29 fantastic activities for the February 2019 half term holidays
February 2019 half term holiday family activities in England
What: Visit Westminster Abbey and celebrate the Commonwealth during a day of special events designed for families. Explore art and culture from across this unique partnership of 52 countries, which together represent a third of the world’s people – you’ll be able to watch traditional performances from Commonwealth countries, enjoy folk stories from around the world, make and decorate a crown to take home or follow a family trail to learn about the Abbey's links to the Commonwealth.
Where: Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA
When: 22 February, 10am-2pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs from £45 online.
Image: © Westminster Abbey
What: Brush up your stone age skills this February with some awesome English Heritage archaeology at Stonehenge and see what you can discover hiding in their outdoor trench. You'll even get the chance to come face to face with prehistoric people as facial recognition experts will be on hand to show you how to use archaeological evidence to find out what neolithic people really looked like thousands of years ago.
Where: Stonehenge, Near Amesbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE
When: 16-24 Feb, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £45.50.
Back to (Knight) School
What: Grab your sword, don your helmet and defend the capital’s most famous fortress at the Tower of London’s Knight School. Travel back to a medieval world of heraldry and valour and learn manners, etiquette, entertainment, martial prowess and fitness. Train as a page, then a squire, before becoming a knight and joining the garrison to defend the Tower. You can also try on medieval fashions, handle replica armour and create your own helmet and shield.
Where: Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB
When: 16-24 Feb, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £57.80 online.
Words and pictures
What: Calling all story lovers! Take a trip to Kent for Margate's first-ever book festival, a day-long mini-fest ideal for budding bookworms, imaginative illustrators and wannabe writers packed with authors, activities and awesome entertainment. You'll be able to bump into a Gruffalo, catch a special screening of Zog and illustrate your own story, as well as getting top tips from authors Emily Rand, John Dougherty and Julia Jarman!
Where: Dreamland Margate, Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent CT9 1XJ
When: 16 February, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Family day ticket from £22.
In the Dock
What: It's judgement day for parents at Attenborough Arts Centre thanks to fun comedy show, Kids' Court. Part of the Leicester Comedy Festival, the judge, prosecution and defence will all be played by local comedians with children getting their chance to put their parents (or older siblings) on trial. The audience then helps them decide if they are guilty or not – and devises a suitable penalty for their misdemeanours!
Where: Attenborough Arts Centre, University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA
When: 20 February, 3-4pm,
Need to know: Family ticket costs £15.
What: Grab yourself a hands-on half term with Brighton Science Festival. There's a packed programme full of events, workshops and shows highlighting the wonder of science in the world around us. Check out the fab Pocket Science Funfair, celebrate International Women's Day with the wonder women of STEM and find out more about the mysterious life of seaweed. Discover the science behind CSI with Forensic Theatre, investigate the science of sound and catch science magic show with Ian B Dunne - complete with added robots!
Where: Various venues around Brighton.
When: 16-24 February
Need to know: Costs vary, many events free.
Ready, Get Vet, Go!
What: Animal lovers can experience first-hand what it takes to be a vet at the UK's largest zoo this half term, with Whipsnade's unique Animal Hospital. Celebrating the work of the zoo's veterinary team, budding vets will be kitted out in gloves, hairnets, face masks and shoe covers before being placed at the heart of the action in a specially created surgery. The team will demonstrate how they examine, X-ray and perform treatments and explain how they keep Whipsnade's 3,000 animals fit and healthy.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2LF
When: 9-24 February, 11am-3.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket costs £63.60.
Discover with Darwin
What: Set off on a journey to Down House in Kent and celebrate Charles Darwin's birthday with the great man himself. Explore evolution at its very birthplace, as you delve daringly into the mysteries of science. Ever wondered why giraffes have long necks, why penguins can't fly and why a monkey has a tail? Find out the answers to these questions and more, with storytelling and hands-on activities too.
Where: Down House, Luxted Road, Downe, Kent, BR6 7JT
When: 18-22 February, 11am-2.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket costs £31.20.
What: Get set for a range of biological-based workshops looking at the human body – all held in a unique cell-shaped pod suspended above the laboratories of London's Blizard Institute. You can learn about DNA, uncover the secrets of the senses or unlock the mysteries of the human heart.
Where: Centre of the Cell, Blizard Institute, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel London E1 2AT
When: 18-19 February, 10.30am-4.15pm
Need to know: Adults cost £7/5.50, children (3-15) £3/5.50. Book online or call 020 7882 2562.
What: Children in Luton can get the best of the fest this half term as Feb Fest comes to town. With more than 22 different theatre and arts activities at venues across the city – you can catch performances featuring moomins, rabbits and even wellies, as well as taking part in music, dance theatre and film-making workshops.
Where: Venues across Luton
When: 18-21 February, times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary with activity/event. Many are free.
What: Find out what life was like as a Victorian child thanks to this special event at Guildhall Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition Seen & Heard: Victorian Children in the Frame, you can explore the changing perception of children during the Victorian era, create your own family portrait and visit the nearby Charterhouse to dress up in period costumes and find out what a Victorian school was like.
Where: Guildhall Art Galley, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE
When: 20 February, 11am-2.30pm
Need to know: Free, but booking is essential.
What: Spark your curiosity this half term at Winchester Science Centre by discovering the science behind magic. Watch colours transform before your very eyes and discover the secret of the disappearing act, create your own optical illusions in the Invention Studio while keeping your eyes peeled for the Science Centre's Inspirers roaming the exhibition floor, performing amazing card tricks.
Where: Winchester Science Centre, Telegraph Way, Winchester, SO21 1HZ
When: Until 25 February, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission (£9 per person online, £12 at the door).
What: Set sail for the V&A Museum of Childhood and enjoy a range of nautical activities inspired by their current exhibition A Pirate's Life For Me. Listen to special storytelling sessions based on London folk tales, make a paper theatre with paper pirate puppets or create your own logbook filled with bits and bobs a pirate might need on an adventure.
Where: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
When: 16-25 February, 10.30am-5.45pm
Need to know: Workshops free or £7 per child
Over the Moon
What: Go star gazing at Newcastle's Life Science Centre with their Museum of the Moon exhibit, a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. The seven-metre-wide sphere is suspended in the air allowing you to explore the Moon’s surface thanks to imagery captured by the NASA spacecraft Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can also find out more in the planetarium show Moonstruck, explore the world of sci-fi in the exhibition Alien Invasion and be entertained with the new show Kitchen Science in the Science Theatre.
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP
When: 2 Feb-6 May, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket costs £34.
Pick of the Pops
What: Catch the colourful new Pop Art exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery this half term. Showcasing work from famous artists such as Pauline Boty and Andy Warhol, you can also take part in an celebrity pop party – dress up in your best celebrity outfit and accessories, have your photo taken on the red carpet by paparazzi and displayed on the wall of fame and get face painted pop-art style.
Where: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV1 1DU
When: Exhibition until 1 September, 10am-4pm. Pop party, 22 Feb, 11am-3pm.
Need to know: Exhibitions and entry, free. Pop party £5 per child. Book online.
Beside the Sea
What: Get set for some sea life shenanigans with the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth and find out more about the UK’s coastal waters and its unique marine life. Partnering with organisations including RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust and Shark Trust, you’ll meet scientists, conservationists and marine heroes who all champion ocean conservation and learn about the threats facing native marine life and the actions you can take at home to help. There will also be plenty of activities, games and ocean adventures.
Where: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
When: 16-24 February, 10-5pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission. A family ticket costs from £53.50.
What: Get inventive at Beaulieu thanks to the National Motor Museum's hands-on half term. To celebrate their Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 years exhibition you can get inventing and dream up some of your own magical creations. Pick up your travel log and complete all the fun activities inside, see the machines featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, build your own balloon car and watch it zoom into action, put your detective skills to work and find out how strange gadgets from the 19th century were used and become a medieval builder and construct an arch.
Where: Beaulieu, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN When: 16-24 Feb, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events included with admission. Family ticket from £49 online.
Light and magic
What: Illuminate and communicate at Nottingham Contemporary this half term at this creative workshop. Explore how you can play, capture and manipulate light and sound through movement, making and projections.
Where: Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, Nottingham, NG1 2GB
When: 16-24 February, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Free, for all ages.
What: Go bard in time this February with tall tales from the 15th century Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall. Begin with a morning session discovering more about Young Shakespeare’s Stratford with Kate’s Story Tree at Stratford Library then walk the same walk young Will Shakespeare would have taken to Shakespeare’s Schoolroom where you can make and tell your own story through the creation of a story jar, inspired by the tales featured in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Winter's Tale.
When: 21 February, 10.30am-12.15pm
Where: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, and Stratford Library, 12 Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6PZ
Need to know: Event is free, book in advance online.
What: In its 19th century heyday, salt from the Lion Salt Works in Northwich used to be exported all over the world in special sacks designed for each country. This half term, take inspiration from the museum's unique history and use your imagination to design your own salt sack based on a favourite country or place in this creative drop-in workshop.
Where: Lion Salt Works Museum, Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwitch, CW9 6ES
When: 19-20 February, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2-4pm.
Need to know: Workshops £2 plus admission (from £16.25 for a family ticket).
What: Take a butcher's at the amazing history of London's East End this February, with workshops and storytelling activities taking place at the Museum of London Docklands every day. Discover the story of the first Pearly King, make your own peg doll, find out about the Billingsgate fish porters, bake a traditional East End pie and even learn how to speak Cockney!
Where: Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL
When: 16-24 February, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Museum entry and activities are free.
What: Take part in your very own immersive, mixed-reality experience inspired by the RA’s current Invisible Landscapes programme. Experienced through a virtual-reality headset, with Weightless Bricks you'll be exploring the future of creative production in the virtual space, as the digital world is seamlessly blended with physical objects.
Where: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
When: 15, 22 February & 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 March, 4.30-9.30pm
Need to know: Free, drop-in.
February 2019 half term holiday family activities in Wales
Make a splash!
What: Have you got what it takes to be the Welsh puddle jumping champion? Well, grab your wellies and head to Llanelli! After rehearsing in practice puddles, visit the competition splash zone where extra points will be awarded for enthusiasm, creativity and the biggest splash – as monitored by a special 'splashometer'. There’s also bird watching, den building and craft workshops too.
Where: Llanelli Wetland Centre, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: 23 February-3 March, 9.30am-5m. Puddle jumping at 2pm.
Need to know: Most events included in admission. Family ticket costs from £23.95.
What: Leave the scurvy landlubbers behind and set sail for a week of pirate-themed events at The Gower Heritage Centre. Take to the seas of your imagination in interactive stories, train to be a pirate and even find yourself a spot of treasure. You can also do some gold panning, get crafty or cross swords with infamous Captain Jack Sparrow!
Where: Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill, Gower, Swansea, SA3 2EH
When: 23 February-3 March, 10am-5.30pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £25.
What: Discover more about the Victorians and celebrate St David's Day at St Fagans. Take a special guided tour and find out what life was really like for children in the 19th century, play with traditional toys and make your own peg doll to take home.
Where: St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, CF5 6XB
When: 25 February -1 March, 12-4pm
Need to know: Exhibition, events and trail are all free.
February 2019 half term holiday family activities in Scotland
What: Take a journey through mankind's 500-year quest to make machines human with the Robots exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Featuring everything from early automatons and science fiction film stars (from Metropolis to Terminator) to cutting-edge modern technology – this is your chance to see the most significant collection of humanoid robots ever assembled!
Where: National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
When: Until 5 May, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £9, children under 16 free. Museum admission also free.
First Aid Kit
What: Go behind the battle lines of WW1 in Perth and discover the day-to-day life of an army medic and learn how to care for your comrades. Explore the medic's first aid bag and get hands on with wound care and bandages when investigating how to treat the injuries of battle.
Where: The Black Watch Castle and Museum, Balhousie Castle, Hay Street, Perth PH1 5HR
When: 23 February, 11.30am-3.30pm
Need to know: £5 per child (includes drink, snack and museum polo shirt). Family admission £19.
February 2019 half term holiday family activities in Northern Ireland
What: Discover more about the wonderful world around you at Belfast's yearly NI Science Festival – a huge celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There's loads of shows, talks and workshops on offer: discover slime school, Horrible Science with Nick Arnold, the science of Roald Dahl and even a Game of Thrones landscape tour!
Where: Various locations around Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
When: 14-24 February, times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary with event
What: Celebrate National Nest Box Week in County Londonderry, and find out more about the lives of your feathered friends and how and where they make their home. Help rejuvenate bird boxes, learn how to build your own nest and make some bird feeders to take home.
Where: Springhill, 20 Springhill Road, Moneymore, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, BT45 7NQ
When: 16-17 February, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission.