May Half Term and Spring Activities in Devon
There’s really no excuse for the kids to get bored this May, June and July as there’s a truly wonderful line up of events taking place week after week.
Fill those longer, warmer days with engaging hobbies, fun activities, healthy eating, holiday planning and exciting half-term events…
Get Water Confident, Ready for the Summer
When a child can swim confidently, he or she has open access to enjoy a wide variety of other water sports such as surfing, sailing, canoeing and diving. Playing in and around the rivers and the oceans suddenly becomes less dangerous if a child can swim and has a strong grasp of water safety.
Drowning Prevention Week, from 14 to 24 June 2019, aims to reinforce basic water awareness and on the website - www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/drowning-prevention-week - there are details on how children, aged 8 to 12 years, can sign up to become Rookie Lifeguards .
Prior to that, it’s Learn to Swim Week, from 13 to 19 May 2019 - https://www.sta.co.uk/events/international-learn-to-swim-week/
If you’re looking to find a local swimming pool or ASA approved swimming lessons enter your location details at www.swimming.org/poolfinder
Learn to ‘Swim Safe’ Outdoors
Swim Safe is a fun and free water safety activity for children aged 7-14 years. Founded by the RNLI and Swim England, it teaches children, who can swim at least 25 metres, essential water safety skills through a fun session delivered by qualified lifeguards and instructors at a choice of open water locations.
Children learn where it is safe to swim, how to float, what to do if something goes wrong and how to call for help if someone else is in trouble. The free 60-minute session includes beach safety advice, up to 30 minutes in-water tuition and all the right kit for swimming outdoors. Find and book a session near to you via: https://swimsafe.org.uk
Learn to Swim at a Pool Near You
Currently, there are 1.18 million children learning to swim on the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme. Find your nearest pool offering swimming lessons, including crash courses during the summer months, at www.swimming.org/learntoswim
This spring make a big splash at:
Crealy Great Adventure Park; the Waie Inn near Crediton, Aztec Club, Quaywest and the Riviera Centre in Torquay; River Dart Country Park; Cofton Holiday Park; North Devon Leisure Centre; Bude Sea Pool.
Make a big splash in the sea – take your pick of beaches!
Field to Fork Experience
According to the latest research by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), that involved more than 27,500 children across the UK, 29% of five to seven-year-olds thought that cheese came from a plant and 13% of eight to 11 year olds, thought pasta came from an animal.
With these statistics in mind, events such as Open Farm Sunday are great at helping children learn about where their food comes from, giving them a first-hand, field to fork experience.
Open Farm Sunday: Sunday 9 June
On 9 June 2019, hundreds of farms all over the country will open their gates for the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Open Farm Sunday. This annual event is a must for anyone interested in how farmers produce food and care for the countryside. Essentially, it’s all about making the link between nature, farming and food.
Families visiting a farm on Open Farm Sunday may be entertained and educated on tractor and trailer rides, farm walks or along nature trails. Visitors may even discover how worms are a farmer’s best friend, watch sheep being sheared, see cows being milked or chicks hatching. To find out what local farms are taking part see www.farmsunday.org
LEAF Open Farm School Days: Throughout June
The LEAF Open Farm School Days are an initiative where children can visit farms and learn about where their food comes from. Throughout June, many farms will open their gates for educational visits to enable children to learn about how their food is produced and to meet the farmers who grow it. Teachers can go to https://farmsunday.org/schools to organise a school visit.
Open Farm Sunday at Kenniford Farm
Come and meet the pigs, take a farm tour and learn about where your food comes from on Open Farm Sunday, on 8 June, from 10.30am-3.30pm, at Kenniford Farm. This promises to be a fun and free educational day out for all the family with a Hog roast, live music, tractor rides, face painting, nature walks, inflatables and cream teas. See Kenniford Farm’s Facebook page for timings and information. See https://kennifordfarm.co.uk
National Children’s Gardening Week: Saturday 25 May to Sunday 2 June
National Children’s Gardening Week aims to capture children’s enthusiasm for growing plants and being in the garden. Find ideas for fun garden projects and activities at: www.childrensgardeningweek.co.uk
It's Picnic Week – Friday 21 June to Sunday 30 June
Eating al-fresco is one of summer’s great pleasures, and after a hearty run-around it’s easy to tempt the children to sit down and tuck into an equally hearty picnic!
Picnics produce a tremendous amount of plastic, but they don’t have to. When you see how much goes into making just one plastic spoon, you may think washing up a few plates after a picnic isn’t such a big deal. Many families use reusable, sturdy plastic containers rather than single-use plastic to ship their picnic food, but if you want to go totally plastic-free here are some suggestions for you…
When buying picnic food, try to choose products that are not packaged in plastic. Opt for loose fruit and vegetables at your local greengrocer or supermarket and make your own sandwiches or pre-made salads stored in bamboo lunchboxes or sturdy glass containers.
Finger food such as chicken drumsticks, celery and carrot sticks, cocktail sausages, scotch eggs, potato wedges, sausage rolls and vegetable kebabs can all be consumed without a hint of plastic in sight. For storage, use tin foil, wax paper or glass containers.
- Wrap the sandwiches in tin foil or a fabric napkin that can double up to catch the crumbs.
- Use light stainless steel cutlery, old plates or fabric napkins
- Store the drink in a re-usable bottle. Many bottle producers are creatively using alternative materials such as bamboo, sugar cane, stainless steel and glass.
- Serve up the drink in small sturdy mugs or tin mugs.
- Transport all the food using an old fashioned picnic basket or reusable canvas bag.
As part of the season’s mini adventures pack up a tasty picnic for the kids. It’s National Picnic Week from 21 to 30 June 2019 – for ideas on how to fill those hampers look at www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk or grab some nutritious ideas from www.greatgrubclub.com.
Spruce up those summer packed lunches and picnics with some tasty ideas, found here Healthy Lunchboxes - NHS: www.nhs.uk/change4life/recipes/healthier-lunchboxes
Salad and summer recipes at World Cancer Research Fund: www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/recipes/recipes-home
Picnic recipes at BBC Good Food: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/picnic
Get Together for The Big Lunch – 1 and 2 June
Designed to draw communities together by dining in a communal way, The Big Lunch, an initiative started by the Eden Project, will be taking place on 1-2 June this year.
Why not use this as a great opportunity to form closer bonds with your neighbours? To get started see www.edenprojectcommunities.com/thebiglunch
Bike Week – 8 to 16 June
It’s National Bike Week - www.cyclinguk.org/bikeweek – from 8 to 16 June, when the nation will get mobile on two wheels. Do keep an eye on the website for details about local events.
If you’re wanting to pedal along a nearby route that is suitable for all the family, then you may wish to consider a section of: the Granite Way from Okehampton to Lydford; the Tarka Trail in and around Barnstaple; the Mineral Railway Trail at Tamar Trails; the trails at Haldon Forest near Exeter; the Exe Estuary Cycle trail that runs along the estuary from Exmouth to Dawlish.
Alternatively, choose from one of the many other routes found at www.sustrans.org.uk/bike-routes-map
To find a Bike Week event near you take a look at www.bikeweek.org.uk
Top Tips for a Successful Family Bike Ride
To locate a cycle route or to join the National Cycle Network visit the Sustrans website - www.sustrans.org.uk - which has a vast number of maps of cycle tracks all across the UK.
The National Cycle Network has over 14,000 miles of routes throughout the UK and passes through the centre of every major town in the UK. 75% of people live within a couple of miles of it.
A third of the routes are traffic-free, with paths along disused railways, canal towpaths and forest tracks, whilst the remainder follows quiet roads and traffic-calmed streets.
Tips from Sustrans - Planning a family bike ride
- Don't go too far: it is better that everyone enjoys themselves on a short ride and comes home eager to plan the next trip.
- Check the route beforehand: make sure you don't get lost and plan some options for short cuts.
- Avoid very hilly routes, busy roads and difficult junctions.
- Let the slowest cyclist set the pace.
- Make it interesting: children can get bored so plan plenty of refreshment breaks. Little and often is better than one long break half-way. For younger kids, have a few games, like I-spy, up your sleeve to play along the way.
Children’s Art Week – Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 June
Children's Art Week, the nationwide celebration of creativity for children and their families, will take place from Saturday 8 to Sunday 16 June 2019.
Last year, the occasion was well received when 146 events took place, and 18,825 participants enjoyed creative activities at 116 venues, including galleries, museums, primary and secondary schools.
Find out what’s happening near you at http://engage.org/childrens-art-week.aspx
It's Child Safety Week - 3 to 9 June
The aim of Child Safety Week is to raise awareness, forge partnerships and put child accident prevention on the local agenda. This year Child Safety Week will run from Monday 4 to Sunday 10 June 2018 with the theme ‘Safe Children: Together we've got This’ .
Organisers are asking families, communities and professionals to show they care by playing their part in keeping children safe and sharing their experience and knowledge – not just about the horrors of accidents, but also the really practical, simple things they do to prevent them.
Children’s Hospice Week – 17 to 23 June
Children's Hospice Week is the UK's only awareness and fundraising week for children with life-shortening conditions and the palliative care services that support them.
The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Let's Turn up the Volume’ which is designed to raise awareness of what life is really like for families caring for seriously ill children.
To learn more or to help raise funds visit www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/childrenshospiceweek
After School Summer Checklist:
Embrace the longer days with enriching moments that all the family will be able to enjoy together. Here are some ideas on how to spend that time – (many are dependent on the age of your children):
- Watch the sunset from a viewpoint
- Picnic outside in the park
- Take an early evening bike ride – take a little snack
- Paint a picture of the early evening skies
- Go scooting (then catch the bus home)
- Go on a trail – a town trail, a nature trail
- Go foraging – for raspberries and blackberries
- Paint and decorate plain ceramic pots that can be used in the garden
- Look up at the night sky – track satellites, look for the international space station
- Go paddling – canoeing, an organised canoeing trip, have fun on a pedalo
- Use some coloured chalk to draw shapes and pictures on your patio (if you have one!)
- Play games – French cricket, football in the park, Frisbee on the beach, Boules in the park, rounders (get another family to come along), snail races
- Go swimming - in the sea or a tide pool
- Go fishing
- Watch some outdoor theatre, outdoor music, evening fireworks
Find out what children's activities are taking place in Devon this May half term, and beyond, here...
Enjoy a Hive of Activity at Quince Honey Farm
Quince Honey Farm’s brand-new all-weather attraction will be a hive of activity during the summer half term holiday. Visiting families will be able to enjoy a full day of activities including a Honey Factory Tour, Honey Tasting, a Beekeeping Demo, Be a Beekeeper, a Beekeeping Tractor Tour, Critter Encounters and Candle Rolling. For the young and young at heart, there’s the beautiful Nectar Gardens to explore and the Play Hive indoor and outdoor play. For details see www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk
May Half Term Fun at Seaton Tramway
Visit Seaton Tramway this May half term for some fantastic family days out. Join the Dinosaur Tram Adventure and discover the Jurassic Coast. Ride the Fairy Special and journey to the Fairy Kingdom with the Fairy Godmother and Prince Puck.
Set sail on the Pirate Tram with Captain Nick to Shipwreck Cove and find his lost treasure – this is a brand-new adventure for 2019! Or travel at your leisure on the open top trams through the glorious Axe Valley. For details see www.tram.co.uk or call 01297 20375.
Family Fun at the Riviera Centre, whatever the weather!
Located in Torquay, the Riviera Centre offers fun for all the family. Waves Leisure Pool has a unique sloping floor, wave machine, flume and pirate water play features. It offers dip ‘n’ dine packages too which are fun sessions where the under 3’s can swim for free. The Aqua Lounge Café offers a selection of snacks, drinks and meals, including fresh cakes and Starbucks coffee. There’s also a pirate themed soft play feature for the under 8’s. Pool birthday parties, private hire and swimming lessons are also available throughout the year. For more information see www.rivieracentre.co.uk or call 01803 299 992.
Play Top Trumps at Paignton Zoo
You can find a new version of an old favourite at Paignton Zoo this year. In this special Top Trumps, guests can pit Zoo animals against each other – learning and discovering as they go. The trail, launched at Easter, is fun, interactive and has a conservation learning element.
Guests buy a Super Top Trumps Card when they arrive at the Zoo; each card comes with a trail activity sheet with instructions on how to play and space to record results. There are twelve giant cards around the Zoo for guests to discover. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk
Ever Wondered What’s in the Woodland at Becky Falls?
Discover what amazing plants and animals live at Becky Falls during the May half term. There are some amazing exotic animals to see in the Animal Discovery Zone which you can compare to their British cousins.
In addition, there’s fun Meet the Keeper sessions, a children’s stamp trail where every child gets a prize, and there are Explorer Backpacks available to borrow too. All shows and activities are included in your entrance fee. See https://www.beckyfalls.com/
Water Wipeout – Enjoy the South West’s Greatest Water Fight at The Bear Trail
On Sunday 9 June, an enormous water fight will be happening at The Bear Trail. Families will be able to tackle this awesome family assault course, while dodging the Water Wipeout Crew who will be on a mission to ensure everyone ends up getting soaked. It’s ‘sun’s out, guns out’ and kids can take their own water pistols and super soakers for a day of family fun. Early Bird tickets are available at £11.50 (for those over 1 metre), at £8.50 (for those under 1 metre). For tickets and information see www.thebeartrail.co.uk/events
Endless Excitement with The Outdoors Group
Enjoy endless excitement during the school holidays at the Exeter, Exmouth and Okehampton forest schools. Discover how to make fire, build dens and work together as a team during the school holidays. Enjoy a fun day exploring, learning and playing in the fresh air.
Sessions are suitable for children aged 5-13 years, plus sibling/multi booking discounts and childcare vouchers are accepted. For more information email email@example.com, call 01392 811907 or see www.outdoorsgroup.co.uk
Dawlish Celebrates May Half Term Week
From street markets to skateboarding, circus skills workshops to vintage bicycles, graffiti workshops to live music and magical storytellers - there is something for everyone in Dawlish during May Half Term week. The ‘Fiction Meets Art Day’ or F’Art Day on Thursday 30 May will be a great day themed around all your favourite book characters and will be featuring lots of free participatory arts for all the family to enjoy. For up to date information visit the Dawlish Celebrates Facebook page or call 01626 863388.
Picnic at the Park at River Dart
Summer's biggest family picnic is back! Picnic at the Park returns to River Dart Country Park on Sunday 2 June, from 10am to 5pm. The popular day out includes live music, a fun assault course, a circus skills workshop, Dare Devil activities at reduced rates, a dog show, a DJ, pony rides, Dartmoor Rangers, vehicle displays and much more. Don’t miss it! For more information, visit www.riverdart.co.uk
Go Wild at Haldon Forest Park
Kids of all ages love letting off steam in the fantastic forest at Haldon Forest Park with wild play, hidden dens, a Zog activity trail and Gruffalo orienteering. Ready for a bigger adventure? Well, children over 1 metre in height can take on the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure.
If you don’t want the fun to end, then you can keep your family entertained all year with a great value annual Discovery Pass for £38 – that works out to be just 73p per week! Enjoy unlimited anytime parking for a whole year at Haldon Forest and Bellever Forest, as well as exclusive offers and discounts. Visit www.forestryengland.uk/membership.
Creative Fun at Honiton Pottery
Pottery painting, making with clay or even throwing on the Potter's Wheel will be available at Honiton Pottery during the May half term week. There’s no need to book for the pottery painting or making with clay, but if your child, aged 8 years+, fancied a go at throwing on the Wheel, do phone ahead and book a slot.
Currently in stock are lots of unicorn and llama related items ready to paint, along with old favourites such as money boxes, egg cups, mugs and letters. Whilst busy painting why not treat yourself to a yummy Cadbury's Crème Egg Ice Cream Sundae? For details and booking call 01404 42106.
Pirates A Hoy at World of Country Park
Ah ha me hearties! This May Half Term week there’ll be swash-bucklin’ fun aplenty at World of Country Life, Exmouth. There will be Pirate themed activities galore and twice daily through the week, the Pirate Ship Play Area will play host to an amazing pirate sword fighting show. Captain ‘Appy Angus will be on hand with the rest of his Country Life crew to make sure your May Half Term visit is one to remember!
Plus, all the usual daily activities like goat walking, animal handling, bottle feeding, the birds of prey flying display, ferret racing and the Deer Train will fill your day with fun. There are also tons of outdoor play areas like Harry the Harvester and the Tower of Slides as well as three different indoor soft play areas and the indoor Pirate Ship Adventure featuring a full sized wooden pirate ship. Don’t miss a thing, see www.worldofcountrylife.co.uk
Golden Anniversary Celebrations Continue at The Donkey Sanctuary
Join The Donkey Sanctuary’s 50th Anniversary celebrations with a hunt for golden carrots this half-term. Follow clues around the sanctuary and discover interesting facts relating to the charity’s 50 year history, before uncovering the hidden treasure to claim your gold reward. It’s a fun, family adventure that combines exercise, brainpower and meeting hundreds of friendly donkeys. Plus, there are exciting new indoor attractions, a hedge maze, play area and nature centre. Read more at www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sidmouth
Be Amazed and Amused at the House of Marbles
There’s plenty to be amazed and amused about at House of Marbles this spring.
This marble-ous attraction has no admission charges and has lots of wonderful sights to behold for all ages with a working glassworks, four fun museums, bespoke interactive marble runs and a penny press. As well as family friendly dining and shopping there’s ample free parking too. A nostalgic Brass Rubbing Trail is also available to complete for just £1! For details see www.houseofmarbles.com
Half Term Holiday Fun for all the Family
Fantastic fun is in store for all the family at the Devon Railway Centre, Bickleigh this May half term. It boasts a host of attractions including an indoor soft play area, a model village and funfair with push buttons to make things move and there’s a huge model railway exhibition too. There will be a Railway Rummage on 25, 26 and 27 May, where children will be able to solve clues on the Railway Rummage trail in order to earn a prize. They can also meet one of the railway friends, Max Monkey. For details see https://devonrailwaycentre.co.uk/
It’s May-Hem at Crealy
Visit Crealy Theme Park and Resort this May Half Term and get £15 tickets for their absolute May-hem event. With the most theme park rides in Devon and over 60 attractions to choose from, Crealy Theme Park and Resort offers plenty to do for the whole family. Take a spin on the Twister as you tower over 12 metres high and race your way around the track at 30mph or take on the Tidal Wave Log Flume, dropping 40 foot into the water below. Other rides include the Maximus Rollercoaster, where guests will shoot around ancient Rome at high speeds; Vortex, a high speed waterslide with stunning special effects; the Flying Machine and the Flying Dutchman. Families can also take part in the Crealy Grand Prix.
Visitors can validate their ticket during their visit and return to the Theme Park for the next six days for free, with Crealy’s seven days of fun for the price of one. Get your tickets at www.crealy.co.uk
Get Set Grow at RHS Garden Rosemoor
This May half term holiday, RHS Garden Rosemoor has fabulous fun family activities with the theme of ‘Get Set Grow’, including a garden trail and drop-in craft workshops from Tuesday to Friday at 11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm. All of these activities are included in the normal garden admission which is free for RHS members. In addition, there’s an amazing interactive theatre production of Alice in Wonderland to see - tickets should be booked online to avoid disappointment. See www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor
Unicorn Week at Pennywell Farm
In addition to all the hands on animal activities, shows, rides and displays, a very special week is lined up at Pennywell Farm. This May Half Term, from Saturday 25 May to Sunday 2 June, Pennywell will be enjoying a magical week of unicorn fun to bring out the inner unicorn in everyone. Meet magical Merlin, Pennywell’s resident Unicorn for the week and enjoy unicorn treasure hunts, unicorn craft activities, games and prizes. Plus, if you buy your tickets online, there’s a free unicorn hot chocolate with every child ticket. Visit: www.pennywellfarm.co.uk