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Britain’s favourite childhood memories

Our fondest and most vivid childhood memories can stay with us for a lifetime. From a trip to the beach on a summer's day to getting a puppy after months of pleading, the experiences we have early in life can shape us as adults.

We surveyed 2,166 Brits aged 18 and over to discover our most memorable childhood moments, including the feelings they evoke, the smells that trigger memories most and our intentions to recreate them with our own children as they grow up.

Most memorable moments

Almost two in five Brits (37%) say holidays with their family, as well as Christmas Day (37%), are the most memorable moments from their childhood. This is followed closely by visiting grandparents (35%) and going on school trips (31%).

Other cherished memories from Brits’ childhoods include buying sweets from the local shop (30%), having or getting a pet (29%) and first relationships with a girlfriend or boyfriend (27%).

More than nine in 10 adults (94%) say receiving a birthday or Christmas gift they wanted is their most positive memory, as opposed to falling out with friends, which is their most negative memory from childhood (68%).

When it comes to who features in fond memories, one in three (34%) treasure memories involving parents the most. These recollections evoke feelings of love (24%) and happiness (17%). Thinking of moments with their grandparents also evokes feelings of love for one in five people (19%).

Nearly one in four (23%) value memories that involve a pet compared to memories featuring siblings (22%) and wider family members (21%).

How do Brits’ most memorable childhood moments compare by region?

Christmas Day is the most important memory for nearly half of those in the East of England (46%) while over four in 10 people in the North West (43%) say they cherish their family holiday memories the most.

Six in 10 people in Northern Ireland (62%) say visiting their grandparents is their top childhood memory, while in Wales, having or getting a pet (38%) is the most memorable moment from childhood.

The smells that trigger memories

Scent has been found to be a key memory trigger, so we asked Brits which smells evoke childhood memories, from the scent of Play-Doh to freshly cut grass.

The smell of the hot gravy, roast potatoes and vegetables that are all part of a classic roast dinner is a key memory trigger for 18% of Brits.

Over one in six (16%) say the smell of their grandparent's home reminds them of their childhood while 15% of Brits say the smell of school dinners takes them back to their childhood, followed by freshly cut grass (14%) and the beach (12%).

What do parents think about recreating childhood memories?

With over half of parents (52%) saying family traditions are important to them, and 29% saying they often look at photos from their childhood, we delved deeper to discover whether they intend to recreate these moments for their own children.

One quarter (25%) believe it’s important to recreate their favourite childhood memories with their own children, while 28% say they wish they spent more time recreating these moments.

Four in 10 parents (41%) wish they had appreciated their childhood moments more and over one in three (34%) sometimes wish they could be a child again.

Brought to you by the life insurance experts at Comparethemarket


The survey data collected in this study was based on a survey of 2,166 UK residents aged 18 and over, which took place in August 2022.