Harrassed parents, breathe deep. We know 36 ways to entertain the kids across Berkshire - from Lego film courses and cookery to the best theatre and days out. We've nailed it.
Half term’s nearly here already? I only just put away my flippin’ Christmas tree. Muddy to the rescue with 44 half term saviours across Berkshire and further afield to keep the ankle biters entertained. Anything utterly brilliant and unmissable that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comment box below.
We’re pretty late to the party, but finally, David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy (above) comes to the Theatre Royal Windsor (19 – 22 Feb). It’s produced by the same team that created the award-winning West End show Gangsta Granny so it should be a goodie and, knowing Walliams, will be packed with humour for adults too.
Head west for the perfect introduction to Shakespeare as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (above) returns to The Watermill Theatre in Newbury (19 Feb – 7 Mar) for a limited run at the end of a UK tour. Fizzing with magic and a large dose of chaos in an enchanted Victorian music hall; secrets, love and mistaken identities collide to the soulful sounds of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.
Elsewhere, there’s Chloe and the Colour Catcher (above), a charming story about bravery as a young girl goes on a mission to defeat the Grey Queen by unleashing all seven colours of the rainbow (Norden Farm, Maidenhead on 18 Feb and Corn Exchange Newbury, 19-20 Feb). Roll up in Reading for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s fun-filled family concert – Noisy Kids Circus Circus (The Hexagon, 23 Feb). You’ll hear bite-sized pieces from The Greatest Showman, Monty Python, Gladiators and more, mixed with fun and games from your ringside seat!
We’ve also got Norden Farm, Maidenhead, on speed dial with this brilliant line up – a new production of Little Grimm Tales, made especially for children with live puppetry and original music (17 Feb).; Histories Of The Unexpected, a fast-paced show that shows how everything has a history. You’ll never think about the Tudors in the same way ever again… GUARANTEED! (21 Feb).
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Whoop whoop! Wellington Country Park is one of the first family fun palaces to reopen in 2020. Set an alarm for Sat 15 Feb and go go go. It’s got it all – an awesome adventure play area with giant zip wire, dinosaurs, mini golf, animal farm, jumbo bouncy pillow, miniature railway and more more. Plus from 17 Feb they’re running Space Crafts as well. It’s a guaranteed hit for those with younger children. There’s also a superb cafe serving quality local produce –much it from Wellington Estate itself.
Winter Activity Camps, JNL Sports Complex Bracknell, Mon 17 – Fri 23 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 Bracknell Ski and Snowboard Centre for some slippy and slidey fun. Sign up for the multi-activity camp and they’ll get to grips with snow tubing, Broom Ball, ice skating and skiing. The activities start at 9am and finish at 5pm but you can drop the kids off at 8am and pick them up as late as 6pm. How good is that! jnlbracknell.co.uk
Pop-up interiors workshop, Dream Make Newbury, Wed 19 Feb
Huzzah! Arts and crafts I can get on board with. Dreammake is a brilliant Newbury-based biz for creative kids. Annelies, an award-winning architect, started ‘Dreammake’ to fire up kids’ imaginations and introduce them to the world of architecture and design. It’s such a fab idea, you’d be mad not to book up. Take your pick from Pop-Up Interiors and Treetop Living workshops running over half term.
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 on Wednesdays and Friyay Fun on, well Fridays. 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 head home with a parenting gold star.
The Adventures of Brickbeard, Brickies Club, Windsor, Maidenhead and Wokingham, Mon 17 – Sun 23 Feb
Arrrrrrgh, brick-mates, grab your Jolly Rogers and hop aboard the legendary pirate ship, the Brick Pearl. Send your kids off with Captain Brickbeard for a two-hour Brickies Club pirate-themed Lego workshop aimed at 5-12 year olds. Turn up, get your mission brief and build. Future filmmakers can also make 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, Reading’s Brick Show is back The UK’s very best builders will showcase their talents at Rivermead on Sat 7 – Sun 8 Mar, and there’s lots of activities to get involved in too.
Kids Yoga, Swan at Streatley, Tues 18 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 14-16 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.
Play in a Day, The Watermill Newbury, Mon 17 – Tue 18 Feb
If you have a child desperate to follow the theatrical Yellow Brick Road , then book them to The Watermill’s Play In A Day workshop. Open to children aged 7-11 and 12-16 (Tue 18 Feb, 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 17 Feb (ages 7-11).
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 activities running almost every day. On Mon (17 Feb) there’s Parent & Child Play Clay for ages 5-8, Thurs (20 Feb) it’s Art Factory for printing and badge making, Fri there’s more play with clay (ages 8-12).
Reading FC Soccer School, The Dome, Reading Mon 17 Feb – Fri 21 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 Emmbrook School. 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.
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, trailblazing 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.
DAYS OUT: Bonnets, Bustles and Top Hats, Windsor Castle, Sat 15 – Sun 23 Feb
Best bib and tucker for a visit to see the queen at Windsor Castle… Queen Victoria, that is. Let your kids run wild-ish and immerse themselves in the bonkers world of Victorian fashion, try on a costume and make a fashion accessory. Plus you’ll get to hear the inside scoop on Queen Victoria’s wedding, which took place 180 years ago this month.
EXHIBITION: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, The Base Greenham Common, now – 26 Apr