Keeping the kids cool: Ten adventures for families to get excited about this summer

By Rachel Hayward and Ben Miller | 04 August 2010
A photo of two cartoon superhero cats

August is the school holiday month, but there's no need to dread it when museums and galleries across the country are bursting with activity. Here are ten of the best...

Heroes and Monsters at Manchester Art Gallery: The Mancunians know they're on to a good thing with this quest around the gallery and back in time via ancient Greek superbeings. Heroes are a timeless winner for sparking young minds, not least when there’s dancing, costume-making, drawing, music and poetry writing involved for the rest of the summer. Visit the exhibition online for full listings.

Japanese fun at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery: Artist Michele Walker has created the first major exhibition of Japanese Sashiko textiles down in Plymouth, snaring more than 75 garments from the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum among others.

Launched last week with a Japanese-themed day of storytelling and music, it continues with drop-in holiday workshops including fan-making, origami animals and flowers, Samurai sword bookshops, Japanese dolls and fish. There are even Zen gardens to calm any overexcitement. Read the full schedule online for all their plans.

Paper Craft and Awesome Egyptians at the Wycombe Museum: An impressively eclectic programme in Wycombe, where badges, bracelets, science investigations and ancient Egyptians tussle with chances to meet the heroic squad of recently-relegated Wycombe Wanderers and bug hunts. Visit their activities and events page for the full rundown.

Inside the Toy Cupboard at Bantock House Museum in Wolverhampton: The highlight of this programme is surely an eerie twilight walk around the park with a bat detector, but it's got strong competition in the form of storytelling and puppet sessions and a Games Galore day inspired by Victorian seaside holidays. Read everything that’s on here.

Myths and Legends at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester: Starring two characters from the BBC's Horrible Histories, the historic Grosvenor offers an officer and soldier from the English Civil War to cheerfully describe their gory injuries, complete with weapons, clothing and food. Bird box making, puppet shows, art workshops and a Storyteller-in-Residence are just some of the other highlights, perusable here.

Ice-cream making at Callendar House, Falkirk: Take a break from that bland Mr Whippy to concoct your own delicacy in flavours from lavender to brown bread. There are also sessions on edible herbs and plants and becoming a nature detective. See the programme online.

Ice Age Britain, mummies and menageries at Ipswich Museum: Natural History curator Ann Ainsworth presents some of the different animals who lived in Britain during the Ice Age alongside revelations on how glaciers have affected the geology of Ipswich, a High Priest explains the mummy embalming process and the Pharaoh’s journey into the afterlife and a humbly-titled Amazing Menagerie turns up for good measure. Take your pick online.

Journey to the East at Durham's Oriental Museum: No token Memories of a Geisha-style prints at Durham University's diversity Mecca, where Mendhi hand decorations, Islamic prayer mats, Japanese carrying pouches, Chinese silk robe design and Egyptian canopic jars come as standard in a riot of multi-cultural fun. Choose your corner of the globe here.

History's in the Making at the Red House Museum and Gardens, Christchurch: Get primitive with a Prehistoric tool-making workshop in Dorset, or listen to yarns about the King of Ireland's son (courtesy of the New Forest Tellers) and the high seas. Family clay workshops are also a speciality – head to their website to find out when.

The Generation Game at Techniquest, Cardiff: A "science theatre" drama which uses pop bottles, balloons and dominoes to generate enough electricity to run its look into the sun, this explosive performance is accompanied by planetarium shows on the Hubble Space Telescope and mythical beasts and monsters from Greek mythology. See Techniquest online for more.

Are your young 'uns liable to grimace with boredom at our suggestions? Where have your most attention-winning days out been this summer? We want to hear from you. Send us your favourite family fundays and we'll feature them on Culture24 as part of our Punter's Picks series this summer…

Email richard@culture24.org.uk – include a picture if you have one and a few words telling us why you picked your choice. Mark your email "Punter's Pick".

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