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A Bumper Load of Summer Fun in The National Forest

Wednesday, 30th June 2010

This ‘forest in the making’ is bursting with things to see and do, ensuring young ones and their older companions alike are kept entertained - whatever the summer weather brings!

Every day throughout the summer, visitors to Conkers can enjoy summer fun in the covered Waterside amphitheatre.  Mondays and Fridays will see the Forest Dwellers singing and dancing to all the party song favourites!  Tuesdays and Thursdays the irreplaceable Nick Spellman is back with his award winning animal show!  Circus Workshops are on Wednesdays and Sundays, teaching visitors how to juggle, be an acrobat or even a ring master! And Saturdays will see the brilliant ‘Green Man’ weaving tales and tunes of the forest.

There will also be ranger activities at Conkers every day in the summer holidays.  These kick off with the Traditional Sports Day every Monday featuring the classics - egg and spoon races, sack races, tug of war, welly wangling and penalty shootout! Tuesdays and Thursdays children can grab a net and take a dip into Conkers’ lakes with the rangers. They may be lucky enough to catch a few sticklebacks, pond skaters and even tiny frogs!  Wednesday will feature the Habitat Trails, exploring paths and trails deep into the woodlands to spot some exciting hidden wildlife.  The Assault Course Challenge is every Friday for all those over 13. And for those not quite old enough, there will be an orienteering challenge.  Finally the weekend ranger activities will be cutting, gluing and fun craft making to take home at the end of a fun week!

But that’s not all! Children can ride the loveable Dream Ponies at Conkers Discovery on Mondays and Wednesdays. Based upon life in a British woodland and set at the heart of The National Forest, there are over one hundred indoor and outdoor activities to guarantee hours of family fun. 

Situated in South Derbyshire, Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre is open 364 days a year, so visitors can ski in the middle of summer!  Every school holiday the centre offers ‘Kid’s Fun Activity Days’.  These run from 11am – 5pm and combine lessons in skiing or snowboarding with Tobogganing and Sno-Tubing for variety and fun. A hot lunch is included and everyone receives a Star Award badge.

But this is not just for the kids.  Adults and children (over the age of 4) can come along and try their hand at Tobogganing or Sno-Tubing and the great Summer Combo Deal offers a combination of both activities.  The ‘Alpine Lodge’ Restaurant & Bar buzzes with excited reminiscences of tight corners and fast turns from visitors enjoying their après ski.

As well as the two wonderful open air theatre performances - The Secret Garden on Sunday 1 August and The Tempest on Sunday 22 August - Calke Abbey is holding a whole raft of summer activities.  Calke Bear Hunt kicks off the holiday fun on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 July. Bringing along their own bear and an adult, children can follow the trail to find Calke Bear as well as some of the wildlife that live in the grounds. 

There will be a Minibeast Safari on Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 July and Wednesday 11 August for visitors to try pond dipping, sweep netting and searching for creatures that lurk under stones and logs in Calke Park. And on Tuesday 3 August visitors can join in games from the past and present at a family fun day - The Games People Played.

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 17 July to 27 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. Tickets are available in advance from Ashby de la Zouch Tourist Information Centre on 01530 411 767.

There are drop-in activities every afternoon from 2-4pm at Rosliston Forestry Centre, from 26 July through to 3 September.  For just £2.50 a session you can do archery every Monday and Friday, Wildlife Watch on Tuesdays and laser combat every Wednesday and Thursday.

The Wildlife Watch activites include Nightworld, an evening event to find out about nocturnal creatures on 23 July, Pond Dipping on 27 July, 10 August and 24 August, Learn about Ladybirds on 3 August.  Then on 17 August join a Willow Creatures session to make a garden decoration. Finally, visitors can learn about British reptiles in the sensory garden on 31 August.  For more information about the environmental activities call 01283 535039 or email

On 30 July and 27 August there will be a Forest Frenzy afternoon where visitors can choose as many activities as they want for just £10 per person. Activities include archery, woodland combat, climbing, hawk walk and crazy golf to name but a few.

There are a number of activities taking place where booking is essential by calling the centre on 01283 563483.  Every day from 2 to 6 August and from 16 to 20 August there will be fun-packed Out and Active days including climbing, archery and laser combat (suitable for children aged 8-14). A Bushcraft Day will take place on 5 August, (suitable for children aged 8-12).  Then on 9 August there will be Go-Ride – a fun cycling activity day (suitable for children aged 8-14)

But if all those activities sound a bit too much like hard work – how about a Butterfly Safari on 17 July or an afternoon Cream Tea Walk on 14 August.  Enjoy Rosliston in the summer followed by a delicious Cream Tea in The Hub Café.  Rosliston Forestry Centre also hires bikes, offers fishing and holds bird of prey displays and has woodland trails, log cabins and play areas.  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). 

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 30 August.  

The Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts is holding a series of free events, entertainment and workshops this summer including willow weaving, family craft sessions and music.  Key dates for the diary are the Majestic Owls Display Team on 4 July, The Creation Station - Willow Wizards and Fairies on 17July, Willow Workshop on 25 July, The Creation Station - Papier-Mache Bugs and Beasties on 7 August, The Creation Station - Recycled Flowers on 21 August and finally the Majestic Owls Display Team on 5 September.

Music is provided on selected dates by The Big Buskers and Tamarisk Parents Choir, filling the Ferrers Centre courtyard with sounds of the summer; full event listings are available to view on and for a copy of the events leaflet contact the Ferrers Gallery.

Visitors are invited to ride the wave to the beach-themed National Forest Maize Maze at Postern House Farm near Burton upon Trent.  Now covering a massive 14 acres, this gigantic puzzle is one of the largest mazes in Europe.  It opens daily from 17 July to 6 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! 

Moira Furnace Museum will also be hosting special summer activities throughout the school holidays.  Try soap making on Tuesdays, pond dipping and bug hunting on Wednesdays or make a kite on Thursdays.  In addition, the museum and boat trips will be open daily (except Monday). 

Sable Studio Gallery at Moira Furnace will be hosting a 2-hour Kids Craft Club every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the summer.  The studio runs regular workshops on drawing, painting, mosaics and an after-school club through the year.

The 2010 visitor guide to The 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:   Or click here for a complete listing of all the events going on within the Forest throughout the summer.  For more information on opening times and admission prices on the individual summer activities contact the venues.