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Summer Fun in the Forest

Monday, 2nd June 2008

Summer Fun in the Forest

Families searching for new ideas on where to take the children during the long summer break should head to The National Forest at the heart of the English midlands. 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 Saturday and Sunday throughout June, July and August visitors to Conkers at the Heart of The National Forest can take part in ranger-led activities including Mysterious Masks, guided walks and nature trails, minibeast hunts, willow sculptures, summer collages and other craft activities. And children will love Nick Spellman's live animal experience show every Tuesday and Thursday from 22 July through to 28 August. Based upon life in a British woodland and with more than one hundred indoor and outdoor activities themed around Forest life and the environment, families will enjoy hours of fun at this lively discovery centre.

With different activities each day throughout the summer, youngsters can try their hand at climbing, archery, laser clay, laser combat games, sumo suit wrestling, skateboarding, tri-golf, stone painting, kite making and orienteering at Rosliston Forestry Centre. There will also be a series of Wildlife Watch activities starting with Night World on 25 July, Pond Dipping on 5 and 19 August, Minibeast Magic on 12 August and Nature's Art on 26 August. The centre also hires bikes, offers fishing and bird of prey displays and has woodland trails with wildlife hides to spot the myriad of animals and birds on site. Younger visitors can slide down from the Sparrowhawk or climb through the crocodile's mouth in the outdoor play areas or have fun in the soft play area for under 5s.

Donington le Heath Manor House will be hosting holiday activities every Wednesday afternoon during the summer break as well as monthly events including The Manor Garden Party on 22 June, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings on 13 July and Donington in the Civil War August 9-10. There will also be three open-air theatre performances at this wonderful mediaeval manor house - Midsummer Night's Dream on 27 June, The Tempest on 27 July and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on 21 August.

Visitors to this year's National Forest Maize Maze at Postern House Farm near Burton on Trent will be transported into the world of 'Indiana Bones' in 'The Kingdom of the Crystal Maze'. They will need to navigate their way through the maze using ancient hieroglyphics to find the name of the mythical capital city at the centre of the kingdom.

The maze will be open daily from 12 July to 7 September and then every weekend throughout the remainder of September. Ticket price includes entrance to the 'Fun Field' with its popular 'Splash Zone', mini inflatable maze, tractor trailer rides and new for 2008 - the Jumping Pillow. The maze will also be open on selected evenings for 'Maze by Moonlight' – don't forget your torch!

Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville will be hosting weekly craft activities every Friday and a new weekly cinema club for children every Wednesday during the summer holidays. Snibston's Walking Festival on 5 July, based at the country park and surrounding area, offers a range of walks from short strolls and three mile family walks to longer hikes. There will also be orienteering courses, treasure hunts, crafts and competitions.

Youngsters can also try their hand at rural crafts and nature themed activities at Snibston's Conservation Day on 7 September, which will have wildlife trails, an outdoor performance, animals to see and arts activities to enjoy. There's also plenty to keep the family active and fit with Snibston's Sports Day on Saturday 9th August when there will be the chance to have a go at a whole range of sports and activities that are available around The National Forest. But for an alternative exercise regime of juggling and tight rope walking, Snibston will be hosting a Circus Workshop Day on August Bank Holiday Monday.

In addition to its outdoor concerts and theatre productions including the popular family classic Peter Pan on 19 August, 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, in the 'Calke Alive' days on 14 and 26 July; 6, 12 and 26 August. Families can rediscover their childhood with the 'Games from the Past and Present' on 23 and 29 July. Trusty's Treasure Hunt gets underway on 24, 25 and 30 July, followed on 1-2 August with Calke's 'Watery Wildlife' event with games, children's crafts, wetland walks and wildlife, all on a watery theme. During 14, 15 and 22 August 'The Great Garden Sketch' will see budding artists sketching Calke's wonderful walled garden.

Visitors can not only explore the tunnels, tower and ruins at Ashby de la Zouch Castle, but on 26-27 July 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'. Or learn about the myths and magic of plants and trees in the Witches Garden Walk on 12 July and 23 August at Moira Furnace.

Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre will be holding Kids Fun Activity Days, which include skiing or snowboarding together with tobogganing and Sno-tubing, lunch, a certificate and badge. The centre is open throughout the summer for Sno-Tubing sessions, 'Cresta Run' toboggan rides, ski or snowboard open practice and lessons. And with great special offers available throughout the summer, it is a great time to visit and try Snow-sports without getting cold!

With children's play areas and woodland trails, Foremark and Staunton Harold Reservoirs make the perfect spot for a picnic. This can be combined with a ranger-led walk at Foremark Reservoir on 27 July to spot the wide variety of butterflies and pond dipping on 13 August to discover what creatures lurk beneath the water's surface or the bat walks taking place in August at Staunton Harold Reservoir on the 1st and Thornton Reservoir on the 23rd August.

Every Saturday, 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 19 July to 30 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. This year it will also swing into the new YHA National Forest in Moira.

There will be loads of children's activities from creative craft to tree climbing, coracle paddling to eco art at The National Forest Wood Fair, held at Beacon Hill Country Park on Bank Holiday Monday 25 August.

The 2008 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 551211, email: Or visit the Visit and Explore section of this website 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.