Family Outings: W5, Belfast

The atmosphere here is electric
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The Independent Travel

The venue

The venue

W5 stands for Whowhatwherewhenwhy, a scientific discovery centre located on the bank of the River Lagan just north of the centre of Belfast. It is housed within the Odyssey leisure complex, a Millennium Project on land once owned by the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff. Inside W5 there are about 140 interactive exhibits designed to entertain, inform and amuse. On five storeys, W5 resembles the set of Red Dwarf, with a blue and orange colour scheme and large metal tubes that give a space-age feel. A faintly irritating musical staircase chimes as you ascend.

Something for children

Take the under-eights up to the Go gallery, where there are miniature castles, or they can put on a hard hat and use a crane to build a house. Older kids will find plenty in the Start gallery and in See and Do, where, among other things, they can try to land a space probe on a planet. There are lively talks and demonstrations every day on topics such as slime and exploding food. They will also love the lie-detector.

Something for adults

There is plenty to entertain, such as the speed reaction test, for Competitive Dad to try to put the children in their place. A computer questionnaire will calculate your health age, as opposed to actual age, an exercise that, depending on your lifestyle, can be uplifting or immensely depressing. Databases provide endless opportunities to pick up useless but often fascinating facts that may come in handy for pub quizzes.

Did you know, for example, that the largest known mountain in the Solar System was on Mars?

Refreshments

The Lunch Pad café serves a limited range. You may prefer to visit one of the many fast-food chains and restaurants within the Odyssey complex, ranging from Italian to Chinese.

Souvenirs

The shop is aimed almost entirely at children. Why not buy them a baking-powder rocket kit (£8.99)?

Admission and access

Open 10am-5pm Monday to Thursday, 10am-6pm Friday to Saturday and 12pm-6pm Sunday.

Admission: adults £6; children £4; family ticket (two adults, two children) £17. Full disabled access.

How to get there

W5, 2 Queen's Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ. Tel: 028-9046 7700; www.w5online.co.uk.

By car: the Odyssey centre is clearly signposted.

By public transport: W5 is a 10- minute walk from Belfast Central station.

Mark Rowe

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