29 fantastic activities for the February 2020 half term holidays
February 2020 half term holiday family activities in England
What: Imagine Children’s Festival is back at the Southbank Centre for its 19th year, with 12 days of performances, workshops and talks featuring big names such as Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell and Konnie Huq. You can feed and interact with dinosaurs, celebrate the Harry Potter books or even go on an adventure with Pippi Longstocking!
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1
When: 15-23 February, times/dates for specific events vary.
Need to know: Prices vary, many events free.
Image: © Sam Peach, Schools workshop at Southbank Centre
What: Brush up your stone age skills at Stonehenge and come face-to-face with real-life prehistoric man (and woman). Learn more about forensic facial reconstruction techniques, and how archaeological evidence is used to find out what Neolithic people really looked like thousands of years ago – you can even have a go at a reconstruction yourself!
Where: Stonehenge, Near Amesbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE
When: 15-23 February, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £49.40
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 the year 1471 and find out what it takes to become a Knight of the Tower as you learn how to master the art of swordplay, prepare your armour for battle, balance on horseback and design your own heraldic flag.
Where: Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB
When: 15-23 February, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £62.90
What: Embrace the wonders of the world at Brighton Science Festival this holiday, with a packed programme of events, workshops and shows. Check out the Pocket Science Funfair, build and fly your own rocket on Brighton beach or find out about biomimicry, taking inspiration from nature to develop new ideas, materials and machines. Discover the science of a sneeze with artificial mucus and fake noses, investigate the chemistry in your kitchen cupboard and meet the ‘Pump-a-Phone’, ‘Grass-Xylo-Hopper’, and ‘Twisty-Bata-Drum’ as you combine sound with sculpture to design your own wacky instruments!
Where: Various venues around Brighton.
When: 15-23 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, thanks to this unique role-playing experience in Whipsnade's 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 joining the team and helping to examine and treat a variety of ‘animals’, with tasks including monitoring a chimp’s heart and performing checks on a stranded seal.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2LF
When: 15-23 February, 10.30am-12pm, 2-3.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Adult £22.91, child £14.89
What: Get set for a range of biological-based workshops looking at the human body – held in a unique cell-shaped pod suspended above the laboratories of London's Blizard Institute. Sink your teeth into a Teethtastic Show as you take part in a chomping challenge and learn how to make elephant toothpaste, or get giddy about genes in the Genes and Evolution Show before exploring the fundamentals of human health and cell science in an interactive Pod experience.
Where: Centre of the Cell, Blizard Institute, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel London E1 2AT
When: 17-21 February, times for shows vary.
Need to know: Adults £8, child (3-15) £6. Book online or call 020 7882 2562.
Festival of fun
What: Brighten up your half term in Luton with a week of Feb Fest – and enjoy imaginative performances, crafting, music and storytelling activities as they take place across the city. You can meet pigeon puppets, get sucked up the bathroom tap, delve into a magical trunk or even go on a quest to unleash the colours of the rainbow.
Where: Venues across Luton
When: 15-21 February, times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary with activity/event. Some events are free.
To infinity and beyond
What: It’s all systems go with Destination Space at Winchester Science Centre this holiday. Embark on a mission through the galaxy, discover different ways to launch spacecraft and find out how to examine the atmospheres of other planets, before having a go at building your own rocket or navigating a programmable robot through the solar system. There’s also a plethora of science busking activities, where you can witness some infrared camera tricks, take your own satellite selfie and even find out what the moon smells like!
Where: Winchester Science Centre, Telegraph Way, Winchester, SO21 1HZ
When: Until 24 February, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission (£9 per person online, £12 at the door). Planetarium tickets £3.50 with admission or £6.60 for show only.
What: Spark your imagination as the V&A Museum of Childhood’s collection comes to life this half term. You can make your own rotating story lantern, shoe box doll’s house or shadow puppet theatre complete with props and characters, take part in an interactive storytelling session or help improvise a unique performance based on an object from the museum.
Where: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
When: 15-23 February, dates/times for activities vary.
Need to know: Workshops free or £7 per child
What: Head to the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden for some gloriumptious activities inspired by the revolting food in Roald Dahl’s stories. Follow the Foulsome Feast trail around the museum, listen to some food-themed tales from Dahl’s books or take part in creative workshops where you can make a disgusterous dinner plate or even ‘bake’ Mr. Twit’s Clay Bird Pie!
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High St, Great Missenden HP16 0AL
When: Until 3 April, Tue-Fri, 10am-5pm, Sat & Sun, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket £22.60, storytelling included, Workshops cost £4 per participant.
Dress for success
What: Celebrate uniqueness this half term with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, as you take part in activities inspired by their new musical The Boy in the Dress, adapted from David Walliams’ much-loved book. You can bake a dress-shaped biscuit with the RSC’s pastry chefs, join in workshops where you can learn some of the songs and dances from the show, and find out how set designers and backstage crew help to make the magic happen.
Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB
When: 17-21 February, dates and times vary.
Need to know: Prices vary; some are free.
What: It’s full steam ahead for some transport-themed fun this half term at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum. Find out how engineers, inventors and explorers teamed up to transform the way people moved around, in the new Science Showdown, design your own transport system to carry goods from Liverpool to Manchester, and make your own DIY machine in the Experiment Zone.
Where: Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
When: 15-23 February, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Museum entry free, some activities include a small charge.
What: Get inventive at Beaulieu thanks to the National Motor Museum's hands-on half term. Pick up your travel log and complete the fun activities inside, you can become an apprentice mechanic complete with workshop checklist, find out what it was like to work with the butler of Palace House, handle artefacts from the history of motoring, see if you can work out how strange gadgets from the 19th century were used and pick up some medieval construction tips before constructing your own arch or donning a monk’s habit.
Where: Beaulieu, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN
When: 15-23 February, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events included with admission. Family ticket from £49 online.
Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble…
What: Help Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall in Stratford-upon-Avon celebrate its 600th anniversary with a difference, as you take part in its new witch themed trail. Inspired by Shakespeare’s classic trio from Macbeth and the witches’ marks (symbols which provided protection from evil spirits) found etched into the building, there are interactive exhibits, film screenings and a lesson with a ‘real’ Tudor School Master in the very room where the Bard was taught, along with lots of dressing up opportunities to get on your Tudor togs for a Shakespearean selfie.
Where: Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6HB
When: Open every day, 11am-5pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £16.65 online.
What: Visit Westminster Abbey and celebrate the Commonwealth with a series of special family-friendly events. Explore music, dance, art and stories from across this unique partnership of 52 countries, which together represent a third of the world’s people – you can have a go at Kathak dancing from India, beat a rhythm on a Ghanaian Drum, hear a traditional Caribbean tale or take part in a free tour to learn about the Abbey's links to the Commonwealth.
Where: Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA
When: Free tours 18 & 19 February, 10am-12pm; Commonwealth Family Day 21 Feb, 10am-3pm
Need to know: Tours: free, advance booking required. Commonwealth Family Day: adult £11, children free.
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 you can 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: 18 & 19 February, 10.30am-12.30pm, 2-4pm.
Need to know: Workshops £2 plus admission (from £17.30 for a family ticket).
Brave new worlds
What: There’s special events and new attractions galore at Halifax’s Eureka! this February. Explore an immersive digital forest filled with interactive games in the new Arboreal exhibition, become the DJ of a magical, musical crystal cave, feed pixel bugs to a greedy monster and play against a friend on the dynamic pinball game. Plus, you can peer through an enormous periscope, have a go on the new Ludus interactive gaming wall, or even go for a ‘spin’ in the human gyroscope!
Where: Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
When: 15-23 February, 10am-4pm (Tue-Fri), 10am-5pm (Sat/Sun)
Need to know: Annual entry pass £13.95 per person.
What: Make a splash at the Museum of London Docklands this holiday and find out more about the River Thames. Make your own bird’s beak or collage map as you learn about the wildlife which lives in and around the river, travel back to the past with storytelling as you discover the story of the Great Stink of London and the engineering marvel of the Thames Tunnel, re-create the iconic London Bridge and use your hands to shape the city’s landscape in an augmented reality sandbox.
Where: Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL
When: Until 22 February, dates and times vary. Museum open 10am-6pm
Need to know: Museum entry and activities are free.
What: Get set for some right royal activities at Windsor Castle this half term. You can create your own flamboyant Victorian accessories including bonnets, pocket watches and fans, try on replica Victorian costumes similar to those worn by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and hear the story of the royal couple’s wedding day, which took place 180 years ago this month.
Where: Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ
When: 16-23 February, 11am-3pm. Dates for activities vary.
Need to know: Activities free with admission. Family ticket from £60.50.
Make it snappy!
What: This year SEA LIFE is teaming up with Top Trumps to launch the Jawsome Sharks and Friends quest, as Professor Finn looks for a new team of Jawsome Rangers to help him find the missing Top Trumps cards. Visitors will navigate the trail, collecting cards and learning fascinating facts about sharks and other creatures of the deep along the way. At the end of the trail successful Rangers will receive a special reward to take home and meet Professor Finn himself, who will share his knowledge on any of the sea creatures encountered.
Where: SEA LIFE Centres across the country.
When: 15 February-31 May, varies with location.
Need to know: Entry prices vary with location.
What: There’s a whole spectrum of activities exploring how art meets science this half-term at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Investigate the natural world of colour as you see through the eyes of an insect and discover the amazing ways that plants use colour, get creative with craft workshops including mask making, marble painting and paper weaving, explore the brightest and boldest shades found in nature in a trail around the Biomes, discover how fabric dyes are made, and take part in a giant collaborative art installation.
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When: 15-23 February, 9:30am-6pm
Need to know: Family ticket from £67 online.
What: Explore themes of care and connection during two free days of creativity and play at Newcastle’s BALTIC. Consider how to look after the natural world as you decorate a pot and plant a seed to grow at home, use found materials to create a ‘circle of love’ inspired by the people you care for and who care for you, make bunting using natural dyes or seed paper origami, listen to a pop-up performance by Rock Choir North East and enjoy creative games and activities linked to BALTIC’s current exhibitions.
Where: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, S Shore Rd, Gateshead NE8 3BA
When: 19-20 February, 10am-6pm
February 2020 half term holiday family activities in Wales
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 with your biggest, craziest splash – will you claim the title and trophy of 2020 champion? There’s also bird watching, den building and craft workshops too.
Where: Llanelli Wetland Centre, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: 15-23 February, 9.30am-5pm. Puddle jumping, 2pm.
Need to know: Most events included in admission. Family ticket costs from £24.40.
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, meet some parrots or cross swords with the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow!
When: 15-23 February, 10am-5.30pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £25.
What: Try not to get in a flap with these birdy activities at the National Botanic Garden of Wales this February. Visitors can make their own bird feeders, get tips on how to feed birds in the garden, have a go at birdsong identification, go on birdwatching walks and talks, or take part in bird-themed arts and crafts. There will also be daily flying displays featuring kites, owls and kestrels at the British Bird of Prey centre.
Where: National Botanic Garden of Wales, Middleton Hall, Llanarthne SA32 8HN
When: 15-23 February, 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Activities included in admission, family ticket from £30.
February 2020 half term holiday family activities in Scotland
What: Explore your curiosity this half term at the Glasgow Science Centre! You’ll be able to watch a live science show displaying Newton’s laws of motion with balloons, rockets and a bed of nails, find out about the secrets hidden within fossils while making one of your own, discover how humans are learning about Mars and how to get there in the future or learn about the structure and function of the heart and lungs in a presenter-led dissection.
Where: Glasgow Science Centre, 50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1EA
When: Until 23 February, opening hours and dates for specific events vary
Need to know: Tickets £10.45 adult, £8.60 child.
What: Scottish winters are known for being dark and gloomy, but this February Aberdeen’s Festival of Light, SPECTRA, returns to illuminate the chilly skies. This year’s four-day festival will celebrate the landscape, wildlife and colours of Scotland’s coast and waters, lighting up spaces throughout Aberdeen's city centre with interactive installations in one of country’s largest urban light festivals.
Where: Various locations in central Aberdeen
When: 13-16 February, starts at 6pm.
Need to know: Free event
February 2020 half term holiday family activities in Northern Ireland
What: Psst! Want to know a secret? Then head to Belfast's yearly NI Science Festival for a huge celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There's loads of shows, talks and workshops on offer – become a undercover agent and foil the plans of the evil Cruella DeValera, discover the skills that astronauts need to explore the cosmos, visit Nick Arnold’s Horrible Science lab, listen to a Fibonacci-based folk song or even create a living map using slime moulds!
Where: Various locations around Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
When: 13-23 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 Springhill’s 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: 15-16 February, 11am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission, family ticket from £17.04