Past Playdays

Playday 2018  – to celebrate 31 years of Playday the theme was Children’s Right to Play

Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) says that every child has the right to play.

The Playday 2018 theme aimed to:

  • Support communities to come together to celebrate children’s right to play
  • Raise awareness about children’s right to play
  • Promote the importance of playing for children’s happiness as well as physical and mental health and well being.


Playday 2017 – Celebrating 30 years of Playday

2017 Playday celebrated 30 years of Play and looked at how play has changed in the UK over the past 30 years.


Playday 2016 Play matters

The Playday Play matters campaign called on everyone to help make sure that children and young people across the UK have the time, freedom and space to play more. As well as promoting children’s right to play, the campaign is highlighting that Play matters for:

  • children’s mental health and well-being
  • creativity and learning
  • all ages and abilities
  • communities

Full on information can be found at


Playday 2015 – Play more ….

The Playday 2015 campaign theme was Play more…

The Playday Play more… campaign called on everyone to help make sure that children and young people across the UK have the time, freedom and space to play more. As well promoting children’s right to play, the campaign highlighted that playing more is crucial for children’s health, well-being and happiness.

2015 are also celebrated 28 years of Playday!


Playday 2014 – Play is ….

Playday 2014 was held on Wednesday 6 August.  The campaign theme was Play is…

The Playday 2014 campaign was to help spread the word about why play is crucial for children and young people’s health, wellbeing and happiness. The campaign recognised that:

• Play supports children’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

• Play promotes children’s development, creativity and independence.

• Play allows children to find out about themselves and the world around them.

• Playing is fun and children and young people should enjoy themselves.


Playday 2013 – Playful Places

Playday 2013 was held on  Wednesday 7 August and the theme was Playful places.

The Playful places campaign called on everyone to help make sure that the places where children play and hang out are great places to play.

The campaign recognised that:

  • Children should feel welcomed where they live and feel part of their communities.
  • Parents want their children to be able to play outside.
  • Public space should be designed and managed with children’s play in mind.
  • Children and young people need to be involved in planning the places and spaces where they play.

2013 Opinion Poll

A UK-wide opinion poll was conducted to support and inform the Playday 2013 Playful Places campaign. Results reveal that unwelcoming communities are stopping children playing out as much as they would like in the streets and areas where they live.

Views from the 3,000 children, parents and adults surveyed as part of this opinion poll show a positive attitude towards children’s play outside. In addition to children and young people wanting to play outside, many adults also recognise the wider benefits to community and family life, such as creating a sense of community spirit and allowing families to get to know each other.

However, the findings highlight how children’s freedom to play outside is substantially reduced compared to that experienced by previous generations.

The adults surveyed believe that children are experiencing a childhood vastly different to their own, with less time, space and freedom to explore their local area. Reflecting this, the majority of children aged 5-11 would like to be able to play out more than they currently do, and whilst 12-16 year olds are happier with their freedom to spend time with friends outside, a significant minority of this age group would also like more opportunity to do so.

Key barriers to children playing out more, mentioned by both children and adults surveyed, include concerns for children’s safety; especially relating to danger from traffic, but also fears about potential harm from strangers. Reflecting this, children tell us that the changes they need to enable them to play more include: less danger from traffic and less parked cars; having more time to play; having more of their friends living near them; having more areas to play; parents and carers giving them more permission to do so, and having more adult supervision available.

The opinion poll was conducted by One Poll in July 2013, with 1,000 children between 5 and 16 years old, 1,000 parents of children between 5 and 16 years old and 1,000 adults, all sampled throughout the UK.



Playday 2012 – Get out and play!

Get out and play! showed why play is fundamental to children’s enjoyment of childhood, and vital to their health, well-being and development.

Traffic and a fear of strangers are preventing children from playing outdoors, new researchreleased for Playday 2012 has found.

Almost half (49%) of parents report that fear of strangers stops their children from playing out, while 46% say traffic and almost third (31%) highlight fear of accident and injury as barriers to outdoor play.

The findings of the survey have been released today as an estimate of half-a-million families and children nationwide celebrate Playday – the national day for play in the UK, held this year on Wednesday 1 August. Around 500 community events are taking place across the UK to celebrate 25 years of the campaign, which raises awareness about children’s right to play and the importance of play for children’s health, well being and happiness.

The Playday 2012 theme is Get out and play! The campaign, which is coordinated by Play England (part of the National Children’s Bureau), Play Wales, Play Scotland and Playboard Northern Ireland has gone from strenght-to-strength since its conception in London in 1987, when the first events were held to raise awareness about the effects of cuts to local play services.

Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive of Play Scotland, said: “Playday is a fantastic opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate play. Children and adults can enter into the true spirit of play which is child focused, spontaneous and fun – it is not a weather dependent event, and you can usually guarantee that everyone will get a bit wet and muddy before the end of the day! Events can be street based and local or organised at key venues throughout Scotland. Check the website for details and if there is no event happening near you – organise your own!”


Playday 2011

For Playday 2011, we did things a bit differently. Rather than have a specific theme we focussed on all aspects of why play is important. We e asked everyone to make an extra special effort to celebrate the national day for play, to help strengthen our call to protect children’s right to play.

Hundreds of communities across the UK organised over 520 local Playday events and activities. In addition, thousands of children, young people and their families marked the occasion by simply getting out to play!

Campaigning for play

Playday event organisers also used the Playday campaign to:

  • Fight cuts to play funding
  • Press for local improvements to play
  • Save a local play space
  • Encourage your community to work together to support play


Playday in Scotland 2011 – ‘Play on the Longest Day’ 21 June


Playday 2010 – Our Place

Opinion poll

Figures released for Playday 2010 revealed that the loss of community spirit in Britain was leading to children not being allowed to play outside where they live.

An ICM survey commissioned by Play England, found that 79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were a child. This is compounded by the fact that nearly half of men (44%) and 28% of women would be wary to help a child in need of assistance in their neighbourhood, in case they were suspected of attempting to abduct the child.

The research also found that 47% of adults think it is unsafe for children to play out without supervision, and that 1 in 3 (37%) parents are concerned they will be judged by their neighbours if they let their children play out unsupervised.

71% of children worry about being followed or taken by strangers, but despite evident fears, nearly three quarters of children (73%) say they would like to play out more where they live.

The research demonstrates a resounding call for communities to pull together to create better places for children to grow up, with a belief that improving opportunities for children to play outside would improve neighbourhoods in general. 81% of adults believe children playing outside helps to improve community spirit and 70% think that it makes an area more desirable to live in.


Playday 2009 – Make Time!


We published a comprehensive body of research to support the Playday 2009 Make time!campaign.

An opinion poll conducted by ICM found that nearly three-quarters of parents (72%) wanted more time to play with their children or to take them places to play.

More than half of parents (52%) felt that work, or other unavoidable commitments, limited their time to support their children to play. This pressure was intensified by the fact that half of parents said there weren’t enough places where they live, for children to play safely without an adult.

The research also found that children were facing pressures on their time too, with homework and extra-curricular activities impacting heavily on children’s free time. A third of children (34%) and a quarter of 7-8 year olds (25%) reported that homework often stopped them playing, and nearly half of adults (47%), thought children should go to fewer extra-curricular activities.

Children told researchers that being denied time to play made them feel bored, unhappy and miss their friends. Parents recognised this, and reported that children were naughty (72%) and angry (62%) if they hadn’t had enough time to play.

When asked what should happen for children to have more time to play, 73% of adults surveyed (increasing to 76% of parents) said they would like more places to play where children can go independently, and 61% (rising to 66% of parents) would like flexible working arrangements for parents.

Download the Playday 2009 research reports:




Playday schools research 2009

To coincide with the return to school, we released new findings from the Playday opinion poll about play in schools. The opinion poll findings showed that parents and children support our call for schools to make time for play.



Playday 2008 – Give us a go!

The Give us a go! campaign research explored the benefits and challenges of enabling children to manage their own risks whilst playing.

In-depth research was carried out with children and young people. For the first time, play providers were consulted.

The opinion poll findings showed that children were facing serious restrictions to their opportunities for adventurous play. Half of children (51%) aged 7-12 years reported they were not allowed to climb a tree without adult supervision and half (49%) also reported that they had been stopped from climbing trees because it was considered to be too dangerous.

The research also found a change in the places where children and young people experienced adventurous and challenging play. As children, 70% of adults enjoyed most of their adventures in natural outdoor environments. This compared with only 29% of children today as both the space and the freedom to roam has dramatically declined in recent years. Today, children’s experiences of adventure are confined to designated areas such as playgrounds (56%), their homes (48%) or theme parks (44%).

A literature review collating published research relating to the theme is also available, and national opinion polls of both children and adults conducted by ICM.







Playday 2007 – Our Streets too!

A large body of research was commissioned to support Playday 2007: Our streets too!

The research was divided into four parts, which when read in conjunction, provided a valuable insight into how children and young people enjoyed the immediate public realm – and worryingly – how their play and informal recreation was becoming increasingly restricted.

The body of research comprised:







Playday 2006 – Theme was: Play Naturally


Playday 2005 – Theme was: Play More


Playday 2004 – Theme was: Families and Play


Playday 2003 – Theme was: Celebrate Play