51 fantastic activities for the May 2023 half term holidays
Follow the links below to discover activities in your area:
May holidays 2023 family activities in London
Image: Southbank Centre, Yellow © Iris Box
Bard to the future
What: Introduce the magic of Shakespeare to a new generation with this special kid-friendly performance of Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe. This unique production together with BBC CBeebies will feature all your favourite stars along with songs and dancing. All performances recorded will be broadcast in 2024 – so you might even see yourself on TV! Afterwards, you can join in with some hands-on theatre workshops exploring the play’s themes through fun activities and games.
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
When: 30-31 May, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £5 standing.
On the ropes
What: Get into the swing of things and learn some spectacular circus skills thanks to the Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School in Regent’s Park. If you’ve got a head for heights, why not pop in for a beginner’s class – after a warm-up and practicing some simple tricks on the low bar, you’ll be able to experience the thrill of soaring through the air 40 feet above the ground on the flying trapeze!
Where: Regent’s Park, Outer Circle, London NW1 4RT.
When: Level 1 beginner classes held every day in May and June, time slots available between 1pm-6.30pm.
Need to know: Suitable for 8+. Tickets £37 per person.
What: Meet crazy characters and rude rulers from ages past as Horrible Histories arrives at Hampton Court Palace with some side-splitting new live performances showcasing the very worst of Barmy British history. Get conquered by William, go house-hunting with King Henry VIII, take over England with the Gorgeous Georgians, or even break into Queen Victoria’s apartments in Buckingham Palace – history lessons have never been this fun!
Where: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
When: 27-3 June, 12pm and 3pm
Need to know: Book online in advance. Adult ticket, £15, child ticket, £9. Event not included in palace and garden admission.
Banking on it
What: There’s a world of fun for the whole family to enjoy with theatre, music, and parties on offer at the Southbank Centre. You can come face to face with the scary Gruffalo, watch a mellow yellow mime musical, help Dennis the Menace and Gnasher conduct themselves in a concert, or join the magnificent Myth Hunter as he travels to the Scottish Highlands to search for the Loch Ness monster, before learning more about the world’s many languages – and the people who speak them.
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
When: 27 May-4 June, times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.
What: Take a trip back in time to the Tower of London in 1661 and commemorate Charles II’s coronation – which marked the return of the monarchy after 10 years. Discover the elaborate plans and level of detail that went in to transforming London for the flamboyant procession, which saw the King make his through the streets from the Tower to Westminster Abbey. As you explore, you’ll be able to meet some of the Merry Monarch’s close friends, including the famous diarist Samuel Pepys and theatre manager Thomas Killigrew all getting ready to play their part in proceedings.
Where: Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB
When: 1 May–21 July, 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £82.10.
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May holidays 2023 family activities in the South East
Image: Unexpected Twist, Oxford Playhouse © Manuel Harlan
What: England's largest festival – the Brighton Fringe – is back with dozens of imaginative events and activities available for you to enjoy. Take your pick from a huge variety of shows from time-travelling with Baron Munchausen and blowing some brilliantly big bubbles alongside clowning, storytelling, tons of top kids’ comedy and even a kid-friendly gameshow. You can also dance your cares away at the Camp Bestival stage or get strumming at an interactive ukelele workshop.
When: 5 May-4 June, dates and times vary by event.
Where: Multiple venues in and around Brighton.
Need to know: Prices vary, check website for details.
Do the Twist
What: Enjoy a modern re-imagining of a Dickens classic at the Oxford Playhouse, with this new adaptation of Oliver Twist penned by famous children’s author Michael Rosen. Featuring an original beatbox soundtrack, this tale will introduce you to Shona, the new girl in school who’s is finding it hard to stay out of trouble – much like Oliver himself! But when she’s given a new phone by a stranger, she begins to scratch the surface of a mysterious and dangerous world…
Where: Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW
When: 30 May-3 June, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £10.
A trunkload of fun!
What: Go on a colourful pachyderm parade around Penworth’s Pleasure Garden this half-term and you’ll find ten uniquely designed sculptures of David McKee’s beloved Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. After picking up your trail map, wander along the winding paths through the gardens as you hunt down the sculptures – all inspired by the work of famous artists including William Morris and JMW Turner – as well as McKee’s original patchwork creation – which provided Elmer’s inspiration.
Where: Petworth House and Park, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 9LR
When: 27 May–3 September, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Adults £17, children £8.50.
What: Go on a chivalrous quest at Morden Hall, where St George needs your help to slay his scaly archnemesis! As you explore the Rose Garden you’ll meet quirky characters, take on challenges, and solve a variety of riddles and puzzles, before choosing your weapon to battle the dragon. Those who emerge victorious will be knighted by St George himself. If you’re in the mood for something more sedate, take an evening walk through the park and see if you can spot some of its wild inhabitants, including amphibians, moths, foxes and bats.
When: Wildlife activities, 26-28 May, various times. St Georges Quest, 30 May-1 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Nature walks free. St George’s Quest, £2.50 adults, £12.50 children.
What: Head on over to the Roald Dahl Museum and make it snappy, as this half term they’re celebrating the tale of the Enormous Crocodile! After enjoying a storytelling session, you’ll be able to construct a giant crocodile nest out of junk, then build a terrific tail for you to take home. If you’re in the mood for something less scaly, why not have a go at sculpting a roly-poly pot or find out how flight works with fun activities and hands-on experiments.
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High St, Great Missenden HP16 0AL
When: 27 May–4 June, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Admission, £7.95 per person. Under 5s go free. Some activities cost £4 or £5 extra per person.
May holidays 2023 family activities in the South West
Image: © The Lost Gardens of Heligan
What: Get set for four days of fun at the Cheltenham Science Festival as it brings together some of the world’s greatest scientists, thinkers, and writers (including big names like Tim Peake, Stefan Gates, Mikaela Loach and Fran Scott) for one of the biggest and best festivals of the year. With dozens of events on offer, you can discover the science of Dungeons and Dragons, find out what life was like as an Arctic explorer, or even play Robot Bingo – plus, there’s also more whizzes, bangs and pops than you can shake a stick at.
Where: Online and various locations around Cheltenham.
When: 6-11 June, times and dates vary.
Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.
What: Travel back to the 15th century at Arundel Castle and discover what life was really like for those living in the Middle Ages. During this three-day spectacular in West Sussex, you’ll see the Wars of the Roses brought to life as you watch armoured knights battle it out and hear the roar of cannon and muskets in action, before heading over to the encampment where you can witness falconers and their magnificent birds of prey, meet craftspeople hard at work making weapons and armour, or even test your own battle skills on the archery range.
Where: Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9AB
When: 27-29 May, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Book in advance. Events free with admission. Family ticket from £65.
What: Get set to start your engines at Beaulieu this half term as the National Motor Museum launches its brand-new exhibition Motopia, where you’ll explore what people thought about the future of motorised travel over the past 130 years, showcasing concept cars and inventions including the Sinclair C5. Afterwards, you can enjoy a ride through the grounds on a 1920s vintage bus, watch some falconry displays, and pop into Palace House, where costumed characters will tell tales of life in a 19th century manor.
Where: National Motor Museum, John Montagu Building, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst SO24 7ZN
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Activities included with admission, £61 for a family ticket.
What: Have a royally good day out this half term and celebrate at Osborne, Queen Victoria’s palatial seaside home on the Isle of Wight. Say hello to Victoria and Prince Albert before getting involved in hands-on activities and some old-fashioned summer fun – including a coconut shy, hoop-la and horseshoe tossing, alongside live Victorian music and historic fairground rides including swing boats and a helter-skelter.
Where: Osborne, York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JT
When: 30 May-1 June, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket, £74.50.
What: Rediscover the importance and wonder of the natural world during Wild Week at The Lost Garden of Heligan. Start the adventure by choosing your team - will you be a clever fox, dam-building beaver, stealthy owl or magical butterfly? After picking face paint and crafting a headband to match your animal of choice, get stuck into some fun outdoor activities including axe throwing, archery, ziplining, and a challenging obstacle course. Afterwards, you can enjoy learning some simple bush crafts before sitting down to toast some marshmallows by the crackling campfire.
Where: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission; family ticket £58.
May holidays 2023 family activities in the East
Image: © Imperial War Museums
Up, up, and away!
What: It's chocks away in Cambridgeshire with high-flying happenings at IWM Duxford! You can learn about the aircraft of the Cold War as you work to restore a hacked security system, have a go at becoming a Spitfire mechanic and carrying out pre-flight checks, or challenge yourself to complete paratrooper training in time for D-Day. Plus, don’t miss the chance to see a selection of historic aircraft take to the skies during a special flying day event!
Where: IWM Duxford, Duxford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR
When: Activities run 27 May–4 June, 10am-4pm. Flying day, 4 Jun, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission. Adult £26.35, children, £13.15. Flying Day, £32 adults, £16 children.
What: Prepare to play the wildest ever game of Top Trumps as the iconic card game arrives at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this half-term! Grab one of the three limited edition super Top Trumps cards before exploring the UK’s largest zoo to find giant cards to play against and learn more about the endangered animals that live there. Discover which animals eat the most, run the fastest or live the longest. Would an American flamingo win in a race against an Asian elephant? Can a reticulated giraffe eat more than a common hippo? Once you’ve made your decision, lift the flaps to see if you’ve become an animal Top Trumps champion.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets from £28.50 adult, £19.90 child.
What: Get ready for a right royal knees-up at Wrest Park and create your own coronation chaos with hands-on activities and fresh-air family fun. After learning about the history of coronations with an imaginative theatre performance, you’ll be able to have a go at planning your own Coronation themed adventure story, designing the ceremony and regalia you’d want if you were being crowned King or Queen.
Where: Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket £37.60.
What: Experience an enchanting day out at the Bradmoor Woods Fairy Fair this holiday. Journey into a magical woodland glade where you’ll be able to come face-to face with fairies, pixies, elves, pirates and even Pedro the Party Pony! Once you get settled in you’ll be able to enjoy toe-tapping tunes, family storytelling and creative activities including potion brewing, face painting, vet training and much more – plus, don’t forget to join the Fairy King and Queen as they lead the farewell dance.
Where: Bradmoor Woods on West Acre Estate nr Swaffham, PE32 1HU.
When: 28-29 May, 10.30am-5.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £9.92. A charge of no more than £3 applies for some activities, advanced booking essential.
What: Jet off along the North Anglian coast and enjoy a thrilling speedboat ride from historic Lowestoft Harbour as part of a unique seal safari. You’ll be able to see thousands of seals basking in their natural habitat as they make their home on the scenic Scroby Sands in this one-of-a-kind boat trip experience. At low water they’ll be on the sand in their masses and at high water, they’ll be surrounding the boat – so you’ll be able to get plenty of pictures!
Where: Jet Adventures, Heritage Quay South Pier, Royal Plain, Lowestoft NR33 0AE
When: 29 May-3 June, various times.
Need to know: Seal watching, £38 adults, £33 children. Please bring suitable clothing.
May holidays 2023 family activities in the Midlands
Image: © Warwick Castle
What: Meet a band of unlikely warriors as they join forces to defend Warwick Castle from invaders, with only a handful of weapons, frying pans and turnips… as well as one enormous trebuchet! Amidst roaring flames and the booming of cannons, watch as the castle’s defenders learn how to fire this mighty medieval war machine just in time to fight off the siege, as the Legend of the Trebuchet unfolds right before your eyes.
Where: Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU
When: Until November 2023, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Event free with admission, tickets £32 per person.
What: Step inside the world-famous Luminarium – an enthralling maze of colour and light – as it returns to Highfields Park in Nottingham this half-term. Inside this unique work of art, you’ll experience the beautiful colours, iridescent surfaces and otherworldly shapes that have captivated thousands since 2004 and enjoy a peaceful sensory walk through these unusual spaces.
Where: Highfields Park, University Blvd, Lenton, Nottingham NG7 2RD
When: 27 May-4 June, 11am-5.15pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £5 per person.
What: Get ready to go animal crackers at Birmingham’s Thinktank this holiday and get up close and personal with exotic animals while learning more about the changing planet. Get hands-on with snakes, spiders and giant snails as you explore how the climate is changing and the things we can all do to help. Afterwards, have a go at crafting a paper plant pot to grow your own French beans or conduct some fun seashell experiments.
Where: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, Millennium Point. Birmingham B4 7XG
When: 29 May–2 June, 10.30am-4pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket from £37.50.
An arrow escape
What: Celebrate the tales of the world’s best-known outlaw in the very place that the legend began – Sherwood Forest. Join the Sheriff of Nottingham on this family-friendly walk through the woods as you unravel the legend of Robin Hood, and who he may have been, or been inspired by, in history. The Sheriff will also tell stories of life in medieval England, but be sure to pay attention – if you’re not listening he might try and throw you into the dungeons of Nottingham Castle!
Where: Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, Nottinghamshire NG21 9RN
When: 27 May, 10-11am.
Need to know: Tickets £5 per person, pre-booking essential.
What: Head for The Herbert this half-term and be inspired by the stories behind the seascape paintings in its art collection to create some nautical crafts. Make your own undersea world in a jar using salt, shells and seaweed, upcycle junk materials to create a garden raft or design a beautiful seascape collage, adding lighthouse silhouettes and origami boats as you build up layers of colour.
Where: The Herbert, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP
When: 27 May-3 June, 10.30am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Museum entry free. Drop-in workshops cost £2.50 per child.
May holidays 2023 family activities in Yorkshire
Image: Eureka © Jonathan Pow
What: Get stuck into STEAM (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) this half-term with these hands-on activities at Eureka! Have a go at creating a crazy whistling, plinking, and parping sound sculpture, program robots to become fairground rides, football players and much more, test your engineering skills and build a LEGO race car to compete for the grand prize, and even take part in an out-of-this-world dance workshop where you’ll learn how to boogie like a planet.
Where: Eureka, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2NE
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Tickets £15.95 per person. Events free with admission.
Rascals and rogues
What: Experience a 60-minute journey through 2,000 years of York’s murkier history, from Vikings to Victorians and beyond, as you descend into the depths of the York Dungeon. Inside you’ll meet a full cast of mischievous characters including Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes (who’ll be happy to tell their grisly tales), discover the horrors of Anglo-Saxon crime and punishment, and much more – though beware of the witch’s curse!
Where: The York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York YO1 9RD
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Standard ticket costs £21 adult, £17 child when booked online.
What: Experience the entertainment of a bygone area with this display of 14 weird and wonderful 20th century arcade machines at York Castle Museum. These amazing machines include automatons, mutoscopes and stereoscopes (early moving-picture technologies), and feature famous characters including Dracula, Aladdin, Sooty and many more. If you’re in the mood for more vintage fun, why not explore the gallery too, showcasing iconic toys and games from the past 150 years, and then let off steam in the castle-themed play area or watch a 100-year-old carousel in action.
Where: York Castle Museum, Castle Area, Eye of York, York YO1 9RY
When: 27 May-4 June, 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Free with admission, adults £13, children £6.50. Machines are coin-operated, change machines provided.
Huff and puff and stuff
What: Experience a classic fairy-tale with a unique twist this half-term at the Hull Truck Theatre. Enjoy the story of the Three Little Pigs, but this time you’re encouraged to join in the adventure and help tell the tale! The session will feature a fun art-and-craft session, followed by the show (with audience participation very much encouraged) featuring everything that you’ve made.
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, 50 Ferensway, Hull HU2 8LB
When: 27-30 May, 10am and 11.30am.
Need to know: Tickets £6 per child, accompanying adult goes free.
Wander through Wonderland
What: Don't be late for a very important date as you follow Alice down the rabbit hole at Lightwater Valley Adventure Park. Join in the fantastical fun as you greet the whimsical characters of Wonderland roaming around the park, then hop aboard a vintage car-themed ride as you go on the hunt for Alice! Afterwards follow the digital adventure trail, with things getting curiouser and curiouser, or enjoy an Alice in Wonderland themed pantomime – just watch out for the Queen of Hearts!
Where: Lightwater Valley, North Stainley, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3HT
When: 13 May–9 July, 10.30am-5pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £26.50 per person, visitors under 90cm tall go free.
May holidays 2023 family activities in North East
Image: © Life Science Centre
Simply the quest!
What: Take part in a new and original fantasy family adventure at the Great North Museum, exploring myths and monsters throughout the museum to complete a variety of quests. Taking a map and quartz crystal, you can choose to embark on one of three interactive adventures – will you choose to go through the Foggy Forest of Forgettings, the Serpentine Sea of the Sirens, or the Moody Mountains of the Monsters? Those who complete their quest will earn their place in the ‘Myth Quest Hall of Heroes’, where they will learn more about all the fascinating objects, magical animals, mythical creatures and quirky characters they have encountered on their journey.
Where: Great North Museum: Hancock, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT
When: Until 3 September, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Free, but donations welcome.
What: Reimagine the wonder of wetlands and nature through the eyes of the UK’s best loved illustrator at WWT Washington this half term. Collect an illustrated guide full of Quentin Blake’s drawings and use this to journey around the wetland world following the seasonal trail. There’s also a host of art and nature activities too, including printing in the woods, special story time crafts, watercolour workshops and more.
Where: WWT Washington, Barmston Lane, Pattinson, Washington NE38 8LE
When: 27 May-4 September, times vary.
Need to Know: Most activities free with family ticket, £29.31.
Me, myself and I
What: Learn all about yourself and your body in-depth at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre. You can become a forensic detective and solve a mystery by using a magnetic powder to examine your fingerprints, explore what makes you you in their new Gross and Glorious Me live show and get to see yourself (and the things that share your body with you) as never before! You can also get crafty in the making studios by designing your own badge to show who you are and the things that you love.
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission. Adult ticket from £12.27, child from £9.09.
What: Explore life on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire this half term at Housesteads Museum in Northumberland. Find out how the Romans built the fort as well as the vicus, a civilian settlement which developed in its shadow. See the fort brought to life with stunning recreations of the original Roman buildings, and meet Felix, the character who guides younger visitors around and get your chance to dress up in traditional Roman clothes.
Where: Housesteads Roman Fort, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 6NN
When: Daily, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket £29.40.
What: Set a course for Newcastle’s Discovery Museum and learn more about the first ever turbine-powered steam ship, the Turbinia, which was built in Tyneside in 1894 before following the steamboat trail around the museum to see if you could win a boat-themed prize. You can also create your own wooden ship, decorate a sailboat magnet, and settle down to listen to the story of the boy who sailed the world.
Where: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Admission free. Book workshops in advance. Storytelling, £3.50, wooden boat, £2 per child, magnet, £1, ship builder trail, 50p.
May holidays 2023 family activities in North West
Image: Return of the Gods, World Museum © Dave Jones Photography
What: Prepare for the high drama of the ancient world as you meet the inhabitants of Mount Olympus at the Liverpool World Museum’s new exhibition Return of the Gods. This exhibition allows you to step inside the stories as two-metre-high statues tower above you and feature a stunning collection of over 100 sculptures and objects from antiquity. Experience the luxury of a Roman villa, journey into the underworld to meet Hades and even go on a quest to defy the monsters and defeat the labyrinth using the facts and clues you’ve discovered to win your way to victory!
Where: Liverpool World Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN
When: Until 25 February 2024, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Museum admission free. Exhibition tickets from £8 adult, 0-17s go free.
What: Get set to giggle and snort with children’s favourite Peppa Pig at SEA LIFE Manchester. Come and meet Peppa as she dives into her adventure and makes friends with some of the ocean’s most incredible animals. Follow the fun interactive trail where little piggies can help to spot seahorses, learn about how fast sharks can swim and take part in a variety of fun activities from bracelet making to jigsaws. You can also meet Peppa herself and get a reward for completing the trail!
Where: SEA LIFE Manchester, Trafford Palazzo, Trafford, Manchester M17 8AS
When: Until 4 June, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £18.50 adult and £15.50 child.
Just for laughs
What: You've seen football. You've seen tennis. But have you seen comedy as a sport? Then don't miss this all ages, all action, all improvised family comedy show at Waterside Arts. Two teams battle it out for laughs with quick-witted gags, games, sketches, and songs all inspired by your suggestions. There's a referee on hand to ensure a good clean match – with penalties for bad behaviour and bad jokes. Who wins? You decide!
Where: Waterside Arts, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
When: 27 May, 6.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £6.
What: Get growing at RHS Garden Bridgewater and learn all about nurturing your own food. Follow the grow-your-own trail and spot fruit and vegetable superheroes along the way and discover their amazing powers. Get creative planting a herb head full of herb seeds or craft a fruit and veg mobile, before meeting The Vegetable Nannies – a new show featuring two gardeners on a day trip with their family of little ones who need a hand taking care of their beautiful bouncing baby fruits and vegetables – created by actor and writer Ben Faulks (CBeebies Mr Bloom).
Where: RHS Garden Bridgewater, Occupation Rd, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LJ
When: 27 May-4 June, 10am-6pm. Dates and times vary by activity.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket from £28.95.
A bigger bang!
What: The UK’s favourite science team Ministry of Science are back with a bang and more explosive than ever, with a new show looking at how science shapes the modern world. They’ll take an anarchic approach to science communication whilst looking at the scientists, engineers and inventors who have shaped how we live today, proving that everyone has the ability to change the world for the better. Expect 20ft liquid nitrogen clouds, exploding balloons, fire tornados and even a self-built hovercraft!
Where: Burnley Mechanics Theatre, Manchester Rd, Burnley BB11 1BH and Crewe Lyceum, Heath St, Crewe CW1 2DA
When: 30 May (Burnley), 2.30pm and 1 June (Crewe), 6pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £17.
May holidays 2023 family activities in Scotland
Image: Imaginate, Maas Theatre & Dance © Kamerich & Budwilowitz
What: The Edinburgh International Children's Festival - the UK's largest - is back with a nine-day programme dedicated to young audiences featuring the very best in circus, theatre, music, and dance from the UK and around Europe. Check out Bully, Bully - a madcap musical about childish grown-up men, featuring two performers, songs, funny quarrels, a bit of bickering and, eventually, a happy ending. Or check out Somewhere Else - a touching story about a girl caught in the middle of a war told through puppet animation, storytelling, live video projections and virtual drawings to amazing effect.
Where: Venues around the city.
When: 25 May-6 June, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets £12 per person.
What: Experience one of the most magical train journeys in the world and follow in the footsteps of a certain boy wizard as you hop aboard the historic Jacobite Steam Train. The 84-mile round trip, pulled by a restored steam locomotive, takes you past some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery, including the iconic 21-column Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by its appearance in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before alighting at the picturesque seaside village of Mallaig.
Where: Departs from Fort William Railway Station, Tom-na-Faire, Station Square, Fort William PH33 6TQ
When: 10.15am-4.03pm and 12.50pm-6.52pm every day until 29 September.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £57, children from £33.
What: Go west this half term for Glasgow Science Festival – a 10-day packed programme of workshops, shows, films, discussion, exhibitions and art that allows budding scientists to don their safety goggles and learn something new with an experiment or two thrown in. Highlights include a six-metre-wide floating vision of the entire Earth, physics lessons with trapeze artists, virtual reality tours of the human body and a Dungeons & Dragons style show through futuristic streets of Glasgow.
Where: Various venues around Glasgow
When: 1-11 June, times vary.
Need to know: Most events are free.
What: Get back to nature with this outdoor children's festival celebrating all things wild, deep in the heart of Perthshire. Wildhood comes complete with traditional crafts, live music, circus skills, stone carving, tree climbing and even Highland games! You’ll be able to swing from trees, join in with the grand parade, earn your stripes in a bushcraft session, spark your imagination by the bonfire, run away to the circus, or take a wander in the witches’ maze. There’s arts and crafts, music and mythology, dance and spellbinding stories, animals, fairies, and surprises around every corner!
Where: Tullibole Castle, Crook of Devon, Kinross, KY13 0QN
When: 2-4 June, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £52 adult, £38 child.
May holidays 2023 family activities in Wales
Image: Hay Festival © Chris Athanasiou
Bonkers about books
What: The world-famous Hay Festival is returning to the Brecon Beacons for 2023, bringing with it HAYDAYS – 11 days filled with kid-friendly events, workshops, and crafts, featuring famed authors such as Michael Rosen, David Walliams, Jacqueline Wilson, Eoin Colfer and many more. You’ll able to take part in a dance workshop with Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse, meet CBeebies presenter George Webster and Sky Kids’ MC Grammar from Wonder Raps and get to quiz British astronaut Tim Peake all about space.
Where: Hay Festival, Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay-On-Wye, HR3 5PJ
When: 25 May-4 June, various dates and times.
Need to know: Tickets from £7 per event per person, some events free.
What: Dare to experience the dangers and delights of Dinosaur World Live with this gigantic interactive show this holiday. Grab your compass and join intrepid explorer Miranda as she travels across uncharted territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including everyone’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus! There is also a special meet and greet after the show which offers all brave explorers the chance to make a dinosaur friend.
Where: Memo Arts Centre, Gladstone Road, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan CF62 8NA
When: 26-28 May, 11am, 2pm and 4.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £15.
What: Come and explore 100 years of the BBC in Wales with this new exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff. Looking at the history of the BBC from its birth in the 1920s into a new digital age, you can walk through time and discover just how broadcasting has evolved. You’ll be able to sit on the sofa and watch Christmas TV classics in a traditional 1970s living room, touch the TARDIS, meet Bagpuss and the Teletubbies and look at costumes from Sherlock, Doctor Who and His Dark Materials.
Where: National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff, CF10 3NP
When: Until 3 September, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Exhibition is free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
What: Get ready to get stuck into the Newport Brick Festival this holiday. First started in 2018, it’s perfect for LEGO fans of all ages – and dedicated to all things brick! You can watch speed building competitions, look at the intricate large displays, check out the very latest LEGO sets and minifigures and take part in LEGO activities by getting constructive in the special dedicated building area.
Where: ICC Wales Coldra Woods, Newport NP18 1HQ
When: 27 May, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £17. Early bird tickets get you a free Lego gift.
May holidays 2023 family activities in Northern Ireland
Image: © Navan Centre & Fort
What: Get ready to make a splash this half term and experience Ballycastle’s seafaring traditions during the annual Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival. Set within the picturesque setting of the Causeway Coast, you’ll be able to take to the water in kayaking and paddleboarding lessons, marvel at the beautiful tall ships moored in the harbour, dance along to some traditional sea shanties, and discover more about Ballycastle’s history with the sea during plenty of interactive talks and exhibitions.
Where: Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, 1-3 North St, Ballycastle BT54 6BN
When: 26 May–4 June, 10am-10pm.
Need to know: Free, charges may apply for some activities.
What: Experience life over 2,000 years ago with a visit to Armagh’s Navan Centre & Fort – the ancient seat of Kings and one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. Transform yourself into a Celtic Warrior, complete with painted face and authentic costume before sitting down by the fire to listen to the bard telling the tales about the great heroes of Navan such as CuChulainn and the Red Branch Warriors. You can also brush up your battle skills with a spot of spear throwing and learn the art of ancient Celtic writing as you spell out your clan name using Ogham.
Where: Navan Centre and Fort, 81 Killylea Rd, Armagh BT60 4LD
When: 27-28 May and 3-4 June, 12.30pm
Need to know: Events included with admission. Family ticket £32.50.
What: Set sail for HMS Caroline and enjoy some extra special battle boat activities. Jump on the board World War One warship – the biggest and last surviving ship from the 1916 Battle of Jutland – and help the curator look after the museum collection by discovering what types of pesky pests hide on board such a historic ship. You can also get crafty with some naval make and do, dress up and play puzzles and games.
Where: HMS Caroline, Alexandra Dock, Queen's Road, Belfast, County Antrim, BT3 9DT
When: 27-29 May, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Family tickets from £22.
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