THOUSANDS of families flocked to a Basingstoke park last Wednesday to take part in a range of activities as part of a national event.

Around 5,000 children, parents and grandparents attended National Play Day at Eastrop Park, organised by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, in partnership with RCS Play Services.

Go-karting, pond dipping and messy play were just some of the free events on offer for families.

Craft workshops, including recyclable art and jewellery-making, an inflatable obstacle course, bouncy castle, fencing workshops and face painting stalls also kept children entertained.

Youngsters had the chance to pet and learn about a variety of animals, including donkeys, sheep, pigs and guinea pigs from the Mill Cottage Farm in Alton.

A music and dance group from the Popley Spotlight Centre in Shakespeare Road wowed the crowds with several performances throughout the day and a workshop for budding dancers gave children the chance to showcase their skills.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s youth officer Mike Nicholls said: “Around 5,000 people came along and took advantage of the chance to try some fun activities together as a family for free.

“It’s been one of our most successful play days ever, helped by the fact that the rain stayed away.

“We hope that we’ve given lots of ideas for interesting and active things that parents and carers can do with the children to stave off the summer holiday boredom as well as enjoying our Green Flag parks.”

Jean King, Basingstoke co-ordinator at RCS Play Services, told The Gazette: “It was brilliant and well-attended. There were lots of activities for everyone to do and for all different ages and the feedback has been really positive.

“The weather was nice to us so everyone had a wonderful time and people say it gets better every year.

“Because it is a free day for the family it is nice that people come and support it.”