50 free things to do in the summer holidays in Gloucestershire

Don't miss SoGlos's 50 FREE ideas for keeping the kids entertained in and around Gloucestershire this summer holidays. From exclusive virtual events to outdoor adventures, how many will you tick off?

With lockdown restrictions lifting across the UK, SoGlos has handpicked 50 fun – and completely free – things to do in and around Gloucestershire while school’s out for summer.

From playgrounds and farm parks through to countryside adventures and foodie markets, SoGlos’s hot list is jam packed with inspirational ideas to set you up for a fun-filled school holiday.

About the sponsor – Stagecoach West

Stagecoach West is one of the leading bus companies operating in Gloucestershire. With an extensive timetable serving popular destinations across the county, families can enjoy summer holiday adventures far and wide, with free onboard WiFi on most buses promising to keep the little ones entertained.

For more information or to plan a journey, visit stagecoachbus.com.

1. Fly to Hogwarts

Film fans big and small can hunt down some famous filming locations in Gloucestershire. Whether it's walking in the footsteps of Harry, Hermione and Ron at Gloucester Cathedral or soaking up scenes from Peter Rabbit 2 at Gloucester Docks, many of the county’s film spots are free to visit.

2. Run wild on adventure playgrounds

With lockdown measures eased on play areas from July, little ones can finally blow off some steam at one of Gloucestershire's best children's playgrounds, many of which are completely free. Let loose on tyre swings, climb castle turrets, whizz along zip wires and zoom down slides all while getting a spot of fresh air.

3. Get active in the great outdoors

From the fantastic Forest of Dean to riverside paths, a wonderful walk amongst wildlife is fun for the whole family, not to mention the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs after life in lockdown. And there’s a whole host of beautiful walks to enjoy in Gloucestershire.

4. Go to jail

Home to a daunting courtroom, scary cells and the biggest exhibition of handcuffs and restraints in UK, kids will be on their best behaviour as they explore what Tetbury Police Museum has to offer. The constabulary will be open to the public every Saturday throughout the summer holidays.

5. Follow in the footsteps of gladiators

Discover Gloucestershire’s Roman heritage at the Cirencester amphitheatre, located just outside the quaint Cotswold town – which was once known as the great city of Corinium, second only to London in size!

6. Search for sculptures in the Forest of Dean

Children can burn off some energy along the four-mile Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean, with plenty of impressive woodland-inspired sculptures to see along the way. What’s more, there is a fantastic play area and picnic site at Beechenhurst Lodge, the trail’s start point, where families can follow up adventure with a bite to eat.

7. Admire local artwork

Showcasing work by talented artists from the local community, The Gardens Gallery in Cheltenham’s Montpellier area has reopened for summer, with new exhibitions weekly.

8. Visit a summer street market

The Faddle Fair in Coleford features over 25 stalls, street food, kids’ entertainment and live music on Sunday 30 August 2020, making it a great day out for the whole family to enjoy.

9. Earn a Blue Peter badge

With eight Blue Peter badges to earn in total, including a music and sport badge, kids ages six to 15 can earn an iconic piece of TV history this summer, for free. Plus, badge owners get FREE entry into attractions across the UK too. Visit bbc.co.uk/cbbc/ for more information.

10. Discover Gloucester Cathedral’s best kept secrets

Home to the only monarch’s tomb in the South West of England and a stained glass window the size of a tennis court, Gloucester Cathedral is packed full of exciting discoveries for families seeking free fun.

11. Go orienteering

Grab a compass and head to Crickley Hill Country Park for an active day of family fun, with woodlands to explore and an iron age fort to uncover – not to mention picture-perfect panoramic views over Gloucestershire. Download a free map from britishorienteering.org.uk with different courses to suit every kind of explorer.

12. Soak up the sunshine at Cotswold Water Park

With more than 40 square miles to explore, even the most energetic children will be tired after a day spent discovering the wonders of Cotswold Water Park – with footpaths and cycle routes boasting lovely lake views, picturesque picnic spots for a welcome break, and the chance to spot some wildlife at the bird hides.

13. Get lost in a book

Little bookworms can take part in the popular Gloucestershire Summer Reading Challenge with Gloucestershire libraries running the annual scheme in a brand-new digital format until September 2020. Many libraries across the county are now offering a reserve and collect service too, kids can get stuck into all sorts of funny books!

14. Spot birds of prey at Symonds Yat

Take a trip high above the River Wye to Symonds Yat Rock, a popular Gloucestershire viewpoint where budding birdwatchers can catch a glimpse of peregrine falcons nesting on the neighbouring cliffs.

15. Roll out the picnic blanket

With plenty of picturesque picnic spots in Gloucestershire, summer is the perfect time to eat al fresco. From Cannop Ponds and Rodborough Common, to Pittville Park and Stratford Park – to name just a few – discover the best picnic spots in Gloucestershire for some inspiration.

16. Go on a bug hunt

During lockdown, WWT launched a new home learning hub with plenty of free ideas for educating school-aged kids – from going on a bug hunt to building a mini pond.

17. Discover Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons

From its famous limestone grassland to its eclectic herd of cattle, this protected site is home to some of Britain’s best wildlife. A popular beauty spot with locals and tourists alike, it’s perfect for a summer family adventure – and totally free to explore.

18. Get pedalling in the Forest of Dean

Hop on your bike and head to the sign-posted Family Cycle Trail in the Forest of Dean, a scenic route along the old Severn and Wye railway line, starting from Cannop Valley with plenty of picnic spots along the way.

19. Take a day trip to Pittville Park

Kiddies can go wild at Cheltenham’s most exciting outdoor play area, Pittville Park, which provides haven for little ones with fun facilities galore, not to mention its aviary, which is home to a host of fluffy and feathered friends!

20. Explore the walled garden at Museum in the Park

Situated in Stroud, Museum in the Park in Stroud has reopened its walled garden for family fun this summer, with plenty of outdoor space to explore and a new I-Spy trail to keep little ones engaged.

21. Hide and find rocks around Cheltenham

Get creative with the kids by painting and decorating ‘kindness rocks’ to leave across Cheltenham for others to find – and there are plenty of hidden gems for little ones to seek out for themselves, too! To get involved, visit facebook.com/chelt-rocks.

22. Pick some summer berries across Gloucestershire

Offering buckets of tasty fun in the great outdoors, head to one of the best places in Gloucestershire to go fruit picking – you will have to pay for the fruits of your labour though, of course!

23. Check out a virtual exhibition

With many art galleries across Gloucestershire remaining closed this summer, why not spend a rainy day simulating a visit from home? The Wilson in Cheltenham is hosting a number of virtual exhibitions, from a stunning exploration of light and colour to moving photographic collections celebrating humankind.

24. Feed some hungry ducks

Cannop Ponds, Mallards Pike, Pittville Park and Stratford Park are just some of the places in Gloucestershire where families can scatter some seeds to delight the resident ducks – a timeless and free activity, which is sure to amuse little ones.

25. Become a tourist in your own county

With an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty all around us, we might take the Cotswolds for granted. But there are plenty of quintessential delights to discover on the doorstep and we have found the best reasons to visit the Cotswolds – whether you want to soak up the sights, go for a ramble or snap the perfect Instagram!

26. Spot new art installations in Gloucester

Featuring words of poetry written by members of the local community, Of Earth and Sky, a new art installation led by Luke Jerram is coming to Gloucester in September 2020. With over 20 spots to find, why not make a day of exploring the city’s beautiful parks and heritage sites?

27. Order an ice-cream van visit

If you live in Cheltenham, did you know you can drop Mr Whippy a message on Facebook and the team will bring their ice-cream van to your street, free of charge? You will have to buy the treats though, of course. Listen out for the music and pay contactlessly…

28. Stroll through Severn Ham

Get back in touch with nature at the stunning Severn Ham water meadow. The perfect spot for a relaxing walk – with plenty of open space for little ones to let loose, and just a stone’s throw from Tewkesbury town centre.

29. Hunt for hidden geocaches across Gloucestershire

Take part in the world’s largest treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Download the app on your phone or register at geocaching.com, search for secret caches in the area and discover what’s hidden right on your doorstep. With hundreds of treasures dispersed across the county, you could be finding anything from amazing artefacts to fascinating mementos.

30. Count the trees in Painswick

Get in some counting practice in Painswick trying to count all of St Mary’s famous yew trees. Little ones can have hunting fun by weaving their way through the maze of trees, working from one to 99 – and making sure not to miss any on the way!

31. Head to the city farm in Gloucester

Offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of Gloucester, St James City Farm invites the county’s children to meet its menagerie of domestic and farmyard animals. Although petting and feeding is not permitted at the moment, little ones may be able to get up close and personal with the friendly residents later in the summer.

32. Explore Robinswood Hill Country Park

With woodland walks and nature trails aplenty, Robinswood Hill Country Park is an ideal family outdoor attraction. Let the kids run wild while exploring historical and geological sites, taking in the stunning scenery along the way.

33. Go walking in the Windrush Valley

Discover ancient burial mounds, Norman churches and more in the fascinating Windrush Valley. And, with free walking maps available from the nearby Maytime Inn, it’s the perfect excuse to grab a takeaway bevvy or two while the little ones let off some steam.

34. Step into Beatrix Potter’s world in Gloucester

Wander into the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter at quaint attraction the House of the Tailor of Gloucester which is home to rare displays and memorabilia, set within the same building that inspired the author’s magical tale.

35. Cook up a storm in the sunshine

Get the family together for a sizzling feast of summertime grill favourites, with a number of great places in Gloucestershire to enjoy a barbecue. Sausages, anyone?

36. Get snap happy

Encourage the kids to pick up a camera and get snapping with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s annual photography competition open for junior entries until the end of July 2020. From garden critters to the rolling hills of the Cotswold countryside, there is plenty to capture to be in with the chance of winning an exciting prize.

37. Become a confident cyclist

Children can become Cycle Superstars with the Forestry Commission. Download the Cycle Superstar Challenge from their website to record your progress as you build confidence while learning to ride in the forest! Once you’ve completed all of the mini challenges, you can download a free certificate.

38. Beam at sunflowers

Cotswold Farm Park will be opening its picture-perfect sunflower fields again for summer 2020, with visitors welcome to explore the blooming meadow. Admission was free in 2019 but there may be a small cost this year. Watch this space for more details…

39. Journey over the border

A trip just beyond the border is worth it to visit The Valley Evesham, an impressive shopping and leisure centre in the Worcestershire countryside, with free parking allowing families to make a day of it. And, with over 100 acres of adjoining rural landscape and dog-friendly facilities, four-legged friends are welcome too.

40. Wander around a famous farmers’ market

One of the biggest, busiest and most popular farmers’ markets in the UK, Stroud farmers’ market boasts a plethora of interesting stalls every Saturday morning, selling a variety of treats for hungry children to sink their teeth into. Meanwhile, SoGlos has rounded up 14 must-visit farmers' markets in Gloucestershire, with many now back open for business.

41. Roam free in Cirencester Park

Nestled in the opulent grounds of the Bathurst Estate, Cirencester Park is a free gem of a location for outdoor activity. Walk through the grounds with a four-legged friend, play beneath the towering trees, or even ride across the sweeping lawns on horseback.

42. Unleash your arty side

Helping kids to discover their creativity, Taurus Crafts has collated a series of free downloadable activity packs, keeping little ones entertained at home with different colouring and activity sheets as well as recipes for budding bakers.

43. Take on an augmented reality trail in Cheltenham

Discover the town’s enthralling past with the Hidden Cheltenham Trail, using a smartphone camera to scan the codes placed all over town to reveal interactive challenges, exclusive competitions and fascinating historical facts – available every day of the week throughout the summer holidays from Monday 20 July 2020.

44. Gallivant around Gloucester Docks

While away a few hours for free at the historic Gloucester Docks. Soak up some local history as the children explore the wonders of the magnificent Victorian port, spotting tall ships, narrowboats and brightly coloured barges.

45. See sky-high exhibitions

Promising pilots will be delighted at the Jet Age Museum, where visitors can marvel at a replica of Britain’s first jet aircraft, the Gloster E28/39 and other original Gloster-built planes. The centre is open at 1pm to 4pm on weekends for the foreseeable future.

46. Play at Primrose Vale

Whether you want to pick-your-own strawberries or enjoy the sunshine with a takeaway coffee from the potting shed café, Primrose Vale offers a brilliant outdoor space for the kids to run wild and enjoy the fresh air – with the chance to see some adorable bunnies, too.

47. Have an adventure at Abbey Park

A hop, skip and jump over the Gloucestershire border, Abbey Park in Evesham is a haven for local little ones with its impressive play area, spanning a trampoline, basket swing, climbing units and a huge sandpit – although the water play fountains remain closed for now.

48. Soak up some culture with Heritage Open Days

With heritage properties and walking tours throughout Cheltenham and Gloucester, little ones will love discovering the historical treasures on their doorsteps.

49. Step back through time along the Tewkesbury Battle Trail

Follow in the footsteps of 15th century soldiers during an excursion along the Battle Trail in Tewkesbury, a waymarked route that leads through the key battle areas. A battle trail leaflet is available from the Tourist Information Centre.

50. Make some farmyard friends at Over Farm

A working farm just outside of Gloucester, Over Farm Market is home to a number of resident animals, from donkeys and goats to ostriches and llamas, all waiting to meet and greet visitors.

To plan a day out in Gloucestershire this summer holiday, visit stagecoachbus.com.

© SoGlos
Friday 17 July 2020

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