Culture24 recommends some family-friendly cultural festivals for 2011

By Rachel Hayward | 28 December 2010
Photo showing a happy extended family smiling at the camera whilst sitting on the grass together
© Rachel Hayward / Culture24
If you’ve got New Year plans for 2011 to spend more time together as a family and get out and about here are some family-friendly heritage festivals to give you some ideas.

National Science and Engineering Week (March 11-20, 2011)
The British Science Association’s National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) has events all round the country and is a great way to get the kids into science. Find out about what’s going on near you on the Events and Activities’ page. We also recommend clicking on their Things to do from home or school section.

Museums at Night May (13-15, 2011)
This does what it says on the tin - hundreds of museums and other cultural venues open their doors late into the evening for an incredible array of activities and events from sleepovers for families to date nights.

Over the past two years, I've been surrounded by medical students and Goths for a demonstration of 18th century surgery at the atmospheric Old Operating Theatre in London (not one for the squeamish); tested night-time thermal imaging equipment with soldiers at the Tank Museum, and visited the Dorchester six museums in a night with hundreds of families, amongst other Museum at Night delights.

Festival of History (July 16-17, 2011)
The best way to experience two thousand years of British History is to head along to Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire for English Heritage’s Festival of History. Our boys still talk about watching the Roman gladiators’ (fake) blood spurting everywhere.

The site is like a living history encampment that you can wander around and it’s teeming with dedicated re-enactors who then put on the battles and displays for visitors during the weekend. Not to be missed and more than worth the price of the tickets.

Read more in our family guide to the Festival of History.

Festival of British Archaeology (July 16 -31, 2011)
Having been to past Festival of British Archaeology events with my family, I can highly recommend their hands-on activities and many are free. The enthusiasm of the archaeological teams involved is catching and who knows – you might inspire one of your brood to become a future Indiana Jones? We went mudlarking along the banks of the River Thames and to the Silchester Dig just outside Reading.

Heritage Open Days (September 8 - 11, 2011)
Celebrated over four days in September, Heritage Open Days, allow you free access to a treasure trove of England’s amazing architecture and culture. You can step inside and explore a fabulous variety of buildings, from barns to castles, factories to temples that are usually closed to the public or charge for admission.


More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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