There are days out to keep the whole family entertained, writes Ellie Ross

The last three-day break until Christmas is nearly upon us – so make the most of it at one of the hundreds of events across the country, many of which are family-friendly and some of which are free and require no pre- booking. From meeting Vikings to gorging on ice cream, make the most of the long weekend, come rain or shine.

Festival fever

Colourful dancers, steel bands and the smell of sizzling jerk chicken… Europe’s largest street festival returns to London on 30-31 August (thenottinghillcarnival.com; free). Sunday is Notting Hill Carnival’s Family Day, with workshops and costume competitions, while the main parade happens on Monday. After the streets are cleared, continue at one of the many after-parties.

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Notting Hill Carnival (REX)

For everything from stand-up comedy to theatre, musicals and opera, bank holiday weekend is your last chance this year to experience the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (edfringe.com; prices vary). The world’s largest arts festival runs until 31 August, with performances in venues ranging from traditional theatres to the Famous Spiegeltent – an elaborately decorated 95-year-old wooden “tent of mirrors”.

Step back in time

The coastal town of Largs, on the Firth of Clyde, will be overrun with Nordic seafarers when the Largs Viking Festival comes to town (largsvikingfestival.com; 29 August - 6 September). Meet “Viking traders”, see their weapons and try archery, or watch traditional cooking and dyeing demonstrations. There will also be aerobatic displays and a Scottish food and craft fair. Adults £5, children £2, under-fives free.

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(Rex)

In Shropshire, come dressed in character to the new Oliver Twist Weekend (bit.ly/TwistWeekend; 29-31 August). Held at Blists Hill Victorian Town, the event will see scenes from Dickens’ much-loved novel re-enacted, with appearances by Fagin and the Artful Dodger. Adults £27.95, children £16.95, under-fives free.

Foodie feast

Follow Scotland’s new Ice Cream Trail (bit.ly/IceCreamTrail) around up to 102 artisans across the country. Armed with a map, find your favourite scoop, from traditional favourites such as raspberry ripple, to pioneering Scottish twists including Irn Bru, porridge and whisky and honey flavour.

If your tastes are more savoury than sweet, Cornwall’s Newlyn Fish Festival (newlynfishfestival.org.uk; 31 August) celebrates all things fishy at one of Britain’s largest fishing ports, including cookery demonstrations by top chefs, live music and a children’s treasure hunt. Adults £5; under-16s free.

On the waterfront

Head to the beach for an open-air trip to the movies. Brighton’s Big Screen (01273 204200; brightonsbigscreen.com; until 13 September) shows blockbusters, classics and family films next to the Pier. New this year is a beach bar and pop-up restaurants. Daytime showings are free; £3 from 5pm.

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Brighton’s Big Screen (Stuart Butcher / cameyera.com)

Alternatively, catch a wave at North Wales’ new inland surfing facility, Surf Snowdonia (01492 353 123; surfsnowdonia.co.uk). Man-made waves for all abilities are created in the 300m-long lagoon – join a lesson or watch from the café, then bed down in a waterfront camping pod. Childrens’ lessons from £29 for one hour; adults from £39; free-surfing from £19 an hour and bundle deals are available; camping pods (sleeping four) from £100.

Head for cover

Rain doesn’t have to spoil the weekend. Should the heavens open, seek shelter at the recently revamped World of Wedgwood (01782 282986; worldofwedgwood.com) in Stoke-on-Trent. There’s now a remodelled factory tour and expanded museum, plus dining spaces and a shop. Have a go at throwing a pot, or watch master craftsmen work on ceramics. Adults £15; under-fives free; family tickets from £30.

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is holding a new  series of “Super Size vs Super Mini” themed shows this summer (national-aquarium.co.uk; until 31 August), with daily displays about everything from blue whales to plankton. Budding marine biologists can view the smallest creatures through microscopes in the aquarium’s laboratory. Adults from £13.28; children from £9.68.

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