February Half Term is upon us, so we’ve asked the lovely (and thrifty!) Laura from London Baby to share her top tips on where to take the kids. As always, she’s come up with a great selection of free and affordable family days out and plenty to keep those wonderful little minds stimulated. Have a read, and of course leave your own half term recommendations below too!
Not able to get the family to a warm, sunny beach this February half term? Don’t despair, hop on a train/tube/bus and do the next best thing … CULTURE!!! OK, it may be the opposite of sitting on a beach towel, but if you can’t be on your dream holiday but you are able to get away from work, there are loads of interesting learning, making, thinking, listening and doing events on for families over the half term. They are free (or somewhat affordable) so you can load up on family bonding and send your kids back into the classroom with loads of interesting facts to show those teachers what a great mum you are.
South Kensington, Museum Campus: Indulge in the Arts, Sciences and Top it off with a Concert
This is the epicentre for half term museum fun. All three museums have a family picnic area, so feel free to save your money and pack a lunch to eat there. From many years experience, if you can get in the queue for the museums by 9:45am on Monday or Tuesday, you will have a great day. If you wait until later in the day, or later in the week for that matter, you will get overwhelmed by the crowds; that said, here is a great line up for the week:
V and A:
- Digital Kids: Saturday – Sunday, 10:30 – 5pm daily ages 5+, create digital art with the help of an digital design expert.
- Pop-up Performance: Spider Stories Monday – Friday 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00pm come along to the creepy creature’s storytelling sessions.
- Imagination Station Saturday – Sunday, 10:30 – 5:00pm, make your own imaginative spider to take home.
- Gallery Plays Saturdays 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00pm duration 25 minutes; join famous puppeteering families as they travel around Europe and help make their puppets sing and dance.
- Make-it: Weave. Monday – Friday 10:30-12:30 & 2:30-4:30. Book for this artist led session to create your own woven textile with unusual materials. Ages 5-12, £3 per child
Natural History Museum:
Investigate Room this little-known room in the NHM is the most amazing room in London for helping children fall in love with science and knowledge. There is a team of guides who will take your school-age child on a journey of discovery and learning. Your kids will have the chance to pore through specimen trays containing bones, shells, animal skins, scarab beetles; examine them under microscopes; measure, weigh, and look up on the computer what they have found.
Head over early to the free Launch Pad where they can experiment with magnets, circuits, forces, friction, sound waves … all interactive, extremely hands-on learning. Around 11:00am they have live demonstrations of fantastic experiments in the theatre.
Smaller kids will enjoy the Pattern Pod on the ground floor where they can do a bit of dress up and manipulate puzzles and interactive pattern makers.
Do not miss The Garden, in the museum basement, especially if you are visiting the museum with toddlers or preschoolers. Its enormous water play area, interactive sound garden and pulleys and slides climbing frame cannot be rivalled as a great place to explore.
Royal Albert Hall, Elgar Room:
Family Ignite – When I Grow Up. Tuesday 14th February noon and 2:30pm, tickets free and allocated on arrival. Although not in the actual hall, the kids are encouraged to sit in front of the stage and engage with the orchestra.
There is a healthy, affordable lunch available (sandwich, veggies, juice) and coffee, tea and cake available. Work this in after a morning museum visit and you have yourself a trulyLondon Family Day Out.
Eclectic Literary Family Fun: Southbank’s Imagine Children’s Festival
Fun Fair, daily 11:00am – 8:00pm: take the kids for a ride on the traditional carousal and vintage fairground activities including a 1950s helter skelter.
Imagine Craft Pavilion, Saturday 11th – Sunday 19th February 10:30 – 4:00pm, all ages, free, drop-in. Stop by the Imagine Festival’s craft pavilion and get creative thinking about your favourite storybook characters and their adventures: wear messy clothes and be prepared to make some art!
Carnival of Animals, Saturday 11th February, free, all ages. Roll up for a musical tour of the animal kingdom. Join a team of actors and Britain’s best young musicians from The National Youth Orchestra as they lead you on a whirlwind adventure.
Kathak Stanzas, Sunday 12th February 3:30pm, Clore Ballroom, free all ages. Come and explore traditional Indian mythology with your voice, feet and imagination. Shivani Sethia celebrates the voice in dance with this imaginative workshops that combines words and traditional South Asian Kathak dance.
Chris Bradford: Young Samurai, Monday 13th February 11:00am, £8.00 adult/£4.00 child. Come join the author of the award-winning Young Samurai series as he talks about writing and demonstrates some of the martial arts in his stories (sounds ideal for helping encourage boys to read).
Become a Superhero, Thursday 16th February 11:00am, ages 5-12, free. Join Laura X Carle and Rachel Rose who will help you decide your superhero powers, choose and decorate your superhero cape and eye mask. Pick a name and get photographed, free.
Voicelab’s Superpower Family Sing, Friday 17th February 3:00pm, all ages, free. Don your capes, masks and best Superhero outfits, come and discover the power of song! Power ballads become Superpower ballads in this fun-packed singing extravaganza for the family. All ages, all abilities welcome.
[box]While exploring the South Bank, don’t forget to stop in at BFI for the grand finale of the BFI-Disney 50 and to see classic short animations featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald, Goofy and friends. Dating from as early as 1929, these animations are an important piece of art history! [/box]
Soho: Art History, Portraits of the Ages, Transport History and Somerset House
London offers another fabulous cluster of museums for families: Soho, a world-class destination any day, but a half-term day particularly so. Take your kids to art workshops of the highest quality for families; you should be able to learn and enjoy right alongside them, the best “mum”-tertainment on offer. From drop-in activities to artist-led workshops, Soho offers a great day out.
National Gallery: Bursts of Brightness: Sunsets and Ships, Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th February, 11:00- 1:00pm and 2:00-4:00pm, ages 5-11, free, tickets allocated on arrival. Take your kids along for an artist-led workshop where younger siblings are welcome to attend. Drawing Stories: Monday 13th 10:30- 11:30am, under 5s, free tickets allocated on arrival. Learn about a painting, do some acting and singing and drawing after. Storyscape: Tuesday 14th 10:30-11:00, under 5s, free, tickets allocated on arrival, hear a great story in front of a work of art.
National Portrait Gallery: Tour and Draw: Monday 13th – Friday 17th, 11:00 – 11:45, 1:30- 2:15, ages 3+, discover the hidden stories behind the portraits in the collection. Family Art Workshops there are variety of workshops over the half term from working with set designers from Royal Shakespeare Company to hiding messages in your own Tudor portrait, do not miss the opportunity to partake in the free workshops for ages 5+, free and tickets allocated on arrival.
London Transport Museum: Queue up at 9:45 Monday – Thursday, 10:45 on Friday, but the earlier in the week the better. If you miss one of the free workshops listed above, its a short walk over to the Transport Museum. Entry to the museum costs £13.50 per adult, but this is a year-long membership to the museum and kids enter free. The museum is so much fun for children and adults alike: you can learn about the history of London and the history of design of modes of transport. If that is not enough, the museum offers a variety of craft activities for children. Monday 13th –Friday 17th: Make a Mini Art Gallery, noon – 1:00pm, ages 5+; Design a Picture Frame, 2:00-3:30pm, ages 5+; Storytelling, 11:00am, for the under 5s
Somerset House: Take the family to the Saturday Free Family Workshops, February 11th, 2:00-3:30. Enter a world of duplicate images by exploring the Courtland Gallery and making your own hall of mirrors. Free, ages 5+, tickets allotted on arrival from 1:00pm.
Period Dramas and Artist-Led Workshops at The Wallace Collection
Right Royal Stories: Art and Story Workshop Monday 13th February, ages 6+, £7, book in advance. Come and meet kings, queens, princes and princesses; hunt down their portraits, their favourite object, and find out about their stories and learn how to greet them right and proper. Create your very own royal story with the help of art educator Roxanne Matthews in a quality art workshop.
Cupid Draw Back Your Bow, Tuesday 14th February, 10:30 – 12:15pm and 2:00– 3:45pm, ages 5+, free, drop-in. Hear about Cupid and the story of his mischievous adventures. Look for pictures and sculptures of him in the gallery, then create and decorate a magical arrow to make two people fall in love, with artist Marc Woodhead.
Special Day Event: A Day in the 18th Century! Saturday 18th February, 11:00-4:30pm, all ages, free. Step back in time and immerse your family in the Ancien Regime and Rococco period. Learn traditional dances, songs, get your hair and makeup done 18th century style, try your hand at popular games, make puppets, even meet Marie Antoinette herself. Divide and conquer: one takes the kids, the other can attend a free lecture. You are right next to Marylebone High Street with the amazing shops and there is a great playground just beyond the Waitrose parking lot.
School Holidays for the Budding Ecologist/Naturalist/Biologist at the Holland Park Ecology Centre
Head over to Holland Park Ecology Centre Monday 13th – Friday 17th February, where twice daily there are enchanting workshops for children to explore and engage with wildlife. Choose from a building a shelter in the wood, orienteering, hunt for minibeasts, discover animal homes, look for animal tracks and much more.
The workshops are for children 5 – 10 years old, they run 10:00am – noon and 2:00 – 4:00pm, £4 per session for RBKC residents; £5 non-residents, pre-booking and pre-payment are necessary. Over 8s can be left unaccompanied by an adult who can run off down High Street Kensington and pick up things for the kids. These workshops are very well staffed and brilliantly run; the kids will make a quality artefact to take home and have a nice, relaxing time learning and playing.
A Glance at Affordable Family Theatre
Little Angel Theatre, Little Red Riding Hood, ages 4+, tickets £8, Wednesday – Sunday morning and afternoon times; younger siblings welcome on Thursday 9th, 16th and Sunday 12th, 19th. Norwich Puppet Theatre’s retelling on this classic is a not-miss for the younger set over the half-term hols. On Wednesday 15th February, from 10:30 – 4:00pm send your 5-11 year olds to Puppet Making Fun Day, £45 per child. They watch Little Red Riding Hood and make their own puppet. Book now, places are limited.
Watch the trailer:
Half Moon Young People’s Theatre: Little Hippo and His Magic Pen, Saturday 11th February 11:00, 1:00pm & 3:00pm 2-5 years £6 per ticket. Join Little Hippo on his birthday and discover his red pen filled with the most amazing things in the world. Spin, Saturday 18th February, 11:00am & 2:00pm 3-7 years, £6 per ticket. Whirling, twirling, twisting tales reeling with rhythm and giddy rhymes.
Puppet Theatre Barge: The Flight of Babuscha Baboon, Monday 13th – Friday 17th February 3:00pm daily, £8.50 children, £10.00 adults. The beautiful story of Babuscha Baboon, a baboon who wants to fly to the moon in a hot air balloon with his friend the elephant, who is threatened by ivory hunters.
Family and Baby Concerts, (in Addition to The Royal Albert Hall)
image credit: Classics with My Baby
Cadogan Hall: Saturday Spectacular Family Concert Under the Sea, Saturday 18th February 11:30am. Join the charismatic Richard Sisson as he presents the Southbank Sinfonia’s performance of well-loved themes, movements and songs from Saint-Saens, Debussy, Beatles, Satie, Menken and Sarasate. £8 per adult, £6 per child, family tickets £22. Concert begins at 11:30, but there are activities that begin at 10:45 (while the activities are great, they are extremely crowded).
St. Columba’s Church, Knightsbridge Classical Babies: Monday 13th February, 10:30am, £10 per adult. Babies, toddlers, big kids, bring them along to enjoy the highest echelon performances from the world’s stage. Hop over to Harrods,Hyde Park or down toSloane Square … all just a short walk away.
Interchange Studios, Belsize Park Classical Babies: Wednesday 15th February 11:00am, £10 per adult. Can’t make Monday’s performance, head over to Interchange Studios almost directly opposite Belsize Park tube for a fantastic concert and perhaps romp in the heath should the weather cooperate.
Royal Festival Hall LPO Funharmonics Family Concert, The Jungle Book, Sunday 19th February, noon. All ages, tickets from £10 – £18, with children’s tickets 50% off. Take the family to listen the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of this mystical from score with the story narrated by the event presenter, the charming Chris Jarvis.
Hampstead Parish Church, Hampstead Village Classics with my Baby: Once Upon a Time, Tuesday 14th February 10:30. Come and enjoyPhilippaMo and Miaomiao Yu perform a fabulous concert with world stories paired with scores from around the world. Come and join in cake and mingling from 10:00am, with cake and tea on sale.
Notting Hill Community Church, Notting Hill, Classics with my Baby: Once Upon a Time Thursday 16th February from 10:30. If you Tuesday, come along to Hampstead on Thursday.
St. Luke’s Church, Clapham, Classics with my Baby: Once Upon a Time Friday 17th February 10:30. Live it all again on Friday in Clapham with the same format.
As promised, Laura’s come up with some fantastic ideas for family days out, children’s concerts and kids activities to keep your whole family busy over February Half Term in London. Please help other mums and dads plan their half term activities by sharing this page on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and with your local NCT mailing list!
If you have other recommendations for things to do with kids during Half Term in London (or anywhere in the UK), please leave a comment below!
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