also be on the lookout for birds of prey displays and ponies, on the farm’s social media platforms. Always open is the sandpit and secluded bird hide where over 40 species of birds have been spotted to date such as woodpeckers and nuthatches, hillers
The Big Feastival, Kingham, Oxfordshire
For foodie families The Big Feastival, based on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James in Kingham, Oxon, is a goodie. Top-notch chefs for the grown-ups (including Raymond Blanc, Jodie Kidd and Pru Leith), heaps for kids (circus top, playground, fair and activities) and a stellar pop line-up of Jess Glynne, Lewis Capaldi, Jade Bird and Rudimental (Fri 23 – Sun 25).
Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
This wild and wonderful destination has some special summer events to keep budding naturalists happy all holiday. The CotsWild Explorer Trail, running from 1 Jul-31 Dec and for 6-11 year olds, appeals to children’s compassionate side as they learn all about endangered animals. There’s also a bird of prey demo every weekend from 27 Jul-1 Sep, at 1pm and 3.30pm. Settle on the lawns in front of the Manor House as Cotswold Falconry work their magic, with spectacular birds soaring over your heads! If you visit during August – Rhino Month – you’re treated to a talk every day at 2pm to discover more about these majestic beasts and learn about current conservation efforts to save them.
SCIENCE & TECH
Space Themed Activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing over the hols in Warwick include:
- To the Moon and Beyond – free family activity, Market Hall Museum, Warwick, Wed, 24 Jul – 31 Aug – Visit the free exhibition on the ground floor on the first moon landing and see a piece of the moon. Come upstairs and add to a solar system artwork in the First Museum Gallery, lie back and watch the new planets and satellites orbit the sun inside the black hole tent. Space themed dressing up, toys and books also available to explore. During normal museum opening hours.
- Astronaut Training Camp with Susie Imber, Market Hall Museum, Wed 24 Jul – Complete an astronaut training camp and see if you’ve got what it takes to be an astronaut. Can you assemble equipment in space, carry out scientific research or manage a spacewalk? Complete all the training challenges to earn your certificate. Drop-in, 10am – 3pm. £2.50 per child. Book onto a Q&A session with Susie Imber, winner of BBC2’s Astronauts: Do you have what it takes? and quiz her about her astronaut training. Susie is an Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester and knows lots of fascinating things about space. Tickets: £5 per person, pre booking essential. Talks available at 10.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm.
- Mad Science – Surviving on an Alien Planet, Market Hall Museum, Wed 31 Jul – Join Mad Science to explore how we might survive on an alien planet and make your own alien slime to take home. Suitable for 6+ years. Workshops last 1 hour. Tickets £5 per child. Pre-booking essential, ticket includes the Moon and the Stars drop-in event. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Workshops at 10.15am – 11.15am, 11.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 2.30pm.
- The Moon and Stars, Market Hall Museum, Wed 31 Jul – Learn about the phases of the moon and the life of a star. Do you know where our closest star is? Make a moon mobile to take home. Drop-in, £2.50 per child. All children must be accompanied by an adult, 10am – 3pm.
- Mad Science – Space and Satellites, Market Hall Museum, Wed 21 Aug – Join Mad Science to explore space and space travel. Become a space engineer and build a working robot. Please note you won’t be able to take the robots home with you. Tickets £5 per child, Pre-booking essential. Ticket includes the Rockets and Robots drop-in event. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Workshops at 10.15am – 11.15am, 11.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 2.30pm.
Coventry Transport Museum
One for the STEM stars of the future! There’s a brilliant calendar of events over the summer, to keep young minds and hands engaged (and out of trouble). There are two activity streams: This Makes That with These suitable for 5+ and Make and Play Engineers for 2+. Also, don’t miss National Play Day on 7 Aug, when all of the museum’s exhibitions will be taken over by play!
Various dates throughout Jul & Aug; drop-in sessions run hourly and cost £2-3 per child (cash only). Designed for children aged 5+.
STEMtastic Summer School, Howes Primary School, Coventry
That enviable natural curiosity of young minds is let loose during these fun, energetic days of science and technology experiments. Activities are linked to the national curriculum – a bonus boost for the next school year. There’s a different intriguing theme each day, including Skeletons Galore, Rainbow Chemistry, Amazing Archimedes, Coding with Computers and Gloopy Glue. Suitable for 8-14-year-olds. Takes place 8.45-3.30pm from Mon 29 Jul-Fri 23 Aug and costs £19 per child per day. Book here.
A humbling place to visit, Bletchley Park is celebrated as the brave, brainy birthplace of modern IT. Its popularity and events diary are ever-growing. If you visit on a Tuesday or Thursday throughout the holidays there’s a drop-in family workshop, involving puzzles, games and challenges aimed at 5-14-year-olds. Enjoy a cerebral workout as you tackle the cybersecurity briefcase challenge, make a Morse code bracelet, find out how you can play teleprinter code on a music box and loads more. Every Monday and Friday from 29 Jul-23 Aug there’s an interactive family tour – Amazing People, Amazing Machines – which takes 45 minutes and gives all the fascinating facts about how the Enigma code was broken during WW2.
Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, Tue 23 Jul-Sat 31 Aug
It’s the Summer of Playful Making, with a different theme each week for this special programme of craft activities. Week 1 is ‘All About Me’; week 2 sees Plenty of Puppets; week 3 has Fun with Fairy tales; week 4 explores Recycled and Reimagined Crafts; week 5 involves Playful Printmaking; and week 6 draws summer to a close with Creative Construction. See details of all the activities here. The Herbert also hosts a series of Art Masterclasses for children aged 8-14, including Figure Drawing, Still Life with Pen and Ink and Linocut Printmaking, plus tours and other events – check out the calendar here.
Operates on a drop-in basis from 10am-3pm every day. £2.50 each (under 2s free). Designed for children aged 3+.
Art in the Park, Leamington Spa, Sat Aug 3 & Sun Aug 4
A free family-friendly weekend festival showcasing more than 200 artists, performers and craftspeople with a huge number of workshops for young creatives of all ages and free drop-in biodegradable glitter face and sparkle! On Saturday you can also join the team from Leamington’s award-winning Comic Com, (10am – 6pm).
Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Sat 27 Jul-Sat 31 Aug
Keep everyone occupied with a family workshop every Wed and Sat. Everything from collage to drawing to sculpture! Also check out their full programme of events for adult art masterclasses and some brilliant acts coming in September.
All family workshops begin at 10am and operate on free a drop-in basis. Details here.
THEATRE & HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS
Annie, Birmingham Hippodrome, until Sun 11 Aug
Flame-haired feisty fun explodes into the Hippodrome for 3 weeks only, so we’re hot-footing it over to Brum! Direct from London’s West End, the smash-hit production of Annie stars Jodie Prenger (winner of the BBC’s I’d Do Anything; Oliver!; Spamalot and Calamity Jane) as the tyrannical Miss Hannigan and was marvelled by The Times as a “glorious revival”. A Tony® award-winning book and score gets your feet tapping and heart singing.
Tickets on sale now.
Summer School, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Mon 29 Jul-Fri 2 Aug
Add some drama to the holidays with this popular workshop, where young people learn new skills, make new friends and have their curiosity sparked. The week-long workshop is split into two groups – Primary Group for ages 8-11 and Secondary Group for ages 11-16. If a child is between years 6 and 7, they can choose whatever group they feel most comfortable in. At 4pm on the final day, you’ll get to see for yourself what they’ve been working on when they share it in front of family and friends.
The workshop costs £135 in total for 5 days, per person. Family discounts if two or more siblings are booked onto the same event during the same term. Discount only applies when booking over the phone or in-person at the Box Office. Drop off 10am, pick up 4.30pm; or, for an extra £25 for the whole 5 days you can drop off at 8.45am and pick up at 5.15pm. No lunch or other refreshments provided – they’ll need a pack-up or money for the café. To book call the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or book online.
Summer Theatre Residency with Frantic Assembly for 14-22-year-olds (free), Mon 30 Jul-Fri 2 Aug
Thespy-inclined young people aged 14-22 should go play with Frantic Assembly this summer! No need for experience – just enthusiasm. The residency is a collaboration between students of Coventry University and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Award-winning, sector leading physical theatre company Frantic Assembly is led by Artistic Director and co-founder Scott Graham. They’ve toured extensively across Britain and worked in more than 40 countries, collaborating with some of today’s most inspiring artists.
Takes place daily from 10.30am-5.30pm at the Creative Enterprise Building, Parkside, Coventry. To register, email Charlie on Cingram@belgrade.co.uk or call the Belgrade Theatre on 02476 846737. More info here.
Summer activities at the RSC, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Tues July 30 – Fri Aug 30
The RSC is offering families a range of exciting activities this summer, both inside and outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Inside Out returns to the Bancroft Terrace for its second year, with more free activities and family-friendly weekend shows in its swirl-shaped outdoor performance space. Highlights include:
- Give The Swirl a whirl! The return of Inside Out brings back outdoor pop-up theatre with a range of storytelling, music, magic, and Shakespeare-themed mini-performances across summer holiday weekends, all completely free
- Escape the every day with a new Summer Escapes Pass, offering a trip up the Tower, a guided theatre tour, a look at the award-winning playmaking exhibition The Play’s The Thing and tickets for any one of Summer Season play for £20, or £40 including a pre-theatre two-course meal at Susie’s Café Diner!
- Each week is inspired by a different Shakespeare play, including As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors
- Take part in a two-hour workshop with an RSC Director before seeing a show, then meet and chat to members of the cast and crew after the performance is over
- Learn about the theatre-making process on a backstage tour, especially designed for families
See the full listings here: rsc.org.uk/summer–holidays or book on 01789 331111.
Playbox Theatre, Warwick
Kids of all ages are set to have an absolute ball with Playbox Theatre’s Summer 2019 programme. This year, the creation of a fourth studio at The Dream Factory means there’s a wider choice of exciting workshops than ever before. There’s something to satisfy every whim, with a fantastic range of themes including Shakespeare, David Walliams, film-making technology, circus, creative writing and more.
Lunch is included in all workshops. Prices vary between workshops – check out the full guide and book online.
Spy School – The REP, Birmingham, Mon 29 Jul-Fri 2 Aug
This is definitely one for those whose favourite word is ‘why?’! Ship them off for a week of Secret Spy Service to follow suspects, decipher codes, create secret identities and learn how to blend into their surroundings. The theme this year is ‘scientific mysteries’.
Spy School is recommended for children aged 7-11 and costs £75. Starts at 10am each day, though you need to arrive 15 minutes early on the first day for form-filling. Drop off and collect at the theatre’s Stage Door, located on Cambridge Street at the back of the building. Book online or call 01212364455.
Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre – Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, until 7 Sept
Alice in Wonderland, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, 4 Aug
See Lewis Carroll’s classic story brought to life by Immersion Theatre Company at 2pm and meet the characters after the show…why not come dressed as your favourite? Tickets £12 adults, £10 children/concessions, £38 family, plus booking fee.
Arty Tots Summer Spectacular with Captain Codswallop, In the Gardens at St Johns House Museum, Wed 7 Aug
Join Captain Codswallop and friends on the hunt for Redbeard’s treasure in a captivating puppet show adventure, and make some exciting pirate-themed crafts to take home. It will take place indoors if wet. Suitable for 5 and under, older siblings welcome. Drop-in, £5 per child. All children must be accompanied by an adult, 10am – 3pm.
Dragon Slayer, Warwick Castle
You can read our review of the castle’s inaugural digital projection installation, Dragon Slayer here. It was pretty spectacular and jaw-dropping in parts! It’s returning with even more projection breathing fire into late summer evenings this August in a family-friendly show of jousting, pyrotechnics, stunt riding, and stunning fireworks, from Wed 7 Aug – Mon 26 Aug. The show stars live actors and an epic light projection onto the grandiose walls of the magnificent Warwick Castle. There’ll be a choice of catering vans Tickets start at £20 for the show only, or various packages are available to include food and drink. Gates open 7pm; showtime 8.30pm-10pm.
Lammas Day, Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote
Enjoy storytelling, music and bread-making at this new event. Lammas, or ‘loaf mass’, on 1 Aug was a traditional celebration in the Tudor calendar of the first wheat harvest of the year when a special loaf of bread would have been baked, taken to the local church to be blessed, and then a piece placed in each corner of a barn in the belief the newly harvested grain was protected, 10am-5pm. See more special events at the Shakespeare family homes over the summer.
Head to one of the Shire’s splendid National Trust properties for a host of wholesome activities. The ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ ’ guide is a useful ideas-generator for all weathers. Bug hunting, den building, fungi spotting, kite flying, lawn games, woodland walking…you get the picture. Wellies and picnics at the ready! There are also some special events across the Warwickshire National Trust properties, including an outdoor production of Wind in the Willows at Upton House & Gardens on Fri 16 Aug; bat walks at Charlecote Park on Fri 9 Aug and Sat 7 Sep and more outdoor theatre fun with Gangsta Granny on Wed 14 Aug. Check out NT’s full Warwickshire summer holiday guide and get planning your adventures.
KIDS CAMPS include
The Farm – Flourish, Snitterfield, Stratford-upon-Avon
Week-long programmes for 7 – 14-year-olds will be running throughout the holidays at this Muddy Award-winning farmshop and cafe until Aug 30 including a wide range of fun and creative activities from chocolate making, Field to Fork cookery and baking sessions, to Photography, Survival Friday and a week-long health and wellbeing course.
Escape Arts, The Old Slaughterhouse, Sheep St, Stratford
A free Summer 2019 Lego & Games Cafe is running 1.30pm – 4.30pm every Thur, Fri & Sat in Aug; and a Teenage Cafe on Thur & Fri, 3.30pm – 5pm.
Premier Active Camps – Myton School, Warwick
Courses in multi-sports, football, dance & cheerleading, arts & crafts summer camps will be running from £15 a day.
Active Camps at Bilton Grange Rugby,
Multi-activity holiday camps for children aged 3-14, featuring a wide range of activities, fun off-site trips and specialist coaching where children develop new skills, make new friends and have fun