Will it rain? Will the traffic be awful? Will we all fall out and drive home in silence? If you want to avoid the answer to those questions being “yes”, pick a bank holiday activity that keeps everyone occupied.
It’s the last three-day break until Christmas, so make the most of the long weekend by taking advantage of the hundreds of events – some of which are free, others that require no booking – happening across the country. Take in a food festival, head to the beach or seek shelter in a museum.
At a food festival
John Torode, Gregg Wallace and Gennaro Contaldo are among the chefs slated to appear at the BBC Good Food Festival at Hampton Court Palace (23-25 August; bbcgoodfoodfestival.com). Artisans will be doling out samples, while Richmond’s celebrated Bingham hotel and restaurant – which is marking its 30th anniversary this year – is hosting a pop-up serving seasonal British dishes, including an intriguing starter of aged beef with pickled cucumber and hay emulsion. Street-food outlets such as Churros Garcia will also be in residence and families will be well catered for with the Kids’ Cookery School. Adults £15.50; under-16s free.
With the band
For a family-friendly music festival, head to Southsea in Portsmouth for the Victorious (23-24 August; victoriousfestival.co.uk). Established acts such as Seasick Steve, Razorlight, Ocean Colour Scene and British Sea Power, will perform alongside newcomers including Tom Odell and Scouting for Girls. There will also be a seaside stage overlooking the Solent, a BIG Recycle swap shop for clothes and a Kids’ Arena, where children can brush up on the circus skills and make cupcakes. Adult day tickets £20; children five-15 £6; under-fives free.
In Dorset, the Purbeck Folk Festival (21-24 August; purbeckfolk.co.uk) also targets a wide age-range with its combination of storytellers, jugglers and puppet shows for children and a poetry slam, open-air movie screen and bands such as Idlewild for older visitors. Adult day tickets £40; children £5- £20; under-threes free.
On the beach
If the sun shines, Britain’s coast will feel the bank-holiday crush. But those in the land-locked city of Nottingham have a trick up their sleeve to avoid crowds: an urban beach. Head to Old Market Square before 2 September, where 250 tonnes of golden sand have been deposited to create a Nottingham-style riviera, complete with a beach bar for grown ups, a paddling pool, pony rides, bungee trampolines, waterballs and a pirates’ ship (nottinghamriviera.co.uk; admission free).
Down south, Brighton’s Sand Sculpture Festival will see 4,000 tonnes of imported sand crafted into iconic landmarks from around the world, until 28 September. Expect elaborate creations that range from the Great Sphinx of Giza to the Leaning Tower of Pisa at the Black Rock site on the seafront (brightonsandsculpture.co.uk; adults £4.50; children aged 3-15 £3.00; under-threes free).
At a country house
Spend the weekend at Tredegar House, a 17th-century beauty that stands in 90 acres of Welsh parkland near Newport. Once home to the influential Morgan family, it now welcomes all as a National Trust property. From 23-25 August, its calling card is the Summer Garden Fun Weekend – a three-day party filled with skittles, quoits, hula hooping and potato racing (11-4pm). Family crafts take place every Friday (noon-3pm) and there are hour-long Nature Clubs on Mondays (11am-3pm). Afterwards, indulge in an afternoon tea in the Orangery, overlooking the house’s parterre garden (01633 815880; nationaltrust.org.uk; adults £7.20; children £3.60).
In a museum
If the weather dictates you have to take shelter, there are few better places than the Eden Project in Cornwall. Until 2 September, the award-winning attraction near St Austell is taking visitors back some 65m years with Dinosaurs Unleashed. Children can go in search of the great beasts in the Lost World, step into the Crater of the Tyrant King, rummage for fossils and dodge the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. Adults £19.50; children £9.50; family £52 (edenproject.com).
At the other end of the country, Dundee’s celebrated Science Centre has teamed up with the British Antarctic Survey to create Ice Station Antarctica, where young explorers can test out their survival skills in sub-zero temperatures, until 30 September (dundeesciencecentre.org.uk; adults £7.25; children £5.25).