Feb Half Term Guide
Making half term plans? What you need is the impeccably curated Muddy Half Term guide with the top children’s activities around
Half term’s nearly here already? I only just put away my flippin’ Christmas tree! I have three 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 superspecial events across Wilts and Glos and further afield. Anything utterly brilliant and unmissable that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comment box below!
Light up Cheltenham, Cheltenham High Street, Cheltenham, to Sat 24 Feb
Light Up Cheltenham sees the town’s most iconic architecture transformed with coloured illuminations. Take a spin on the observation wheel to see the brightly lit spectacle fill the Cheltenham winter sky with gorgeous illuminations from over forty buildings. www.visitcheltenham.com
Tom Gates, Bristol Hippodrome, Weds 20 – Sat 23 Feb
Liz Pichon’s famous Tom Gates tries to keep out of trouble but guess what, things keep on going wrong. All the fave characters from the books (14 now and over 5 million copies sold worldwide) in a show put together by the Gangsta Granny and Horrible Histories team, so should be excellent. Suitable 5 – 12. Tickets
Go Ape, Mallards Pike Lake & Beechenhurst Lodge, Forest of Dean
There’s not one but two Go Apes, the treetop adventure playground for Tarzans and Janes, in the Forest of Dean, England’s largest oak woodland. The site at Mallards Pike Lake is home to the original Tree Top Adventure and Forest Segway, while three miles down the road, Beechenhurst Lodge is the place to go for a Tree Top Junior Adventure. The site was completely redesigned recently and now includes new obstacles including the Tank Trap, The Shuffle, Net Bridge and Itchen Crossing among the zip wires, Tarzan swings and rope ladders. And if you need a bit of rest after all that but still want to explore the leafy surroundings, you can hop on a forest Segway and go in search of wild boar, deer and birds of prey. goape.co.uk
Family Cooking Together, Daylesford Cookery School, Daylesford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Glos, 24 Feb
They say the family that eats together, stays together, so this fab day’s cooking in the salubrious surroundings of Daylesford will be good for you in more ways than one. Throughout the course there will be a selection of delicious, inspiring recipes for you to enjoy creating together, as well as back at home, Suitable for age 4+, ingredients, refreshments and lunch all included. daylesford.com
Monkey World, Monkey World, Wareham, 16-24 Feb
This half term, visit our only primate rescue centre and discover how important families are to chimps, orang-utans monkeys and humans. Many of the apes and monkeys at the park have been neglected, kept in unnatural conditions, or experienced unbelievable cruelty. At Monkey World, they are rehabilitated back into family groups, where they can all enjoy the company of their own kind in a safe and natural environment, and some are even part of international breeding programmes for endangered species. As well as seeing the park’s 260 rescued monkeys & apes, kids can follow the “where’s the woollies” trail and take part in “find the families” games and half-term activity pack, available every day in half term. To combine fun with conservation, half-hourly keeper talks explain all about man’s closest living relative. Visitors can see the stars of TV’s ‘Monkey Life’, then ‘monkey around’ in the south’s largest Great Ape playground. www.monkeyworld.org
Jungleparc, Lydiard Park, Swindon, Wilts
Swing in the treetops at Jungleparc, with loads of activities suitable for children as young as three. And if you’re a big kid or adult – and are feeling extra brave – there is the Xplorer course which, be warned, is VERY high. jungleparc.co.uk
Half term at Longleat, Warminster, 16-24 Feb
New at Longleat for 2019 – you’re invited to enter the Astonishing Kingdom and discover their latest arrivals; giant animals from the waters of Central and South America that have taken up residence in the heart of Wiltshire. Growing up to 1.7 metres in length, their giant otter is as impressive as it is fascinating. Watch as they propel themselves through the water with their powerful tails, and listen to their distinctive loud calls. Then, take a walk into the neighbouring tropical, swamp-like habitat, and you’ll find vines growing all around and butterflies flitting through the air. But, look down at the water and you’ll see their new reptilian residents – 5 foot long Cuban crocodiles! Yikes. longleat.co.uk
Kids Combat Adventures, near Chippenham
Enter the battlefield and get ready for a fight at Kids Combat Adventure. Outdoor laser tag will tick most kids’ boxes (and is a lot less painful than paintball apparently). jcompany.co.uk
What a way to spend a few hours. Learn to make a selection of five desserts guaranteed to make your mouth water, followed by a gorgeous lunch where you get to enjoy all the desserts from the mornings demonstration. This would be an ideal session for Mum and daughter this half term. Chocoholics be prepared! www.cookeryatwinstonhouse.co.uk
Castle Combe Circuit, Castle Combe, near Chippenham
This home of motorsport has been welcoming petrol-heads for 65 years with a whole load of driving experiences on offer, from rally driving to super-car fun. And kids don’t just have to be passengers – there’s an under 12 driving school where they can get behind the wheel themselves – eek! castlecombecircuit.co.uk
Mini Chefs, Vaughan’s Kitchen, Devizes, Wed 20 Feb and Sat 23 Feb
Let your kids go wild at this half term Middle Eastern cookery class at Vaughan’s Kitchen. Classes are designed to give your Mudlet a firm foundation that will provide them with the techniques and knowledge they need to grow into competent and confident cook, it is also lots of fun and they will bring home the results of the session to share with the family. www.vaughanskitchen.co.uk
Got a teen on your hands? Sign them up for More Speedy Meals, which will give them ideas of quick and easy meals – so they can start cooking for you and you can put your feet up! www.vaughanskitchen.co.uk
Fancy a special Muddy half term deal? Email them now and they’ll give you a great rate!
Puzzlewood, Coleford, Forest of Dean, Glos
This beautiful woodland in the heart of the Forest of Dean is like something out of a fairy tale – or a film or the telly, literally; Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Dr Who and Merlin were all filmed here. Puzzleford’s unworldly, 14-acre forest has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, including winding vine paths and a willow maze. And if you want to stay for the weekend, you can even book your own cottage tucked away in the greenery and enjoy a weekend in your own little mythical utopia. puzzlewood.net
Lydiard Park, near Swindon, Wilts
The super stunning Lydiard Park set in 260 acres of beautiful parkland has a jam-packed schedule of events over the holidays that’ll keep you busy all half term long. lydiardpark.org.uk
Rush Skatepark, Brimscombe, near Stroud, Glos
The biggest skatepark in the country, this family-run and family-friendly (and sponsored by no less than cool clothing giant Superdry) is no gangsta hangout (there’s a strict zero tolerance policy on drink, drugs and bullying) but is still your über-hip hangout. Offering a unique rider experience for BMXs, scooters, skateboards and aggressive skates, the fully-marshalled, 40,000 sq ft park offers a street section, park and bowl sections, jump track, foam pit and resi. (Had to look that last one up – it’s a ramp. I know, I’m embarrassing…) rushskatepark.co.uk
Wessex Raceway, Salisbury, Wilts
This massive 700m indoor track is exactly what the doctor ordered for any rainy day during the October break. Completely weatherproof, it’ll burn off even the most hyper child’s pent-up energy. wessexraceway.co.uk
JDR Karting, Gloucester, Glos
Boy racers will absolutely love this one, and it’s a great option for a birthday party. Suit up ‘The Stig’-style, put the pedal to the metal and race around the amazing indoor track. You may even end up on the podium and bringing home a trophy at the end of the day. jdrkarting.co.uk
Jolly Roger Adventure, Swindon, Wilts
Bouncy castles, arcade games, slides, and climbing nets – does a kid need anything more? One of the largest indoor play centres in the South West, this is a great day out for small and big kids alike, and, if you’re lucky you might meet the famous resident mascot, Charlie the parrot. jollyrogerplay.com
The Warehouse Climbing and Caving Centre, Gloucester, Glos
I recently went to a talk by an Everest adventurer who started his ‘career’ aged 13 on a climbing wall. So if you’re harbouring a young Ranulph Fiennes, who knows what you might trigger as she or he scales the impressive 13m wall here or ditches the ropes and goes bouldering in the lower levels. There’s also a dedicated kids’ room for anyone who’s a bit too small for the big wall. And a cave, built with tunnels and chambers, which feels like you’re really caving somewhere deep down below. the-warehouse.co.uk
RampNation Skatepark, Devizes, Wilts
Even grump-tastic teens might consider this indoor skatepark cool. Built for inlines, scooters, skateboards and BMX, it’s a massive 5000 sq ft of skater heaven partly designed by local skaters, so they can ride whatever the weather and keep out of your hair. RampNation.co.uk
Far Peak Climbing Centre, Northleach, Glos
There’s nothing like an adrenaline rush and Far Peak near Northleach has plenty of those on offer with its indoor climbing and bouldering (that’s climbing without ropes and harnesses for anyone who didn’t know, ie, me) and 15m outdoor tower that’s just waiting to be scaled. For Easter hols there are extended opening times (9.15am-10pm) and activities that cater for pretty much all ages. wildrockclimbing.co.uk
The School of Wizardry, venues in Cheltenham, 8-12 and 15-18 April
OK, so these dates aren’t technically in Feb half term, but you’ll want to get booking for April, won’t you? A spellbinding week of magic and wizardry awaits courtesy of the Cheltenham Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’s wand-erful School of Wizardry. Kids will walk into the pages of Harry Potter and be immersed in a Hogworts-style environment for the week where there’ll be music to sing, stories to act out and, of course, spells to be cast taught to them by bona fide magicians from The Magic Circle. Email the Magic Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07545 345655. MUDDY READERS – book before 1 March quoting MUDDY CAMDA WIZARD EASTER 2019 and you’ll get a special rate of £195pp instead of £250pp for the 15-18 April dates.
Power to your mobile, Film Oxford, Oxford, Mon 18 – Wed 20 Feb
Fledgling tween and teen Tarantinos or Bigelows can put their mobiles to good use (instead of that Snapchat malarkey) in this three day workshop where they’ll shoot and edit their own film from their phones. They’ll learn about creating storylines, shot types, editing, sound effects and more.
Blenheim’s purpose built Butterfly House in the Pleasure Gardens reopens just in time for half term on Sat 16, with hundreds of exotic species being released from Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines as well as several zebra finches. There’ll also be loads of critters and in the hatchery to check out before they blossom into beautiful butterflies. Or just over the west Ox border, at the National Trusts’ Hughenden Manor, they’re going on a bug hunt (they’re going to catch a big one!) followed by a workshop on making bug bases to attract wildlife to your garden, Mon 18 – Fri 22.
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.
Activity weekend, Earth Trust, Abingdon, Sat 23 – Sun 24 Feb
Sweeeet! About as lo-fi as it gets for children at this charming outdoor Earth Trust. Over half term kids can go behind the scenes of a functioning farm and meet baby sheep, piggies and goats. There’s also bale climbing, tractor rides, stalls and a children’s farmyard area. The Poem Tree Café will be open for refreshments along with a BBQ serving local grub.
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.
Matilda The Musical, Cambridge Theatre
Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, Matilda revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dares to change her destiny. uk.matildathemusical.com
Life in the Baroque Palace, Hampton Court Palace, 16-24 Feb
Experience life in the Baroque Palace and meet characters from the past this February half term at Hampton Court. Perfect for all the family, visitors can enjoy live drama and hands-on activities exploring the stories of Queen Anne and her courtiers. Included in Hampton Court Palace admission. www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace
Party at the Palace, Kensington Palace, 17-22 Feb
This February half term, come and join in the gossip, display and fun of the Baroque court at Kensington Palace. Take part in traditional court games for a chance to meet Queen Anne, along with other hands-on activities perfect for all the family. hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace
London Puddle Jumping Championships, WWT London Wetland Centre, 16-24 Feb
Join the Wetland Centre for the London Puddle Jumping Championships this half-term where children of all ages are encouraged to grab their wellies and have fun jumping in puddles. Jumping is free with paid admission to the centre and free to WWT members. wwt.org.uk
Knight School – Defend the Tower!, Tower of London, 16 – 24 Feb
This February half term, become a knight and defend the Tower of London. From manners, etiquette and entertainment, to martial skills and fitness, learn the essential components of a Knight’s arsenal. The training culminates in a knighting ceremony, where new recruits are enlisted to defend the Tower and keep the great landmark safe from marauding invaders. www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london