family · Kids · Travel

Half term highlights

With half term coming up, there are plenty of events in the calendar to get the kids out of the house and immersed in imaginative environments.

Dreamland’s first Children’s Book Festival

Dreamland in Margate is hosting its first ever Children’s Book Festival on Saturday 16th February. The line-up features The Gruffalo, with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved character making appearances throughout the day. There will also be screenings of the animated film adaptations of the duo’s books by Magic Light Pictures, including Room On The Broom, Stick Man,The Highway Rat, The Gruffalo and Zog. Primary school-aged children will be able to browse a selection of the best new children’s literature, and take part in creative workshops with leading illustrators such as Emily Rand, who will host a workshop based on her new book The Lost Property Office, where youngsters can learn how to make their own concertina Lost Book. There will be stories for the little ones from author Julia Jarman, who wrote Big Red Bath and Class Two At The Zoo, and visitors can also learn how Julia was inspired to write exciting stories for children aged 7-12. Dreamland’s indoor spaces including The Roller Room and diner, arcade and Octopus’s Garden soft play centre will also be open for families to enjoy.

The Children’s Book Festival takes place from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 16th February at Dreamland Margate in Kent. Tickets are £6 each plus booking fee in advance, or £22 plus booking fee in advance for family tickets (up to 4 people). Limited tickets at £3 + booking fee are available for Dreamland members.

To book visit

Southbank’s Imagine Children’s Festival

Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival turns 18 in 2019. The annual festival returns from 13th to 24th February for a half-term week of children’s theatre, comedy, family parties, hands-on activities, DJs, dance and immersive experiences. With more than 180 events packed into 12 days and 50% of the festival completely free, Imagine is the biggest festival of its kind in London, dedicated to families experiencing and enjoying all kinds of art and culture together. The multi-arts line-up for 2019 includes former Children’s Laureates Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell, coming together on the Royal Festival Hall stage to celebrate 20 years of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate; an interactive sensory SoundPit installation using music and motion-capture technology to explore the phenomenon of synaesthesia; Sue Perkins conducting the Orion Orchestra’s Noisy Notes; David McKee, author and illustrator of Elmer the Elephant, in an exclusive event celebrating the 30th birthday of his popular patchwork friend; and Peppa Pig’s first concert with a full-size orchestra conducted by Mummy Pig.

Tickets are on sale at

Junior Doctor programme at BODY WORLDS

BODY WORLDS London at Piccadilly Circus is running a Junior Doctors programme during half term for children aged 8-12 to learn all about the human body. The attraction features real bodies and body parts donated and preserved by Dr Gunther von Hagens’ ‘plastination’ technique. Designed for budding young doctors who want to learn more about anatomy, each day during half term from 16th to 24th February, dressed in white lab coats and armed with a stethoscope and clipboard, kids will be taken on a guided tour of the exhibition with a trained medic. They get to explore three floors of science, art and health education, getting stuck into interactive exhibits and boggling at the intricacies and super powers of the human body. It’s a unique opportunity for inquisitive young minds to get hands on with anatomy, learning about everything from measuring your blood pressure and performing CPR to the importance of mental wellbeing on your overall health. The children will even ‘graduate’ and leave with an official Body Worlds Junior Doctor certificate. A series of special half term activities to run alongside the Junior Doctors programme will offer the chance to learn essential first aid, with British Red Cross CPR trainers on hand to teach, demonstrate and answer all your questions every day between 17th and 21st February. For little ones, there will be a Family Trail running throughout the museum with fun facts, activities and games to keep everyone entertained.

Junior Doctors is for children aged 8-12 years only (without parents). £25 per ticket. Every day during half term at 9:30 am (end 12 noon). Limited availability.

Pre-book your tickets at

JORVIK Viking Festival includes focus on forgotten stories of Viking women

The packed list of events for the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival, which takes place in York from 20th to 27th February to accommodate different half term holidays across the UK, has now been revealed, with the often overlooked stories of Viking women and the influence they wielded weaving a thread throughout the festival programme. Viking women have always played a big role in the JORVIK Viking Festival, reflecting their roles in Viking society where they often joined their men on voyages. Sagas that told of seeresses, king-makers and shield maidens who changed the course of Viking history will be told, and a lecture programme will explore how recent archaeological discoveries have prompted a re-evaluation of the role of women in Viking society. Visiting families can also enjoy the spectacular parade through the city centre, Strongest Viking and Best Beard competitions, Have-a-go sword events, Little Diggers for the youngest budding archaelogists in the family, Birds of Prey at Barley Hall, the spectacular evening son-et-lumière event and even Poo Day!, discovering how important human waste is to understanding diet and health – and why the Lloyds Bank Turd (fossilised faeces) is one of the most important exhibits at JORVIK Viking Centre! 

The full programme for JORVIK Viking Festival is available at

Arts and crafts 60s-style at Bexhill Museum

Bexhill Museum in East Sussex is hosting a children’s arts and crafts afternoon on Thursday 21st February from 2-4pm, focused on the fashion, music and events of the 1960s. Aimed at children aged 4-11, the cost is £3 per adult and £2.50 per child including admission, materials and refreshments. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

To book ring 01424 222058

Kids stay for free at The Headland

Photo: The Headland Hotel

If you are travelling to Cornwall this half term, then between 9th and 24th February, children can enjoy an action-packed itinerary at The Headland Hotel in Newquay, for free. The Cornish seaside hotel is offering storytime, crafts, Bollywood dancing, circus skills and a visit from the Screech Owl Sanctuary amongst other activities. Located in an exclusive clifftop location overlooking Fistral Beach, the Victorian hotel has a variety of family-friendly accommodation, including family suites with private balconies. The hotel runs surf, stand-up paddle boarding and coasteering lessons for guests of all ages and has two family-friendly restaurants, both of which offer children’s menus, with colouring crayons and activity sheets on hand.

Bed and breakfast breaks for two adults and two children, up to the age of 14, start from £340 for two nights. A self-catering option is also available in The Headland’s five-star cottages. Two and three bedroom cottages start from £570 for a three-night break or £1,190 for a seven-night break.

For more information visit

Family fun on the Isle of Wight 

Photo: Pixabay

If you are travelling to the Isle of Wight this half term, ferry operator Wightlink’s Kids Go Free offer gives free travel for two children with every adult foot passenger day ticket, meaning a family of four can enjoy a day trip to the Island for as little as £34. Or for a longer break, prices start from £88 for a family travelling by car. Whilst on the island, pay a visit to Robin Hill Country Park’s Electric Woods event Spirit of the Orient, running from 15th until 23rd February, one of the UK’s biggest festivals celebrating Chinese New Year. Tickets start from £15.50 and entry is free for children under four years old. There is also a four person saver discount deal for families. West Wight Alpacas is a good half term activity for any animal-loving families. The farm is home to around 60 alpacas, 13 llamas and many other animals, and visitors can choose to either go on a trek with the animals or just watch them roam around the farm. Entry to the farm is free for under 4s, £5 for 4-14 year olds and £7.50 for adults. Dinosaur Isle, Britain’s first purpose built dinosaur museum and visitor attraction, hosts guided fossil walks at sites of palaeontological interest on the Island – a fun activity for dinosaur enthusiasts young and old. There are two walks planned for this half term on 18th and 19th February, each lasting around one and a half hours.Tickets cost just £16.50 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children), or individual tickets are £5 for adults and £4 for children. Lastly, Monkey Haven is holding a Love Week this half term, where visitors can enjoy heart-warming animal rescue stories, keeper talks on romances and bromances, Keeper for the Day experiences and much more. Tickets are £8.95 for children (aged 3-14) and £10 for adults (aged 15-60), with a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) costing £37.




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