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Kids bounce around in their sleepings bags in the London History Museum

Treat the kids to an adventure sleepover this summer

Make this summer one for the family history books by taking the kids on one of these awesome sleepovers...

  • Snooze with nature in Britain's zoos and wildlife parks
  • Bunk down medieval-style on a castle sleepover
  • Try a new type of camping to maintain your family finances

There's a trend emerging for alternative sleepovers in the UK, with museums, zoos and castles extending their visiting hours to overnight guests. Now kids can doze with Dippy the Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum, 'kip on a ship' at HMS Belfast, or spend Halloween at Chelsea FC's famous Stamford Bridge stadium. Down at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, meanwhile, sleeping with the fishes takes on a whole new meaning during their shark-infested sleepovers.

Travel writer Tracey Davies (@DollysDay) asks three top parenting bloggers and journalists for their family's favourite overnight adventures.

Kids around a table watch a young girl wave nautical flags

For roars and snores

Zoos across the country are flinging open their doors to offer visitors the rare chance to sleep within roaring distance of wild animals. Book a sleepover safari at Whipsnade Zoo and get after-hours access to the animals on a torchlight tour.

ZSL London Zoo organises Summer sleepovers, where kids bunk down in the B.U.G.S. House (or Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival house) after talking to zookeepers and meeting some of the zoo’s animal attractions.

‘Our sleepovers are much smaller than the ones in the museums,’ say the organisers (@zsllondonzoo‏). ‘Kids have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and find out about our animals.’

Joanne Mallon (@joannemallon), a parenting journalist and author of the Opposable Thumbs blog, spent the night in the B.U.G.S. House with her daughter and a friend, both 11.

‘After a torchlight tour of the zoo, we bedded down next to rats, cockroaches, giant spiders and snakes,’ reveals Joanne. ‘It was a memorable, if rather creepy, experience. The girls loved it, but I can't say I had a good night's sleep.’

Port Lympne, the Aspinal Foundation's wildlife reserve in Kent, offers up-close-and-personal wildlife experiences with their variety of on-site accommodation, including tree-houses and the new Tiger Lodges.

‘Guests come face-to-face with black rhino and red lechwe at Rhino Lodge,’ say the team behind the reserve's short breaks.

Cathy Winston (@Mummytravels), from award-winning family travel blog, MummyTravels.com, spent a special night at Rhino Lodge with her four-year old daughter.

‘I was welcomed at check-in with a glass of Prosecco, while a cheetah idly flicked his tail in the long grass below,’ says Cathy. ‘We pootled around the reserve in our own golf buggy and had a private safari where we fed giraffes. What made it really special was the rhino at the bottom of our garden!’

Wake up in wonderland

Enchanted Village at Alton Towers

Younger children will love waking up in a fairytale setting at the Enchanted Village at Alton Towers. Each woodland lodge is decked out like Red Riding Hood's cottage, and nippers can skip along the illuminated toadstool trail to the Crooked Spoon restaurant for breakfast and dinner. Guests also benefit from early access to the theme park – a perk worth its weight in gold.

‘My kids, five-year-old Caitlin and Benjamin, aged two, loved the Enchanted Village,’ says journalist and parent, Gina Clarke (@ginadav). ‘The lodges are set around a small play area, which kept the little ones entertained while we unpacked. They also loved the little fairy door and the comfy bunk beds, which were very welcome after a long day in the park.’

A knight to remember

Warwick Castle has long been a favourite family day out, but in recent years it has started to offer a variety of glamping and lodging experiences in the grounds.

‘The medieval-themed woodland lodges are in a peaceful glade on the banks of the River Avon, set within the castle grounds,’ says Jardine Howlett from the PR team at Warwick Castle (@WarwickCastle).

‘Whether you're four or forty, there's nothing more exciting than sleeping in a castle,’ says Cathy. ‘We stayed in one of the lodges in the Knight's Village by the river. You get VIP access and a two-day pass for the castle.

‘It's also worth booking the medieval feast, where armoured knights encourage kids to finish up their food. The evening entertainment involved archery and jester skills, and a lesson in how to disembowel a barbarian. It was blood-thirstily brilliant!’ grins Cathy.

Kids camping in a church (Champing)

But memorable summer sleepovers don't have to have too big an effect on the family finances – why not try champing this summer and bunk down in one of Britain's ancient churches. There are currently 12 churches across the country opening their doors to overnight visitors, including St Michael the Archangel's Church in Norfolk.


Whether it's for thrilling or just chilling, a cool kids' sleepover adventure could be just the ticket this summer – especially for imaginative kids who want their dreams to turn into reality.

If you want to put a little more aside for your family finances, in case you are unable to support them, consider a protection policy.

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