Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Summer Family Fun at Treasure Houses

Roll up families; discover a feast of fun at Treasure Houses throughout England. There’s a programme stacked with entertainment and pizzazz, Treasure Houses are coming to life with a range of activities for the whole family. Enjoy outdoor theatre and film performances, muddy your boots on the farms, sip afternoon tea and run wild under lush canopies in summer gardens. Here is just a taster of what’s on offer to stretch little feet and big imaginations this summer holidays:
Beauulieu Abbey Cloisters

Witness birds of prey in flight within Beaulieu Abbey’s cloisters and gen up on the history of falconry. Every day between 16th July – 4th September there will be flying demonstrations and talks with falconer Paul Manning.

Join in a story-telling tour with a costumed housemaid, ladies’ maid or butler and find out how the other half lived during Victorian times. Throughout the summer (from 23rd July – 29th August) a series of ‘Below Stairs Stories by the Victorian Servants’ will take you through the daily chores and strict hierarchy of a bygone era in this magnificent palace.

Embark on a quest to discover magic, myths and legends in the Festival of Surprises, running from 30th July – 12th August. This fortnight of special events is guaranteed to keep children of all ages (and adults) entertained with themed activities and garden workshops designed to take you back in time. During the first week of the programme enjoy treasure hunts, bouncy pole jousting and Tudor dancing as you are introduced to King Arthur’s Realm, or during the second weekend take part in balloon modelling, magic shows and face painting at the Jester’s Fair.

Castle Howard
Get ‘On Your Bike’ on a family cycle event on Sunday 7th August. No ordinary family freewheeling, here you can have a go on all sorts of bikes from toddler’s push-alongs to pedal-powered Scaletrix and 8-seater mega-bikes. Once the action has worn out little legs you can browse the exhibition of vintage bikes in the Boar Garden. Also at Castle Howard is a Medieval-themed children’s weekend (28-29 August) with a horse-stunt rider, Birds of Prey, archery and dressing up as knights and princesses.

Search for hidden gems at Chatsworth on a series of discovery tours around the estate. Find Queen Victoria’s Squirty Willow on Little Explorers and Hidden Gems trails around the 105-acre gardens, and uncover all manner of Treasures, Trinkets and Bewildering Bits in the house. Alternatively take a walk on the wild side, building dens, handling reptiles and examining bugs on Wednesdays, at nature-themed workshops in the farmyard.

Harewood House
Families will be hard-pushed to cram the fun of Harewood House into a single day this summer. What with nearly 100 species of rare exotic birds, an outdoor adventure playground and The Geopods indoor interactive play zone, how on earth will you find time to dress up in servants’ clothes and step into Victorian times? Throughout the school holidays there will be range of craft activities from soap sculpture to African-drum making. And don’t forget there is also the classic ‘Snow White’ play rounding up the summer’s theatre performances on August 19th.

A happy pig at Hatfields new Farm
Hatfield House
Ride on the tractor, feed the animals and get lost in the maize maze at the new Hatfield Park Farm. Children get free entry (accompanied by a paying adult) into this traditional breed farm, and admission also gets you into the Bloody Hollow adventure play area.  Exclusive shopping and free parking.

Holkham Hall
Play alongside Ratty and Mole in your own production of Wind in the Willows with Cambridge Touring Theatre. During a 3-day workshop from 9th – 11th August you can take charge of stage management, acting, singing, dancing, publicity and, finally, the production of your play to friends and family. Suitable for children from 7–11 years, booking essential.
Throughout August there is weekly theatre performances in the courtyard  from the ‘Wind in the Willows’ to Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Leeds Castle
Messing around on boats is the best way to enjoy the summer, and at Leeds Castle you can do just that on The Black Swan cruise to the maze and play area. (£1 charge per person each way.) Bringing the holidays to a close on 9th September, you can see sunset jousting against the historic backdrop of the 900 year-old castle before an open-air screening of ‘A Knight’s Tale’, starring Heath Ledger. (The film is rated PG. Gates open at 6pm. Adult £20, children £15).

Woburn Abbey
What could be more enchanting on a lovely summer’s day than to enjoy an open air theatre performance amongst the stunning setting of the gardens of Woburn Abbey?   With three family fun plays, there is something for everyone to enjoy!   Bring your family and friends and join us with your blankets, low-backed chairs, scrummy picnics and something chilled to drink and be transported away to worlds of romance, comedy and fairytales on a fine summer’s evening.  There are also free of charge children’s activities going on in the Abbey Gardens every Wednesday during the school holidays (27th July – 31st August).

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