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Come rain or shine - things to do in the rest of the summer holidays and September weekends

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 August 2020

Darcy and Gareth above the tree canopy at Colchester Zoo  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Darcy and Gareth above the tree canopy at Colchester Zoo Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

With so many attractions being closed over the summer, it has sometimes been a struggle to find anything to do with the family - especially on wet or cool days.

Alice Cochran, aged 16, at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISEAlice Cochran, aged 16, at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

However, now more venues are opening up, including some indoor sporting venues, pools and now indoor play, meaning children can let off steam, come rain or shine.

Here are suggestions for things to do over the rest of the summer holidays and during weekends in September, most of which don’t depend on the weather.

Remember to check opening hours and other requirements in advance - face coverings will normally be required in all indoor settings. Centres will also have social distancing and safety measures in place, and you will need to pre-book in most cases.

Indoor play

Finlay Hughes, aged 7, and an employee at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISEFinlay Hughes, aged 7, and an employee at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

Indoor play was one of the last business sectors forced to remain closed, but now at last it can reopen, so young children can discover the delights of soft play again. Some centres are still closed at present, but those which have reopened so far include:

• Play2Day, Martlesham, near Ipswich: This massive 20,000 square foot activity centre has now fully reopened, including the adventure play centre, inflatable park and Laser Tag arena. For full details and to book, search for Play2Day Ipswich on Facebook.

• Tumbledown, Stonham Barns, near Stowmarket: This small soft play barn has now reopened, with sessions booking up fast. Visit @tumbledownsoftplay on Facebook to find out more and book.

• Go Bananas, Colchester: The play centre has just reopened and is offering two-hour play sessions for children. To find out details and book, visit @GoBananasColchester on Facebook.

Swimming at Colchester Leisure World Picture: JUDY PAYNE/COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCILSwimming at Colchester Leisure World Picture: JUDY PAYNE/COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

• Partyman World of Play, Cavendish Street, Ipswich: The play centre has reopened with limited capacity and pre-bookings only. Visit @partymanworldipswich on Facebook.

Bowling

• Superbowl UK Ipswich: Bowling and Ninja Tag Active are both reopening. For details and to book, visit www.superbowluk.co.uk

Strikes Bowl and Planet Zoom soft play, Dereham: The centre has reopened both for bowling and for adventure soft play for children. To see available slots and book, visit @Strikes.Bowl.Dereham on Facebook.

Siblings Fran Birch, aged 10, and Luke Birch, aged 8, at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISESiblings Fran Birch, aged 10, and Luke Birch, aged 8, at Clip 'n Climb in Ipswich. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

• Tenpin UK, Martlesham Heath and Colchester: As well as bowling, pool is available at both centres, and table tennis in Ipswich.

Pools and leisure centres

Here is a selection of pools and leisure centres which are opening to the public again. Others are set to open in the coming weeks.

• Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, Stowmarket: The pools are reopening on Saturday, August 22, with slow, medium and fast lane swimming which needs to be booked in advance. Swimming lessons are also being rearranged, and some other activities including the gym have also reopened. Visit @EAMidSuffolk on Facebook for more details.

A little boy watches the penguins at Colchester Zoo  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA little boy watches the penguins at Colchester Zoo Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

• Fore Street Pool, Crown Pools and Whitton Sports Centre, Ipswich: Sport and fitness facilities run by Ipswich Borough Council are starting to welcome back customers again. Fore Street is offering limited public lane swimming, with 45-minute slots, and club/private hire. Crown Pools is initially offering club hire only, but from August 24 the gym will open, with 60-minute slots, and swimming lessons will restart. Whitton is the first dry sports centre in the town to reopen, with limited fitness classes, 50-minute gym slots, badminton court bookings and 3G pitch hire. For more details of what is open and how to book, visit www.ipswichfit.co.uk/

• Waterlane Leisure Centre, Lowestoft: The gym and classes have started up again, but the pool is not open again as yet.

• Felixstowe, Deben (Woodbridge) and Leiston Leisure Centres and Brackenbury Sports Centre in Felixstowe: These centres are all now open again, including lane swimming at Felixstowe, Deben and Leiston, as well as gyms and classes. Swimming lessons will start from September 7. For details, visit: www.placesleisure.org/reopening/suffolk-coastal

• Abbeycroft Leisure Centres: The centres at Brandon, Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre and Skyliner Centre, Hadleigh, Haverhill, Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury, Mildenhall and Newmarket have all reopened for various activities, including pre-booked set lanes for swimming. Some activities are available for block bookings only. For full details, visit www.acleisure.com/comeback/

Cheetah cubs, Nova, Hope, Star & Colonel Tom from Colchester Zoo Picture: COLCHESTER ZOOCheetah cubs, Nova, Hope, Star & Colonel Tom from Colchester Zoo Picture: COLCHESTER ZOO

• Leisure World, Colchester: The leisure pool, fitness pool, group classes and Activa gym are all now open, and can be booked online: colchesterleisureworld.co.uk

You may also want to watch:

Riverside Leisure Centre, Norwich: The centre is set to open on September 1, with lane swimming, gym and studio class sessions available from that date, and swimming lessons starting from September 7. For more details, visit www.placesleisure.org/reopening/norwich

Climbing walls

The gym at Felixstowe Leisure Centre has an amazing sea view Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe gym at Felixstowe Leisure Centre has an amazing sea view Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

• Clip ‘n Climb, Ransomes Europark, Ipswich: The centre reopened at the start of August, with a whole range of climbing activities on offer for everyone from toddlers to adults. For more details, visit @ClipnClimbIpswich on Facebook

• Avid Indoor Climbing Centre, Ransomes Europark, Ipswich: This rock climbing centre has been open since the end of July, operating on limited capacity and with an outdoor seating area for its cafe. For more information about the centre, visit www.avidclimbing.co.uk

Museums and galleries

• Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds: The museum has now fully re-opened, and is hosting a range of events from themed craft workshops for all the family to historical talks and lectures.

The Ed Sheeran exhibition at Christchurch Mansion has been extended Picture: PAUL GEATERThe Ed Sheeran exhibition at Christchurch Mansion has been extended Picture: PAUL GEATER

The museum is offering families the chance to book onto various entertaining sessions aiming to help with home learning, including “A Terrible Tour of Moyse’s Hall”, inspired by Horrible Histories, running every Wednesday and Friday, which will continue until September 18. For more details of the various events, visit www.moyseshall.org

• Firstsite, Colchester: The galleries, cafe and shop are all now open every day, with free admission. Holiday Fun continues until August 28, with a range of sporting activities and free hot lunches for children, which need to be booked three days in advance.

Current exhibitions include Afro Futures – UK: Unravelling New Futures, which runs until September 27, and Tell Me The Story Of All These Things, which ,runs until October 11, featuring artworks by some of Britain’s most celebrated artists, including Turner Prize nominees Tracey Emin and Cornelia Parker and Turner Prize-winner Gillian Wearing. To find out more and book, visit firstsite.uk

Ipswich Museum: The popular town-centre museum has now re-opened, with exhibits including its much-loved mammoth, Wool-I-Am, but visitors will have to book in advance, either online or by calling 01473 433100. Visit ipswich.cimuseums.org.uk/

Christchurch Mansion has extended its Ed Sheeran exhibition  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChristchurch Mansion has extended its Ed Sheeran exhibition Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

• Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich: As well as all the permanent exhibits at the Mansion and Wolsey Gallery, you can also see the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition, which has been extended until November. Admission is free, but booking a timed entry is essential.

Colchester Castle: A one-way system has been introduced at the castle, but there will still be plenty of time to look at the exhibits. To book, visit colchester.cimuseums.org.uk

National Trust properties

The National Trust’s Sutton Hoo exhibitions are set to open to the public fully from Monday, August 23. The main exhibitoin centre in the High Hall and Tranmer House will be open to the public, as will the shop and cafe.

A number of other National Trust sites in the area currently have gardens and parks open, but currently buildings are still closed. These include: Anglesey Abbey, Dunwich Heath and Ickworth. Visitors need to book a place in advance for all properties, gardens and parklands and some car parks, including Dunwich Heath and Beach.

Theme parks and zoos

Planning a big day out for the end of the holidays? Here are some options.

• Clacton Pier: Both indoor and outdoor attractions at the pier are now open, including adventure golf, almost all rides and the seaquarium. Lanes Bowling and Discovery Bay soft play both reopened last weekend. The long-awaited new White Water Log Flume was finally set to open on Saturday, August 22, subject to final inspections. The pier is open daily, with peak opening times until September 6 and then during September weekends. For more information and to book online. visit www.clactonpier.co.uk

• Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach: The popular attraction is open daily until September 6, and also during weekends in September, with a range of white-knuckle and child-friendly rides. Visitor numbers will be limited and you can book in advance online at www.pleasure-beach.co.uk

• Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft: This top theme park will be open daily until August 31, and will also be open during weekends in September. Most rides are open, but a few are closed either for refurbishment or social distancing reasons. Pre-book online at: pleasurewoodhills.com

• Colchester Zoo: The zoo is open daily, although there still no keeper talks and public feeds. All visitors need to book in advance online, except that zoo passholders can now visit after 2pm without pre-booking. For full details on what’s available and all the safety measures that are in place, download the zoo’s app. Tickets are released in blocks. Visit www.colchester-zoo.com

• Africa Alive, Kessingland: All visitors, including pass holders, are required to pre-book a timed arrival slot. You can do this in advance online, or it is possible to book on the day, turning up and booking your etickets from your car via the zoo’s wi-fi. For full details on what’s available, visit the zoo’s website: www.africa-alive.co.uk/

• Banham Zoo, near Diss: Like its sister attraction Africa Alive, Banham requires all visitors to book a timed slot. Again, you can either do this in advance online or turn up and book your etickets from your car, although this does mean you may have to wait. For full details, visit www.banhamzoo.co.uk


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