15 things to do in September for families

Last updated 24th August 2018

15. Take a behind the scenes tour of Buckingham Palace

Most people rarely get to delve behind Buckingham Palace’s majestic, iconic façade. This year, September is your chance to have a peek inside the Queen’s official London residence. Fitted out with luxurious furniture and paintings, produced by some of the world’s most famous names, the palace’s State Rooms are open to the public until the end of the month.

Give your family the royal treatment with a fascinating guided tour, wandering through the lavish gardens, the Palace Tennis Court, and the new Prince & Patron exhibition, featuring artwork personally selected by Prince Charles himself. Climb the gleaming Grand Staircase, before catching a glimpse of history in the Throne Room. Your little princes and princesses won’t want to leave!

When: State Rooms are open now until the 30th September. Tours run every 45 minutes between 9.30am and 2.30pm
Where: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London SW1A 1AA. The closest tube stations are St. James’s Park, Hyde Park Corner and Green Park

14. Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage

Get your culture fix in the idyllic seaside village of Staithes this September. For two days only, this peaceful community will come to life, transforming their homes and streets into temporary galleries for the public to see. Artwork from 157 artists will be on show in some 85 galleries, turning the village into a spectacular display of light and colour.

Get involved with family-friendly events, from storytelling and concerts to artist workshops and sculpture hunts. A pop-up outdoor cinema will be projected onto a village wall and accompanied by a live piano performance, so bring your cosiest blankets. With so much to do, and when tickets are only £1, this festival promises to be a jam-packed, budget-friendly weekend.

When: Galleries open 10am–5.30pm, on the 8th and 9th September. A preview evening is being held on Friday 7th, between 7 and 8.30pm
Where: Staithes, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. To get there by car, enter TS13 5BB into your satnav

13. Robots: Then and Now at the Life Science Centre

Are your kids (or you!) raving for robots? At Newcastle’s Life Science Centre, the 500-year living history of these human-like machines is told in an out-of-this-world exhibition, developed by the Science Museum in London. Featuring over 100 mechanical objects, children can fist-bump friendly Pepper the Robot, while original sci-fi fans can marvel at machines used in cult movies such as Terminator Salvation and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

Introduce the kids to the big questions, with the displays prompting conversations around the psychology and ethics behind robots. Or, for a more light-hearted day out, simply be amazed by the metal masterpieces on display, before moving on to the hands-on creative zones scattered throughout the museum.

When: Open now until the 2nd December 2018
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4EP. For the car park, use the postcode NE1 4AD in your satnav

12. Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival

Put down the iPads, switch off the phones, and head out into the great outdoors with your little ones at this activity-focused festival. Offering a full programme of outdoor events, you can walk, cycle, horse ride or sail your way across the picturesque English countryside.

Take your young animal lovers on one of the adventurous safaris, or spot winged wonders on the RSPB Wildlife Walk. For more daring families, try your hand at axe throwing, before channelling your inner Bear Grylls at the Bush Craft and Wilderness Navigation workshop. Every activity takes place in the sleepy rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds, making this festival an active and stress-free detox.

When: From the 8th – 19th September
Where: Activities take place and start from various locations around the Yorkshire Wolds. A good starting point is the Beverly Tourist Information Centre, The Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley, HU17 8HE

11. Cheer on the cyclists racing the Tour of Britain

Wherever you are in the UK, there’s a Tour of Britain stage speeding around the roads nearby. Starting from Pembrey Country Park in Wales, the race will make its way through the grassy peaks of the Brecon Beacons, the white streets of Royal Leamington Spa, and the vast landscapes of the Lake District, before concluding in London in an electric Regent Street finish.

Take the kids out to see the action, and catch a glimpse of Tour de France champions Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome. Whether you want the bustling atmosphere of the finish line or the steadier mid-race calm, kids will have the best seat in the house on top of the grown-ups’ shoulders.

When: From the 2nd – 9th September
Where: Various locations across England and Wales, with stage locations changing everyday. See the official Tour of Britain website to see the routes for each stage

10. Maize Maze, Millets Farm Centre

Slip on your cowboy boots, slap on your sheriff badge and head down to Millets Farm Centre, where their Wild West-themed maize maze is in full swing. Covering over six impressive acres, two and a half miles of winding path twists through an ocean of corn, waiting for young puzzle-solvers to explore.

Kids of all ages are catered for, with the Mini, Midi and Mega Mazes offering a range of difficulty. If that’s not hard enough, save the fun for sundown, when the maze opens for Torchlight Nights – a chance to experience the leafy labyrinth under the stars.

The fun doesn’t end after you’ve found your way out. Celebrate by jumping for joy on the bouncy castle, doing a lap of honour on the farmer’s tractor, or by panning for gold. Perhaps you can make yourselves a winner’s medal!

When: Now until the 3rd September, and the 8th – 9th September, from 9.30am to 6pm (last entry is at 4pm). Torchlight Nights take place on the 1st and 8th September between 7 and 10pm
Where: Millets Farm Centre, Kingston Road, Frilford, Oxfordshire, OX13 5HB

9. Sensational Butterflies

The Natural History Museum has long been a hotspot for curious kids young and old, and this month is no exception. Making a triumphant return this year, the renowned Sensational Butterflies exhibition showcases the most beautiful of these winged creatures, in their temporary tropical greenhouse.

Wander amongst the fragrant flowers and fruit while these delicate spots of colour flutter around you and your family. If you’re lucky, witness the dramatic transformation as the butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. Kids will gape in awe at the chance to see these insects in such close quarters – they’ve even been known to choose young shoulders as a landing spot!

When: Open now until the 16th September
Where: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD. The closest tube station is South Kensington on the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines

8. Liverpool Food and Drink Festival

For foodie families, Liverpool is hosting a kid-friendly festival brimming with decadent treats and gourmet delights. Featuring bespoke ingredients, independent food companies, and demonstrations from legends like Raymond Blanc, this event is shaping up to be a gastronomic extravaganza.

Fill up at one of the many eateries being showcased on-site, indulge at one of the mouth-watering street food stands, or simply graze on local products at the bustling marketplace. Veggies and vegans won’t go hungry either. Plant-based hot dogs and aromatic Chinese junk food will be being served in the Good Life zone, turning even the most avid of meat-eating heads.

Little ones will have a ball at the specially dedicated Kids Village, hosting outdoor story sessions, craft workshops and vintage fairground rides. Spoil them with sweet treats or a play date with the friendly inflatable pet animals. Have fun, discover new flavours, and inspire the next generation of culinary masters.

When: 15th September, from 10.30am to 7.30pm, and 16th September, from 10am to 5.30pm
Where: Sefton Park, Mossley Hill Dr, Liverpool L17 1AJ

7. Brick History: Walk through history in LEGO® Bricks

Take a different approach to teaching history this September. At Chatham Dockyard, some of the world’s most memorable moments are being reconstructed in the form of miniature Lego displays. Modelled by a team of expert artists, the exhibition features iconic influencers, from Mozart to Martin Luther King. Travel back in time to the extinction of the dinosaurs, or relive the famous moon landings, before rallying for a cause at the Suffragette display.

If the exhibition leaves your youngsters itching to create their own pint-sized masterpieces, the interactive zone provides both classic and soft Lego bricks, so kids of all ages can get involved. Combine a love of toys with educational scenes, and your little ones are bound to leave inspired.

When: Now until the 16th September, from 10am to 6pm. Last entry into the galleries is 5.15pm
Where: The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Main Gate Rd, Chatham ME4 4UY. For satnavs, use the postcode ME4 4TY

6. Nature Tots

The littlest adventurers will have something to keep them occupied in Sussex whilst the older ones are busy at school. Entertaining pre-schoolers with hands-on outdoor activities, the Nature Tots programme connects kids to nature using woodland crafts and muddy play. Watch them build their own stick fort, or help them use a bow saw and brace drill to create their very own name disk, all while embracing the great outdoors. Let their imagination run wild with songs, stories and games. It’s a safe environment where you little ones can discover their inner explorer with confidence.

When: Sessions in September include the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th and 12th. Sessions are booked in blocks, with some packages also including October dates
Where: Various parks around Sussex, depending on the session. See the Sussex Wildlife Trust website for more information

Credit: National Trust

5. Heritage Open Days

England’s largest festival of history, Heritage Open Days animate September each year with their unique opportunities to enjoy a free cultural day out. With over 5,000 events taking place across the country, you’re bound to find a historic gem practically on your doorstep to explore with the kids.

This year, with the 100th anniversary of the Universal Suffrage Act, there’ll be a special focus on the theme of ‘Extraordinary Women’, celebrating both well-known icons and unsung heroes.

Whether you want to discover ancient water mills, intriguing museums or medieval churches, there’ll be a place waiting to welcome you through its open doors.

When: 6th – 9th, and 13th – 16th September
Where: Nationwide, in selected National Heritage locations

4. World Fireworks Championship, Blackpool

Start and end September with a bang at the World Fireworks Championship, illuminating the skies above the seaside resort of Blackpool. Watch the kids’ eyes light up as the world’s best pyrotechnic teams compete to create the most spectacular, gasp-inducing display.

Groups from France, Romania and Canada will produce a fiery backdrop to the legendary Blackpool tower. Take in the action from a spot of your choosing, be it by the Pleasure Beach or within the buzzing Tower Headland. Once it’s all over, don’t miss the celebration display designed by our very own UK team, providing an explosive end to a colourful month of fire-based art.

When: Shows take place on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th September, with the build-ups beginning at 7.30pm
Where: Watch from the Tower Festival Headland, Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1NE, or anywhere in the surrounding area

3. Belmont Woodfest & Country Fair

Belmont Woodfest & Country Fair, now in its fourth year, is a celebration of all things environmental. Introduce your family to something new, with woodland demonstrations – from pole lathe turning and willow weaving to chainsaw carving and bush craft – that will take you back to our roots.

Gaze at impressive animal attractions in the main arena, where you’ll see dogs, falcons, ducks, and even ferrets. Craft making activities will keep the youngsters busy, or braver hearts can scale the climbing wall as the grown-ups cheer them on from below. With children under 16 going free, this event is an ideal opportunity for a carefree family day out.

When: 8th – 9th September, from 10am to 5pm
Where: Belmont, Belmont Park, Throwley, nr. Faversham, Kent, ME13 0HH

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

2. V&A Drop-In Design Sessions

Dedicate your Sundays in September to getting artistic with the kids. The V&A, with its rich history of hosting some of the world’s most talented creators, is holding free family-oriented design sessions this month.

Fire up your inner activist and march through the museum, with freshly crafted revolutionary placards in hand. Or, for a more relaxed vibe, get tactile with fabrics and tapestries at the textile workshop. At the Winding Structures event, you can construct your own sculpture, whilst at Sensing Ceramics, families can experience Model Magic and other sensory materials. Don’t miss the chance to unleash your imagination, in an iconic venue that is sure to provide endless inspiration.

When: Every Sunday in September
Where: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL. The closest tube station is South Kensington, on the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines

1. Luna Kids Cinema

If you haven’t heard about the Luna Cinema already, now’s your last chance to experience the outdoor movie magic. The final instalment, taking place in Tatton Park, is screening hit films for kids both young and old. Disney fans will love singing along to Moana and Frozen, while older kids can travel the universe with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the latest instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Bring your favourite picnic blanket and sip on one of the Luna Kids Bar’s tasty beverages, taking in the sights and sounds of the open-air cinema. With the historic gardens of Tatton Park in the background, this event will be a magical, memorable experience for all.

When: Screenings at this location run from the 31st August to the 4th September. See the Luna Kids Cinema website for individual show times
Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6QN