What to do with the kids over the summer holidays in St Albans and the surrounding area?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:53 13 July 2019

Go faster! Meraki Festival 2018. Picture: KEVIN RICHARDS

Go faster! Meraki Festival 2018. Picture: KEVIN RICHARDS

©2018 Kevin Richards - all rights reserved

The kids are off for six long (gruelling?) weeks, so what do you do? You've been to the local play area as many times as you can count, and there is only so much Charlie and Lola that any sane person can watch.

St Albans South Signal BoxSt Albans South Signal Box

But there are so many great days out within touching distance of St Albans that you should never have to sit and wonder what to do. It's time to make the most out of summer.

We have compiled a brief guide to all of the best summer activities that you can do without spending too much money or time on travel.

Must-see one-off events:

Hatfield House. Picture: Alan DaviesHatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies

UK's Strongest Man - Coming to St Albans this summer, Channel 5's UK's Strongest Man is a must-see event. Challengers compete to lift weights including logs, boulders, and even vehicles. One is eventually crowned as the UK's strongest. This event takes place July 26 to July 28 at Abbey View Athletics Track. Buy tickets online.

Harpenden Emergency Services Open Day - Representatives from fire, police and ambulance services will be in Harpenden for an informative event about what the emergency services entail. Throughout the day, visitors of all ages can watch safety demonstrations, get advice on a range of topics and look inside emergency service vehicles. There will a barbeque and refreshments.

Verulamium Park in the sunVerulamium Park in the sun

Emergency services day is held between 11am-3pm on July 27 at Harpenden Fire Station, Leyton Road.

Festival of Wildlife - For all wildlife enthusiasts, this event is an essential. Wildlife talks, tractor tours and a childrens' discovery area make the festival of wildlife a great family day out. At this free festival, there will also be food trucks (with vegetarian and vegan options too). The festival will be on July 27 to July 28 at Panshanger Park, near Hertford.

UK's Strongest Man 2018.UK's Strongest Man 2018.

Luna Kids Cinema - Luna cinema, the outdoor cinema experience, is coming to Knebworth House for multiple screenings this summer. For kids, they are showing popular films including 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', 'Moana', 'The Incredibles 2', and 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' so for a fun cinema experience, this is a must. You could even tie it in with a trip to Knebworth's gardens and play area. Films are showing between July 31 and August 4 at Knebworth House. See full listings and book tickets online.

Peppa Pig Day - What kid doesn't like Peppa Pig? Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is holding a Peppa Pig themed day where you can meet Peppa throughout the day, as well as follow a Peppa Pig trail. The Railway centre also runs steam-trains and has a museum and café. The event takes place on August 4 between 10.30am and 5pm at Buckinghamshire Railway Station, Aylesbury.

London Colney's Picnic in the Park - Bring the family, bring a picnic, and enjoy a fun day at this year's Picnic in the Park. With games, bungee runs and an inflatable obstacle course, there is plenty to do. Entrance to the event is totally free of charge, but use of the inflatable course must be paid for in advance on their website. Picnic in the Park will be held August 11 at 11am to 4pm in Morris Way Playing Field, London Colney.

'Ragged Victorians' at Chiltern Open Air Museum - Costumed re-enactors will bring to life the Victorian era as rat-catchers, street urchins and vagabonds. This fun and educational family day out is perfect for children with an interest in history. Ragged Victorians will take place on August 17 to August 18 at Chiltern Open Air Museum. You can book online.

Meraki Festival - Music sets, fairground rides, comedy tents and slime-making. What more could you ask for? Meraki festival comes to the Herts showground for a fun-filled weekend for the whole family, or for adults looking for a party. With all the activities included in the ticket price, this festival is about saying YES. Meraki takes place on August 23 to August 25 at the Herts Showground. Tickets are available on the website for day, weekend, or camping.

Free activities:

Verulamium Park - Undoubtedly, all St Albans regulars know Verulamium Park. It is a beautiful green park in St Albans; equipped with a lake, play area, and Splash Park. Bring a picnic, and you've got a free day on your doorstop.

Heartwood Forest - Now the largest continuous new native forest in England. With miles of forest area, wildlife species, and even a dedicated den-building area, there is a lot to enjoy in this forest. The site has free parking too.

St Albans South Signal Box - This less-well-known historic attraction offers a fascinating look at St Albans rail history. Visitors can see demonstrations, operate signals, and wander around the rail gardens. A perfect trip for kids obsessed with trains. It is important to note that this is only open on selected Sundays so check the website.

Stanborough Park - This park in Welwyn Garden City plays host to two large lakes as well as huge amounts of green land. An optional extra to the trip is the range of water sports that are on offer on the lake; from pedal boats to windsurfing.

Stockwood Park Discovery Centre - Stockwood Park, just on the outskirts of Luton, is a perfect family day out. The park has an excellent wooden play area, carefully kept gardens, as well as a café on site. The park also hosts regular events for the family so it is worth checking their website.

You may also want to watch:

Broxbourne sculpture trail - Although this attraction is a half hour drive from St Albans, its beautiful range of sculptures bring family walks to life as the kids can spot the different art works. As the trail is set in the woods, they have a wide range of wildlife species.

River Lea - The River Lea can be found in numerous places in the region. Notably, Batford, Harpenden, is a lovely spot with stepping stones, a chance for paddling, and a play area. This lovely river springs in Luton, and joins the Thames in East London.

Dunstable Downs - A part of the Chiltern Hills, Dunstable Downs is the highest point in the county of Bedfordshire. Be sure to bring your kite here on a day out as the winds make for the perfect kite-flying opportunity. Bring a picnic or enjoy the café on the downs.

Bhaktivedanta Manor - This less-known attraction comes in the form of a Hindu temple, gardens and farm in Radlett. At the farm, children can feed the cattle. Following the Hindu mantra of tranquillity, the manor is the ultimate relaxing family day out.

Cheap activities:

Clock Tower - This often-overlooked St Albans monument is the only surviving medieval town belfry in England. You can climb the tower and see the views of Verulamium from the top.

The tower is totally free for children and only £1 for adults.

Mill Green Museum and Mill - Mill Green's 18th century working water mill and museum is a lovely way to spend a day as you learn about the mill, try milling for yourself, and have a look around the lovely river and grounds. On Sundays the museum serves homemade goods including scones made with the mill's own flour.The mill, located near Welwyn Garden city, is free for children and £3.50 for adults.

Orbital Trampoline Park - A trampoline park larger than 10 tennis courts is a recipe for expending kids' energy as they bounce on the trampolines, climb the climbing wall and jump into foam pits. Orbital Trampoline Park, in Luton, has sessions for various age groups and activities. Prices depend on the session and time you wish to go, so it is worth checking their website.

Woodside Farm - Located in Slip End, Woodside Farm offers visitors a range of activities to enjoy; from tractor rides, to animal petting, to crazy golf. The farm even has its own tortoise, called George.

During the summer holidays, the farm is £8 per visitor.

Hitchin Swimming Centre - Hitchin Swimming Centre is always a popular summer attraction due to the fact that it has a 50 metre, heated outdoor pool complete with sun loungers so that you can feel as if you are really on holiday. It is worth getting to the pool early (it opens at 8am) as it can become very busy and difficult to park. A family swim (two adults and two children) is £14.60 for peak-time swimmers.

The Odyssey Cinema - For those rainier days of summer (it's England, lets not expect too much), a trip to this unique cinema is a must. The Odyssey Cinema, St Albans, shows family friendly films at a matinee showing, after all no-one can say no to Toy Story. It's worth noting that you will need to book in advance as its screenings get booked up quickly. For a matinee showing, each ticket is £5.

On the pricier side:

Hatfield House - With 400 years of history, Hatfield House is perhaps one of the most renowned properties to visit in the area. With many different themed gardens, as well as a large park and the property itself, it is a beautiful location to spend a day. For a small additional cost you can also visit the farm attached to the House so there is really no shortage of things to do.

A family ticket to visit the house is £49.

Knebworth House - A dinosaur-spotting trail and a huge adventure playground with a splash park is a win for any family trip out. Knebworth House offers this as well as an expansive 250 acre deer park and a historic Victorian house for those who enjoy a taste of history. It is also worth checking the website as special events are regularly held here.

A family park ticket will cost £36, with the house visit included the cost rises to £50.

Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter - Harry Potter fanatic or just interested in having an exciting family day out, the Making of Harry Potter Studios, Leavesdon, is bound to enthral as you walk through the sets of one of the most famous film franchises. The tour ends with a recreation of Hogwarts Castle which is a must-see. A child ticket is £37, whilst an adult ticket is £45. Both must be booked in advance.

Whipsnade Zoo - This zoo in Dunstable is a favourite amongst families with its huge range of animals, a play area and open-top buses to see the sites of the zoo. Throughout the day there are fascinating animal shows such as the Sea lion show and exotic bird show.The prices are variable depending on times.

Willows Activity Farm - This family-friendly farm, located by London Colney, will make a fun-filled family day out. Not only does the farm have all the expected farm features, but also has a Peter Rabbit section with shows and themed-play areas. The farm is on the pricier side at £19.50 for children and £18.50 for adults when booked online (more expensive on the door).

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