Ahoy! Swashbuckling pirate-themed days out for families
My children love a good pirate day out. We are lucky enough to have two large art installations on our local beaches both of which are pirate ships and the kids spend many a sunny (and rainy) day climbing aboard and pretending to be swashbuckling pirates.
Naturally, there are many more pirate themed days out to be had all over the British Isles. Here are 5 of our favourites around the UK:
1. Albert Dock Pirate Festival, Liverpool
This annual festival is definitely one for parents of pirate lovers to book into the diary. The swashbuckling pirate show attracts in the region of 100,000 visitors to the dock and live pirate battles with pyrotechnic effects take place on full-size ships. There’s also a fancy dress costume competition, a live music stage and occasional appearances by CBeebies stars.
Set within the hundred acres surrounding Bowood House in Wiltshire is one of the most exciting adventure playgrounds I’ve ever seen and it includes an enormous pirate ship! Children can spend a full day out at Bowood, not only aboard pirate galleon ‘Centaur’, but also on trampolines, the Flying Fox, steep slides, flume tubes, a huge scramble net and the death slide – the latter sounding perfect for pirates! For the under-7s (and those that don’t fancy the death slide) there is the ‘Partridge Play Pen’.
This indoor play centre around a big old ship full of tunnels, rope bridges and climbing ropes is perfect for kids up to age 6. It’s the ideal place to take children on a rainy day. It’s also right next door to Botany Bay -- an old mill converted into a shopping area -- so there’s something non-pirate-themed for parents too.
4. Pirate Quest, Cornwall
During this interactive experience, visitors come face to face with smugglers, mermaids and real LIVE buccaneers! The story takes visitors back in time, 300 years, to the Golden Age of Piracy. Kids can meet the infamous Captain Calico Jack, who with the help of other legendary rogues, will act as a guide through the mystical caves and murky streets of 18th century Cornwall. It does get very busy so it is best to book. It can be a little too realistic for younger kids but bigger ones and adults alike will find it an exciting activity, particularly on a rainy day.
Okay, so not technically a pirate ship, but every child I saw on the ship when we visited recently was pretending to be a pirate on the deck, below decks and in the sailors’ cabins. Children innately make a mental connection between large ships and pirates regardless of history.
The Cutty Sark also runs children’s activities in the school holidays and if you combine it with a trip to the National Maritime Museum (free), also in Greenwich, you can have a lovely pirate-themed day out.