Some experiences are so special they deserve to be enjoyed by children before they grow up. The good news is, you and the kids don’t need to travel to exotic faraway lands to tick off magical bucket-list experiences. Which of these nine extraordinary magical things to do in the UK will you try first?
9. Swim with basking sharks in Scotland
They may look scary but these gentle giants couldn’t bite if they wanted to – they have no teeth and live on a diet of coldwater plankton! In Scotland, shark enthusiasts have the chance to view these whoppers from the comfort of a boat or jump in at the deep end to get up close and personal. Basking sharks can reach over eight metres in length, making them the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark. The trip to meet them is a day-long scientific study and everyone on board can get involved in recording important information to help with conservation. Seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild will become a treasured family memory.
What: A one-day tour swimming with basking sharks and/or watching from the boat
Where: Isle of Coll, Scotland
Price: £195 per adult (discount for children)
8. Experience real magic in a Wizard’s Room at Legoland Castle Resort
For any budding magician or Lego fan, a stay at the new Legoland Castle Resort is a once-in-a-lifetime treat. The Wizard’s Room promises glowing potions and magical Lego creatures, as well as surprise Lego treats for its young guests. Children can meet and greet their favourite Lego characters around the hotel for photos and look forward to discovering plenty of treats such as their own refillable cups and swim-bags in the suite.
Having exclusive access to Legoland 30 minutes before the other guests arrive means that you can enjoy a jam-packed day of fun, and Castle Resort guests get a second day for free! Cool off in the evening in the hotel’s Splash Zone before snuggling down among the glistening moons and stars in your room.
What: A night’s stay at the Castle Resort and two days’ Legoland passes for 5 people (23-24 August)
Where: Windsor, England
7. Sunrise hot air balloon ride, nationwide
Get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful English countryside with a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. The early start will be worth it, with guests helping the pilot to prepare the balloon before the flight. Sailing up to 3000ft in the air and enjoying panoramic views of the earth below, passengers will certainly want to remember their camera to capture this once-in-a-lifetime moment! The total experience time is three hours, with one hour for preparing the balloon, an hour’s flight time and a final hour for packing up.
What: Three-hour hot air balloon experience (some carriers provide a champagne reception post-flight)
6. Soar through the air on Europe’s longest zipline, Snowdonia
Take a trip to Zipworld in Wales’ stunning Snowdonia mountain range, to fly along some of the most exhilarating zipwires in Europe. The Titan zip course is made up of three adrenaline-filled lines; the Alfa, Bravo and Charlie – and covers more than 8km in the air! The Velocity 2 line boasts the title of fastest in the world and the longest line in Europe, for those looking for an even more action-packed challenge. You can even see the Anglesey and the Isle of Man on clear days.
What: Rides on the Velocity 2 and Titan zipwire courses
Where: Snowdonia, Wales
Price: £75-89 for Velocity 2, £50 for Titan
5. Meet a real-life unicorn, London
When it comes to bucket list experiences for kids, this has to be near the top of the list. Pure white unicorns can be hired for parties or photoshoots to give children a mythical day that they will never forget. Kids can feed and pet the unicorns for three hours, after which time they need to return to their magical kingdom. Dress up little ones in fairy or knight outfits for adorable photo-worthy moments with these special creatures. For adults who are still young at heart, unicorns are also available to be hired for weddings and other special occasions.
What: Outdoor photoshoot with your new furry friend
Price: £650 for a fully styled shoot
4. Become a mermaid for a day, Bournemouth
It’s every little girl’s dream; to wear a glittery tail and glide through the water like Disney’s Ariel. On the southern coast of England, kids (and adults!) can do just that, by joining Mayim Mermaid Academy for full training in all the magical secrets of the sea. Mermaids-in-training will wear a specially made colourful tail and have lessons in posing for the camera, swimming with the tail and some choreography to get that professional mermaid glide.
Mermaid experiences are available with a photoshoot at the beach beforehand, then splashing into a local swimming pool for Mer-school. Mums can let their inner child out to play and don a tail too, for gorgeous memories that will be cherished forever. Parties for whole shoals of mermaids are also available.
What: 1:1 Mermaid pool experience with beach-side photoshoot
Where: Bournemouth, England
3. Live like a Hobbit in The Shire House, Yorkshire
Children and adults a equally fascinated by the otherworldly charm of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. Now you can step into your very own fairytale with a stay at The Shire House in North Yorkshire. Set in serene countryside, the hobbit house is ideal for a digital detox or quiet family break in the heart of nature.
The interior is set with quirky pieces reminiscent of the Hobbits’ funny little ways, and includes wood-carved beds set snuggly in nooks as well as a luxurious freestanding roll-top bath. Kids will love the peacocks, miniature ponies and other farm animals that roam the six acres of land.
What: 7 nights’ self-catering accommodation in The Shire House
Where: Yorkshire, England
Price: From £725
2. Immerse yourselves in nature at Oxford Island, Northern Ireland
This stunning nature reserve is a haven of wildlife and nature, making the ideal day trip for any family looking for tranquillity, peace and quiet. Kids will love peeking through binoculars in the bird watching hides, discovering the many teeming ponds and wildflower meadows and playing in the forest.
The Bushcraft Centre offers memorable classes in survival and woodland skills, from ‘Junior Expedition’ to ‘Survivor’ courses. This is the perfect place to come if you are looking for a true escape from the hustle and bustle of life and need a digital detox retreat that the whole family will love.
What: A day out wildlife-spotting at the Oxford Island nature reserve
Where: County Armagh, Northern Ireland
1. Gold-standard majestic animal encounters, Longleat Safari Park
Animal-loving kids can experience an exciting day in the life of a Longleat Safari Park keeper with the Gold VIP tour. Meet and greet cheetahs and the Kings of the Jungle before giving the tigers their breakfast – just watch your fingers! Cosy up to furry lemur friends, hand-feed the graceful giraffes and discover all the secrets of the Animal Discovery Zone with a behind the scenes tour. All that fun will work up an appetite, so enjoy a delicious lunch before jumping into one of the 4×4 Land Rover safari jeeps for a personal tour with an expert ranger.
What: One day Gold VIP Tour of Longleat Safari Park
Where: Longleat, England