From chick-hatching to dressing up - 50 great half-term ideas

School's out, the days are getting longer, so what are we going to do? Take some advice from Anna Goldrein and Kerry Walker at whatsonwhen.com, and make sure you don't go through the week without...


1. Storytelling...

1. Storytelling...

at Alnwick Garden. Tree-themed workshops celebrate the opening of a turreted tree-house village, from 11am to 3pm on 12, 15, 17 and 19 February. Admission £4 for adults, free for children under 16. Alnwick Garden, Denwick Lane, Alnwick, Northumberland (01665 511350; www.alnwickgarden.co.uk).

2. Getting earthy...

at an organic garden and learning about leaf fall, dyke maintenance and tree coppicing, from 10am to 3.30pm on 17 February. Wear wellies and wrap up warmly. Admission £4 for adults, £1.50 for children aged five-16. Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, School Road, South Walsham, Norfolk (01603 270449, www.norfolkbroads.com/fairhaven).

3. Mining...

the Big Pit, which reopens on 14 February after a £7m redevelopment. Drop-in on a Peg Dolly workshop from 12 to 4pm on 15 and 17 February or join in a variety of activities throughout the week for under-5s. The museum is open 9.30am-5pm daily. Admission free. The National Mining Museum of Wales, Blaenafon, Torfaen, South Wales (01495 790311; www.nmgw.ac.uk/bigpit).

4. Entering...

a world of dancing and duelling, hearing tall tales and marvelling at the costumes at Blenheim Palace. Duels and Jewels takes place every half hour from 11.30am to 3.30pm until 20 February. Admission £11.50 for adults and £6 for children aged five-16. Family tickets (two adults and two children) cost £30. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire (01993 811091; www.blenheimpalace.com).

5. Feeding...

lambs, seeing chicks hatch, and stroking pets at Easton Farm Park from 10.30am to 4pm until 20 February. Admission £2.75 for adults and £2.50 for children under 16. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £8.50. Easton Farm Park, Easton, near Woodbridge, Suffolk (01728 746475; www.eastonfarmpark.co.uk).

6. Dancing...

with dinosaurs as Barney performs "If you're happy and you know it", and other classics. The Barney Zoo Tour is at 1pm, 2pm and 4pm today and tomorrow, with a Meet and Greet at 3pm. Admission £3 per person to grounds and £3 per person to the Barney Zoo Tour. Longleat Safari Park, Longleat, Warminster, Wilts (01985 844400; www.longleat.co.uk).

7. Stepping back...

in time at the Jorvik Viking Festival which runs until 20 February. Meet vikings from 10am to 4pm today, learn shield-making and saga-telling from 10am to 4pm tomorrow, both at the Archaeological Resource Centre on St Saviourgate, and practise battle drill at 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm from 14 to 18 February in Coppergate Square. Participation costs £1.50 for adults, £1 for children aged five-15. Battle drill is free. Jorvik, Coppergate, York (01904 543403; www.vikingjorvik.com).

8. Seeking...

inspiration from Jonathan Clarke's Sea Legs sculptures. Learn print-making at 12 noon and 2pm from 14 to 18 February. Workshops are free with museum entry. Admission is £6.50 for adults and £4.30 for children aged five-15. Family tickets (two adults and three children) cost £17. National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall (01326 214532; www.nmmc.co.uk).

9. Stumbling...

on buried treasure at the Hancock Museum, a trail uncovering Viking, Bronze Age and Iron Age artefacts found by farmers and beachcombers. The exhibition runs from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 2pm-5pm, Sunday, until 26 June. Admission £4.95 for adults, £2.95 for children aged four-16. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £13.50. Hancock Museum, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne (0191-222 7418; www. twmuseums.org.uk/hancock).

10. Smelling...

the singing plague victims, rotten ratcatcher and the stinking farmer at Plague and Pox Week at Warwick Castle, from 11am to 4pm until 20 February. Admission £12.95 for adults and £7.95 for children aged four-16. Family tickets (two adults and two children) cost £34. Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire (0870 442 2375; www.warwick-castle.co.uk).

11. Beachcombing...

for weird and wonderful creatures. Family Shoresearch takes place from 1.30pm on 14 February. Meet at Manorbier car park, below the castle, in wellies and waterproofs. Manorbier beach, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, South Wales (0845 345 7275; www. pembrokeshirecoast.org).

12. Making...

masks, tasting tea, and taking part in chopsticks and calligraphy workshops to celebrate Chinese New Year on 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19 February at the Museum in Docklands. The museum opens daily from 10am to 6pm. Most events are free, but book in advance. Museum in Docklands, No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, London E14 (0870 444 3857; www.museumindocklands.org.uk).

13. Travelling...

through space at Liverpool Museum's planetarium. Wonders of the Solar System takes place at 11.45am, 2.15pm, 3.15pm and 4.05pm from 14 to 18 February. Sunshine, an interactive show for the under-fives, is screened at 11.15am and 1.15pm. Admission free. Liverpool Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool (0151-478 4399; www.liverpoolmuseum.org.uk).

14. Painting...

drawing, cutting, sticking and printing at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where art classes will run hourly from 10.30am to 4.30pm from 14 to 21 February (under-12s must be accompanied). Other art-based activities will be offered throughout the week. Classes cost £6.50 per child. Artists Harbour, Storehouse 9, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HM Naval Base, Hampshire (023-9273 2003; www.artistsharbour.com).

15. Playing...

detective at the Museum of London from 12 noon to 2pm and 2.30-3.30pm on 18 and 20 February; discovering London's past from 1pm to 2.30pm and 3pm-4pm on 15 and 18 February; or digging beneath the mud from 12 noon to 1.30pm and 2-3pm on 19 February. Admission free. Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2 (0870 444 3850; www.museumoflondon.org.uk).

16. Wrapping...

up your toy at a Mummy Making workshop, from 10.15am to 11.15am and 1pm-2pm on 15 February; making a mask of an ancient Egyptian god at 10.15pm-12.15pm and 2pm-4pm on 16 and 18 February; or creating an animal charm from 10.15am to 11.15am, 1-2pm and 3-4pm on 17 February. The Mummy Making workshop costs £2, book in advance. Ancient Egyptian God Masks costs £1 per mask and is a drop-in activity. The Amulets and Charms workshop costs £1, book in advance. Museum admission is free. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire (020-7942 6171; www.nhm.ac.uk/tring).

17. Evolving...

at Shrewsbury's Darwin Festival. Children's events include Bright Sparks science workshop at The Darwin Shopping Centre, from 12 to 20 February, Fossil Fun at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust in Abbey Foregate on 18 February, and a Mega Mammoth Workshop at the Secret Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms on 14, 15, 19 and 20 February. The Darwin Festival (01743 281200; www.darwinshrewsbury.org).

18. Starring...

in Divas at Madame Tussaud's. Sing with Beyoncé then wait for her verdict via video, and for audience reaction via the Divometer. Divas is open daily during half term and entry is included in the admission price. Admission from £15.99 for adults, £11.99 for children aged five-15. Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London NW1 (0870 400 3000; www.madametussauds.com).

19. Waking...

Sleeping Beauty on Ice at the Mayflower Theatre from 15 to 20 February, which will feature 23 Olympic, World, National and European Championship skaters. Admission £12.50-£29.50 for adults and £10-£12.50 for children aged two-17. The Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton (023-8071 1811; www.the-mayflower.com).

20. Escaping...

to the jungle at Worthing's Pavilion Theatre. An all-star cast will perform The Jungle Book until 19 February. Tickets cost £12 for adults and £7.50 for children. Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing (01903 206206, www.worthingtheatres.co.uk).

21. Journeying...

back to the Ice Age on a tour of Robin Hood Cave, set in a limestone gorge, where Neanderthal man once camped. Tours start at 11.30am, 1.30am and 3pm from 14 to 18 February. Admission £3.90 for adults, £2.50 children five-16, adults accompanying two or more children get £2 off. Booking is advised. Creswell Crags Museum, Crags Road, Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire (01909 720378; www.creswell-crags.org.uk).

22. Clowning...

around at circus skills workshops, where you can try juggling, tightrope walking, plate spinning and unicycling. Will suit children aged eight-14; from 10am to 4pm on 14-18 February. Admission £2 a day. De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester (0116-233 3036).

23. Letting...

off steam on the Watercress Line. Discover how steam engines work and create air-powered cars at the Make it Science Workshops from 14 to 18 February. Admission £10 for adults, £5 for children aged three-16. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £25. Mid Hants Railway, Watercress Line, The Railway Station, Alresford, Hampshire (01962 733 810; www.watercressline.co.uk).

24. Dressing...

up as a pirate on The Golden Hinde from 1pm to 3pm on 15 February, or flying to unknown lands at the Peter Pan drama workshop from 1pm to 4pm on 17 Feb. Workshops cost £12 for the first child, £10 per additional child. Book ahead. Golden Hinde, St Mary Overie Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1 (0870 0118 700; www.goldenhinde.co.uk).

25. Prowling...

around Paignton Zoo. Tiger Week runs from 10am to 4.30pm from 14 to 18 February. Make badges, have your face painted, follow trails and adopt a tiger. Admission £6.95 for adults and £5.10 for children aged three-15. Family tickets (two adults and two children) cost £22. Paignton Zoo, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon (01803 697500).

26. Pulling...

strings at the Little Angel Theatre. The Garlic Theatre puppeteers present The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Fiddlesticks on 13 February. The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Theatre of Widdershins) is on 15 February. Jack and the Beanstalk (Norwich Puppet Theatre) runs on 16-20 February. Suitable for children aged 3 and above. The Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage, London N1 (020-7226 1787; www.littleangeltheatre.com).

27. Watching...

your knuckles whiten at Alton Towers, where guests at the Alton Towers and Splash Landings hotels have exclusive use of some famous rides - from Oblivion to Black Hole and the Enterprise - and the Cariba Creek Waterpark. Four guests can stay in a family room at either hotel. Prices start at £118 a night. Alton Towers Hotel, Alton, Staffordshire (08705 20 40 60; www.altontowers.com).

28. Seeing...

Jacobean players perform adaptations of Shakespeare and Marlowe classics in the Great Watching Chamber of Hampton Court Palace. To Tell a Tale takes place throughout half term. Palace admission is £11.80 for adults, £7.70 for children aged five-15. Family ticket (two adults, three children) costs £35. The palace is open 10.15am-4.30pm Monday, 9.30am-4.30pm Tuesday-Sunday. Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey (0870 752 7777; www.hrp.org.uk).

29. Designing...

a London 2012 Olympic stadium with architects giving advice from 2pm to 5pm on 13, 19 and 20 February. For children aged six-12. Workshops are free with museum tickets. Admission £6 for adults, £4 children aged 12 and above. Family ticket (two adults, two children) costs £16. Booking essential. The museum is open 10am-5.45pm daily. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 (0870 833 9955; www.designmuseum.org).

30. Tasting...

life on the high seas at The Taste of Victory, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar at 2.30pm-4.30pm on 16 February. Admission £5 for adults and £2 for children aged seven-11. The Royal Institute of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1 (020-7409 2992; www.rigb.org).

31. Following...

the Love Trail through Belfast Zoo to find out about the animals and their mates from 10am to 2.30pm until 14 February. Admission £5.70 for adults and £2.80 for children aged four-17. Family ticket (two adults, two children) costs £15.20. Belfast Zoo, Antrim Road, Belfast (028-9077 6277; www.belfastzoo.co.uk).

32. Rolling...

back 2,000 years to meet Roman soldiers at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Discover how they set up camp, mounted guard and prayed to their gods. Making a Roman Mosaic is a drop-in workshop from 10.30am to 3.30pm from 15 to 17 February. Admission £1. Be a Roman Artifact Detective takes place at 10.30am-11.30am and 1pm-2pm on 19 February. Admission £1. Go Really Roman runs from 11.30am to 1pm and 2pm-3.30pm on 19 and 20 February. Admission £3 for adults, £2.50 for children aged five-16. Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult. Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire (01782 232323; www.stoke.gov.uk/museums).

33. Inventing...

creations with the Mad Professor at The Hop Farm in Kent. Plus TV show Robot Wars' mechanical stars will make an appearance on 18 February. Admission costs £8.50 for adults, £7.50 for children aged three-15. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £27. Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood, Kent (01622 872068; www.thehopfarm.co.uk).

34. Judging...

women prisoners at the Tudor Tower. Accused of being a pirate by Henry VIII, Alice Wolfe plots her escape from the dank dungeons. Is she to blame for the grisly murder of German sailors? You decide as you listen to her scheming plans to flee her cell. The Wicked Women event runs daily at 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3pm until 20 February. Suitable for children over five. Admission £11.50 for adults and £7.50 for children under 15. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £34. The Tower of London, Tower Hill, London EC3 (0870 756 6060; www.hrp.org.uk).

35. Illuminating...

dark winter nights with colourful candles you made yourself at The National Arboretum. Candle Magic takes place from 10.30am to 12.30pm for five to eight-year-olds and 2pm-4pm for nine to 13-year-olds on 15 February. Admission £3.50. Booking essential. The National Arboretum, Westonbirt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire (01666 880147; www.forestry.gov.uk).

36. Leading...

the Quest for the Holy Grail at Chester Grosvenor Museum. Come dressed as a knight or lady from King Arthur's court, meet Merlin, make medieval crafts and enter the fancy-dress competition. The Magic of King Arthur is on 16 February from 10.30am to 4pm and suits children under nine. Admission free. Chester Grosvenor Museum, 27 Grosvenor Street, Chester (01244 402008; www.chestercc.gov.uk).

37. Exploring...

eerie gardens where spooks and spirits lurk at Muncaster Castle. Bring a torch. Darkest Muncaster is on 16, 18, 19 and 20 February from 6pm to 9pm. £5 for adults, £2.50 for children aged five and above. Family tickets (two adults, two children) cost £13.50. Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria (01229 717614; www.muncaster.co.uk).

38. Penning...

a love poem at the Bristol Industrial Museum from 10.30am to 3.30pm tomorrow. Weird Words and Wonderful Writing looks at worldwide words and their inspiration. Get your tongue in a twist and break secret codes. Admission free. Bristol Industrial Museum, Prince's Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol (0117-9251470; www.bristol-city.gov.uk).

39. Going...

Greek at the Barbican. Little bookworms should head for the children's literature festival to hear Minoan myths from the ancient world. Book Me! takes place at 11am and 2pm from 15 to 18 February. Admission £6. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2 (0845 120 7501; www.barbican.org.uk).

40. Studying...

in Oxford. Tour Hogwart's dining hall and staircase at Christ Church College. Take a walk through Alice's real-life wonderland where Lewis Carroll and inspiration Alice Liddell lived. Family walks take place at 1.30pm from 14 to 18 February. Admission £6.50 for adults and £3 for children aged six-16. Oxford Information Centre, 15-16 Broad Street, Oxford. (01865 726871; www.oxford.gov.uk/tourism, www.aliceinoxford.net, www.visitchristchurch.net/harrypotter)

41. Venturing...

behind the scenes at the Animated Exeter Festival. Uncover the secrets of blockbusters such as Finding Nemo and Chicken Run, watch more than 100 animated films and play at being Walt Disney on workshops and 3D courses. The festival takes place from 7 to 19 February in various venues. Exeter City Council, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter (01392 265208; www.pub.exeter.gov.uk/asp/animatedexeter).

42. Saving...

Middle Earth at West Stow Country Park. Fans of The Lord of The Rings can follow clues to find the ring from 10am to 3pm daily until 20 February. A family challenge pack costs £5 for two adults and three children. West Stow Country Park, Icklingham Road, West Stow, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (01284 728718; www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk).

43. Walking...

like an Egyptian at Manor House Museum. Unearth pharaohs' secrets by dressing up, writing in hieroglyphs and making clay cats. From 10am to 4pm until 19 February. All activities, 50p. Manor House Museum & Art Gallery, Sheep Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire (01536 534219; www.kettering.gov.uk).

44. Encountering...

otters and birds of prey, face painters and entertainers at the Aquarium of the Lakes on the shores of Windermere. Wildlife Activity Week runs from 9am to 4pm until 20 February. Admission costs £5.95 for adults, £3.75 for children aged three-15. Family ticket (two adults, two children) costs £16.95. Aquarium of the Lakes (01539 530153, www.aquariumofthelakes.co.uk), Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Cumbria.

45. Leafing...

through Beatrix Potter's garden at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, where the author's original watercolour paintings and books are on display. Other half-term events include the Frozen Charlotte Story Trail, which runs every hour from 11am to 3pm and doll-making workshops from noon to 3pm. The museum is open from 10am to 5.50pm, closed Friday. Free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 (020-8980 2415; www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/nmc).

46. Ambushing...

your victims in an orchard, or targeting an island fortress, at Holmbush Paintball. Half-term events take place at 1pm on 15, 17 and 18 February. Booking is advised. Holmbush Paintball, Faygate, near Horsham, West Sussex (0800 279 2525; www.holmbushpaintball.co.uk).

47. Following...

the plot of Hansel and Gretel at Williamson Park. Watch the performances by the Up Front Puppet Theatre at 7.15pm from 17 to 19 February. Shows are suitable for children aged five and above. Williamson Park, Lancaster, Lancashire (01524 33318; www.williamsonpark.com).

48. Watching...

dancers of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia performSleeping Beauty with music by Tchaikovsky. From 17 to 19 February at 7.30pm with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on 19 February. Admission £10-£27 for adults and a £5 discount for children at the evening performance on 17 February and the matinee performance on 19 February. King's Theatre, 297 Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland (0141-240 1111; www.theambassadors.com/kings).

49. Celebrating...

the 50th anniversary of Noddy's first stage appearance at a new show, Noddy Live! on 19 and 20 February. Tickets for the show, written by Tweenies and Thomas & Friends Live! co-creators Iain Lauchlan and Will Brenton are £10-£16.50. Family tickets (two adults, two children) from £36 to £62. Shows take place at 4.30pm with additional performances at 10am and 1.30pm on 20 February. MEN Arena Victoria Station, Trinity Way, Manchester (0870 190 8000; www.men-arena.com).

50. Dipping...

candles, making bread and throwing clay pots at the Ironbridge Gorge museums. A passport ticket allows entry to the 10 museums and daily creative workshops, and costs £13.25 for adults and £8.75 for children aged five to 18. Family tickets (two adults and five children) cost £42. The museums are open daily. Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre, Coach Road, Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge (01952 884391; www.ironbridge.org.uk).



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