Additional reporting: Abigail Gibson
There school holidays have arrived and with them six weeks to keep the children entertained.
If you’re looking for fun things to do together over the summer for everyone in the family from tots to teens, we’ve brought together a list of what’s happening for families around Cambridge.
Whether you’re hoping for outdoor play, a picnic with live music, a wildlife trail or hands on crafts, we’ve found something for everyone.
Discover Our Place in Space
This new solar system sculpture trail is set to be the smash hit of the summer for all ages.
Stretching from Midsummer Common in the centre of Cambridge and running along the riverside to the Woodland Trust’s Cow Hollow Wood in nearby Waterbeach, the 10km long scale model reflects the size of each planet at scale and the distance between them, starting with the Sun.
It comes to Cambridge after hugely successful installations in Derry and Belfast.
The Our Place in Space installation is designed by artist and children’s author Oliver Jeffers and the exhibit combines a three-dimensional sculpture trail, as well as an interactive app and a series of events.
The launch of the trail will be celebrated on Midsummer Common on the weekend of July 30 and 31 with fun family activities including a chance to meet real life NASA astronaut Kayla Barron, enjoy live music from Waterbeach Brass, take part in a book signing with Oliver Jeffers, get crafty with SunSpaceArt…and much more!
There will also be a talk called ‘The Scale of the Solar System’. Dr. Matthew Bothwell, public astronomer at the University of Cambridge, will talk about all things astronomical – perfect for kids… and big kids alike. Plus there will be food vans offering delicious treats. The opening day will run from 12-9pm.
To close the trail, there will be a Big Bang Bank Holiday ‘Picnic at the Planets’ on Sunday, August 28 where you can enjoy hands-on creative STEAM activities, guided tours of the trail, games from Living Sport, live music by the Lightwaves, Hunt and Darton’s interactive ‘Great Planetary Make-Off’, make your own rocket with the CHOAS science team or have a go on one of the Outspoken Smoothie Bikes to DIY your own free smoothie.
Try Rumble Live action gaming
For a family day out with a difference, there’s a chance to hunt each other down with guns in a woodland setting. This is a fancy game of laser tag – so there are no flying missiles to worry about.
Set across three different arenas in eight acres of woodland on the banks of the reservoir at Grafham Water, it is designed to recreate the experience found in popular battle royale video games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty. It combines the thrilling elements of paintball with the technology and contactless gameplay of laser tag and the result is a family-friendly shoot ‘em up!
Rumble’s eight acres of woodland at Grafham Water is split up into three zones or ‘maps’. Each one has a central Rangers’ cabin from where the games are controlled featuring a large screen TV which displays your team and individual stats at the end of each mission. For ages 8 and up. Bring plenty to drink.
Enjoy the Botanic Garden
Take a stroll through the beautiful University of Cambridge Botanic Garden where there are plenty of family-friendly events throughout the holidays.
Bee school summer adventure – Pick up this self-led trail and go on an adventure around the Botanic Garden to learn all about being a bee. Complete all the lessons, collect teacher stamps and be awarded with a graduation prize at the end of your bee journey.
- 10am-6pm, July 21- September 4 – free but normal garden admission charges apply for adults.
Bumblebear workshop – Based on the book Bumblebear, join the parent and child workshop where you can dress up, dance and act out the story. For children aged 2-5.
- 10.15am-11.15am, Friday August 12 – £7.
Make flower crowns– A fun way to make flower crowns and spend time together.
- 10am-1pm, Wednesday August 17 – free.
Bat Patrol (guided walk) – Take a night-time walk through the gardens and learn about the fascinating world of bats. Suitable for adults and children aged 8+.
- 8-9.15pm, August 24 – £7.
More at botanic.cam.ac.uk.
Be amazed by the Enchanted Summer Adventure at Audley End Miniature Railway
Meet the elves and fairies who live in the enchanted woods at Audley End.
Visitors can take the Audley End Miniature Railway into the woods for a captivating woodland journey where they will spot magical creatures along the route. The train passes through the ancient mine where rumour has it, the fire-breathing dragons live, guarding the precious ancient crystals.
Then adventurers will journey back to their fairy and elf friends who are ready and waiting to welcome visitors to their tiny woodland homes.
Wander through the pathways of the fairy and elf walk and spot the tiny folk hiding among the trees – be sure to tick them off in your activity booklet.
Young adventurers can let off steam and explore the play area, before becoming nature detectives in the nature corner, hunting out the bugs and creepy crawlies that live all around us. Then sit back and watch the interactive adventure story-telling show on the woodland stage.
- Booking is required at audley-end-railway.co.uk.
- Adults and children over 92cm – £14/£14.50. Children under 92cm – £7/£7.25. Children under 1 year and carers – free. Ticket includes train ride, fairy and elf walk, nature corner, games area, interactive story-telling and adventure play area.
Take off at Imperial War Museum, Duxford
There’s plenty of fun at IWM Duxford to enjoy this summer.
Families can put their paper plane-making skills to the test as they try to beat the world record with Flight Academy or travel back in time to D-Day 1944 with the storytelling experience Family Mission.
They can also engineer their very own bespoke cockpit in Cockpit Control or get approved for take-off by exploring four activity stations dedicated to the Spitfire with Spitfire engineers.
Activities vary – checking the details at the Visit Planning Point upon arrival.
Take advantage of free outdoor play sessions
Cambridge City council is running daily outdoor play and activity sessions at a rolling rota of playgrounds and recreation areas around the city throughout the summer holidays
The Children and Young People’s Participation Service – known as ChYpPS – works year-round in neighbourhoods across the city to provide free open-access play opportunities for children, young people and their families.
Children are free to come and go as they please, but ChYpPS are keen to stress that they are not a childcare facility and children under seven must be accompanied by an adult.
To find out where the team will be each day, visit the programme at cambridge.gov.uk/chypps-activities.
Splash around at Cambridge Aqua Park
There’s no better way to cool down on a hot summer’s day other than to have a splash at an aqua park.
Cambridge Aqua Park is based on farmland in the Fens at Hannam’s Wake Hub in Stretham, to the north of Cambridge. Try out fun inflatables for kids aged six and up.
There is a range of water activities on site so if you want to spend a whole day doing something fun, Cambridge Aqua Park can build day packages bespoke for your requirements including cable kneeboarding, wakeboarding and inflatable towing.
- Join the fun any day from Tuesday to Sunday during the holidays. Sessions must be pre-booked at cambridgeaquapark.com – £20 per person for a one-hour session.
Go wild at Shepreth Wildlife Park
Shepreth Wildlife Park has plenty to keep kids entertained for a whole day.
As well as the chance to see a tiger, red panda, meerkats, birds of prey, bats, otters and more there are also live keeper talks, an outside play area and Ringo’s indoor PlayBarn.
Entry is £13.50 for adults, £11.50 for children and £12.50 for concessions. Some discounts are available for disabled visitors, NHS workers and those in the Armed Forces. Visit https://sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk/.
Warm up at Cambridge United pre-season friendlies and summer camps
For all the football fans who can’t wait for the next season, try Cambridge United’s pre-season friendly against Hull at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday (July 23), before their League One campaign begins on July 30 against MK Dons. All fixtures can be found at www.venuetoolbox.com/cambridgeunited.
The club is also running a series of summer camps at secondary schools around the city – choose from a single day session to a whole week. From £15 a day – visit bit.ly/3PQFJuj.
Relax with Music in the Parks
This free series of si is back this summer and will run until September on selected Sundays. All concerts are 3pm-5pm. These free events are the perfect way to end your weekend on a high, while away a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon by packing up a picnic, grabbing a blanket and heading down to enjoy the music.
- August 7 – Chesterton Rec: Cambridge Rock Choir plus support
- August 21 – King’s Hedges Rec: Waterbeach Brass
- September 18 – Jesus Green: Cambridge Jazz Festival presents Cubafrobeat and Cambridge Youth Jazz Orchestra
- September 25 – Graduate Cambridge Hotel Garden: City of Cambridge Brass Band, in association with Cambridge Graduate. Please note only food and drink purchased at the venue can be consumed at this event.
Play with the National Trust
Throughout the school summer holidays, from Saturday July 23-Monday, August 29, grab a ‘Come Out and play’ card to create your own adventure as you explore the activities at Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Hall.
It’s the perfect time of year for outdoor play, and you’ll be able to get stuck in with sports and activities this summer thanks to support from Sport England. Take part in active games to test your balance, beat your best score, and have fun with family and friends. Whether you’re having an egg and spoon race or playing a game of giant Jenga, there are plenty of activities to try out. Look out for the Come Out and Play map to help you find all the activity stations.
Explore summer with the Museums
The University of Cambridge’s museums are holding a host of family-friendly activities including arts and crafts, events and trails through the holidays.
So whether you are looking for a family day out, something to do on a rainy day, or an experience with a difference, you will find plenty of options to choose from – many of which are free.
You can see the whole programme for Summer with the Museums at museums.cam.ac.uk/events/cambridge-wildlife-safari-trail.
Here’s our guide to what is coming up…
Cambridge Wildlife Safari Trail
The Museum of Zoology has a free safari trail around Cambridge’s green spaces where you can discover the plants and animals that live in these city centre wildlife havens. There is a map with clues that can be downloaded to a smartphone or printed out before your journey.
Check out the 24 different species of dragonfly living in the city, or or find out where to spot bats, bees and butterflies, plus take a trip to the meadow where there are woodpeckers, kingfishers, goldfinch and cormorants. We would recommend following this trail before lunchtime, when most of the wildlife will be out and about.
Insect Time Machine Trail
If you head inside the Museum of Zoology, pick up a free Insect Time Machine Trail from the front desk. Journey into the past and search for the insects that lived in Cambridgeshire 200 years ago and see what has changed today.
- The Museum of Zoology is open from 10am-4.30pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays and from 12-4.30pm on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.
The Museum on a Bike
The Museum of Cambridge is taking to the streets this summer with its Museum on a Bike tour.
If you see the bike around the city, pop over and join them for afternoons of handling objects, historic toys and games and chatting about all things Cambridge.
Keep an eye on its Facebook page and website to find out where the team will be next.
In the Footsteps of Women from Myth
Discover some amazing stories of the women from ancient Greek and Roman myths in this free family trail at the Museum of Classical Archaeology.
Ancient Greek myth isn’t just about male heroes. Trace this trail around the museum’s gallery of sculpture plaster casts to follow in the footsteps of women from ancient Greek and Roman myths, and find out more about their amazing stories.
The trail map is available from the front desk on your way in.
Fitz Family Art Week
The Fitzwilliam Museum will be celebrating the beauty of nature for its annual Family Art Week. From Tuesday, July 26 to Friday, July 29, there will be four days of free nature-inspired art activities on the lawn, which will change each day, and self-led trails to enjoy inside the museum as well as storytelling, tours and object handling sessions.
For more details, and to book a free ticket, please visit https://tickets.museums.cam.ac.uk/overview/5283.
You need to book a ticket for all adults and children attending. All children must be accompanied by an adult.