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Russell Edwards highlights the fun to be had these long summer days and looks at activities and events, from the ever-popular musicals to the slightly more unusual one-off extravaganzas

Drama queens’ heaven 

Running from 15-29 August 2008, Kids Week is a fortnight of entertainment with free tickets for children to top London shows, exclusive activities and workshops. 

Participating shows include Billy Elliot, Disney’s The Lion King, The Sound of Music, Mamma Mia! Wicked, The 39 Steps, Stomp, Into the Hoods, Brief Encounter, and more. Children can also take part in a range of activities and workshops designed to excite and inspire as well as develop skills and interests. They can learn improvisation skills in a Professor Bumm’s Story Machine workshop, Shimmy with Chicago or attend a range of post-show question and answer sessions. 

The ticket deal - one child (aged between 5 and 16) goes free to any participating show when accompanied by a full paying adult, and another two children can go for half price. Kids Week 


Visit the annual Swan Upping over 5 days from 14 -18 July between Sunbury and Abingdon and see the Queen’s Swan Master conduct the annual swan census: and 

Commune with nature at the Wildwood Trust in Kent to see from owls to otters, badgers to beavers and wild boar to wolves. Nature trails throughout the woodlands: 

Did you know that there is an SSSI (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) near the centre of London? Find out about birds, bugs and nature conservation at the London Wetland Centre between Barnes and Hammersmith. Night-time Safaris and daily kids’ nature activities throughout the summer, also themed BBQ evenings whilst you watch the bats. That’s just London! . . . Check out locations throughout UK at 


Festival experience: Camp Bestival, 18-20 July, at Lulworth Castle in Dorset offers a magical weekend of camping in tipis, yurts and podpads, live music, kids’ garden, sports day, insect circus, dressing up, story telling round the camp fire, animal farm, solar powered cinema, medieval jousting, and on . . .Tickets and info at: 

Classical Music: Great concerts, mini-proms for kids and workshops around the UK: 

Music craze: High School Musical - Live on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo, great fun and the kids all know the songs: for good value tickets 

Combine a visit to East Anglia with music then have a look on for an eclectic programme for all ages. has numerous listings of music, drama and dance events, participative workshops in centres and schools north and south of the Thames. 

Mad Scientists and Sports fanatics 

Spark imaginative learning with hands-on science experience. Summer programmes, workshops, special events and parties include rocket launches, dry ice, slime making, hovercraft rides and fuel cell explosions! Mad science goes on throughout the UK. Check out, for example, the London area: 

Visit also Explore-at-Bristol, one of the UK’s most exciting hands-on science centres and planetariums: 

Also see LoveSport at At-Bristol where you can try a range of sport, see sporting inventions and understand the sporting body and mind: 

Or visit hallowed grounds: Lord’s Cricket ground tours including the Long Room, MCC Museum, Real Tenis Court, Mound Stand and Indoor School. 

Out and About 

London: Awesome events are published on the Londontown website – from Tropical Rainforest at Syon Park to kids’cookery classes – too many to list here so look up: and the Visit London website which gives ideas for being a “free range” outdoor Londoner, getting involved in the biggest free Latin American fiesta on 3 August and the latest dance classes for kids. Offers on tickets and restaurants also on: 

Local: Wherever you live there are local websites giving ideas for summer action for children. For example on the South Coast look up 

National: Try a number of useful sites for national and regional activities and days out including: 


The Unicorn Theatre for Children is very accessible on the South Bank, London, with a series of summer theatre events and family activities. 

The Egg Theatre in Bath is the Theatre Royal’s awardwinning theatre designed by children for children and families. The summer season includes Faeries, presented by the Royal Opera House. Faeries uses a combination of puppetry, dance and old-fashioned storytelling to propel audiences into a magical world of mystery, imps and fairies inspired by illustrator Arthur Rackham, England’s most celebrated children’s book artist. Check out workshops also for children from 18 months through to teenagers. 

Come Rain or Shine 

And for rainy days do have a look at for a wide variety of worksheets, skills programmes and educational and fun games: 

Check out activities centred on home/garden with charts and games, nature detectives and nature watch. All downloadable at: 

Or getting cabin fever, go out and experience 3D IMAX at Waterloo: including Kung Fu Panda, Wild Safari, Dinosaurs 3D. There are IMAX cinemas throughout the UK.