NOW that we are well into the school summer holidays, parents and care givers may be fraying at the edges and wondering how best to keep their charges occupied over the next few weeks.

Well worry not, because the school holidays can be a time of action and discovery, with a host of activities planned for families in and around East Hampshire.

Summer fun has already begun at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne with an amazing programme of nature activities for families between now and September.

Spend time in the grounds of Gilbert White’s House completing the Alphabet Trail, grabbing an explorer backpack from reception to take nature exploration to the next level.

Children can also take part in the museum’s scavenger hunt or join the education team’s Tuesday life lab experience, learning to use microscopes, measuring equipment and fact files to find out about the animals.

Other activities include pond dipping, habitat building, butterfly hunts, animal tracking, bat box building, den building, wild art, bush craft, and even camping.


Boasting one of the finest history collections in Hampshire, Alton’s Curtis Museum will provide an opportunity to explore 100 million years of the region’s past, while the Allen Gallery will play host to an ‘Out of Egypt’ exhibition - a family-friendly display of genuine Ancient Egyptian artefacts, many brought back to Hampshire by local people. Visitors will discover how Ancient Egyptians treated their dead and what objects were placed in tombs for the afterlife, among them scarabs and mummified animals, mummy masks and wrappings, shabti figures, and jewellery.

On Saturday, August 18, the Allen Gallery garden will be open for an archaeology day, with experts there to look at your finds and an opportunity to take part in a dig.


Reputed to have the largest collection of working steam in the UK, as well as its resident fairground and steam railways, Hollycombe Steam at Liphook

runs a series of special events, among them the annual model weekend on September 1-2 with miniatures of railway layouts, fairground models and traction engines.


If it’s steam you yearn, the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line will host on Bank Holiday Monday (August 27) a family fun day with guided, behind-the-scenes tours, children’s activities in the viewing gallery at Ropley station, and a chance to build your own 3D train!


Hands-on activity is the trademark too of Butser Ancient Farm - a unique, experimental archaeology site located close to Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, featuring reconstructions of ancient buildings from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman Britain, and the Anglo-Saxon period.

Growing crops from pre-history and rearing rare breed animals, the farm specialises in offering experiences for young visitors, with a full programme of special events which this holiday provides an opportunity to learn more about wonderful water, powerful plants, beer, and bread and bees as part of the Summer of Science and Sorcery project, as well as attend a Warrior Camp.


East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) Rural Areas Play Project is already in full swing and providing a vital service, often in rural areas where there is no sustainable play or childcare facilities during the school holidays. Activities range from den building and crazy golf at the Hogmoor Inclosure, Bordon, to tennis at Kingsley and meadow and river exploration at Selborne.

In addition, EHDC’s Get Activ8d multi sports for seven to 14 year olds aims to provide sports that children may not have participated in before, such as street dancing at Alton College, squash at Petersfield’s Taro Leisure Centre, and trampolining at Mill Chase Leisure Centre in Bordon.


Meanwhile.... Alice Holt

Forest is hosting a Wild Learning Holiday Club Adventure Camp for children aged five-plus (, while Everyone Active is offering swimming, climbing, junior gym and sports courses at Alton Sports Centre (

Alton Town Council has a programme of free children’s Fun Fridays in the Public Gardens, continuing tomorrow (August 17) with Pirates, Princesses and Fairies, continuing on August 24 with Magic Wanda, and ending on August 31 with Zumba for Kids (

For people wanting to travel further afield, to London or the seaside, it can be expensive so South Western Railway has launched its summer promotion ‘LIVE BIG’, which allows up to four promotional £1 child tickets to be bought with its off-peak, super off-peak or promotional day return adult tickets. Tickets can be booked until September 2 at the website