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Summer Fun in Abundance in The National Forest

Tuesday, 2nd June 2009

Every day throughout the summer visitors to Conkers at the Heart of The National Forest can enjoy entertainment in the covered Waterside amphitheatre.  Every Monday and Wednesday the furry Forest Dweller Friends present their brand new production full of fun, singing and laughter.  Tuesday and Thursdays Nick Spellman, the ‘Animal Man’ returns to Conkers.  Then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the circus workshops come to town with stilt walking, plate spinning and juggling.

There is also a whole host of ranger-led activities including Sports Week (20-24 July) and Butterfly Week (27-31 July) which includes creating butterfly masks and other craft sessions.  Explorer Week then follows (3-7 August) where visitors can make their own compass and binoculars and take part in craft sessions and the map reading challenge.  10-14 August is Pond Dipping Week followed by Traditional Games Week (17-21 August).  Craft activities will be available throughout Kite Week (24-28 August).  Finally there will be a ladybird craft day and traditional games on Bank Holiday Monday 31 August.

Based upon life in a British woodland and with more than one hundred indoor and outdoor activities themed around Forest and the environment, families will enjoy hours of fun at this lively centre. 

Nearby, Sable Studio at Moira Furnace will be hosting a Kids Craft Club between 10 am-12 noon every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer.  The studio runs regular workshops on drawing, painting, mosaics and an after-school club through the year.

On 5 July Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre will be hosting a Summer Open Day including taster ski or board sessions, demonstrations and free fondue tasting.  Then from 22 July to 4 September, it will be holding Kids Fun Activity Days, which include skiing or snowboarding together with tobogganing and Sno-tubing, lunch, a certificate and badge.  Minimum ages apply for activity days.  And on the 3rd Thursday of each month, the centre hosts free Family Quiz nights with loads of great ski centre prizes.  The centre is open throughout the summer for Sno-Tubing sessions, ‘Cresta Run’ toboggan rides, ski or snowboard open practice and lessons.  Summer is a great time to visit and try Snow-sports without getting cold!

In addition to its outdoor concerts and theatre productions including the popular family classic Wind in the Willows on 25 July, Calke Abbey is holding a whole raft of summer activities.  Meet the characters that lived and worked at this fascinating house in the 19th century, from scullery maids to squires and boot boys to baronets, during the ‘Calke Alive’ days on 21 July and 5 August.  Then on 11, 17 and 29 August visitors can find out what the soldiers were doing at Calke Abbey in 1940.  Children under five, together with their adult companions, are invited to follow the trail of Benjamin Bunny through the gardens at Calke from 23–24 July and 26–27 August. Families can rediscover their childhood with the ‘Games Then and Now’ on 4 and 24 August and 2 September and enter Calke’s Secret Garden on 7,8 and 10 August. 

On 13 August budding artists can ‘Explore and Draw’ Calke Abbey’s wonderful walled garden, where sketching and painting materials for all the family are provided.  And on 18-19 August Calke Abbey hosts a Murder Mystery Mayhem for visitors to use detective skills to identify ‘who done it’ for a small prize. As well as these events, Squirt’s Stable at Calke Abbey has children’s costumes, a reading area and craft activities every Saturday and Sunday throughout the season.

 Throughout the summer Rosliston Forestry Centre offers drop-in sessions - laser combat every Monday and Friday and archery every Wednesday and Thursday.  Then on 31 July and 4 September youngsters can try five activities for a fiver including laser combat, laser clay, archery, hawk walk, laser inflatable, climbing wall, kite making, play mobile & giant games, sumo suits and bouncy castle! There will also be a series of wildlife and craft activities starting with Beautiful Butterflies on 28 July, Pond dipping on 4 and 18 August and 2 September, Minibeast Magic on 11 August and Nature’s Art on 25 August, where children can let their imagination go wild using natural materials.  On 16 August Quantum Theatre will perform ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ within the woodland setting of the Glade arena at Rosliston.  The centre also hires bikes, offers fishing and bird of prey displays and has woodland trails.  Younger visitors can slide down from the Sparrowhawk, climb through the crocodile’s mouth or have fun in the soft play area (for under 5s). 

Children can build a mini theatre, write a play and then perform the show in the Creating Theatre workshop on 4 August at Sharpe’s Pottery Museum.  This will be followed by a two-part workshop on 18-19 August to make and decorate a plaster decorative mask.

There will be a half-day of forest activities for 8-12 year-olds with the rangers at Sence Valley Forest Park on 6, 13, 20 and 27 August.

Visitors to this year’s National Forest Maize Maze at Postern House Farm near Burton on Trent will be transported to the wild west.  Now covering a massive 14 acres, this gigantic puzzle has been extended into a second field to make it one of the largest mazes in Europe.  It opens daily from 18 July to 7 September and then every weekend throughout the remainder of September.  Ticket price includes entrance to the ‘Fun Field’ and will be open on selected evenings for ‘Maze by Moonlight’ – don’t forget your torch! 

Visitors can not only explore the tunnels, tower and ruins at Ashby de la Zouch Castle, but on 1-2 August they will see medieval knights fighting for their honour with combat displays, a kids’ drill and traditional cookery demonstrations in the ‘Clash of the Knights’. 

Every Friday, you can combine a visit to many of the attractions that offer brilliant summer activities with a trip on the Heart of the Forest Open Top Bus.  From 24 July to 28 August the big red bus will be running the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour.  Passengers will get a rare glimpse over the hedgerows to witness the transformation taking place in The National Forest, while stopping off at major attractions such as CONKERS, Snibston Discovery Park, Ashby de la Zouch, Donington le Heath Manor House, Moira Furnace and the wonderful Sence Valley Forest Park.  It will also stop off at YHA National Forest in Moira.

There will be loads of children’s activities from creative craft to story telling, coracle paddling to eco art at The National Forest Wood Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 31 August.  

 The Anne Frank Exhibition in the Community Gallery at Snibston is a cutting edge dramatic multimedia exhibition aimed at young people. Mounted in conjunction with the Anne Frank Trust UK in association with Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, it is recommended for young people aged 10 and up, to experience a journey of fact finding and self exploration.  It runs from 4 – 30 June.

There will be a Junior Fishing Match in Snibston Country Park on Saturday 18th July. Call 01530 278444 to purchase tickets.

With children’s play areas and woodland trails, Foremark and Staunton Harold Reservoirs make the perfect spot for a picnic. 

The 2009 visitor guide to The National Forest & Beyond is bursting with great ideas on fun ways to spend summer days.  These are available from Tourist Information Centres or from the National Forest Company, tel: 01283 551 211, email:  For more information on opening times and admission prices on the individual summer activities contact the venues.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle – Tel: 01530 413 343,

Calke Abbey – Tel: 01332 863 822,

Conkers – Tel: 01283 216 633,

Heart of the Forest Open Top Bus Tour – Ashby TIC – Tel: 01530 411 767

National Forest Maize Maze – Tel: 07812 333 315,

Rosliston Forestry Centre – Tel: 01283 563 483,

Sable Studio, Moira Furnace – Tel: 01283 224 332,

Sence Valley Forest Park, Forestry Commission – 01889 586 593,

Severn Trent Reservoirs – Tel: 01332 865 081,

Snibston Discovery Park – Tel: 01530 278 444,

Swadlincote Ski Centre – Tel: 01283 217 200,