Building a boat at Way Word Festival
Building a boat at Way Word Festival

Half-term days out for all the family: From bushcraft to building dens and meeting penguins

The weather might be brisk, but Laura Holt has great ideas for a brilliant half-term at home

Laura Holt
Wednesday 10 February 2016 10:52

There are hundreds of events planned across the country from 13-21 February, whether you want to learn survival skills or cook up a storm.

Family festivals

From 13-19 February, Chester Town Hall will host WayWord Festival (0845 241 7868;, with 40 family events, including talks by authors, coding and gaming workshops and den-building. Most are aimed at primary-school-aged children and cost between £5-10.

At Lord's cricket ground in London, All Out Cricket Live is a free one-day festival dedicated to the sport (register at Taking place on 21 February, it will feature Q&A sessions with England players, coaching, book signings and more.

Learn something

As the Canal & River Trust carries out work on our waterways, it is running behind-the-scenes open days. The free events will let children walk along the canal floor and take boat trips, at various locations. Details at

RSPB Minsmere (01728 648281; – location for the BBC's Springwatch – is running a Tidal Margins event on 13 February. Children can produce drawings and prints of the plants, birds and wildlife that inhabit this scenic stretch of the Suffolk coast, in two artist-led workshops (£3).

Great outdoors

Bear Grylls fans can try a survival-style event. On 14 February, the New Forest National Park will host Bushcraft Survival at Avon Tyrrell outdoor activity centre (01425 672347;; £5). And in Cornwall, the Eden Project has its own Survival day, featuring children's character Stick Man, who will demonstrate how to shoot a blowpipe, make a fire and get close up with animals, between 13-21 February (01726 811911;; included in entry; adults £25, children free-£14).


Animal magic

Wildlife lovers in Surrey are spoilt for choice, with Birdworld hosting a Penguin Activity Week from 16-20 February (01420 22992;; adults £14.95, children free-£12.95) and nearby RHS Garden Wisley hosting the Secret Life of Insects (0845 260 9000;; adults £14.50, children £7.25), where children can meet butterflies, caterpillars and more between 13-21 February.

In Manchester, the Sea Life centre launches a new giant octopus hideout (0871 221 2483;; parent and child ticket £29.90). While in Northumberland, the Ugly Bug Safari is on at Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens from 13-21 February, where children can grab a magnifying glass and join a Victorian explorer in their quest to find creepy crawlies (0370 333 1181;; adults £9.20, children £5.50, plus £1 for event).

Food focus

If your little ones are showing promise in the kitchen, Season Cookery School (01962 776 088; in Hampshire is offering parent and child courses at the 17th-century Lainston House hotel near Winchester. There are courses on 16 and 18 February; the first is aimed at 12-16 year-olds, the latter aged 7-11. Parent and child tickets are £155, including lunch and tuition.

Those with a sweet tooth need only look as far as Leeds Castle in Kent, which is hosting the Charlie's Chocolate Adventure from 13-21 February, with a chocolate trail, golden tickets and sweet treats (01622 765400;; adults £21.60-£24, children free-£16-50; trail £1).

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