Summer holiday ideas

The perfect summer holidays involve a mixture of activities and laziness. We’ve collected together a huge range of activities you might want to try; we’ll leave the laziness up to you.

Head for the beach – even if you’re in the city

The real beach is always best and wherever you live in the UK you should be able to reach a beach on a day trip. Many of them have special events over the summer – regattas, carnivals, themed festivals. Check your local newspaper/news website and find out more about travelling round the UK on our pages here.

But if you want to stay closer to home, you can find “pop-up” man-made beaches in cities including London, BirminghamNottingham, and Cardiff.

Get fitter and healthier

Try setting yourself some realistic, fun challenges and targets over the summer holidays. You could perhaps try to:

  • go for a walk or jog every day (best in the early morning or evening on hot days). Free, available everywhere, and works just as well by yourself or with friends and family
  • play some sort of sport or game once a week – even something as simple as football in the park, or bat and ball on the beach will leave you feeling more relaxed and happier
  • learn some new recipes for good food that you’ll actually enjoy eating (there’s no point forcing yourself to eat something you hate – especially in the holidays)

We have lots of advice and information on our health pages, including eating well and getting enough exercise.

Set yourself a Summer reading challenge

Rediscover the joy of reading for your own pleasure, away from the demands of school or college work. You may be too old now for the libraries’ annual Summer Reading Challenge but you can still use your local library – and perhaps even set yourself your own challenge? You could perhaps aim to read:

  • All the books on the Agnes reading list!
  • All the books in Zoella’s 2017 Book Club
  • One new book each week
  • Only books by authors you haven’t read before
  • Only books written by authors from different countries
  • Books set in places you’re visiting over the holidays

Or you could, of course, simply read absolutely anything you want to.

see a film in the open air

Open-air cinema used to be something that only happened abroad, but more and more UK places are taking a chance on the summer weather and showing films outside. Normally these are older films and classics rather than new releases, but there’s something very magical about an outdoor performance. Even better, some are free!

Time Out lists the London options here. Outside London, the best place to look for outdoor screenings near you is probably your local newspaper website; for example The Birmingham Mail has compiled a list of outdoor film showings in the Birmingham area this summer and Kent options are listed here.

See a film inside a cinema

There are lots of good films out this summer. Depending on your taste you might like:

  • Dunkirk (12A)(out 21 July – great cast including Harry Styles!)
  • The Beguiled (15) (out now – Sofia Coppola’s American Civil War drama, set in a girls’ boarding school)
  • Baby Driver (15) (out now – action chase movie with great soundtrack)
  • Wonder Woman (12A) (out now – a female superhero for once!)


experience a Summer concert or festival

Check out your local newspaper or news site for concerts, events and festivals near you – be prepared to give everything a go!

The two big summer festivals are the Edinburgh Fringe – find details here  – and the London proms – details here. Do check them out if you’re in or near Edinburgh or London over the summer. They both offer a huge range of events, and a very special atmosphere – and there are bargains to be had.

Not so many bargains at music festival weekends, but if you have the money you could perhaps try Wilderness in Oxfordshire (3-6 August), Boardmasters in Cornwall (9-13 August), V Festival in Essex (19-20 August). Don’t forget to check the age restrictions and advice on what to bring.

Go on an adventure holiday

The YHA offers adventure holidays in some of the most beautiful parts of Britain, giving you the chance to try new activities in a friendly, supportive environment – check them out here. Some are already booked out, but there are still some places available: £379 for five nights/four days of non-stop action, all accommodation and meals included; some bursaries available.

Enrol on a summer school or course

There are summer schools and courses all around the country on all sorts of subjects. Some are very expensive but these are worth a look:

  • science and engineering workshops at the Royal Institute in London, throughout July and August – many are already sold out, but have a look to see what’s still available here
  • 4-day fashion summer schools for 11-18 year olds at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London £300 per course – or for only £10 you can learn to draw like a fashion designer on 16 August
  • FREE residential cyber courses around the country run by the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ) – again, many are fully booked but you might be able to find something that suits you here
  • FREE portraiture taster sessions and 3 day workshops at the National Portrait Gallery in London for 14-21 year olds – see here
  • FREE swim safe courses around the country for 7-14 year olds – learning how to swim safely outdoors, run by Swim England and the RNLI. You can also volunteer to help at these courses if you’re 18 – or if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult. Find more details here

Teach yourself a new skill

If you can’t afford a course or summer school, try teaching yourself! Don’t forget our own Life Skills pages, including cooking, crafts , first aid and simple DIY. Other possibilities include:

  • a new language (or at least some words in a new language!). Duolingo is free and a good place to start
  • a musical instrument – YouTube is your friend
  • map-reading – ready for your summer expeditions (see below)

Do a big project

It can be fun to get stuck into a big creative project over the summer holidays. You could try:

  • painting a big canvas for your room – blank canvases are quite cheap to buy, for example here 
  • making a giant collage – cutting out pages torn from magazines or catalogues, or perhaps bits and pieces from your holiday adventures (tickets, brochures, photos…)
  • painting your own curtains  – buy simple calico and some fabric paints and let your imagination run riot.  Get inspiration from some curtains recently painted by our friend Sarah Campbell on her instagram.

Have a look at our Make Beautiful Things pages for further inspiration.

Do a long walk/bike trail

Doing a long walk or bike trail can give you a real sense of achievement. Find a like-minded friend to go with you, see what footpaths or bike tracks are near you, and plan your expedition thoroughly beforehand.

Get a holiday job

Lots of places are looking for casual workers over the summer – check out our suggestions for part-time work here.

And finally….

Get the best summer sounds with our handpicked 17 tracks for the summer of ’17!

We hope you all have the best summer ever!