18 fantastic ways to entertain the kids this summer holiday

PUBLISHED: 10:04 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:43 24 July 2018

See Mr Bloom at Marwell Zoo

See Mr Bloom at Marwell Zoo


With six long weeks ahead, here’s how to entertain the kids this summer

Art Attack

Enjoy, explore and experience art together on Please Do Touch, an interactive trail for under 5’s and their families at Southampton City Art Gallery. Follow the footprints around the gallery to explore the latest exhibitions. Discover sculptures by building your own, experiment with colour through sensory play and find out more about the Gallery’s portrait collection by dressing up. Plus create artworks and relax in the book corner. Admission is free.

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Southampton City Art Gallery, 02380 833007


Mottisfont celebrates the 50th anniversary of the children’s classic The Tiger Who Came for Tea with a lovely exhibition of illustrations from Judith Kerr’s much-loved books including The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Children can also ‘have tea’ with a 5ft cuddly tiger, in a colourful recreation of Sophie’s famous kitchen. Plus there’s dressing up costumes too! Don’t forget to venture outside for a fantastic themed activity trail. Normal admission applies: Adult £14.30, Child £7.90, Family £35.75

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Boats and bicycles

Discover the New Forest’s ancient meadows, heath lands and woods teeming with free roaming ponies, wildlife and the magical, privately owned, Beaulieu River on a Family Adventure Day. Enjoy an escorted tour of the river in sturdy two - four seat Canadian canoes (suitable from 18 months). Plus, bike hire with a selection of routes and bikes including tag-a-longs, child seats and trailers. Family tickets costs £99 (2 adults, 2 children).

New Forest Activities, 01590 612377

Dockyard Alive

This summer, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be alive with singing, dancing and high jinx, with a troupe of professional actors performing daily as a changing cast of characters with links to the site’s major attractions. The actors will bring to life colourful stories of the dockyard as it would have been 200 years ago, adding drama to the already packed schedule of activities and events. Admission is Adult £31, Child £18.50, Family £68 and can be used all year.

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Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, 02392 839766

Lepe to it!

With a five mile circular walk, BBQ hire and play area there is something for everyone at this coastal country park. With a packed summer schedule of family friendly activities, including Wildplay Wander (July 31) and Nature Detectives (August 16 and 28) there’s lots to keep you busy. Don’t forget to visit The Look Out, the brand new café offering panoramic views of the Solent. Admission: Varies – see website for details. Car parking charges apply.

Lepe Country Park, 02380 899108


With a purpose built viewing platform overlooking a large meadow area where a herd of fallow deer regularly gather, Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is the ideal location for deer spotting. Pop along between 12 and 3pm to catch them being fed by a local keeper. Bolderwood also offers graded walks and a large picnic area amongst the tall trees, so why not venture into the forest and enjoy a picnic whilst you are there? Admission is free.

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Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

Let’s go fly a kite

Southsea Common will be filled with kites of all shapes and sizes at this year’s Portsmouth International Kite Festival. Marvel at beautiful single line kites, awe inspiring 3D soft kites and skilfully flown kites performing tricks and routines to music. With a host of other activities, including a free children’s kite workshop and local amusements, it is sure to have you flying high. Admission is free, August 11 and 12, 10am – 5pm,

Portsmouth International Kite Festival 2018, 02392 826722

Fort Nelson

Fire your imagination at Fort Nelson! Discover the history of forts and take part in a range of scientific and historical themed activities exploring the development of gunpowder, artillery and warfare since the Roman period. With 19 acres to explore, as well as exciting big guns in the galleries and a challenging Junior Assault Course (additional fee applies) there is plenty to do! Admission is Free, Junior Assault Course £4 per child.

Fort Nelson, 01329 233734

Mr Blooming Marvellous

Mr Bloom from CBeebies will be bringing his one man show to Marwell this summer. Expect bundles of veggie stories, gardening games and catchy Nursery songs for tiddlers and parents alike. Venture around the 140-acre site and get close to the wonders of the natural world. Be sure to check out the new Tropical House and Lemur Loop, and don’t forget to take a #SummerSelfie on the giant Marwell deckchair. Dates throughout August, admission is Adult £20, Child £16, Family £69.

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Marwell Zoo, 01962 777407

The daily catch

Crabbing is surprisingly satisfying and sure to entertain small and big kids alike. The River Hamble is a great place for crabbing. Head to the Quay, armed with some bait, crabbing lines and a bucket and see how many crabs you can catch. Remember to watch your fingers as crabs can pinch, be gentle and don’t put too many crabs in your bucket of sea water at once.

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The River Hamble

Pick your own

Get a taste of the ‘good life’ this summer and head to a local farm to pick your own fruit and veg. There’s nothing quite like picking your own; pulling it from the ground or bush with your own bare hands is incredibly rewarding. As well as the customary fruit and veg, you can also pick your own flowers and herbs. Every day throughout July and August, 9am – 7pm, Admission: Prices depend on crop

Durleigh Marsh Farm, 01730 821626

Out on the Downs

With its many pathways and trails, the South Downs National Park is the perfect place for a walk, cycle or scoot. Stretching from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in West Sussex, there’s plenty to explore from bustling market towns to ancient woodland. Why not start at St Catherine’s Hill? The 58 hectare flower-rich chalk grassland nature reserve is home to some stunning wildflowers and butterflies. Admission is free.

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St Catherine’s Hill Nature Reserve, 01489 774400

Hurst Spit

Enjoy spectacular seascape views of the Solent and Needles as you wander along Hurst Spit. The artificially bolstered spit stretches south into the Solent from Saltgrass Lane in Keyhaven to Hurst Castle. Children can play on the beach, look out for wildlife and explore in and around the Tudor castle. Why not hop on the ferry back to Key Haven and admire the views by boat? Admission: Spit - Free. Hurst Castle - Adult £5, Child £3, Family (2 adults & 3 children) £15. Ferry – Returns Adult £6.50; Child £3.50, Singles – Adult £3.50, Child £2.50

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Hurst Spit and Castle, Milford on Sea

A Summer of Steam

It’s full steam ahead for a family fun day on the Watercress Line! Enjoy hands-on and creative activities in the Viewing Gallery and mini tours of the workshops and yard at Ropley. You can even have a go at building your own 3D train! Plus, your standard travel ticket will allow you unlimited travel, enabling you to explore all four period stations. July 28 and 29, August 27, Admission: Adult £16, Child (2 - 16) £8, Child (Under 2) FREE, Family (2A + 2C) £40.

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The Watercress Line, 01962 733810

It’s showtime

Don’t miss this show for all the family (including those with paws!). Families can have fun whilst learning about the landscape around. Enter a wonderful arena, full of animals, shopping and a range of exhibitors to enjoy. With lots of activities for all age ranges, expect horses, sheep, falcons, ferrets and gun dogs as well as re-enactments, face painting and a bouncy castle, plus much more. August 18 and 19, 10am-5pm (last entries 4.30pm), Admission: Adult £7.50, Under 16’s £3.50, OAP £6, Under 5’s free, Family of 4 £20. Some activities incur an additional charge.

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Queen Elizabeth Country Park, 02392 595040

Elementary, my dear Watson

Venture on this summer family trail and help the famous detective Sherlock Holmes solve his case - The Hound of Hinton. Heard at night but not seen, the Hound of Hinton has been causing problems all over the gardens and throughout Hinton’s ancient parkland. Tackle word scrambles, puzzles and lots of other fun activities to unlock the mystery and find out just who the Hound is! Normal admission applies plus suggested donation £1 per trail.

Hinton Ampner, 01962 771305

To infinity and beyond!

Explorer: Space is crash landing at the Science Centre this summer! A must for budding astronauts, space engineers and those with a curiosity about space, venture to the lower floor for an immersive and epic journey through the solar system. Marvel at 20 fantastic modular exhibits, enjoy space-themed activities and watch Destination Space! a new live show in the Space Marquee. From July 20, Admission is Adult £12, Child (age 3-15 yrs) £8.40, Under 2s Free, Family saver – 10% discount on General Entry.

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Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, 01962 863791

Jungle Fever

New for 2018, experience Jungle Fever at Robin Hill this summer! Journey into the woodland ‘jungle’ to behold life-sized animal puppets, including the king of the jungle, a towering giraffe and beautiful tropical birds. Then at dusk, discover elephants, tigers and more cleverly brought to life. With live music, character meet and greets, and special jungle-themed performances, it is perfect for little monkeys! Tuesdays and Thursdays July 24 – August 30, 10am – 10pm, Admission: £20.50.

Robin Hill Country Park, 01983 527352

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