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20 cool things to do with the kids this summer

Here be dragons! Kids won't dare be bored with Muddy's guide to family fun in Devon, including fireworks, parkour, tall ships and more!

1/Catch an open air movie

Outdoor cinema at Tinside Lido Pic credit Dom Moore

Outdoor cinema at Tinside Lido is back for the summer, with some appropriately themed coastal movies, including Ammonite, Jaws, The Life Aquatic and the brilliant Bait by Cornish director, Mark Jenkin.

2/Be your own film director

Lights, camera, kids out from under your feet! Exeter Phoenix are offering 10 – 15 year olds a chance to Star in your own Superhero Movie in this two day workshop which gives an intro to digital composites, green screen and stop frame animation. (£85pp) Or there’s a full five-day Summer Film Course (above) held at Poltimore House on 2 – 6 Aug (£240)

Later in the month on 19 – 20 August, it’s the turn of the young ‘uns (8-13) and a brilliant reason to scoop up all that deathtrap Lego getting under your feet. Send them off to make a Stop Motion Animation Lego Movie on a two-day workshop. Afterwards the masterpiece will be uploaded to Exeter Phoenix’s Youtube to impress the family and friends. Suitable for 8 – 13s, £110pp.

3/ See a dragon fly off into the sunset

OMG this sound amazing – on Sunday 15 August, you can bring your picnic blanket and head down to Plymouth Hoe, and witness a truly special moment as The Hatchling – a giant puppet dragon with a 20m wingspan unfurls her wings and attempts to fly off the cliffs at sunset. Something of a once in a life time experience – don’t miss!

4/ Hang out at a music festival for FREE

Dartington Estate near Totnes is being very generous this summer with their FREE Festival Fridays – family friendly all-day musical happenings, including processions, singing under trees, brass fanfares, folk sessions and much more. The full programme will be posted each week on their website the day before – or just turn up and enjoy the surprise.

5/Make friends with sharks

On 11 August it’s the premier of Shark Shorts, a series of films where you can find out what makes a shark, why sharks matter, what challenges they face and what you can do to protect them at Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium. £7pp

6/Sail away to an uninhabited island

Pic credit Drakes Island

Want to impress the kids with somewhere they won’t have been before? Book a family trip to Drake’s Island in Plymouth Sound. It’s got something for everyone – a short boat trip from Mountbatten, a guided tour of eery tunnels and battlements, social history, wildlife and amazing views. Ta-da!

7/ Learn survival skills at Nature Valley Gone Wild Festival

Set up camp at Powderham Castle in Kenton on 26 – 29 August and join survival skills expert Bear Grylls for a weekend of derring-do. Once you’ve learnt how to paddle board, kayak, make a fire, build a raft, throw an axe (health and safety alert!), mountain bike, shoot an arrow, you can sit back and enjoy some amazing toons from the Kaiser Chiefs, Ministry of Sound, Razorlight, Morcheeba and Melanie C. Ooh, and Dick and Dom are there too, and they’re lovely.

8/ Commune with Nature

Nature-lovers aged 10-14 can also head to Powderham Castle on 2 – 7 August for Tree Sessions – an outdoor covid-safe mini festival in the castle’s Woodland Garden. Featuring live performances, music, song, poetry, myth, storytelling and creative workshops with among others, folk singer and environmental activist Sam Lee, the Mercury Prize-nominated author of The Nightingale.

9/Take a high altitude hike

Wild Pear Beach

Book a guided family walk with Jon of Peaks & Trails – he’s an ex-forces mountain leader and knows Devon’s highways and byways like the back of his well-worn boots. He’s your guy if you hanker to see hidden gems on the South West coast path, beaches you can only access by walking, including Wild Pear near Ilfracombe (above) and Dartmoor’s lesser-known tors. He’s also one to tap for local pitstops, so you won’t go hungry either, we promise.

10/ Jump off a cliff

For 40pp, you can book them in for a 2.5 hour coasteering sesh with Surf South West, off the rocks at Baggy Point in North Devon. The highly experienced team provide all the kit and a wetsuit. You will just need to bring suitable footwear.

11/Hang out with the cool kidz

Beryl Tebug Pic credit Brett Lockwood for Barbican Theatre

Plymouth has Petrol Headz On Tour featuring a series of summer outdoor performances in July and August with more than 100 artists, athletes and experts from the southwest and Plymouth modified car, parkour, street dance, DJ and skateboard scenes.

12/ Do some mindful daubing

Tensions running high in the hols? Head to the biggest ceramic studio in the south west, China Blue at Totnes, for a calm morning or afternoon of pot painting (or throwing, on a wheel, not a tantrum). Because they make their own ceramics there is a huge range of pots, plates, jugs, cars and animal shapes to choose from – and it’s a guaranteed de-stresser for you too.

13/Scoff ice cream

If you’re in Dartmouth, the ONLY place for ice-cream is The Good Intent just opposite where the lower ferry lands. It’s the towns oldest ice-creamery and the only place where they make more than 50 yummy flavours on site. For the littlies, it has to be unicorn sprinkles; for you, madam, we recommend The Devon Cream Tea ice cream – clotted cream, vanilla ice cream, local strawberry jam and chunks of scone. Decadent or what.

14/Learn circus skills and silky moves

If they’re not keen on the usual cycling and walking sorta fitness, maybe some circus skills classes might get them off the sofa? P4P Fitness in Exmouth runs aerial yoga, silks and a circus school classes for kids and teens though the summer.

15/Make a mask inspired by world culture

Creative, cultural types might like to make a mask inspired by Exeter RAMM’s World Cultures collection – a samurai warrior, or maybe a monkey mask used in Tibetan opera for your little monkey. Plus, lots of other events and workshops in the city museum here.

16/Check out a cool sculpture

Putting things in Perspective by Camille Walala

Go have a nosey at the pop-up sculpture by Camille Walala currently on display outside The Box in Plymouth. It’s called “Putting things in Perspective’ and has a 3D thing going on that does funny things to your eyes. Book in for The Box’s family-friendly summer events while you’re there.

17/Book your seats for The Play that Goes Wrong

Mischief’s multi-award-winning, international smash-hit comedyThe Play That Goes Wrong is back at Exeter Northcott from Mon 09 Aug 2021 – Sat 14 Aug 2021, with matinee and evening performances available. The premise is The Cornley Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does with accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds to reach their final curtain call. Hilario!

18/See the world’s largest sailing ship

Tall ships, ahoy! On July 25, The Golden Horizon, the world’s largest sailing at 162m long, docks in Ilfracombe, having sailed from Cornwall before it wends its way to the Scilly Isles. If you miss it, you can always see it in Plymouth when it returns on August 11.

19/ Ooh and aah at the British Fireworks Championships

Huzzah, spectacular pyrotechnics return to light up Plymouth Sound on 18 and 19 August as six professional firework companies battle it out to be the best. Plus music, fairground rides and refreshment stalls on the Hoe.

20/Talk to the animals

Pack your picnic blanket – the Plough Arts Centre have outdone themselves this summer with a huuuuge programme of outdoor events at gorgeous venues around Devon, including the wonderful Illyria Theatre’s The Adventures of Doctor Doolittle at Hartland Abbey on 17 August and Heartbreak Productions Mr Stink at Tapeley Park on 1 August.


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