The Half-Term Muddy Guide 14 – 21 Feb
Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest What's On features here.
Oh flip. Half term is here, and there are children to be entertained (or interned in their bedrooms while you work). As always in the half-term guides there’s a whopper load for kids to do, but plenty for those who are unencumbered with the little darlings too.
I’ll be adding to this as the week progresses, so definitely check back every day. New additions will be put at the top of the post so you can find them easily.
Good luck to you all. See you the other side!
Valentine’s Singles Evening at Snozone Milton Keynes, Fri 14 Feb
Pucker up! This singles event at Snozone sounds a blast. Slide your way seductively through the sledging session on the slopes and enjoy an après ski complimentary glass of bubbly in the Snobar. 7-11pm. It’s £16.99 per person but really, what price true love?
Natural History Museum reopening, Oxford, Sat 15 Feb, 7am
Very excited about this. After a 14-month roof restoration project, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is set to reopen its doors to the public, all spangly new and funky. A one-off ‘dawn till dusk’ reopening day on Saturday means you can bowl in early, enjoy breakfast in the museum’s new gallery café overlooking the skeletons below and then wander amongst all the revamped exhibits. Plus there are live bands, new specimens on show and general giddiness all round.
Little Howard and the Magic Pencil of Life and Death, Cornerstone Theatre, Didcot, Sun 16 Feb
Popular CBBC Show Little Howard’s Big Question comes to life this Sunday at the Cornerstone in Didcot, with stand up, 3D animation and songs. If you don’t know the show, the premise is that animated six year old Little Howard discovers the pencil that drew him. But, on the other end of this magical pencil of life is the eraser of death, and a dark force is at large determined to rub him out for good. Should be fun. 2pm. Tickets £8, £6 (concs). More info
Frazer Nash exhibition, Henley Rowing & River Museum, from 15 Feb
I’m a big fan of the River & Rowing Museum in Henley, a lovely light modern space right on the river. This new exhibition showcasing over 100 years of legendary Frazer Nash automobile history has obvious boy appeal, with a series of events including ‘Under the Bonnet’ and ‘Vroomm Vroomm!’ where children will get the opportunity to make, play and experiment with things that move. There are also two racing cars to admire in situ – a 1951 Le Mans Replica, and a 1925 Plus Power Sports Tourer. No, I’ve never heard of them either, but ask your other half – he’ll probably faint with excitement.
Museum admission tickets are £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for kids, and are valid for a 12-month re-entry
Games Galore!, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Weds 19 – Fri 21 Feb
Never mind all this ipad rubbish, I’m still attached to the old-fashioned games – Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, and the kind of Scrabble that doesn’t permit crazy words like xi and en (just me?!). So my children will be dragged kicking and screaming from their various video systems to the Ashmolean’s free drop in event Games Galore! where they can play games all around museum – hopefully none of them involving two thumbs and glazed eyes! 1-4pm. More info
Open for half term…
The dust is being blown off some of the major family tourist attractions for next week, including Longleat (now boasting a brand new Deadly 60 safari), the newly expanded Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton and Bekenscot Model Village in Beaconsfield (beware, it’s all outside!) if you’re craving a change from swimming pools and museums.
Openscript, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Wed 19Feb
Ever wondered what drama goes on behind the scenes of a theatre company? Professional company Openscript will be bring rehearsals out from the back and into the foyer of Aylesbury Waterside Theatre for all to see next week. A great way to inspire budding actors, playwrights and directors. Openscript is also running free Taking Part workshops at Queen’s Park Centre on 13 and 18 Feb for everyone interested in behind the scenes roles.
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 1-2pm and 6-7pm.
Imagine Children’s Festival Southbank Centre, London until Sun 23 Feb
There’s still time to catch the brilliant Imagine Children’s Festival, the annual kids’ extravaganza at the Southbank Centre in London with its incredibly diverse programme of music, comedy, performance and theatre. Embrace the madness and put your shorts on your head for Topsy-Turvy Day (Sat 15) or get your cowgirl on for Great Enormo Day (Sat 22). Yee-haw!
Living the Secret world at Bletchley Park Sat 15 Feb- 22 Feb
Bletchley Park will be brought to life this half-term – literally – when visitors will be part of a Living The Secret World performance aimed at immersing us in the world of the WW2 Codebreakers. The characters include an Oxbridge educated male Codebreaker, outgoing WAAFs (Women’s Auxhiliary Air Force) and a female civilian administrator with a taste for gossip. It’s the sort of thing you’ll either love or hate as an adult, but I bet your kids go mad for it!
Adults £15, Children 12-16 £13, Children under 12 go free.
Knights and Princesses Week at Waddesdon Manor Sat 15 Feb-Sun 23 Feb
Really, you can’t go wrong with knights and princesses, and Waddesdon Manor is the perfect backdrop to the foam swords and acryllic royal gowns in half-term week. There’s a Knight’s Quest, sword and tiara making, a best-dressed competition, facepainting on weekends and the usual kiddie-tastic stuff you’d expect from the National Trust in half term.
Normal Garden Admissions apply
A Little Birdie at Millets Farm 17 – 21 Feb
If you’re looking for something to do for an hour or so, head to Millets where children can get hands-on and decorate their very own wooden bird box. You can then take it home and hang it pride of place in your garden (once you’ve, um, ‘improved’ it for general viewing). Tickets can be purchased from the Garden Centre, Online at www.frostsgroup.com or by calling 0800 954 9484. £4.99 per child. 10-4pm.
Animal Actors at Harry Potter Studios Watford, Fri 14 – 24 Feb
Been to Harry Potter Studios yet? As a bonus this half term, the real animal actors will be making an appearance, with Mrs. Norris and Trevor the toad in the Gryffindor common room, Crookshanks roaming around Diagon Alley and Hedwig available for selfies. There are live training demonstrations to show how the animals were coached for the film. I’m guessing method acting, but what do I know?
9am-6.30pm, 7 days a week. Adult tickets £30, Children (5-15 years) £22.50
A Play in a Day, RSC, Stratford Mon 17-19; also 17 Feb, Norden Farm Centre, Maidenhead
Another option for budding thesps. Up with the RSC, kids from 8-18 (in three age-appropriate groups) can devise, direct and act in a shortened version of The Taming of the Shrew for £20. Meanwhile, you can shed a tear over your little one’s Oscar-worthy performance at the end of the day whilst on speed dial to United Artists.
Alternatively, Troublemaker Theatre Company is also putting on a play in a day at the fabulous Norden Farm. Using ‘Fire and Ice’ as inspiration, the performance is built from scratch and performed on the main stage that evening. £30
The Masquerade Ball Crazy Bear, Stadhampton Sat 15 Feb
Stretch out the Valentine’s romance another day for The Masquerade Ball at Crazy Bear in Stadhampton. The Crazy Bear doesn’t do tasteful minimalism, more a full-throttle assault on your senses, so this Venetian themed event includes magicians, burlesque, lots of bustles and masks and a whole lot of stuff you’ll probably want to forget you got up to by the morning. Ah, *sigh*, my kind of party.
Ticket £59.50, includes your Venetian mask