Summer Holidays are upon us... Seemingly endless days and no way to fill them, until now!

Ah, the concertina of time. A phenomenon we’ve all experienced. Time passes in the blink of an eye when you’re trying to do the school run or enjoy your carefree teenage years, but then slows down to a snail’s pace once the school holidays arrive/middle age kicks in and you’re faced with Responsibilities and Entertaining The Kids. (Think yourself lucky, though: At least you’re not a responsible adult at a children’s party, when time actually starts to move backwards).

But fear not! We’re here to help you defy the laws of time with a host of ideas to take a chunk out of the summer holiday behemoth, hopefully without taking too much of a chunk out of your wallet – or your sanity – in the process. And here’s the best thing – because there’s a huge variety of things to do in Leicester and Leicestershire, your staycation won’t be short on inspiration. Prepare to amaze your children (and possibly yourself) with your creativity, drive and endless enthusiasm for the summer holidays as you sample the best of our city and county…

Go Wild

Explore nature at Attenborough Arboretum or Burbage Common during the summer holidays and join in with lots of fun-filled wild activities run by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. Suitable for children aged 5-12, themes for the weekly events include mud (the substance, presumably, not the 1970s glam rockers), water - with pond-dipping activities - and fire, where participants learn how to safely light a fire and cook something yummy.

There are loads of other opportunities to get up close and personal with nature during the holidays, too. For example, you could join a Wild Walk at Cloud Wood, north west Leicestershire, on 16 August, or Discover Bats in Rutland on 25 August. You’ll need to book and pay a fee for activities - see a full list at the LRWT website.

For more wildness, Twycross Zoo is offering ‘roar-some’ summer deals, with limited tickets available for £15 for adults, £10 for children and free for under-twos. With more than 500 animals from 125 different species, lots of indoor and outdoor habitats and loads of picnic and play areas, it’s the perfect place for a not-too-far, not-too-pricey day out that everyone can enjoy. And the obvious and unmissable chance to make fun comparisons between the apes and any teenagers in your family. That always goes down well.

Twitchers in tow? OK, admittedly bird-watching might be a bit of a hard sell, but actually a surprising number of kids across a wide age spectrum can really get into it. You don’t need fancy equipment – obviously a pair of binoculars is handy, but not essential – and a spotters’ guide is useful (check your local library), but even without these things, if you head to the bird hides at Fosse Meadows or just take a walk at Burbage Common or Aylestone Meadows, you should be able to spot some interesting species.

Rutland Water is a fantastic birdwatching haven (there is an admission charge for access to the reserves) – where you can even take to the water on an Osprey cruise. Rutland Water hosts Birdfair, from 16-18 August, where children get in free and there’s a wild zone offering activities including bug-hunting, pond dipping and willow weaving.

Or if you want to be really sure you’ll see some birds, a visit to Tropical Birdland beckons…

Get Urban

Take a trip into the city centre and, as well as plentiful shopping and coffee stops, you’ll find an ever-growing number of activities on offer that are perfect for beating holiday boredom. Dig out your Pringle jumper and venture into the jungle wonderland of Treetop Adventure Golf, where, for just under £30, a family of four can tackle the Tropical Trail or Ancient Explorer routes before having a crack at the bonus 19th hole to be in with a chance of winning a free round.

Bounce off to Boost trampoline park, where you can buy a ‘summer of love’ wristband for £19.99 and then jump for just £1 an hour until 31 August (not non-stop until 31 August, obviously… that would be knackering). Or try Social Climbing, where there’s a kids’ summer club running through the holidays, with flexible sessions you can book onto as you choose.

The Phoenix cinema is screening family-friendly films throughout the summer, such as The Lion King, with family tickets starting from £6 for up to two adults and all children in a group. A stone’s throw away, the LCB Depot will be holding its Easy Saturday family day on 10 August, with free activities including African drumming and print-making, linked to the Journeys Festival International (15-30 Aug), which celebrates the creativity of refugees and asylum-seekers. 

And don’t miss Open Streets, on Sunday 28 July, when roads in the city are closed to traffic and opened up for families to enjoy, with lots of craft activities, walks and cycle rides taking place – and it’s all free! You can follow that up with Let’s Ride Leicester on 25 August, when you can join thousands of others to ride a traffic-free loop from the King Power stadium to the city centre, with free cycle-themed activities scattered along the route.

Go Space Age

It’s 100 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing this summer, and the National Space Centre is celebrating with a summer of Apollo-themed fun. One Giant Leap, which runs until 1 September, features real lunar rocks, the chance to make your own iconic mission patch to take home, and the chance to relive the footage from the lunar landings – on top of all the other fascinating attractions the Space Centre has to offer. Prices start from £15 for adults and £12 for children, with a free annual pass when you book online.

Children and adults alike can join Space Chase and Space to Read, Leicester Libraries’ summer reading challenge. It’s free to join – simply borrow six books over the summer and make three library visits to get your stickers, medal and certificate when you complete the challenge (note: those freebies are for the kids. If you’re an adult and you want a medal, you’re going to have to do a run). The challenge is a great way to keep busy on a rainy day, but if you pack a library book alongside your picnic and head to one of the city’s great parks, you can also enjoy a sunny summery read under a tree somewhere.

Want to hang out in space-age dome? You’re in luck, because one is landing on Jubilee Square for the summer as part of the City Festival. The Dome will be the focal point for the family-friendly activities, live gigs and shows that will make up the festival, and will touch down from 19-25 August. ‘Visitors from other worlds’ are promised, including giant insects and robots, but for some reason nobody’s panicking. 

Before that, Jubilee Square will be hosting a free open-air cinema, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story screening from 9pm on 19 July. Bring a chair or blankets to sit on, and some cash for food and drink. It could be your last chance to enjoy Jubilee Square before the giant insects invade.

Get Wet

Fancy trying your hand at canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding? Leicestershire may not have a coastline to offer, but it does have some fantastic lakes and waterways – so if you want to try out a new water activity, you won’t have to travel far. Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, on the edge of the city, is a great place to start, with sessions open for everyone and running throughout the holidays. For a typical price of £10-11, you’ll get all the equipment and instruction you need to try out an activity like kata kanuing, bell-boating, stand-up paddleboarding or the SUP mega-board – a huge paddleboard with room for lots of people… but will it topple?

You can also try sailing or have fun on inflatable obstacles at Rutland Water and the Aqua Park – or try kayaking and canoeing with a taster session at Hinckley Canoe Club, which meets at Stanton Lakes on Thursday evenings.

Get Creative

Prefer to stay on dry land? No problem. On 24 July, dress up as a princess or superhero (and even let the kids join in, if you’re feeling charitable) and head down to Belgrave Hall & Gardens for a Princesses and Superheroes day, where you can take a picnic, enjoy the beautiful gardens and take part in arts and crafts, treasure trails, storytelling and face-painting. Or call in at DMU’s Gallery on 27 July for a free family workshop, inspired by the current exhibitions.

On 31 July, Newarke Houses Museum will host a Puppets and Toys playtime, with the chance to create puppets to take home and join in some garden games; while on 1 August at the Guildhall, you can create your own fantastic magical creature or mythical beast. There’s also a chance to create or paint your own pottery, with Polkadot Pottery, at the Guildhall on 23 August.

Pick of the day 🍓

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Now then. If all that doesn’t fill the concertina of time before school starts again, we don’t know what will! But if you’re still in need of a couple of quick fixes, you could always try making your own play-dough, tie-dying, doing some activities from the Woodland Trust, or going to a farm to pick your own fruit.

Whatever you get up to, have lots of summer fun!




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