Child Safe: UK Summer Holidays Guide

It can be tricky to keep the children entertained in summertime. The typical school holiday comes with 48 ‘I’m boreds’, seven ‘are we there yets?’ and two threats to ‘turn the car round’, according to a recent survey of British parents. Summer holidays also mean just three lie-ins for mum and dad and 24 temper tantrums from the little ones, research found. So if you’re dreading the school holidays, here’s our guide to what’s on that will keep the kids, and you, busy.

Royal Museums Greenwich
If you want to treat the kids to something truly out of this world over the summer holidays, head to south-east London. This summer, Royal Museums Greenwich brings together more than 100 beautiful and awe-inspiring images of space for a major new exhibition looking at the development of telescopy, photography and humans’ understanding of our place in the cosmos.

It all begins with Galileo, the first person to look at the stars through a telescope. The exhibition then charts the development of astronomical imaging, revealing the role astronomers played in pushing forward the technology of cameras and telescopes. This explains how in 2013 we can see the weather on distant planets and look beyond the Milky Way into galaxies beyond.

The photographs on display include the latest hi-tech images from NASA, the Russian space programme and the last four years of the Royal Observatory’s highly successful Astronomy Photographer of the year competition.

The exhibition’s centrepiece is a glimpse into the real life of Mars. Measuring 13m by 4m, the Mars Window has the latest images beamed back by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover projected on to it, giving you the impression that you’re looking through a giant window on to the rocky Martian landscape.

Visions of the Universe are the first astronomy exhibition to be held in Royal Museums Greenwich’s new Special Exhibitions Gallery, which opened at the National Maritime Museum in 2011. Already open, it runs until September 15, 2013, and is open every day from 10am to 5pm, with late opening on Thursdays.

Coral Reef
Tucked away in the forests around Brackhell in Berkshire is one of Britain’s premier water parks. Coral Reef is a complex of mind-bending water slides, river rapids, geysers and saunas that is just an hour from central London. Throw in a pirate ship wit water canon and an erupting volcano, and you have the perfect day out for all the family.

During the school holidays and weekends, Coral Reef guarantees a two-hour session in the water. If the weather is hot, you can take to Lazy River, which heads outside. The Python is a family slide and can be ridden by an adult and small child, while the Anaconda is a medium ride and the Boa Constrictor is only for those eight and above.

Te little Corals Toddlers’ Pools include a large yellow diving bell and drench buckets to entertain the kids. For adults looking for some time out, there is Sauna World, which boasts two saunas, a saunarium and a two-tier steam room, among other attractions. After all this excitement and relaxation you can enjoy the air-conditioned restaurant overlooking the pool.

Imperial War Museum Duxford
You only have to travel 40 miles from London to leap back in time. Set in the spacious grounds of the famous former World War 1 and 2 airfields, IWM Duxford is home to some of the greatest wartime aircraft in the world, including an iconic Spitfire and a legendary Lancaster. It also houses the fastest ever Concorde.

This summer holidays, the Cambridgeshire attraction will be more exciting than ever. From July  to September there will be a number of activities taking place in Airspace, the part of Duxford that tells the story of aviation in Britain and the Commonwealth, and which features more than 30 iconic aircraft.

Youngsters can find out about camouflage, concealment and the art of disguise. See how camouflage as been used in wars and conflict from World War 1 to the present day with fun family activities and explore how nature has inspired military methods of concealment.

Airflix Make And Paint will also be running daily in the Conservation Hall in Airspace. Make an Airflix model, paint it in the creative colours of your choice and take it home as a souvenir of your day at IWM Duxford. Airflix Make And Paint is subject to availability and is suitable for children aged 8 and above. All summer holiday activities are included in general admission to IWM Duxford. Visitors aged 15 and under enjoy free admission.

Thorpe Park
The outskirts of London on the M25 are better known for gridlock rather than thrill rides but this is where you will find one of the greatest theme parks in Europe. Thorpe Park in Surrey may be less than an hour from the centre of the capital but it is set in beautiful surroundings and caters for adrenaline junkies of all ages.

Fearless thrill seekers can go full throttle on the Park’s iconic roller coasters: The Swarm, Saw: The Ride, Stealth, Colossus and Nemesis Inferno, as well as giant water ride Tidal Wave. The Swarm is the UK’s first winged – yes, winged – roller coaster, spinning 180 degrees and plunging 127ft into a series of near-misses. All this and then you have to face the 100ft ‘beyond vertical’ drop of Saw: The Ride.

Penned the ‘Unholy Trinity’, three rides will push your fears to the extreme. Accelerate from 0-80mph to 205ft in under two seconds on Stealth, twist and turn through ten almighty loops on Colossus and experience a red-hot, white-knuckle ride on Nemesis Inferno.

The great thing about Thorpe Park is it now as its own excellent accommodation, The Crash Pad. Get some well-needed rest in a comfy bed and enjoy breakfast included before hitting the park on your doorstep. ‘The Crash Pad, the park’s first accommodation, is the perfect location for guests to go from dream to scream in less than 60 seconds,’ explains a spokesman.