20 things to do over half term
Will the kids be bored senseless, running circles around the kitchen table this half term? Not with this little lot to keep everyone – from tots to teens – busy!
#1: Tackle the floating obstacle courses and mud trail at Dorset Adventure Park, Corfe Castle
The brilliant inflatable obstacle courses set across two beautiful woodland lakes and a separate 2km mud trail – all with the iconic ruined Corfe Castle as a backdrop – have opened for the season, just in time for half term. Hire wet suits and aqua socks there if you haven’t got your own. Bring a picnic (there are tables and benches, some under cover, as well as a grassy slope) or grab a burger, coffee or ice creams at the snack shack. It’s not just for kids; adults will love it too (well, we do).
#2: Try a taster day with the Old Vic Theatre Summer School at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton
The prestigious Bristol Old Vic Youth Theatre Summer School, for children aged 12–16, returns to Hauser & Wirth in August but they’re running a taster day on Sat 28 May. It’s free but places are limited so book now.
#3: Have an explosive time at the Lighthouse, Poole
The Ministry of Science boffins explore how science has shaped the modern world with exploding oxygen and hydrogen balloons, fire tornados and gigantic liquid nitrogen clouds.
#4: Enjoy a Swedish Summer family supper at Castle Farm, Midford
Pull on some stripey tights for Castle Farm’s celebration of Swedish Midsummer with a family supper inspired by Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgren (co-owner Parvin is of Scandinavian and Asian heritage). Recommended for children aged 7 upwards. 5pm–7pm on Thurs 2 June.
#5: Tuck into a Matilda afternoon tea at Moonfleet Manor, near Weymouth
Eat your way through Roald Dahl’s Matilda – Chrunchem Hall sandwiches, Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake, Lavender’s macaroons and Newt juice – at afternoon tea at the super-family-friendly hotel.
#6: Solve a mystery down in the cells of the Shire Hall Museum, Dorchester
Kids can follow a new detective trail around the well preserved historic courthouse (where the Tolpuddle Martyrs, amongst many others, were tried) and have a go at some crafts; adults might want to take a look at the new Agatha Christie exhibition. A child’s annual pass is just a quid over half term (Mon 30 May– Sat 4 June).
#7: Flutter around at the Swanage Fairy Festival, Swanage
Little people (and big people) into mermaids, fairies, pixies and pirates might love this two-day festival by the sea, with local food and drink, story telling, games, live music, dancing – and a mermaid underwater spectacular. Sat 28–Sun 29 May.
#8: Get into art (literally) at Van Gogh – The Immersive Experience at the Propyard, Bristol
Surround yourselves with the iconic works of one of the world’s greatest artists at this 20,000 square foot, VR, 360 degree light and sound spectacular. On until Sun 4 Sept.
#9: See the cars your grandparents drove on the Jubilee Trail at the Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford
Sadly, our family didn’t have one of these red beauties; we had a beige Ford Prefect. Follow the The Platinum Years: 7 Automotive Decades trail to see the evolution of car design from the 1950s to the present day. The trail is free, with normal museum admission (and if you buy two tickets, you get one free).
#10: Discover Handa’s Surprise at the egg, Bath
The classic children’s book, written and illustrated by Eileen Browne, brought to life by physical performance, puppetry, live music and song – and lots of audience participation at Bath’s dedicated children’s theatre. From Tues 31 May to Sat 4 June. All tickets £10.
#11: See cygnets hatching at Abbotsbury Swannery, Abbotsbury, near Weymouth
It’s that time of year again! The swans are laying at the world’s only managed colony of nesting mute swans. Watch the swans feeding, get lost in a giant swan-shaped maze, ride go karts, have lunch in the cafe. There’s a kids’ spotters trail from Sat 28 May to Sun 5 June.
#12: Feel stoked on the surf, Wave, Bristol
The surf’s always up at inland surf spot The Wave. Lessons ans sessions for all levels including complete beginners. Suitable for 6 years+
#13: Get into the groove with Diversity at the Bournemouth International Centre
The Britain’s Got Talent winners, created by the super talented Ashley Banjo, do their thang. Theshow centres around the world of social media, the internet, and how we connect in the digital era, and features some truly show-stopping routines, light arrangements and physical storytelling. Sat 28 May.
#14: See St Paul’s Cathedral at Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Cheddar
The rock formation known as St Paul’s Cathedral in the 500,000-year-old Gough’s cave is just one of the spectacular sights at Cheddar Gorge.
#15: Celebrate the countryside at The Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet
Three days of rural revels including dog agility, show jumping, Pony Club games, live folk music and Morris dancers (natch). It being the Platinum Jubilee an’ all, there’ll be a ceremonial beacon lighting, bunting and flags galore.
#16: Have fun on and around Wimbleball Lake, Exmoor
Have a go at kayaking, canoeing, SUP (stand up paddle boarding), wind surfing and sailing in one-off sessions, multi-activity weeks and more for all the family. There’s stuff on land – archery, high ropes – too.
#17: Eat your way to Australia at the SS Great Britain, Bristol
Step into the shoes of a Victorian steerage passenger to discover whether you could survive the two-month voyage to Oz on a diet of salt meat and rock hard ship’s biscuits (mmm tasty!). Every day from 12pm to 4pm throughout half term.
#18: Get close to nature on a family nature trail at the Avalon Marshes, near Glastonbury
Soon to be part of a ‘super nature reserve’ stretching to the edge of Bridgwater Bay, creating a 5,000-acre Somerset Wetlands National Nature Reserve, the Avalon marshes are home to some of the UK’s most interesting wildlife. Explore on foot, by bike or join Big Picnic Family Trail and a guided bats walk on Sat 28 May.
#19: Go on a Jubilee picnic in Bath’s Royal Victoria Park
Scotch eggs and sarnies at the ready for the Big Jubilee Picnic on the Royal Crescent Lower Lawn, with kids’ entertainment and activities with Super Pirates and musical fun with Drum Runners – and it’s all free. Sun 5 June 5, from 12pm–5pm.
#20: Help celebrate the Bristol Old Vic’s 265th birthday at their Family Day
Yes, you did read that right, the innovative theatre turns 265 years old on Mon 30 May, making it the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world. Help them celebrate at their free family day, with creative and hands-on activities, singing workshops, dressing up, tours and tales from the theatre’s history.