Summer adventures in Sussex with the National Trust  

Summer adventures in Sussex with the National Trust

Summer is here, and there are lots of activities for you to try as a whole family at the places we care for. Whether you’re after outdoor games to entertain the kids, a sociable night of open-air theatre or a family-friendly café to refuel in, we’ve got plenty of reasons to come out and play.

Throughout the 2022 school summer holidays, grab a ‘Come out and play’ card to create your own adventure. Explore the activities at Bodiam Castle, Nymans, Sheffield Park and Garden, Standen, Petworth House and Park, Uppark, Bateman’s, Birling Gap and Devil’s Dyke, thanks to support from Sport England. You can find your way, reach the top, team up or hit the target. Play group games, solve puzzles together or try out kwik cricket and wheel-barrow races.

Here’s the National Trust’s pick of the best places to enjoy this summer in Sussex:

Sheffield Park and Garden

From bug hunts and den building, kwik cricket to summer art, an outdoor adventure for the whole family awaits at Sheffield Park and Garden. Look out for family-friendly interactive outdoor installations in the garden, designed by artists Wild Rumpus to pique curiosity and inspire children to play. Daily Sat 23 July–Sun 4 Sept. Normal admission applies.

It’s the season when the garden comes alive with kingfishers and dragonflies darting across the waterlily covered lakes. Sun dappled glades wait to be discovered and the cooling sound of the cascade soothes and calms in the background on a hot day.

·         Summer Holiday Art Trail – grab your colouring pencils and a special Sheffield Park sketch book as you head into the garden and let the colours and foliage inspire your artwork. What shapes can you spot? What are your favourite colours? A great way to get the family connecting with nature and their creative side this summer. £2 per trail (normal admission applies) but no booking required. Runs daily 10am -4.30pm Thurs 21 July- Thurs 1 Sept.

·         Kwik Cricket – there are Kwik Cricket sessions on Sheffield Park’s famous cricket pitch every Wednesday during the school summer holidays. Run in collaboration with Sussex Cricket and Sport England, this is a great way to get under 12s of all abilities active and enjoying themselves. Drop-in sessions run on Wednesdays 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm between 27 July and 31 August. Normal admission applies but the sessions are free and there’s no need to book. Just turn up and play!

·         A short walk across the parkland, nestled in the woodland, is Ringwood Toll natural play trail. Run wild, build dens, climb trees and let off steam.


Ready for an adventure in the garden? Then head for the special summer play pavilion at Nymans. Available until the end of the summer holidays, you can use the look-out point to survey your surroundings, listen out for nearby wildlife, and invent your own ways to play.

·         Comber’s field is once again home to active challenges, or have fun in the Play Glade, Nymans’ natural play space.

·         Watch open air theatre performances against the backdrop of the romantic ruins. Roll out your rug, unpack your picnic and prepare to sit back and enjoy the performance. Don’t miss an acrobatic performance of Jane Eyre, ‘The Pirate, The Seed and The All-Seeing Tree’, the Railway Children, Pride and Prejudice and a bicycle-powered rendition of Twelfth Night.

·         The new Riding House tea room is open. Visit between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, Thursday to Sunday, to enjoy views from the mezzanine while you tuck into some lunch.


There’s plenty of space to explore the garden and woodlands at Standen. It’s a great place to let off steam or slow down and look for wildlife. On Rock Top Walk you can also find the Bothy nestled in the trees which is a great place to stop for a rest on your big adventure.

·         Take part in a summer of fun with a retro 70s twist. Space Hoppers on the lawn, funky fashions for the creatures in the summer trail, creative crafts in the woodland den, and giant outdoor garden games’. Sat 23 July – Wed 31 Aug, 10am – 5pm.

·         Play games and have a got on a space hopper on Goose Green. Step inside the house to spot little hidden felted mice and get creative with Fuzzy Felt on the billiard table.

·         Enjoy live music on Sunday afternoons in July & August, 2pm – 4.30pm. Relax with a picnic or a takeaway from the Barn Café, sit back and listen to the sounds of the seventies.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Medieval Fair: Saturday 23 July to Sunday 31 August
Outdoor Theatre: The Reluctant Dragon: Wednesday 10 August, 6-8.15pm
Bodiam Castle’s medieval fair returns for the summer school holidays with games and activities for all the family including mini jousting, have-a go archery, hobby horses and dressing-up, ‘Siege the Castle’ games, story-telling and armour demonstrations.

Enjoy an evening of outdoor family theatre with The Reluctant Dragon on 10 August, 6-8.15pm, booking essential.
Medieval Fair: Free with normal admission, plus small charge for have-a-go-archery.
The Reluctant Dragon: Adult £15, Child £10, Family (2+1) £35, Family (2+2) £45 
Petworth House and Park
This summer, Petworth House and Park celebrates its 75th birthday in the care of the National Trust with a fun-packed family events programme, from outdoor games to cinema under the stars. Nestled in the South Downs, this 700 acre park and garden offer loads of space for family adventures. Look out for trees you can actually climb inside, and a special den building area.

·         Garden games, 23 July – 4 September, free

In the natural expanse of the Pleasure Garden there are new family lawn games to try – choose from space hoppers, croquet, bats and balls, and badminton.

·         ‘Come out and play’ activity stations, 23 July – 4 September, free

We’ve got special activity stations set up in the gardens where you can challenge yourself to all sorts of fun ‘sports’. There are balancing games and hopping and skipping tasks, or how about a spot of target practice?

·         Outdoor Cinema: Encanto, 21 August, 8.30pm (gates open 6.30pm), adult £15, child £7.50, booking essential on

It’s family movie night, with a difference! Settle down on rugs and camping chairs to enjoy animated Disney adventure Encanto on a 30-foot screen in Petworth’s Pleasure Garden. Best enjoyed with a picnic, but you can also buy ice creams, snacks and drinks on the night. Hot dogs too, if you pre-book tickets with this option included.

Uppark House and Garden

Set high on the South Downs, there’s plenty of room to let off steam on Uppark’s huge lawns and in the surrounding woodland. Wander into the garden’s wildflower meadow to spot orchids and watch insects collect nectar. It’s a great place for picnics too, and kite flying on breezy days.

·         Conservation Trail challenge, 16 July – 4 September, free

Find out how we protect the house and wildlife here on the new Conservation Trail challenge. Have you got what it takes be a ranger, gardener or conservator, and find out how we protect Uppark and its wildlife? Grab a trail sheet and hunt out the 10 activity points in the garden, woods and meadow. You’ll be drawing butterflies, bouncing like a hare and helping build a giant nest.

·         Bug Bingo, 16 July – 4 September

Our Conservation Trail challenge comes with a Bug Bingo game too, so keep your eyes peeled for centipedes and caterpillars, bumblebees and beetles and cross them off for a full bug house.

·         Outdoor theatre: The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny,18 August, 7pm – 8.45pm (gates open 6pm), adult £15, child £10,  Booking essential at:, or call or call 020 8317 9000

Settle down with a picnic on Uppark’s spacious lawn to enjoy Quantum Theatre’s charming new adaptation of this much-loved Beatrix Potter classic. Follow Peter and Benjamin on their hair-raising adventures in Mr McGregor’s garden, as their sense of mischief gets them in all sorts of scrapes. Will they return safe and sound to the burrow?


At the former home of Rudyard Kipling, you can visit the landscapes which inspired his work. There are plenty of free activities to enjoy on your visit, including our lawn games, a visit to the working watermill, the Little Red Hen story basket and a natural play area with rope climb, carved totem pole, swings, mini mazes and a see saw.

Quantum Theatre are back with an enchanting new adaptation of two of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved Tales, The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.
2-3rd July, tickets from £10.