10 unusual ideas for autism-friendly days out in 2020

Are you bored of doing the same activities every weekend? Do you wish you could do different activities in supportive environments? Would you like your New Year’s Resolution to be to try new things? Me too, so you’ve come to the right place.

To start off the new decade, I’ve put together 10 unusual ideas for autism-friendly days out in 2020. These are all places that offer specific sessions for people with additional needs. It could be an opportunity to engage in a completely new activity or a chance to use their special interest in an alternative way.


Go stargazing


As far as unusual ideas for autism-friendly days out go, this one is up there. If your child is interested in astronomy, they’ll love SENsory Astronights. This annual event is a relaxed, after-dark exploration of the Science Museum. The evening includes science shows and camping in one of the galleries.

When: Saturday, August 8 – Sunday, August 9 2020

Time: 19.15 Saturday to 10.00 Sunday

Price £25 per camper (payable at the time of booking)

Age: Seven to 11

Booking will open at 10.00 on Wednesday 1 April 2020. Call the Learning Support Team on 020 7942 4777 or book online.

For more information, visit the Science Museum’s website


Watch a West End show


The Lion King is touring the UK this year with a relaxed performance in each venue: Edinburgh, London, Bradford, Cardiff, and Southampton

Relaxed Performances are designed to provide an opportunity for people with sensory and communication needs to enjoy the theatre.

For more details, visit the Lion King website


Head down a slippery slope


Does a disability mean you can’t ski? Definitely not and Snowbility is here to prove it. The business is the brainchild of ski development coach, Richard Fetherston, who discovered the benefits that could be achieved for people with additional needs and mental health challenges through ski and snowboard coaching.

It creates a safe environment with a sense of adventure and fun at its two slopes at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead and SnowDome in Tamworth.

Meanwhile, Chill Factore in Manchester hosts autism-friendly sessions during the year and adaptive lessons for people with additional needs. Snozone at Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and Milton Keynes also provides lessons for those with additional needs.


Dancing on Ice


Do the flashing lights, loud music and busy atmosphere put you off taking the kids ice skating? The National Ice Centre in Nottingham hosts monthly relaxed sessions for those who may find ice skating more challenging. It intends to create and encourage an atmosphere where all skaters feel safe and in-control and able to exit the ice with ease at any time.

For information and session times, visit the National Ice Centre website


Family festival


After winning the award for ‘Best New Accessible Event’ for its first festival event in September 2018, the Spectrum Autism Friendly Festival is back for its third year. This year’s event will take place in Matlock on September 26, 2020. It will include yoga classes, bouncy castles, treasure hunts, cookery classes, birds of prey and a silent disco among other activities. Tickets are £15 for adults and £8.50 for children age 4 and over.

Visit the Spectrum Autism Friendly Festival website for more details and tickets.


Make a splash


Why wait until your summer holiday to go to a waterpark?  Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool, Waterworld in Stoke on Trent and Calypso Cove in Barnsley all run regular relaxed sessions for people with additional needs throughout the year.


Theme Park adventure


Visit Thomas Land With Autism

All Aboard for Autism is the National Autistic Society’s inclusive, family-fun day in the grounds of Drayton Manor Theme Park. Families can have fun in a safe and welcoming environment and be part of a special day with other families in a non-judgmental space.

For details of the next event, which will take place in September 2020, visit the National Autistic Society’s website


Edinburgh International Children’s Festival


The annual Edinburgh International Children’s Festival is held every year in May half term. We went for the first time last year and it was very SEND-friendly. There were lots of shows to choose from, including some with a sensory element and some with relaxed performances in their run. Some of the best shows from here go on to feature at the Fringe in August.

To see what happened during our weekend in Edinburgh, visit Edinburgh With Autism – Our First City Break

Visit the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival for dates and keep an eye out for the 2020 online brochure.


Visit a chocolate factory


Cadbury World is a chocolate-lover’s dream where you can learn how confectioneries are made, play in virtual chocolate rain, and add a treat to a pot of warm melted Cadbury Dairy Milk. The experience includes a 4D Chocolate Adventure cinema experience with motion seats, a ride on the Crunchie Rollercoaster and a Cadbury Creme Egg airship, piloted by the Caramel Bunny.


The attraction hosts regular relaxed SEN sessions that have reduced sound, an increase in lighting where necessary, removal of strong scents and fewer visitors to help reduce stress. Free entry for carers.

For more information and to book, visit the Cadbury World website 


The world’s largest indoor rainforest


If all tourist attractions could be as autism-friendly as the Eden Project in Cornwall, it would increase the success rate of our family days out by a billion per cent.

The Eden Project is a global garden housed inside tropical biomes that nestle in the crater the size of 30 football pitches. It includes the largest indoor rainforest in the world. The attraction runs lots of exciting activities throughout the year, especially in the holidays.

Throughout the year, particularly during school holidays, the Eden Project opens early (8am) to allow people with additional needs to enjoy the experience without the crowds. The attraction works with the Sensory Trust to make sure these sessions are the best they can be.

Carers and under-5s get in free.

Check out An Autism Guide to The Eden Project for our independent review (not an ad) after we went there 18 months ago.

Visit the Eden Project website for more information and details of the next relaxed sessions.


  • What activities would you love to try this year? Let me know in the comments below.


  • If you enjoyed reading 10 unusual ideas for autism-friendly days out in 2020, I would love it if you could share this post on social media to help other families with ideas for days out this year.


Comments 2

  1. We are off to Cornwall for the first time with the kids in the summer. Good to know about the special opening time would be ideal for us.

  2. Some great ideas here. We love Drayton Manor and the Eden Project. I like the idea of a family festival will have to check that out.

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