Summer holiday special: Summer Calendar

Welcome to our Summer Calendar, a wide selection of events around the country in the next seven weeks that are suitable for families. The listings have been drawn up using information supplied by VisitBritain. You can find many more events in your area on its website (www.visitbritain.com). Dates can change, so before making elaborate plans you should check the VisitBritain website or those of the individual events, or call the phone numbers provided.

There are many other events of a smaller, more local character listed on the websites of your local council, and organisations such as the National Trust, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, and English Heritage. Virtually all of their major venues and reserves have events such as guided walks, mini-beast safaris, junior archaeology days, circus skills workshops, living history days, sandcastle contests, pirate days, and other family activities throughout the summer.

We have put a sprinkling of these events throughout our listings and cheated a little with Week Five to include August Bank Holiday events. Events lasting longer than a week are listed in the week they begin, so if you are interested in a particular week, check the weeks preceding it as well. We begin with those events that last all summer long.

Art Trolley, London

Art Trolley is one of Tate Britain's events for families with children aged 3-12. Choose from a range of trails, looking, drawing and making activities, based on the works of art on display.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London (020-7887 8008). All year.

The Children's War, London

The Second World War through the eyes of children who lived through it. Hands-on activities, plus recreation of a house in wartime.

Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London (020-7416 5320). Until March 2008.

Crime and Punishment, Manchester

Enter a reconstructed prison cell, vote for what you think should be illegal, see items such as an executioner's block and learn about the life and diet of prisoners over the past 200 years.

People's History Museum, Bridge Street, Manchester (0161 228 7212). Until 15 January.

Designing Modern Life, London

Le Corbusier's Paris apartments of the 1920s, pioneering graphics of the 1930s London Underground, Kubrick's vision of the future, and more.

Design Museum, Shad Thames, London (0870-833 9955). Until 30 October.

Diamonds, London

Enter the glamorous and mysterious world of diamonds and discover the incredible story of their evolution - from deep within the Earth to the red carpet - in the largest and most spectacular diamond exhibition ever staged.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London (020-7942 5839). Until 26 February 2006.

Face to Face: Photography by James Mollison, London

James Mollison's portraits of gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-utans and bonobos show the vitality and intelligence of our closest biological relatives. Each picture is more than two metres high, and behind each one is an often heartbreaking story.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London (020-7942 5839). Until 18 September.

Fishwick Mains Amazing Maize Maze, Berwick-upon-Tweed

In the shape of a different design each year, this year's maze is a giant bee. Visitors are given a puzzle book to help find their way round three miles of labyrinth in around two hours.

Fishwick Mains Farm, Berwick-upon-Tweed (01289 386111). Until 5 September.

Flowers by Candlelight, Bournemouth

A 100-year-old candle-lighting ceremony at dusk. Light one of the 15,000 candles available free on the night.

Lower Gardens, Bournemouth (01202 451700). Wednesdays, 3-31 August.

Flower Fairies Exhibition, Torrington

Fifty original enchanting paintings of flower fairies by Cicely Mary Baker, rarely seen out of the archives. Plus special Fairies Children's Trail.

Rosemoor Garden, Torrington, Devon (01805 624067). Until 29 August.

Grizedale and Whinlatter Forest Parks

A special programme of events organised by the Forestry Commission at sites in Grizedale Forest Park and Whinlatter Forest Park.

Grizedale and Whinlatter Forest Parks, Cumbria (01229 860010). Throughout the year.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Exhibition, London

Family exhibition takes visitors on a journey through Douglas Adam's iconic story against a backdrop of large-scale and richly designed sets from the film.

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London (0870-870 4868). Until end October.

In the Footsteps of Nelson, Chatham

Weekly tour giving insight into the Georgian dockyard of Nelson's time through the unique buildings and atmosphere of today. See the site where HMS Victory was built, hear how a young Nelson saw her for the first time and later joined the ship. Book ahead or on arrival at dockyard. The Historic Dockyard, Dock Road, Chatham (01634 823800). In the Footsteps of Nelson, Sundays until 30 September. General summer activities daily 25 July-4 September.

Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity, London

Reynolds's finest portraits of the most famous figures of Georgian society: actors, writers, rakes, courtesans, aristocrats, politicians, and military heroes.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London (020-7887 8008). Until 18 September.

Mars Quest, Newcastle upon Tyne

Mysteries of the red planet and its breathtaking landscape. Become a space explorer, see a piece of Mars rock and learn how it was discovered on Earth. Plus take command of a rover and scan the Martian landscape.

Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne (01912 438210). Until 15 December.

Mini-Beast Safari, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Find and identify beetles, bugs, butterflies and other small creatures and learn about habitats and wildlife preservation with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The Lodge Nature Reserve, Sandy, Bedfordshire (01767 680541). Various dates until 26 October.

Moult Magic, Gloucestershire

Wildlife-orientated arts and crafts, including the opportunity to paint with feathers. Trails and guided walks.

Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Gloucestershire. (01453 891223). Until 5 September.

Queen Victoria and the Crimea, Windsor

Treasures from the Royal Library complemented by a new display charting the course of the first "modern" war and the public reaction to it through material from the Royal Collection and Royal Archives.

Windsor Castle Gallery, Windsor (01753 831118). Until April 2006.

Style and Splendour, London

Take a look at the wardrobe of Queen Maud, spanning 1896-1938, the English princess who became the first queen of independent Norway.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London (020-7942 2000). Until 8 January 2006.

Summertime on the South Downs

Tractor rides over the environmentally sensitive South Downs, passing cattle, sheep and conservation areas.

Coombes Farm Tours, Lancing, East Sussex (01273 452028). Until October.

Talking Coins, Birmingham

Exhibition of world-famous collection of Roman and Byzantine coins.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham (0121-414 7333). Until 31 December.

Happy Families: An Online Guide

Every summer holiday needs a couple of big days out: where you set off early, take a picnic, attend an event and get home late and tired, but satisfied.

Look on the internet and there's something to suit every family. What's on When ( www.whatsonwhen.co.uk) is a gargantuan site that covers Britain and abroad: internet festival in Burkina Faso, anyone? Closer to home, there is a kids and family option which offers a vast range. For example, the Bristol Children's Festival, with theatre, puppeteers, clowns and storytellers, takes place this Friday to Sunday, while the Coventry Kite Festival runs across the weekend of 13-14 August. For its size, this site is surprisingly user-friendly and searches can be refined for any region of the UK.

A proper country fair has universal appeal for adults, animal-crazed tots and horse-mad teens alike and Country Life's website ( www.countrylife.co.uk) has a comprehensive listing with phone contacts for shows up and down the country from the Anglesey County Show (9-10 August) to the Bowmore Blair Castle International Three-Day Event and Country Fair in Perthshire (25-28).

If you're looking for a festival, www.efestivals.co.uk is the site to check. It has details of everything from the newly extended Waveney Valley Festival in Norfolk, which this year runs from 5 to 8 August, to the truly fabulous Big Green Gathering, which runs from 3-7 August in the Mendip Hills near Cheddar, Somerset.

Green issues are on everyone's mind at the moment and what better way to introduce children to them than at Britain's largest and liveliest green event? "This festival offers many of the greener highlights that you might find at Glastonbury or Womad, with the emphasis on a healthy, family friendly atmosphere," say the organisers.

London's Notting Hill Carnival ( www.mynottinghill.co.uk, 28-29 August) is the largest but not the only one of its kind. See www.lccarnival.org.uk for details of the Leicester Caribbean Carnival, the largest multicultural event in the Midlands. The celebrations culminate each year on the first Saturday in August. The Nottingham Caribbean Carnival, one of the most colourful and energetic events in Nottingham's summer calendar, will take place over the weekend of 13-14 August. See www.nottinghamevents.org/carnival. More than 80,000 people are expected over the two days, which includes a parade on Sunday afternoon.

If you thrill to historical re-enactments, check the English Heritage website, www.english-heritage.org.uk or the events diary at www.livinghistory.co.uk. On the first weekend in August, for example, you can see feudal archers at Battle Abbey, Sussex, and on 20-21 August there is the William Wallace medieval fair in Lanark, complete with battles, falconry and archery and a medieval street market.

As well as its regular summer holiday activities, the National Trust has big events at some properties, such as the Music and Firework Weekend at Shugborough in Staffordshire (5-7 August) or the Fun Dog Show at Tatton Park in Cheshire on 7 August (classes include scruffiest dog and waggiest tail). For more information see www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

If you have a canine companion, don't let them miss out on the fun elsewhere. The Wag and Bone Show, the UK's greatest dog-related extravaganza, takes place in Windsor Great Park in Berkshire on 6 August. See www.thewagand boneshow.co.uk. Show categories include loveable rogues and most melting expression. Free canine dance classes for dog and owners together are on offer. All profits go to animal charities.

And finally, whether your special day is more likely to involve traction engines or a teddy-bears' picnic, your local Tourist Information Centre will know of it. Find these listed under the "practical information" button at the official website of the British Tourist Authority, www.visitbritain.com.

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