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The Muddy Guide: Summer Hols Survival Special

Sweating at the thought of the weeks to come? My advice - print, laminate and hang this handy guide around your neck for the next six weeks. Introducing the very best kids' events and activities happening across Devon this summer. Let's do this!

The BFG in Pictures, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, From 15 July

cartoon illustration of quentin blake's BFG

Sound the nostalgia klaxon! Who didn’t love a bit of the BFG growing up? Take the kids to see this wonderful exhibition and, even if they don’t appreciate it, you will.  The 35 illustrations (including Blake’s first images of the BFG rejected by Dahl and never seen by the public),  have been chosen by Sir Quentin Blake himself and are the first major collection of artwork from Roald Dahl’s classic tale.  Alongside the exhibition, if you time your visit right, the kids can get involved in specially themed workshops, including Make BFG Bottled Dreams (3 Aug),  BFG Crafty Rumpledumpus (11 Aug) and a BFG Outdoor Cinema Event (2 Sept).  And don’t forget to indulge in a slice of BFG Grobswitchy Cake in the cafe, while you’re there!


Tots Go Wild Summer Club, Occombe Farm, Torbay, Mon 24 July – Mon 28 August

sheep sat with lambs

There will be something fun happening every Monday morning down on the farm over summer, so you *might* stand a chance of squeezing a hot cuppa in while the tots are occupied.  Each session has a theme, from animals, to discovery, create, play, music and build.  Not the worst way to begin the new week.

Every Monday 9.30 – 11am.  Suitable for babies – 5yrs.


Enid Blyton Exhibition of Memorabilia, RHS Garden, Rosemoor, Until Mon 28 August

noddy memorabilia including noddy car

If you grew up with Enid Blyton featuring heavily in your childhood, then you’ll love taking the smalls to this fascinating tribute to the children’s author, featuring a Noddy car and a slide from the Faraway Tree.  I wonder if the Saucepan Man will make an appearance?

10am – 6pm daily,


Seasports Holiday Club, Teignmouth, Mon 24 July – Sat 1 September

group of children dressed in waterproof sailing kit learning to sail

I’ve just been to this fab watersports centre, located on Teignmouth’s beautiful Back Beach and can highly recommend packing the kids off for an activity or two here.  They can choose from windsurfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing and more and, if you don’t fancy getting wet and joining in, you can sit and spectate at one of the fab coffee spots nearby.  Although, once you’ve read my review of the SUP Yoga, you’ll be in the sea before anyone can say namaste.

Suitable for ages 8+. For the full range of courses visit:


Kids Cookery Club Summer, Occombe Farm, Torbay, Wed 26 July – Wed 30 August

chocolate biscuit decorated with a heart made from icing sugar

Every Wednesday during the school hols is a themed cooking day, at the farm’s hugely popular cookery school.  It’s very nearly booked up, but if you’re lucky, you may still snaffle a space!

Every Weds 10am – 4pm. Suitable for ages 7 – 12.  Kids can be left unattended.


Creative Session for Under 5s, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Wed 26 July (+ Wed 30 August)

group of children sat at a table painting

No artistic talents required here, just bring your imaginations and a sense of curiosity and you’ll be just fine.  The best bit, you can duck of the clearing up bit…

Free. 1pm – 3.30pm.


Mini Raft Race Extravaganza, Wembury, Thurs 27 July

close up of driftwood sticks with a shell on the beach

Anyone who’s been to Wembury beach near Plymouth will know that this will be an interesting little event.  Collect up what’s been left by the tide and craft your own miniature raft, then race it along the stream against your competitors.  I vote there’ll be a few competitive Dad’s out there, getting in early for the beach sweep.

1 – 3pm.


National Parks Week: Marvellous Mires, Haytor National Park Visitor Centre, Thurs 27 July

group of children looking in a fishing net pond-dipping

In celebration of National Parks Week, get yourself along to the Visitor Centre at Haytor on Dartmoor and take part in a day of bog exploration, guided walks, storytelling and family activities.  With pond dipping and plant hunts included, wellies are definitely required.

10.30am – 3.30pm.


Kids Holiday Club Day, Occombe Farm, Torbay, Thurs 27 July – Thurs 31 August

top shot looking down on a blanket with toy cars and boats strewn all over

It’s Thursday! It’s drop the kids off day – yeeha! They’ll be in safe hands at this holiday club, learning to feed the animals, meadow sweeping and bird watching.  And all that fresh air will have them sparko come bedtime.  Winning!

Every Thursday 8.30am – 5.30p.  Kids can be left unattended.  Suitable for ages 7 – 12.


1950s Summer of Play Trail, Saltram House, Plymouth, from Sat 29 July – Sun 3 Sept

top of a white wigwam or tipi against trees and blue sky with white fluffy clouds

Leave the iPad charging, switch off the telly and head to Saltram for a few hours of nostalgic, old-school games around a 1950s-inspired trail and inside a giant tipi.  It’s worth it just to see the look on the kids’ faces when they see that, yes, this sort of fun did exist in a time before Youtube.

10am – 4pm daily.


Knights & Dragons, Powderham Castle, Sun 30 July – Fri 4 August

three toy knight figurines

The popular and fun Pocketwatch Theatre Company are taking up residence at Powderham Castle this summer – and why not – for a packed calendar of themed sessions aimed at kids aged 5 – 11 years.  This week, join an original magical, medieval tale of knights, dragons, witches and wizards.  Some of it is weather dependent but, regardless, Powderham is always a nice trip out, isn’t it?

Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Summer Film School with Exeter Phoenix, Poltimore House, Mon 31 July – Fri 4 August

camera on a tripod looking out over a lake with autumn coloured leaves

Budding Spielberg’s and Coppola’s step up! This week long workshop at the lovely Poltimore Hose will provide kids with the opportunity to work with the pro’s and make a short film in a week, taking it from script to screen.  At the end there will be a premiere for friends and family to attend at Exeter Phoenix.  How cool is that?!

9am – 4pm.  £220 for the week.  Suitable for ages 10 – 14 years.


Family Workshops, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, dates throughout August

teacher sat with children putting their hands up

Movement, rhyme, storytelling and fun are the order of the day at these ace family workshops that encourage you all to spend time together and get stuck in.

Suitable for ages 3- 7.  For dates visit


Performing Arts Week, Guildhall, Barnstaple, Tues 1 – Fri 4 August

back of a young girl on a stage with a microphone

This free week-long programme of events explores music, drama and dance, with a sharing performance on Friday afternoon.  Book up though, spaces are limited!

10am. Free event,


Billionaire Boy, by David Walliams, Castle Hill Filleigh, Tues 1 August

cover shot of david walliams' billionaire boy

This outdoor adaptation by Heartbreak Theatre, of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy sounds like it’ll be a riot.  If you miss this one, you can catch it the following day at RHS Rosemoor, too.

Also performing at Hartland Abbey on Wed 2 August & RHS Garden Rosemoor on Thurs 3 August.

5pm.  Recommended for ages 7+. 


Woodland Teddy Bears Picnic, Drakeford Bridge, Tues 1 August

teddy bear sat on moss in the woods holding a fern branch

Free, 11am – 3pm.

Fancy a bit of innocent, traditional fun? Follow a trail into the woods to find a picnic spot and get involved with river dipping, bug hunting, storytelling and making bear ears.  Cute!


Family Arts Afternoon at Castle Hill Filleigh, Tues 1 August

colouring pencils and paints

Wacky arts activities are promised here, with Plough artists and the team from Above Bounds Theatre Collective, including a character treasure hunt, willow sculpting, puppetry and fancy dress races.  Then, if they still have steam left, stay on for the performance of Walliams’ Billionaire Boy.

Free. 2pm – 4.30pm.


UnPacked Family Theatre Festival, Exeter, Tues 1 – Sun 6 August

colourful illustration of unicorns, book, birds and trees

Expect an exciting schedule of shows, summer schools and workshops, at various venues across the city, as this dedicated family theatre festival, curated by Exeter’s Paddleboat Theatre Company, returns for its second year.


Happy Hooves Pony Club, Mare and Foal Sanctury, nr. Totnes, Wednesdays from 2 August

brown pony

If you’ve a small person desperate to own a pony, then taking them along to one of these fun-filled two-hour sessions during August might be just the thing.  They’ll learn how to take care of ponies, from making hairnets, to grooming and cleaning tack.  They’ll come away with a certificate and a little gift, too.  I’ll be taking the Mudlet along to try it out soon, so keep an eye out elsewhere on the blogaroo for more info.



Plough Play Story, The Plough Arts Centre, Fri 4 August

magical image of a boot with a house in it

I tell you what, kiddiwinks in North Devon are in for such a treat this summer, since there’s so much fun theatre happening at the Plough.  In this little workshop, a fairy story will be brought to life with characters, props and costume.  A bite-sized session which is the perfect stop-gap before lunch.

11am – 12pm.  Suitable for ages 3 – 5.


Woofstock UK, Coronation Park, Dartmouth, Sat 5 August

colourful illustration of a dog sat on top of a green bus full of dogs, which says woofstock uk on it

All the canine-based fun that you’d expect from a dog show will be taking place at Coronation Park in Dartmouth for its 4th year.  I’m especially loving the sound of the waggiest tail competition!


Beginners’ Snorkel Safari, Wembury Marine Centre, Sat 5 August

child with snorkel on in sea splashing

How about a snorkel taster session followed by a little paddle around Wembury Bay? Just the ability to swim and a warm towel required.  The rest will be provided by fully trained instructors.

£12.50 .  10am – 1pm, suitable for ages 8+.


Langaland Festival, Langaford Farm nr. Moretonhampstead, Sat 5 August

black and white langaland logo

This charitable, super family-friendly festival on a very picturesque farm on Dartmoor showcases young and emerging talent, along with food, art and beer.  Going on the weather for last year’s festival, bring wellies!


Drama Workshop: Wind in the Willows, Arlington Court, Sun 6 August

wind in the willows cover illustration

This week, it’s the turn of the classic tale Wind in the Willows at the scenic Arlington Court.  Once again, pitch up early and take advantage of a themed workshop ahead of the main performance.

3pm – 4.30pm (followed by a performance).  Suitable for ages 6 – 11.


Faerie Folk, Powderham Castle, Sun 6 – Fri 11 August

young girl with fairy wings

Apparently, the people of Powderham have recently discovered faerie folk living in the castle grounds, including goblins.  Usually very shy, timid creatures, some have been persuaded to come out of hiding and meet your little people.

Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Pirate Fest, Exeter Phoenix, Mon 7 – Fri 11 August

small pirate toy figurine

A week of piratey fun, where kids will get to explore acting, mime, puppetry and prop-making, culminating in a devised performance at the end for friends and family to come along and watch.

10am – 2pm. £80, suitable for ages 6 – 11.


Open Air Cinema: The Lion King, Powderham Castle, Thurs 10 August

illustration of the lion king

Is this one of the greatest animations of all time? Possibly. Food, stalls and snuggles on a picnic blanket will make this a fab evening’s entertainment in the castle grounds.

Performance begins at 9.30pm,


Drama Workshop: Emperor’s New Clothes, Hartland Abbey, Fri 11 August

illustration of a king in the emperors new clothes

I took the Mudlet to see a performance of this last Christmas and she loved the craziness and colour of the story.  It’s what this week’s themed workshop will be based around, before a performance at North Devon’s Hartland Abbey.

3pm – 4.30pm (followed by a performance).  Suitable for ages 6 – 11.


Love Summer Festival, Newnham, Plympton, Fri 11 – Sun 13 August

colourful festival flags waving against blue sky

Glitz and glamour is the theme of the festival’s 7th run in a secret meadow just outside Plymouth, where the days are about the children and the nights are about partying.  A great value for money weekend, I hear. 


Teen Cuisine, 1-day Cookery Course, Ashburton Cookery School, Sat 12 & 20 August

tomatoes, spaghetti, basil, wooden spoon and teatowel on wooden table

What stonkingly good idea from the people at Ashubrton Cookery School; a course that’ll set teens up with all of the basic knowledge they’ll need as they enter Uni days and new-found independence.  Wish I’d had this opportunity before sprouting my wings – it would have saved me from endless days of tuna pasta bakes.

10am – 4pm, £135.  Suitable for ages 13 – 17.


Play in a Week, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Mon 14 – Fri 18 August

group of children taking part in performing arts

If you’re in charge of a budding thespian and in, or near, Plymouth then this is a hundred quid well spent.  They’ll devise a play from scratch and perform it at the end of the week to you – and they’ll probably not stop chattering about it for the rest of the summer!

£100 per child for the week.  10am – 3pm daily.  Suitable for ages 7 – 10. 


Play in a Day: Peter Pan, Guildhall, Barnstaple, Wed 16 August

illustration of peter pan

We’re Peter Pan’d out in our house, since the last term of pre-school was themed around Tinkerbell and the gang, but yours would probably love putting together a little play in a day and pretending they can fly.

Free. 10am – 4pm.  Suitable for ages 7 – 12.


The Ugly Duckling and Other Tales, The Plough Arts Centre, Sat 19 August

illustration of the ugly duckling

Join Above Bounds Theatre Collective as they explore one of the most loved Hans Christian Anderson stories, using songs, shadow puppetry and a little of your input to tell this beaut of a tale.

4pm.  Suitable for ages 3 – 7 + families.


Pirates & Mermaids at Powderham Castle, Sun 20 –  Sat 26 August

small, handmade boat with skull and crossbones on the mast floating in a river

In a series of weekly adventures for kids taking place around the grounds of Powderham Castle, this week it’s pirates and mermaids.  In one of several sessions, join Captain Jack and his crew to see if they have managed to capture a mermaid.

Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Make a Scene: A Trip to the Seaside, The Flavel, Dartmouth, Wed 23 August

blue bucket, yellow and orange spade on sand

If your little darlings enjoy making a scene, just when you least need it, then pack them off to Dartmouth’s Flavel where, throughout the week they can take part in daily themed theatrical camps. They’ll make new friends, learn to express themselves and hone their performing skills.  Today’s sesh is themed around a trip to the seaside.

10am. £45 per child. Suitable for ages 5 -11.


Make a Scene: All Aboard, The Flavel, Dartmouth, Thurs 24 August

I’m not entirely sure what exactly they’ll be clambering aboard for this session, but surely that makes the day even more of an adventure? As long as they come back, of course.

10am. £45 per child. Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Make a Scene: Under the Sea, The Flavel, Dartmouth, Fri 25 August

blue whale

Rounding up the week, the little thesp’s will be diving under the sea for today’s themed performing arts camp.

10am.  £45 per child.  Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Musical Theatre Academy, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Mon 21 – Fri 25 August

group of children performing

Is there a West End star of tomorrow in the house?  There could be after this week-long academy that helps the young-un’s build the vocal and visual skills needed to perform in front of an audience and the bright lights of Plymouth.

10am – 4pm daily. £120 per child for the week.  Suitable for ages 11 – 16.


Summer Holiday Workshop, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Sat 26 August

children sat on grass making things from willow

The Honiton-based gallery has a Wild Art garden, which will play host to a day of garden-inspired creative art activities for all the family to get involved in.

Free (although a £2 donation is suggested). Drop in from 11am – 3pm.


River Cottage Festival, Axminster, Sat 26 – Sun 27 August

young child's legs with wellies in a barn with cows

Oooh, yes please. River Cottage know how to put on a good festival down at the farm and this years’ looks awesome. There’ll be music, masterclasses and, y’know, probably the odd morsel of food.  Just when summer hols fatigue (it’s a condition) starts to set in, this is just the perfect blend of family fun that everyone will need.  Where do I sign up for the wild cocktail making masterclass?


Walk on the Wild Side, Haytor, Thurs 31 August

hay tor rocks against blue sky

If the thought of introducing the smalls to the joys of Dartmoor seems a little daunting – I mean, where to go, it’s mahoosive – then get yourself along to this nice, gentle family walk where you’ll be guided around one of the park’s most scenic spots.  It’s no more than 2.5 miles altogether – go on, you can do it!

Free, but donations welcome.  10am – 1pm.


Half Day Children’s Cookery Course, Exeter Cookery School, Thurs 31 August

young girl piping in a baking class

Create pizza from scratch, with garlic bread, pipe swiss meringues and basically enjoy some foodie fun in somebody else’s kitchen, so you don’t have to clear up all the mess.  Sound good to you?  Yeah, me too.

9.30am – 12pm, £39, suitable for ages 10 – 14.


Wonderland, Powderham Castle, Sun 27 August – Fri 1 September

actors dressed up for alice in wonderland

It’s an Alice in Wonderland theme for the final of Pocketwatch Theatre’s weekly sessions at Powderham.  Join the Mad Hatter and cause mayhem in the garden.

Suitable for ages 5 – 11.


Weekend of Wonders, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Sat 2 – Sun 3 September

tightrope walker walking across sea

Against the backdrop of Plymouth’s trendy Royal William yard, don’t be surprised to see a wire-walker seemingly walking on air, or various other street performers getting up to all manner of illusions and tricks.  Invisible Circus is back for its third year of crowd-pleasing fun, coinciding with the monthly Good Food Market in the Factory Cooperage. A pretty awesome end to the summer hols, I say.  Now pat yourself on the back and pour that glass.  You did it!

10am – 8pm. 


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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Devon