Ideas to keep everyone happy in the school holidays
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
Great & Small: Animals in Craft, Broadway Gallery, Letchworth, Sat 28 July – October
Great + Small is the ultimate family-friendly exhibition because it’s designed for children. Kids love animals, so what better way to introduce them to the art of craft? This exhibition has been designed and curated by Broadway Gallery in Letchworth using objects on loan from the Crafts Council. When it leaves Letchworth, the exhibition will go on tour. But you don’t have to worry about that for now. It opens on Sat 28 July and runs until October. It’s a brilliant way to encourage children to be inspired by contemporary crafts and materials. On Weds 8 August there’s a Hands On event, when a Crafts Council educator will run workshops so that children can get their mitts on the exhibits: wooden snakes, enamel beetles, resin cats. And don’t panic, you won’t have to turn your kitchen into resin studio, there’s a Family Arts Studio workshop on Sunday. Can you believe that all of this is FREE.
Life in the Dark, Natural History Museum, until Jan 2019
Touch and smell the animals as you immerse yourself in a sensory journey into worlds where animals survive and thrive without light. How do they do it? You will find out! Feel your way through a cave full of fluttery bats and watch a deep sea light show. FREE for under-16s!
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Take your kids to the RA Summer Exhbition. With Grayson Perry’s curation, this year is the best ever. Paintings and sculptures by new artists sit cheek by jowl with work by Royal Academicians and Harry Hill. This is a great family outing!
COURSES & WORKSHOPS
Sparks movie making courses, West Hampstead, various dates
Limited availability at the time of writing, and you’ll have to travel to West Hampstead, but if your child is longing to make movies, it’s possible to do so in 5 days. Learn how to pitch, shoot, storyboard, crew and then perform in your own film. Different courses for different ages, you can start the cameras rolling from age 5. From £215.
Summer dance courses, Vyne Theatre, Berkhamsted, Mon 30 July – Fri 3 August
The Vyne Dance School has the most brilliant courses year round and there are some exciting things happening during the summer holidays. There’s a new week-long course for different ages where you can learn ballet, jazz, musical theatre, contemporary and street dance and then put on a show on the last day. £250.
Train like a Spurs player at Haileybury College, various dates
Learn how to score like Harry Kane. The coaches are from the Hotspur Way Training Centre. You could be part of the next generation of football talent! 9.30am – 3pm each day at various locations including Haileybury College in Herts. From Mon 23 July to Fri 24 Aug. £100.
Cookery Eatery, Hitchin and Letchworth, Mon 23 July – Fri 3 Aug
Don an apron in Hitchin or Letchworth with the delightful and inspiring Cookery Eatery Emma. Her cooking classes for kids are legendary, and you’ll be amazed when your teenager falls in love with the green stuff and starts crafting burgers from kale. You don’t believe me? Sign your kids up for this and don’t tell them. This is total immersion and they’ll sink or swim. There are different courses and camps and you can just do one day. £40.
Oglee Poglee summer workshops, Berkhamsted and Harpenden
With a name like Oglee Poglee, you know your kids will have fun. Claire at Oglee Poglee creates parties and craft extravaganza out of thin air – and a few glittery and gooey materials – and before you know it, your child will have turned her back on the iPad and be crafting a den made of dandelions. It’s true! Claire possesses magic powers and she’s running a series of workshops this summer. Jurassic Adventure, Tea Party, Fun at the Fair. Check them out. £7 per session.
There are so many parks and forests to be explored and enjoyed. Here are just a few: Heartwood Forest in St Albans; the Ashridge Estate in Berkhamsted; Hertford; Sherrardsparkwood, an ancient hornbeam wood in Welwyn Garden City; Aldenham Country Park; Dunstable Downs for kite flying if we ever get a whiff of a breeze; Hatfield Forest. Loads of good ideas and places if you look at the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
Festival of Wild Life, Panshanger Estate Sat 28 – Sun 29 July
Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm
It’s got to be done! Mooch in the museum, load up on cakes in the cafe, pick your own lavender, buy things made with lavender and enjoy being on a real farm. Ickleford, Hitchin SG5 3UA
Winner of Best Family Attraction in the Muddy Awards 2018, this is a wonderful and happy place, run by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation. There are loads of special events planned for the school holidays. Falconry, circus skills and a dog and duck show. SG6 4JN
ColourWheel child & parent painting class, Tewin, Mon 6 Aug
ColourWheel run wonderful painting classes in Welwyn Garden City for people who think they can’t draw. On Monday 6 August they have a class for children and parents – only one adult required per child! You can’t leave them there and go shopping, before you get any ideas of escape. All materials included and the class is with a friendly and professional teacher. 9.30am – 12.30pm. AL6 0LX
Camp Wilderness, Hatfield
Here we go. Mud and bugs and toasted marshmallows. Archery, fire-lighting, bushcraft tournament, camp craft. And you can leave your children here and you don’t need to join in. Hatfield Forest is the perfect place to go wild. 3-day camp. 10am – 3pm each day. £249.
Dinosaur Trail, Knebworth House
Always a pleasure. There’s so much to do at Knebworth House and people come from far and wide to be thrilled by the dinosaurs. There’s one lurking in the trees on the road between Codicote and Hitchin and it startles me every time. A great day out.
The Making of Harry Potter, Watford, until Sun 23 Sept
This WB Studio Tour company never runs out of new reasons to get families back to this paean to the boy wizard. A new special feature dedicated entirely to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth instalment of the magical film series, revealing secrets behind the characters, costumes and props that made it so special.
Workshop Wednesdays, Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, Weds 15 and Weds 22 Aug
Where better to introduce your child to the art of sculpture than at the home of the great man himself? Summer sessions where you look at found objects, particularly local flints, and take them as the starting point for sculpture projects. 12 – 4pm. SG10 6EE
Sounds and Sorcery, The Vaults, Waterloo
More immersion. What would we do without it? This is inspired by the Disney classic Fantasia, and yes, you’re going to have to pop on those headphones. You know you want to! But listen to this: you’ll hear a 96-piece orchestra – 96!- as you travel through The Vaults’ maze of tunnels in Waterloo. Strange that in summer there are so many underground activities. 3D projections, set designs and installations (what else?) and before you know it, you’ll be dancing like a funky hippo. I haven’t made this up, you will be obliged to do your funky hippo dance. Swing those hippo hips!