Summer sorted with the National Trust’s Summer of Play

By Jamie Hill - 7 June 2024


Sponsored by Starling Bank the National Trust’s Summer of Play invites families to have fun and experience Trust places in the south west in new and unexpected ways.

Kicking off in July and taking place over the summer holidays and set against the backdrop of the National Trust’s historic houses and beautiful gardens, Summer of Play activities will have a family-festival feel.    


Jam-packed with games and experiences, let imaginations run wild with role play and mini stages. Unlock limitless possibilities to design and build with construction zones, make art and music with nature’s materials, or slip away to a cosy book nook.   


Give new (and old) sports a go with games including croquet, tennis and cricket. Get competitive with tug of war and egg and spoon races. Or, put your skills to the test with den building and hay bale mazes.   


Designed for families, Summer of Play activities will be dotted around large fields, woodlands and garden areas, so there’ll be plenty of space to enjoy the games and activities as well as picnicking spots, shady rest areas and of course, toilets, cafes and pop-ups offering food and drink.   


Carl Greenman, the National Trust's National Programming and Production Manager said “National Trust houses and gardens have inspired people for centuries and it’s in that same spirit that we’re throwing open the doors and inviting families to have fun at Trust places this summer and let their imaginations run wild. 


“Take Hatchlands Park in Surrey where nautical history comes to life with a hay bale pirates lair and a hunt for hidden treasure. In Wiltshire the circus has come to town at the world-famous Stourhead gardens, where activities include plate spinning and tightrope walking. At Chirk Castle in Wrexham join a Medieval knights' training camp, complete with a dressing up tent and obstacle course.” 


Raman Bhatia, Group CEO (designate) at Starling Bank said: “At Starling Bank we like to do things differently, from the way we treat our customers to the way we consider the environment. We believe in fighting climate change, improving access and offering opportunities to those who need it. Through our support of Summer of Play we hope to encourage children to develop a lifelong love for nature, and seek to protect it.” 


191 National Trust places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be hosting Summer of Play activities, sponsored by Starling Bank. 


For more information on activities taking place on each day of the summer holidays visit  


And for an extra special day out visit one of the flagship Summer of Play hubs. There are 16 to choose from, as part of the total 191 places offering Summer of Play activities this summer. In the South West, these include:  


?Killerton, Devon  

·        Summer of Play, 20 July2 September, open daily 10-5pm  

·        Six play areas: active, loose parts play, performance, creative, nature and quiet zone  

·        Frisbee golf, music, crafts, mini-theatre, building, balancing, exploring  

·        Mid-week circus performance skills, sports and nature-based activities  

Fun has no age limit and there's play activities for all. Get ready for an action-packed summer of fun at Killerton. Take part in the mid-week drop-in sessions: circus skills, sports activities, and nature-based activities. With 6 different play areas to choose from.  


For those who want to burn off some steam, there’s frisbee golf and loose parts play to climb and build. Unleash your inner artist and get creative with arts and crafts equipment. What a performance - there’s even a mini theatre with dressing up.  


Head over to the nature zone to identify bugs and look for fairy houses. After all that there’s a quiet zone, time to relax with sensory light bubbles and even an outdoor library. There’s plenty of covered areas so play can continue no matter what the weather 

Accessible toilets in car park, house and garden. Tramper for hire. 

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members 


Lacock, Wiltshire 

·        Summer of Play, 13 July– 1 September? 

·        Activity zones including performance, creative and nature themed activities  

Lacock is home to a quirky country house with monastic roots and original medieval cloister (as seen in Harry Potter films) as well as gardens and parkland.  


This summer, Summer of Play comes to Lacock's Parkland. Families can weave their way through the grassy paths to discover the play teepees in different zones according to theme (Active, Performance, Creative, Nature and Loose Parts) It will be a mixture of self-lead activities with volunteer led crafts on different themes, at least three days a week.  


There is an accessible toilet in the courtyard and a RADAR accessible toilet in the village. There are two mobility scooters, two mountain trikes and one manual wheelchair available to book. 

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members  

No additional event charges 


Stourhead, Wiltshire 

·        Summer of Play, 6 July1 September   

·        Festival of fun in the play meadow, with games, music and workshops 

·        Maze and straw bale fort  

·        Get hands on with Wiltshire’s Scrapstore team in the craft tent, 27, 28 July, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 August and 1 September 10.30am–3.30pm  

·        Summer of Play: Flotsma the Fool's Circus, drop-in circus skills workshops, 10, 11, 24, 25, 26, 31 August and 1 September 10.30am–4pm 

·        Enjoy a mini circus show and circus skills on 3 and 4 August with Bigtopmania, 10am–4pm  

·        Summer of Play: Fab Drumming's Junk Drumming, make music with barrels, pots and pans, jerry cans, PVC tubes, 17, 18 August, 10am–4pm 

Stourhead is a world-famous landscape garden and a real family adventure. The twists and turns of the garden paths offer views of what is to come later in your visit. The summer play meadow is a great spot for families to play and picnic, with opportunities for parents and children to run free and enjoy time together. Divided into distinct and interesting activity zones, this wide outdoor space contains something for everyone.  


Put on a show or strike up a tune on the instruments in the performance area. Settle into a teepee and search for insects in the campsite. For budding artists, the craft tent always has something to do, and our volunteers will lead you through an exciting new craft at weekly sessions. Construct impressive structures from wooden blocks or build a giant marble run.  


The picnic hub will be a shady area with lawn games and tables where you can enjoy a well-earned rest. And if, after all that, you’ve still got some energy, enjoy climbing obstacles or why not explore the maze to find the hidden camp and scale the mighty straw bale fort? On selected days join the Wiltshire Scrapstore team in the craft tent in the play meadow for upcycled crafts.  


Make something together as a family from scrap material and be inspired to create more out of waste at home. On 3 and 4 August learn how to tightrope or slackline, ride a unicycle, plate spinning and lots more in the Big Top play area. There'll also be huge bubbles filling the sky, and a mini circus show at 2pm each day. And if, after all that, you’ve still got some energy, why not explore the sprawling obstacle course? 

Accessible toilets are located next to Visitor Reception in the courtyard, and also in the Spread-Eagle courtyard. 

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members  

No additional event charges 

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