FRI 31 MAY – SUN 2 JUN
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEKEND
DAY OUT: Remarkable Rainforest, The Living Rainforest Hampstead Norreys, Mon 27 May– Sun 2 Jun
The Living Rainforest is celebrating the beauty of living things half term with lots going on including special guided tours of the rainforest with their experts, animal feeding sessions and talks, children’s craft workshops, rainforest music workshops and more.
EXHIBITION: Anthony Caro, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Wed 1 May – Sun 10 Nov 2019
If you loved Cliveden’s Lynn Chadwick sculptures last year, then the new installation Anthony Caro exhibition might get you sitting up like a meerkat. This English modernist artist, who assisted Henry Moore in the 1950s, is most famous for his abstract industrial pieces but briefly created figurative artworks too. You’ll find his pieces doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill.
DAY OUT: Nature Explorer Week, Wellington Country Park, Mon May 27 – Sun 2 June
Running throughout half term, simply collect your Nature Explorer Pack when you arrive at Reception, then use it to explore the Park. Discover birds, mini beasts and then head for the Pop-up Play Area for the Mud Kitchen, pebble painting and crafty stick men (stock up on Persil). Plus there’s a nature drawing competition with prizes up for grabs. Challenge accepted. Winner gets the last Chocolate Club biscuit.
SPORT: Go Paddling Week, Advenure Dolphin, Pangbourne Sat 25 May – Sun 2 June
Did you know that hundreds of events and challenges are being organised nationwide to help encourage people give paddle sports a go? Nope, me neither – but we do now, so there’s absolutely no hiding behind the sofa! National Go Canoeing Week is being celebrated at Adventure Dolphin in Pangbourne with canoeing, paddle boarding and kayak trials on Weds 29 and Thurs 30 May for just £5. Check out their website for details.
KIDS: Victoria and Albert 200, Windsor Castle, Sat 25 May – Sun 2 Jun
I think Queen Victoria would be chuffed to bits with her Jenna Coleman makeover as we celebrate what would have been her 200th birthday. While we’re busy blowing out all the candles and knocking back a celebratory champers, your kids can get stuck into the Windsor Castle fun – dress up, enjoy storytelling, falconry and more every day of half term.
COMEDY: Lucy Porter – Pass It On, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 31 May
FAMILY FUN: Family Fun Weekend, Dinton Pastures Reading, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Jun
Dinton Pastures’ annual Family Fun Weekend is a brilliant way to have a go at all the watersports and other activities it has to offer, including kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, powerboat rides, climbing, pond dipping and even human table football! And it’s amazing value too, with each 15 minute session costing just £2 per person. Simply rock up and register for your activities on the day.
FAMILY FUN: Dinosaur World Live, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 1 Jun
Why can pre-schoolers reel off the names of flesh eating giants like T rex, Triceratops, Styracasaurus and Baryonyx but can’t say the word gloves? It’s a mystery, but there is no doubt they’ll LOVE the jaw dropping puppetry of these pre-historic superstars as they thud, stomp and roaaaaar onto the Newbury stage.
FESTIVAL: Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Sat 25 – Mon 27 May For a foodie family day out, there’s Blenheim Palace’s sixth annual Food Festival– a gastronomic weekender packed with talks, demonstrations, family activities and a hearty sprinkling of celebrity chefs, including Raymond Blanc OBE, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Celebrity MasterChef champion, Angellica Bell. There’ll also be up to 160 local and regional foodie and drink stalls with artisan bakers, craft brewers, gourmet burgers, international cuisine and, new for this year, the Vegan & Veggie Garden. Go stuff yourself silly.
Must see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A’s retrospective on iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). The exhibit is sold out (*boo*) but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Also worth checking out is the new major Van Gough exhibit at Tate Britain- over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).
DAY OUT: Warwick Castle, War of the Roses Live, Sat May 25 – Sun 2 Jun
This spectacular castle just over the border is always a winner with Muddy and they are very good at luring us back. Not only is there the return of the live action show, War of the Roses (more stunts and tricks than you can shake a stick at) but there’s a new family-friendly challenge – The Escape Room. Set in an underground prison, actors lead castle visitors as they battle the clock to set a knight free through puzzles, clues and stories. Think Crystal Maze meets The Krypton Factor. Add the regular birds of prey demos, the mighty trebuchet, archery and ramparts to rampage and it’s good value. (Top tip: if it’s a sunny day it might be worth your while to bring a picnic, you can queue for ages for food). warwick-castle.com
EVENT: Roman Gladiator day, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sun 26 – Mon 27 May
Muscly men running around in tiny shorts. Nope, it’s not the rugby but, erm, Gladiators. Criminals, barbarians, prisoners and disgraced soldiers fight to the death to be crowned champion in full Roman costume. The event is run by Britannia, one of the oldest and largest re-enactement groups in the UK, who have worked on tons of TV projects from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator to kids’ favourite CBBC’s Horrible Histories. You’ll also be able to buy replica weapons, if that’s what floats your boat.
FAMILY FUN: New Children’s Garden, Kew Gardens, London
As if it wasn’t already a prime spot for day tripping, the clever sausages at Kew Gardens have added a brand new Children’s Garden just in time for May half term. Two years in the making, the interactive garden (aimed at ages 2 – 12) has over 100 varieties of mature trees, bamboo tunnels, hammocks and in-ground trampolines all under the cover of a huge 200 year old oak tree.
DAY OUT: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 May – Sun 5 Jan
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (see above for a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris and more voicing the beasts. museumoflondon.org.uk
DAY OUT: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, until Sun 2 Jun
I’ll be a few of you have a LEGO obsessive under your roof. At Easter Whipsnade Zoo introduced its Brick Safari, with one million bricks’ worth of beasts and animals dotted around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know), as well as hands-on family activities. It’s included in entry price and running throughout this month. zsl.org
EVENT: Ladies Night feat. Art Dodger, Windsor Racecourse, Mon 17 Jun
Love a fashion, fizz and the chance to see party on a school night? Hell yes! Windsor Racecourse’s legendary Ladies Night is back. Travel in style and arrive by boat whilst popping a prosecco or two. There’s racing, a Royal Ascot fashion preview, the Best Dressed competition and Artful Dodger will be tearing up the paddock with a floor-filling DJ set. Book now.
EVENT: The Hidden Garden, Henley Royal Regatta, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul
If you’re heading down to Henley Regatta this July and want to escape the riff raff (not that Henley does real riff raff, of course) book now for The Hidden Garden. New to the Regatta this year, the luxe but laid-back riverside venue on the Berkshire bank offers brilliant views, VIP hospitality, musical entertainment, gourmet food and – most importantly – lashings of booze (chilled Henriot champagne and local favourite, Mr Hobbs gin to be precise). Pre-booking is a must so grab your other half, bezzies or workies and get organised pronto! findthehiddengarden.com
KIDS: The Little Welly obstacle course and festival, Henley, Sat 8 – Sun 9 June
This is all about getting Muddy so we are IN! A 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland The Little Welly’s obstacle course is the largest in the UK for kids and is always popular so book now. There’s also an accompanying festival with – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads more. I think it’s such a fantastic idea – get them away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise. thelittlewelly.co.uk