Summer’s here – at last, so here’s our pick of 10 great outdoor events including festivals, roller-skating and children’s theatre
Folk by the Oak, Hertfordshire: 21 July
Pack a picnic for this very civilised afternoon in the leafy grounds of a Jacobean stately home, Hatfield House. Yorkshire’s Kate Rusby tops the bill, alongside Oysterband and Lau. You can also catch up-and-coming folk stars on the Acorn stage. A traditional fairground, archery, craft stalls, face painting and sand art displays will keep all ages amused between the acts. Adults £35; kids £16; under-fours free; family £94.
Open East Festival: London, 27-28 July
Exactly one year on from the London 2012, the Olympic Park – now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – is inviting in the masses once again. Tickets to get inside the stadium for the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games have practically sold out (unless you have £212 to splash on a platinum entry), but there’s plenty going on around it. There’s a music festival (featuring The Waterboys, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, and a supergroup of Malian artists including Amadou and Mariam), a food festival, a kids’ festival and even an artsy car boot sale. Plus all the action from Mo Farah & Co will be broadcast on the big screens. It’ll be just like old times. Adult tickets £9.50, children £6.Nungwi Village
Babe, the Sheep Pig: across the UK until mid-September
Last year, it was The Twits; this year, Illyria Theatre is taking an adaptation of Dick King-Smith’s Babe the Sheep-Pig on the road for its season of open-air performances. A packed schedule will see the company travelling all around the UK, from the Temple Enclosure in Epping Forest to Ness Botanic Garden in South Wirral, from Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight to Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire. Some venues will also be offering a hog roast, which doesn’t seem entirely appropriate. Best tell the kids it’s chicken. Adult tickets £10-£17.50, children £5-£14.Nungwi Village
Summer Roller, Swansea: 14-27 August
Get your skates on for the Admiral Roller Rink, which is being erected in Swansea’s Museum Park in mid-August. Sweatbands and leg warmers are optional for this retro roller disco, which runs from 10am to 9pm. A beach will also be set up on site, with picnic tables and deck chairs. The event is part of the Swansea Bay Festival, which also includes a jazz and blues event at Oystermouth Castle. Roller park tickets cost from £4. Boot hire is included, though you are welcome to bring your own.
Liverpool International Music Festival: Liverpool, 21-27 August
It’s time for the 20-year-old Mathew Street Festival to step aside; this year it is being rebranded as the more ambitious Liverpool International Music Festival. Two outdoor stages are being erected at the Pier Head, with events including Turn Up the Radio (essentially The X Factor live, featuring JLS and Little Mix among others, £20 per ticket) and a free Sefton Park concert (Soul II Soul, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra). The inaugural Summercamp festival (24-25 August) features performances from Martha Wainwright, Ghostpoet and Mount Kimbie. And, naturally, there will be a Beatles tribute, too.
Wakey, Wakey, Paddle And Brekkie: Dorset, first three Saturdays in July
Start your Saturday with a spot of kayaking around Studland Bay, then tuck into a full English fry-up at a beachside cafe – a well-earned reward for your early-morning efforts. Tickets must be booked in advanced through the National Trust (£15, including breakfast). Alternatively, try the Hawaii Fish O nights, every Friday from 26 July until the end of August, featuring a one-hour paddleboard lesson, followed by a fish-and-chip supper looking out over the waves you’ve just battled (£16.75).
Nocturnal Night at Wild Place, Bristol: 2 August
The UK can’t get enough of adults-only zoo nights. London Zoo’s have been hugely successful; Edinburgh Zoo’s have sold out. Bristol Zoo’s new conservation park, Wild Place (opening 22 July), is also getting in on the act, for one night only. Its Nocturnal Night (tickets £25) offers less of the superfluous entertainment (no silent disco, no comedy tent) and focus more on the mail attraction: the animals. After meeting around a campfire, attendees begin the search for the park’s late-night creatures, including bats, foxes, badgers and owls, while utilising special equipment and expert guidance. Other events at the new park include family camps and dads-and-lads bushcraft weekends.
Doune The Rabbit Hole: Stirlingshire, Scotland, 22-25 August
Now in its fourth year, this boutique music festival has its eye on the family market (kids under 12 go free). The antithesis of T in the Park, it’s independent, non-profit-making and run by volunteers. Clinic are headlining the Saturday night, while acts such as the John Langan Band and the Horndog Brass Band are bound to get the crowds moving. There’s comedy, theatre and spoken word, too. Weekend tickets £88, including camping.
Live from Jodrell Bank, Cheshire: 6-7 July, 30 August
As gig settings go, it is certainly unusual: just besides the stage rises the 76m-high Lovell telescope, adding not only a bit of drama, but also a canvas for some gigantic projections. There’s a science arena too, which certainly makes a change from the usual music festival staples. Local boys New Order and Johnny Marr play the first date (6 July), followed the next night by the Australian Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. At the end of August, Sigur Rós take the stage. Expect some impressive shows: the Flaming Lips’ 2011 gig here won an award as the best outdoor event of the year.
Leopallooza, Cornwall: 2-4 August
Leopallooza has come along way since its early BYO days as an outdoor party for friends and friends of friends. It now lasts three days, and boasts organised bars, food stalls and capacity for 5,000 revellers. Nevertheless, the organisers still shun corporate sponsorship and stick by their original aim of creating a house party vibe in a field. Saturday is headlined by Bastille, whose debut album went straight to number one in the UK album charts earlier this year. Tickets cost from £15 (Sunday) or £60 for the weekend.
This article was amended at 1pm on 5 July to clarify that some events at the Liverpool International Music Festival are free and others are ticketed.