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By: Robin Richmond
As a child one can fondly remember the unadulterated joy that was school bell ringing for the last time in term - thus signalling the beginning of the summer holidays. Six weeks of free time followed and life didn't get any better. Unfortunately, many parents around the country probably felt somewhat different. Inevitably children get bored (usually after 48 hours in my case) and adults are left staring into a six week chasm of time before their pride and joy are returned to full time education.

One of the biggest challenges facing parents during the holidays is trying to organise holidays for all the family. This can be difficult for a number of reasons - not least that the school holidays is a relatively small window so all families are trying to organise and book holidays for the same dates. In addition to this, prices tend to be higher as it is peak season and spending long hours travelling with a young family of kids is at best stressful and at worst downright depressing!

One way to avoid travel traumas such as this is to look into the massive range of activities an options available to the family on their own doorstop right here in the UK. An example of this would be taking the family to a theme park. In the past my families wouldn't have considered a theme park holiday in the United Kingdom and instead would have looked into heading to Florida or Disney Resort Paris. However, over the past ten years the quantity and overall quality of UK theme parks has increased massively. Not only have parks such as Alton Towers -"> - become world leaders in theme park technology with rides such as "Oblivion" and "Air" but they have also developed excellent facilities in terms of eating and accommodation too.

Other parks such as Chessington World Of Adventures, is full of rides and attractions especially for the under-12s. The ever popular Legoland Windsor is also a perfect day out for families, with a range of attractions based on Lego and Duplo products, including models and over 50 interactive rides, set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland.

Obviously these parks have enough activities to keep children occupied for sometime and another major advantage is they are very good value in terms of pricing. Most of the parks have promotions running throughout the year and travel companies such as short break specialist"> have a large selection of accommodation plus tickets packages that are ideal for family breaks.

Another great day out that can be turned into a short break holiday is visiting the famous "West End" in London and catching a matinee performance of one of the many famous shows that are on offer. Mirroring the situation with UK theme parks many Britons simply don't realise the quality and choice of shows available in London's west end. However, the 2005 season has certainly seen an increase in awareness with many 'locals' realising what tourists have known for years - that the quality of west end productions is amongst the best in the world.

While evening shows are not ideal for families with the often late finishing times, matinee performances are available on many shows - including the award winning Billy Elliot. Perhaps no other show has contributed to the hype surrounding this years season more than the film turned musical production of Billy Elliot. The original story captured the hearts and minds of the British public when the movie was released and received world wide acclaim with 3 Oscar and 13 Bafta award nominations.

Other shows suitable for kids that are running at present include Disney's magical musical, The Lion King and timeless classic Mary Poppins. Most West End matinees are at 3 p.m., but a 2:30 p.m. start is not unknown - just make sure to check times to avoid disappointment.

Overall, it is important for parents not to panic! There are a number of cost effective and fun ways for them to keep their children entertained during the long summer break and you just never know, stranger things have happened...they might even have fun themselves!
About the Author

Robin Richmond Edinburgh based traveller

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