Today marks the first official day of school holidays in Cardiff. And if you’re wondering what to do, then read on for ideas of family-friendly events in and around Cardiff.
This guide will see you through the rest of July – with more guides planned for each week of August.
I hope you find something to inspire you and your little ones! And do please spread the word to other parents you know looking to entertain their children over the holidays.
You might also like 67 free family-friendly days out in South Wales.
Do follow the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page for more ideas of local family-friendly activities, or visit the Cardiff section of Cardiff Mummy Says, follow Cardiff Mummy Says on Instagram or follow @cardiffmummy on Twitter.
This guide has been produced in association with Pugh’s Garden Village in Radyr, Cardiff.
A family-run business, Pugh’s has been encouraging all generations to garden for more than 60 years.
In fact, they’ve just introduced a new Little Green Fingers garden shop, set up in the shrub area of their garden centre. Here you’ll find child-friendly plants, children’s gardening tools, books, children’s seeds, outdoor games and more.
Little Green Fingers is also the name of the popular children’s gardening workshops Pugh’s run during school holidays. This summer, they have a packed programme of events.
The Fairy Tale Week workshops on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th July, are already sold out – but the following week is Butterfly Week, which coincides with the annual Big Butterfly Count, a nationwide environmental survey. The Butterfly Ball arts and crafts workshop, plus butterfly hunt, will be held at 10am, 1pm and 3pm on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd August. Tickets are £5 per participating child, with no cost for accompanying adults. Book online here.
Really Wild Week will be turning areas of the garden centre and the Woodland Lodge into a rainforest/jungle. Dragon Reptile Experience workshops will be running on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th August, at 10am, 1pm and 3pm, with Dragon Reptiles bringing an array of reptiles to the lodge for the children to meet. Tickets are £6, with adults free. Book online here.
The following week is Flower Power Week, with Blooming Bugs – Children’s Flower Arranging Workshops on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th August at 10am, 1pm and 3pm. Tickets £5; adults free. Children will make a Blooming Bug from a variety of flowers, and the take part in a Flower Power Bug Hunt, matching bugs to flowers. Book online here.
As if that isn’t enough, Pugh’s also has an on-site pet shop, reptile house and aquarium, where you can meet the animals. And there’s a warm welcome for families in the restaurant, with a family friendly menu, including a family picnic meal deal for £15, which includes two children’s picnic boxes, a baguette or panini, two muffins and two filter coffees. Perfect for a bite to eat after the workshops. Book online here.
PERFORMANCE AND CULTURE
St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Saturday 16th-Saturday 23rd July, 10.30am
The perfect introduction to classical music for pre-schoolers, Bert’s Magical Musical Kitchen is an accessible interactive concert for the under 5s, as part of the Welsh Proms series. Bert and Cherry make a cake for their friend’s birthday, with plenty of fun, games and silly songs, all accompanied by live music from classical instruments. Running time approximately one hour.
Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
Tuesday 19th-Saturday 30th July
Based on Lewis Carroll’s classic poem of Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), this new musical comedy theatre production for families features puppetry, lashings of silliness and an original soundtrack, as the Banker, the Boy, the Butcher, Mr Bellman, the Bandersnatch, the Boojum and the knitting Beaver set off on an epic quest to catch the elusive snark.
Caerphilly Workmans’ Hall and Insititute
Thursday 21st-Saturday 23rd July (7pm Thursday and Friday, 2pm Saturday)
Caerphilly Players present a stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s well-loved children’s book, following Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the three nastiest farmers you could ever meet, as they try to shoot, starve or dig Mr Fox and his family out of his hole. However, Mr Fox has a cunning plan of his own…
Chapter Arts Centre, Canton, Cardiff
Friday 22nd July, 10am-2pm
Drop-in story time session for the under 5s with Cardiff Libraries staff in Chapter’s foyer.
New Theatre, Cardiff,
Friday 22nd-Sunday 24th July (Friday 2pm & 4pm; Saturday 11am and 2pm, Sunday 11am, 2pm, 4.30pm)
The stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s popular picture book sees the Gruffalo’s child ignoring her father’s warning and tip toeing out into the snow, wondering if the Big Bad Mouse really exists.
Age guidance 3+. Running time 55 minutes.
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Saturday 23rd-Saturday 30th July
Everyman Theatre present an adaptation of the classis Disney story of the boy who never grew up. Music, adventure and a beloved hero, the young cast will take us audiences to Neverland. Running time 60 minutes.
FREE A Big Celebration for a Friendly Giant
The Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Bay
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July, 12pm-4pm
Celebrate the release of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG with a weekend of free family activities, including face painting, making your own BFG-inspired ears, and a chance to meet a giant at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. The film will also be showing at the ODEON in standard, 3D and IMAX 3D format.
FREE Road Dahl Weekend
Chapter Arts Centre, Canton Cardiff
Saturday 23rd-Monday 25th July, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Drop in workshops and fun activities, celebtating the work of Roald Dahl in his centenary year. Desifn and construct your own dream-catcher, create new words to add to the word wall, make an animation, and more. Age guidance 7+.
Roald Dahl Photobooth
Saturday 23rd-Sunday 24th July, 2pm-6pm
Dress up and take a picture to remember with the photobooth.
Crafty Doodle Do Facepainting
Sunday 24th July, 2pm-6pm
Be turned into a Big Friendly Giant, a Flehslumpeater or any other Dahl character with face painting fun.
Memo Arts Centre, Barry
Wednesday 27th July, 7pm
Welsh National Opera’s Youth Opera present an opera for young people, about young people, in a promenade performance which will see audience members moving around the floor of the Memo’s main hall. Kommilitonen! intertwines three stories of student revolution in the 20th century, with all three coming together at the end of the opera, locating the action between the present and the past and evoking the tyranny of the three political systems the opera explores.
Age guidance 12+. Running time 1hr 50 including 20 minute interval.
FREE Family Saturdays
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Drop in to enjoy some family-friendly arts and crafts in Wales Millennium Centre’s foyer, with a different theme every week.
Museums and historical
National Museum Cardiff
Until September 2017
A fascinating look into the weird and wonderful world of worms, this has plenty of interactive exhibits, perfect for children. Read our review here. Please note the museum is not open on Mondays. Sunday 24th July, 1.05pm, sees a free family talk by earthworm expert Emma Sherlock of the Natural History Museum London.
National Museum Cardiff
Saturday 16th July-Sunday 20th November 2016
The famous illustrator of children’s books gives an insight into his creative process, with sketches, drafts and finished pictures of some of his most famous characters. Read our review here.
Free family storytelling workshops take place on Tuesday 26th-Thursday 28th July and Tuesday 2nd-Thursday 4th August at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Must be prebooked at the information desk. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Tuesday 19th July-Sunday 31st July
Visitors are dared to stand inside the dragon’s giant claw as they are ‘captured’ by the mythical monster at Caerphilly Castle. On 31st July, the dragon will continue its journey across Wales. Usual admission fees apply.
The Cardiff Story Museum, Cardiff
Wednesdays 20th,27th, July; 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st August, 10am-1pm
Weekly drop-in crafts sessions featuring creative activities suitable for all ages. £1 per child.
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July
Georgian gents settle old scores in a tense, nail-biting duel. Their weapons will be on display, there will be falconry display, while a storyteller will provide themed games, nursery rhymes, and captivating stories.
Normal admission applies or FREE with a valid Castle Key.
Raglan Castle – Saturday 23rd July, 2pm and 6pm
Caerphilly Castle – Sunday 24th July, 1pm and 5pm
A breathtaking circus performance against the backdrop of the castle, this 40 minute show will open in South Wales before touring the UK and Europe. Adults £10, children £6, family (2+up to 3) £30.
Festival of Archaeology
Castell Coch, Tongwynlais, Cardiff
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July
Have a go at being an archaeologist with a mystery excavation activity. Usual entry fees apply.
FREE Soldiering On
National Roman Legion Museum
Saturday 23rd July-Friday 26th August 2016,12pm-4pm Monday-Saturday, 2-4pm Sunday.
Visit the soldier in the barrack room and he can tell you all about life in the Roman army.
FREE Miners’ Fortnight
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Monday 25th July-Friday 5th August, 12pm-4pm
Activities for the whole family, including trails, soft play, dressing up and games, in a tribute to the family holidays to Porthcawl and Barry Island, which were highlights of the summer for coalfield communities. Crafts cost £2 per child.
St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff
Mondays-Saturdays during school summer holidays, 12pm-3pm
Each week will see the Iron Age roundhouses, Victorian schoolhouse or 1930s farm come to life. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Mon 25-Sat 30 July – Bryn Eryr, life in an Iron Age farmstead
Mon 1-Sat 6 August – Maestir School, Victorian Schooldays
Mon 8-Sat 13 August – Bryn Eryr, life in an Iron Age farmstead
Mon 15-Sat 20 August – Llwyn yr Eos, 1930s’ daily life
Mon 22-Sat 28 August – Bryn Eryr, life in an Iron Age farmstead
Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. The museum is free but car parking charges apply.
National Roman Legion Museum
Tuesday 26th and Thursday 28th July, plus various dates in August, 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm
Two activities per week – from a choice of making pottery, jewellery or pizza, or trying archery or gladiator fighting – the activity will be decided on the day, depending on the weather. Cost £3 per person. Entry to the museum is free.
Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July, 11am-4pm
Living history, demonstrations and activities exploring the role of the Vikings in Wales. Usual entrance fees apply.
The Great Outdoors
Bute Park, Cardiff
Friday 15th July-Thursday 4th August, 8am-7pm
A chance to experience Bute Park like never before through a 360 degree virtual reality experience in a world of woodland creatures. Suitable for all the family, audiences will wear virtual reality headsets and a motion pack to be transported on a multi-sensory journey, all through the eyes of an owl, a dragonfly and a frog native to Bute Park.
Cosmeston Lakes, Penarth
Outdoor sessions for 7-11s. £5 per session. Must be pre-booked by calling 029 2070 1678.
Tuesday July 26th – Den Building and Fire (with treats)
Tuesday 2nd August – All About Bugs
Tuesday 9th August – Den Building and Fire (with treats)
Tuesday 16th August – All About Bugs
Tuesday 23rd August – Den Building and Fire (with treats)
Tuesday 30th August – All About Bugs
Parc Play, Curran Embankment, Cardiff
Thursday 21st July, 10.30am-3pm
Celebrate the start of the summer holidays with a pirate-themed day at Parc. Activities include a fancy dress competition, balloon making, a visit from a well-known pirate, plus fun with Karaoke Junior.
The Isle of Fire – Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July, from 9pm
Street Music weekender – Saturday 30th-Sunday 31st July, from 12pm
Street Theatre Weekender – Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August, from 12pm
Circus Weekender – Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August, from 12pm-4pm
Cinema by the Sea – Saturday 27th (Star Wars The Force Awakens) and Sunday 28th August (Dirty Dancing), from 8.30pm
St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff
Saturday 23rd July, 11am-4pm
Earthworm expert Emma Sherlock from the Natural History Museum will be attempting to attract a record number of worms to the surface in association with the Wriggle exhibition at National Museum Cardiff. The World Record attempt will happen between 2pm and 3pm. Meet at the Summer House by the Castle Lakes.
Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan
Monday 25th July; 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th August, 12pm-3.30pm
A weekly family-friendly craft activity. The activity is free but usual admission prices apply.
Tredegar House, Newport
From Thursday 21st July
Daily themed activities for families, with a different theme each day of the week. Choose from Fabulous Film Mondays, 50 Things Tuedays, Wacky Wednesdays, 50 Tnhings Thursday, Wonderful Beasts Friday, Mystery Meander Saturday and Ice Cream Making Sundays. The activities are free but usual admission prices apply.
FREE Cardiff Bay Beach
Friday 22nd July-Sunday 4th September
10am-8pm, Sundays to Thursdays; 10am-10pm Fridays and Saturdays
The urban beach is back with a sandy bay area, water pool and live entertainment all for free. Traditional attraction and rides, plus face painting and food and drink will incur an extra cost.
Heath Model Railway, Heath Park, Cardiff
Sunday 24th July, 1pm-5pm
Cardiff Model Engineering Society open their doors, meaning the whole family can go for rides on miniature steam, diesel and electric trains, plus a tram. Entry is £1.50 per person and each ride is £1.50 per person. Under 3s are free.
Porthkerry Country Park, Barry
Tuesday 26th July – Mammal Mayhem
Tuesday 2nd August – Crafty Crazy
Tuesday 9th August – Wild Woods
Tuesday 16th August – Beach Bonanza
Tuesday 23rd August – Survival Skills
Tuesday 30th August – Minibeast Madness
Join the rangers to discover what bugs are in the ponds and meadows of Porthkerry. £5 per child, must be prebooked. Suitable for 7-11 year olds.
Beach Bushcraft, Thursday 28th July, 10am-3pm, £15 per child.
Beach-based bushcraft skills and activities for children aged 8 and over.
Beach Art, Friday 29th July, 10am-1pm, £10 per child
Beach-based art and craft activities suitable for ages 5 – 7 years.
£10 per child / accompanying adult free.
Cwmcan Forest, Cwmcarn, Crosskeys
Saturday 30th July, worskshops available between 10.30am-3.15pm
Children can use natural materials and craft items to create a colourful wind chime ornament for their garden. Ages 4+. £3 per child. Booking advisable.
Margam Country Park, Port Talbot
Saturday 30th-Sunday 31st July
A weekend of archery, combat and sword demonstrations. The Knights and Squires in the Lions and Lilies have been trained by a renowned sword Master. Also see the website for details of daily family activities with a different activity each day.
Family-friendly cinema screenings
I’m focussing on the cheaper early-morning film screenings here and special events, rather than the latest big films.
Odeon Cinema, The Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Bay
The 10am weekend and school holiday showings are £2.50 per person. Films to be announced; films are usually a few months old rather than new releases.
Cineworld, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff
The 10am weekend and school holiday Movies for Juniors showings are just £1.75 per person. Check online for schedule; films are usually a few months old rather than new releases.
Vue Cinema, Millennium Plaza, Cardiff
The 10am weekend and school holiday Movies for Juniors showings are just £1.99 per person. Check online for schedule; films are usually a few months old rather than new releases.
Family friendly film screenings of classic films, every weekend and during school holidays. See website for full listings.