Collective Play Day Crafting

{Edinburgh} Family Play at Collective on Calton Hill

I love discovering new places in Edinburgh, even after living here for all this time. Today, my 9 yr old and I visited Collective on Calton Hill for the first time.

Collective Calton Hill

Collective is a free contemporary art centre, located in the old City Observatory on Calton Hill. Apparently it opened to the public in its current location in 2018, but I had no idea it existed when we were last on Calton Hill. It caught my attention when they were advertising a family activity day, which is how we ended up there today.

Collective Play is a year round programme of free art and play sessions for families with children aged 5 – 12. Twice a year they have a big Play Weekend, with outdoor play, artist-led workshops and hands-on activities to encourage creativity and curiosity. This is what youngest son and I were attending. We crafted hats, and took part in a procession to help the Cailleach (the Celtic goddess of winter) prepare for her hibernation through the summer. The event was free, but ticketed.

Collective also run regular weekly play sessions on Friday afternoons during term time. These are also free to attend, and you don’t need to register for the Friday sessions, you can just drop-in any time between 1:30pm and 4pm. 

I had a week chat with one of the play assistants, to find out a bit more about Friday Play. There is always some free play available, including loose-parts, messy play and craft materials, as well as more specific, structured activities such as making soup or roasting marshmallows over a bonfire, scavenger hunts around Calton Hill, or most recently bulb planting, to name just a few. 

Collective Play Day Crafting
Collective Calton Hill Play Shelter

Friday Play meets whatever the weather, and although they have a Play Shelter make sure you come dressed for the weather as a lot of it is still out in the open. The last session for this term will be on Friday 21 June, and then it will start up again after the summer. 

There is a newsletter you can sign up to, which lets you know a few days before what’s coming up that week, and notifies you of any last minute cancellations. Just go to the Collective website, scroll to the footer and complete the ‘Join Our Mailing List’ form, selecting ‘Collective Play’ in the drop-down.

To make the most of your visit to Collective, also check out the set of interactive trails they have created, to help you explore the site and the surrounding park. Choose from the Nature Trail, the Tick Tock Family Trail, or the Family Activity Trail. The trails are available to download from the Collective website.

Collective itself is open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10am – 5pm. Also helpful to know, especially when visiting with kids, is that there are toilets and baby changing facilities, and a kiosk where you can buy drinks and snacks. 

Collective is a registered charity. Admission is free, as is participation in the Play sessions to make it accessible to all, but if you are able to make a donation to support their work then you can do so in the shop or gallery.

Cailleach (the Celtic goddess of winter)

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