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Canoeing in Algonquin
Canoeing in Algonquin

Family holidays 2015: Celebrate the new Jurassic Park film with a dinosaur hunt in Canada

And try camping without the tents in southern France or Ibiza without the clubs

Chris Leadbeater
Monday 29 December 2014 13:24
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With a snarl and a roar, the outlandish concept of reanimated giant lizards will return to cinema screens in June with the fourth instalment of the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. These far-fetched movies do not usually enthral critics, but are always a colossal boost to the profile of every child's favourite toothsome extinct creature, the dinosaur.

However, if you want to show an excited five-year-old the real thing, forget the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai (where these scaly tales have been filmed), and visit Alberta (travelalberta.co.uk).

The southern "Badlands" of this westerly Canadian province can claim a vast concentration of dinosaur remains (largely from the Late Cretaceous period, when the region was overrun with snap-jawed predators). Dinosaur Provincial Park (001 403 378 4342; albertaparks.ca), near Brooks, is a Unesco World Heritage Site where more than 500 specimens and some 40 species have been found. The Royal Tyrrell Museum (001 403 823 7707; tyrrellmuseum.com; C$13/£7) in Drumheller is home to 130,000 fossils and skeletons, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Albertosaurus bones. A week's package of flights (Heathrow to Calgary) and car hire for a family of four in August costs £4,643 in total through British Airways Holidays (0844 493 0758; ba.com/holidays).

If a North American road trip seems like nirvana, this could also be a year to abandon the theme parks of Florida for something wilder. Grand American Adventures (0333 999 7961; grandamericanadventures.com) is launching a new-for-2015 North Eastern Family Discovery trip which dips into spectacular places on either side of the Canada-United States border. Aimed at parents travelling with children, this winding road trip ticks off places as disparate as Montreal, Algonquin Provincial Park (a wonderland of rivers and forest in Ontario) and the Green Mountains of Vermont. It costs from £2,109 per person in July and August, with flights.

But if long miles on the road sound exhausting, there is always the prospect of camping in France. The twist is that you do not have to sleep in anything as rudimentary as a tent. Eurocamp (0844 406 0552; eurocamp.co.uk) is introducing its Aspect accommodation to three more locations in 2015. These sturdy structures make the threat of rain obsolete – being kitted out with two or three bedrooms, bathrooms, deck spaces, dishwashers and wi-fi. They will now be available at La Garangeoire in the Vendée, La Baume, near Fréjus in Provence-Cote d'Azur, and La Sirene, close to Perpignan. A week at the latter – which is also a perfect base for a dash to Barcelona (120 miles south) – in May, staying in a three-bedroom Aspect holiday home, costs from £791, excluding travel costs.

Ibiza (ibiza.travel) rarely emphasises its suitability for children, but the Spanish island makes a play for family visitors in May when the Grand Palladium White Island Resort (00 34 971 926 486; palladiumhotelgroup.com) rises on the shore at Playa d'en Bossa, in the south of the island. This five-star debutante will have 430 rooms and suites, two pools, and kids' clubs aimed at youngsters and teenagers (as well as Zentropia, a spa refuge for adults). Junior Suites (big enough for a family of four) will start at €367 a night, all-inclusive.

Grand Palladium White Island Resort

Of course, a seaside holiday does not have to involve some sun-swaddled stretch of the Mediterranean. It might also mean Ramsgate. The Kent town (visitkent.co.uk) will soon be the latest beneficiary of the Landmark Trust's (01628 825 925; landmarktrust.org.uk) tireless campaign to salvage derelict properties of cultural significance – the trust is also celebrating its 50th anniversary next year with a programme of events. St Edward's Presbytery, a Grade I-listed Gothic revival property – a wondrous pile of wide fireplaces and dark majesty, confected in 1850 by the Victorian architect Augustus Pugin – will be available as a self-catering bolthole for up to four people. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but restoration work is likely to be finished by autumn, in time for spooky Halloween breaks.

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