Making Shakespeare relevant to kids is a focus at the properties of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and there heaps more family-friendly activities in town and in area as well. Check out these top choices around Stratford-upon-Avon, the West Midlands and Birmingham.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust entertains kids in and around Stratford’s five Shakespeare properties with craft activities, puzzling trails, dressing up, acting, storytelling, activity sheets and children’s lunch boxes at the cafes. Mary Arden’s Farm showcases life on a Tudor farm, complete with animals.
At the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), ‘The Play’s the Thing’ exhibition uncovers the secrets of 100 years + of theatre-making. Try on costumes through a virtual mirror, play Hamlet using state-of-the-art gaming technology – daily at the Swan Theatre from 10am. (How We Make Theatre is a fun section of the RSC website including making props, wigs and make-up.) Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford is where HE was educated – join a live Tudor lesson, just as Shakespeare did.
Places to head for whatever the weather include the The MAD Museum for interaction with eccentric contraptions and machines, building marble runs on the giant MAD Marbles wall, entering competitions, sketching. Butterflies are the main attraction at Stratford Butterfly Farm also caterpillars, moths and links to the rainforests of Belize through ‘The Maya’ display.
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Warwick Castle’s Devile Warwicke ‘trail’ takes in the 14th century towers and ramparts, standing at more than 40 metres in some areas. Also here is the UK’s first Horrible Histories Maze. The aim is not to reach the centre, but to reorder the muddle that mischievous Rattus Rattus has made of time, and find the way out. Good luck.
Compton Verney is a top-flight exhibition venue that’s fun for children with a woodland adventure area with willow tunnels and all-weather explorer backpack trails. Also a family Discovery Room and activity packs – Exploring Through Drawing for 10+ and adults, Hidden Treasure for 6+, Dan the Dog for 3+.
The re-branded British Motor Museum is family-friendly with activities and tours, touch-screens to bring exhibits to life and an interactive zone to show how a car works.
The Stratford Greenway is a surfaced path suitable for biking and a five mile section of the National Cycle Network linking Oxford to Derby via Birmingham. Bike hire is available from Stratford Bike Hire.
Near Warwick, Hatton Adventure World has adventures activities and attractions for families with kids aged 2-12 including farmyard animals, tractor safaris, sheep racing, super-slides, laser combat and guinea pig village. Eat at Cafe Lavender Blue or the Spinning Jenny and shop at Hatton Shopping Village.
Spot-On Wake is a wakeboard park at Wootton Park, Henley-in-Arden. The three lakes have two electric cable winch systems and a variety of ramps and jumps – from 8 years up, subject to a ‘Gap Line Assessment’.
The Valley Evesham has a light railway, open at weekends and in school holidays.
The Nature Play Trail at Baddesley Clinton is perfect for kids and a great example of how the National Trust helps make history and the countryside fun for families at their properties.
Batsford Arboretum has an outdoor children’s play area featuring a mini adventure playground with wooden climbing frames.
The Heart of England Forest is a new broadleaf forest being created tree by tree. There are two family-friendly walking trails in Warwickshire, one from the Forest of Arden to the Vale of Evesham.
For seasonal events see www.shakespeares-england.co.uk.
The National Sea Life Centre has new Piranha Tunnel and Jelly Invaders attractions; Cadbury World is a sweet magnet for kids (all ages); the Coffin Works in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter has hands-on activities, dressing up, Factory Cat trails. Thinktank is a science museum with a twist – think robots, gurgling guts and a chocolate-wrapping machine.