Summer activities for children in Dorset


At last - summer’s here equalling six weeks away from the usual school routine and if we’re lucky we’ll get plenty of sunshine too. But how will you plan this time? Here’s some food for thought…

Let your summer sizzle with these great ideas…



Make Ice-Pops

Ice-pops are a real treat on a hot summer’s day and are so much fun for the children to make. Replace sticky, sugary pops by using natural ingredients such as fruit, yoghurt and milk.

Be inventive and combine flavours such as banana yoghurt and peanut butter – that’s sure to pack a big energy punch!

Or how about slicing a watermelon into segments and pushing a lollipop stick through the outer skin, before placing in the freezer, ready for a tasty healthy treat. 


Five Top Things to Do - Come Rain or Shine


Take on the Library Challenge

Each year the library challenge gives children a great excuse to fall in love with reading all over again!

Last year over 755,208 kids took part in the Summer Reading Challenge, and even more are expected to embrace this year’s theme – Animal Agents.

Read more at or


Visit the Museums

Entry to most museums continues to be free, making them a ‘must go’ place to visit during the summer holiday.

Hands-on activities, interactive displays and feature days add to the enjoyment.

Read about the museums in the locality at



Baking, Making, Creating and Painting

It’s inevitable that we will endure a spot of inclement weather over the summer holiday so plan in days for fun arts, crafts and baking sessions at home.


Be inspired by what you may find at Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum - or just let the children create their own masterpieces.


Create a Fairy Garden or Pirate Garden

There’s much excitement around fairy gardens at the moment and during a six-week break children can really see how plants grow and change in a relatively short space of time.

Making a fairy garden or pirate garden in a bucket or ceramic pot, will fire up young minds, and will be great for the children to play imaginative games.



Write a Diary or Create a Memory Board

Encourage your children to write about their summer adventures in a diary.

Alternatively, they could create a memory board with things picked up from days out.




Fun Times at the Beach



Young children seem to be fascinated in creatures and bugs that are much smaller than them, and the slippery critters found in rockpools are a source of much excitement.

There are great rockpools to be found at: Charmouth, Kimmeridge Bay, Broad Ledge at Lyme Regis, Seaton and Newton's Cove near Weymouth.





It’s always fun to go beachcombing and discover what interesting objects have been washed up on shore.On your beach travels collect pieces of driftwood, old bits of rope, seaweed, shells, sticks, flotsam and jetsam. Your beachcombing adventures will also help to keep the beaches clean which is great for the environment.


Beach Games

Get fit the fun way! Grab a ball, a frisbee and some bats and play beach cricket, catch, rounders, keepy-uppy, frisbee and tennis.

Alternatively, why not challenge friends and family to a game of boules.




Kite Flying

Take a look at for top tips on kite-flying including a reminder of the all-important safety advice such as flying kites away from roads, and overhead wires.



Enter a Sandcastle Competition

Bucket and spades at the ready! Keep your eyes peeled for local sandcastle competitions.

There's a Sandcastle Competition at this year's Swanage Carnival at the end of July and early August, and of course the Weymouth Sand Sculpture Festival runs throughout the summer. 


Go on a Treasure Hunt


Treasure Hunts with a Difference

Geocaching, letterboxing and orienteering are great ways to introduce children to the great outdoors and learn navigation skills in the process!

All three activities work like a big treasure hunt, and encourage kids to work as part of a team, whilst testing their problem-solving skills.

Moors Valley Country Park is a wonderful spot for orienteering and cycle orienteering - or for Geocaching visit


Top Deals

Look out for offers at attractions i.e. buy one get one free, seven days for the price of one, kid’s go free!


Love Parks Weeks – 14 July to 23 July

The aim of Love Parks Week is to raise awareness of the importance of parks and green spaces throughout the year. Local parks are great communal places to meet other mums and dads who have children at the same school as yours, making it easier to maintain contact over the school summer holiday. So, love your local park and celebrate what it has to offer. The official dates this year are from 14 July to 23 July. Visit


National Fishing Month – 21 July to 3 September

Many people get hooked on fishing as it offers an idyllic escape route away from the daily grind to a mini waterside haven of tranquillity. For a child, the excitement of the first catch can leave a lasting impression, laying the foundations of what could be a lifelong passion.

During National Fishing Month, from 21 July to 3 September, there will be plenty of opportunities for children to experience the joys of fishing. Visit


National Play Day – Wednesday 2 August

Many local authorities host free fun activities in recreation grounds throughout the summer. From family fetes to live music in the park – these events provoke a lively atmosphere and offer a real taste of community spirit. For younger primary school children, look out for one of the National Play Days that are usually held in local parks on the first Wednesday in August – this year it takes place on Wednesday 2 August. Visit


Head to the local Sports Centre or Pool

During the lengthy summer days many sports centres and swimming pools conveniently serve the needs of all members of the family with a packed programme of activities. Complete training packages can bring youngsters up to speed on their favourite sport and many swimming pools lay on intensive lessons over the six week break, enabling a child to build confidence in the water. 




Visit an attraction

Beat the boredom and spring little surprises throughout the holiday! Be it a day trip somewhere or a quick splash down at the local paddling pool. Give the kids something to look forward to. So, treat them to a day at a local attraction, lift their spirits and let them expend all that boundless energy.


Sleep underneath the Stars

Enjoy an enlightening night lying under the stars and sample the pleasures of living al fresco. Camping out is a fantastic adventure for any child so pitch up in the back garden or local campsite, and embrace the outdoor experience to the full.

Take an intrepid expedition at dusk by torchlight and search the sky for constellations. Then, on your return, toast some gooey marshmallows over a fire or BBQ and listen to all the unfamiliar night time sounds. For a list of family friendly campsites visit


Do something different

The list of things to do during the school holidays is inexhaustible, but the children tire of doing the same things again and again. There are many places to go in this country that offer ‘something different’.

Children could enjoy an encounter with wild dolphins and seals – visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website to discover more – - or search for wild animals at a National Trust property ( or at one of the Wildlife Trust’s many events (


Summer Survival Tips…
1. Keep Calm! You don’t need to fill every minute of every day with exciting adventures. It will only exhaust you, and anyway children don't need that much stimulation. Besides, if you work or are tied to other commitments, remember it's quality time that counts.
2. Be Flexible. Find out what childcare options are available in your area. Although some parents share childcare with friends, relatives and each other, others balance it with children's clubs. A variety of options will make childcare more satisfactory for everybody.
3. Let your children get bored. Seriously! It may be a challenge, ignoring the whining, but, in time, imaginations dream up ideas. Children need unplanned chill-out time just as much as we do. 
4. Just relax and remember it's your holiday, too. Give yourself a break. Don't feel guilty if you pack the kids off for the day, or get a sitter-in for a night out. You need and deserve time to rest up and unwind.
5. Re-establish their normal school routine in good time. Although summer holidays are all about late nights and long days, children will need to re-adjust as the holiday comes to an end. That way, bedtimes won't be such a struggle when they do go back to school.

Take a look at some of the great events and activities taking place in and around Dorset this summer... 

Save up to 30% at the Oceanarium this Summer Holiday!
Whatever the weather, visit the Oceanarium this Summer and take advantage of our fantastic special offer! Amazing savings of up to 30% off tickets are available when you book online and visit between Saturday 22nd July and Sunday 3rd September 2017. Home to thousands of enchanting creatures, Bournemouth Oceanarium immerses you in a fun and engaging underwater adventure. Explore the waters of the world and share a laugh at our playful otter family, seek out our loggerhead turtles in the Great Barrier Reef and catch a glimpse of our cunning croc. Don’t forget to look out for our menacing piranhas, mesmerizing jellyfish, colourful clownfish and of course our unforgettable, incredibly cute colony of Humboldt penguins! 
Tickets allow unlimited same day entry so take advantage and watch the waters come alive with regular talks and feeds! Plus, take part in additional summer activities including daily craft sessions where you can enjoy activities such as puzzles, badge making and a variety of fun and interactive games. Join the ‘meet the creature’ sessions where you can get up close and personal with creatures such as a royal python, our very own tarantula, giant millipedes, a Halloween crab and leopard geckos*.
The Oceanarium is open daily from 10am, situated next to Bournemouth Pier. Visit to purchase discounted tickets and for additional information regarding activities.

Bridport Children’s Festival: Thursday 27 July
Bridport Children’s Festival is a one day event for 2 – 7 year olds, taking place for the first time this year on Thursday 27 July 2017 on the Millennium Green in Bridport. Once inside the festival, all the sessions are free and children are welcome to choose from a huge choice of amazing workshops in children’s yoga, dance and movement, printmaking, musical art sessions, music making and puppet making. Plus, there will be percussion groups, Dorset Forest School, a food tasting tent, a ukulele workshop, story-telling and more. For information call 01308 424901.

RNLI College Summer Fete: Sunday 30 July
Enjoy a free family friendly fun day, on the terrace overlooking Holes Bay, on Sunday 30 July from 11am-5pm. See where the RNLI’s extraordinary volunteers are trained to save lives at sea and revel in the entertainment that will include lifeboat demonstrations on the water, a circus school, face-painting, live music, street food and much more. Free parking is also available on site at RNLI College, West Quay Road, Poole, BH15 1HZ. For details call 0300 300 7654.

Discover your WOW at Crealy this summer
With so much to see and do, it is easy to discover your WOW this summer at Crealy Adventure Park and Resort. With over 60 rides and attractions, you’re able to enjoy everything that Crealy has to offer. Take a spin on The Twister rollercoaster, sail the seven seas on the Jolly Roger, or cool down on one of the water rides such as the Tidal Wave or Vortex. For younger guests, The Junior Driving School, Honey Swing, and Shark Bay roller coaster offer exciting thrills, alternatively, the 75,000-sq. ft. of indoor soft play and Animal Barn are perfect for when the weather takes a turn! The all-new High Dive Show, direct from the USA, is set to wow the crowds. Watch in awe as the troupe perform intricate and tricky dives into a small pool, every Monday to Saturday throughout the summer holiday. Or visit Crealy on a poptastic Sunday, where some of the UK's top tribute acts will perform sets on stage throughout the day. Book online in advance and save up to 20% - visit

Travel through time and discover hidden wonders at Seaton Jurassic
This summer, become an explorer and experience ancient landscapes, face scary monsters and get shrunk down to the size of a shrimp. Be the Captain of the time ship and travel through Jurassic seas to find out if you have got what it takes to survive the giant rock pool, and then explore the wildlife garden and outdoor interactive play area. This summer, there is extra special fun for little explorers with Rockpool Rambles, Wild Wednesdays and Crafty Fridays. With surprises and hundreds of things to see, touch and do, Seaton Jurassic has something for time travellers big and small. Visit or call 01297 300390.

Adopt a Primate at Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre
Adopt a primate at Monkey World this summer, and get a free annual pass, so you can return again and again. The funds from adoptions help Monkey World to continue rescuing and rehabilitating primates in need from around the world. Monkey World is home to over 250 rescued and endangered monkeys and apes of 20 different species. Visitors can see the stars of TV’s Monkey Life, and then “monkey around” in the large adventure playground. Visit for details.

Children’s swimming lessons at Everyone Active
Swimming is lots of fun for people of all ages and provides loads of health benefits which can help to keep you and your children healthy and happy at the same time.What’s more, swimming is the only sport which can save your child’s life. Drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill. To find out more about learning to swim at your local leisure centre visit

Fiercely Entertaining Fun for all the Family
Discover a prehistoric paradise that’s home to some of the largest animatronic dinosaurs on the Jurassic Coast at the Mighty Claws Adventure Golf at Playgolf, Bournemouth. Suitable for the whole family, kids can swing their clubs through 18 holes of prehistoric thrills and near life-sized dinosaurs. Taken from the children’s storybook ‘The Invasion of the Iron Jaws’, the impressive course is based on the adventures of a small group of dinosaurs from Sweet Claw Valley. Open 7 days a week until late. Call 01202 436436 or visit

It’s fun all the way at Adventure Wonderland
Adventure Wonderland, has something for everyone this summer. The park has a huge range of rides and attractions including a Jabberwocky Slithery Slide, Battle Boats, Turbo Teacups and lots more. Children can meet a whole host of animals at Cuddle Corner Farm and find their way through the South’s largest hedge maze. There’s also an exciting array of visiting characters including Peppa Pig on 2 August, Paw Patrol’s Skye and Chase on 17 August and Fireman Sam on 29 August. Plus, catch the brand-new show, ‘Wonderland High’ live on stage in the Happydrome Theatre. Follow Alice, the new girl at Wonderland High School, on her journey into a wacky world of wonder, where all is not as it seems. Also, see ‘Boogie Wonderland’ live on stage in the theatre. The shows run at 12noon and 3pm on weekends and school holidays. Book online for 10% discount. For details go to

Russell-Cotes’ Summer at the Seaside
This summer, between 22 July to 3 September, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is celebrating everything that is fantastic about the seaside. Join them for a range of seaside themed make and take craft sessions and a variety of workshops including; decorating beach bags, sand art and t-shirt painting. In addition to the crafts there will be a seaside trail, garden games and an amazing competition. See or call 01202 451858 for further details.

Summer Bake Off at Saxon Square
Ready, steady… bake, on Saturday 29 July at Saxon Square’s very own Summer Bake Off! There will be cake, bunting, workshops and a visit from Paul Hollywood. Activities throughout the day will include a Signature Bake, where the shops and cafes at Saxon Square will be baking their own cakes and sweet treats. Paul Hollywood will be judging the Signature bake competition at 12pm and then cakes can be purchased after this. All proceeds will go to Julia’s House charity. Plus, there will be a Technical Bake involving a cupcake piping challenge for parents and a Showstopper Bake which is an afternoon tea workshop for the children. Visit

Learn about Local History at Poole Museum
Poole Museum, one of the most-visited free attractions in Dorset, is located in historic quayside buildings in Poole’s Old Town. Whilst there, visiting families can discover the remarkable story of this historic port and its harbour through digital and paper trails, explore the interactive 1950s kitchen and view the birds of Poole Harbour in the hide. Poole Museum is open every day, from 10am to 5pm. Medieval Scaplen’s Court Museum and garden will be open throughout August, with free family activities on Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit

Hands-on Family Fun at The Priest’s House
The Priest’s House Museum and Garden in Wimborne, has fun for all the family this summer. Dig It! on Saturday 29 July has an archaeology theme, whilst the Wild About… events on Thursdays 17 and 24 August will offer activities for nature lovers. Family Explorers on Tuesday 29 August will be a fun packed day full of hands-on, creative activities for all the family. In addition, a range of self-directed children’s activities are available throughout the year. For further information about events visit or call 01202 882533.

Quizzes, puppets and shows at Wimborne Model Town
Wimborne Model Town, the original 1/10th scale walk-around model village of 1950’s Wimborne, has loads of activities lined up for families this summer. There will be free quizzes, a new audio guide and a chance to see Thomas and drive the trains on the six-track model railway. Mervyn Cole’s popular Family Fun Shows will enthral crowds, with magic and puppets at 12noon and 2pm on 25 and 29 July and on all Tuesdays and Thursdays in August. Whilst at 2.30pm on Wednesday afternoons, from 26 July until 30 August, a programme of storytelling and interactive adventures, including Gulliver’s Adventures, Little Red Riding Hood and Irish Folk Tales, will entertain families. See for further details.

Childcare Sorted for Summer!
Funtastic provide very special out of school care throughout the year. A varied selection of fun and exciting activities and workshops are offered for all ages, both indoors and outdoors, so whatever the weather, it is always fun at Funtastic! The latest addition is a special Funtastic ‘write a short story’ competition – look at the website for details. A hot lunch is supplied during the holiday club, and there are healthy breakfast and hot dinner options available too. To find out more about this amazing club, and to register your child, visit

Big Little’s Summer Performing Arts Courses
Big Little has some very exciting projects lined up for the summer for children aged 5 upwards, which will give students the chance to develop their skills in singing, dancing and acting and to perform in a show. A fantastic five-day musical theatre course, ‘Another Opening, Another Show’ follows the ‘behind the scenes’ adventures of a cast in the run up to the opening night of their show. The course, for ages 5-12, is running in Ringwood at St. John’s Church Hall, Poulner on Monday 24 to Friday 28 July and in Bournemouth at the performing arts block, Bournemouth School for Girls on Monday 31 July to Friday 4 August. For details and bookings visit or call 01202 434499.

Free trials from 10 September at Create at the Cove!
Whilst visiting the iconic Jurassic Coast, join in the fun at Create at the Cove. Based in West Lulworth, this unique all-weather attraction, offers an inspiring space to relax and have a go at a choice of crafts. There really is something for everyone to enjoy - try decopatching, fossil digging or maybe pottery painting. With a café, gift shop and sunny private patio, why not visit this summer and get creating. Look out for the free trials from 10 September - see for more details.

The Emergency Services Family Fun Day: Saturday 22 July
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service will be taking its Emergency Services Family Fun Day to Kings Park, Bournemouth on Saturday 22 July from 11am to 4pm. The day will provide a platform for the ‘blue light’ services to demonstrate their equipment and skills in a safe and controlled environment. Since starting in 2010, the Emergency Services Family Fun Day has raised over £12,000 for charity and promises to get the school summer holidays off to the perfect start. Entry is free. Visit

The Dorset Arts and Crafts Summer Exhibition: 4 to 8 August
This summer, find some of the best contemporary and heritage crafts in the area at the Dorset Arts and Crafts Summer Exhibition, which runs from Friday 4 to Tuesday 8 August 2017. Take the opportunity to 'have a go' at craft in some of the taster sessions for adults and children. The show is held at Purbeck School, Worgret Road, Wareham, BH20 4PF. Full details can be found at

Summer pottery painting fun whatever the weather!
Visit Bella Ceramics and enjoy some pottery painting fun, whatever the weather. There are plenty of individual ceramic pieces to choose from and paint, and some incredibly tasty, freshly baked cookies and ice lollies to try - as an extra treat of course! Pottery painting can now be enjoyed anywhere you like with the special ‘Bella to Go’ boxes, and if it’s parties you’re after, there are three different party packages available. Find Bella Ceramics on Facebook or call 01305 780343 or email

The Little Mix Experience take to the stage
Join The Little Mix Experience at the Bournemouth Pavilion on Sunday 23 July, for a jam-packed concert. Four hugely talented girls pay tribute to one of the UK’s finest girl bands, with breath-taking dance moves, replica costumes and some of the finest vocals in the UK. Bursting with personality, this is a high-energy show from beginning to end! See

Exciting times at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park
This summer, see the newest arrival to the collection of very rare breed Heavy Horses at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park, near Verwood. Lilly-Rose is a beautiful and rare Suffolk Punch foal. She is very friendly, and loving all the attention from visitors! Aside from meeting the adorable foal, children will enjoy all the usual attractions at this picturesque park. There will be daily educational shows, horse-drawn carriage rides, miniature pony and trap rides, tractor trailer rides, vintage fairground rides and huge play areas to explore. The park is also absolutely thrilled to have just received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the sixth consecutive year. Visit

See the Secret Garden in Swanage
Give your kids an unforgettable live theatre experience, this summer at The Mowlem in Swanage. As part of Swanage Rep Theatre Season, the company will be performing The Secret Garden, from 17 to 22 August at 7.30pm. This classic magical tale of friendship and nature will feature original music and songs, a stunning set and fantastic performances. Entry is just £8 for children and £12 for adults. For details visit

Open Air Theatre at Corfe Castle
Picnics and blankets at the ready! This summer, settle down at Corfe Castle and enjoy some spectacular performances under the open skies. See The Emperor’s New Clothes on Friday 4 August; The Wind in the Willows on Friday 11 August and The Lost World on Friday 18 August. Pre-booking is essential. Visit for more information.

Go potty for pottery at Moon Studio Ceramics
Get creative this summer holiday at a pottery class run by Moon Studio Ceramics in Christchurch. During the Kids Clay Time workshops, families can learn to throw a pot on the wheel, sculpt a masterpiece and even paint the item. As well as classes at the studio, ‘Pop Up Pottery’ will be out and about at events including the Wild Weekend at Avon Heath Country Park. For more details, including information about the bespoke birthday parties, visit

Discover the delights of Pamphill Dairy this Summer
Pamphill Dairy is a fantastic setting to make the most of the great outdoors this summer. There is a large field by the cricket pavilion where children can play games and ride their bikes. The Pamphill Dairy Parlour Cafe caters for both inside and outside dining, plus there’s a butchery, Farm Shop and artisans on site. Visit

Pop Starz in Training
Pop Starz in Training offers youngsters a new and exciting way to learn all the tricks of the trade, and where they will be taught to look and act like real pop stars. If your child wants to have fun, keep fit, sing, dance or even lip sync, this is the place for them. Classes, suitable for all abilities, are taught in a safe, friendly environment by qualified teachers with years of industry experience. Call 07864 780143 or email or visit

Free, swashbuckling fun at BH2 Leisure
Visit BH2 this summer for a fun, free, swashbuckling, arrrr-mazing pirate takeover! The little scallywags of Bournemouth are invited to pirate school to learn the pirate code, join in a sea shanty and make their own sword to complete the pirate trail. There will also be an opportunity to dress up and discover your pirate name with Polly the Parrot. Look out for Captain Jack Sparrow who’ll be pilfering around for pirate selfies and join his treasure hunt for a chance to win amazing prizes. Visit

Kids get fit for free at Park Run
Kids aged from as young as 4 to 14 years, can run, jog or walk on the beautiful 2km course at Moors Valley Country Park (near Ringwood) every Sunday. This free event is available to all children and starts from the totem pole in the lower car park. There is a briefing and fun warm-up before the run starts, so families need to be there by 8.50am to get involved. Car parking is only £1 if paid for before 10.30am, you then have until 10.45am to exit the park, so there’s plenty of time to fit in breakfast and a little play in the park too. To take part, register with parkrun, for free, and take along a printed barcode to appear in the results. Visit

Summer childcare provision from Cuddles Nursery
Cuddles Day Nursery offers a safe and well-resourced play environment for children of school age, right up to 14 years. Fun and challenging activities are offered to the children, in a comfortable home from home environment, where the children are able to chill out and relax, just as they would do at home. This year, many activities and events have been planned, including water play, trips to the beach, forest adventures, scavenger hunts, African dancing, fruit picking and kickboxing. This is in addition to the regular art and craft activities and games. Visit for more details.

Enjoy a Summer Visit to Honeybrook Farm
This summer, Honeybrook will be running an interactive farm programme, 7 days a week, giving families a chance to meet its marvellous menagerie. The programme will include hands-on petting experiences, wildlife wanders and river dipping, amid a beautiful countryside setting. If it’s wildlife your brood are into, then you’ll be interested to know about the pre-bookable Wild Skill and Forest School sessions. Plus, due to popular demand, there will be family friendly live music nights in the Great Barn and Bats, Burgers and Bangers evenings on 18 July and 15 August. For more details visit or call 01202 881120.

Open-top Bus Services Resume for the Summer
Yellow Buses are bringing back their Open Top bus services for the summer. At just £4 for adults and £2.60 for children over 5, all day travel is a bargain. The Yellows are also working in partnership with local eateries and tourist attractions to offer special discounts in conjunction with a valid yellow bus ticket. See their website for more details:

Open Spaces for fun play at Kingston Lacy
This summer, Kingston Lacy has something fun lined up for every member of the family. Activity booklets are available and are packed with plenty of things to do. Around the garden and woodland there are play areas and beautiful open spaces, which are great spots for a picnic. If you are visiting the house, pre-book your timed entry tickets online via 0344 249 1895.

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