Mother and Baby

A guide to the best toddler days out ideas in 2020

Section: Days out

Banish those January blues, there’s plenty going on to keep little ones entertained in 2020.

Whether it’s a kid-friendly rave, an orchestra made entirely of junk, a digital forest or the two children’s festivals at opposite ends of the country, we look ahead to a few events the whole family can enjoy this year.

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​1) Spacebase, W5, Belfast

Tube slides, a giant rocket, foam hills, horizontal and vertical rolls and web stepping stones – the real experience of space is probably a bit of a let-down compared to a day at Spacebase. This multi-sensory activity zone is designed for 3-11 year olds and, as well as having lots of fun, encourages children to find out about the universe via state-of-the-art wristbands. Perfect for little wannabe space explorers.

All year; £3.50 on top of regular ticket price;
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2) ​Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank, London

Now in its 19th year, the Imagine Children’s Festival is a great way to introduce little ones, aged 0-11, to theatre, musical performances, literature events and comedy shows. This year’s highlights include a dinosaur petting zoo, where you can get up close and personal with everyone’s favourite prehistoric animals, The Very Hungry Caterpillar show and storytelling from the likes of Michael Rosen. Definitely one not to miss.

12th-23rd February; varying admission prices;

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3) ​Arboreal, Eureka, Halifax

Imagine what it’s like dodging glow worms, taking a selfie with a digital firefly, or becoming a DJ and creating your own tunes in a magical cave of crystals. Well, thanks to a new Eureka exhibition by animators David Glicksman and Moses Journey, you don’t have to. Arboreal is a brand new immersive digital environment, full of fun interactive games and digital creatures that come alive and react to everything you do. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen – or done – before.  

Till 9th September; free with regular admission price;

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4) ​Big Fish Little Fish Raves, nationwide

Do you have yourself a little raver? Then get them along to one of Big Fish Little Fish’s kids’ rave events. With nightclub strobe lighting, pumping dance music, giant balloons and a foam machine, these discos are fun for kids and parents alike. And when they get tired of hitting the dancefloor, there’s the opportunity to do face painting, themed craft and playdoh in the chill out area. 

Various dates nationwide; prices from £9.90;

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5) Sculpting With Modrock, The Herbert Gallery, Coventry

Budding Michelangelos should book themselves into The Herbert Gallery’s two-hour masterclass this April. Designed for 8-14 year-olds, the workshop helps children develop their own ideas for sculpting using newspaper, wire, foil and the versatile molding material, Modrock, and talks them through the basics of creating a 3D structure. And, afterwards, they get to take home and display their beautiful creations.

16th April; £8.00 (booking required);
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6) The Junk Orchestra, Leeds Castle, Kent

Fancy making music out of old metal cans and bits of recycled tubing? Then head down to Leeds Castle this Easter as the Junk Orchestra is in town. Founded by STOMP’s Saul Eisenberg, the orchestra has created some unusual-looking instruments out of what are essentially bits of old rubbish. Kids can have a go creating ‘green music’ during daily jamming sessions – and, although we can’t guarantee the music will be beautiful, it will be lots of fun.

10th-13th April; free with regular admission price;
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7) Storytelling at The Roald Dahl Museum, Buckinghamshire

Where better to listen to Matilda, The Witches and James And The Giant Peach than at the place where the world’s No1 storyteller wrote them, Great Missenden. Based at the museum dedicated to the famous author, some of the storytelling events encourage little ones to join in with sounds and noises (get them practicing their witches’ cackles now!), or dress up and become part of the story themselves, while others just let fans relax and take in Roald Dahl’s magical way with words.

Various dates from January-April; free with regular admission price;

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8) The Andy and the Odd Socks tour, nationwide

CBeebies fans will recognize Andy Day from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures (among other things) but the presenter has several strings to his bow. One is being the lead singer in the band Andy and the Odd Socks and fans can see (and hear) him live as the band goes on tour across the country this year. Following on from hits like Groovy Hoover and Ninja Pig, the band is promoting its second album, Who’s In The Odd Socks? So expect more catchy tunes and hilarious lyrics.
During April and May at various locations; from £15.00;
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9) Tyrannosaurs Coming To Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland

Dinosaur fanatics are set for a treat this year as the largest exhibition about everyone’s favourite carnivore, the T-Rex, makes its only European appearance in Edinburgh. As well as numerous specimens, casts, models and fossil bones, the exhibition will use cutting-edge augmented reality experiences so visitors can actually ‘play’ with life-sized dinosaurs in the gallery. And, unlike the real thing, these ones don’t bite.  

23rd January-4th May; free entry;

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​10) Penguin Awareness Weekend, The Deep, Hull

P-p-p-ick up a few penguin facts at The Deep’s Penguin Awareness Weekend this January. At the chilly Kingdom of Ice, kids can see the penguins being fed, before meeting their keepers who’ll answer any burning penguin questions they have. There’s also the chance to find out if they have what it takes to be a penguin keeper themselves at the interactive presentation (tip: you need to be OK handling smelly fish), and to find out how to care for those cute, little penguin chicks.

18th-20th January; free with regular admission price;

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11) The Adventures of Clara The Rhino, The Bowes Museum, Durham

  In 1738, Clara was the most famous rhino in Europe. She travelled the world, inspiring songs, books and sculptures, and, at this new exhibition, kids can see, hear and – be warned – smell how Clara lived. A great way to look at history through a very different perspective, this exhibition includes a Family Fun Day on 4th August which involves storytelling, puppet-making and many more interactive activities to keep the littlies entertained. 

23rd May-1st November; free with regular admission price;

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​12) Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Scotland

The 2020 schedule for this festival is still to be confirmed but expect weird and wonderful dance and theatre performances and an extremely creative day out. Last year saw a man who sculpts ‘clouds’ from bath foam, a play about a super hero who needed saving and a dance performance specially created for autistic children.
There are also several free drop-in activities, including live music, hands-on art, storytelling and walk-about performances. Whatever you decide to see, prepare yourself for a truly unique experience.

20th-31st May; from £9;

Now read:

A round-up of the best toddler days out in the UK

17 fun things to do in London with young children

Your guide to the best spring days out for babies and toddlers


Charlotte is an award-winning journalist who's interviewed six Oscar winners, a Greek princess and a Cbeebies presenter.

She's written for GLAMOUR, Vogue, Stylist and The Independent during her career, and, though she writes about beautiful children's clothes, her own two children refuse to wear them.

She likes sunshine and log burners but not at the same time.  


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