From Aqua Park to Latitude, your ultimate 50 days out in Suffolk this summer
PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:44 13 June 2019
Looking for a great day out this summer? Here is the ultimate list of activities to try and places to go in 2019.
Of course, there are also hundreds of other great choices - enough to keep you busy for many summers to come!
Aqua Park Suffolk, Alton Water
This eagerly-awaited attraction near Ipswich will be open seven days a week from Saturday, June 23. There will be 70 inflatable obstacles for visitors to tackle, together with family and friends. The floating park includes climbing walls, trampolines, slides and balance bars. This year there will be a mini-golf course and rowing boat hire, and new play areas and a campsite have recently opened. Last year the park was struck by an unexpected outbreak of blue-green algae, leaving it shut to the public.
Read more - 6 ways to cool off in Suffolk this summer
Elmer's Big Parade, Ipswich
If your family enjoyed Pigs Go Wild in 2016, get ready for an even bigger and more exciting family art trail in Ipswich this year! Families will be able to spend a great free day out finding all the 55 large colourful Elmer figures. They will be installed around Ipswich town centre and the Waterfront on June 15. You will also be able to see 84 young Elmers, which all belong to "Elmer's Learning Herd". The Wild in Art event is being held in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice and will run through to September 7.
Read more - Bonus Elmer sculpture unveiled
Suffolk Punch Trust
Iconic Suffolk Punch horses are the county's symbol. José López Lerena, who regularly visits Suffolk from Spain, said his perfect day would involve "heading to Hollesley, near Woodbridge, to meet the lovely and stunning gentle giants at the Suffolk Punch Trust."
As well as the horses themselves, the trust's site also includes a heritage museum and garden.
Theatre in the Forest, Jimmy's Farm, near Ipswich
The Red Rose Chain's Theatre in the Forest is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, with a Mods and Rockers production of Romeo and Juliet. The production will run from July 31 to August 25, including Saturday matinees.
This quirky village is a real one-off, built as a fantasy holiday resort by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie after he bought the land in 1910. Its boating lake, the Meare, is the centrepiece to the village, on a Peter Pan theme, with islands and a wide range of boats to hire, including rowing boats, canoes and kayaks. Regular visitor David Flisher, from Ipswich, said, "I always love boating at Thorpeness, followed by a scone at the café."
The most famous building in the village is The House in the Clouds, a disguised water tower which is now used as holiday accommodation. It also has many other striking mock-Tudor buildings.
Suffolk Dog Day, Helmingham Hall Gardens
Dogs will have their day on Sunday, July 28, with an event including fun dog classes, activities for dogs, stalls, children's activities, entertainments and demonstrations, plus the chance to see around Helmingham Hall Gardens.
The event is organised by Suffolk Community Foundation in aid of their work, so it is a great cause as well as a great day out. Visit them on Facebook or Twitter to find out more.
One of the best-known summer concert series in Suffolk is returning for 2019, with a great line-up of acts, including Nile Rodgers and Chic, Madness, Kaiser Chiefs, Rudimental, Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra, Bananarama, Years & Years and the Michael Jackson tribute spectacular Thriller Live. The concerts will be staged on Fridays following race evenings, and there will also be two Summer Saturday Live events.
Read more - Everything you need to know ahead of Newmarket Nights 2019.
Photographer Sarah Lucy Brown and writer Naomi Gornall, who post on Instagram as @twogirlsgowildinsuffolk, suggested four ways to enjoy our county's great outdoors - see their page for many more ideas.
Wild swimming in Thorpeness and along the coast
Naomi writes: "Wild swimming is a perfect way to blow away the cobwebs. We loved a morning dip at Thorpeness, floating on the waves, while staring up a the huge Suffolk sky. We also love finding wild swimming spots in lakes and rivers around the county. It feels like a real sense of adventure to find a hidden place and dive straight in for a refreshing swim."
If you do go wild swimming, it's important to check on safety first - see the information on this Visit Suffolk page.
Canoeing in the River Stour, River Waveney, Alde/Ore Estuary
Naomi writes: "Canoeing along the River Stour is so peaceful, with just the sounds of nature to keep you company. You get a different perspective of the river from a canoe and really feel part of the natural environment.
Yoga on the beach in Felixstowe
Naomi writes: "Doing yoga outdoors feels so right. Having the breeze in your hair and staring at the ocean while you perform yogic poses gives you a sense of harmony and spiritualism." Yoga teacher Lindsay Franklin, of The Yoga Attic in Hadleigh, organises yoga on the beach sessions - see her Facebook page for details.
Paddleboarding on the Stour
Naomi writes: "Paddleboarding gives you an entirely different waterscape. The gentle motion of the board through the water allows you to connect with nature, as you glide past swans and witness geese fly just above your head. You need good balance but the combination of this being an enjoyable full-body workout in the great outdoors means it is an ideal sport to take on."
If you're heading to Southwold for a day out, the pier is a must. Admission is free, and there are attractions including Tim Hunkin's eccentric Under the Pier Show, with various bizarre interactive machines. There are also little brass plaques to admire, with wonderful memories from visitors who love the town.
Historic Landguard Fort will be open daily until the end of October. A special event coming up over the summer is Darell's Day on July 6 and 7, when there will be live re-enactments of the Dutch invasion defeated in 1667, the Napoleonic Wards and the Second World War, There will also be a summer holiday quiz trail from July 25 onwards. Normal admission charges apply for both of these.
John Bradfield Viewing Centre
Close to the fort, the viewpoint offers an ideal chance to see the giant container ships that come in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, as well as stunning views of the estuary, the Shotley peninsula and Harwich and Dovercourt. While you're there, visit the Landguard Visitor Centre, which has fun hands-on exhibits, and View Point Cafe. You can also take the foot and bicycle ferry from the viewing area to Harwich and Shotley, but it is advisable to buy tickets online first.
East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville
You can climb aboard tramcars, trolleycars and much more in this open-air museum, which has one of the largest ranges of preserved vehicles to be seen anywhere. Natalie Sadler, Archant Suffolk's head of news (digital), said: "It's got rare and unique examples of historic transpart. It's little-known, so it's not usually crowded.
"It's small enough that you can spend a couple of hours and feel you have ticked everything off, but you could spend a whole day there." There is a cafe on site, and if you Gift Aid, your ticket will entitle you to free return visits over the next year.
Needham Lake, near Stowmarket
This popular countryside site is completely free to visit, including the car parks. There are lots of ducks and other wildlife to see, and picnic areas. Suzanne Day said: "It's a really nice place to go for a walk, and there is play equipment and a den building area. There's also ice cream in summer." Car boot sales are also regularly held here.
This Anglo-Saxon royal burial site took joint top place in a poll to find people's favourite National Trust site, along with Ickworth. After being closed for a major £4million refurbishment, it is gradually reopening this summer. The Royal Burial Ground, estate walks, cafe and shop are all open now. You can take various routes up the mounds, and explore the woodlands at the top of the trail. The new-look exhibition hall will be reopening later this summer, with a new visitor experience, as well as a refurbished Tranmer House, the home of landowner Mrs Edith Pretty.
Read more- National Trust locations to visit with the family
Latitude, Henham Park
Suffolk has an amazing array of festivals - more than 100, according to the East Anglian Festival Network. Many of them are held over the summer, including possibly the best-known of them all, Latitude. This year's festival will be at Henham Park near Southwold, from July 18-21. This year's line-up includes George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Lana Del Rey, Primal Scream, Everything Everything, and more than 30 music artists, as well as comedy, theatre and much more, Suffolk community choir Pop Chorus will open the BBC music stage.
Read more - 23 essential festivals in Suffolk you can't miss this year.
Ipswich Music Day, Christchurch Park
The biggest free music day in the county takes place in Ipswich, and this year the big day is July 7, from noon to 8pm. Pop along, soak up the sun (hopefully!) and choose from a huge range of music on six stages, as well as from local up-and-coming artists. While you are enjoying the music, try to spot superstars of the future - Ed Sheeran played the event back in 2009 and 2010. Of course, Christchurch Park, and the other parks in Ipswich, are all great to visit over the summer and offer a wide range of activities.
Ipswich Town FC
It might be the close season during the summer, but you can still visit Portman Road, take a look in the Planet Blue club shop and grab a selfie with the statues of Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson. You may also be able to arrange a tour of the stadium, although these do get booked up. There is a special discounted tour on Suffolk Day, June 21, although this tour does not involve pitchside access.
You'll need to allow plenty of time to explore this famous wildlife reserve, because there is so much to see - woodland, wetland and coastal scenery and a host of rare birds and wildlife. Children can enjoy activities in the Wild Zone and Wild Wood Adventure Area, including a play tree, child-sized nests, den-building and mini-beasts. Facilities include a visitor centre, cafe and picnic area, as well as guided walks and nature trails. Many special events are organised at the reserve - see the dates and details at their website.
Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds
This 14-acre park in the heart of town is a great place to visit for free. You can wander round the abbey ruins, and admire the spectacular floral displays - around 20,000 plants are bedded out in spring for the summer display, and there are many different areas including a water garden, sensory garden and an aviary, very popular with children who enjoy seeing the array of birds, including canaries and budgies. A bowling green, putting green, crazy golf and children's play area are among the other attractions.
You can spend a great day just wandering round Lavenham and admiring the wool church and the many beautiful timber-framed buildings. It's easy to see why it is often said to be the best-preserved medieval village in England. Take a look round the Lavenham Guildhall, run by the National Trust, and stop to look at the exterior of the De Vere House, which featured in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, as the young wizard's birthplace.
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Rendlesham and Thetford Forests
One of the most unusual attractions at Rendlesham is the UFO Trail, where you can walk around the scene of the famous sighting. There are also many other things to do in the two forests, including bike parks and trails and extensive children's play areas.
Snape Maltings - and the walk to Iken
The famous Snape Maltings concert hall is a great place to visit, and not just if you are going to the Aldeburgh Festival during June, or another concert or special event. There are also interesting and unusual shops, cafes and galleries to visit, and you can walk around the site to see the beautiful views. You could also follow one of Suffolk's most beautiful walks, out from the Maltings towards Iken along the River Alde.
Newmarket Heritage Centre
As the home of horse racing, Newmarket offers masses to do. As well as the racecourse itself, the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art includes three attractions which can easily take all day - the National Horseracing Museum, Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art and a chance to see daily demonstrations from former racehorses in the Peter O'Sullevan Arena. There are also family trails and much more.
Felixstowe Seafront, Gardens and Pier
As well as the beach and the prom, the eight recently restored Felixstowe seafront gardens are a great place to visit and picnic- and over the summer their spectacular displays of flowers look gorgeous. You can even download a map of what to see in the gardens from Visit Felixstowe. The pier, which has recently undergone a multi-million pound revamp, includes a family entertainment centre and several places to eat.
Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft
A new addition this year is the Egg-Spress roller coaster, replacing the Rattlesnake which closed in 2017. There are more than 35 rides, shows and attractions, plus a chance to see Woody Bear. It's a good idea to book tickets online (after checking the weather forecast!) as this will save you money.
Africa Alive!, Lowestoft
There are more than 80 species of animal to see at this wildlife park, If you haven't visited recently, the new Amazing African Animals presentation opened in May, and takes place twice daily during the main season, including vultures, owls, a crowned crane and pygmy goats. There is a Dads Go Free promotion on June 15 and 16.
Run by English Heritage, the castle is one of Suffolk's most famous landmarks, and you can see amazing views of the surrounding countryside while walking around the Wall Walk. Various special events are coming up over the summer, including a Minecraft Castle building workshop on June 22-23, historical family activities changing daily from July 20 to September 1, and a Legendary Joust on July 27-28.
It's not just Suffolk's huge parks and formal gardens which are worth visiting. There are also many smaller gems to discover, and open garden events offer the perfect opportunity to do just that, often raising money for charity too. Many open via the National Garden Scheme, and you can search their website to find one near you. Some towns and villages also have open garden events lined up when several gardens open, including Hidden Gardens of Bury St Edmunds on June 16 and Walsham le Willows open gardens on August 25-26.
Open Air Cinema, Christchurch Park
On Saturday, July 6, Christchurch Park in Ipswich is hosting an open-air cinema event in association with Empire Cinemas. The films on offer are Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again at 3.15pm (gates open at 2pm) and Bohemian Rhapsody at 7.15pm (gates open at 6pm). There will also be free mini-bags of popcorn for guests. You can book in advance from Ipswich Entertains, and they advise being prepared for all weathers! Watch out for many other open-air cinema events in venues around the county.
East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival, Nicholas Everitt Park, Oulton Broad
Thousands of spectators are expected to watch the 13th annual Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday, August 31, with more than 30 teams competing over the 200m course. As well as the races, there will be family entertainment and food stalls.
Ipswich Maritime Festival
This hugely popular festival on the Ipswich Waterfront takes place from 10am to 10pm on Saturday, August 17 and 10am to 6pm on Sunday, August 18. There will be visits by historic vessels, street and food markets, a funfair and a firework display, plus loads more that hasn't been announced yet. In the past, the festival has attracted as many as 70,000 visitors, and it is one of Suffolk's biggest days out.
It is also one of many great festivals in the county. The East Anglian Festival Network says: "We are fortunate to have over a hundred festivals in Suffolk - all great days out."
This heated outdoor swimming pool next to the River Waveney in Puddingmoor is run by a community charity, and has won numerous awards. There are areas for sunbathing, picnic tables and a cafe, as well as an adventure play area and regular giant inflatable aquarun sessions.
Unlike many ancient castles which are ruins, Orford has a remarkably intact keep. From the roof you can enjoy great views of Orford Ness. Orford Museum is located upstairs within the castle.
This Italian-style stately home was the joint winner of our poll to find people's favourite National Trust property in Suffolk, together with Sutton Hoo. Explore the house and gardens and go on walks in the park. There are various special events coming up, including living history days on 1930s themes and outdoor theatre.
Crabbing at Walberswick
Although it no longer hosts the British Crabbing Championships, Walberswick is still a great place to go for a fun and inexpensive day out. Just remember to look out for the crabs and treat them gently!
Woodbridge Tide Mill
Visiting Woodbridge is a great day out, with its fine selection of independent shops, and the tide mill is one of the town's most iconic attractions. It's a rare example of a tide mill whose water wheel still turns. You can see it working on most days, as well as trying out interactive and children's activities.
Fish and chips at Aldeburgh
Many will tell you that eating fish and chips on Aldeburgh beach is the best way to enjoy this traditional British treat. Of course, there are also many other great places to eat fish and chips all around Suffolk.
Sudbury Water Meadows
Having never been ploughed, these ancient meadows are a rich source of wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals, and they are an ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy a peaceful walk.
Mid Suffolk Light Railway
Known affectionately as the "Middy", Suffolk's only railway museum has lovingly re-created a slice of Edwardian England. There are steam trains every summer Sunday and bank holiday untiil August 26, including special visits by some societies and clubs. The museum, shop, restaurant, refreshment room, model railway and real ale bar are all open on train operating days.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton
This museum offers free admission, although donations are appreciated. It has an impressive array of exhibits for aviation enthusiastis to admire. Over the summer is is open from Sunday to Thursday, and also on Saturdays from July 27 to August 31. Special events coming up include a display of 60-plus MG cars on Sunday, July 14 and a family fun day on Sunday, July 28, both with flypasts planned.
Ipswich Transport Museum, Cobham Road
This museum, in an old trolleybus depot, has the largest collection of transport items in Britain devoted to just one town. Everything was either made or used in and around Ipswich, from buses to bicycles, prams, lawnmowers and lorries. Check the museum website for details of opening days and special events.
Vegan food at Allison's Eatery, Bury St Edmunds
Interest in vegan eating has been growing over recent years, and there are an increasing number of venues where you can try this type of cuisine. Bury's first vegan cafe, Allison's Eatery, is somewhere to visit if you are spending a day out in west Suffolk. "So many people are interested in vegan food now. Not just vegans but people wanting to cut down a bit," owner Allison Knight said.
Read more - Take a look inside Bury St Edmunds' first vegan cafe
Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket
You'll definitely need all day to explore this museum, which has 17 buildings set in 75 acres of countryside, making it the largest independent museum in Suffolk. During the summer holidays, between July 29 and August 30, there will be Mud, Bugs and Baking sessions for youngsters, while for adults there is a beer festival from July 4 to 7. Other special events are also lined up.
Some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country are in this area on the Suffolk/Essex border. Try the Flatford and Constable Country Walking trail from East Bergholt, and visit Flatford Mill, immortalised by John Constable, The National Trust has various events lined up here over the summer, including guided walks and, on July 13, a Tudor Fayre with the Companie of Merrie Folke. See their Flatford website for more details.
Suffolk's gateway to the Broads National Park, Oulton Broad is just a mile west of Lowestoft. You can sail on the Waveney on a passenger boat, hire a self-drive day boat or walk around the area.
Foxburrow Farm and other Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves
If you are looking for a free day out allowing you to explore Suffolk's beautiful natural environment, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has a wide range of reserves across the county, which are all free to visit. Foxburrow Farm near Woodbridge is one of the most popular, with an education centre to allow children to learn about farming and wildlife on a working farm. Various special events and activities are coming up over the summer - visit the Suffolk Wildlife Trust on Facebook to find out more.
Kentwell Hall, Long Melford
This romantic mansion in west Suffolk is one of the grandest stately homes in the county. As well as the house and gardens, which are in full bloom over the summer, there is also a rare breeds farm to visit. Special events over the summer include Tudor recreations and a Second World War-themed weekend. You can get a discount by booking ahead.