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Top attractions for the whole family to visit this summer in the Midlands and Shropshire

By Rebecca Stanley | Best of | Published:

School's out for summer, and attractions across the Midlands and Shropshire are making the most of the sunshine with an array of exciting events.

Drayton Manor

Looking for something to do to entertain the kids during the school holidays? Take a look at our top picks:

Octonauts: Shark Mission - National SEALIFE Centre, Birmingham

Octonauts

Brand-new adventure Octonauts: Shark Mission runs at the National Sea Life Centre until September 2, where kids can embark on a jaw-some quest all about sharks.

Come face-to-fin with the aquarium’s own fascinating family of resident sharks, solve the puzzles of the mystery trail and take part in an exclusive meet and greet with Shellington and his Octonaut friends.

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Visit Professor Inkling’s colour lab, take a special dive of discovery with Dashi and follow instructions from Captain Barnacles to make a shark puppet.

There’s also plenty on offer for older kids, couples and adults, such as marvelling at the cheeky antics of a colony of Gentoo penguins before meeting a crab or starfish at the Interactive Rockpool.

Discover the majestic jellyfish, be brave and take a peek at the piranhas or feel part of the story in the 4D cinema.

Not to forget the chance to get face-to-fin with some of the strangest creatures you’ll ever meet in the UK’s only 360° Ocean Tunnel, home to sharks, rays and Mo, the aquarium’s resident giant green sea turtle.

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For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Summer of Spies Workshops - RAF Museum, Cosford

Summer Of Spies

There’s plenty of fun on offer for budding young secret agents at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford this summer.

Youngsters can enter a world of spies and espionage by taking part in Minecraft and Lego group activities, themed around spy cars, creating virtual aeroplanes and code challenges.

The Summer of Spies technology-based workshops give children the chance to develop their ability to use technology in a safe and exciting way. Taking place every Wednesday throughout August, each workshop has a different and exciting theme.

Children will be fully supervised throughout the day and all materials will be provided.

Plus, everyday throughout August youngsters can take part in a Secret Spy Trail around the museum’s National Cold War Exhibition.

This self-guided spy experience will be running alongside the workshops, where families can search the hangar to find all the answers hidden amongst the aircraft and exhibits on display.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Black Country Living Museum - Dudley

BCLM

Discover the fun hobbies and pastimes that entertained folk from Victorian times to the 1930s at the Black Country Living Museum.

Step inside the homes and shops of the past and you’ll find characters rushing to prepare their picnic baskets full of traditional treats to enjoy outside, or packing their suitcases for a good old British seaside holiday.

Swap your TV for the sweet sounds of vintage music as you gather the family around the wireless in the newly-opened Gripton’s Radio Store, set on the museum’s 1930s-themed street.

From wartime weddings to a search for notorious criminals, on selected days throughout the summer visitors will be able to watch pop-up drama unfold on the streets.

Plus, throughout August snap-happy visitors will also have the opportunity to dress in vintage get-up at the museum’s Photography Parlour.

Visitors can enjoy the delights of family fun and playtime in the last century, and banish boredom with traditional street games including hopscotch and skipping.

Not forgetting the site’s usual entertainment, guests can also enjoy experiencing life in an 1850s coal mine, attend a Victorian school lesson and try the museum’s traditionally cooked fish and chips.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Summer Fun - Birmingham Museums, multiple locations

BMAG

Looking for something fun and enlightening for all the family to enjoy this summer?

Look no further than Birmingham Museums, with roar-tastic activities at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG), hands-on science at Thinktank and an array of magnificent events at heritage sites across the city.

It’s all about Dippy at BMAG as the Natural History Museum’s famous Diplodocus skeleton cast continues his residency in Birmingham throughout the school holidays until September 9 as part of Dippy on Tour.

Throughout the summer there will also be fun Dippy-related activities at the museum to enjoy. There’s the Dippy family room with the chance to dress up and play, the Dino Dig where children can have a go at being a palaeontologist, curator’s tour, crafts and trails. And there is even a Dino children’s menu in the Edwardian tearooms to keep little ones fuelled throughout their visit.

Thinktank, Birmingham’s award-winning science museum, offers visitors the chance to journey to the stars in the Planetarium, get hands-on with giant exhibits in the outdoor science garden and get creative in the LEGO studio workshop.

To celebrate the Year of Engineering, Thinktank will showcase the world and wonder of engineering with lots of fun events and activities.

Visitors will be able to try out some designing and building for themselves and the new theatre show will amaze with a bridge-building challenge, rocket demonstrations and the strongest sand castle you will ever see.

Meanwhile at the Birmingham museum’s heritage sites there is lots for families to see and do.

Visit Aston Hall, the grand Jacobean mansion, for an interactive telling of Sleeping Beauty on Friday, August 3 and you can meet Cinderella on Friday, August 24.

At Blakesley Hall enjoy an audience with Henry VIII on Friday, July 27. You’ll hear the King’s tales and discover how to meet and greet royalty. On Sunday, August 12 take part in the Blakesley Hall Knight School and learn sword-fighting and take part in the Battle of Agincourt!

At Sarehole Mill take part in a summer play day on Wednesday, August 1, with a boat building workshop. And on Wednesday, August 15 visit the site for family baking sessions and enjoy a tasty baked treat.

Plus there’s much, much more, including family fun at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and Weoley Castle Ruins.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Summer Sensation - Drayton Manor Park, Tamworth

Drayton Manor

It will be all smiles this summer, as Drayton Manor Park plans six weeks of their Summer Sensation campaign from Wednesday, July 25, to running until Monday, September 3.

In addition to the thrill rides, the attraction is organising extra events for visitors to enjoy.

A spokesman said: “Make sure that your little ones don’t miss out on a special meet and greet with CatBoy and Owlette, characters from popular children’s TV show, PJ Masks.

“These fan favourites, guaranteed to bring a smile to your child’s face, will be having fun at the park on Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12 in the heart of the park near the carousel.

“For the grown-ups, there will be a scrumptious food and craft festival on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19, consisting of over 30 stands to tantalise the tastebuds with locally-made treats and delights, including stands run by The Crab Shack, Patty Freaks and Gyro Guys to name a few plus some amazing craft stalls as well.

“But don’t worry if you don’t manage to make it to these events, as throughout the summer there’s plenty at Drayton Manor Park to keep everyone happy.”

Both the young and young at heart will be entertained in Europe’s only Thomas Land, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and is home to more than 25 rides and attractions, such as the Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster, Jeremy Jets’ Flying Academy, and brand new in 2017, James and The Red Balloon.

Thrill seekers can scream to their hearts’ content as they experience a host of adrenaline-pumping rides such as the head-turning gyro swing Maelstrom, the 54-metre drop tower Apocalypse and Shockwave, one of only two stand-up coasters in Europe. Visitors looking for a quick refresh from the occasional heatwave we have been experiencing can enjoy the white-knuckle Stormforce 10 water ride.

For families with younger children, the magical experience of Thomas Land doesn’t have to end in the park as Drayton Manor Hotel has 15 incredible Thomas & Friends themed rooms. Each child staying in a themed room also receives a complimentary Thomas and Friends goodie bag during their stay.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Cadbury World - Birmingham

Cadbury World

There’s no chance of the fun melting away at Cadbury World this summer with a magical entertainment programme throughout the school holidays.

From July 21 to 31, the attraction will raise the curtain on two original live shows which put families firmly in the spotlight. In Partytime with Freddo, guests can join the famous frog for fun and a sprinkling of mayhem in his birthday party preparations in a show packed full of audience participation.

Old and young alike can also rediscover a beloved fairytale in Storytime with the Caramel Bunny as, with the help of a few friends, she invites young audience members to become part of her favourite fable in an exciting interactive show. Guests can even share a picture-perfect moment with the Caramel Bunny herself after each performance.

While the fun takes place on stage, guests can extend the family fun with an up-close and personal meet and greet with some of Cadbury’s most iconic characters at Cadbury World’s Character Breakfasts.

From August 1 to September 2, a variety of magicians, ventriloquists and entertainers will cast a magical spell over visitors with a host of family entertainment and live spectacles.

Beyond the range of additional activities, Cadbury World is packed full of fun and adventure for the whole family with an assortment of chocolatey zones to explore.

Visitors can head to the 4D Chocolate Adventure zone to experience the feeling of riding the Crunchie Rollercoaster and diving into melted chocolate in a 4D cinema experience complete with motion seats, before heading over to the Chocolate Making zone to see the chocolatiers in action and taking a delicious taster for themselves.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Summer Nights - West Midlands Safari Park

West Midlands Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park will be spending the summer fundraising for some of the most vulnerable and endangered species on the planet.

The park’s annual Summer Nights event will this year focus on raising awareness for different animals each week, including bumblebees, Sumatran tigers, penguins, Grévy’s zebras and African elephants.

All five campaigns aim to highlight the plight of each animal in the wild and will be working alongside different charities who strive to educate, conserve and protect these magnificent creatures.

To raise as much awareness as possible, there will be various activities taking place during Summer Nights. Guests can take part in competitions, write a message on the Conservation Wish Tree and enjoy animal-related crafts in the Safari Academy.

Additionally, there will be a chance to win a VIP experience related to each animal every week. These exclusive experiences are a great opportunity to get up close and personal to these fantastic animals and to learn more about their daily routines and personalities.

As well as being able to see each of the five animals featured, Summer Nights guests can look forward to the Adventure Theme Park being open late, extra animal shows, encounters and a visit to the brand new Ice Age exhibit.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Dudley Zoo - Castle Hill

Dudley Zoo

Beach, binturongs and Bubbles – Dudley Zoo is the place to be this summer.

A spokesman said: “Summer’s certainly here and we’ve got sun, sand and some gorgeous new animals waiting to greet our visitors this holiday.

“Our most recent arrivals include two new binturongs, Elliot and Ellie, and a male giant anteater called Bubbles who has set up home with our female Romy. And who knows if love will blossom?

“We also had eight stunning scarlet macaws wing their way to Dudley and move into a spacious £30,000 aviary which was completed in April.

“Our numbers were further boosted this spring when we had a baby boom on our primates section with youngsters including a gelada, a pygmy marmoset, a yellow-breasted capuchin, a lar gibbon, a black lemur, a black and white ruffed lemur and twin ring-tailed lemurs.

“It’s also the first time we’ve had naked mole rats, after a colony moved into a specially-built burrow in the indoor viewing area of the chimpanzee exhibit earlier in the year. And for the whole of the summer we have a bostin’ beach on site with panoramic views over the Black Country.”

The 50ft by 30ft beach called ‘Ow Bin Ya Sands’ is filled with 80 tonnes of sand and there’s piles of buckets and spades on hand.

There are two giant deck chairs, plenty of picnic tables and three comedy seaside peep boards giving visitors great photo opportunities.

Throughout the summer break there are also birds of prey displays and extra talk times and feeds so visitors can pick up lots of interesting facts about the exotic animals.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Penkridge Market - Clovelly

Penkridge Market

Penkridge Market is hoping to have the solution to keeping your children busy over the six-week holidays.

They are encouraging children to have a good ‘spring clean’ in time for their children’s market on September 30. The event, which is entirely dedicated to children, will give parents the opportunity to sell all of those pre-loved toys, clothes and equipment, at an amazing price of just £12 a stall.

There will also be plenty of activities to keep the children amused, including a petting farm, donkey rides, fire engine and fun fair. The event will run from 10am to 3pm, and with free admission for children and only £2 for adults, it’s a fantastic value day out for all the family.

Kate Kingsley, from Penkridge Market, said: “This could be a great opportunity for parents to get rid of all those unwanted toys and clothes that children have grown out of, and make some money at the same time. Older children could also get involved and see it as a way of making some extra pocket money.”

There will also be plenty to keep the children entertained, with a petting farm, magic show, fairground rides and Punch and Judy. There will also be a free craft area, where children can create autumn pictures and have a go at making their own puppets to use in the Market’s very own puppet theatre.

For more information, click here

Alton Towers - Stoke-On-Trent

Alton Towers

The UK’s favourite theme park, Alton Towers Resort offers an amazing combination of rides, attractions, shows and themed accommodation.

The resort is one of Britain’s greatest escapes for thrill-seekers, families and kids of all ages. Home to an awesome choice of world class rollercoasters – Galactica, Nemesis, Oblivion, Th13teen, The Smiler and Rita with Wicker Man joining this line-up of amazing rollercoasters this year.

Set in over 500 acres of beautiful Staffordshire countryside, the Alton Towers Resort offers three fantastically themed hotels, including the UK’s only CBeebies Land Hotel, an Enchanted Village, Wacky Waterpark, luxury spa, Extraordinary Golf, the UK’s only Rollercoaster Restaurant and of course, not forgetting over 50 amazing rides and attractions.

New this year is the Wicker Man. Based on the Beornen, a mythical group who have been secretly living in the woods of Alton for centuries, comes one of the world’s most immersive rollercoaster experiences to date.

Also for families with young children, is the arrival of Bing’s Picnic, a new fun-packed and interactive live show with CBeebies favourites Bing and Flop.

Fans of the hit CBeebies series can join Bing and Flop in Bing’s Picnic”within Big Fun Show Time that sees Bing and Flop on an exciting day out.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

FabLab Fridays - Enginuity, Telford

Enginuity

Discover more about the amazing world of digital coding and robotics at a new series of Friday workshops in the FabLab at Enginuity, the Ironbridge Gorge Museums’ Design and Technology Centre at Coalbrookdale.

FabLab Fridays will be held weekly during the summer school holidays from July 27 until August 31; no previous experience is needed to take part.

Sessions will use a variety of techniques and materials to create fun games and short animations. On some Fridays youngsters will work with LEGO WeDo using a block-based programming language, which is similar to Scratch, to build and programme a variety of machines.

Different workshops will explore and programme a BBC micro:bit to control a ChickBot and make a buzz wire, while others will look at coding a Sphero robot along its journey working out the angles, directions, speed and distances it needs to travel to complete different courses.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Full On Fun - Blists Hill Victorian Town

Blists Hill

Celebrate Ironbridge’s world-changing past during the summer school holidays at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

Join in the museum’s ‘Create Industry’ activities, get hands-on and make bricks, build a mini steam engine and dip candles.

Talk to the townsfolk and find out how the Victorians lived and worked in their shops and homes.

Follow family trails around the town to find out about the men and women who worked in the foundries and factories during the Industrial Revolution. Explore the beautiful woodlands and canal-side walks.

Don’t forget your camera as there are plenty of selfie opportunities around the town, especially if you like putting on Victorian hats or caps.

You can have a go at lots of other fun activities around the town. Learn about Morse Code in the town’s post office; have a go at packing tea in the grocers and typesetting at the printers. Take part in the daily lesson in the Victorian School House, enjoy a ride on the horse-drawn bus and join a sing-along in the New Inn.

Watch the town’s travelling troupe of actors’ perform a scene from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and don’t miss the Victorian fairground, fun for all ages.

You won’t go hungry with treats available from the fried fish dealers, sweet shop and best of all from the town’s bakery where you can buy bread and buns, freshly made on site. All the workshops and demonstrations vary from day-to-day, but whenever you visit there will be plenty of fun activities to enjoy and things to discover about the area’s amazing industrial past.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Plant Hunters' Fair - Multiple locations

Plant Fair

Plant Hunters’ Fairs are returning to the area with two special plant fairs on Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29 with a brilliant line-up of top nurseries and some dazzlingly colourful flowers to keep your garden looking its wonderful best through the summer.

Saturday, July 28 sees the popular Plant Hunters’ Fair return to the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, with a wide choice of quality, nursery-grown plants.

This brilliant plant fair, featuring some of the country’s most highly respected nurseries and growers, has become a firm favourite with garden lovers.

As it is free to enter, the Arboretum at Alrewas makes the ideal location for a day out or just a brief stop to pick up some lovely plants.

The British Ironwork Centre always has something new and different to see.

There will be plenty of tea and cake on offer and hot food as well. There is lots of free parking right next to the fair and dogs on leads are very welcome.

There’s plenty to entertain the children as well, as the Ironwork Centre is full of quirky attractions to thrill and entertain them.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Wolverhampton Arts and Culture - Multiple locations

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Wolverhampton Arts and Culture is made up of four venues – Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Bantock House Museum, Bilston Gallery and Wolverhampton City Archives.

So whatever interest you have in art, culture, museums and galleries, you may well find a day out among them that you and your nearest and dearest will enjoy.

Each venues offers something different for families.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery boasts numerous inspiring and uplifting paintings, with the Sensing Sculpture gallery showcasing tactile sculptures where touch is as important as sight.

It also features lots of different changing exhibitions that highlight everything from artworks by school and college students, incredible shows by world-famous artists like Roy Lichtenstein or Thomas Gainsborough and video and installations by cutting-edge contemporary artists.

The gallery’s programme is supported by a range of family-friendly activities that see participants draw inspiration from our collections and exhibitions to get crafty and creative.

Bantock House and Park could be a great place for a full day out, mixing the beautifully refurbished Bantock family home with 43 acres of parkland and formal gardens.

The house is adorned with period furnishings and locally made enamels, japanned ware, jewellery, toys, dolls and Pre-Raphaelite paintings and there are interactive activities for young children throughout the house.

The courtyard café is open from 9am for the Bantock breakfast and continues to serve throughout the day including lunches and naughty-but-nice cake.

Bilston Gallery features a display that showcases much of what makes the Black Country the place it is – from the incredible range of fossils and minerals, to the inspired creativity of cut steel jewellery and the world-famous Bilston Enamels.

Bilston is also home to Craftplay, the award-winning early years practitioners who offer a range of sessions for the tiniest tots to the most spirited seven year olds .

Wolverhampton City Archives may not typically spring to mind when looking for a family day out, but its regular Silver Screen Saturdays, local history talks and annual Local History Fair offer everyone the chance to learn more about the people and history of the city.

For more information, click here

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.stanley@expressandstar.co.uk

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