1/15 Young Mucker Race
Why should adults have all the fun? Leading sports adventure company Rat Race, who organise ‘The Dirty Weekend’ – the toughest adult obstacle event in the UK – are holding their first ever ‘Young Mucker’ race this year. It’s a chance for 8-15 year olds to get a taste for the muddy run in a fun-sized serving. Young Muckers will complete a 1.5km (8-10 years) or 3km (11-15 years) course, taking in the ‘School Daze’ zone from the ‘Full Mucker’ route, plus some obstacles created just for them.
You can run alongside your children, helping them over obstacles or – if you’re exhausted after your own ‘Full Mucker’ – there’ll be marshals running around the course to urge older children on. All kids get a well-deserved medal, water bottle, chocolate bar and all the kudos that comes with competing and completing the tough, messy fun run.
When/where: 9 May. The Young Mucker race is on Saturday afternoon after the main race has started. The race will be in 2 waves with 8-10’s starting at 2pm and the 11-15’s starting at 2:30pm. The Young Mucker Race takes place at Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Price: £20 per child, with £5 from each entry going to Children With Cancer.
Find out more: ratracedirtyweekend.com
About the author
Kim Jones is an experienced journalist who has worked at various women’s weekly magazines, and now freelances for them and the national papers writing about travel, health and lifestyle. She lives in Cardiff with her partner and their two sons, aged 15 and 11 and loves persuading them all to come away on holidays with her in the family VW camper van.
Find Kim on Twitter @kimsfeatures
2/15 May the Force be with You
Star Wars is coming to Madame Tussauds London! Work is currently underway on the finishing touches to an unique immersive experience featuring 16 of the most famous galactic heroes and villains from the films. Get up close to all your favourites including Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jabba the Hut, Darth Vader, Darth Maul and the sinister Stormtroopers.
Authentic sounds, music and costumes from the movies will surround you and there’s the chance to star alongside your heroes as the experience recreates iconic scenes from the films.
When: opens 16 May
Price: Tickets pre-booked online start at £24.75 for adults and £21.60 for children
Find out more: madametussauds.com/London
3/15 On your bikes
Cycling with the family ticks plenty of boxes for the perfect day out. It’s good fun, gets you out into the fresh air for exercise, plus it gives you the chance to discover hidden parts of the country that cars can’t reach. But it can be super-stressful when you’re struggling to keep yourself – and your brood – safe on busy roads. Step in a new book – Sustrans’ Traffic-Free Cycle Rides – a guide to traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling routes all over the country. (Sustrans is the charity that co-ordinates the National Cycle Network).
The book features 150 cycling routes that meander through National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, coastlines and picturesque villages. There are also suggested accommodation and food-stops for each route, all of which help you plan a perfect, pedalling trip on two wheels. Go on, get on your bike!
When: throughout the year
Price: £15.99 (all proceeds go towards supporting Sustrans’ work)
Find out more: sustrans.org.uk/shop
Add this brand new festival to your start-of-summer-calendar. Aimed at families with children aged between 2 and 12 years old, it takes place at Tatton Park in Cheshire and sees an exciting programme of live shows take to the stage. Catch CBeebies favourites Mr. Bloom, ‘I Can Cook’ presenter Katy Ashworth plus Cook and Line from Swashbuckle for a slapstick pirate adventure.
There are art and craft and LEGO Master Model Build workshops, Tumble Tots sessions, a Touch Pool from Sea Life Manchester, pop-up petting farm, donkey rides, giant sandpits, bubble shows, face painting and a bouncy inflatable village. The ‘Groovy Zone’ will get everyone dancing with a lively disco, Zumba workshops and dance classes, and if you fancy learning how to unicycle or juggle, take a trip to the Circus Zone. Older children will love the buzz of the Adrenaline Zone which hosts tree climbing, den making and a thrilling zip line while younger visitors can enjoy interactive storytelling, baby massage and yoga.
When: 23-25 May, 10am to 5pm, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire
Price: Early bird ticket £20, Regular ticket £25, Family of 4 ticket £75, Family of 6 ticket £109.80 (must consist of 2 adults & 4 children only), VIP ticket £35 (free internet, separate VIP marquee, separate wine bar/food vendors, extra activities and a separate meet & greet timetable). Under 2’s free
Find out more: geronimofest.com
5/15 RHS Malvern Spring Festival
A regional ‘version’ of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Malvern has become well-known for showcasing emerging horticultural talent in their Show, Festival and School Gardens. After being wowed by the displays, get heady on the scents of blooms in the Floral Marquee, then get your hands dirty in the Get Going, Get Growing arena. Sunday 10 May is Family Day at the show with lots of child-friendly events.
Meet CBeebies star Mr Bloom and Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins in planting workshops, follow a cryptic map on a treasure hunt, marvel at magic shows and lots more.
When/where: 7-10 May, 9am-6pm. RHS Malvern Spring Festival, Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire
Price: Advance tickets from £16. Tickets on the gate from £19. Children (16 and under) go free.
Find out more: rhsmalvern.co.uk
6/15 Deep Sea Week
Dive deep into the depths of the ocean at The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. It’s running a week of activities for half-term, including a daily Deep Sea Explorers Show which takes you on a journey to the Abyss, six miles down onto the ocean floor. Find out how animals survive in a seemingly hostile environment where there is no light and the water is barely above freezing.
Peer into the murky water, and as bright lights are switched on, see an alien landscape inhabited with bizarre bioluminescent creatures that emit their own light. Finish off your day in the activities area and make a deep sea beastie to take home.
When/where: 23rd – 31 May. Open from 10am-5pm. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
Price: Adult £14.75, Child (4 -15 years old inclusive) £10.75, 3 years and under free, Family (2 adults + 2 children)£43.00.
Find out more: national-aquarium.co.uk
7/15 London Pet Show
Whether you’re considering a new family pet or your house is already overrun with all creatures great and small, then you’ll enjoy a day out at this animal-lovers’ annual event. Discover all you need to know about dogs, cats, rabbits, ponies, parrots, geckos and more (not forgetting giant snails and mini micro-pigs of course). Meet animal experts and celebrities – such as Channel 4’s SuperVet Noel Fitzpatrick – for shows, talks and Q& A sessions.
There are also fun displays like Dog Dancing, Duck Herding and Rabbit Show Jumping (no kidding) plus obedience classes, puppy training and plenty more. As well as being a great day out, the show, sponsored by GoCompare, promotes responsible pet ownership and animal welfare.
When/where: 9-10 May. ExCel London
Price: advance tickets cost: Adult (16+) £18.10, Child (5-15) £12.78, Family (2 adult, 2 Children) £57.51, Under 5s free
Find out more: londonpetshow.co.uk
8/15 Stay away for £35 or less
Travelodge, one of the nation’s favourite budget hotel chains, has released 200,000 rooms for a thrifty £35 or less on stays this spring. It’s a great opportunity for you to plan ahead and book a short break to keep the kids entertained over the May Bank Holidays without breaking the bank. Travelodge has over 500 hotels across the UK – from Scarborough to Edinburgh, Leicester to Newquay – so whether you’re looking for a city or seaside break, you’re spoilt for choice.
Around 87% of Travelodge’s rooms have been modernised with a new contemporary look and feel. The whole family should get a great night’s sleep in the new luxurious Travelodge Dreamer Beds and truckle beds for the kids.
When: Stay dates must take place between May 1 and 30 June 2015 (this offer excludes central London hotels)
Price: £35 or less a room subject to availibility
Find out more: travelodge.co.uk
9/15 Have a ‘den-day’
Every child loves building makeshift dens (whether under the table or in the garden) and now they can get creative with chairs, duvets, boxes and blankets for a good cause. Charity Save the Children’s Den Day asks that you and your kids join forces and get sponsored to build a den – then spend the day or night in it.
Taking part can be as simple as piling up some cushions, throwing over a bed-sheet and calling it a tepee, to turning the whole living room into a den for the day. The campaign aims to highlight the fact that some children around the world don’t have a safe place to sleep or play. Makes you think doesn’t it?
When: from 29 May to 6 June
Price: Free. Sign up online and get a free kit packed with ideas and tips on den-building.
Find out more: denday.org and savethechildren.org.uk
10/15 Celebrate canoeing week
Pick up a paddle and get moving in the ‘Road to Rio’ challenge. The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio is just over a year away, and Go Canoeing, the Olympic legacy initiative from British Canoeing, is urging the nation to paddle the distance from the UK to Rio (that’s 24,901 miles) for National Go Canoeing Week 2015. All ages and abilities are encouraged to get involved – and beginners are welcome – at more than 500 clubs and centres throughout England.
You can join Starter Sessions and Guided Tours or take part in one and three-mile Challenges at a number of picturesque locations including Windermere, Rutland, Lee Valley and The New Forest. After paddling, you can log on to the Go Canoeing Week website to submit your individual distances and help reach the overall ‘Road to Rio’ target.
When: 23 – 31 May
Price: costs vary at each club and centre, see online
Find out more: gocanoeingweek.org.uk
11/15 Beyond Bollywood
The heat, colours and energy of India’s Bollywood come to the West End at The London Palladium in this show straight from sell-out dates in Mumbai. This lively musical tells the story of Shaily Shergill, who leaves behind her Munich home to journey to India in a quest to fulfil her mother’s dying wish.
Expect drama, romance and humour and of course diverse dance styles – including Bhangra, Bihu, Garba and Kabeliya – performed by award-winning classical Indian and Bollywood dancers. With sumptuous costumes and live music mixed with recorded tracks, it’s described as ‘a theatrical experience never seen before outside a Bollywood movie.’ Book your tickets and feel transported now!
When: 8 May– 27 June
Price: Tickets cost from £25-£75
Find out more: beyondbollywoodmusical.com
12/15 Tree Fu Tom live
Fans of CBeebies Tree Fu Tom TV show are in for a treat when the leaf-size hero makes an appearance at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. To celebrate the opening of the Zoo’s brand new, immersive Butterfly House, The UK’s highest-rated TV show for 4-6 year olds has created a fully-staged, 15-minute live show that uses play and movement to get Tree Fu Tom’s fans up and active, and magically transports them into the tiny world of Treetopolis.
The moves in the show are designed to help develop movement skills, strength and balance in young children. Visitors will also be able to explore the new Butterfly House throughout May half-term with a special Tree Fu Tom Trail, featuring spotter sheets, trivia and, of course, lots of butterflies like Tom’s friend Ariella.
When/where: Tree Fu Tom Live runs 23-25 May (five 15-minute shows daily) and the Tree Fu Tom Trail runs 23-31 May. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedforshire
Price: The show and trail are free with admission. Online prices are: Adults £22.70, Children (3-15) £16.35, Family Tickets £64.58
Find out more: zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo
13/15 Spend the night in a museum
This annual late night after-hours festival of art, culture and heritage lets you and the children see museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites across the UK in a different (darker) light. There are some fab family-friendly events going on including pyjama story sessions where animals and artefacts come to life, torchlit tours and peeks behind the scenes, mystery games, campfire sing-alongs, star-gazing sessions, plus bands playing and stage-plays taking place amongst the exhibits as well as family sleepovers to finish off the fun.
When: 13-16 May
Price: some events are free, others are charged; prices vary
Find out more: museumsatnight.org.uk
14/15 Snails, s’il vous plaît?
Take the family on a French gastronomic adventure. The new Rejuve Menu sees Café Rouge return firmly to its Parisian roots, celebrating the best of both new and classic French cuisine and designed to entice customers to try new delicacies. How does a taster pot of snails with garlic butter sound for starters?
Executive Chef Duncan McEwan spent months poring over past menus and has resurrected some old favourites from the French restaurant chain, including Poulet Breton (a roast chicken supreme with mushrooms, courgettes, leeks, herb wine sauce and mustard mash) plus Confit de Canard (a slow cooked duck leg with French Beans, Dauphonoise potatoes and cherry sauce.) The Kids’ Menus include a choice of salmon fillet, cheese crepe and Pasta Provencal.
When: most restaurants open Mon-Sat 9am-11pm and Sun 10am-10.30pm
Price: Main menu, prices vary. Prix Fixe evening menu, 2 courses, £15.95, 3 courses, £19.95. Plus a free glass of fizz if you book online. Children’s menus, including a main, dessert and drink, £6.25
Find out more: caferouge.com
15/15 Kids for a quid
Oxford Castle Unlocked – the 1000 year old castle and prison attraction in the centre of Oxford – is offering entry to children for just £1 during May half-term. Learn all about the horrible history of this building, which served as a castle, royal residence and a prison and follow a costumed character tour guide to explore the historic buildings and the fascinating stories behind them.
Climb the Saxon-built St George’s Tower, then descend deep underground to the 900 year old crypt. And dare you enter the drab confines of the Debtors’ Tower and Prison D-wing?
When: 26-31 May, 10am to 5.30pm (last tour 4.20pm)
Price: Adult £10.25, Child £1, Family (any party of four £32.95)