What’s Playday?

Playday is the national day for play, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August.

It is the biggest play sector event in the UK, and possibly Europe! As well as a celebration of children’s right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. Playday is coordinated by Play England, in partnership with Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland.

A bit of history
Back in 1986, rumours were rife of imminent cuts on school-based play centres and adventure playgrounds in London. In response, a group of playworkers called a meeting to see what they could do. Not many turned up, but unperturbed Mick Conway, Paul Bonel and Kim Holdaway put their heads together and came up with the notion of having a day for play.

Mick Conway and Kim Holden at the plaque commemorating the birth of Playday

Mick Conway and Kim Holdaway at the plaque commemorating the birth of Playday

Their initial aims were to raise the profile of play and alert people locally to the potential loss of children’s play services. They had no idea that it would become anything more than an inner London campaign to persuade boroughs to continue to support playgrounds and play centres.

From just a couple of events in 1987, Playday grew to around a dozen in London by 1989, went national in 1991 and is now the biggest celebration of children’s play in the UK, if not Europe. Last year communities across the UK celebrated Playday at hundreds of events.

More than thirty years later, Playday again provides an opportunity for the play sector to raise awareness about the importance of play in children’s lives, and show decision-makers that cutting local play services will have devastating effects on children, families and whole communities.

What happens on Playday?
To celebrate Playday, children, young people and communities get out and play at hundreds of community events across the UK.

Playday events range from street parties, festivals in parks or village greens, mass adventures in woodlands, fields, even beaches, and public events at community venues. From small-scale events to thousands of children taking part in events organised in parks and open spaces – Playday is celebrated by each community in a way that suits them.

Campaigning for play
As well as a celebration, Playday is an opportunity to campaign on issues affecting children’s play.

Each year, we call on everyone to celebrate Playday and show why play is fundamental for children’s enjoyment of childhood, and vital for their health, well-being and development. In light of government cuts to play services across the country, it is more crucial than ever that we unite to stand up for play.