If your like me you spend the weeks running up to it really looking forward to having the children home all day and frolicking in the sunshine. When the reality hits, well, six weeks is rather a long time isn’t it!?
What’s on in Leeds this Summer
Once we’ve taken a family holiday I’m going to be left with roughly four weeks to entertain the children and try and make their summer break one to remember, for the right reasons.
As you all know, I have a history of failing miserably at school holidays so this time I’ve decided I’ll be all over it. I’m going to plan well in advance, this is just handful of what’s on in Leeds this summer.
Pick Your Own
Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries. What screams summer fun more than picking fruit in the sunshine? Well Pimms but that’s not suitable for the children so we’ll stick to strawberry picking. Not much more expensive per kilo than at the supermarket but a damn site tastier. The children can fill their boots on the way round, they can appreciate where their food is coming from then you can go home and put the rest in your Pimms. You can find a Pick your Own farm near you here.
If you’re lucky enough to still have a local library then head down there and sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge. Your child reads six books over the school holidays and collects little rewards along the way. There are also opportunities to take part in craft activities, Lego building and meet an author as part of the challenge. It’s completely free to take part and can fill those inevitable rainy days.
Wood trails and walks
One of the nicest things about living in Leeds is not living in the city centre. Living in the suburbs, we are so close to many beautiful places to walk. We live near the Meanwood Valley trail. In it’s entirety it’s a 7 mile trail but a small section runs through our local park so we can head to the woods and make our own trail. If you have the foresight or inclination, send someone ahead to make wooden arrows and stone symbols,(try not to make it too Blair Witch Project). If you’re less of a planner, like me, just take your imagination and your kids. Make your own trail. Look for the Gruffalo, fairies, witches or whatever else takes your fancy. We also have the Otley Chevin close by, with free parking and spectacular views it’s somewhere we like to visit whatever the weather. Perfect for clambering over rocks, walking through the trees, spotting some art and falling in the mud. The Walking Englishman offers an extensive list of family friendly walks.
Not with hardcore rambling groups but a more slow paced, leisurely stroll. Offered by community groups it’s a great way of learning more about your local area by walking with others who are knowledgeable and passionate about the community. Incredible Edible Kirkstall offer four communal walks this summer – August 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd. Each walk gives the opportunity to learn a little local history, forage along the canal, partake in some pond dipping and paper boat sailing. A lovely way to while away a sunny day. The route is buggy friendly and perfect for the kids to take bikes or scooter. The walk is free for under 16s and costs £5 per adult.
Breeze on Tour
Run by Leeds City Council, Breeze on Tour offers free activities, workshops, arts and crafts within five ‘zones’ over two days at three locations in Leeds. Offering Play, Sport, Challenge, Info, Art and Performance, there is something for everyone. There is also a play area for under 5s and a ‘relaxed’ opening is offered for young people with additional needs, enabling them to enjoy the activities before the crowds arrive. The event is free, though you will need money for refreshments and fair rides. Your child will need a BreezeCard in order to enter the event. The card is free. You can get it on the day but if you apply for it before you will get a fast track entry to the event. This year Big Breeze will take place at Temple Newsam on 31st July & 1st August. Mini Breeze and Breeze in the Park will take place across a variety of locations and dates. Check out their website for full details.
Vamos! festival is coming back to Millennium Square, Leeds on Sunday July 21st.. You can get your Latino on at this vibrant family friendly celebration of Latino music, dance and food. With live performances, DJs and street food I can’t think of a more summery way to spend a day! Drinking rum in the sun and maybe even trying a little Samba…. Advance booking costs £3.50, entry on the day will be £5 and under 13s go free (but must be accompanied by an adult).
A Trip to the Farm
Meanwood Urban Valley Farm is a lovely place to spend a few hours on a sunny day. There is a small entry fee of £2 for an adult, 50p for a child and 50p for a bag of animal food (not a necessity but I like to feed the animals OK?). Alongside the usual suspects of sheep, donkeys, goats and alpaca’s. Meanwood farm offers gardens, a meadow and woodland walks where you can try to spot other wildlife, or at least their tracks. The woods home badgers, foxes and even deer. You can also spot a variety of small wild birds alongside red kites and sparrowhawks. Well maybe not right alongside. Risky. Other farms we enjoy in Leeds include None Go Bye Farm; Home Farm at Temple Newsam; and Swithens Farm.
If you’re looking for a free version of the farm then take a look online to see if you have any animal sanctuaries close by. They are generally free entry but a donations would be gratefully received. We are lucky enough to have two sanctuaries near here. Hope Pastures and The Donkey Sanctuary, both are quite small affairs and due to the nature of them some of the animals are reluctant to be patted. They aren’t places to spend a full day but are perfect for taking the children to for an hour. Both have a little refreshment area and gift shop to purchase that all important rainbow rubber. You know, the one you used to buy on every school trip. Just me? OK.
One thing we have in abundance in Leeds is museums. Some are free and some cost. Many of them run activities over the summer. Leeds City Museum is free to enter. They are running Musical Museum School every Tuesday-Friday during the school holidays (Thurs 25th July – Fri 30th August) The morning session runs from 10am-noon and the afternoon session runs 1pm-3pm. This event is free but you can book a place via Eventbrite. Many of the other museums around the city will be holding their own summer events, you can find full details on the Leeds Museums website.
Leeds City Beach
Leeds City beach is returning for it’s sixth year. Once again, Victoria Gardens (the front of Leeds City Art Gallery) will be transformed into a beach. Well, almost. There’s sand, deckchairs, buckets and spades. Vans selling burgers, ice creams and candyfloss. Fairground rides and hook a duck type stalls where you can pay and win some tat. This year the beach will be back from 10th August – 1st September. Entry to the beach is free, you’ll need to take a picnic or some money for refreshments and rides. It’s a nice idea for a little while.
So there you have a few inexpensive ideas for entertaining your little ones in Leeds this summer holiday! I will be absolutely honest, until I compiled this list I had forgotten how terribly lucky we are living here with all these fantastic things going on and wonderful places close by.