Free fun for families at local museum this summer

Posted on: Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Hot on the heels of being shortlisted for the national Family Friendly Museum Award, Newark’s National Civil War Centre has secured its status as the place to be this summer by launching a packed programme of events for all ages.

Running throughout the holidays, last year’s hugely successful ‘Playhem!’ returns, encouraging messy play and creative building. Upgrading from the cardboard castles of 2022, the Centre has received an exciting delivery of big blue blocks which have already seen amazing imaginations bring to life huge dens, tunnels, slides and even a tractor. These activities are on offer alongside dressing up, play prompts in the galleries, fun games and more, all included in admission which is now free for Newark and Sherwood residents.

Popular Family Saturdays will continue through the holidays too with Saturday 5 August being themed around famous Newark character Lady Ossington. Visitors will be able to join her on gallery tours and enjoy coffee bean roasting demonstrations as well as the chance to mix their own tea blends. On Saturday 2 September, the theme is Let’s Get Arty which will shine a spotlight on the museum’s newest art exhibition ‘Scenes of the Season: Celebrating Summer’ with fun family activities.

The Centre’s popular town tours have also had a family-friendly makeover for the holidays with a special version of the Newark Through Time tour on Saturday 12 August. For just £5, learn all about the incredible secrets hidden by buildings we pass every day.

Having recently been made a National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England, the Centre is also offering activities to encourage a wider range of people to get involved through their Open Doors team. Open Sounds is a brand-new project being facilitated by local charity SoundLINCS; taking place every Wednesday in August at Newark College, the free sessions invite young people aged 14 to 25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and their parents and carers, to explore creativity through sound and music and have fun trying something new or enhancing existing skills.

Also funded by Arts Council England, the Centre’s Artist in Residence Samantha Jayne and Open Doors’ Milly will lead an Open Doors Discovery Day on Wednesday 9 August. Children aged 5 to 11 can explore the sounds of the seasons through music and complete a day of art activities to earn a Discover Arts Award certificate.

The fun is spreading out through the district too with the Open Doors team travelling to Edwinstowe for a fun graffiti session on Tuesday 8 August, activities at the National Holocaust Centre on Friday 25 August and printmaking at the Buttermarket on 29 August.

Councillor Rowan Cozens, Deputy Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council and Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and the Arts, said: “It really is fantastic for families to have this facility on their doorstep. With the rising cost of living, it’s vital that we are able to access free or low-cost arts activities close to home. And with the extra pressure of keeping children entertained over the school holidays, having free, quality events like these alongside great initiatives like Newark-on-Sea will hopefully be a great relief.

The National Civil War Centre is open from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Find out more about all the activities on offer and book for Discovery Days and Open Sounds at or follow them on Facebook