The UK’s best museum sleepovers for kids
If you’re looking for a brilliant birthday treat, an epic end-of-term adventure or a weekend mini-break that your child won’t moan about, a sleepover at one of the UK’s best family-friendly museums is hard to beat.
We’ve rounded up the best overnight stays for kids (and parents!), with behind-the-scenes access to some of the country’s most famous museums and more learning adventures than you could ever pack into a single day.
Image: © Eureka! National Children's Museum
Natural History Museum
For a proper Night at the Museum experience, you won’t find better than the Dino Snores sleepovers at London’s Natural History Museum. Your child will camp out in one of the museum’s iconic galleries (maybe even next to the lifesize blue whale!) and will take part in activities including a torch-lit trail and dinosaur t-shirt making.
Tickets cost £60 per person, with a 10 per cent discount for Natural History Museum members. Dino Snores is suitable for children aged seven to 11.
The National Children’s Museum in Halifax runs sleepovers with themes designed to appeal to primary-school children, such as water and electricity and space. There are hands-on workshops and demonstrations, followed by a night camping out in the galleries.
The sleepovers are available to groups only (minimum five children and one adult) and cost £28.50 per child and £12 per adult. They’re suitable for eight- to 11-year-olds.
The British Museum
At London’s British Museum, your child can experience thousands of years of history in one night. They’ll camp out in the Egyptian Sculpture or Mesopotamian gallery, with evening activities including arts and crafts, music and dance, storytelling and re-enactments.
The sleepovers cost £45 per person, and are available only to Young Friends of the British Museum and their families. Young Friends membership, for children aged eight to 15, costs from £25.
The National Marine Aquarium
What do the stingrays, starfish and sharks get up to once visitors to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth have gone home? At their Sleeping with Sharks events, your underwater explorer can find out! The sleepovers include a twilight tour, arts, crafts and games and a big-screen movie.
Children’s tickets cost £40 and adult tickets cost £30. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Sleeping with Sharks is suitable for children over five.
The Science Museum
Perfect for kids who eat, breathe and sleep science, Science Nights at the London Science Museum are guaranteed to get their minds whirring. The sleepovers include hands-on workshops, breath-taking science shows and a movie in the IMAX theatre, followed by a night amongst the museum’s exhibits.
The sleepovers cost £55 per person and are suitable for children aged seven to 11.
Sea Life Loch Lomond
If your child has ever wanted to spend the night on the sea bed, this is the next best thing. At a Sea Life Sleepover, they’ll camp out in the aquarium’s massive viewing tunnel, where tropical fish, sea turtles and sharks will swim around them all night. A VIP tour is included.
Sleepovers are available to groups of over 20 children only, and can be personalised with crafts or a movie. They cost £25 per person.
Museum of London
Sleepovers at the Museum of London have a Halloween theme: trick-or-treat your way around the galleries by torchlight, sneak through the dark and eerie recreated Victorian street and help the charismatic baker's wife solve a spooky crime. Listen to some terrifying tales from 19th century London, including the monstrous story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the infamous barber of Fleet Street before bedding down in the museum galleries, surrounded by remarkable objects. Are you brave enough to survive the night?
Suitable for ages 7-11 accompanied by an adult; tickets are £60 each.
What would it be like to sleep on a genuine World War II warship on the Thames? Your child can get a taste of life at sea at HMS Belfast’s Kip in a Ship events, where they’ll get to sleep in the sailors’ actual sleeping quarters. They’ll also experience a multi-media workshop where they’ll find out what life was really like on board the ship.
Kip in a Ship is available to groups only (a minimum of 20 people) and cost £47.50 per person, for young people aged eight to 18.
ZSL London Zoo
This one is not for the faint-hearted – at a BedBUGS sleepover, your child will bed down for the night in London Zoo’s bug house, surrounded by creepy crawlies including locusts, cockroaches and spiders. They’ll get to explore the zoo by torchlight, with games, storytelling and talks, and wake up to the sound of the animals the next morning.
BedBUGS sleepovers cost £75 per person, and are suitable for children aged seven to 11.
A torch-lit treasure hunt, games and the most atmospheric bedtime story ever... it's all on offer at one of the sleepover events at The Novium in Chichester. There are different themed nights to choose from, so you can join the Roman Army, experience life in a wartime blackout or take part in a caveman hunt before a peaceful night's slumber amongst the exhibits.
Sleepovers require a minimum of 20 children and cost £20 per child. Suitable for children aged 7-11.
Museums at Night
As well as the regular events held at these museums and educational facilities, the twice-yearly Museums at Night sees other museums across the UK opening their doors for the night. Many of these events, in places from arts centres to castles, are suitable for children. This year, Museums at Night runs from 11 to 14 May, and from 27 to 29 October. Visit the website to find out what’s on.