Parents, do not panic. You have come home to a scene of devastation and assumed you’ve been burgled. In fact the mess is easily explained: the school summer holiday has started.
The good news is that we live in York, where there’s always stuff for families to do. And there are a handful of new holiday happenings to try out.
Here are our six picks of brand new city adventures which will keep your young ‘uns out of the house for an hour or three…
1. Get lost
We remember when the York Maze wasn’t much more than some fun footwork around a field. But like the crop itself the maze has grown, and it’s now a proper family day out.
In past years farmer Tom Pearcy has created corny Harry Potters and Spitfires, but this year’s design is world-ending stuff. An ancient Maya god has been carved out of one million maize plants, to mark the fact that the world will end in 2012 – at least judging by the fact that the Mayan calendar runs out this year.
As well as the maze – the largest in Europe – kids will love the water wars, the “cobstacle course” new this year, mini golf, quad bikes and more.
- Where: Off Elvington Lane, York
- When: 10am until 6.30pm seven days a week (last admission 4.30pm)
- How much: Adult £9.95, child £8.95, family of four £36
- Full details at the York Maze website
2. Time travel with the Terrys
Tucked away off Tadcaster Road in York is Goddards, home to Noel Terry who ran the nearby Terrys chocolate factory. Noel and his family lived here between 1927 and 1980.
For the last 30 years the house has been the National Trust’s Yorkshire HQ, although the gardens have been open to visitors since 2006. Now for the first time the public can tour seven rooms of Goddards.
The rooms have been given a 1930s makeover, echoing a time of prosperity for Terrys – the famous chocolate orange was introduced at the start of the decade and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the factory in 1937.
A tearoom has also opened, serving cakes from recipes once used in the Terry’s own tearoom and chocolate shop formerly in St Helen’s Square in York.
- Where: 27 Tadcaster Road, York YO24 1GG
- When: Wednesdays to Saturdays 11am-5pm (last admission 4.30pm)
- How much: Adult £4.50, child £2.25, family £11.25
- Full details at the National Trust website
- How York chocolate boss used to live – pictures
3. Tomb raiding
Nothing like a good dose of death to liven up the summer holidays. Let’s face it, kids brought up on Horrible Histories enjoy nothing more than tales of gore and corpses, so the Jorvik Viking Centre is probably on the right tracks with its exhibition Valhalla – Search of the Living Dead.
Exploring the archaeological evidence for Viking burials across Britain, the exhibition reveals remains found in excavations (including the bodies of a York man and woman) and how the Vikings commemorated and celebrated their dead using pagan boat burials.
There’s also a a special hands-on children’s area. Don’t worry, they won’t be touching any dead bodies: it’s here where Norse myths and sagas are recreated in play and puppetry.
- Where: Coppergate, York
- When: 10am-5pm seven days a week
- How much: Adult £9.25, child (5-15) £6.25, concessions £7.25, family of four £26
- Full details at the Jorvik website
4. Hit the rail trail
Apart from the fact that it has been voted Europe’s top museum, the National Railway Museum has two other major plusses for put-upon parents: it’s free, and it’s a great day out even when the heaven’s open.
There are plenty of NRM extras for the summer hols. Kids can make a ‘hook a train’ game in the new craft activity. Find out what it was like going on holiday 100 years ago. You can even dress up in costume and have your photo taken next to a real Edwardian carriage.
‘From Rocket to Bullet’ is one of two daily science storytelling sessions, the other explores bubbles. And who doesn’t love bubbles? More adventures are promised on the summer family trail, and you can sing along with seaside puppet shows.
- Where: Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ
- When: 10am to 6pm seven days a week
- How much: Free – but don’t park here if you can avoid it as it costs £9
- Full details at the NRM website
5. King for a day
Become king – or queen – of York Castle? That sounds like a treat for any young royalists out there.
Clifford’s Tower, that medieval monument on a hill is lightening up the Dark Ages with dressing up games.
Children can swap their T-shirts for robes and become medieval nobles in splendid costumes and hats. To top it all: a medieval crown.
Discover the etiquette of the era and then step forward to sit on the throne. Great opportunities for summer snapshots, although be careful: your little prince or princess may seem extra bossy for the rest of the day.
- Where: Tower Street, York YO1 9SA
- When: 10am to 6pm seven days a week
- How much: Adult £4, child (5-15) £2.40, concessions £3.60, family (2 adults, 3 children) £10.40
- Full details at the English Heritage website
6. Fair enough
Over at Jorvik’s sister attraction Dig! the summer holiday exhibition takes us back 150years.
DIG is run by York Archaeological Trust and the Hungate excavation uncovered the secrets of Victorian York. All The Fun of the Fair is part of the wider Looking Back at Hungate exhibition which launched in spring. It gives families the chance to have a go at some traditional Victorian fairground games. The fairground attraction runs till August 2, but Looking Back at Hungate is on until March 2013.
You can even win a prize if you defeat the coconut shy challenge. Who needs an XBox?
- Where: St Saviour’s Church, St Saviourgate, York YO1 8NN
- When: 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm) seven days a week
- How much: Adult £5.50, child (5-15) £5, concessions £5, family of four £18.50, family of five £19.60
- Full details at the DIG website