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The May half-term survival guide

Are you ready to rumble? Looky looky, here comes the May 2016 Half-Term, and we’re meeting it head on with the biggest, most searingly useful Muddy Guide. Like, ever.

Survivor Activity Days, Box Hill National Trust, Wed 1 – Thur 2 June

Family flying a kite at Box Hill, Surrey.

An exciting day at Box Hill for the mudlets, packed with natural arts and thrilling woodland free-running. The activity days are suitable for children aged 7-14. It’s £45 per day per child and booking is essential. They’ll need a packed lunch, and you should be prepared for them to be returned messy.

Box Hill, Tadworth, near Dorking, KT20 7LB. Tel:01306 878554.

Craft Workshops in the Thatched Cottage, at Claremont Landscape Gardens, Esher, Tues 31 May – Fri 3 June

Playing outside at Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey.

Get crafty at Claremont, and then take in the gorgeous gardens a tthe childrn’s craft workshops in the Thatched Cottage. The workshops are on daily from 10.30am-12.30pm.

Claremont Landscape Garden, Portsmouth Rd, Esher, KT10 9JG.

Out of this World Week, at The Lightbox, Woking, Tues 31 May – Fri 3 June


The Lightbox will host a series of family-friendly workshops throughout the week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, there are a free children’s workshops. There’s no need to book, just drop in between 1.30pm-4pm, and on Tuesday make your own model time machine, or Wednesday make alien headgear. On Wednesday at 11am, there’s a screening of that Steven Spielberg classic family favourite, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (adults £6, children £4). If you prefer to plan ahead, there are bookable workshops on Tuesday (Time Machines) and Thursday (Spin Art Planets). The workshops divided by age, with 4-7 year olds from 1pm-2.30pm and 8-11 year olds from 3pm-4.30pm. The cost for these is £6.50 per child, and it’s recommended you dress for mess! The week ends with a ‘Out of This World’ family fun afternoon on Friday. Entry is free and there will be drop-in workshops (from 1.30pm-4pm) and facepainting (2pm-4pm).

The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking GU21 4AA. Tel: 01483 737800.

Surrey County Show, at Stoke Park, Guildford, Mon 30 May

Surrey County Show 2015

This is the biggest one-day agricultural show in the the UK, bringing together hundreds of animals, food and drink, top class entertainment, rural crafts and competition. Highlights this year include the James Dylan Motorcycle Stunt Team, Miller’s Ark Petting Farm, The Countryside Arena with falconry, gun dogs, terrier racing, fly fishing, beagles and sheep dogs, and of course horses. Parking is available free at the showground, as well as in the park-and-ride area adjacent to the Spectrum Leisure Centre. There are also three free park-and-ride services running between 7am and 7pm at Surrey University, Guildford Business Park and Merrow Park and Ride. Entry into the show on the day is Adult: £17, Senior Citizen: £13, Children: £6 and Family: £40. You can save a couple of pounds, though, if you book online.

Surrey County Show, Stoke Park, Nightingale Road, Guildford, GU1 1ER.

Glorious Gardens Family Day and Grass at G Live, Guildford, both on Sat 28 May


Two events at G Live in Guildford on Saturday. The first is the Glorious Gardens Family Day, celebrating all things bright and beautiful, green and glorious with workshops, activities and shows all themed around Gardens. It’s a free event, with face painting, and arts and crafts workshops.
Also on Saturday is Grass, a lighthearted performance by two dancers who explore world beneath our feet featuring worms, slugs, snails, spontaneous outbreaks of ant dancing and plenty of obscure insect-related facts. Performances are at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Tickets are £10.

G Live, London Road, Guildford, GU1 2AA. Tel: 01483 369350. 

Try Geocaching, Shalford Mill, near Guildford, Sun 1 May

Child using a compass in the garden at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire.

This is like a big kids’ version of hide-and-seek, where GPS and other navigational techniques are used to find hidden containers (or caches). This is an introduction to this latest craze. It’s from 11am-4pm and  there are GPS devices available to borrow. It follows a 2 mile circular trail and costs £1.50 per person.

Shalford Mill, Shalford, near Guildford, Surrey, GU4 8BS. Tel: 01483 561389.

Epsom Derby Day, Epsom Racecourse, Sat 4 June


Pack a picnic and head to the family enclosure on The Hill. This private area provides a safe and friendly environment for families to enjoy the Derby Festival. There is  access to toilets, bars and betting facilities, and a big screen, plus picnic tables and food vans. There is also entertainment to keep the children occupied throughout the day. Food and drink for own consumption can be brought into this area.

Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT18 5LQ. Tel: 01372 726 311. Tickets Hotline: 0344 579 3012.


Epsom Derby Festival, in Epsom and Ewell, various events, 27 May – June 4


If you’re not going to the derby, there is still plenty going on in Epsom and Ewell to get you in the spirit. On Friday 27 and Saturday 28 May there are Fashion Shows in The Ashley Centre in Epsom on the hour every hour from 11am till 4pm. From Monday 30 May until Friday 3 June The Ashley Centre will entertain children with craft activities and entertainment between 10am and 4pm. The Derby Sunday Market is on Sunday 29 May, at Epsom Marketplace from 10am-4pm with 40 stalls, buskers and children’s rides. On Monday 30 May, the Market Place will host the Mayor’s Charity Fun Day from 12-5pm including a Pantomime Horse Derby. A fun day with stalls, children rides, live music supplied by Realistic Music Academy with the final of the Pantomime Horse Derby at 4.30pm.

The Ashley Centre, Ashley Road, Epsom, KT18 5AL.


Overnight Survival, Alice Holt Woods, Sat 28 May


Get close to nature with is Overnight Survival activity at Alice Holt Woods, where kids can build their own shelter and then sleep in it overnight. They’ll also cook their own meals and learn outdoor survival techniques. The bad news is, you don’t send them off on this adventure alone (or is that good news??). Kids must have an adult in tow – at least one adult for every two kids. The good news for dad though (cos let’s face it, we’re gonna send dad along aren’t we), is that he can sleep in a tent if he chooses. Spaces are limited, and booking is essential.

Alice Holt Forest, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, GU10 4LS. Cost: £40 child, £20 adult. Tel: 0300 067 4448.


Story Pocket Theatre ‘Arabian Nights’ & ‘A Pocketful of Grimms’, at Painshill, Jun 1 & 2


This will be worth booking ahead for the half-term. Story Pocket Theatre is bringing two shows to the Conservatory at Painshill gardens in Cobham. Arabian Nights sees a cast of three play more than 50 characters in this fast-moving and very funny show which tells the tale of Sheherazade, the great storyteller, who avoids execution by entertaining her husband, King Shahryar, with stories every night. In A Pocketful of Grimms, well-loved tales such as Hansel and Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin appear alongside Lily and the Lion (the original Beauty and the Beast) and some less well known stories including The Golden Goose and the very silly The Bird, the Mouse and the Sausage. Led by the Storyteller, the cast of four play a dizzying number of characters as the stories take the audience on an exciting journey through dark forests, enchanted castles, edible houses and ocean shores.

Painshill, Portsmouth Rd, Cobham KT11 1JE. Tel: 01932 868113. Tickets: £12 each, or see both shows on the same day £20 (includes entry to the gardens).


Edwardian Life, Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Sat 28 May – Sun 5 Jun


This May half term holiday, Hever Castle is offering a fun and educational day learning about the traditional Edwardian lifestyle. Soak up the Edwardian way of life by getting involved in daily activities such as costume characters, best dressed competition and traditional fairground games. Experience a traditional Edwardian school where old fashioned PE, reading, writing and arithmetic sessions will take place. Resident lepidopterist will also be running sessions throughout the day teaching the public about the study of butterflies and moths. 

11:30am-5pm, event included in admission: adult £16.50, child £15.50. Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG. Tel: 01732 865224. 


Pop Factor: The Concert, at Epsom Playhouse, Tues 31 May


Pre-teen klaxon alert: the Pop Factor UK tour comes to Epsom. A professional cast sing and dance their way through songs by the likes of Taylor Swift,  Justin Bieber, Little Mix and Fleur East. There are dance competitions with prizes, too, and a chance to meet the cast after the show for photos and autographs. Pop Factor will also be joined on stage by students from Stagecoach Epsom and The Big Act Theatre School.

Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Avenue, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5AL. Tel: 01372 724555. Tickets: £15.


Wild Learning Holiday Club, various venues and dates


Unharness the kids from their tablets and Xbox for a day of fun in the woods, building dens, making campfires, tracking and stalking climbing trees and stream dipping. But seriously, you’ll have to be quick, or lucky, to get a place. Some venues are sold out, others have some places left. There are waiting lists for all. It says it all really, though, about the popularity of these days. It might be worth booking now for the summer holidays.

Claremont Landscape Garden, Portsmouth Rd, Esher, KT10 9JG. Dates: 31 May (availability), 1 & 2 June (sold out, but there is a waiting list).
Winkworth Arboretum, Hascombe Rd, Godalming, GU8 4AD. Dates: May half term is sold out, although there is a waiting list for 31 May and 1 June. Bookings are being taken for the summer holidays.
Alice Holt Forest,
Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, GU10 4LS. Dates: May half term is sold out, although there is a waiting list. Bookings are being taken for the summer holidays.
Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, near Dorking, RH5 6BD. Dates: 31 May (availability), 1 June (sold out, but there is a waiting list).
The Chantries, Guildford, Pilrims way carpark, off Pilgrims Way, GU4 8AD. Dates: 31 May (availability), 1-3 June (sold out, but there is a waiting list).
Reigate, Earlswood Common, Earlswood Common car park A2044, Reigate, RH2 7QH. 2 & 3 June (availability).
Tel: 01483 424 400.


Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, at G Live, Guildford, 30 & 31 May

Dinosaur Zoo comes stampeding back to Guildford, this time bringing the awesome Tyrannosaurus Rex . Meet awesome Jurassic creatures face to face, including an arctic tyrannosaur, a baby triceratops and baby parasaurolophus. Suitable for ages 3+. Performances on Monday are at 2pm and 4.30pm, and on Tuesday at 11am and 2pm.

G Live, London Road, Guildford, GU1 2AA. Tel: 01483 369350. Tickets: £13.50-£16.


My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, 28-29 May

(L-R) Madison Whitley as the Lilac Fairy & Sara Maggini as Nurse perform during English National Ballet school's dress rehearsal of My First - Sleeping Beauty at The Peacock Theatre, London on March 23 2016. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

This is a great introduction to the ballet for little ones, aged three and up. There is a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music. It’s performed by second year students from English National Ballet School. On the Sunday there’s a workshop where the little ones can learn extracts from the production with the ENO dance artists, get up-close to the dazzling tutus and stunning scenery, and experience the thrill of dancing on stage.

New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, GU21 6GQ. Tel: 0844 871 7645. Tickets: £11-£26.


Horrible Histories and Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court Palace, Thurs 26 May – Thurs 2 June


I like the idea of Terrible Tudors actually being staged in a Tudor palace! Performed by the Birmingham Stage Company, performances last one hour and take place in the East Front Gardens of the palace. Open air, unreserved grass seating, so bring a blanket with you!

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Tickets: adults £10, children £5. Tel: 0844 482 7777.


Number Four Privet Drive, Harry Potter Studios, Fri 27 May – Mon 6 June


A little out of our area, but hey, Harry Potter fans are nothing if not devoted. So I must tell you about this limited opportunity to step inside Number Four, Privet Drive and peer into the Dursleys’ living room as the exterior set is opened especially for the Studio Tour’s anniversary celebrations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. During production, set decorators had lots of fun sourcing the ugliest sofas, worst tiles and most vulgar curtains possible. See for yourself and rejoice in your good taste!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR. Tickets: adults £35, children £27, family £107. Bookings a must.




Udderbelly Festival, South Bank, London, now to Sun 17 July

Lots of quirky stuff going on at Udderbelly, the annual theatre, alternative comedy, dance, acrobatics and kids festival. Head down to the South Bank (Udderbelly has London’s longest bar – just saying), pick a couple of shows, and enjoy the river vibe.

Crowns and Coronations, Family week, Windsor CastleSat 28 May 2016 to Sun 5 June 

To celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation, a whole week of sparkling crown making, activity trails around the State Apartments, storytelling and dress up at Windsor Castle. No nicking the ashtrays!

Running Wild, by Michael Morpurgo, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

A boy escaping a tsnumani in Indonesia runs straight into the jungle, miles from civilisation. Wonder and adventure turns to thoughts of his mum left behind on the beach, tigers prowling, hunger, and Will must learn how to survive in the rainforest. A new adapation of Running Wild. Let’s be blunt, it’s not going to be laugh-a-minute stuff, but moving? Without doubt.



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