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Ready to rumble? The Feb half-term Muddy Guide 2016

Are you ready to rumble? Here comes the Feb 16 Half Term and at Muddy we’re meeting it head on with the biggest, most searingly useful Muddy Guide. Like, ever.

Read on for my curated What’s ‘On All Week’ guide with separate listings for Kids and Adults (keep a-scrollin’, there’s cool stuff for everyone in there). PLUS an easy-browse day-by-day calendar for more one-off type events or as a way to search directly for cool stuff to do on specific days.

If you’re not a regular reader of Muddy Stilettos, sign up here to be the first to know about the cool, quirky and unmissable events in the area – tis totally freeeeeee! Done? Right, read on mes braves, good luck for the week to come…



Longridge Activity Days just outside Marlow are a brilliant way for your kids to try different sports (and ahem, get them out of the way for the day). Activities vary daily but could include climbing wall, outdoor go-karting, water orbing and laser tag. Drop off is at 8.30 am and collection at 4pm with a sandwich lunch provided. £40. Age 8 plus.

A sweet option for an hour or so is the free drop in gallery of activities at The Bate Collection of musical instruments in Oxford, 2-5pm every day between 15-19 Feb. Some bonkers and beautiful intruments in there including Handel’s harpsichord (am I the only person who gets excited about this?) and the kids can do trails, colour and bash instruments that aren’t national treasures. You’re next to Christchurch Meadows for a wander to the river afterwards.

Want your kids to graduate from the snow plough? Boot them off to Snozone Holiday Camp in Milton Keynes from 15 Feb, a snowsports focused activity day/ week camp for all ability levels. Kids will receive at least 12 hours of tuition in skiing or snowboarding over the week, plus hot lunch. £59.99 per day

Warwick Castle holds fantastic half-term activities (13 – 21 Feb)  with trebuchet fireballs (the largest siege machine in the world!); bird of prey displays, including vultures and eagles, a brand new Deville Warwicke trail climbing through the medieval ramparts, towers and chambers and – a bit left field for WC – a Capability Brown Debating Tour that reveals how the features he installed in the 1750s changed the castle forever.

A sweet option for little kids, there’s a brand new jewellery making workshop at Millets farm daily from 15-19 Feb, where children can make and create their own keepsake – necklace, bracelet, phone charms. Sessions 1 hour and 4 sessions a day based on age – 6-8 years, 9-12 years. £9.99 per child. Best of all, adults are encouraged to leave their child (Ruth is CRB checked) for the duration of the session. Make it a cappuccino and wedge of cake right there! Also worth knowing there are Magic Shows at the farm from 16-18 Feb for littlies (4-7 year old) at £6.99 per child if you want to tie it in with that.

Family Cookery school at Waddesdon Manor is ideal for 7-11 year olds, and includes making a selection of sweet and savoury treats with the Waddesdon chefs. Each session includes lunch, all ingredients and a goody box to take home. Places limited to 15 children and 15 adults. £22.50. Or if you want to combine food and shopping (er, YES), there are free kids cookie decorating classes from 9.30-11am at the new Le Pain Quotidien in Bicester Village on 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 24 Feb.

Get up close to some of the iconic props featured in the Harry Potter films and witness the Sorting Hat and stool on display for the first time in the Great Hall set at Welcome to Hogwarts at Harry Potter Studios (Thurs 11 – Mon 22 Feb). You’ll also see a section of ‘floating’ candles above the teachers’ table, and secrets behind some of the first film’s most recognisable scenes.

Thespy stuff for kids: There’s a 4-day Theatrical Half Term Club at MK Theatre, from Thurs 18 Feb, for kids 5-12 years, full of drama games and activitie, dance routines and arts and craft stuff (11am-4pm daily). Also the Perform Half-Term Course (Mon 15 – Weds 17 Feb) for kids 4-7 years, at various nationwide locations, focusing on Narnia.  Or they want to watch rather than perform, Creation Theatre will be performing King Lear at Blackwell’s Norrington Room in Oxford from 12-19 Feb. ‘

Want to lose your kids for an hour? Send them Orienteering at Waddesdon Manor (Sat 13 – Sun 21 Feb 11am – 3pm). The Thames Valley Orienteering Club will be handing out the maps and compasses (or, er something) and it’ll be a surefire way to get your kids running around. Start and finish at the North Fountain, £3 per child.

The new lambing season starts in half term at Mead Open Farm, where kids can meet all the newborns in the Lamb Nursery and help the farmers bottle-feed the older animals. Apparently there are over 80 new babies expected this spring, and a LamCam to see them all in action 24 hours a day.

Hopping over the border into the beautiful Ashridge Estate in Herts, kids can make lanterns all week (Mon 15 – 19 Feb, 10am-4pm) and then go on a candlelit walk on Fri 19 Feb (5.30-8pm) seeing the trees floodlit and throwing dramatic shadows across the trail, marked with real burning ‘Swedish candles’. Lantern-making £2 per child, candlelit walk, £1 per person

Looking for something crafty to do? Take the kids to The Ashmolean Museum and get into the spirit of Italian Carnival season, where they can create a carnival mask. Plenty else to see when they’re bored of cutting and sticking. Drop in, 1-4pm.

The brilliant Imagine Children’s Festival starts on Weds 10 Feb at the  Southbank Centre in London – the best of children’s theatre, literature and music with loads of workshops nad free activities for kids up to 12 years old – including watching Dahl’s last story The Minpins with live orchestral accompaniment, jazz for little ones at Groove Baby, and loads more. 10.30-4pm, until 21 Feb.

Also in London, the self-styled ‘travelling story circus for kids’ Storystock at the Bush Theatre returns for another year of bookish fun and games. Massively popular in the big smoke, books come to life with live shows, storytelling, parties and treasure hunts. More locally, The Story Museum in Oxford launches a brand new exhibition Animal, so promise an amazing menagerie of workshops and events.

Calling all mini van de Rohes! London-based RIBA is putting on half-term workshops every day for all ages through the half term. Be prepared to construct a modernist Wendy house in the garden.

The Magical Lantern Festival is currently in the throes of its UK Premiere at Chiswick House & Gardens. An outdoor event, it’s a festival of light and illumination celebrating Chinese New Year 2016 and the Year of the Monkey, and includes a 66n long dragon centerpiece and a 10m tall lantern recreation of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. You’re given 75 minutes to explore the picturesque garden trail through Corridors of Light leading to vividly themed zones in the stunning grounds of Chiswick House.


Squeak!!! So excited about David Hockney: From the Beginning, a brand new exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley (Sat 13 Feb – 5 June). This 30 work exhibition brings together a unique selection of paintings and prints dating from the 1960s to 1978, which chart the early development of his style, interests, and sexuality.

Derren Brown stars in Miracle, his brand new one-man show at MK Theatre from Mon 15 – Sat 20 Feb. Watch in amazement as Derren reels in a fortune from every live show!

Pop-up-tastic! The awesome traveling pop up supper club Chateau Marmot return to the Woodland Lodge in Fawley for a weekend of supper clubbing. Saturday 13 Feb is already sold out but the hot Muddy news is that there are still 8 tickets left for this Friday if you’re quick-smart. Tim Yates, formerly of London’s 100 Hoxton and currently at the Southbanks’ Mondrian Hotel, promises a 7 course menu using game from the estate and local producers. It’s £65 for the 7 courses – drinks are extra but expect cocktails, wine from independent growers (chosen with ex-Decanter editor Rosalind Cooper), craft beers and all that jazz. It’s a very special, intimate venue with tickets strictly limited to 32 each night, so you can expect service to be brilliant.

Blenheim Palace reopens from 13 Feb, with an exhibition about Capability Brown’s work at Blenheim Palace across the 11 years he was commissioned (1763 – 1774), with detailed accounts of how he designed and executed his masterpiece through photography, drawings, equipment and costumes. Younger children might get a bit itchy with the history if you’re planning to take them along, but they’ll all adore the views.
Dig out your Velma wig and fishnets, Chicago The Musical hits New Theatre Oxford from Fri 12 – Sat 20 Feb. The Independent on Sunday went a bit OTT on the alliteration, describing it as ‘Sexy, sassy, sultry, seductive, sensual, slinky, sophisticated’, but you get the picture.

The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra plays at a Grand Viennese Ball this Saturday 13 Feb  at the Oxford Town Hall. Led by John Georgiadis, the orchestra is set to play Strauss ‘s waltzes, polkas, marches and quadrilles, recreating the grandeur of the great Viennese balls of the past. If dancing isn’t your thing, just watch others on the 19th century Strictly Ballroom floor and get ready with your marks out of ten.

The month-long annual orchid display at Kew Gardens is underway. An enchanted forest of Brazilian beauties, before you pass through a tunnel of tropical plants. Look out two enormous Rainforest Tree sculptures covered in orchids and bromeliads, plus this pond display with an explosion of Brazilian colour. Part of the regular ticket price into Kew.

From the writer of One Man, Two Guv’ nors, Richard Bean’s brilliantly observed play Toast stars Olivier Award winning actor Matthew Kelly about a Sunday night shift in a bread factory and a crisis that means the men have more to lose than just their wages. At The Oxford Playhouse for one week only (Tues 16 – Sat 20 Feb).

In this self-obsessed world, Performing for the Camera (Thurs 18 Feb – 12 June) is a timely exhibition at Tate Modern, bringing together over 50 seminal photographers on display and 500 images including vintage prints, large scale works, marketing posters and artists working with Instagram. Fun and accessible for all the family.

A great London-based theatre production for the family, I’ve heard great things about The Railway Children at King’s Cross Theatre (on now until Sun 28 Feb). This adaptation of E. Nesbit’s classic novel is set in a purpose built 1,000 seat venue, and features a stage built around a real train track, and a 60-tonne locomotive that steams into the theatre. Sounds amazing.


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1 comment on “Ready to rumble? The Feb half-term Muddy Guide 2016”

  • emma February 11, 2016

    Love your posts. I will share on my Jane’s Sewing Box Facebook page tomorrow if that’s ok as Aylesbury based and nice to give parents ideas for half term. Thanks again for inspiration.


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