Summer Holiday Activities
by Hanna Prince and Sara Whatley
Wondering how to keep the children entertained for six full weeks? Hanna Prince and Sara Whatley come to the rescue with these family-friendly activities to make this summer holiday their best one yet.
MUSEUMS, THEATRES, ARTS AND SCIENCE
Whether your children are history buffs, science fanatics or tractor obsessives, there’s an endless list of museums, theatres, arts and science centres in the Sussex area to tickle their fancy. Many museums are free to visit (although making a donation is always appreciated), and others run activities and craft days during the summer holidays – but book early to ensure a place. Sussex boasts some fantastic art galleries showcasing both local talent and acclaimed artists, many of which are also free to visit. There are numerous National Trust properties in Sussex, many of which have beautiful gardens to enjoy in the summer.
BEACH DAYS, ROCK POOLING AND HUNTING FOR FOSSILS
A day at the seaside is a must for every family this summer – swimming costume, beach ball, good book and o you go! Pack a picnic or have a treat of sh and chips on the beach, and don’t forget to indulge in an ice cream too. We are lucky in Sussex to have a fantastic and varied coastline where you can find both sand and pebble beaches, cli s and rock pools. Hours can slip happily by as you clamber over the lunar landscape and inspect every fascinating rock pool you come too, each one like a miniature ocean where you can get up close and personal with crabs, tiny sh, sea anemones and other curious sea life. Even on grey days the seaside can be fun; turn detective and go fossil hunting! Search for echinoids around the Seven Sisters and dinosaur footprints at Hastings. Visit https://ukfossils.co.uk for a free online guide to locations and fossil types.
OPEN FARMS AND HORSE RIDING
Nestled in the Sussex countryside you can find many lovely open farms to visit. Great for both sunny and rainy days, lots have indoor and outdoor play areas, cafes and of course a variety of animals to see. Find out about feeding times before you go for the best animal experience. If you fancy a more hands on approach then why not give horse riding a go? Look out for offers at local riding schools during the school holidays. Some local centres offer care days, where children can spend the day learning to look after a pony as well as enjoying several riding lessons.
On rainy days, combat cabin fever with craft time. Try making your own play dough, creating a Very Hungry Caterpillar from coloured paper or decorating origami finger puppets. Large shells collected from your beach days could be threaded to make jewellery or hanging charms, and small shells make fun decorations glued onto everyday items – an old plate, toy or even a pair of shoes could be transformed into surreal shell art! Pressing flowers is another pleasing craft activity, and once they are done can be mounted or framed for special cards or pictures. And all those photographs could be made into a holiday memory collage. Why not explore the holiday activities at local arts and crafts clubs too?
Use up some of that excess energy by taking the whole family on a fun cycling or scooting adventure. Stick to easy, relatively at trails with plenty of pit stops, such as the Cuckoo Trail or the seafront promenade between Brighton Marina and Saltdean. Swimming is another winner, and can be enjoyed both indoor at leisure centres and outdoor in lidos or the sea. A friends and family game of rounders or cricket is great fun and can be finished off with a celebratory tea party or BBQ.
NATURE TRAILS, WILDLIFE AND PHOTOGRAPHY
If you’re keen to get the children outdoors, don’t call it a walk – call it a nature trail. Try the Ashdown Forest for fascinating free trails of various lengths, or head to one of the area’s historic houses for more family-friendly outdoor trails. Nature reserves are also a great place to enjoy the coast or countryside and specially to see wildlife. Pack some binoculars and see what birds, butterflies and bugs you can spot. This is also an ideal activity for budding photographers. Macro photography can be practiced on flowers and insects or capture the rich beauty of Sussex with its abundant land and seascape opportunities.
ANIMAL SANCTUARIES AND RESCUE CENTRES
Support a good cause and keep the nippers entertained at the same time with a trip to your local animal sanctuary or rescue centre. Plenty welcome visitors and many lay on child- friendly activities during the holidays such as family fun days and fairs or challenges to get involved with. Have a look round at all the animals then stop for tea and cake in many of the cafes on offer.
When the local playground starts to pall, pile into the car and head somewhere a little more exciting. Tilgate Park has everything from a maze to themed gardens, while Friston Forest is packed with dens and play trails. Some local woodlands also have outdoor fitness circuits and treetop adventure facilities. Outdoor activity centres are widely available in Sussex where you can have a go at anything from mountain biking to kayaking and zip wires to climbing walls and bouldering.
A night under the stars is an adventure at any age but is particularly magical when you are a child. For an easy option set up camp in the garden. As you are so close to home there is no problem with lugging out bundles of blankets, pillows and even rugs to make it an extra cosy a air, and a few strategically placed nightlights in glass jars will transform the garden into a magical fairyland. Or venture further a eld! There are plenty of great campsites in Sussex from the basic ones to the all-out glamping options. The choice, as they say, is yours!
LEARN A NEW SKILL
This summer holiday, give your children the chance to learn something new. It could be anything from flying a kite to juggling – or you could splash out for an intensive few days of training in tennis, martial arts, climbing or musical theatre. Summer schools run in various capacities in Sussex, from those aimed at older children offering courses in subjects such as STEM or Humanities, to summer schools in dance, music and drama sometimes culminating in a performance. This is one sure re way of building your child’s confidence.