It’s great for the children to enjoy a variety of activities after school and at weekends during the late summer and early autumn. So, make the most of the last of the longer days by getting the kids to play outdoors with their friends, under the safe, communal watch of the neighbourhood, or perhaps sign them up to an interesting out of school class so they can learn something new.
It’s also a great time of year to take a mini-break close by, as many holiday parks and hotels have fantastic offers during the autumn, or enjoy the whole host of attractions on our doorstep.
Here are a few ideas to fill this leisurely time…
Discover hidden artistic talent in Devon’s dazzling landscape, with Devon Open Studios this September 9th-24th. During this annual event hundreds of artists exhibit their work for free, connecting the public to the cultural wealth of Devon and giving an intimate view into the creative process. More information can be found at www.devonartistnetwork.co.uk
Join the late-summer fun at Toby’s Garden and Harvest Festival at Forde Abbey on 16 and 17 September where you can discover Forde’s amazing trees and get lost in the meadow maze and willow labyrinth. Learn how to weave willow structures, make botanical soap, grow edible flowers or brew natural dyes from plants in your garden. Plus, there is apple-pressing and juicing. Visit www.tobygardenfest.co.uk/forde-abbey
Tavistock Rugby Football Club is a family friendly club with fantastic facilities and great people. Its approach is built around the rugby core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, whilst providing an inclusive, enjoyable and safe environment for all players to develop. Rugby is offered to boys and girls aged 5-16 years. Go along for a free trial on Sunday mornings from 10am, starting 3 September. For more information contact Simon Fuller on 07846 725507.
Devon-based theatre company Above Bounds have announced a tour of their hugely popular children’s theatre show - The Ugly Duckling and Other Tales - which tackles issues around body-image in a fun and engaging way through song, puppets and music. The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales is a theatrical re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson fairy-tales recreated for children aged between 3-7 and their families. The tour runs until the start of October. For more information visit https://abovebounds.wordpress.com/
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Waitrose have joined forces to create a new series of beach and river clean events to get more people than ever before cleaning and recording litter from England’s beaches and rivers. Anyone can register to take part in the Waitrose Beach and River Clean-ups as a clean-up organiser or a volunteer for events between 15-18 September or at other events that are planned throughout 2017 and 2018 at www.mcsuk.org/waitrose
Whether you’re pushing a pram, holding tight to a little hand, stomping in puddles or running from tree to tree, join The Gro Company for a fundraising walk and fun day to raise money for The Lullaby Trust, on Saturday 30 September, from 9am to 1pm, at Haldon Forest Park, Exeter. Families can walk the Gruffalo Trail and take part in face painting, craft, and jump on the bouncy castle. All money raised supports The Lullaby Trust, the leading UK charity dedicated to the research and prevention of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Visit www.gro.co.uk/littlelegswalk
The Exeter Children’s Orchestra is an inclusive charity that brings children together in a friendly, supportive environment to make music. There is no audition - if your child can read music they can join the ECO and if they are a beginner, they can join the junior orchestra group. The ECO meets every Saturday at St Leonard’s Primary School, St Leonard’s Road, Exeter, EX2 4NQ. There is a free Open Day on Saturday 16 September, from 10am-12pm, for children aged 7 years plus. Visit www.exeterchildrensorchestra.co.uk
So, the holidays have ended and it’s back to school – but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Whatever the weather, rain or shine, a fun and muddy time is guaranteed at Devon’s brilliant Bear Trail. Don’t forget the trail will be turned over to the ‘living dead’ on Saturday, October 7 when the Zombie Trail takes over. Run, jump and climb over the obstacles to escape the clutches of the dreaded zombies. Visit www.thebeartrail.co.uk/events to book your tickets.
As if the waves and the flume weren’t enough, Waves Leisure Pool at the Riviera Centre in Torquay has a new giant deck chair to help get you into the mood for the fun pool. Even the staff have been making the most of the photo opportunity – grabbing some of the variety of inflatables on sale at reception for props. A fun outing doesn’t have to cost the earth. After your photo shoot on the deck chair why not Dip ‘n’ Dine for just £7 for juniors, £9.90 for adults. If your kids start begging to go back, make sure you check the Riviera Centre Facebook page for competitions to win membership. Visit www.rivieracentre.co.uk
With some of the best sports facilities in the region and experienced coaches, children and adults can benefit from the University of Exeter’s wide range of sporting opportunities. Sessions are available for all ages and abilities in tennis, cricket and swimming, using the 10 indoor tennis courts, dedicated indoor cricket centre and indoor swimming pool at St Luke’s. For more information visit www.sport.exeter.ac.uk
The Donkey Sanctuary’s new restaurant, The Kitchen, provides a special dining experience for the whole family to enjoy great value, wholesome food from 9am to 5pm daily. There’s also the new Understanding Donkeys Zone and Dr Svendsen’s Writing Hut to explore and don’t forget the Maze, looking resplendent in its autumn colours. Admission and parking at the Sanctuary is free (donations welcome). Visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
With over 60 rides and attractions, you’re able to enjoy everything that Crealy has to offer this autumn. Take a spin on The Twister roller coaster, sail the seven seas on the Jolly Roger, or sit tight and ride one of the water rides such as the Tidal Wave or Vortex.
For younger visitors, The Junior Driving School, Honey Swing, and Shark Bay roller coaster offer exciting thrills. Alternatively, the 75,000 sq ft. of indoor soft play and Animal Barn are perfect for when the weather takes a turn.
Plus, visit Captain Crealy and the Crealy Princess on 16 and 17 September for the Princesses and Pirates weekend, where every child in fancy dress will receive a free pirate sword or princess wand. Book online in advance and save up to 20%. Visit www.crealy.co.uk
Autumn is apple season at Killerton and the orchards are bursting with fruit. Your help is needed to harvest the apples, and the orchards are open on the Big Pick Weekends at Killerton in October. Grab a mini-wheelbarrow and get picking. You can join in the National Apple Day celebrations at Killerton at the Cider and Apple Festival on 14 and 15 October, where there will be stories, games, activities and food all with a great theme of apple folklore and legends. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton
Direct from London’s West End comes Jules Verne’s epic round the world adventure featuring a hugely talented cast of 8 taking on over 125 characters. Join the mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout as they voyage from the misty alleys of Victorian London to the exotic subcontinent. The show is suitable for ages 7+ and runs from 10 to 15 October. Tickets are available from 01392 726363 or www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
World of Country Life Exmouth is just the place for parents with toddlers as the under 3’s get in free. The goat nursery is one of the favourite areas for toddlers; where they can take a goat for a walk on a lead, and the Deer Train safari runs throughout the day so the children can hand feed the Deer and the Llama. If you prefer to pop by after the school run, the World of Country Life have a reduced entry rate after 3pm. At just £6.50 this is a popular option with parents. Call 01395 264126 or visit www.worldofcountrylife.co.uk