YEARNED for by children, dreaded by parents . . . the school holidays are here.
But panic not. The search for exciting things to entertain your youngsters over the coming weeks need not be a frantic one.
Put away your credit card and refrain from emptying your bank account as a host of purse-friendly activities for all the family is waiting for you and yours across the Lothians.
Here is a snapshot guide to getting the most out of your children’s summer on a budget.
Chances are your wellies and your waterproofs are never far from your family’s front door. But instead of heaving them on with a sigh, put them to great use this summer in the Water of Leith. Every Thursday kids can take to the river, splash about, and learn what lurks beneath. Sessions cost £4 and run from 2pm to 3.30pm at the conservation centre on Lanark Road. Booking is essential (www.waterofleith.org.uk).
If getting stuck in is your kids’ thing, then why not pay a visit to the Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens this summer. Green-fingered volunteers are always needed at the Morningside attraction, so your kids can entertain themselves by learning how to garden while also being useful. Drop-in sessions run from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Just call 0131 537 6232 or visit www.royaledinburghcommunitygardens.org.uk for more details.
With the Edinburgh Canal Festival just around the corner (Saturday, July 6), why not come together as a family and enter the raft race? Good honest fun comes in no better form and there is still time to put your creativity to the test as you build your raft. Visit www.edinburghcanalfestival.org.uk for entry details.
Inspired by Wimbledon? Get your kids down to St Margaret’s Park, Corstorphine, on Sundays for free tennis coaching. The two-hour sessions, run by Edinburgh Leisure, are for players of all ages and abilities and will take place from tomorrow from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Visit www.tennisinthepark.net for booking details.
Make the most of Edinburgh’s canal network by treating your kids to a five-day course hosted by the Forth Canoe Club, at Polwarth. A limited number of places are still available for sessions for eight to 12-year-olds, teaching them a range of skills from slalom to sprint boating. A real treat it is at £60, but well worth it as a one-off. Visit www.forthcc.com for more information.
Dig out your neon and treat your kids to some fun from the past, ’80s- style. Family Spin Roller Disco sessions will take place at the Corn Exchange on Saturday July 6, from 1pm to 3pm and 4pm to 8pm. Under-16s go free. Visit www.edinburghcornexchange.com for details.
When it comes to a busy schedule, our libraries are impressively packed with free events this summer for children of all ages. A few choice highlights include a Teenage Games Night for computer enthusiasts at Newington Library on Tuesday, July 9 (6.30pm to 7.30pm); Plant pot decorating at Craigmillar Library on Wednesday, July 10 (3pm to 4pm); and a Roald Dahl funday at Oxgangs Library on Tuesday, July 16 (2.30pm to 3.30pm) for six to 12-year-olds. As you can see, it is not all about ploughing through books, but there is of course the annual summer reading challenge to get stuck in to as well. For a full list of everything that is going on, visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk.
If your children are into song and dance, head down to North Berwick on Tuesday, August 6 to be truly entertained by the one-man-band that is Mr Boom. Direct ‘from the moon’, youngsters will hear all about this Scottish entertainer’s adventures. The show kicks off at 2pm at the Belhaven Spiegeltent, on North Berwick’s harbour, as part of the Fringe by the Sea festival. Tickets £6 (www.fringebythe sea.com).
In the latter weeks of the school holidays the Edinburgh Art Festival rolls into town (Thursday August 1 to Sunday September 1). Here is your child’s chance to learn more about what is on display, while also having great fun. Pick up a festival ‘Explorers’ passport from participating galleries and complete activities along the way, collecting stamps at each gallery to be in the running for a special prize. The passport, map and entry to exhibitions related to the activities are free. Visit www.edinburghartfestival.com for details.
Something a Bit Different
Fuse fun and education with a free family day out on the beach at North Berwick on Wednesday, August 7. Organisers of the Fringe by the Sea festival are celebrating the area, past and present, with ‘fun and nonsense’ on the east and west bays, including storytelling, sand castle building competitions, surfing sessions and live music. There is also the chance to learn more about the Victorians who turned the town into a tourist destination. Beach hats and one-piece bathing suits are encouraged! Visit www.fringebythesea.com for details.
And of course...
For more low-cost events, do not forget to check out what is taking place at the many museums and tourist attractions across the Lothians. Make this summer one to remember.