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School's out: what's on for kids this summer in Cambridge

By Alex Spencer

Stuck for somewhere to take the kids over the summer holidays? Here’s our round up of the best child-friendly days out around the city - and beyond - over the summer.

Whether it’s crafts sessions or treasure trails, water fights, theatre or coding your own game - there’s something for everyone.

Summer at the museums

Cambridge University museums have a whole host of activities running over the summer break. Most are free or low cost and have something for all ages. Here are our picks.

Children love the botanic gardens (14277321)
Children love the botanic gardens (14277321)

There’s a what in the garden?

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Get your imagination ready for a storytelling and drama session inspired by the book, There’s a Tiger in the Garden. A special session by Creative Movements Cambridge: expect laughter, drama and lots of fun. Friday, July 26. Sessions at: 10.15-11.15am/11.30am-12.30pm Ages 5-7. £5 per child, normal adult admission charges apply, pre-book 01223 331875

Family engineering

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Work with your family to design and test a rocket and build a simple moving machine. Mon 29 July, 10am-12.30pm Ages 7+ Children £3.50, accompanying adults £1 (one per child), additional adults £3.50, pre-book info@museumoftechnology.com

Family art week

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Drop-in to the Museum for all sorts of circus-themed, hands-on activities and performances inspired by y Jan Adam Kruseman’s posthumous portrait of the celebrated Victorian adventurer and circus strongman, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, known as ‘The Great Belzoni’. Starting on Tues July 30, from 11am till 3pm each day, circus themed free art making activities will be available, as well as Story Time, Family Tours around our current Beggarstaffs exhibition and special shows.

With different activities each day along with storytelling and family tours. 11am-3pm Storytelling: 11am & 2pm (ages 5 and under) Family tours: 11.30am & 1pm (ages 5+) All ages free, drop-in

Circus show at the Fitzwilliam (14086214)
Circus show at the Fitzwilliam (14086214)

Strong Women in Science circus show

Fitzwilliam Museum

On Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 July, a new show starring two women scientists turned circus performers. Ever wondered how you balance a chair on your chin, juggle liquid? Aoife Raleigh and Maria Corcoran are StrongWomen in Science, and together they reveal the scientific secrets behind their astounding tricks. The 35 minute performance is followed by a hands-on workshop around circus science experiments. Children over the age of five must be accompanied by an adult. Booking is essential and the cost, just £10. The show was developed with the support of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry. fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk.

Science detectives

Calling all detectives in training. Experience a day of science and problem solving with the University of Cambridge Museums. Hone your scientific skills and get a taste of hands-on exploration at this day-long event. Enjoy sessions with the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, the Polar Museum, the Sedgwick Museum, the Museum of Zoology and the Botanic Garden. Please note: Drop-off at the Museum of Zoology and pick up at the Botanic Garden. Thursday, August 1 from 9.30am-3pm Ages 8-11 (pre-secondary school) £15, pre-book www.museum.zoo.cam.ac.uk/events

Come and hear a pirate tale
Come and hear a pirate tale

Odysseus the Pirate

Museum of Classical Archaeology

A session for the very young with storyteller Marion Leeper based on that best of all pirate adventures: The Odyssey. Travel with Odysseus, help him overcome dangers, defeat strange monsters and get home in time for tea.

Friday, August 2, from 1.30-3pm. Ages 3-5. Free, pre-book at www.odysseus-pirate.eventbrite.co.uk

Cambridge Museum of Technology.Pic - Richard Marsham. (14278180)
Cambridge Museum of Technology.Pic - Richard Marsham. (14278180)

Family Paper Craft

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Try your hand at a variety of paper crafts including using printing presses, split-pin puppets, print making and origami. Tuesday, August 6 from 10am-12.30pm. Ages 5+. Children £3.50, accompanying adults £1 (one per child), additional adults £3.50, pre-book info@museumoftechnology.com

Walk like a Dino

Sedgwick Museum Palaeontologists (people who study dinosaurs) don’t know for sure what colour dinosaurs were. Come and do your own research then make and decorate a pair of dinosaur feet to wear home. Tues, August 6 from 10am-1pm. Ages 4+. Free, drop-in.

Family Engineering Morning: Rockets and Boats

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Families can work together to design, build and test rockets and boats. August 7 from 10am-12.30pm Ages 8-12 Children £3.50, accompanying adults £1 (one per child), additional adults £3.50, pre-book info@museumoftechnology.com

Nature Yoga

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Stretch, breathe and challenge your body as you try out different yoga poses inspired by the animals and plants that live at the Botanic Garden. This session is run by Christine from Yoga Kids Club. Please note: adults do not stay during session. August 7 from 10.15-11.15am (4-7 years) 11.30am-12.30pm (8-12 years) £5 per child, normal adult admission charges apply, pre-book 01223 331875.

Museum of Classical Archaeology. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14277858)
Museum of Classical Archaeology. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14277858)

Children’s Museum Tour

Museum of Classical Archaeology

Step into the past and take a tour of the Museum with its Curator. August 8 from 2-3pm. Ages 4-12 Free, drop-in.

Family Engineering

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Work with your family to design and test a rocket and build a simple moving machine. August 12, 10am-12.30pm Ages 7+ Children £3.50, accompanying adults £1 (one per child), additional adults £3.50, pre-book info@museumoftechnology.com

Electronics Lab: Build a Magic Radio

Centre for Computing History In this workshop, find out if it’s possible to make a radio which doesn’t use electricity. August 14, 11am-2pm Ages 10+ £28, pre-book 01223 214446 or visit www.computinghistory.org.uk

Games Time

Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey

Discover different games and toys through the ages and make your own simple game. Solve the special Clues trail, and play historical board games. August 15 from 1-4pm. All ages. Normal admission charges apply, drop-in.

Climate Change Challenge

Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

Can you survive a changing climate? Try out games, challenges and crafts inspired by ancient civilisations that experienced climate change and weather disruption. Visit the Whipple Museum of the History of Science on the same day for related activities. August 29 from 12.30-4pm Ages 5+ Free, drop-in

Cambridge Botanic Garden at night
Cambridge Botanic Garden at night

Bat Patrol

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Join a rare night-time walk for families and learn about the fascinating world of bats. Have a go with our bat detectors as we try to discover what wildlife comes out after the sun goes down. The evening will start with a short talk followed by a walk in the Garden. Please note: weather dependent. August 29 from 7.30-9.30pm Ages 8+ £5 per child/adult, pre-book 01223 331875

You can find the whole programme at museums.cam.ac.uk/summer-at-the-museums.

Sorrel May and Mark Wells at the Fitzwilliam museum talking about their new book, 'Hidden Tales'. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14111989)
Sorrel May and Mark Wells at the Fitzwilliam museum talking about their new book, 'Hidden Tales'. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14111989)

Find hidden treasure

Hidden Tales: a city-wide treasure hunt

A new children’s book by local author Mark Wells takes readers on a treasure hunt across the city and through many of its famous museums. Find clues, crack a secret code and discover the hiding place of a secret object. All you need is the book and a sense of adventure.

Why not get some extra hints from the author himself on Sunday, August 4 at The Polar Museum? Hear Mark give a short talk about his work at 12pm, and enjoy fun activities throughout the day. From 10.30am-3.30pm. All ages. Free, drop-in.

Camcycle treasure hunt

Starting in August, Camcycle, in association with local law firm Tees, is running CamcycleQuest, a new cycling initiative to encourage people in the Cambridge area to get on their bikes. Armed with a booklet of clues and objects to find, participants are encouraged to explore the city and its cycle routes. You'll need to buy a clue booklet. Find out more at cambridgefestivalofcycling.org/camcyclequest.

Bookish fun

Visit the Heffers children's department for bookish fun this summer. From crafts to story time, to meeting local children's authors. All activities are free to attend but booking is essential as spaces are limited.

The Book Without a Story (14279373)
The Book Without a Story (14279373)

On Saturday July 17 from 3-4pm – come along and collage a donkey with Anuska Allepuz.

Wednesday, July 31 from 3-4pm – make Big Cat masks with Emma Lazell.

Wednesday August 7, from 3-4pm – join Maria Sproulle in designing a colony on Mars to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

Wednesday August 14, from 3-4pm – take part in an activity session with Carolina Rabei based around The Book Without a Story.

Wednesday, August 21, from 3-4pm – try an activity session based around Daisy Hirst’s latest book, Alphonse, there’s Mud on the Ceiling!

A breath of fresh air

If you are keen to get out and about this summer, the city council will be offering up a fun-packed programme of free activities. Join the team on selected weekday afternoons at parks and community centres across Cambridge. For more information about SummerDaze and to see the full programme visit cambridge.gov.uk/summerdaze or look at the Chypps page on Facebook. You can also call 01223 457873, visit cambridge.gov.uk/chypps-activities or email chypps@cambridge.gov.uk.

Splash out, cool down

Cambridge has a range of splashparks and paddling pools that are perfect for when the weather heats up. Why not cool off at one of these:

Abbey Splashpad

Behind Abbey Pool. It boasts11 water features, including tipping buckets, water cannons and spray jets.

Coleridge Splashpad

On Coleridge recreation ground, near the play area. The easiest entrance to find is Davy Road. With 14 water features, a tractor-themed play area, crawling tube and two-foot-deep paddling pool, there is plenty to keep little ones occupioed.

King's Hedges Splashpad

Located on the 'Pulley' play area on King's Hedges recreation ground – follow the path from the car park in Jedburgh Court round to the front of the learner pool. There are 14 water features with an outerspace theme.

Lammas Land

Lammas Land pool is a perfect place to cool off in the heat. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Lammas Land pool is a perfect place to cool off in the heat. Picture: Keith Heppell.

Bring a lilo or inflatable to this popular paddling pool and park. Located to the south west of the city about half a mile from the centre, Lammas Land is bordered by Fen Causeway and Newnham Road. There is a bridge to Sheep's Green.

A very popular park in the summer primarily because of its paddling pool and large play area. There are large areas of grass to sit on, ideal for picnics and sun bathing.

Cherry Hinton park

With two paddling pools connected by a play park, Cherry Hinton Park is a great location to have a splash in the sunshine.

Although the shallow pools and play areas are mainly aimed at younger children and toddlers, people of all ages will be able to enjoy the surrounding tennis courts and table tennis tables. The park also makes the perfect picnic location, so you can really make a day of it.

Go wild at a country park

Go Wild activity days

Get the kids outdoors and trying something new this summer with a Go Wild activity day at Milton Country Park. They are running on Mon 29, Tues 30 and Weds 31 July from 9am to 4.30pm.

They include half a day of bushcraft and survival skills with a forest school instructor then an afternoon of water skills (paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking) with qualified water sports coaches. The day costs £55 per child and is stuitable for children over 10, with a minimum height of 1.3m.

Children will need to bring a change of clothes, a towel and a packed lunch. miltoncountrypark.squarespace.com/gowild

Bushcraft days

Den building. Pic: Cambridge Past, Present & Future.
Den building. Pic: Cambridge Past, Present & Future.

Wandlebury Country park

The holiday Bushcraft Clubs run from 8.30am to 4pm and are designed for children​ aged 5-12, price £38. They are run by qualified teachers who will inspire children and share their knowledge and skills of surviving in the wild.

All basic bushcraft techniques suitable for this age range will be taught. Visit wildthymeandembers.co.uk/holiday-bushcraft-club.

Children’s theatre

See an outdoor theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland.
See an outdoor theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland.

Open Air Theatre: Alice in Wonderland

Imagination runs wild and logic is abandoned in this fantastical, larger-than-life musical brimming with nonsensical fun and excitement for the entire family.

Follow Alice and the White Rabbit as they set off on a colourful, topsy-turvy adventure and meet a host of outlandish characters including the troublesome twins, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the notorious Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire cat and of course, the Mad-as a bat-Hatter!

Milton Country Park on Thursday, August 22, from 3pm- 5:30pm. Adults, £11, concessions £8. Box office: miltoncountrypark.org.

Tech lovers

Electric Citizens: Takeover at Cambridge Junction.

Electric Citizens: children can make their own arcade game (14279032)
Electric Citizens: children can make their own arcade game (14279032)

The Electric Citizens Takeover is the perfect summer activity for children of all levels of experience Whether you have tried coding or not, used virtual reality or not, this four day summer lab will guide you through a series of workshops with amazing artists and makers, giving you the skills to create your own projects and help build Electric City.

Work in small teams with inspiring artists and makers. Then use the circuitry, electronic making, visual mixing and virtual reality skills you learn during this creative makeathon to create and build your city with projected visuals, virtual reality sculptures, sound and light.

Electric Citizens need to be age 9-13 at the time of the event and bring their own laptop for accessing the internet and running Scratch and Makecode. Bring a packed lunch

Mon July 29-Thu Aug 01. Activities vary in price. Read more at junction.co.uk.

Fen den fun

Wicken Fen. Pic by Justin Minns (14278634)
Wicken Fen. Pic by Justin Minns (14278634)

At The National Trust’s Wicken Fen site there will be a host of children’s activities over the summer holidays including den building, pond dipping, a fairy and pixie day, painting, a geocache challenge, a bug and slug hunt and a summer safari.

Some events require booking, others are drop in. To find out more, visit nationaltrust.org.uk.


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