Half term? We can fix it!
Half term saviours coming your way. We know exactly to keep the kids entertained - from lego film courses and cookery to the best theatre and days out. We've nailed it.
Half term’s nearly here already? Seriously? I only just got over the Christmas break! I have two children off school and a full time job to navigate so this is definitely one feature that I’ll be utilising heavily this month. I’ve focused on the super special events across Berkshire and further afield. Anything utterly brilliant and unmissable that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comment box below!
Madagascar The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Tue 19 – Sat 23 Feb
Kids of all ages will love this! Yes, that is X-Factor winner Matt Terry in a lion suit – and you’re gonna hear him rooaaaaaarr. He’s finally escaped the talent show zoo (well it was a few years ago now) and is on the prowl in theatres all over the UK in Madagascar The Musical. It’s a brilliant feel-good show, packed with all the crowd-pleasing choons. You got to move it, move it… and see this one while you can. I’ll get my coat.
Charge The Castle, Windsor Castle, Mon 17 – Fri 23 Feb
Chaaaaaarge! Windsor Castle its under siege and it’s up to your mini knights to fight them off pronto. Don’t worry they’ll have all the gear – armour and weapons – and a bit of an idea (did someone say risk assessment?), leaving you time to wander off and swoon over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Wedding exhibition. It’s only on until 17 Feb. Charge The Castle is on every Saturday in Feb, and every day over half term.
Ski & Snowboarding Camps, JNL Sports Complex Bracknell, Mon 18 – Fri 22 Feb
If you’re not heading off the Alps *sniff*, treat yourself to some hot wine and a cheese fondu – and pack your kids off to the dry slope in Bracknell for ski or snowboarding camps. Trust me all the cool kids are doing it, with our current top-flight tricksters at the Winter Olympics having honed their skills on the white carpet. JNL Sports is Bracknell is running camps over half term for skiers and boarders of all abilities. Lessons begin at 9.30am and finish at 4.30pm but if you need to work, you can drop the kids off early and pick them up as late as 6pm. How good is that! jnlbracknell.co.uk
Circus of Screams, Forbury Gardens Reading, Sat 16 Feb, Sat 23 Feb, Sat 2 Mar
Roll up and race round Reading for A Circus of Screams – a three-hour Murder Mystery where you must find hidden evidence and catch a circus killer against the clock! Brilliant for teens who are glued to a screen or mumbling boredom. Get them out of the house with a group of mates and test their powers of deduction on a treasure hunt/whodunnit against the clock. The whole town becomes the set for this real-life whodunnit. Crack clues using smartphones, converse with characters and find hidden evidence before the time runs out.
The Jelly Lounge, Windsor
As always The Jelly Lounge in Windsor is on it for half term. In addition to the superb soft play area, there are running cookery lessons for mini chefs, art and crafts, oh and what parent isn’t going to love slime club? Save your sanity and your home from the mini wrecking balls and book em up. The Jelly Lounge serves a damn good coffee, wine, gin and lush fresh food. Park up and relax. You can tire them out, feed them up and catch the bus back to your car with a parenting gold star.
Theme Park Workshop, Brickies Club, Windsor, Maidenhead and Wokingham, Mon 18 Feb and Fri 22 Feb
In an attempt to avoid the horror of soft play during half term check out Brickies. They’re running a two-hour Sea Quest themed Lego workshop aimed at 5-11 year olds. Turn up, get your mission brief and build. Future film makers can also create their own Lego Movie (and bank billions of dollars, we wish) at a movie making workshop. Fun, creative and brilliant went the weather’s totally pants.
If you’re kids are lovers of the brick, take them along to Reading’s very first Brick Show. The UK’s very best builders will showcase their talents at Rivermead on Sat 23 – Sun 24 Feb, and there’s lots of activities to get involved in too.
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Wellington Country Park reopens Sat 16 Feb! Frazzled parents rejoice and boot your little blighters outside. With 350 glorious acres to explore and a brilliant adventure playground, it’s a guaranteed hit for those with younger children. There’s also a superb cafe serving serving quality local produce –much it from Wellington Estate itself.
Margo and Mr Whatsit, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Mon 18 Feb
With two brothers, I didn’t have imaginary friends but imaginary sisters. I blame them entirely for the perm and rainbow eye shadow phase of my teen life. Margo & Mr Whatsit is a production about Sophia and her fantasy pal Mr Whatsit who becomes unimagined when she moves to her new foster home. Bye bye Mr Whatsit, hello Margo – much mischief will follows. Winner of Best Children and Family Show at Brighton Fringe, I reckon your littlies will love it.
Kids Yoga, Swan at Streatley, Tues 19 Feb
Release the tension! Yup the kids need to go. Out, I mean go out. And what better place to send them than kids yoga at Swan at Streatley. Two creative yoga workshops for different age groups (4-7 yr olds at 1.15pm and 8-13 yr olds at 2.15pm), where they’ll get to release energy and hit the reset button. You can work on your own tension in the cafe/bar – coffee? wine? Choose your poison and relax.
Bake With Me, The Real Macaron Company Newbury, Tues 19 Feb
On your marks, get set… BAKE! If you’re kitchen skills are a little lack lustre, with more soggy bottoms and burnt offerings, then send your kids to The Real Macaron Company in Newbury. Young bakers (7-13 yr olds) before they get to the car. Spaces are limited and cost £22.50 (inc a soft drink and macaron). Bespoke parties for tiddlers and teens can be arranged.
Reading FC Soccer School, The Dome, Reading Mon 18 Feb – Fri 22 Feb
The Royals are running their incredibly popular half-term soccer school for boys and girls to learn the Reading FC way. Courses are held at 4 sites – The Dome Reading, Goals in Woodley and Henwick Playing Fields Thatcham and Bohunt School Aborfield. Sign up for 1 to 5 days depending on the location and event. It’s worth checking the website to see what suits. My eldest loved it. readingfc.co.uk. Alternatively, send your mini Hazard off to the Chelsea Super Camps running at Reddam House Wokingham. It costs £36 per day or £160 for the week 9am-5pm (extended hours available 8am-6pm) – brilliant if you’re juggling work. Goooooooaaaaal. supercamps.co.uk
Go Ape, Swinley Forest Bracknell, open all year
No matter what the weather, if you want to get outdoors, get some fresh air and have some fun head to Swinley Forest and tackle the Go Ape course. You’ll enjoy a fun-filled hour exploring the canopy, trail blazing and tackling obstacles – finishing on the zip wire. The Junior Adventure is aimed at 6-12 year-old Tarzans, but if your child is under 6 but over a metre tall they can still join in.
Kids Tuition and Courses, Bray Lakes Watersports
With temperatures flirting at freezing point, a water based activity may not spring to mind. But that’s what wetsuits are for, right? They’ll be fine. Bray Lake Watersports offers a fantastic selection of courses from sailing, paddle sports and windsurfing for kids 8+. Learn the basics, brush up on your skills or take your next step to Olympic glory, you can dip your one in the water here.
Play in a Day, The Watermill Newbury, Mon 18 – Wed 20 Feb
If you have a child desperate to follow the theatrical Yellow Brick Road , then book them in to The Watermill’s Play In A Day workshop. Open to children aged 7-11 and 12-16 (9am-4.30pm), they’ll devise, rehearse and perform their very own production. Cue toe-tapping, rapturous applause and a moist eye. Before you know it, they’ll be treading the boards in the West End. For purist jazz handers there’s a musical theatre workshop on Mon 18 Feb (ages 7-11).
Horrible Histories: Brand New Barmy Army Britain, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 21 – Sat 23 Feb
Love Horrible Histories and watch it without the kids (don’t judge, it’s hilarious). Brand New Barmy Britain is the dinner party you’d never want to host as HH bring back the dead so you get to meet all faves from Britain’s barmy past – from Richard III to the Samuel Pepys!
Art & Pottery, South Hill Park Bracknell
This superb and rather grand arts centre in Bracknell, is very much a hidden gem. This half term you can pop along for a number of creative workshops from 10am – 12pm with a activities running almost every day. On Mon there’s Parent & Child Play Clay for ages 5-8, Thurs it’s Art Factory for printing and badge making, Fri there’s more play with clay (ages 8-12) and on Fri your teens can channel their inner Grayson Perry and learn the art of throwing (10am-4pm).
Absolutely Karting, Maidenhead, open all year
No need for weather watching, all that;’s requires is to feel the need for speed. Absolutely Karting in Maidenhead has a fun two tier track, you get the usual video briefing, lots of essential info on flags, lights and expected behaviour on the track, ‘rev her up’ and off you go in a 270cc petrol kart, reaching speeds up 45 mph. It’s suitable for ages 8+. So a good option if you have slightly older kids and teenagers.
River & Rowing Museum, Henley
The Henley hotspot has half term boredom covered with loads of great activities for younger children. First off the blocks on Tues 19, a mouse themed craft morning for kids 4-7; on Wed 20 there’s a bird feeder workshop, for 7-11 year olds and on Thurs they can make a mini volcano and learn about Icelandic myths that inspired the museum’s main exhibitor, William Morris. An art workshop inspired by the collection (on loan from the V&A, no less) will also run on Fri.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Often overlooked for a half-term saviour, but seriously the Ashmolean’s galleries are full of amazing (free) art and artefacts, mummies and weapons, paintings and sculpture. This half term they’re celebrating the Chinese Year of the Pig, great for little ones with piggy stories and crafts. Or why not take your older kids to the Jeff Koons’ exhibition? You’ll have to pay for this one, and it’s controversial and subversive, but his work will blow their minds.
Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden
Science Oxford is hosting sessions at this charming Great Missenden-based museum on designing and building your own car and your own marble maze. Award-winning children’s poet Neal Zetter is coming in to read his poems. Kids can make a clay badge, design tuck boxes and chocolate wrappers.Plus it’s your kids’ last chance to take a selfie with Donald Trump – the statue, that is. To celebrate the 30th birthday of Matilda, a life-size statue of her standing up to Trump has been in the museum’s courtyard since Oct but will be moving on to pastures new soon.
Vets in Action at Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable
Got a little animal lover on your hands? Youngsters can experience first-hand the life of a vet in the Animal Hospital at the UK’s largest zoo. Budding vets will learn how to examine, x-ray and perform treatments on different animals and practice on soft toys. Activities are included in the entrance price and there’s sooo much to see and do but a word to the wise, wrap up warm as the zoo’s hilltop location can be a bit nippy at this time of year.
Planetarium, Dunstable Downs at the Whipsnade Estate
The Planetarium returns to Dunstable Downs with a larger venue and brand new show about the stars hosted by experts from Dark Sky Wales. Family stargazing events run on Tues 12 and Wed 13 with popcorn, alien hunting and space games (and FYI, there’s a special Valentines night on Thurs 14 with canapés and a complementary glass of tipple). Booking essential.
Warwick Castle, Warwick
The live-action daily shows are back. Witness the Mighty Trebuchet, the Flight of the Eagles, the Bowman Show and the Castle Dungeon plus get lost in the Horrible Histories maze in this beautiful historic castle. There’s a lot to see and do in a day so you might want to splash out and stay the night in one of their luxury suites or in the wooden lodges of the Knights Village. Hmmm, stay in a suite with a four-poster built for royalty or a themed wooden lodge in the grounds? Sadly I know my kids will want to do the latter.
Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank, London
With over 12 days of activities (50% of them free), this festival offers the best children’s theatre, literature and music so worth popping into town for. Authors such as Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell are coming in to talk about their books, there’s a Peppa Pig concert to introduce little ones to orchestral music, there’s outdoor games, a giant blackboard and sound pit, a screening of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with a live orchestra, hip-hop workshops and more, more, more. Check out the full programme here.
The Winter’s Tale for Young Audiences, National Theatre, London, Wed 6 – Thurs 21 Feb
This is a great way to introduce primary-age children to Shakespeare – it’s only an hour long! The Winter’s Tale, the story of Perdita, the girl who was once lost but is found, returns to the National Theatre in February 2019 following a sell-out run at the Dorfman Theatre last year. Adapted by Justin Audibert and directed by Ruth Mary Johnson, the show will also be accompanied by interactive family workshops on Mon 18 and Tues 19 Feb.
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