Past Play Days

It’s great to look back at the themes from past Playdays.  Each is detailed below and any associated research is in our Playday Resources and Research library.

Playday 2022 – All to Play For

The campaign theme highlighted the importance of building play opportunities for all children. Play happens everywhere, every day, and is the right of every child and young person.

  • Play is essential for children and young people’s physical and mental health.
  • Play allows children and young people to make friends, develop relationships, and have fun together.
  • Play enables children and young people to feel connected to their communities, leading to happier communities for all.
  • Play has an important role in helping children and young people cope with stress and anxiety, deal with challenges, and make sense of what’s happening around them.

Playday 2021 – Give children a Summer of Play

During the Coronavirus pandemic children faced challenges and uncertainty – they need to enjoy time for play free of restrictions, with their friends, having fun. Recognising the importance of children’s play and supporting children to play, on Playday and every day, was more important than ever.

Whilst Playday is the national day for play in the UK, in 2021 we encouraged families, carers, and communities to help children enjoy a Summer of Play.

  • Playing is essential for children’s mental health and well-being.
  • Playing helps children cope with stress and anxiety and fosters resilience, enabling children to better deal with challenges.
  • Playing gives children the opportunity to have fun, laugh, take time out, relax, and build friendships.
  • Playing outside allows children to appreciate nature, the environment, and feel part of their community.
  • Playing is fundamental to children’s happiness, and happy children lead to happier communities.

Playday 2020 – Everyday Freedoms Everyday Adventures

The Playday 2020 theme highlighted the importance of giving children and teenagers the freedom to play and have everyday adventures.

Given the challenges faced by children in 2020 due to government restrictions, the campaign focused on the unique characteristics of play that help children make sense of the world around them and can alleviate their stress and anxiety, particularly during uncertain times.

  • Playing is fun and is central to children’s happiness
  • Playing helps children’s physical, mental and emotional health and well-being
  • Playing boosts children’s resilience, enabling them to cope with stress, anxiety and challenges
  • Playing supports children to develop confidence, creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Playing contributes to children’s learning and development

Playday 2019 – Play builds children

The Playday 2019 theme aimed to highlight the many ways in which play is beneficial to children and young people.

  • Play Builds Friendships – playing allows children to interact with others, develop relationships, deal with conflict, and learn respect and tolerance
  • Play Builds Resilience – playing boosts children’s confidence, creativity, problem-solving skills and perseverance, enabling them to cope with stress and challenges throughout life
  • Play Builds Health and Wellbeing – being active through play helps children physically and emotionally, contributing to their health and happiness
  • Play Builds Communities – playing allows children to learn about the world around them, make connections, and develop a sense of identity and belonging.

Playday 2018  – Celebrate 31 years of Playday

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 wellbeing
  • creativity and learning
  • all ages and abilities
  • communities.

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, wellbeing and happiness.

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.

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.

A UK-wide opinion poll was conducted to support and inform the Playday 2013 Playful Places campaign. Views from the 3,000 children, parents and adults surveyed show a positive attitude towards children’s play outside.

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, wellbeing and development.

New research released for Playday 2012 has found that 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.

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 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!

Play on the longest day in Scotland 2011

‘Play on the Longest Day’ 21 June 2011

Play on the longest day was launched by Play Scotland in 2011 to enable nurseries, schools and aftercare settings to be involved in the celebrations.

When better to get outside and enjoy the exhilaration of Free Play? It’s the longest day, so there will be plenty of daylight hours to have plenty of fun. It may not be dry though. It is Scotland after all. So please consider how you can prevent rain from stopping play!

Playday 2010 – Our Place

The theme of Playday 2010 encouraged communities to think about the community places that children might play, including streets and nearby green spaces.  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.

Playday 2009 – Make Time!

The Make Time! campaign aimed to encourage parents to make time for play in their busy lives.  Children often have very little ‘down time’ and research showed that parents wanted more time to play with their children.

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.

Playday 2007 – Our Streets too!

The theme reflected that children were no longer able to use local streets for play, due to the increase of traffic and the dominance of the car.  A large body of research was commissioned to support Playday 2007: Our streets too!

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