NOW UPDATED WITH 2018 DATES
Okay, so we might not get many hot days, but when the sun is shining there is nothing quite like playing in water for kids. In the North East we are really lucky to have a quite a few options for where to cool down when it warms up. Lets face it though, we could have a cold and wet summer and most kicds would still love to play in a splash pad or take a dip in a paddling pool. Read on for some ideas about where to head and information about opening hours.
** Please note opening times etc have been taken from websites, and getting in touch with the operators. These water features have been known to be off for repairs so it's always best to check with the operator before setting off for any unplanned closures, to save any disappointment **
Having visited all of the North East splash pads I think that this is my favourite. I think it is the biggest, and seems to have most features. I wish it was located a bit closer to the car park though!
We discovered this splash pad the week before it closed last year. Even though it was completely clouded over my toddler absolutely loved it. We ended up going back a few days later to play some more. The splash pad is really big, with loads of different fountains, pouring spouts and even a movable water jet thing, so that you can aim it at your friends. Both times we visited it was during the school day, so it was really quiet, but we saw signs which explained there was a system in place for busy days, where you were allowed in the splash pad a certain amount of time, to enable the most people to get use out of it. They do pre-school sessions on Mondays and Fridays in June though, so a great time to visit if you have a toddler. It's totally free (although car parking charges apply - £2 for 4 hours), and as the park in Chester-le-Street is so big it is a brilliant day out.
Open from 28 April 2018 until 9 September 2018. Certain times only so check the table below for specifics. Taken from Durham council info:
I've visited Ridley Park quite a bit and even did one of my first (cringe worthy) blog posts about it, but I've haven't got any photos from when the Splash Pad is in operation. It is very similar to the Chester-le-Street one but perhaps slightly smaller, but the good thing is that this one is now open every day. We visited one day last year, expecting it to open at 12pm, but were disappointed that it didn't come on. From checking the sign in the park - photographed below - it looks like it doesn't run if its been raining at any point which it had on the day we were there.
So the Northumberland council webpage states, 'IWe will commence recommissioning work this week with the installation of the water spray equipment and the testing and disinfection of the water play feature by the NCC appointed contractor . This will be followed by water sampling and subject to clearance from our contractors we anticipate the feature will be in operation for the second May Day Bank Holiday weekend. Thereafter the feature will operate daily June through to September. '
I very nearly forgot to include this one as it isn't set out as a traditional Splash Pad, but I'm glad that I didn't as I've been to Alnwick Gardens a few times and in rain or shine, summer or winter, there are always some children getting soaked in their water play area. Their website says, "A serpent-shaped yew hedge leads the visitor to eight water sculptures, each hidden within the scales of the serpent and designed by William Pye. Each sculpture is interactive and explores a different aspect of the behaviour and physics of water." It is open whenever the gardens are, and times are given below. There is a cost to visit, but it is a lovely day out and lots more to see apart from just the water, so I would recommend it if you are planning on a full day out.
Summer Opening Times
31st March – 31st October
Daily 10.00am – 6.00pm
Tickets - £12.10 adults, £4.40 Children, under 4s are free. Car Parking is £3.
**The latest on this feature is that it is closed for repair. We will update this post when we hear it's reopened.**
This is probably more of a water feature than a splash pad, but it is big enough that the kids will be drenched within five minutes of playing there. Now there are no details on the website about the opening times, but I have a feeling this one is open whenever the park is. When I took this video there was a little sign next to it saying that to operate the water feature you needed to use the foot pump, so don't be put off if its not on when you get there - it's not meant to be, but doesn't mean that it isn't working.
This splash pads is a bit different from the rest as it's built on a bit of a hill compared to the rest which are flat. It's a really good option, lots of different fountains, and located right next to a little cafe. It's located right next to Marine Park, and when we visited a few weeks ago the water was already on (although it looked FREEZING!).It is free to use, and there are FREE parking spaces in the car park next to Marine Park school (the ones near Spanish City are charged for)
Whitley Bay Water Park is open every day from Easter Weekend to the end of September 10am to 6pm.
Despite much googling this is the only proper paddling that I can find in the North East. We had a couple of lovely days out there last year. It's big enough for kids to have spend ages in there, with a little platform in the middle to jump off and a mushroom fountain to splash under. Apart from the paddling pool it's a really nice park. Quite a big section for little kids and then a section for older kids with a massive slide.
Opening times info taken from here: The paddling pool is open daily from Saturday 26th May 2018 to 2nd September 2018.
Dip your feet
A much smaller little water feature, with just a sand and water area deep enough to splash your feet. The actual play area is brilliant at Gibside though so one to visit if you are a National Trust member.
Another excellent park. One to visit if you haven't yet. It's so big with areas for kids of all ages. They have a water feature with channels and dams which the kids can mess around with. Can't find any information about when this water feature is in operation so please let us know if you've visited recently whether it's been on.
There is a small water fountain in Chase park which has handles to pump the water around and is great fun for a sunny day. The park had a full revamp in 2017 too, so it has a decent amount of equipment for children of all ages.
I haven't noticed this small stream type of water feature, but readers of this blog have mentioned it to me. I'm not sure anyone knows when it will or wont be on, but Rising Sun has a small park, community farm and tracks for walking and scooting so a decent place to visit for the afternoon anyway if you think of the water as a bonus feature rather than a reason for visiting.
Outdoor Swimming Pools
**Please check before travelling. It looks like this pool has reopened now, but there is still a banner on their website saying they are closed until April 2018?** If you travel 45 minutes out of Newcastle then you can visit a proper outdoor pool - slides and all, at Haltwhistle. They actually have 3 outdoor heated pools. There are images to view here. Now in addition to it being a bit of a trek, it isn't all that cheap, with adults tickets at £9.30, and children's at £7.80, but it looks to be a really good day out. I think that we will make the trip this summer, let us know if you have been and would recommend it. Open everyday, but check the website as they sometimes close for parties.
If you head 45 minutes in the direction of Stanhope then there is another outdoor pool. This one doesn't have a slide, but there is a little play area for kids. It's also much cheaper at £4 for adults and £2.75 for children. They open on Saturday 26 May, and the usual opening times can be found on their website.
Which one has caught your eye? Do you have any other recommendations that I've missed? Drop us a comment below.