Young at Heart – keeping the kids happy

Winter can be a difficult time for those in charge of children, with miserable weather and shorter days making trips out much harder. Whether your group is a kids’ club, childminder’s party or school group, here are some visiting options to wipe away the winter blues

‘Fun-loving’ is an adjective that along with ‘eccentric’ is inevitably applied to Lord Bath, the 7th Marquess of Bath and Longleat’s owner. It is not surprising that this colourful (in both appearance and personality) gentleman with his child-like enthusiasm is the ultimate overseer of one of the UK’s best days out for children and young people, Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. Longleat was the first ever safari park outside Africa when it opened in 1966 and is still the UK’s number one safari. The drive-through section includes Cheetah Kingdom, Wolf Wood and Tiger Territory – and of course the infamous monkeys, ready to strip anything loose off any vehicle which lingers too long in their land. Children will be gripped with excitement as they spot animals previously only seen on television with just the glass window of a vehicle separating them.

One of the best things about Longleat is that the safari is just the (admittedly thrilling) opener to a day filled with adventure. After watching the animals, young people get opportunities throughout the park to interact with them as well. Feeding giraffes, lorikeet and deer and holding snakes, tarantulas and guinea pigs are just some of the possibilities, as well as ranger shows which include the birds of prey ‘Hunters of the Sky’ displays. The Gorilla Colony, Adventure Castle, Hedge Maze and Bat Cave are just a few of the other things to expect from a day at Longleat.

Longleat welcomes groups of all sizes, stating ‘the more the merrier’ and pointing out that they have looked after groups of 4,500+! The size of the park and quantity of things to do means that Longleat never feels crowded. There are generous discounts on all ticket purchases for parties of 12+ paying people, a free organiser ticket per group booking, free coach driver ticket and meal voucher per group booking and free coach parking. Each vehicle gets a free Safari Park commentary CD on arrival. Longleat has a downloadable group visit brochure available on the website. - (01985) 844328 -


Ripley'sFor groups of young people or children looking for a day out in the capital, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! offers an unforgettable experience. Located in the heart of London’s West End at number one, Piccadilly Circus, Ripley’s is home to over 700 awe-inspiring exhibits from across the globe, such as the infamous collection of authentic Ecuadorian shrunken heads. Ripley’s suggests that typical boys will be amazed by the life-sized knitted Ferrari made from over 12 miles of wool, while girly girls can check out the collection of toilet paper wedding dresses! An interactive laser race offers some hands-on excitement to keep even the most active children entertained.

During Easter 2013 (Monday 1st – Friday 5th April), visitors will be able to master the art of balloon modelling, learn how to juggle or how to perform magic tricks, with a series of free workshops taught by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! line-up of expert performers and street artists.

Ripley’s London offers guided tours which can be arranged on request for a small additional cost. For those who would rather enjoy the attraction at their own pace, audio guides are available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Group rates are available and members of a group can benefit from a 15% discount in the gift shop. - 0207 4946818 -


On Saturday 16th February, Diggerland parks (Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire) are reopening their doors for another fantastic season of diggers, dumpers and dirt. Described as the ‘Ultimate Adventure Park Experience’, Diggerland is a combination of rides and chances for adults and children to drive real construction machinery. For all the daredevils, there is the ‘Spindizzy’ ride, which elevates and spins passengers around in the bucket of a JCB at rapid speeds for the ultimate adrenaline rush. For those who want to get some real JCB experience, Diggerland tests excavating skills on giant dirt diggers and monster JCB 3CX. For the less daring – and no doubt plenty of the accompanying adults! - the ‘Skyshuttle’ ride is a more relaxing experience, lifting passengers 50ft in the air and showing them picturesque views of the park and surrounding area.

Diggerland prides itself on having a variety of rides for all ages, including children as young as five, who can ride and drive full-size diggers. There are 18 different rides and drives, so every young person from the most adventurous to the most timid will find plenty to do.

They have something extra to offer school groups however. They have made the step of identifying specific modules of the National Curriculum that are supported and explored by a visit to Diggerland. Emphasising ‘learning through fun’, it is primarily certain Science and Design & Technology modules that are supported by a Diggerland visit: Key Stage 1 ‘Forces’, Key Stage 2 ‘Types of force’, Key Stages 3 and 4 ‘Design of machines’ and ‘Control systems’ are just some of them.

For all pre-booked groups, a discounted rate is available. Prices have been held at 2012 rates, so for 10-49 people the tickets are £12.99 per person, and for groups of 50 plus each ticket is just £10.49. In addition, for every ten places booked, one free ticket is given as well. There is plenty of free parking for coaches at Diggerland parks and coach drivers accompanying a party may enter free too. - 0871 2277007


DFDSFor anyone wanting to take their school or youth group a little further afield, the option of popping over to Europe for a short break or even a single day has never been easier. DFDS Seaways has an abundance of experience in arranging short break ferry trips to Europe for groups of young people or children and their leaders. With two routes available from the UK – ferries from Harwich to Denmark (Esbjerg) and from Newcastle to The Netherlands (Amsterdam) – it is also possible to take the group’s own coach or bus (or bicycles!) as well if necessary.

DFDS aims to make the whole experience as fun and comfortable as possible for both the group members and their leaders, and with this in mind they have devised the ferry timetables to suit most requirements, ensuring a comfortable overnight crossing. The ferry from Harwich to Denmark travels up to four times a week depending on the season, and ferries to and from The Netherlands leave daily in both directions.

Groups can start to enjoy their trip as soon as they step onboard. The Kidz Club will keep little ones occupied with a range of games including a ball pool. For those a bit older, many of the ferries have cinemas and of course shops selling everything from souvenirs to sweets and gifts. Young people have not been forgotten when it comes to dining either; in addition to a range of children’s meals, DFDS offers a special meal package for groups with a ratio of 1:10 adults to young people. Costing just £18.50 per person each way, the deal includes breakfast and dinner buffets and soft drinks and is available for students up to 21 years old.

DFDS has a dedicated group bookings team who can make all the arrangements, advise about discounts and sort out seating arrangements and other practicalities. - 0871 5229933

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