A visit to the new poo powered tropical house at Marwell Zoo, Hampshire
Animal fans will love a visit to the new Marwell Zoo Tropical House, which allows visitors to step inside a rainforest habitat. Even better, kids will be fascinated to hear how the exhibition is powered by poo collected from enclosures around the zoo.
Climb up into the canopy for a bird’s eye view of the tropical animals, waterfall and forest floor. In amongst the foliage you might spot a Linné’s two-toed sloth, mouse deer, or pygmy marmosets on their private primate island. That’s not to mention free-flying birds and more than 2,500 fish in the aquarium.
As well as exploring the tropical house and meeting the rest of the zoo’s 150 species, half term visitors can take part in a Top Trumps challenge. They will receive a free Top Trumps card along with a fun trail and will be able to compare their scores against a number of giant cards around the park.
Marwell Zoo is open daily. For more information and admission prices visit marwell.org.uk/zoo.
Get creative at the Museum of Science and Industry’s MakeFest, Manchester
Take your budding scientists to Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry over the Bank Holiday Weekend for a special event aimed at celebrating the art of making things. MakeFest gives visitors of all ages the chance to get involved in DIY tech, engineering, craft and creativity.
You can solder, stitch, print, code and engineer products of your own design and a few under the guidance of the museum’s expert Explainer Team.
Family-friendly events, shows and workshops will continue throughout half term. While at the museum space fans aged 13 and over should not miss the chance to try the Space Descent Virtual Reality simulator which allows them to fly through space and pilot a capsule back to Earth using the latest state-of-the-art virtual reality technology.
Admission to MakeFest is free between 26 and 27 May, 2018. There may be a small charge for some activities. For more information visit msimanchester.org.uk.
Have a delicious day out at Taste of Grampian, Aberdeenshire
If your kids love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen maybe they can pick up some culinary tips from top celebrity chefs like James Martin at Scotland’s largest one-day food festival. Taste of Grampian is a celebration of the region’s food and drink producers with more than 180 stands and plenty of cookery workshops.
Kids will want to make a beeline for the Children’s Education Marquee where there will be demonstrations as well as inflatables and carnival stalls. Older family members will enjoy the gin and wine masterclasses, a craft brewery tent and live music.
The festival takes place at the Thainstone Centre, Inverurie on 2 June, 2018. For more information and entry fees visit tasteofgrampian.co.uk.
Go wild at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Embrace dirt and head to The Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell for its Wild Week of outdoor adventures. Families must choose a woodland tribe – frogs, butterflies, foxes or owls – and begin their journey at the Wild Tribe Yurt where they can have their faces painted and make tribal headdresses.
From here, old and young are challenged to test their animal instincts on an outdoor assault course, take part in musical workshops and join in a sing-along around the campfire. There may even be marshmallows for toasting at the end of the day. If that all sounds a bit too energetic you can find a hammock, climb in and relax to the sounds of nature at what is one of our favourite Cornwall attractions.
Heligan Wild Week takes place from 26 May to 3 June, 2018. All activities are included within normal garden admission prices. For more information visit heligan.com.
Pull on your hiking shoes for the Chilterns Walking Festival, various locations
There are more than 50 child-friendly guided walks included in this year’s Chiltern Walking Festival across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. Families can pick from activities designed to excite children’s imaginations and give them a long-lasting love of the great outdoors.
Why not go on a hike to spot wildflowers and butterflies or incorporate child yoga into a leisurely wander? You can also take a guided walk around the woods and fields of Roald Dahl’s home village of Great Missenden to discover the places which inspired his stories. My personal favourite has to be the Ants in Your Pants walk at the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve where participants will be seeking out mini beasts for every letter from A to Z.
The walking festival takes place from 19 May to 3 June, 2018. Many of the events are free. For more information visit visitchilterns.co.uk/walkingfest.html
Step into rural England at the Royal Bath and West Show, Somerset
If your kids are as fascinated as mine by enormous tractors, then the historic Royal Bath and West Show is a winner of a day out. It is one of the oldest surviving agricultural shows in England and takes place over four days so you have plenty of time to visit.
There will be more than 4,500 livestock, sheep shearing, vintage machinery from the past 100 years and the very latest farming technology on display. In the main ring, entertainment will include dancing diggers, horse and cart racing, live music and show jumping.
Foodies will also be excited to hear the show hosts the British Cider Championships and The British Cheese Awards, plus there are more than 125 food stalls showing and selling their produce. Bring a picnic basket and fill it!
The show takes place at the Bath and West Showground from 30 May to 2 June, 2018. For more information and admission prices visit bathandwest.com/royal-bath-and-west-show.
Get in the family groove at Aberdare Festival 2018
For a family-friendly and free festival head to Aberdare near Cardiff over the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend. There will be an outdoor music stage featuring live local performers throughout the day with something for all musical tastes and ages.
There’s also plenty of action-packed activities going on to keep kids entertained, like a family fun fair, zip wire, zorbing balls and boating on the lake. Bring a picnic or refuel at one of the food stands in the park. You’ll also find craft and gift stalls offering homemade gifts.
Aberdare Festival 2018 takes place at Aberdare Park on 26 May, 2018. For more information visit aberdarefestival.co.uk.
Go in search of Peter Rabbit in the Lake District, Cumbria
Fans of one of Beatrix Potter’s best loved characters will find plenty of Peter Rabbit themed events happening in the Lake District over the half term holidays. If your kids have seen the latest box office adaptation of Peter Rabbit like mine they’ll enjoy seeing the story brought to life on stage at The World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness-on-Windermere.
The show also features the characters Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mr Tod and Tommy Brock with music, special effects and dance.
Where is Peter Rabbit? The Beatrix Potter Musical can be seen throughout the school holidays and until September, 2018. For more information and ticket prices visit www.hop-skip-jump.com.
Come face to face with England’s past using augmented reality, various locations
Imagine being given a tour of some of England’s most historic places by characters from the past. The English Heritage Cities app has been designed to help people do just this and is a great way to bring the past to life for youngsters. The app merges information and videos about important moments in time with locations in the country’s most historic cities.
Trigger points at places like Durham Cathedral in Durham work with the app to share stories about the earliest stirrings of recorded English history and the Benedictine monks who worshipped there. Durham is one of 12 historical cities to host the project using ground-breaking augmented reality (AR) technology. You can also use the app in Carlisle, Lancaster, York, Lincoln, Chester, Stratford, Oxford, Cambridge, Greenwich, Salisbury and Bath.
The good news is that using the free AR app isn’t restricted to half term. Download it and keep it for future holidays. For more information and to download the app visit heritagecities.com/stories/explore.
Experience the butterfly lifecycle at the National History Museum, London
There’s something special about stepping into a tropical butterfly house. For young children it’s the radiant colours and experiencing these beautiful insects flutter past their faces. For older kids it’s learning about their amazing lifecycle that is captivating. The National History Museum’s Sensational Butterflies exhibition gives visitors the chance to admire everything about the world of tropical butterflies.
There are feeding stations where the butterflies can be observed in close detail while feasting on flowers and fruit, as well as exhibitions explaining why they are so colourful and how long it takes for a caterpillar to transform.
Sensational Butterflies is inspired by the Museum’s world-leading butterfly and moth collection of more than 10 million specimens. Seeing this is a must during your visit.
The tropical butterfly house is open until 16 September, 2018. For more information and admission prices visit nhm.ac.uk/sensational-butterflies.