1/15 Knight School at the Tower of London
Can your feisty little knights help defend the famous fortress? Throughout February half term, the Tower of London will be offering families the chance to travel back to a medieval world of heraldry and valour on a quest to become a knight. Learn all about the etiquette and entertainment of the time, plus the martial skills and fitness required to be a knight. A team of medieval pages will provide extensive schooling on how to entertain Lords and Ladies with jokes and dancing, whilst the squires take charge of putting trainees through their paces, learning swordsmanship and chivalric duties.
Finally, the training will culminate in a knighting ceremony, enlisting new recruits to defend the Tower and keep the great landmark safe from the marauding peasants beyond the walls. There are plenty of crafts to keep the kids entertained too, including making and decorating helmets and shields, as well as trying on the medieval fashions of the day. All activities are included in palace admission and families can enjoy the rest of the Tower of London, including the family friendly interactive exhibition Armoury in Action in the White Tower.
When/where: 10-18 Feb, Tower of London, London
Price: Knight School is included in general admission ticket, see website for best deals
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 17 and 13 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 Dark Skies Festival
You’ll go starry eyed at all that’s happening under the darkest skies of the UK during this festival. There’ll be ‘stories under the stars’ sessions, the chance to get together with expert astronomers to explore the night skies, go on guided night walks, bike orienteering and even the opportunity to hurtle into the darkness on a zip-wire if you’re an adrenaline junkie. Wildlife watchers can explore the nocturnal goings-on of all sorts of animals with rangers and you can go on an owl prowl to spot these wonderful birds of prey in action.
Children can immerse themselves in the universe by making rockets, telescopes and planet pom-poms plus enjoy lantern-making workshops. There’s also the chance to become star bakers, with intergalactic biscuit decorating sessions. Also for children, there are starry treasure hunts, ghost walks and star bike trails too. Full programmes of events are on the National Parks website.
When/where: 9-25 Feb, National Parks of North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland and South Downs
Price: Many events are free, others incur a small charge
3/15 Early Man quests with English Heritage
To celebrate the release of Nick Park’s fantastic film, Early Man, English Heritage has teamed up with award-winning animation studio Aardman, creators of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep, to bring a brand-new half term quest to its sites across the country.
Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of how plucky caveman Dug (Eddie Redmayne), along with sidekick Hognob unites his tribe against the mighty Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and the Bronze Age to save their home.
Visitors to English Heritage sites can take part in a special trail which helps you explore the site, following clues to reach the end, and receive an Aardman Model Making kit, as well as entry into a special competition to win tickets to a VIP screening of the film at Stonehenge.
When/where: 10-18 Feb, at 13 selected English Heritage sites including Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Scarborough Castle in North Yorkshire, Belsay Hall in Northumberland and Framlingham Castle in Suffolk
Price: £1 will be charged for this activity on top of regular admission prices
4/15 Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition
Marvel at the beautiful images of nature on show at the world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. On loan from the Natural History Museum in London, it’s now in Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition gallery until the end of April. The 100 extraordinary images celebrate the diversity of the natural world, from intimate animal portraits to astonishing wild landscapes.
Visitors can learn how the photographers captured their shots, and come face-to-face with some of nature’s most astonishing and challenging sights. during half term week there’ll be lots of activities for little ones to make the most of the exhibition too. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
When/where: until 29 April, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Price: Admission: £8 adults, £6 concession. Entry is free to National Museums Scotland Members and children under 16
5/15 Pop into the Postal Museum!
February Half Term at The Postal Museum is jam-packed with a programme of activities designed to keep little ones busy. Programmes of events differ every day but you can expect everything from drop-in arts and crafts workshops to storytelling by characters from the past. The Legend of the Lioness takes you on an immersive journey through curious tales of the postal past in an interactive storytelling session where you’ll meet an escaped lioness, a horse named Pomegranate and a postal cat.
Get creative in an arts and crafts workshop inspired by the museum’s brand-new display of stamp designs including original BFG artwork by Quentin Blake, Paddington Bear and Peter Rabbit. Little ones can choose from a key ring, badge or magnet and make their very own mini souvenir to take home.
Or make a mask in the image of the famous Post Office cat, Tibs the Great, whose job it was to prowl the Post Office headquarters and scare off any mice considering making it their home. There’s also the chance to create pop-up cards and illustrated envelopes plus mouse hand puppets – and don’t forget your ticket to take a ride deep under London on a miniature train
When/where: 12-17 Feb, The Postal Museum
Price: Kids activities are included in the price of General Admission – see website for details
6/15 Go Potter for pottery!
There’s plenty going on at World of Wedgwood this half term. Take a Factory Tour where you can learn about the processes behind production, and let them loose on a children’s Pottery Spotters trail which will guide them through the UNESCO recognised V&A collection, with a prize for every completed activity sheet. If they want to get their hands dirty, there are some great themed creative activities going on, where children can make a unique gift ready for Mother’s Day.
Why not have a pop at throwing a pot on the potter’s wheel in the Master Craft studio, with help from a skilled team. Or they can get creative and draw their own design to be transferred onto a piece of Wedgwood – choose from plates, mugs, cups and saucers. Using pencils, crayons and felt tips kids can let their imagination run wild to create a piece of art to be treasured forever. Younger visitors especially love the Pottery Painting activities – choose from clay cut out shapes including hearts, flowers and stars; and plant pots, vases and tealight holders to paint – making the perfect present for Mother’s Day.
When/where: selected dates, check website, World of Wedgwood, Stoke on Trent
Price: Museum entry, collect your ticket, map and children’s trail from reception on arrival. Discovery Experience ticket prices | Factory Tour and Museum | Adults £10.00, Children under 12 years old free with an accompanying adults, Children 12 – 16, £8.00. Pot Throwing – £15.00 including firing and postage to a UK address. Pottery Painting – from £2.50 – from £17.50
7/15 Dusty Duck’s Puddle Jumping Championships
Grab your wellies, get outside and join in the puddle jumping championships across the UK at WWT’s nine wetland centres, including Slimbridge, Martin Mere and London. Dusty Duck (exclusively designed by the world-famous Aardman studios to help celebrate WWT’s 70th anniversary) will be joining in the fun and helping kids create the biggest, craziest splash possible.
At each wetland centre, children will compete against each other to see who can produce the biggest splash from their puddle jump – as measured by special splash-o-meters. They will also be judged on their enthusiasm and jumping style. Daily winners will be announced throughout the half term and some lucky ‘super-splashers’ will receive a fantastic prize!
Every contestant will receive a ‘splashtastic’ sticker to acknowledge their puddle jumping skills. As well as the main puddle jumping competition arenas, at selected centres there will be practice zones set up around the stunning grounds to help entrants perfect their splashing techniques.
When/Where: selected dated through February, coinciding with local February half-terms, all nine Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centres in the UK
Price: included in entry
8/15 LEGO Junior Builder Week
LEGO Junior Builder Week is a brick-filled week of fun taking place at the two LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort’s Hotels this February half term. Junior builders will be given their very own Minifigure gift to add to their collection, or to trade with other junior builder guests, before hi-fiving all their favourite LEGO Minifigure heroes who will be on hand for meet and greets throughout the day.
Budding builders can put their skills to the ultimate test with a LEGO speed build, take part in a LEGO Minifigure hunt around the hotel, and receive a LEGO gift and certificate to take home for all their building achievements. The excitement continues into the evening when you can eat in a LEGO-themed restaurant, catch a film in the Movie Den plus plenty of other evening entertainment for all the family to enjoy, before settling down in one of the Resort’s themed rooms.
With a choice of LEGO Friends, Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom, Wizard or Knights themed rooms, there’s something for everyone. Guests will also have access to the splash-tastic LEGO Pirate themed pool during their stay. All Junior Builder Week activities are included within the package price, so there will be plenty to keep little builders busy. Please note that The LEGOLAND theme park is closed during Junior Builder Week.
When/where: 9 – 17 Feb, LEGOLAND Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, Windsor
Price: : from £38pp
9/15 Me & My Bee
Save the Bees! Following their smash-hit run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017, ThisEgg theatre company are hitting the road with a UK tour of Me & My Bee, their award-winning comic family show tackling climate change, the ecosystem and the disappearance of bees. Through a playful combination of storytelling, clowning, original live music and audience interaction, ThisEgg invite you to save the world – one bee at a time.
The bees are dying and without them, we will too. Plant the seed for change. ThisEgg asks audiences to join their political party and questions what more can be done to help, before it is too late. The show is designed to help adults and children alike to learn about their effect on the ecosystem, how to care for the smaller things, about cause and effect, and how to respect the planet. Suitable for ages 5+
When/where: from 10 Feb – 30 Jun, theatres nationwide including Theatre Royal Plymouth, Theatre Deli, Sheffield and The Garage Norwich.
Price: ticket prices vary
10/15 Family learning activity at Tower Bridge Exhibition
The Tower Bridge Exhibition makes a great day out – allowing you to step inside one of the most famous bridges in the world. High-level walkways allow you to see London life through a glass floor, 42 metres above the River Thames. There’s also the chance to delve into the past of the bridge in its historic Engine Rooms. Every month, the attraction holds a Family Learning Activity and in February, the theme is ‘Make Your Mark’.
Your mission is to find out about the significance of a special symbol found on the outside of Tower Bridge, which is also found across London and as far away as America. You can find out all about this Bridge Mark in Tower Bridge’s new Bridge House Estates Exhibition and then make your own stamp symbol or mark to take home. The new exhibition explores Tower Bridge’s historic connection to Bridge House Estates, the ancient institution that finances Tower Bridge and four other central London bridges.
Visitors to the exhibition will discover where the distinctive sign can be found around the world through interactive displays and can use a take-away map to search for their own Bridge Marks and share their discoveries and experiences using #bridgemark.
When/where: Family Learning Activity 17 Feb, Tower Bridge Exhibition, London
Price: Inclusive with ticket entry – see website for prices
11/15 Lucky Lambing Weekend
Who wouldn’t like to cuddle a lamb? A Cornish farmstay – The Olde House – is inviting families to experience lambing first-hand on a ‘Lucky Lambing’ weekend. Children will be able to feed the newborns, learn about lambing from the farm team, and have lots of close encounters with the adorable fluffy lambs. The Lucky Lambing weekend package includes a two night stay in a self-catering cottage with a late checkout available on Sunday, which means you can make the most of your weekend without having to miss work or school.
There will also be lambing tours available during February half term, from Saturday 10 February. With Cornwall’s mild climate and due to its close proximity to the Camel Estuary, The Olde House boasts two lambing seasons, one in November/December, and another in February/March. Around 520 lambs are expected to be born during the first lambing season of 2018 – that’s plenty of lambs to cuddle! But as well as enjoying the animals, guests at The Olde House can enjoy outdoor and indoor play areas, farm trails, a brand new indoor swimming pool complex, a bird hide, and much more.
When/where: 23 -25 Feb, The Olde House, Wadebridge, Cornwall
Price: any two or three bedroom cottage is available for £250, staying Friday to Sunday, with a late checkout of 6pm
12/15 The biggest book show on earth
The charity World Book Day is hosting ‘The Biggest Book Show on Earth’ nationwide tour, with top authors and illustrators touring the UK and Ireland with six events and 35 top authors and illustrators. The stellar line-up includes: Clare Balding, Cathy Cassidy, Julian Clary & David Roberts, Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Cressida Cowell, Adrian Edmondson, Nadiya Hussain, Derek Landy, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Dermot O’Leary, Liz Pichon, Francesca Simon, Holly Smale and more.
All events on the tour will be hosted by author, Steven Butler. In each location, World Book Day will work closely with local partners to bring the events to life, arranging bookselling and coordinating with local schools to invite children to attend. The event in Newcastle will be open to family public audiences for the first time. As well as celebrating the joy of reading, this year’s World Nook Day key ‘Share A Story’ theme encourages adults, parents and older siblings to participate by reading and sharing stories and books with family and friends to ‘TAKE 10’ and recognise the positive impact that reading together for only 10 minutes a day can have on a child’s outcome. Parents, teachers and children are encouraged to go beyond dressing up on World Book Day to reignite a love of shared reading and the sense of wellbeing that it brings.
When/where: 26 Feb- 3 March, on tour in the UK and Ireland visiting Dublin, Oswestry, Aberystwyth, Doncaster, Brighton and Newcastle
Price: £14.50 for public tickets to the Theatre Royal, Newcastle – book at the theatre website
13/15 Sea Stars
Prepare to be dazzled by Sea Stars – a new Starfish exhibition at Sea Life Brighton – shining a light on more than 170 of the fascinating creatures. In this largest display of its type in the UK, you’ll be seeing more than stars! These creatures come in a range of different shapes, sizes and colours, and, far from the traditional five-armed sea star that’s easily recognisable, some can have up to 200 arms!
Look out for the brightly coloured Feather Star which will mesmerise you as it swims with its many feather-like arms, the stunning Mediterranean Red Sea Star, most commonly spotted in shallow waters around Cyprus and Malta; the Sun Star, which encompasses the colours of a stunning sunset; and the exotic Blue Star, all the way from the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
As well as spotting a host of enchanting creatures, visitors to Sea Stars will have the opportunity to learn about the vital role that starfish play in the ocean’s eco-systems and why they are often referred to as ‘keystone species’ in their habitats and enjoy a range of interactive and sensory-led activities. Plus, eagle-eyed visitors will find out why ‘star fish’ shouldn’t really be called ‘star fish’ at all!
When/where: scheduled to open from 10 Feb, Sea Life Brighton
Price: see website for different ticket packages
14/15 Plenty of fun at Portsmouth historic Dockyard
A visit to the Dockyard takes you on a journey through time, allowing you to step onboard historic ships and understand the Royal Navy, past, present and future. And during half term there’s even more fun to be had. Events include a Chat with Captain Hardy in his cabin onboard HMS Victory where you can discover what life was like for the officers and men who served onboard at the Battle of Trafalgar.
There’s also the chance to explore the Lower Gun Deck to uncover mystery objects linked to the ship with the object detective activity. You can also enjoy a Ship Building activity – using building bricks to build a ship, dockyard vehicle or building in the museum’s Victory Gallery. You can also make your own sea-faring harbour map, then cut out your pictures of HMS Victory or HMS Warrior and put them on the map.
And don’t miss the Submarine Scrapheap Challenge where you can build your own submarine from everyday items such as plastic bottles, lids and corks, then test it to see if it works. And make your own scented petal bags and calligraphy cards at The Mary Rose Museum’s craft workshops just in time for Valentine’s Day
When/where: 10-18 Feb, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Price: see Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s website
15/15 Augmented reality dinosaur experience!
Enginuity, one of the 10 award-winning attractions at The Ironbridge Gorge Museums world Heritage Site is doing dinosaurs in a big way over half term as you get the chance to be the star of an extraordinary dinosaur augmented reality experience. Immerse yourself into a wonderful augmented reality world where state of the art technology projects you onto the big screen amongst the dinosaurs, giving you the chance to ‘meet’ friendly virtual dinosaurs. The augmented reality experience is included in the admission charge to Enginuity.
Other activities taking place during the half-term holiday at Enginuity (Saturday 17th to Sunday 25th February) include making Pterodactyl Fliers using brightly coloured craft materials. Once the design is finished kids can launch their rocket powered Pterodactyl and see it fly across Enginuity. Young archaeologists will be able to find hidden artefacts in the ‘Dig-up a Dinosaur’ sand-pit every day over the break too. There is an additional cost of £1 per Pterodactyl. All other activities are included in the admission fee.
When/where: 19-23 Feb. Enginuity, near Ironbridge
Price: entrance is £9.75 adults, £7.65 children 5-16, under 5s free