National Trust Summer of Play

Run and play at a National Trust place near you this summer (credit) National Trust Images John Millar

Enjoy fun-filled family days out and exciting adventures this summer with the National Trust’s Summer of Play, sponsored by Starling Bank.

With different activities at each location, there’s something new to discover and enjoy at every National Trust place you visit throughout the school holidays.

Try your hand at archery, athletics, croquet, tennis and cricket. Unlock limitless possibilities to design and build dens. Put your skills to the test navigating mazes or get crafty with friends. Explore the outdoors with bug-hunting and pond dipping, or relax with cloud spotting and wild nature art. Step onto the stage to have a go at performance play and dress-up games, or let your imagination run wild with story telling sessions.

All of the Summer of Play activities have been specifically designed with families in mind to make each visit special. There’ll be plenty of space to enjoy games and activities, as well as picnic spots, shady rest areas and of course, toilets, cafes and pop-up kiosks offering refreshing food and drink.

Here are some of the National Trust places where you can get stuck into activities and exciting adventures for the whole family this summer.


Dunstable Downs

  • Big Dig: Festival of Archaeology | 20-21 July | 10am-4.30pm | £2 per child
  • Summer of Play, Dunstable Downs Sports Village | 22 July-1 September | 10.30am-4.30pm
  • Have a go Soft Archery Sessions | Wednesdays during school holidays | 10.30am-3.30pm
  • Have a go Frisbee Golf sessions | Fridays during school holidays | 10.30am-3.30pm
  • Pepperstock Archers Have a Go Archery Sessions | 27 July, 3 & 31 August | 12-4pm
  • Let’s Get Going Sessions | 5, 12, 19 and 26 August | 11am-1pm
  • Big Camp at Dunstable Downs | 5-6 August | £60 per pitch
  • Kites Connect Festival | 17-18 August | 10am-5pm
  • Teddy Bear’s Picnic | 26 August | TBC

Join us at Dunstable Downs for a jam-packed summer of fun family activities. Celebrate The Festival of Archaeology with the Big Dig and unearth the underground secrets of the Downs. The sports village and fields return to Dunstable Downs for Summer of Play every day between 22 July and 1 September. Take part in free activities, designed specifically for children and with fun in mind, such as football, table tennis, archery and much much more. Activities are self-led, just pick up the equipment from the visitor centre, or join one of our coach-led activities, delivered by local sports groups, all completely free. Bring a picnic and enjoy the views or head to the Café. The hugely popular Big Camp moves from Ashridge Estate to Dunstable Downs in August offering you the unique opportunity to camp out under the stars on the highest point in Bedfordshire. After a 6-year hiatus, Kite Festival is back with Kites Connect, a celebration of cultures and kites. With a fresh perspective and a deepened commitment to serving our community, we celebrate unity and access in our local green spaces.

All activities are free unless otherwise stated. Car parking charges apply, free for National Trust members. Head to our website to find out more:


Shaw’s Corner

  • Mr Shaw’s Feathered Friends Garden Trail | Thursdays to Sundays between 18 July & 1 September | Free – normal admission charges apply, free for National Trust Members. No booking required.
  • Treasure Island | 18 August | 5-6pm | Tickets from £10 (+ £1 booking fee) Booking essential

Head to Shaw’s Corner to discover the birds that George Bernard Shaw would have seen in his garden during his time living there. Follow the children’s trail to discover different activities and facts about the different birds as you explore Bernard Shaw’s beautiful, enclosed garden that he took so much pride in.

Join us at Shaw’s Corner as DOT Productions presents their swashbuckling family show: ‘Treasure Island’. With songs, pirates and laughter, follow Jim Hawkins on his adventures! Starting at The Admiral Benbow Inn, Jim finds a treasure map locked in an old Pirates chest. After an encounter with infamous pirate Long John Silver who wants the map for himself – Jim and his friends join the band of Pirates and embark across the seas to find Treasure Island. Once they find the Island, it’s a race against time as both Jim and Long John Silver eagerly search for the Treasure.

Image credit: National Trust Images John Millar