February half-term 2020: activities in London and beyond
Ten of the best activities for a fun family day out
February half-term is just around the corner, with many schools taking next week off for a mid-term break.
For those looking to fill the days, there are plenty of fun things to do for families in London and further out, from child-friendly museums to hands-on arts and crafts.
KidZania is a fun-packed, indoor role-playing city for children, complete with its own airport, hospital, police station, newspaper and currency, run by kids, for kids.
There are 28 KidZania facilities across the globe, and the brand expanded to London in 2015 with a mammoth 75,000sq ft mini-town. Each child has four hours to explore and 50 KidZos (the local currency) to spend on activities, or work and save for their own bank card.
The Telegraph calls it a “fantastic semi-freedom for young children”.
Signs and Symbols at the London Transport Museum, London
This half-term, children can head to London’s famed Transport Museum to discover the facts, figures and design ideas behind the capital’s favourite signs and symbols.
As the Museum website says: “London’s transport system is one of the most recognisable in the world. Your mission is to find out why signs and symbols are so important to London.”
Activities include object handling, role play, colouring in and even some dressing up.
Knight School at the Tower of London, London
Over the half-term, the Tower of London is heading back in time to 1471 - the height of the War of the Roses - and guests can enroll in “Knight School” at the tower to see if they have what it takes to face military combat.
“Learn the art of the sword, charge at a quintain, handle armour, dress up, design your own flag and much more,” the event description reads, asking: “With the range of impressive skills you have mastered, will Queen Elizabeth Woodville think it’s enough to grant you knighthood?”
The Royal Observatory, London
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich will be the home of all things Lunar, with a morning planetarium show and immersive virtual reality activity each day as part of the Out of this World: Moon Mission exhibition.
Join the Royal Observatory’s expert astronomers for this fun space-themed morning for older children.
Later in the week, Out of this World makes way for Holiday to Space, an exhibition for younger children, which includes a planetarium showing of Ted's Space Adventure, filled with “spectacular views of the planets up close and a chance to sing along to help Ted find a new home for their friend plant”, the observatory says.
Permian Monsters at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
One of London’s lesser-visited museums is the spectacular Hornmian Museum and Gardens, in Forest Hill, in the south of the city.
From half-term onwards, this museum, known for its remarkable displays of taxidermy, will play host to a new exhibition called Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs, in which visitors will be given amazing insights into the creatures that roamed the Earth before the dinosaurs, more than 252 million years ago.
“It was a time of fearsome sabre-toothed predators, giant insects and bizarre-looking sharks,” the museum says.
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Lambing at Avon Valley Adventure Wildlife Park, Somerset
When it comes to activities, Avon Valley Aventure Wildlife Park is going to be hard to beat this half-term.
Over the week, the park will host a Kids Fun Fair, complete with ferris wheel, dodgems and waltzer, while the more agrarian-inclined can take part in Lambing Live, where guests can help prepare food for the ewes and milk for the lambs.
And if this wasn’t enough, the Super Pirates Holiday Club will also return to the park this year. “We start our days with exclusive use of the huge indoor play barn; flying down slides, playing huge games of hide and seek, tag, and getting to know one-another,” the park’s website says.
North East Puddle Jumping Championships at WWT Washington Wetland Centre, County Durham
“Put on your wellies, get out into nature, get muddy and have a splashing time!”
So says the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Washington of its North East Puddle Jumping Championships, in which guests can challenge their family and friends in the Most Creative Puddle Jump competition, as well as the Welly Boot Camp obstacle course.
Changing Seas at The Deep, Hull, East Yorkshire
Changing Seas is a brand new exhibit opening at The Deep, Hull’s famed aquarium, which will see the introduction of new creatures ranging from Volitans lionfish and Dog faced pufferfish to Leopard moray eels and spectacular coral.
This half-term will also see the aquarium host its Critical Chemistry event (15-23 February), designed to teach kids about the future of our oceans and what humans can do to protect them from the harmful effects of pollution and climate change.
Destination Space! at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, West Midlands
Head into orbit for Destination Space! at Birmingham’s ThinkTank Science Museum, which is working in partnership with The Association of Science Discovery Centres and the UK Space Agency to share some of the most exciting recent developments in UK space exploration, science and UK spaceports.
There’s an interactive science show for the whole family at 1pm and 3pm, as well as games, arts and crafts and object handling.
Kids go free at Gwili Steam Railway, Carmarthenshire
Next week, kids go free on the famous Gwili Steam Railway, one of the UK’s prettiest, most tranquil heritage rail experiences.
A round trip on the railway is just over eight miles long and one ticket allows you to stop and explore Llwyfan Cerrig station and enjoy the miniature railway and picnic spot nearby.