The summer holidays are something that children all over the country look forward to – six weeks away from school seems like absolute bliss.
However, for parents it can be a challenging time to keep their youngsters entertained over the long summer break. There is no better time to head down to the railways with a number of societies holding major events over the coming months. It will give the younger generation a chance to see some steam trains in the flesh and can be made into a fun day out for all the family.
As the summer weather continues at a pace here are a few suggestions of where to enjoy sunshine and steam trains in coming months.
Summer of Speed, National Railway Museum, York
The National Railway Museum in York is always a big favourite with families over the summer holidays and this year there are a host of activities on offer. The museum is holding a series of Summer of Speed events celebrating everything great about fast-moving trains.
Between July 24th and September 1st 2013 youngsters will be invited to build their own speed machine and race it on a custom-built track as well as being able to take in a fun family trail. This treasure hunt will see them looking for speedometers all over the Great Hall.
Visitors on July 27th and 28th will be able to witness steam-powered models attempt to beat Mallard's record-breaking run on a miniature railway track.
All activities and admission are free.
Thomas Land, Drayton Manor, Staffordshire
Thomas Land is one of the showpiece sections of Drayton Manor family theme park. The attraction celebrates everything Thomas the Tank Engine and is a major favourite with kids and parents alike with a host of rides and an indoor play area.
Visitors can take a ride on the Troublesome Trucks Coaster, a 220-metre rollercoaster which passes up and over Thomas Land. There is also the opportunity to visit the Thomas & Friends Exhibition at Farmer McColls' farm where visitors can experience the original TV set.
New for summer 2013 is the Winston Ride which will take visitors on a guided tour of Thomas Land.
Ticket prices start at £20 for adults, £5 for children aged between two and three, and £15 for four to 11-year-olds.
The Scarborough Spa Express
This is a real treat for youngsters and adults alike – the Scarborough Spa Express is one of the most magnificent steam trains currently in operation.
Passengers will be able to weave through the picturesque Yorkshire countryside in a truly unique manner seeing the sights and sounds of travelling by steam train. Trips run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between July 16th and August 29th 2013, including Bank Holiday Monday.
People can jump on at Normanton, Wakefield, Woodlesford, Castleford or York and venture out to the coast to the seaside town of Scarborough.
Ticket prices start from £25 for an adult day return and £10 for a child day return.
Diesel Gala, Shepherdswell, Kent
Hosted by the East Kent Railway, the first-ever Diesel Gala is a great day out for all the family. Visitors will be able to see some great diesel engines as well as jump on the Fish & Chip & Real Ale Train.
Taking place over July 27th and 28th 2013, the gala will feature a number of diesel shunter locomotives travelling along the 2.5-mile railway near Dover.
The Fish & Chip & Real Ale Train will no doubt be a major draw for many people, setting off on July 27th at 17:00 BST.
Family tickets are available all weekend for £22.