Make the most of the longer days, warmer weather, and quality time together as a family with the National Trust’s Summer of Play, sponsored by Starling Bank.
During the summer holidays, experience National Trust places in new and exciting ways, with a family-festival feel and designated areas jam-packed with outdoor games and experiences. Get active and have a go at sports and garden games, with archery, croquet, athletics, ball sports and plenty more to spark your competitive side. Explore and play in nature with wild art, bug-hunting, and pond dipping, enjoy performance play with storytelling and dress-up sessions and get crafty with art workshops and craft making. With a range of activities and events at each National Trust place, there’s something to make everyone’s summer day out special.
Designed with families in mind, Summer of Play activities will be dotted around National Trust sites, so there’ll be plenty of space to enjoy the games and activities as well as picnicking spots, shady rest areas and of course, toilets, cafes and pop-up kiosks offering refreshing food and drink.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the best and most exciting National Trust events and activities to keep the whole family busy this summer.
- Summer of Play | 22 July to 5 September | 10am – 3:30pm
- Cycle hire | 22 July to 5 September | 10am – 4pm (last hire 2pm)
- Discover Ickworth with our Nature Explorer | 26 July & 16 August | 11am & 1:30pm
- National Play Day at Ickworth Estate | 2 August | 11am – 3pm
- Wind in the Willows, outdoor musical theatre | 4 August | 5pm – 7pm | tickets from £14
- Geocaching Adventure | 9 & 30 August | 11am & 1:30pm
- Dog Training session for kids | 20 August | 11:30am – 12:15pm
- Storytelling and Games in Ickworth’s Play Garden | 23 August | 11am – 3pm
- Ickworth Bat Walk | 1 & 2 September | 8:30pm – 10:30pm | £10
Head to Ickworth Estate for a summer of play. As one of 11 National Trust Play Hubs we invite you transform the Walled Garden and reclaim it as a hub for families and friends to connect with nature and each other. With many different activities in this ‘Play Garden’, you can lose track of time weaving through wild mazes, performing on our Summer House stage, cooking at our mud kitchen or immersing yourself in the sensory garden among so much more. Bring your bike (or hire one of ours), explore the parkland on two wheels and discover the far-flung corners with spectacular views of the Rotunda and surrounding estate. Make sure you bring a picnic or treat yourself to lunch at one of our cafes then grab an ice cream before visiting our adventure playground. Spend the evening at Ickworth Estate enjoying the family classic Wind in the Willows performed against the backdrop of the beautiful Rotunda setting. For all this and more, head to:
- Summer of Play, 22 July – 5 September (Wednesdays to Sundays) 12pm – 3.30pm
Enjoy family time together at Melford Hall this summer. Whether you spend a sunny afternoon on the lawn playing garden games, discover our family-friendly trails or borrow one of our story bags to enjoy reading together in the garden, we’ve got plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained and create great memories together. Why not bring your picnic blanket and relax on the lawn whilst the kids play? There are also 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ activities to experience and Beatrix Potter stories to uncover inside the Hall.
- Summer of Play, 22 July – 5 September 10am – 4pm
Get the whole family outdoors and discover nature in the Dedham Vale countryside at Flatford. Navigate the River Stour on the water as our popular rowing boats return for the summer holidays. Have a go at nature-based activities and go on an adventure with our summer family nature trail, available daily throughout the holidays. Don’t miss the Flatford Nature Day on Tuesday 1 August, with a whole host of activities to get stuck into including natural crafts and pond dipping. Join us and the Companye of Merrie Folke for the Tudor fayre on 29 & 30 July, try your hand at archery, learn the secret skills of the apothecary, watch crafts people at work and play traditional games at this jam-packed weekend of family fun.
Dunwich Heath and Beach
- Summer of Play | 22 July – 3 September | 10am – 5pm
- Insect Safari | 22 July and 5 August | 11am – 12pm
- Bat Walk | 22 July and 5 August | 8:30pm – 10pm
- Mini Ranger Walk | 20 August | 10am – 11am
Head to Dunwich Heath and Beach this summer for a family fun day immersed in nature. Explore the heath on one of our fun and interactive family trails or head to the beach for activities on the sand. Grab a tracker pack and see what wildlife wonders you can discover or make your way to the den building area to see who can construct the best hideout. Bring a picnic blanket and lunch or head to our tearoom for a tasty treat. Children can burn off steam on our outdoor play area. Why not join one of our bookable events to learn more about the wildlife that live at Dunwich Heath and Beach with the help of one of our knowledgeable team members. For more information or to book an activity then head to:
Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
- Summer of Play | 22 July to 4 September | 10am – 5pm
- Theatre in the Forest: The Winter’s Tale presented by the Red Rose Chain Theatre Company | various dates between 26 July and 26 August
Head to Sutton Hoo this summer for a great family day out. Discover the story of an Anglo-Saxon King and his final resting place through story-telling, family trails and dressing up. Become an archeologist on one of our sand tray activities or head into Tranmer House for family crafts and Anglo-Saxon inspired LEGO® building. Bring a picnic to enjoy an alfresco lunch or grab lunch or a tasty treat from our café before heading to the adventure playground to burn off steam.
Returning for another year is the hugely successful outdoor theatre production by Red Rose Chain Theatre Company, the largest outdoor theatre event in Suffolk. Grab your family ticket and enjoy A Winter’s Tale in this historical landscape. For details of all our Summer of Play events head to: