baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Autumn Events

I used to think summer was my favourite season, but I think autumn is a new contender as I get older. Whilst I’ll always love shorts-weather and getting outside in the warm summer air for games, walks and even paddling with the wee man, there’s definitely something to be said for the magic of autumn, as the leaves change colour and the anticipation of Halloween and Guy Fawkes night gets us excited.

Plus, Travis’ birthday is in October, so that brings even more joy to autumn! It seems like there are more and more great things to do with kids in autumn (or maybe I just never noticed them before?) And as a famous comedian once said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! So grab your coat and wellies and see if you can get along to any of these events:

*once I have previewed or reviewed each event I’ll share a link to it below*

Ardardan Scarecrow Festival
A community celebration, held across the weekend of 28th-29th September involving local groups, schools etc. creating their own scarecrow to be displayed throughout the farm over the weekend. The festival is free to attend, as is the scarecrow trail, but there are additional extras such as tractor rides and inflatables for the little ones.

The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry
This one has been on my bucket list for some time. Quite pricey at £20 per adult, I’ve heard it’s worth the price tag for this immersive light show experience. This year’s theme is Cosmos, capturing everything from astrology to astronauts and all that lies between here and space. Runs from 3rd October to 3rd November, however its hugely popular and many dates and time slots are already sold out.
Get your tickets here.

Loch Lomond Scary Faerie trail
We’ve been on the faerie trail before, during summer, so this sounds like a nice wee variation on the classic 2km trail. It’s a bit pricier than the regular trail, but for an extra couple of pounds (£6.50) you get to enjoy a spooky version of the trail, which we’re assured isn’t too scary for the little ones! For added Halloween fun, go around 4pm and take a torch with you! Starting at Luss car park and going up through the glen and back down, there are some cracking views to be had on this trail too. Runs from 1st to 31st October.
Get your tickets here.

Arnprior Pumpkins
Another autumn event which I’ll be attending for the first time this year. Opening on Saturday 12th October through Sunday 27th October this year, Arnprior Pumpkins, located in the countryside outside Stirling, is a great family experience with pumpkin picking, kale maze, quad pods and more. It’s also really good value for money – just £5 gives you entry for one car full of eager autumn lovers, and also entitles you to £5 to redeem against a pumpkin (if you pick a small pumpkin, essentially that’s free with your ticket!). The 2 hour session slots are also ideal time wise for younger kids so as not to encroach on napping, eating and the usual routine.
Get your tickets here.

The A-scarium at Lomond Shores
One of our favourite haunts (pardon the pun) is the Sea Life Aquarium at Loch Lomond Shores, as it’s so close to home. One thing we love about it is the fact they do frequent themed activities throughout the year, and this Halloween, they have the Ascarium (see what they did there?!). Running from 12th October to 3rd November, the Ascarium is included in the price of a regular ticket, so under 3s get in free. Kids are invited to help the sea witch unlock the treasure chest by paying close attention to each tank and completing activities on their way through the aquarium.
Get your tickets here.

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baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Ardardan Scarecrow Festival

We love Ardardan Estate for a visit on a (dry) day, so we are super excited to go to the scarecrow festival this weekend.

I’d never heard of a scarecrow festival before, and if it wasn’t held at Ardardan I’m not sure how appealing I would have found it. I had visions of multiple scarecrows being burned guy fawkes style – thankfully my macabre imagination was wrong!

The festival is a community celebration, with local groups, schools etc. Creating and sending in their own scarecrow to be displayed over the weekend. No burning involved!

The scarecrows entered are then dotted around the woodland trail on the farm, which is a nice wee walk with a toddler on a regular day, never mind when there are fun and fancy scarecrows to spot! The whole community involvement is something I really like, knowing that time and effort has been put into each scarecrow by those groups who have entered, whether a primary school class, community group or workplace.

In addition to magnificent scarecrow spotting, the farmer’s tractor Archie will be out taking people on tractor rides at set times throughout the day. There’s a cost of £4 per person to go on the ride but I imagine it would be worth it for the full farm experience. Although there’s no option to book and pay online, you’re advised to call the team at Ardardan to reserve a space.

Younger kids will have a ball with inflatables in the walled garden area, which also comes with a charge of £4. Fingers crossed the weather holds up to be able to make the most of this!

All of Ardardan’s staple farm shop, tea room, garden store and trails will be open and available as usual. From duck racing to fresh farm shopping and home-made cake-eating, it’s an autumn event I’m really looking forward to. Stay tuned for scarecrow pictures after the event – or check out my Instagram story on Sunday!

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baby and toddler activities

Free Toddler Activities and Attractions

As a toddler mum, I’m always looking for new ways to keep my little man entertained. There’s only so many episodes of Hey Duggee or visits to the soft play one can take without contemplating spiking your own coffee – even if the wee fella is quite content to watch and do the same thing over and over again.

New activities are good for all – toddlers get to explore and expand their horizons, learning as they go, and us parents get to save our sanity for one more day. However, many activities come with a price tag, which means they aren’t always possible or accessible. So I’ve tried to explore a variety of different activities in a range of locations, both indoor and outdoor, which at least offer free toddler places, if not free for adults too.

It’s important that our kids get a range of experiences and that we have the opportunity to provide them with fresh ideas, games, things to explore and places to go. I’ve started with some of the places closest to home for me, but I am looking to expand locations as I go. On top of this, I’m looking for a variety of different experiences which stimulate different senses or get different parts of the brain working. So it won’t be a list of physical activities (playparks, outdoor adventure etc) and viewing activities (farms, aquariums etc) but also experiences and learning activities that encourage skills like reading, writing, counting etc.

The idea is that I will add a link below to a post about each activity or attraction. The posts will be a mixture between a review, our experience and what you can expect for free, plus any other information such as additional extras etc.

  1. Ardardan Estate – we visit here quite regularly, and they are currently improving the farm to include more animals and a children’s playpark by 2020. Read the post to see what’s currently on offer there.
  2. Loch Lomond Faerie Trail – Brilliant attraction and walk in a scenic area. Read the post to find out how to make the most of the trail.
  3. Briarlands Farm – this Stirlingshire farm contains more than your regular farm animals, with tractor rides, play areas, mazes, archery and even go-karts!
  4. Lamont Farm – a charity farm project based in Erskine. Dense city-farm which focuses on the welfare of animals and rehoming animals

 

Coming soon:

  • Loch Lomond Sealife Centre
  • Bookbug
  • Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail
  • Riverside Museum
  • Tall Ship

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baby and toddler activities

Ardardan Estate

A great free place to take kiddos near me is Ardardan Estate. It’s actually not that far from Glasgow either, so if you’re fancying a trip out to the country, it’s a nice place to stop and appreciate nature with plenty to see and do. The best part is, they are only getting started too – there’s a petting zoo and adventure playground in the pipeline for kids, due to open in 2020.

What can you do at Ardardan Estate?

The Estate is a working farm, so there are loads of sheep, cows and horses to go and look at. As its springtime, we had lots of fun looking at the little lambs and baby Highland cow. When we visited previously, there were also pigs, hens and chicks, but we’ve been advised that they are on their holidays for now, as works are ongoing at Ardardan Estate to bring lots of family fun in 2020. I have to say, all the animals were great and come right up to let you pet them at the fence, if you have a bit of patience to wait on them!

Throughout the Estate land, there are a number of walks, through the fields or through the woodland. The latter is great for kids as there are loads of things to do, like spot the ribbons in the trees, run through the woodland maze, climb trees and spot lots of bugs and birds who call the woodland home.

Tucked away behind the plant nursery and garden shop is a cute little duck racing game too! Travis absolutely loved this, as splashing and rubber ducks rate high on his list of fun things to do. The way it works is that there are four old-fashioned water pumps lined out in a row. Each one has a plastic pipe below it, flowing down and around, like a little ducky water slide. Racers pick their rubber duck from the box, place it on the pipe under the pump, and start working those arm muscles to pump their duck down the slide. And you guessed it – fastest one wins the duck race!

For the grown ups

I briefly mentioned that there’s a plant nursery within the grounds, so you can imagine all the great plants and garden decor you can buy here. From hanging baskets to water features, you can make a spectacular garden display with what’s on offer here.

The shop area doesn’t just sell plants and garden items, there’s also a tasty farm shop too. Packed with fresh produce like eggs, in-season fruits and veg, along with prime cuts of meat, the farm shop also sells fantastic jams, preserves and baked goods.

If food and plants aren’t your thing, there’s also a great gift shop section, packed with cute and unique ideas for things like Father’s Day/Mother’s Day, kid’s birthdays and more. Of course it also caters to the tourists, so expect plenty of postcards, maps and very Scottish themed keepsakes.

Cafe

Although there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I’d definitely recommend spending some cash in the cafe if you’re heading to Ardardan for a day out. Those trail walks can work up an appetite, and they’ve got options to cater to all tastes. Travis especially enjoyed a babyccino (though that doesn’t stop him still eyeing up the chocolate on top of my cappuccino) and I can testify that their homemade soups and cakes – especially the massive scones – are to die for.

 

Ardardan Estate also regularly holds family fun events, such as egg hunts at Easter, family fun events and vintage tractor rallies. Check out their Facebook page before visiting to find out if anything special is on before you visit.