May half term sorted!
But Easter was only yesterday I hear you cry! Don't worry, Muddy has you covered with the best family-friendly things to do over May half term in Wilts, Glos and beyond.
Treasure Trails have tasked Swindonian spies with a new mission that will test even the coolest codebreakers of Wiltshire just in time for May Half Term. Crack the code on this brand-new Trail, case file name ‘The Bourne Directive’, which leads double agents through the old railway town. Beginning at the Swindon Designer Outlet, formerly the Swindon Rail Works, double agents will need to have their wits about them as they look for signals…Hunt high and low for clues whilst on the assignment and navigate through old canal passages, a church, a local park and even the National Trust and English Heritage Head Quarters! Lasting around two hours, the aim is to solve sneaky clues on a circular route of approximately two miles incorporating plaques, signs, statues, monuments, images, engravings or any other unique or quirky features found in the area. www.treasuretrails.co.uk
Royal Bath and West Show, Shepton Mallet, Weds 29 May – Sat 1 June
Huge celebration of farming, heritage and the countryside – cheese, cider, livestock parades, sheep shearing, The Wurzels. Oooh arrrrr.
Tractor Ted Big Machines Weekend, Bowood House, Calne, Sat 25 May to Mon 27 May
If you’re digging for something active and family friendly for the bank holiday weekend, this is right up your street. Big machine arena displays, Tractor Tug-of-War and Slurry Soak! The weekend will be packed with fun including tractor rides, bouncy castles and welly wanging. www.bowood.org
Koala Creek, Longleat
This May, for the first time ever, you’ll get the chance to discover the wonderful world of Koala Creek, home to the Safari Park’s newest (and furthest travelled) residents; a group of iconic southern koalas and two endearing hairy-nosed wombats. They share their brand new abode with long-nosed potoroos; rabbit-sized, kangaroo-like, marvellous marsupials. Go on a journey through indoor and outdoor habitats where you can observe the wonderful and iconic Australian animals, and discover the down-under lowdown of the fascinating adaptations of the marsupials in the area. www.longleat.co.uk
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
Go NUTS at Monkey World, Wareham
Summer at Monkey World means the primates are enjoying being out and about in their large outdoor enclosures- important for all but especially for the youngsters! Bulu Mata, 4, is getting bigger and braver and is spending more time wrestle playing with his older adoptive brothers, Silvestre, 9, and Jin, 9, while infant ladies Rieke, 4, and Mimi, 3, are getting better at climbing high to sniff out the tasty breakfast treats the keepers hide around the enclosures. Every little one who brings an unopened bag of nuts for the primates receives a free Monkey World badge over the bank holiday weekend. www.monkeyworld.org
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. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Dr Who and Merlin were all filmed here, and Puzzlewood’s unworldly, 14-acre forest has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, including winding vine paths and a willow maze. 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 mythical utopia. puzzlewood.net
Lucas Jet Parties
Having a party this half term? Bored of trampolining parks, pool inflatables, roller discos? A-ha, then you need Muddy Stilettos. Actually, you need Lucas Jet who we’ve snooped out for you, and their amazing, revolutionary, you-won’t-believe-your-eyes, PT Barnum eat-your-heart-out circus extraordinaire. lucasjetparties
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, i.e. me) and 15m outdoor tower that’s just waiting to be scaled. For half term hols there are extended opening times and activities that cater for pretty much all ages. wildrockclimbing.co.uk
Marlborough College Summer School, 14 July – 1o August
OK, so you’re going to have to wait for this one until the summer hols, but definitely book your place now to avoid disappointment! Recognised as one of the South West’s top Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experiences, the Summer School caters for kids from 3 years to 90 – choose from day courses, week-long camps or residential jaunts for the whole family. Kids are split into Junior Troopers, Young Adventurers and Teenagers, with a bonkers amount of action-packed courses to choose from including Cricket, Clay Shooting, Martial Arts, Dance Fusion, Drama, Fencing, Water Polo, Adventures in Clay, Beginners Harp and Stay Alive Survival. While there’s plenty of the obvious, the majority of courses are designed to offer your little ones experiences they’ve never tried before. summerschool.co.uk
New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
Family Cooking Together, Daylesford Cookery School, Daylesford, Stow-on-the-Wold, 26 May
These Family Cooking classes are a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to join together in the Daylesford Cookery School for a fun-filled day of cooking and eating. Food and cookery is a wonderful way to bring families together in the kitchen, but this time you won’t have any washing up to worry about! Throughout the course there will be a selection of delicious, inspiring recipes for you to enjoy creating together with us, as well as back at home. daylesford.com
Mini Chefs and Young Chefs, Vaughan’s Cookery School, 25 and 26 May
Mini and Young Chefs are travelling around the world to Greece this half term, learning to cook pitta, tzatziki, Greek salad and chocolate yoghurt dessert. Vaughan’s Kitchen Mini Chefs is designed to give your youngster a firm foundation that will provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to grow into competent and confident cooks. 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
Crafty May Activities, Pound Arts, Corsham
Join The Pound to make, stick, craft and create this half term. Oh, and there’s LEGO too. www.poundarts.org.uk
Roll up, roll up!
It’s circuses galore this half term, with Gifford’s Circus pitching up its Big Top at Sudley Castle (Thurs 16 – Tues 28 May) and Daylesford Organic Farm in Kingham (Thurs 30 – Mon 3 Jun). This year’s theme is ’70s summer of love, so expect hippies and flower power amid the chaos and clowns. For a smaller affair, John Lawson’s circus return to Millets Farm, near Faringdon (Sun 26 May – Sat 1 Jun).
The Comedy of Errors, Stroud, 1-2 June
Downpour Theatre Company presents The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s shortest yet wittiest play. Be transported to the Byzantine Empire, when hilarity ensues when Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio arrive in the hustle and bustle of Ephesus which, unbeknownst to them, is the home of their identical twins, Antipholus and Dromio from whom they were separated in a tragic shipwreck when they were just infants. Over the course of a single day, mistaken identities lead to unfair beatings, wrongful arrests and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness and even demonic possession. A gloriously silly farce, performed by a marvellously talented cast. Get your tix here. www.downpourtheatrecompany.co.uk
Salisbury International Arts Festival, 24 May – 9 June
The 2019 Salisbury International Arts Festival marks two global anniversaries – the 1969 moon landings and the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall – with an ambitious mix of music, spoken word, film, dance, circus, theatre, comedy and family events. www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk
Exciting Science, Swindon Arts Centre, 30 May
WARNING…WARNING…EXTREME FUN ALERT! This brand new, exciting and educational show will amaze and astound all ages, as they put the excitement back into science. With fun fact-filled experiments, watch in amazement as they recreate a volcanic eruption, turn a vacuum cleaner into a missile launcher or take aim at you with our smoke blaster. Stand clear and prepare for action as this show is full of wiz, bang, pop and splurt. swindontheatres.co.uk
Milkshake! Live, Swindon, 30 May
Milkshake Monkey can’t wait to put on a spectacular new musical for you all! But when stage fright hits, his favourite Milkshake friends come to help, creating the most dazzling show you have ever seen. Be part of this fantastic production as you learn the amazing songs and dances with your favourite Milkshake friends, and watch as the music, the lights, the costumes and stage come together. With great Milkshake friends, anything is possible. swindontheatres.co.uk
Wellies at the ready! Our neck of the woods punches above its weight when it comes to music festivals, and many of them are brilliantly family-friendly. First off the blocks is Cotswolds weekender, Lechlade Music Festival – Brit indie-pop crew The Feeling are headlining, plus there’s yoga, woodland skills workshops and storytelling (Fri 24 – Sun 26). Wychwood Festival pitches up at Cheltenham Racecourse, it’s another family fair with comedy, yoga and performances from Scouting For Girls, The Stranglers, ABC and, um, Basil Brush (Fri 31 May – Sun 2 June). The week after half term is the fab Party at the Castle at Sudeley Castle (6 – 8 June) with amongst others, tenor Alfie Boe, Will Young, All Saints and Sara Cox’s full on party show – Just Can’t Get Enough 80s. PS: If you’re forward planning your summer, here’s our full festival guide.
Calling all fledgling farmers! Roves Farm celebrates Sunflowers (25 May – 2 June) with tractor rides, arts and crafts and all the usual animals and fun stuff going on. Cholderton Charlie’s are sheep shearing on Monday 27 May and, over in Witney, Cogges’ Farm is jumping on the festival hype (Mon 27) with live music from Witney Ukes, flower crown crafting, various other kiddie activities and more. PLUS Millets Farm, nr Abingdon, kicks off its Pick Your Own season in time for half term (from Sat 25 May), with over 30 fruits and veggies including raspberries, courgettes, apples and strawberries (for Champers obvs).
Fancy getting a new perspective on the world? The Great Big Tree Climbing Company will teach you and yours how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners (no idea what that is, let’s move on) before doing the fun bit and taking the zip wire back down. Seeing Mr M land in the woodchips after a speedy zip wire descent still has my children in stitches. Coming to Hanford School (25 May), Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (27 May), Stourhead (29 May and 1 June), Westonbirt Arboretum (29 May).
Oxford Festival of Nature, various locations, Sat 25 May – Sat 8 Jun
Organised by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, this two week festival showcases the wild and whacky wildlife we have here in Oxfordshire with a programme over 40 events, walks, workshops, comedy nights and activities in venues including Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Farmoor Nature Reserve, Blackwell’s Bookshop and more. Half term highlights include the festival’s main event the Wild Fair (Sat 1 Jun) with appearances from wolves, crocodiles, bats, edible insects (ew!) and live music, plus loads of drop-in family activities such as Ready Stead Draw, garden flower pressing and nature walks around Warburg Nature Reserve, nr Henley. Full programme here.
Lemur Week, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Sat 25 May – Sun 2 Jun
How cute is this little guy?! Throughout half term, Cotswold Wildlife Park will be holding competitions, board games and talks in the walkthrough Lemur enclosure in aid of the Park’s Madagascan conservation initiatives. There’ll be a Lemur themed trail round the park too.
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.
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.
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
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