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Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

14th February 2019

Many schools across England and Scotland have broken or will break for half-term this week, so there are hundreds of events taking place across the country. We’ve picked out some of the most fun – some ticketed, but many free!

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

14th February 2019

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

14th February 2019


Brighton’s Science Festival (until March 2) is a riot of workshops, discovery days and hands-on sessions. We love the sound of the seahorse art sessions, and The Wonder Women of STEM discovery day. Find events across the city here. There’s even a little festival-within-a-festival at the magic-themed Pocket Science Funfair. Uncover the magic of friction and electrostatics, or try the gull poo shooting gallery. Kersplat! Feb 16–19

Northern Ireland’s incredible NI Science Festival incorporates events as diverse as The Science of Roald Dahl show, a Chemistry of Smells interactive session, a Science of Immersive Sound experience, and a chance to quiz Professor Brian Cox. Until Feb 24.

The V&A in London is augmenting its Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition with half-term activities that include kids hacking sessions, a chance to build a 3D sensory world, a game-themed performance and more family activities Feb 18–22

Manchester’s Science + Industry Museum has a visitor – Stephenson’s Rocket – one of the world’s first train engines. Say hello, then join a Rocket Racers workshop, watch live experiminents at the Science Showdown, and build your own structure at the Great Bridge Build Off. There’s a Victorian Fairground in the courtyard too. Feb 16–24

Dive deep into the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall’s Science of the Sea Week. Meet experts and researchers from the University of Exeter and find out about the explosive chemistry of water in a hands-on show! Feb 16–22.


Celebrate 250 years of big-top fun in Great Britain at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle – their Circus! Show of Shows exhibition is in full swing. Sing along to a screening of The Greatest Showman, learn circus skills at a workshop (including a relaxed session), and even join groups making and racing clown cars! Feb 18–23.

Unmissable for Londoners and beyond, the annual Imagine Children’s festival returns in 2019 for 12 days of fun over half-term. Held in the warm and cosy Royal Festival Hall, at least half of the programme is free of charge; watch theatre shows, enjoy comedians, meet your favourite authors and dance, dance, dance. This year, ticketed shows include The Singing Mermaid, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Film Live in Concert, and Captain Flinn and the Magic Cutlass.

Be inspired by London’s Museum of Childhood’s A Pirate’s Life for Me exhibition, and create paper pirate puppets, wanted posters and logbook in a box. Or go on a treasure hunt, watch shadow puppet, and design a ship flag collage. Full programme here. Until Feb 24

Introduce tiny artists to the joys of portrait painting at Edinburgh’s Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Fun, hands-on, and sometimes messy! Until Feb 15.

Liverpool’s museums and galleries are buzzing with things to do this holiday. Take part in an interactive musical voyage, make a superlambanana (you’ll have to take part to find out more!), and get hands-on with archaelogy, with a chance to touch Roman pottery and Stone Age flint tools. Feb 16–24

The Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands are excellent places to go this half-term; warm, dry and relatively uncrowded. This holiday, make peg dolls, hear stories about pearly kings, become a star on the music hall stage, make a giant cardboard model of the East End of the city, or craft your own version of pie and mash!


The Dark Skies Festival takes place across National Parks, with a galaxy of events that include stargazing parties, rocket making, cycling, walking or caving at night, and nocturnal animal trails. There are events for first-time astronomers, experienced stargazers, or those who’d like to learn more about skills such as astrophotography. The inky canopies of these remote wonderlands showcase constellations and planets to perfection, this is a thrilling introduction to the joys of discovering the universe. Until March 3.

It’s Puddle Jumping Championships time at all of the UK’s WWT wetland centres. As well as watching waders and ogling otters, you can win prizes for splashing, as well as obstacle races, arts and crafts and games. Bring your wellies!

Take inspiration from the artwork and beautiful surroundings of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in an outdoor sculpture session suitable for the whole family. Use branches, stones, pipes and found materials to balance, join and arrange your playful structure. Tuesday 19.

The Wildlife Trust look after over 2,300 nature reserves across the UK – take the opportunity to explore some near you. Many have events over the half-term – join conservation days, make feeders for local wildlife, go on after-dark walks, make lanterns and build your own bird box (it’s also National Nest Box Week!)

Why not take the opportunity of the break to start a journey into birdwatching? The RSPB’s reserves – many of them free – dot the country. Find an event to inspire you – try nest box building, go on welly walks, or even build a village for woodland fairies (and woodlice!)


Join a week of activities inspired by the National Museum of Scotland’s new Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries. Celebrate the Year of the Pig with games, knot making and a wishing tree, create a huge pyramid out of cardboard boxes, watch Chinese dancing, and hear stories of the ancient Egyptians’ belief in the afterlife. Until Feb 17.

Each February half-term, the National Maritime Museum in London celebrates LGBT history month with its Rainbow Week. Which we adore. This holiday, meet seafaring characters, find out about the realities of life onboard a pirate ship, and the relationships that developed on the high seas, create flags, hats and badges, and make na enormous rainbow flag out of hundreds of origami boats. Feb 16–24.

It’s Playful Museums month in Northern Ireland. Join in the fun as you build a medieval town, take part in dancing and movement sessions, watch puppet shows and take part in a 1940s-themed storytelling workshop for under-5s.

Jorvik, the biggest Viking Festival in Europe swings into action this week in York. See historical reenactments, including dramatic combat performances, learn to sword fight, try playing Viking-style games, and enjoy evocative folk music.

Have a stroll through the history of one of the wildest places in the UK at the Highland Folk Museum. A mile long, you’ll start in the 1700s at the Township, and end up in the 1930s working croft at the other. Some of the thirty buildings on site have been moved from other locations, others were built and furnished here; see a smoke house, school, church, clockmaker’s workshop and post office. A new way to explore the museum is via a trail app – join storyteller Alan Crawford to listen to his story ‘In the Land of the Glittering Wood Moss’ as you walk around the Pinewood.

Join English Heritage this February half-term for action-packed events at castles, country homes, palaces and forts, traversing centuries of England’s story from the Roman age and the Tudor era, to the Victorian period and the world wars. Find fairies in Yorkshire, learn to be a Roman soldier in Northumberland, build dens in Beeston and attend Butler School in Essex. Until Feb 24

Meet King Henry himself at the Mary Rose, and let him introduce you to Valentine’s Day, Tudor-style. Use calligraphy to create a card, and dried lavender and rose petals to make delicious-smelling pomander bags to give to your sweetheart (or keep for your pants draw). Feb 16–24

Kew’s orchid festival is in full bloom. See a dazzling display of hundreds of colourful butterflies, enjoy big band and tropical fusion music, Colombian crafts and cocktails. This week, there are carnival workshops and parades themed around La Batallla de Flores (the Battle of the Flowers).