The Best Things to do in York with Kids this Summer: Our Guide

With so many things going on for kids in and around York this summer, where do you start? Don’t panic! We’ve handpicked our favourites for you, and you’ll find all the details below. To keep up-to-date with what’s going on, join hundreds of readers by signing up for our digital newsletter: subscribe through our homepage or Facebook page. And don’t forget to pick up the summer issue of Little Vikings when you see it – it’s packed with ideas, offers and lots more. Our new website also has a handy events calendar so you can check what’s on each day.

York Castle MuseumWW1 at York Castle Museum

Spend a day in the life of a WW1 soldier to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Meet a First World War soldier and help him build a section of trench wall, make a periscope to peep over the trench wall or follow the trail through the 1914 Gallery (50p). On Fridays 27th July, 5th August, 12th August, 19th August & 26th August, hear the story of WW1 soldier Arthur Radclyffe Dugmor brought to life. While you’re there, don’t miss Kirkgate, the recreated Victorian street (the sweet shop is always a hit).
York Castle Museum – 27th July to 4th September 2016 – Eye of York, York YO1 9RY – £10/under 16s & YMT Card holders free

Visit the York Castle Museum website

DIG YorkLittle Diggers at DIG: New summer sessions

Little Diggers are fun Saturday morning sessions at DIG: An Archaeological Adventure for 2 to 5 year olds that run at various times throughout the year.  We’ve been to lots of them and give them the Little Vikings seal of approval. This summer each session has a different theme, so take your pick, grab a trowel and dig in! 23rd July – Funny Bones, 30th July – Potty for Pottery, 6th August – Church Explorers, 13th August – Medieval Music, 20th August – Medieval Tournament, 27th August – Medieval Toys and Games.
DIG – An Archaeological Adventure, St Saviourgate, York YO1 8NN –
£3.50 per child

Visit the DIG website

The York Maize Maze - Picture date Saturday 10 August, 2013 (York, North Yorkshire) Photo credit should read: Jonathan Pow/jp@jonathanpow.comGet lost at York Maze

York Maze is always a great family day out, with rides, attractions and shows for kids of all ages. We always have a brilliant time there so it’s on our summer holiday to-do list every year. New for 2016, step on board the new tractor trailer ride Crowmania 2 but don’t expect to be dry when you get off!
York Maze, Elvington Ln, York, YO19 5LT – 16th July to 5th September

Visit the York Maze website

Piglets Adventure Farm ParkMagic, circuses and more at Piglets

Circus acrobatics, falconry, exotic animals, water bomb wars and pig racing are just some of the things that you’ll get for your entry ticket at Piglets Adventure Farm Park this summer. Legendary local magic man, the Magic Hatter, will be conjuring up comedy magic too, and you might even see a piglet being born in the Piglet Maternity Ward. There’s also the usual Piglets fun like tractor and trailer rides and crazy golf.
Piglets Adventure Farm Park, Towthorpe Grange, York YO32 9ST – 10am to 5.30pm

Visit the Piglets website

York Art GalleryFancy dress at York Art Gallery

Fancy Dress Summer: drop in, dress up and create a portrait (daily, 11am – 1pm & 2pm – 4pm). Five to nine year olds can collect a fun fact sticker to go towards Arts Award Discover (other activities at the Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum, York Minster and York Explore). Get 3 or more stickers for an Arts Award Discover certificate. Don’t miss the new Artists’ Garden either.
York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW – 27th July to 4th September – £7.50/under 16s/YMT Card holders free

Visit the York Art Gallery website

Museum GardensSculpture at the Yorkshire Museum

Sculpt with a different material each week throughout August: 1st to  7th: soap sculptures (carve your portrait into soap); 8th to 14th: amazing maize modelling (build a mini human sculpture); 15th to 21st: junk modelling (create a sculpture inspired by Roman objects); 22nd to 28th: clay sculptures (make a head pot or a Roman god) (all daily, 11am – 1pm & 2pm – 4pm). FREE with museum admission, no booking required.
27th July to 4th September 2016  – £7.50/under 16s and YMT Card holders free

Visit the Yorkshire Museum website

York MinsterFamily crafts at York Minster

Each Wednesday during the summer holidays (27th July- 4th September) families can enjoy hands-on craft activities at York Minster that celebrate the skills of the various craft guilds who were responsible for producing the medieval performances of the Mystery Plays (e.g. potters, weavers, tile-makers, and embroidery guilds). There will also be special storytelling sessions and fun family-friendly tours of the cathedral on each of these activity days.

Take part in a craft activity and earn a sticker towards your Arts Award Discover certificate, in partnership with York Theatre Royal, Explore York, and York Museums Trust. Crafts take place on Wednesdays, 10am-3pm, and are suitable for children aged four and over:

  • 27th July, Sculpt your own bird shaped ornament.
  • 3rd August, Create a sparkling sun catcher.
  • 10th August, Make your own decorative clay tile.
  • 17th August, Design and make a metalwork-style badge.
  • 24th August, Create your own family banner in fabric.
  • 31st August, Try your hand at weaving your own keepsake.

To take part costs £2.50 per participant plus standard admission charge (Admission ticket lasts for 12 months. Family 12-month ticket from £10 (valid for up to 4 children visiting the Minster with 1 adult). FREE admission to Minster for York residents with York card).

Visit the York Minster website

National Railway Museum YorkAmbulance trains at the National Railway Museum

Learn how ambulance trains evacuated sick and injured troops during the First World War in a new exhibition at the National Railway Museum, and embark on the family trail to find out more. Although there’s lots to do undercover (making it a great rainy day option), make sure you don’t miss the miniature railway ride or outdoor play area.
National Railway Museum, Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ – free entry – exhibition opens 7th July 2016

Visit the National Railway Museum website

Things to do in York with kidsRocket Science Summer Holiday Family Fun at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Kids can embark on a space-themed garden trail, enjoy stratospheric storytelling, create cosmic crafts and lots more space-themed activities. Head over on Yorkshire Day (1st August of course) to join in the Intergalactic Games, with loads of family activities to celebrate the most important day in the calendar. Possibly.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB – 23rd July to 4th September 2016 – Adult £10/ Child £5/under 5s free

Visit the Harlow Carr Gardens website

teddyTeddy bears at Newby Hall

See Gyles Brandreth’s famous collection of teddy bears in their new Bear House in Newby Hall’s gardens. Bring your own bear along to meet them too, but make sure you don’t leave them behind or there’ll be sleepless nights. While you’re there, don’t miss the miniature railway and ace adventure playground.
Newby Hall, Ripon, HG4 5AE – family ticket £33 (under 4s free)

Visit the Newby Hall website

Summer Reading Challenge YorkSummer Reading Challenge at Explore York Libraries

The popular Summer Reading Challenge will be running at the Explore York libraries again this year, and will be celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl. All children aged 5+ are challenged to read 6 books before term starts in September. They can collect prizes for the books they read, and they’ll get a medal and certificate if they read all six. Under 5s don’t miss out either – sign them up for the mini-challenge to collect a sticker for each book they read. There’ll be lots of events going on, too.

Visit the Explore York website

Beningbrough HallPlay out at Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough Hall is 300 this year and you can help them celebrate by playing out with them this summer. Throughout August, ‘50 things Fridays’ will help you tick off some of the trickier parts of your essential play bucket list. Every Wednesday and Sunday in August, join a family art workshop (different craft each week). Otherwise borrow a bike or trike, explore the wilderness play area or step inside to dress up and make a digital portrait.
Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, York YO30 1DD – from £10.80/£5.40/NT members free

Visit the Beningbrough Hall website

44 days of fun at Eureka!Eureka-1

Summer at Eureka! will include regular visits from storytellers, explosive science, celebration of Tim Peake’s mission in space with Destination Space family shows and regular opportunities to meet pets and farm animals.
Eureka, Discovery Road, Halifax, HX1 2NE

Visit the Eureka! website

Castle HowardAnimal Antics at Castle Howard

Animal antics are the order of the day at Castle Howard this summer: head off on an expedition with the Rusticus characters and meet the hibernating dormouse, butterfly catcher or woodland fairy.  Search for baby animals and take a rubbing of their tracks, get close to birds of prey and snap a nature picture in fun photography sessions. Blend into the beautiful surroundings with animal-inspired face painting and masks to decorate too. Don’t miss the boat trip, fairground rides or the fab adventure playground either. Sheepdog special! From 5th to 7th August, Castle Howard host the English National Sheepdog trials. Fifty dogs will run each day and  there’ll be family a bouncy castle, games and crafts. Barking brilliant.

Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA – Wednesday 27 July to Sunday 4 September – family of 5 from £26.90 (under 4s free); extra charge for some activities – check the website for details of what’s on when

Visit the Castle Howard website

Stockeld-Park-pumpkin-high-200x200Summer fun at Stockeld Park

Enjoy retro roller skating, jumping pillows, chopper go-karts, electric scooters and tons of active fun in the Enchanted Forest at Stockeld Park this summer. New this summer, there’ll also be Buccaneer Boats on the Enchanted Forest Lake. Visit on 30th or 31st July for the ‘Ugly Bug Ball’ weekend to celebrate the opening of a new adventure play area. Dress up as your favourite bug, enjoy live music, join in races and competitions or even take part in a bug grub contest. Or head across on 13th or 14th August for pirate antics. Walk the plank, dress up and even meet some real(ish) pirates!

Stockeld Park Summer Adventure, Wetherby, Yorkshire LS22 4AN – 23rd July to 5th September 2016 – family of four £46 (under 2s free)

Visit the Stockeld Park website

Have a wonderful summer and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest. And if you’ve not signed up for our weekly newsletter yet, what’s keeping you? It’s the best of York to your inbox every week! Sign up through our homepage or Facebook page.

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