An alfresco August for staycationers: Drive-in cinemas, a 100mph zip-wire line and Dark Sky forests

An alfresco August is on the cards for staycationers thanks to drive-in cinemas, a 100mph zip-wire line, mega-mazes and ‘Dark Sky’ forests

  • Drive-in cinemas are set to be the hit of 2020, says Holiday Hero Neil Simpson
  • The ‘mega maize maze’ at Hirsty’s Family Fun park allows for social distancing
  • Farms across the country are reopening Pick Your Own fields 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: summertime specials making staycations better than ever.

An alfresco August is on the cards as a series of reopened attractions and pop-up events combine the great outdoors with the Great British sense of humour.

Drive-in cinemas are set to be the hit of 2020. Up to 500 cars can line up for outdoor movies with screens at the likes of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, Tatton Park in Manchester and Harewood House in Leeds for comedies such as Cool Runnings, singalongs like The Greatest Showman and retro favourite Back To The Future.

Cars and stars: Film fans park up at stately home Blenheim Palace for a drive-in showing of Pretty Woman on the big screen

Cinema is also on offer at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, as well as posh picnics in the grounds, where couples get deckchairs and parasols while groups of up to six have stylish tables and chairs under bespoke pergolas. Choose hampers for lunch, afternoon tea or evening meals amid the Capability Brown-designed park. Fancy another drink? Stroll over to ‘Maggie’ the retro caravan bar for some fizz.

In Great Yarmouth, the latest ‘mega maize maze’ at Hirsty’s Family Fun park has been grown with paths two metres wide to aid social distancing. The route to the centre is as complicated as ever and there is a new ‘crazy croquet’ course and a hay bale mountain to tackle after you emerge. The farm also stages its own drive-in movie nights.

Treasure hunts are springing up all over, and not just for children. In London, a series of ‘great game’ outdoor hunts focus on the secrets of Westminster, Bloomsbury or the wide-open spaces of Greenwich Park. Solve the clues and at the end, X marks the spot of a perfect pub.

Social distance at over 100mph on Velocity 2, the newly reopened zip-wire lines in Penrhyn Quarry, Wales. Certified as the fastest in the world, you need to be over ten to ride the wires and brave families of four can each use a different line to shoot down together in a giant, high-wire race.

Get a taste of the golden age of rail by boarding the five-star Belmond Royal Scotsman train that stops on the shores of Loch an Eilein in Scotland at dusk, so you can get off for an alfresco dinner cooked on hot coals and served with a warming toddy. An astronomer will be on hand for expert star-gazing.

Find a different way to travel by taking a Segway ride on the footpaths and off-road trails of the 8,000-acre Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire.

Take a Segway ride through 8,000-acre Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire (pictured) - an official 'Dark Skies' area

Take a Segway ride through 8,000-acre Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire (pictured) – an official ‘Dark Skies’ area

Rent the two-wheelers from and if you stay until the evening you’ll find yourself in an official ‘Dark Skies’ area where clear nights give great views of the Milky Way.

Farms across the country are reopening Pick Your Own fields, though this year’s strawberries and raspberries are disappearing fast. Or choose a farm with a wider range of fruit and veg, including blackberries, beetroot and French beans at Crockford Bridge Farm in Surrey.

Wait a few more weeks and the first apples and pears of the year should be ripening at the likes of West Bradley Orchards in Somerset. Dogs and picnics will be welcome on the picking weekends and local honey, cider and logs will be on sale. Find a farm local to you at