"I’m booooooored!" Worried this will be the battle cry of this year's summer holiday? Arm yourself with our guide to Britain’s best family activities and we reckon you’ll hear nothing of the sort.
Go from the city to the slopes in Hertfordshire
Did you know you can ski on real snow within an hour’s drive of London? Get the kids whizzing down the slopes at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead with a package of ski or snowboard lessons this half term. This is London’s closest slope made with real snow and it’s the perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard, for all ages. Choose from either Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday and book your kids in for two lessons; for 4-6 year olds, one hour each day and for 7-16 year olds, two hours a day. Children 4-6 £59 for two lessons, children 7-16 £110 for two lessons.
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Put the children in charge in West London
Take the kids to a child-sized city where they’re in charge! At Kidzania (inside the Westfield London shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush) kids can dress up and role play as pilots, firefighters, singers and many more, open their own account at the bank and train to be Cabin Crew, with you as their first passenger. For their work kids earn kisZos, which can be traded in at the department store for souvenirs. Under 8s must be accompanied (you’ll watch them through the windows) while children aged 8+ can explore alone. Children aged 4-14 £32, adults 15+ £16.50, children 1-3 £10, under 1s free. _
Meet the Fat Controller in East Sussex
Every child loves Thomas the Tank Engine don’t they? In fact, we’d wager you have soft spot for this classic character too! Down at Drusillas Park near Alfriston in East Sussex this half term you can meet not only Thomas and James but the Fat Controller also joins in the fun. Sir Topham Hatt himself will be running the Thomas and Friends railway at Drusillas on February 16th, so get on board for a photo opportunity with the Fat Controller – and the chance to explore the park full steam ahead. Adults and children over 2 £16.50 online or £18.50 on the gate.
Watch fairy tales for kids come to life in Northumberland
This half term Alnwick Garden, next to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, will be transformed into ‘A Garden of Fairy Tales’. Enraged at seeing Beauty in the garden, watch the Wicked Queen attempt to poison her using plants from Alnwick Garden’s Poison Garden. Families are provided with a map and fancy dress from the Fairy Tale Attic, then, with help from fairy tale characters, must search for enchanted clues (a magical bench, hidden door and Cinderella’s glass slipper) to stop the Wicked Queen from poisoning Beauty. The journey ends at Crafty Cottage where all the family can sit down to create a set of fairy doors, magic mirrors or beanstalks to take home as souvenirs of their magical day. Free with regular admission to Alnwick Garden: adult £7.33 online or £7.70 at the gate, child 5-16 £4.18 online or £4.40 at the gate.
Fresh air and giant jenga in Wales
Tire out your little terrors at the National Botanic Garden of Wales near Llanarthney in Carmarthemshire. They can clamber inside huge plastic bubbles to try out water zorbing, take part in giant jenga and garden drafts games, or don their wellies for a spot of pond dipping. Make time to take a look inside the biggest single span glasshouse in the world – where children can grab a microscope and get a closer look at the flowers – and be sure to take the Magical Mystery Tour, searching for hidden sculptures and even hug a healing stone. This day trip idea is guaranteed to have the kids snoring their heads off in the back of the car on the ride home! All included in admission price to the Botanic Gardens: adult £9.75, child 5+ £4.95, under 5s free, family £24.
Discover the wonderful world of Roald Dahl in Cheshire
2016 marks 100 years since the birth of everyone’s favourite children’s author, Roald Dahl and you’ll find scheduled events and celebrations happening all over the country. However, our top pick is Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire. Commemorations kick off here this February half term with the Splendiferous Scarecrow Festival. Follow the trail of quotes and tasks to learn about Dahl’s stories, explore the Walled Kitchen Gardens and meet Mr. Twit, The Grand High Witch, Violet Beauregarde and Alfie the Tortoise. After all that take the kids to spot deer (both red and fallow) on a walk around the 1,000 acres of parkland open to the public here. Adult £11, child 4-15 £5.50, family £27.50, National Trust members go free.
Join the real Dad’s Army in Manchester
Kids been watching the new Dad’s Army? They’ll love Manchester‘s Imperial War Museum North and their new, interactive, family friendly exhibition Horrible Histories: Blitzed Brits, where the whole family can discover what life was really like in Britain during the Second World War. Kids can dress up as a member of the Home Guard or an Air Raid Warden or get creative in a craft session to make their own wooden Home Front figure inspired by IWM’s collections (daily during half term 2-3.30pm). Follow Dotty’s Daring Blitz Adventure storytelling sessions (at 10.30am) or join a free tour, revealing the lives of the real Dad’s Army, from training to makeshift weapons (1.30pm). Free entry.
Fly to the moon from Edinburgh
Take the kids into outer space, without leaving Edinburgh. Dynamic Earth is dedicated to telling the story of our home planet, but this half term head out into the unknown to explore the future of space exploration with the new ShowDome 360-degree film Asteroids: Mission Extreme. Narrated by Sigourney Weaver, using stunning visuals and state-of-the-art computer graphics, this National Geographic film will captivate the kids with vivid images from space and blow tiny minds with information on how to build space stations in the outer reaches of the galaxy. After the show, make sure you stick around to check out Dynamic Earth’s other exhibits, including a real iceberg, the chance to experience a bone-shaking earthquake and Scotland’s only permanent 4D cinema. All half-term activities are included with standard admission: adult £12.50, child £7.95.
Look to the stars in Yorkshire
This February half term the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales are hosting their first joint Dark Skies Festival. There are thirty events across thirteen different locations in national parks, including a Rocket Workshop at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes where kids can build and launch their own rocket. Go on a stargazing safari with an expert astronomer in Ravenscar, or take the gang on a family-friendly nature night walk at Rievaulx Terrace near Helmsley. Some activities must be pre-booked, whilst others will take walk-ins; plan your festival in advance by visiting the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales websites. Prices vary, some events are free of charge.
Go swashbucklin’ in Cornwall
Pirate’s Quest in Newquay, Cornwall has a new story to tell this half term: a notorious band of pirates, the Flying Gang, have been sent by their infamous leader, Captain Blackbeard, to find new recruits to join the Republic of Pirates. Your journey begins in the wreck of the Royal Anne Galley, a real pirate hunter’s ship where a member of the Flying Gang will be at hand to help you escape the sinking vessel through a secret passageway. Your live Pirate Guide will then lead you through the mystical caves and murky streets of eighteenth century Cornwall to Captain Blackbeard’s Tavern, where the whole family can find out the truth about this infamous rogue of the sea. Your final destination is the deck of Blackbeard’s famous pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Once you’ve steered the vessel clear of the treacherous Cornish cliffs, you’ll be ready to set sail to the Republic of Pirates. Be sure to equip junior buccaneers with a treasure map so they can claim a Republic of Pirates Membership Card and earn treasure. Adults £9.95, children aged 3-16 £6.95, under 3s free.
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