Summer Highlights

There are lots of great things to see and do this summer in the Wakefield District!

The summer holidays run from 22 July – 1 September, and our Summer Planner has a suggestion for something to do every single day. Take a look below, or download it here.

But there’s so much more we just couldn’t fit into the planner! In this guide we’ve pulled as many of the great events, exhibitions and activities together as we can. So dive in and have a look – and keep the boredom at bay this school summer holiday!

Experience Wakefield Summer Planner 2024

Summer In Wakefield

Wonder this Summer

A dragon is coming to Wakefield! The main event this summer, from 23-25 August, is The Hatchling. This ground-breaking outdoor theatrical performance will unfold over a weekend of events and culminates in an extraordinary finale of spectacle and flight. Our beautiful visitor hatches in Wakefield city centre, builds herself a nest and then attempts to take to the skies in a bid for her freedom at Pugneys Country Park. Along the way she explores the area, and as she roams, she encounters a series of events: from intimate interactions to city-wide performances.

On 1 August, of course, it’s Yorkshire Day! Head to Friarwood Valley Gardens for a free family gala to celebrate. There’ll be loads for kids, including donkey rides, bouncy castle and slide, swing boats, bubble cart, ferret racing, Punch and Judy shows, and free games.
In the city, Wakefield Cathedral is hosting their own Yorkshire Day celebration with a fabulous fun, family day of free crafts and activities in the Cathedral Nave.

A Grand Day Out, Wakefield’s summer festival on tour, is back with plenty of fun on dates and locations across the district! Expect full days of FREE family fun including a giant sandpit, face painting, funfair rides and seaside activities that will bring that beach cheer. Test your putting skills with crazy golf, build a sand castle in the giant sand pit and seaside craft activities. Join The Hepworth Wakefield learning team for outdoor creative play. Stack, build, experiment, draw and play with activities inspired by artworks in the gallery.

The Hatchling

The Hatchling © Dom Moore

A Grand Day Out

Performances this summer

Wakefield Music Collective introduces Clarence Park Festival 2024 – Yorkshire’s longest running free music festival! The original Yorkshire DIY, grass-roots festival, Clarence Park Festival features an eclectic mix of musical styles and local DJs over the two-day event. Plus a bar, delicious food and drinks, as well as craft, clothing and jewellery stalls!

On 10 August, Friarwood Festival is a family friendly, community music festival featuring a fantastic main stage line up, an awesome acoustic stage, rides, kids’ entertainment, bars, hot food and sweet treats!

Pontefract Racecourse invites visitors to a day full of fun at their Tribute Bands Family Day. Have a little dance and a sing song after some sensational racing. There will also be a funfair, free sweets, activity packs and racecards for kids and a ‘Hunt The Golden Horseshoe’ competition! Tribute acts are welcomed to the stage in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure after the last race.

Evita at Theatre Royal Wakefield is a great show for older kids. Performed by Wakefield Youth Music Theatre, this breathtaking musical smash hit charts the rise to fame and power of María Eva Duarte de Perón, a poor girl from Argentina who follows her dreams of becoming an actress, and who eventually becomes first lady of Argentina. The award-winning musical blockbuster features such memorable songs as Buenos AiresAnother Suitcase in Another HallOh What a Circus and of course the unforgettable Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is being performed at Wakefield Cathedral on 24 July! Let yourself be whisked away on an enchanting journey to the most magical of forests and meet bewitched lovers, playful fairies, and hilarious travelling players.
(Scroll down to the Wakefield Museums and Castles section for even more Shakespeare this summer!)

Pontefract Castle Presents live music  from local bands and artists every Sunday in August.

Clarence Park

Friarwood Festival

Summer Of Play

Head to the National Coal Mining Museum for Summer Holidays: Helping Hands. Discover how communities pulled together during the Miners’ Strike. Enjoy sunshine at the beach and explore the great outdoors in a fun-filled programme of events throughout the summer holidays.

The Hepworth Wakefield is hosting a National Play Day on 7 August. Get creative as a family while you explore the galleries and garden!
Wakefield Cathedral are also hosting their own National Play Day on 7 August, with toys and trails for children of all ages.

National Trust Nostell are hosting FREE play sessions on the lawn with Featherstone Rovers every Monday and Thursday, from 22 July-29 August! Enjoy arts & crafts, cheerleading, rugby, orienteering, rounders, capture the flag and LOADS more! These events are free, and no admission applies, but you do need to book on the National Trust website.
Plus, three will be wild play and den building in Joiner’s Wood in the parkland.

National Play Day

Summer Holidays: Helping Hands

Summer at Museums and Castles

There are loads of activities this summer at Wakefield Museums and Castles!

Pontefract Castle has weeks of fun for kids of all ages! From 23-26 July, it’s Heritage for Youth Week – a chance for young people aged 12-16 to get hands-on with history, including a dungeon escape room, making natural dyes, a cookery day and more!
Then from 30 July to 30 August, it’s Summer of Discovery! Enjoy different challenges and crafts each week – get silly with the jolly jester, prepare to defend the castle at Knight School, be inspired by medieval science to build your own trebuchets and time pieces, and lots more!
There’s also a chance to see some amazing outdoor theatre this summer at Pontefract Castle with not one but two Shakespeare plays – A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on 26 July, while Romeo and Juliet is on 28 July.

Visit Castleford Museum, to celebrate Castleford’s incredible past over the summer holidays with Castleford History Hunters! Step back into pre-history with ancient objects, explore some of Castleford’s biggest industries (including glassworks and mining) and get inspired by the stories and work of local artists including Alice Gostick and Henry Moore.

Find out about Pontefract’s female entrepreneurs at  Pontefract Museum‘s brilliant exhibition, Ladies Who Launch. Every Wednesday in August, you can find out about another aspect of Pontefract’s history – on 7 August, look at Women at Work, on 14 August, Travel Back in Time with old photographs, on 21 August you can go on a Scavenger Hunt around the museum, while on 28 August it’s time to take a look at the town’s Hidden History!

Wakefield Museum‘s new exhibition Seeing Double explores the enduring legacy of local business Double Two Shirts, which changed the face of fashion! Throughout the summer, Explore and Experiment invites kids aged 6-11 to get stuck in and find out more about the clothing industry, looking at materials, patterns, colour, texture and recycling!

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Knight School

Knight School

Outdoor Summer

Visit The Hepworth Wakefield with their weekly Garden Play. Stack, build, experiment, draw and imagine with your family in the open air this Summer.

Anglers Country Park has some great outdoor activities for kids. Minibeast Magic invites intrepid explorers to enjoy a fun morning hunting for mini beasts, followed by a craft activity in the visitor centre, while Discovering Pond Creatures is a great way to find out about what kind of creatures live in the water, before using your new-found information to create crafty critters of your own.

Every Friday throughout the summer holidays, drop into Yorkshire Sculpture Park‘s Hidden Forest for Hidden Forest Friday! Take part in activities linked to nature and the park’s

Spend a day at Farmer Copleys in the fresh air and pick your very own strawberries whilst learning all about them! 

Garden Play

Garden Play at The Hepworth Wakefield

Minibeast magic

Minibeast Magic

Summer Activities

summer s’cool is back! It’s a whole summer of activity for children and young people in the Wakefield district. Join this year’s summer s’cool for an exciting creative programme led by award-winning mentors across the district! Kids aged 8-16 years old can learn a whole range of skills including video game-making, music production, podcasting and more!

The Art House’s Children’s Summer Art Club returns from 6-23 August! The sessions are designed to help budding young creatives develop artistic skills, with opportunities for them to work in professional Maker Spaces alongside The Art House’s teaching artists.

The Hepworth Wakefield are hosting Family Workshops all summer long! Sculpt and Play, Flowers and Feasts, Sculpture Portraits, and Summer Drawing are taking place on dates throughout the holidays, alongside all their regular art activities!

50 Things To Do Before You’re Five is a collection of no-cost or low-cost activities for families in Wakefield with young children, giving them great suggestions for how to have fun and learn at the same time. The app has lots of ideas for you to do with under 5s, including Local Links and Events sections, and it’s completely free to download!
Take a look at our handy guide to see which 50 Things activities you can do at Pontefract Castle!

Aspire Kidz Club is a holiday club running throughout the holidays to keep little ones entertained and active. Led by Aspire’s experienced team, children will get to enjoy a diverse range of sports, activities, and games, ensuring they have a blast while staying active and healthy. The cost is £20 a day, and breakfast and lunch are included.

summer s'cool

50 Things To Do Before You're Five

Summer at Libraries

Airedale Library is hosting a Teddy Bear’s Picnic on 19 August. Enjoy a story session, a trail around the garden and a delicious picnic! To book, call 01977 724040

Also at Airedale library, on 3 August you can enjoy a Yorkshire Fun Day, featuring craft stalls, games, workshops, an ice cream van, Yorkshire themed foods, raffles and more!

Roll up! Roll up! Visit South Elmsall Library on 30 August for their Circus Skills workshop and join Rapide Entertainment to learn some fantastic skills.

There’s a whole world of recycling activities to enjoy this summer holidays! At Normanton Library you can make a Recycled Bird Feeder on 29 July, do Renewi Crafts on 15 August, and make Recycled Bug Hotels 20 August. South Elmsall Library are also hosting Renewi for Creative Crafts on 6 August.

Normanton Library  invites you to a Yorkshire Owl Experience on 12 August, where you can enjoy a morning up close and personal with some beautiful owls.

To book these and more library events, click here.

For little engineers, Stanley Library‘s BUILD club runs every Saturday and lets you create anything you want using engineering toys and games: LEGO, N’NEX, marble runs and more, Horbury Library‘s Fun Saturday invites families to enjoy a morning of free family fun with games and Lego every Saturday, and Hemsworth Library runs a Lego Club on the last Saturday of the month which is a chance to Build Lego  masterpieces, design Lego cars to race, or just let your imagination run wild!

Find out about all these library drop-in events here.

And don’t forget, the summer marks the start of libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge 2024! Sports and Games are the theme for this year’s challenge, so you can expect a fun packed programme of events to inspire young people to explore something new! This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is about getting creative! Music, photography, dancing, story-writing… the possibilities are endless!
From 6th July all summer long in Wakefield district libraries, pick up a free collector pack, then all you have to do is read 6 library books over the summer to unlock rewards!
It’s fun and FREE to take part. Contact your local library
to find out more!

Yorkshire Owl Experience

Lego fun!

Summer Trails

The fully accessible 500m Discovery Trail at RSPB Fairburn Ings makes it a popular place for families looking to take a relaxed walk together and spot nature in a beautiful landscape.

Drop in to Anglers Country Park and take part in a special themed walk, Room on the Broom based on the bestselling children’s picture book.

A bear has scared the gnomes! Follow the Gnome Roam trail at Newmillerdam and use signs and clues to find statues on this simple walking tail.

Head to Pugneys Country Park and find out what adventures naughty pup Windy the dog has been up to in the improved Blown Away story trail!

Take a trip to Pontefract Park and take part in the Peter’s Lost Peregrine trail – help Peter find his peregrine with the help of deer, fish, wild boar and more!

Pop to Earnshaws Fencing Centre Woodland Walk to find magical fairies and discover nature in the local environment. The hidden fairies also have many top tips and interesting facts to find along the way!

Visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and get little hands and minds busy with exhibition-inspired activities including Leila Babirye, Jonathan Baldock and the Sculpture Spy trail!

And for even more trails, download the FREE Love Exploring app and go on a dinosaur safari, search for enchanted tree fairies, or take part in a mini beast hunt at parks all across the Wakefield district.

Room on the Broom at Anglers Country Park, one of the Free and Low Cost Things to do in Wakefield

Room on a Broom Trail, Anglers Country Park

Newmillerdam Country Park

Gnome Roam Trail, Newmillerdam

Active Summer

Wakefield has a brilliant cycling website with loads of resources for helping kids (and grownups!) learn to cycle – and there’s no better time to learn than the long summer holidays!

Have you heard about Junior Gym at Aspire? This programme gives 11 to 15 year olds access to Aspire gym floors, allowing the use of both strength, functional, and cardio equipment. Pay as you go sessions are just £3.50, which makes it easy for kids to try equipment.

Junior Parkrun is a free, fun, and friendly weekly 2k event for juniors (4 to 14 year olds).​ It’s free to take part, but you need to register before you first come along. It happens every Sunday at 9am, at Thornes Park and Pontefract Park.

NTI Images/Chris Lacey

Cycling at Nostell - NTI Images/Chris Lacey

Junior Parkrun

Summer Celebrations

On 11 August, grab your rainbow and flag and join Wakefield Pride for a day of celebration! Enjoy fabulous parade and spectacular entertainment on the big stage.

Then on 25 August, it’s time for SESKU Pride – an annual celebration of diversity and equality that representing the people of South Elmsall, South Kirkby, Upton and the surrounding areas.

Before all that though, on 10 August, you can head to The Art House for Printing For Pride, a family-friendly drop-in screen printing workshop to make your own colourful printed flag or small banner to take to Pride!

On 17 August, head to Portobello Gala for a vibrant celebration of community, bringing together residents of all backgrounds for a day brimming with sports, creativity, activity and entertainment.

Ackworth Pramfest on 25 August is a wacky event that puts a whole new spin on pram racing! Watch in awe as teams race from Carr Bridge to the finish line at the cricket club. There’s also be stalls brimming with goodies, games to test your skills, thrilling rides to get your adrenaline pumping, and live music that’ll have you tapping your toes.

A family in a park.

Portobello Gala

Wakefield Pride's Kids & Family Easter

Wakefield Pride

Summer Adventures

Enjoy the ultimate, fun-fuelled day out at Xscape Yorkshire. Test your abilities at Snozone, try to escape rooms at The Escapologist, experience electric karting at Gravity E-Karting and much more! Volcano Falls’ SummerFest is a package deal that brings together 1 round of golf, a soft drink (or cocktail or cider for grown-ups!), an ice lolly and a flower garland.

Get hands on and up “claws” to dinosaurs and everything prehistoric this summer with Dino Walk at Trinity Walk.

All aboard! Take a loop round the lake and back with Pugneys Light Railway. This 7 1/4 gauge passenger-carrying miniature railway provides fun for the whole family!

Diggerland is The Ultimate Adventure UK Theme Park Experience where children and adults alike can ride, drive and operate REAL diggers, dumpers and other full- size construction machinery! Get to grips with real JCBs and Komatsu excavators, take a head-reeling turn or two on Spindizzy, enjoy the views on the Skyshuttle, take an off-road ride on the Groundshuttle and lots, lots more!

Dino Walk - © John Clifton

Dino Walk © John Clifton