Press Release: 24 July 2023
Stroud District Council's sun-sational summer holiday guide
The school summer holidays are here again we have compiled a huge list of exciting low-cost and free-of-charge activities and events.
“This is a great guide to help you and your family plan the summer holidays. There are lots of wonderful ways to enjoy the district and many of the activities listed are low-cost or free-of-charge,” said SDC Leader, Catherine Braun.
Free-of-charge holiday activities are available to book through two programmes the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF) for children eligible for free school meals, and some of these bookable activities are also available to everyone, thanks to the complementary Holiday Activity Programme (HAP) which extend the offer to all children.
“Our local area has some wonderful outdoor spaces to explore, and the list below provides some excellent ideas on how to enjoy these amazing places – from flying a kite on Selsley Common to exploring Dursley Sculpture & Play Trail. The Stroud district offers an abundance of enjoyable things to do for everyone,” said Deputy Council Leader, Natalie Bennett.
Stroudwater, Thames and Severn, and Gloucester & Sharpness canals
Why not enjoy a family stroll along the magnificent waterways? There is plenty of local wildlife to spot – from gliding swans to playful otters. For those families that wish to get even closer to nature, then a boat trip is also available. Two hour boating adventures will run on Wednesdays in July and August at Saul Junction, and under 5’s go free-of-charge. For curious minds who need a slightly shorter boat trip, then there is a 25-minute outing every Saturday throughout July and August at Wallbridge Lock. Under 3’s are free-of-charge. Booking is essential, find out more here: https://cotswoldcanals.org/?s=boat+trips
To find out more about any canal events visit the website here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bats-from-the-boat-tickets-638574793397?aff=ebdsoporgprofile
Museum in the Park
The free-of-charge museum is set in the outstanding Stratford Park in Stroud and offers visitors the chance to explore the district’s fascinating past. With more than 4,000 objects on display – from ancient dinosaur bones, mammoth tusks and stone saws to vibrant butterfly and brilliant birds’ egg collections – there will be something for all ages to enjoy. If anyone is interested in boats and trains, then there is a little room dedicated to the history of the railways and canals that forged the Stroud landscape.
In need of some fresh air? Then the Walled Garden offers the perfect place to step out into nature and immerse yourselves in the museum’s outdoor offerings – an accessible garden incorporating a learning pavilion, heritage Gloucestershire apple and pear trees in a colourful wild meadow, a dipping pond with lovely lily pads and they’ll be plenty of vocal birds and buzzing insects to spot too.
The museum is nestled in Stratford Park’s incredible arboretum; with more than 56 acres of grounds to run around in and let off steam, they’ll also be plenty of space to rest with a picnic and marvel at one of the many monkey puzzle trees on display.
There are a variety of events being held at Museum in the Park including:
- Festival Players presents: ‘Twelfth Night’ in the open air on Friday 21 July. This is an outdoor performance, please bring low-backed chairs/rugs to sit on and suitable clothing for all weathers. Tickets £15 per person.
- The museum is buzzing to welcome the Buzz Club & Pop Up Café in the Walled Garden. This will be your chance to help wildlife – find out all about the world of blooming flowers and buzzy pollinators. There will be homemade soup and delicious cake at Miss Daisy’s Pop Up Café. A free-of-charge event but donations are welcome. All ages welcome.
To find out more visit the Museum’s website: https://museuminthepark.org.uk/
Have a splash-tastic time at Dursley’s Pulse leisure centre.
- Activity Days will be jam-packed with plenty of fun including sports challenges, activities and crafts, plus an inflatable fun session in the pool. The sessions will be held on 26 and 27 July and then every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout August from 9am-3pm. £22.50 per child. Suitable for children aged 5-11 years. Prebooking essential.
- Summer Dance Workshops will offer the opportunity for children to perform a fun-filled dance workshop where parents are invited to come and see the dance performance at the end. The workshops will take place on 28 and 31 July and 8, 18, 25 and 29 August. £8.50 per child. Aimed at 4-9-year-olds. Prebooking essential.
There will also be family swimming lessons, junior swimming lessons and a Little Ducks Swim School. To book an activity or to find out more please visit the Pulse website here: https://www.pulsedursley.co.uk/
Let your family’s spirits soar on Selsley Common and see how long you can fly a kite for. Stretch your gaze across the magnificent landscape towards Wales and see if you can spot our tiny, feathered skylark friends who will be nesting in the tufts of grass throughout July. If you can’t see them then you might be able to hear them – remember to keep to the paths to help this declining bird species.
See if you can find The Toots long barrow – a Scheduled Ancient Monument that dates back to the Bronze Age. The limestone grasslands are even older – some 180 million years ago fossils of coral, shellfish and snails were formed. The special soils on the common provide a rare habitat for some interesting plants and butterflies – see how many different types of butterflies you can spot feasting on the summer wildflowers.
Please keep dogs on a short lead all year round to protect wildlife and grazing livestock. Remember to take all rubbish home with you and BBQs are not permitted on the common, although visitors are welcome to bring a picnic.
Wander around Stratford Park in Stroud – there are plenty of outdoor recreational facilities for families to enjoy. The award-winning park contains an arboretum with mature trees that provide a home to a variety of wildlife. There is a sensory garden trail where visitors can explore their senses – smell the blooming lavender, listen to birdsong, and let your fingertips feel the wonderous textures of a variety of leaves. There’s even a Pollinator Patch designed and created with gardeners Muck and Magic where you can explore South Gloucestershire & Stroud College’s herb bed with steps.
Don’t forget there is also a children’s play area – take a ride on the zip wire, crawl through a tunnel and swing from the monkey bars.
Strafford Park is free-of-charge to visit and there is also a free-of-charge car park.
Gargoyles galore – visit a spectacular, unfinished Gothic mansion which is home to some spooky stone animal carvings; see if you can spot all 44 of them. If you manage to find the ‘petrified’ versions, then it’s time to turn your eyes to the real thing: state-of-the-art bat cams allow visitors of all ages to view Woodchester Manion’s population of nocturnal residents in The Roger Ransome Bat Observatory. There are more than 1,000 bats that call the mansion’s attics home during August. There are two types of bats that live at Woodchester: greater horseshoe bats that are the size of a pear and lesser horseshoe bats that are the size of a plum. See if you can spot the difference between the two.
The mansion is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (plus bank holidays). The house is open from 11am-5pm with last entrance at 4pm. There is a car park which is free-of-charge for National Trust members. Be mindful that sturdy footwear is required as the walk down (and back up) to the mansion is fairly steep. Adult admission £9 per person, children under 16 free-of-charge.
The parkland in Woodchester offers miles of wooded valleys, five lakes to spot all creatures great and small, and a nature inspired play trail. See how high you can ride on the see-saw; hop along to the wooden hopscotch; build your confidence on the balance bridges; swing like a monkey on the rope swings and see who can clamber the fastest up and down the climbing frames. Once you’ve explored the play trail, see if you can find the wooden 19th century boathouse perched on one of the lakes.
The parkland is free-of-charge to visit but there will be a parking charge for non National Trust members. Dogs are welcome in the parkland (not in the mansion unless assistance dogs) and remember to bring sturdy footwear as the walking trails can be steep in places. Swimming is not permitted in the lakes.
Find out more here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/gloucestershire-cotswolds/woodchester-park
Dursley Sculpture & Play Trail
Visit Twinberrow Woods in Dursley and follow an artistic trail created by various local community groups. The trail is always changing as new sculptures and groups get involved. There are 10 new, unique wire fairies that have been installed by Slimbridge artist Jackie Lantellie. They are hiding in the trees and were inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Can you find them all? Look up high, look down and look sideways; the carefully crafted sculptures are everywhere you walk.
For more information and where you can park visit here: https://www.dursleytowncouncil.gov.uk/dursley-sculpture-and-play-trail.html
Wotton Heritage Centre
Visit Wotton-under-Edge’s Historical Society Museum & Heritage Centre to discover the town’s two-thousand-year history – from an Iron Age fort to a thriving wool town – there are incredible artifacts at the centre including Roman pottery and post-war ratioing cards. There is also a small library where you can find out all about the family history of Wotton for a small donation.
The centre is open on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10.30am-3.30pm. Admission is free-of-charge but donations are welcome. To find out more visit the website here: https://www.wottonheritage.com/index
Discover Stroud Trails app
Walk this way to find out all about the district’s most spectacular heritage and landscape. The free-of-charge walking app will allow all the family to explore a circular route in the district – including walks in Stonehouse, Dursley and Berkely. Explore the hidden gems that these wonderful market towns have to offer – find out all about the wool industry in Stonehouse, glimpse an 11th century castle in Berkeley and gaze up at the incredible Tyndale monument.
Type in ‘Discover Stroud Trails’ onto a compatible Apple iOS or Android device.
Go Outside Walks
Get outside with our Go Outside Walks and find house number 56; you’ll find an Irish word on its sign – what does it mean? Search for a small stone Cairn that has been built in a churchyard – add your own stone to make it even bigger. Study a stain glass window – can you find out how many colours it includes? Pick from six, circular trails – from Berkeley to Dursley – and find out all about the district’s interesting history. The maps are based around some of the primary schools in Stroud district.
The free-of-charge walks can be downloaded from SDC’s website here: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/community-health-and-wellbeing/go-outside-walks
Crawl into a den, build a fire, learn how to perfect your artwork, and get ready to play the best match of football you’ve ever played. Play Rangers in Gloucestershire are ready for a summer of fun and play.
Children will be encouraged to build their confidence, interact with one another, and have the opportunity to play to their heart’s content. The outdoor events are aimed at children age 7 -14; under 7’s are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The free-of-charge sessions will run at a variety of locations including Wotton-under-Edge and Nailsworth. To find out more visit the website here: https://playgloucestershire.org.uk/plan-your-summer_2023/
Join in the fun this summer with The Library Challenge. This year’s theme is all about music – any kind of music and all kinds of reads. Immerse your creative spark and get your imaginations flowing with words and sounds. Visit any Gloucestershire library and sign up for this free-of-charge experience where you’ll receive a journal which include 12 tasks inside. There will be rewards along the way with incentives and prizes, with a firm focus on discovering new interests and having fun.
The tasks are aimed at children who are aged 3-12 years old and encourages families to work together and join in. The tasks run from 15 July to 16 September and are free-of-charge.
Find out more here: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/libraries/the-library-challenge/
Farmers market and farm shops
A great place for everyone in the family to learn about how food and local goods are produced. Many of the markets will offer free tasters too. From local wildflower honey to homegrown, sweet strawberries, discover the districts culinary delights. The award-winning weekly farmers market in Stroud takes place every Saturday from 9am-2pm. Other farmers markets include Wotton-under-Edge (first Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm); Dursley (second and fourth Saturdays, 9am-1pm), Berkeley (third Saturday, 9am-12.30pm) and Nailsworth (fourth Saturday, 9am-1pm).
Wotton Electric Picture House
Visit the 100-seater historic cinema in Wotton. Join real life Barbie and Ken in Barbie Land; swim with mythical sea Krakens in Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, and find out all about a fiery young woman and a go-with-the flow guy in Elemental.
Prebooking is recommended. Adults £8.30 per person. Children aged 12-18 £6 each and children under 12 are £5 per ticket. The cinema does not have its own car park, but there is free-of-charge parking available at The Chipping. To find out more information please visit the website here: https://www.wottoncinema.com/films
The National Trust has opened Tinkley Gate, a new area for Woodchester Park visitors to enjoy. There will be trails through meadow glades, outdoor games and toys, and plenty of opportunity to spot amazing wildlife. There are superb views across the valley towards Stroud Commons and if anyone in the family is feeling peckish then there is plenty of food on offer, from wood-fired pizzas, salads and cakes to focaccias and ice cream.
Tinkley Gate will be open from 10am until 5pm every day, with the café open from 10.30am until 4.30pm. There are flat, accessible car parking spaces that are available a short walk from the café. Parking will be free-of-charge for National Trust members, or £3 for non-members.
Make memories at National Trust’s Newark Park and join Summer of Play– try your hand at some croquet or boules on the lawn, see who the finest jester in the land is, spot the many wooden animal carvings in the gardens and find the Buff Bedroom where you can dress up as Tudor Lord and Lady of The Manor.
The Tudor lodge stands proud on top of the Cotswold escarpment providing views which stretch up to 40 miles away. There is a second-hand bookshop where everyone can enjoy an armchair or two and delve into their favourite books. Remember to ask reception for your ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ so you can tick off ‘getting to know a tree’, ‘rolling down a really big hill’ and ‘watching a bird’ at Newark Park.
Join Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with theatre on the lawn – bring a rug and picnic and get comfortable for an evening of thrills and spills. Prebooking is essential. 12 August at 06:30pm-08:30pm. £15 per adult and £9 per child. Please call 03442491895 or visit the Pantaloons’ website to book your tickets.
Free for National Trust members to visit the house and parkland, otherwise there is a charge of £12 per adult and £6 per child. Under 5’s go free-of-charge. To find out more visit the website here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/gloucestershire-cotswolds/newark-park
Outdoor swimming pools in the Stroud district
Stratford Park Lido in Stroud
The 55-yard outdoor swimming pool is naturally spring-fed and has plenty of space for everyone to enjoy - being able to swim in the fresh summer air will revive all the family. Visit https://www.everyoneactive.com/centre/stratford-park-leisure-centre/ to book
During the summer the outdoor pool will hold 30-minute swimming lessons for children on Saturday mornings. To find out more and to book your places please visit: https://book.wottonpool.co.uk/
Berkeley Community Swimming Pool
There is no need to book but places start on the hour and are on a first come, first serve basis. Cash only, £3 per child. Plenty of free-of-charge parking available. Check out the Facebook page for more information here: https://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyPool/
Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud
Get active with Stratford Park’s Leisure Centre – from indoor child swimming lessons and supervised gym sessions to family badminton and family roller skating, there is plenty to take part in.
Prebooking is essential. To find out more please visit the website here: https://www.everyoneactive.com/centre/stratford-park-leisure-centre/#activities
Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Take a walk on the wild side and join the watery world of Quentin Blake’s drawings - an adventure which will launch your imagination from lily pads and ponds to brushing your knees on grass meadows and paddling between wild reeds – see nature in new ways and explore the wetlands with a curious mind. Drawn to Water features a superb illustrative map which will guid you around one of the best wetland sites in the UK. They’ll be plenty of family photo opportunities with 2 large frames dotted around the site to inspire you.
Families can take further inspiration from the wonderful Ronald Dahl illustrator and put their creative hats on with a variety of crafty activities to enjoy.
- Drawn to Water: Quentin Blake exhibition 21July – 16 September
- Let’s Draw Family Show – Living Wetland Theatre for daily interactive shows from 11am between 22 Jul – 3 September
- Drawing with Water art activities – Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2 -4pm between 25 July – 30 August
- Self-led art activities: families can get creative together and head to the Art Hub for some Quentin Blake colouring
- Childrens’ screenprint workshops 29 July and 24 August (£20 per child)
- Family wildlife photography 16 August (£32 per adult and child)
For more information on Slimbridge Wetland Centre visit the website here: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/whats-on?s=&inMonth=all
Become king and queen of a 12th century Berkeley Castle, see if you can help find Henry VIII a new wife, try your hand at some archery and find out who is the winner in a jousting battle. Step back in time to explore Berkeley Castle’s fascinating history.
- Henry VIII is looking for a new wife! 30 July
- Summer holiday activities 31 July-30 Aug
- Archery every Monday (incl in admission)
- Every Tuesday 11:30am-12pm Tudor Dancing
- Every Tuesday 1.30pm-2pm Storytelling
- Every Wednesday Zoolab (incl in admission)
- 9/10 Aug Twelfth Night theatre (extra charge)
- Warrior Day 13 Aug
- Falconry display 20 Aug
- The Joust! 27 Aug
The castle is open from Sunday to Wednesday every week from 2 April to 5 November. Opening times are 11am-5pm. Please note the castle is closed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for private events. Adult tickets are £14.50 per person, children age 3 – 16 are £7.50 and children under 3 year of age are free-of-charge. To find out more visit the website here: https://www.berkeley-castle.com/visit
Cattle Country in Berkeley
An outdoor play area includes a splash pool, a boating lake, a castle, mini golf and even a maize maze. Meet the farm animals and take a ride on a tractor, and if the weather takes a turn for the worse then there is indoor play that includes a death slide for those who are brave enough to tackle it.
Open every day throughout the school summer holidays. Adult tickets £12 per person, toddlers aged 1-3 £13.50 and children aged 4-17 £16.50 per ticket. Tickets purchased at admissions £1.50 more per ticket than the online price for that date & are subject to availability. Find at more here: https://www.cattlecountry.co.uk/
The charity in Stroud offers young people in the district a chance to connect with a variety of services throughout the summer holidays for those who might need some support. There is 1:1 mentoring, free-of-charge youth clubs for 11-17 year olds, a young person’s helpline and telephone support.
To find out more visit the website here: https://www.thedoor.org.uk/
The brewery has plenty of family-friendly activities and events lined up over the summer holidays. Brick by brick build your own fantasy world with Lego Club or sit down to a children’s film club every Thursday to become immersed in another world.
- Lego club 12, 19 July, free-of-charge event
- Cirque Du Dance – Dance and ariel class for children and adults 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27 July
- Music Nest, grownup gigs that welcome kids 16 July
- Ballyhoo dance & theatre school 21, 28 July
- Children’s film club Every Thursday 14:00 in August, free-of-charge event
Prebooking is essential. Find out more here: https://stroudbrewery.co.uk/pages/events
Let your creative sparks ignite with a family-friendly, imaginative play session where all the family can get involved – you never know, the sessions might help the next future scientists and artists develop their passions. Get to grips with different materials, discover new shapes and textures, and create everything from a wearable robot costume to a new creature found on mars.
Pay what you decide booking system, however if you feel that you will be unable to afford a child’s ticket (£3-£5), then please get in touch with Kingshill House to discuss other options. Adults and babes in arms are free-of-charge. To find out more visit the website here: https://www.kingshillhouse.org.uk/
Community Hubs are available to those families who are living in the local area. They provide services such as help and advice in a variety of areas including family support and meeting basic needs. They will also be running some children’s summer holiday activities for local children to attend.
GL11 Community Hub
Get ready, get steady, go to GL11’s Summer Outdoor Play sessions. They’ll be some den building, a sprinkle of art & crafts activities, a bit of risk taking but most importantly there will be plenty of FUN.
GL11 Community Hub is based in Cam & Dursley. The activities are suitable for 6 – 10-year-olds and there will be two sessions running each day from 14 August to 31 August. Each two-hour session will cost £3 per child and includes a healthy snack and drink. Please email to pre-book: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01453548530. To find out more about GL11 please visit the website here: https://www.gl11.org.uk/
Paganhill Community Group
There will be a range of summer activities for all ages at The Octagon Community Hub in Paganhill – if you are a local family in the area and wish to find out more then please visit the website here: https://paganhill.org.uk/calendar/ or email email@example.com or text or call 07828168857 to find out more information.
The Keepers Wotton Area Community Hub is a hive of activity; if you are local to the Wotton area then there are hot lunches (prebooking required, all ages welcome), HAF cooking activities, HAF art and lunch, and plenty more. To find out more visit the website here: https://www.thekeepers.org.uk/
Run away with the circus for an evening of pure joy. The magical star-spangled tent and talent have managed to juggle together another mesmerising show, Les enfants du Paradis, which returns to Minchinhampton Common during August. Join Tweedy the Clown for his annual antics, gaze at the incredible aerial acrobatics on offer and join in the dancing under a smiling crescent moon with twinkling stars. A Parisian love story that will encapsulate the whole family in an enchanting tale. Oh, and don’t forget to give a ginormous applause for the smallest stars of the circus this year – five miniature English ponies named Duke, Frosty, Jonny, Trampus and Trigger. Make magical memories and enjoy this local, family-friendly show.
Prebooking is essential – cost per adult ticket is from £20 and £10 per child. Under 3’s go free-of-charge. For more information: https://giffordscircus.com/
Dr Jenner’s House in Berkeley
Find out all about the discovery that changed the world. Visit Dr Jenner’s House, Museum & Garden to explore the invention of vaccination and learn all about the great man himself. Investigate the Temple of Vaccinia with a thatched roof and walls decorated with tree bark and see where Dr Jenner vaccinated the country’s first patients.
There are a number of events being held throughout the summer holidays at the museum:
- Join 19th Century Sewcialites in period dress to promenade around the house and garden. Bring lunch with you, picnic on the lawn, have likeness made in silhouette from to take awa with you and meet our dear Dr at work in his picturesque thatched summerhouse. Saturday 5 August from 11:00am – 04:00pm. The gardens are dog friendly but please keep pooches on a lead and dispose of any waste responsibly in the bins provided.
- Summer Holiday Kids Workshops on 6-9 August, 13-16 August, 20-23 August and 27-30 August.
£8 per adult, £5 per child (5-16) and under 5’s are free-of-charge. The house and gardens are open from Sunday to Wednesday from 11:00am-04:00pm. Last admission is at 03:00pm. To find out more visit : https://jennermuseum.com/
Parkrun in Stonehouse and Wotton-under-Edge
There are two junior parkruns in the district: Stonehouse junior parkrun and Wotton Community PARC junior parkrun take place every week on a Sunday at 9am. The runs are free-of-charge but please make sure you register first. The 2k run is suitable for age 4 – 14 year olds and is a friendly event where all levels of fitness are encouraged to join in.
Stroud Subscription Rooms, Stroud town centre
Find out all about Britain’s barmy past and join in the fun with the hit West End show Barmy Britain with Horrible Histories. Join William the Conqueror, Elizabeth I, and the gorgeous Georgians, like King William. Discover who was who in Britain’s historic land and find out who was a real drama queen.
The theatre show is a family-friendly event. There will be showings at 12.30pm and 3.30pm and tickets are priced between £15.50 - £17.50. Pre-booking is essential. Find out more about The Sub Rooms events here: https://thesubrooms.co.uk/whats-on/horrible-histories-barmy-britain-781
Holiday Activity Fund
Find out more here https://strouddistricthaf.co.uk/ about Stroud district’s HAF and HAP holiday activities & food. The summer HAF programme will be running from 31 July – 25 August. Pre-booking is essential.
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Stroud District Council is led by a co-operative alliance of the Green, Independent Left, Community Independent and Liberal Democrat Groups.
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