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Half Term Muddy Guide: The 9 best day trips

Didn’t quite make it to Zurmatt this half term? Nope, me neither! But who cares, for we have delights aplenty in Blighty and not just out on our doorstep. Here are 9 great options if you fancy a day trip out.

Warwick Castle

Half term week for schools in Warwickshire is 20 – 24 Feb fact fans, so this week is a grand tim for Bucks/Oxon families to head up to Warwick Castle during its relatively quieter week. No special activities until next weekend (its official line up of Half Term events go from 18 – 25 Feb) but the castle and park are open 10 – 4 all OUR half term week and there’s still lots to do. warwick-castle.com

Magic Lantern Festival, Chiswick House & Gardens, Half term week

Chiswick House and Gardens are an exquisite reason to go into London, more so this week with The Magical Lantern Festival returning for a second year, celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. The theme for this year’s festival ‘Explore The Silk Road’ and begins with a 15-metre wide lantern of London’s Houses of Parliament as well as lanterns related to the Silk Road representing Europe, Arabia, Egypt, Persia, India and Ancient China. If it all gets a bit too, you know, ‘lanterny’, there’s also a 30-metre synthetic ice-rink, virtual reality gaming and a mini funfair and games. Chiswick House, Conservatory Yard, London W4, magiclantern.uk

Robot Zoo, Horniman’s Museum, London SE23, Sat 11 Feb – Sun 29 Oct

It doesn’t get much cooler than a robotic zoo. Let’s be fair it needs to be impressive to schlep deep into south east London. But it’ll be worth it to see a robotic rhino, a squid with 18-ft tentacles and a mahoosive house fly with a vacuum cleaner for a mouth at the Horniman’s Museum in Honor Oak. all the robot animals are made from everyday machines and gadgets. Through interactive games and challenges the creation will reveal how real anatomy works. How cool is that? Tickets: Adults £7; Kids, £4.

Horniman’s Museum, London SE26, horniman.ac.uk

The Sherlock Holmes Experience, Madame Tussaud’s

A departure for Madam Tussauds, this new Sherlock Holmes Experience (included in the normal ticket price) is live walk-through adventure. Journeying from 221B Baker Street to Dartmoor where a demon hound lurks (with plenty of stops along the way), you must help Dr. Watson find the missing Sherlock Holmes to reach a dramatic ‘watery’ conclusion. The experience is totally interactive with textured theatrical sets laden with detail, hidden clues and special effects. Bring your own deerstalker.

Madame Tussaud’s, Marylebone Road, London NW1, madametussauds.com

Kidzania, Westfield, London

I’ve had several friends rave about this place at Westfield – it’s a 75,000 sq ft child-size city where the kids are in charge (scary, no?). It provides real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds,  blending learning and reality with entertainment. They can try more than 60 real life role-play activities (actor, doctor, police officer etc) with each  role-play experience crafted to teach kids essential life skills like team work and independence. Younger kids can hang out in the dedicated Early Years area. And you can, you know, go shopping. london.kidzania.com

Directing Dobby, Harry Potter Studios, now until Fri 31 March

There’s always a new angle to explore at this wily Harry Potter experience, and this half term we’re able to take part in an interactive motion capture experience.  Consisting of three screens, the experience shows Dobby at different stages of motion capture, from an initial wireframe to the fully-rendered Dobby. Standing in front of the display, visitors will see three versions of Dobby reflecting their movements in real-time, demonstrating the process used by filmmakers when bringing CGI characters to life on screen. wbstudiotour.co.uk

Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank, London, Thurs 9 – Sun 19 Feb

An utterly awesome 11 day festival run by kids for kids, it’s a chance for children to enjoy the best theatre, literature and music, with plenty of workshops and free activities for kids up to 12 years old. There’s everything from The Gruffalo & Room on the Broom accompanied by whimsical orchestral music and a free screening The Little Mermaid where the film is powered entirely by bicycles to interactive storytelling or Rave-A-Roo, the ultimate party for the whole family (no joking, dig out your glow sticks pronto). Southbank Centre, London, Nearest tubes Waterloo/Embankment, southbankcentre.co.uk

Westonbirt Arboretum

A glorious arboretum and if you’ve never visited it, imagine my ruler coming out the computer rapping you on the knuckles… Thwack! Loads to do here, from guided walks and trails to the skyhigh Treetop Walkway. Gorgeous, your kids will love it. forestry.gov.uk

Science Museum, London

 

Masses on at this brilliant museum – spend the whole day here – including the new exhibit of  Tim Peake’s Spacecraft – Soyuz TMA-19M. Also on is a brand new exhibition  Robots, which reveals our 500-year quest to make machines human, from a 16th century mechanised monk to some of film’s most iconic robotic creations and the very latest humanoids. Finally, your kids will love Wonderlab,the newest and most spectacular interactive gallery in the world.

RSC Stratford

Dig out your ruff, and head up to the home of the Bard to catch a play, book a backstage tour or visit the new exhibition, ‘The Play’s the Thing’ which looks like loads of fun – you can Play Hamlet alongside actor Ewart James Walters, using state-of-the-art gaming technology, try on virtual costumes from the RSC collection and take a photo, learn the gory details of theatrical make up and create quick and fun version of Shakespeare plays. rsc.org.uk

Longleat Safari Park

Fancy a change from the Cotswold Wildlife Park? Longleat Safari Park opens again for a new season on 11 Feb, so drive on in and see its furry, scaly and feathery residents. Longleat, Warminster, Wilts, longleat.co.uk

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