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51 fantastic activities for the May 2024 half term holidays

Children outdoors
Get set for an awfully big adventure this half term with our top selection of 51 educational activities for you and your family – come face to face with Frankenstein’s monster, swing through the air on a flying trapeze, or even take a trip in a time travelling toilet (yes, really!).

Follow the links below to discover activities in your area: 

South East
South West
North West
North East

Northern Ireland

Main image: ©️Oliver Dixon / RHS

May 2024 family activities in London

Telling Tales at Shakespeare's Globe ©️ Cesare De Giglio

Image: Telling Tales at Shakespeare's Globe ©️ Cesare De Giglio

Bard to the future
What: Enjoy the beauty of the Bard with these storytelling sessions and workshops taking place at the historic Shakespeare’s Globe theatre
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
When: Sword-fighting and Shakespearean fashion weekends from 20 April, workshops, 25 May-1 June.  
Need to know: Workshops, £10 per person, dressing up and sword fighting, £12 per person, family storytelling, £15. Book online in advance.

Palace performance
What: Meet crazy characters and rude rulers from ages past as Horrible Histories arrives at Hampton Court Palace with a side-splitting new live show showcasing the very worst of royal history. During this hour-long outdoor performance you’ll be able to find out if you’d be wooed by Richard the Lionheart or hanged as a witch by King James – don’t forget to watch out for crazy King Charles or get your boogie on with the party Queen, Victoria!
Where: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
When: 25 May-1 June, 12pm and 3pm
Need to know: Adult ticket, £15, child ticket, £9. Book online in advance.

Banking on it
What: There’s a world of fun for the whole family to enjoy with theatre, music, and even a party on offer this half-term at the Southbank Centre. You can follow the Pied Piper and enjoy the rat-catcher’s mesmerising tunes in a new hip-hop themed version of the classic tale, learn how to always be prepared for the wonders of the wind, rain, frost and more in theatre show Grand Soft Day or get ready to groove with the Mughal Miniatures Dance Party – complete with pop-up pictures, a dance workshop and a live DJ!
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
When: 27 May-4 June
Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.

Bird brained
What: Flock to the Natural History Museum for the opening of their new exhibition Birds: Brilliant and Bizarre and celebrate all things avian by discovering the secrets behind our feathered friends’ success and survival over millions of years. Learn about the evolution of birds from dinosaurs and the links between the humble pigeon and terrifying T-Rex, discover some of their weirder quirks including sucking blood and bathing in acid, swirl through the skies in a murmuration or see if you’ve got the stomach to sniff a stinky seabird egg.
Where: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
When: 24 May-5 January 2025, 10am-4.30pm.
Need to know: Family exhibition ticket, £42.25.

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 40ft above the ground on the flying trapeze!
Where: Regent’s Park, Outer Circle, London NW1 4RT
When: 19 April-15 September, Level 1 beginner classes held every weekend, 1pm-3pm and 4pm-6.30pm.
Need to know: Suitable for 8+, under 100kg. Tickets, £40 per person. Classes last two hours.

TheSchoolRun &

TheSchoolRun has partnered up with to help expand your options for school holiday activities and keep things affordable.

So, as well as the activities in the list, you can also find plenty of events and activities in your area at discounted prices or even for free.

May 2024 family activities in the South East

Charlie Cook's Favourite Book at the Oxford Playhouse ©️ Brian Roberts

Image: Charlie Cook's Favourite Book at the Oxford Playhouse ©️ Brian Roberts
By the book
What: Delve into the brilliant world of books with this new theatrical adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s classic bestseller, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book. 
Where: Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW
When: 28-30 May, 10.30am, 1.30pm or 3.30pm
Need to know: Tickets, £19 adult and £17 child.

Joust in time
What: Expect shattering lances, thundering hooves and a roaring crowd as you become a spectator to a historic jousting tournament at Leeds Castle! English and French knights will be battling for the coveted cup, as well as the attention of the Queen – who’ll judge chivalry just as harshly as combat. Afterwards, you’ll be able to join medieval minstrels for a song and dance, meet the knights and discover how to put on plate armour, or learn more about medieval life as you watch medieval crafts including blacksmithing, weaving, spinning and coin striking.
Where: Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL
When: 25-27 May, 10am-5pm, jousting at 1pm and 3.30pm.
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £74.

Absolutely champion
What: Head on over to the Roald Dahl Museum and enjoy adventurous activities inspired by Fantastic Mr. Fox and Danny the Champion of the World. After some stupendous storytelling in the Wondrous Woods room, you’ll be able to get crafty with clay modelling, making pheasant-hiding clay pots or your own menu for Mr. Fox’s fabulous feast, or you can use all sorts of junk materials to construct a mini caravan inspired by Danny’s home. Afterwards, why not look for the emerging signs of summer on a guided Roald Dahl walk through the beautiful woods and fields that helped inspired him to write his stories.
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden HP16 0AL
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Admission, £9.95 per person. Under 5s, free. Activities and walk, £4 per person extra.

Fringe-tastic fun
What: England's largest festival – the Brighton Fringe – is back with tons of imaginative kid-friendly events and activities available for all the family. Take your pick from a musical about Boudicca, a basketball-ing superhero show complete with dribbles, spins and tricks and even the tale of the weird and wonderful Crockodogopig. There’s also clowning, storytelling, beatboxing, comedy for kids and a circus-themed gameshow or you can dance your cares away at the family neon rave and get spinning as you learn your way around a potter’s wheel.
When: 3 May-2 June, dates and times vary by event.
Where: Multiple venues in and around Brighton.
Need to know: Prices vary, check website for details. Some events free.

Royal rumpus
What: Have a right royal day out and enjoy some traditional Victorian fun at Osborne, Queen Victoria’s seaside home on the Isle of Wight. Say hello to Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert before having a go at traditional games like the coconut shy, hoop-la and horseshoe tossing, alongside live Victorian music and historic fairground rides including swing boats and a helter-skelter. You’ll also be able to giggle at the silly antics of the palace jester or be amazed by magicians and their awe-inspiring illusions.
Where: Osborne, York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JT
When: 28-30 May, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket, £74.50.

May 2024 family activities in the South West

©️ The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Image: © The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Go wild!
What: Discover the importance and wonder of the natural world during Wild Week at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Try your hand at axe throwing, archery, long jump, bug hunting, and even a challenging obstacle course. 
Where: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St. Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission; family ticket £65.

Water world
What: Explore the wonder of the waves as you head down to the National Marine Aquarium for some springtime aquatic adventures. Set sail with the Ocean Conservation Trust onboard a sightseeing vessel as you explore the National Marine Park of Plymouth Sound, with the Trust’s Discovery Rangers on hand to help you find out more about the local wildlife and the history of Plymouth’s natural harbour. You’ll also be able to go on a rock shore ramble and enjoy a mix of science and storytelling as you find out about the creatures that lurk in the rockpools the tide leaves behind.
Where: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
When: Boat trip, 28 and 31 May, 10am. Rockpool ramble, 26 May, 1.30pm.
Need to know: Boat trip, adults £15, children £12. Ramble, £5 per person. 

House of Horror
What: Discover the story behind Mary Shelley’s classic spine-tingling tale of terror in the House of Frankenstein, which is filled with unusual artefacts and vintage items uncovering her tragic life story as well as an unsettling 8ft tall replica of Frankenstein’s monster, just as Shelley originally described. You’ll also be able to discover Frankenstein’s equally monstrous impact on popular culture, or journey up to the attic to see if you can solve Victor Frankenstein’s insane equations and mad mutterings and beat the escape-room challenge.
Where: House of Frankenstein, 37 Gay Street, Bath, BA1 2NT
When: 24 May-1 June, 10am-6.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £53 booked online. Victor’s Lair escape room, £110 for a group of 4. All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Festival fun
What: From music and art to literature and gaming, celebrate culture and creativity with the Festival of Imagination at Cornwall’s Eden Project! Get stuck into Blockbuster Factory, an interactive audience participation show where you’ll join in with Martin Bielspurg’s latest film project – be it as a cameraman, makeup artist or stunt double and discover more about the world of cinema. You can also watch a puppet show before having a go at learning traditional African drumming, get your game on and design a 2D character before watching them come to life through high-tech digital scanning technology, plus much more!
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Most activities included with admission, adult £38, child £12.

Top of the pops
What: Be careful not to burst with excitement as you explore all things fizzy, foamy and floaty with Bubble Up! at the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. Join the Highland Joker for interactive bubble shows, venture into giant bubble domes for sensory play, creative crafts and science activities, let off some steam in the Bubble Explorers play space, and follow the bubble trail around the museum to discover fascinating facts about bubbles while learning about the story of this historic munitions depot.
Where: Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Priddys Hard, Gosport PO12 4LE.
When: 30 May, 10am-3pm. Bubble shows at 10.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm.
Need to know: Entry included in tickets to the whole of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, adult £46, child £31. Bubble show, £1 extra per person, book in advance.

Psst, check out these seven adventures for a the perfect family staycation in Cornwall this half term!

May 2024 family activities in the East

Families at Bletchley Park ©️ Will Amlot / Bletchley Park Trust

Image: ©️ Will Amlot / Bletchley Park Trust
Super sleuths
What: Discover the stories behind Britain’s best kept secrets with these analytical activities at Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and his team cracked the Enigma code.
Where: The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 6EB
When: 27 May-1 June, 9.30am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket, £63.

Seal of approval
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 off the scenic Scroby Sands in this one-of-a-kind boat trip experience. At low tide they’ll be on the sands in their masses and at high water, they’ll be surrounding the boat – so you’ll be able to get plenty of great pictures!
Where: Jet Adventures, Heritage Quay South Pier, Royal Plain, Lowestoft NR33 0AE
When: 24-28, 30-31 May and 1-2 June, 12pm
Need to know: Tickets, £44 adults, £40 children. Suitable for 4+. 

Puppy power
What: Get ready to meet some very special visitors from down under this holiday, as everybody’s favourite four-legged friends Bluey and Bingo will be popping into Whipsnade Zoo to say hello! The famous pair of pups will be inviting you to join in with fun activities and interactive games such as musical statues, and there’ll be plenty of time for a photo and high-five afterwards. The zoo will also be celebrating National Love Your Zoo Week, so be prepared for themed crafts and talks, animal bingo, and the chance to win exciting prizes too!
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF
When: 29 May-2 June, Bluey and Bingo and 27-31 May, Love Your Zoo Week, both 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission, tickets from £28.50 adult, £19.90 child.

Bug’s life 
What: Get ready to create some creepy crawly chaos as you have fun in the fresh air at Wrest Park. You’ll be able to seek out the many fascinating minibeasts that call the estate home as you set off on a bug hunt across the gardens, while taking inspiration from the creatures you find to get doodling your own version. You’ll also be able to join a group of Victorian adventurers for some daring interactive storytelling and enjoy some arts and crafts inspired by the great outdoors.
Where: Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket from £37.60.

Up, up, and away!
What: It's chocks away in Cambridgeshire with this year’s summer airshow at IWM Duxford! A parade of historic aircraft will take to the skies to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with Spitfires, Lancaster bombers and ten historic Dakotas all taking part, as well as a mass parachute jump and flypasts by modern fighter jets and the iconic RAF Red Arrows. Back inside the museum, you can learn about the aircraft of the Cold War as you try to restore a hacked security system or have a go at becoming a Spitfire mechanic and carrying out a series of pre-flight checks.
Where: IWM Duxford, Duxford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR
When: Airshow, 1-2 June, 8am-6pm. Activities, weekends in May and June, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Airshow, adult, from £49.50, children free. Advance tickets only. Activities free with admission. Normal entry, adult, £26.80, children, £13.40.

May 2024 family activities in the Midlands

©️ Luminarium / John Owens

Image: ©️ Luminarium / John Owens
Let there be light! 
What: Step inside the world-famous Luminarium – an enthralling maze of colour and light – as it returns to Highfields Park in Nottingham with a brand new structure – the LuminiMax which combines smaller luminarium pieces to form one magical experience. 
Where: Highfields Park, University Blvd, Lenton, Nottingham NG7 2RD
When: 25 May-2 June, 11am-5.15pm
Need to know: Tickets from £5 per person. 

Toy stories
What: Have fun at The Herbert this half-term and get creative as you explore Coventry’s inspiring and playful past by creating your own Victorian toys. Inspired by items on display in the Collecting Coventry exhibition, an eccentric mix of exhibits taken from the Herbert’s art, history and sciences collections, you’ll be able to craft your own zoetrope (a mesmerising spinning cylinder used to display some of the world’s first animated images), have a go at upcycling cork cones, wooden skewers and other materials to make a collection of colourful spinning tops, or construct a fabulous hobby-horse and go galloping through the galleries.
Where: The Herbert, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
When: 25 May-1 June, 10.30am-3.30pm
Need to know: Museum entry free. Drop-in workshops, £2.50 per child. 

Bright sparks
What: Spark Festival, Leicester’s favourite children’s festival is back this month with a new crop of theatre shows and workshops all specially designed for the under 13s. You can get ready to join in the fun with The Sticky Dance! as dancers use colourful sticky tape to create a vibrant, interactive performance or settle down to watch Belongings, a heartwarming and empowering show about finding your place and a sense of home. You can also get creative with ‘zine, badge and music making workshops or take a trip back into Leicester’s mythical past with a tabletop roleplaying game workshop as you adventure through time.
Where: Attenborough Arts Centre and other arts venues around Leicester.
When: 18-25 May, times vary.
Need to know: Many events free or pay what you can afford. Belongings show tickets from £10. Most workshops free, some £6-8 per child. 

Bear necessities
What: Calling all adrenaline junkies! If you’re looking for an action-packed day out for all the family, head to Birmingham’s Bear Grylls Adventure which brings together 11 different dynamic activities under one roof – so everyone can tackle their favourite challenge! Experience the thrill of indoor skydiving, test your keen eye on the archery range, scramble through the challenging assault course, or dive into a shark tank, with friendly Adventure Guides always on hand to help.
Where: The Bear Grylls Adventure, National Exhibition Centre, Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT
When: Daily 9am-5pm, apart from Saturdays, 9am-7pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £20 per person per activity. Age restrictions vary by activity.

Mind over matter
What: Get ready to find out what you’re made of as Birmingham’s Thinktank explores the science of marvellous materials. Watch the new interactive family show and find out the differences between solids, liquids and gases, discover demonstrations of explosive chemical reactions, and learn the secret behind a bamboozling magic trick. You’ll also be able to meet Science Buskers roaming the galleries who’ll help you go magnet fishing, figure out what materials are conductors and insulators, or understand why different materials are used for different things.
Where: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, Millennium Point. Birmingham B4 7XG
When: 27-31 May, 10.30am-4pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission, family ticket from £47.50.

May 2024 family activities in Yorkshire

©️ York's Chocolate Story

Image: ©️ York's Chocolate Story
I should cocoa!
What: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s plenty to unwrap with these scrumptious events taking place at York’s Chocolate Story. 
Where: York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York YO1 7LD
When: Tours, 25-31 May, 9.30am and 9.45pm. Masterclasses, 28-29 and 31 May, 10.45am-12.15pm and 2.15pm-3.45pm.  
Need to know: Masterclass, £35 per person. Tours, family ticket £52.80 – at a special 20% half-term discount. 

A bigger build
What: Unleash your imagination and get ready to design, create and build with all kinds of construction-themed activities at Eureka! Get your hands on thousands of different Lego bricks and help create a giant crazy golf course by crafting your own obstacles, from rolling greens to steep ramps and spinning windmills, before having a quick putt yourself. Then, you’ll be able to head over to the theatre and join in with a KAPLA workshop, using these special wooden components to construct grand creations.
Where: Eureka, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2NE 
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Tickets, £16.95 per person. Events free with admission.

To infinity and beyond!
What: Blast off with Hull Truck Theatre this May as you reach for the stars on a Great Space Adventure that’s out of this world. Continuing the Great Adventure series of family shows combining creative crafts with audience participation, you’ll be able to get stuck in to making all kinds of space-themed objects and props, before joining in with the interactive show using what you made along the way. Explore the stars and discover new galaxies – but be careful not to get lost in space!
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, 50 Ferensway, Hull HU2 8LB 
When: 25, 28-29 May, 10am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.45pm
Need to know: Tickets £6.50 per child, accompanying adult goes free.

Rogues and rascals
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 – just beware of the witch’s curse!
Where: The York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York YO1 9RD
When: 25 May-2 June, 10.30am-4pm
Need to know: Standard ticket from £22 adult, £18 child when booked online. Recommended for ages 8+, under 5s not admitted.

Starry night
What: Be captivated by the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh like never before with this immersive multi-sensory experience that allows you to feel as if you’re stepping inside one of his paintings yourself. This unique light and sound show will take you on a journey through time and space, visiting the Netherlands, Arles, Saint Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise as you experience the life of the artist and see his iconic works in a new light. Plus, you can also take part in a special VR experience which will transport you further into Arles, where you can peer inside Vincent’s room and observe a Starry Night over the Rhone.
Where: York St Mary’s, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN
When: 1 May-30 June, 10am-6pm. 
Need to know: Tickets, £15 per person. VR experience, £3 extra.

May 2024 family activities in North East

©️ Life Science Centre, Newcastle

Image: ©️ Life Science Centre, Newcastle
Marvellous minibeasts
What: Don’t miss a chance to get hands-on with some not-so-creepy crawlies at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre
Where: Life Science Centre, International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4EP
When: 27-31 May, 10am-3pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Adults, £12.95, child £9.50.

Medieval mayhem 
What: Take a trip back in time and find out more about the Middle Ages with these fun living history activities taking place at Alnwick Castle. Step into the fifteenth century as you explore the Rosa Mundi encampment, taking in skills including weaving, spinning, cooking and carving from 600 years ago, or join the Silly History Boys for a wild and wacky show exploring the more gruesome bits of history, this time focusing on the Wars of the Roses.
Where: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick NE66 1NQ
When: 25-27 May, Rosa Mundi encampment and 28 May-2 June, Silly History Boys, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities included with admission, family ticket, £55.65 online. 

Wheely good
What: Get ready to start your engines as the Ushaw Classic Car and Bike Show returns for its fourth year running. Discover a selection of over 500 vintage vehicles – from Astons to Austins, Jaguars to Jeeps, Peugeots to Porsches, and much more – alongside fun family entertainments including Robbie the Rex, a huge animatronic dinosaur, a giant Meccano exhibition and the eye-popping antics of Bubbleman.
Where: Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, Ushaw, Durham DH7 7DW
When: 25 May, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Included with admission, adult £10, child £6, under 5s free. 

Bear with me
What: It’s full steam ahead at the Stephenson Steam Railway, but don’t forget to bring along your furry friends for a special Teddy Bears’ Picnic! Enjoy making a passport for your favourite bear before setting off along a four-mile steam train trip along the River Tyne. Back at the museum, you’ll be able to discover the story of Killingworth Billy, the world’s third oldest locomotive, enjoy the madcap antics of the Moss Trooper storytellers and settle down for an entertaining animal-themed puppet show.
Where: Stephenson Steam Railway, Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend, North Shields NE29 8DX
When: 27 May, 10.45am-4pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Adult £8, child £6, includes steam train rides.

Fully booked
What: Settle down to a double-bill of classic children’s stories this half-term at the Northern Stage in Newcastle. First, you can join Sophie, her mummy, and a tea-guzzling tiger in the West End production of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, complete with plenty of sing-a-long tunes and teatime mayhem, or enjoy the beautiful, iconic tale of The Little Prince reimagined with marionettes courtesy of Norwich Puppet Theatre.
Where: Northern Stage, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RH
When: 24-26 May, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, 11am, 2pm and 4.30pm. 31 May, The Little Prince, 11am and 2pm.  
Need to know: Tiger tickets from £16.50 per person, Little Prince from £12 per person.

May 2024 family activities in North West

©️ RHS Bridgewater

Image: ©️ RHS Bridgewater
Green fingers
What: On your marks, get set, grow! at RHS Garden Bridgewater as it holds a special Family Gardening Festival, hoping to sow the seeds of a lifetime love of plants. 
Where: RHS Garden Bridgewater, Occupation Road, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LI
When: 25 May-2 June, 10am-6pm. Dates and times vary by activity.
Need to know: Most activities free with admission, family ticket from £38.10.

A bigger bang!
What: Brace yourselves for the naughtiest, funniest, most revolting science show in the world as the BBC’s Stefan Gates arrives at The Lowry with Rude Science. Expect a riot of disgusting experiments and signature stunts including enormous bottoms, fart machines, snot cocktails, pee-powered fireworks and ear-wax-oozing mannequins in this celebration of the fascinating science of the body essential to life – and you might just learn something too!
Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
When: 26 May, 1pm
Need to know: Tickets £19.50 adult, £17.50 child.

A real buzz
What: Find out all you need to know about your flying, fuzzy friends with the Liverpool World Museum’s major new exhibition Bees: A Story of Survival. Through sculpture, sound and cutting-edge technology, you’ll be able to explore the story of these essential insects, from the insides of bee colonies to the role they play in pollination. You can also ‘bee’ part of the action yourself and take part in the Grand Parade of Bees, where you can make your own bee headdress, wings and giant tissue paper flowers before joining the swarm and making a mighty buzz as you make your way down William Brown Street.  
Where: Liverpool World Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN
When: Exhibition from 4 May, 10am-6pm. Grand bee parade, 25 May, 3pm, costume making, 10am-2pm.
Need to know: Exhibition tickets from £12 adult, £5 for 12-17 years, free for 11 and under. Costume making workshop, £2 extra.

Bad medicine
What: Explore the gory story of illness and healing through the ages at Sick to Death, a brand-new museum of medicine situated in St Michael’s Church, Chester. Meet helpful guides Asclepius, the Ancient Greek god of medicine and The Grim Reaper, take care as you explore the pestilence-ridden Diagnosis Alley where deadly diseases lurk on every surface, find out why plague doctors wore those creepy beaked masks, discover the grim and grisly history of autopsies, and even enter the TURDIS - the only time travelling toilet in existence!
Where: Sick to Death, St Michael's Church, Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1NW
When: Open every day, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Adults, £8, kids, £4.50.

Ice queen
What: Explore the magic of unusual friendships with this new family show at the Waterside Art Centre, using puppetry, storytelling and music to explore Oscar Wilde’s classic tale of The Selfish Giant. Grinter lives happily alone in her huge cold house, surrounded by her huge snowy gardens, enclosed by her high, frost-covered walls. But one day some children manage to find a chink in the wall and clamber through, changing their lives forever, as it turns out even the grumpiest giant’s heart can melt when Spring finally comes.
Where: Waterside Arts, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford M33 7ZF
When: 25 May, 2pm and 4pm. 26 May, 11am and 2pm.
Need to know: Tickets, £12.50 adult, £10.50 child.

May 2024 family activities in Scotland

Sho and the Demons of the Deep ©️ Mihaela Bodlovic

Image: ©️ Mihaela Bodlovic
Pure imagination
What: Imaginate, the UK’s largest children’s festival, returns to Edinburgh for a whole week of fantastic family-friendly performance art. 
Where: Venues around Edinburgh, including the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
When: 25 May-2 June, dates and times vary. Family Encounters Day, 25 May, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Tickets £9 per person for families (adults accompanying any number of children), £12 for adults, £9 child, otherwise.

Out of this world!
What: Discover the secrets of satellites with a selection of fun science workshops at Aberdeen Science Centre exploring these marvels of space engineering. Find out how fast GPS can be with a reaction timer challenge, discover how satellite cameras can be used to protect animals and the climate as you have a go at spotting walrus colonies from space, or design and construct your own mini satellite to take home. 
Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, 179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TU
When: 25-31 May, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Activities included with admission, family ticket £35.

The car’s the star
What: Enjoy the high-flying adventures of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, his children Jeremy and Jemima, and their magic motor car in this fun-filled musical adaptation of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Get ready to strap in and enjoy the ride as our heroes take on the boorish Baron Bomburst and his henchman, the sinister Child Catcher, with the help of the lovely Truly Scrumptious and wily old Grandpa Potts, promising a fantastic theatrical experience for the whole family.
Where: Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh EH1 3AA
When: 28 May-1 June, 7pm plus 2pm on 29 May and 1 June. 
Need to know: Tickets from £13 per person, plus £3.80 booking fee per order.

What lies beneath
What: Discover the stories of Scotland’s most infamous mystery at the very spot where it all began – with Mrs Aldie McKay seeing a mysterious ‘whale-like fish’ rising above the surface of Loch Ness, creating the legend of the Loch Ness Monster! Discover how the hunt for Nessie has unfolded over the years, from sonar to submarines, journey back in time to discover the origins of Loch Ness over 500 million years ago, and what happened when humans first arrived there, or hear tales from dedicated monster hunters who continue to search for clues in the loch’s murky waters to this day.
Where: Loch Ness Centre, Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6TU
When: Open every day, 10am-3pm 
Need to know: Family ticket to the centre, £50. Under 5s, free. 

May 2024 family activities in Wales

©️ Sam Hardwick / Hay Festival

Image: ©️ Sam Hardwick / Hay Festival
Bonkers about books
What: The world-famous Hay Festival returns to the Brecon Beacons for 2024, bringing with it HAYDAYS – 11 days filled with kid-friendly events, workshops, and crafts.
Where: Hay Festival, Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay-On-Wye, HR3 5PJ
When: 23 May-2 June, various dates and times.
Need to know: Author events from £7 per person, crafting from £5 per person, some events free. 

All that glitters
What: Journey from the high seas to the depths of the jungle, to the prehistoric past with a selection of adventurous activities at the Royal Mint Experience. Dive into the new Coins and the Sea exhibition to discover tales of trade and exploration, find out what life at sea was like, and if pirates really did have buried treasure. Afterwards, you’ll be able to get up close to a selection of curious endangered creatures in an animal encounters workshop or ask a Natural History Museum palaeontologist all of your dino-related questions.
Where: The Royal Mint Experience, Ynysmaerdy, Pontyclun CF72 8YT
When: Coins and the Sea from 25 May, 9am-4.15pm. Animal encounters, 27 May, 11.30am, 1pm and 2pm. Palaeontologist Professor Paul Barrett, 31 May, 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Need to know: Coins and the Sea, £5 per person. Animal encounters, £35 for a family ticket. Paul Barrett, free, advance booking required.

Hit the high notes
What: Take your seats for an interactive introduction to the weird and wonderful world of opera hosted by the fabulous Madame Chandelier! Expect plenty of dazzling divas and dramatic death scenes as you meet a whole host of characters from across opera’s greatest hits, including an evil queen who keeps singing too high, a priestess who’s constantly on fire, and the princess who can’t stop crying in this wacky operatic adventure.
Where: Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff CF10 5AL
When: 26 May, 3.30pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets £10, children £7.

Knight time
What: Journey hundreds of years into the past as knights, jesters, lords and ladies alike return to Beaumaris Castle for some medieval mayhem. Explore what life was like in the Middle Ages as you learn about fletching, leather-working, and medieval cookery in the encampment, listen to grim and grisly tales from the castle executioner and chuckle at the jester’s zany jokes and tricks, or enrol in Knight School to get to grips with medieval weapons and armour before joining Captain Horton on the battlefield to help defeat the dastardly Sir Gerard!
Where: Beaumaris Castle, Castle St, Beaumaris LL58 8AP
When: 25-27 May, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Event included with admission; family ticket, £30.40.

May 2024 family activities in Northern Ireland

©️ Navan Centre and Fort

Image: ©️ Navan Centre and Fort
Cool Celts
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. 
Where: Navan Centre and Fort, 81 Killylea Road, Armagh BT60 4LD
When: 25-26 May and 1-2 June, 12.30pm-2.15pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £32.50.

Irish rover
What: There’s something for everyone to enjoy at the historic Glenarm Castle this half-term. Enjoy a peaceful woodland walk through the scenic estate, keeping an eye out for red squirrels, robins, rabbits and other wildlife, or explore the castle’s luxurious interior while discovering the history of the Earls of Antrim. Then, you can hop into the driving seat of a mini Land Rover, completing challenges as you make your way around a jungle-themed course.
Where: Glenarm Castle and Garden, 2 Castle Lane, Glenarm, Ballymena BT44 0BQ
When: Castle open daily, 10am-5pm. Land Rovers, 27 May, 1 and 15 June.
Need to know: Garden/woodland admission, £10 adult, £5 child. Castle tour, £18.50 adult, £5 child. Land Rover experience, £17.50 per two children, book in advance.

Go wild!
What: Get hands-on with nature and learn all about the environment during this special activity day at the Ulster Folk Museum. Find out more about the museum’s research as you go on a scientist-guided walk, get up close to minibeasts as you take part in a BioBlitz to help identify all kinds of plants and animals, sample tasty foraged foods and get creative with nature-themed craft activities.
Where: Ulster Folk Museum, 153 Bangor Road, Cultra, Holywood BT18 0EU
When: 1 June, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £32.

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