The half-term survival guide, Feb 2016
Wasn’t it only, like, five minutes ago we were shining their shoes and sending our younglings back to school? No? Oh really? It just feels that way then! And here they are off again for a whole week. But worry not, I have put together a bumper half-term guide – to keep them busy, and you sane.
The Little Match Girl, Epsom Playhouse, Feb 18
A magical and mischievous twist on this well-known tale told through puppetry, song and light play. It’s the story of a little girl who, left alone one evening and desperate to get warm, lights the matches that she has been selling. With each match, she is transported by its warmth to the scents behind the glass. This one’s for the little ‘uns, so ages 3+.
Spring lambing, Bocketts Farm, Fetcham
It’s spring lambing at Bocketts Farm, and with 70 of the cute little bundles due to pop into the world from February onwards, there’s a good chance you might even see one being born. If the thought of that makes you feel a bit squeamish, there’s plenty else to amuse – from birds of prey flying demos, miniature Shetland ponies to meet and groom in the “pony parlour”, pedal go-karts, jumping pillows, pig racing, pony rides, and more.
Bocketts Farm, Young Street, Fetcham, KT22 9BS. bockettsfarm.co.uk
Alice Holt, Wild Learning Holiday Club, Mon 15 & Tues 15 Feb
This is one where you drop them off for the day to have bucketloads of fun in the woods, building dens, making campfires, tracking and stalking climbing trees and stream dipping. It’s that good old-fashioned outdoor fun, and you can feel a little smug in the knowledge that they’ll probably learn a thing or two as well. It’s aimed at 5-12 year olds. Drop-off is 10.15am and pick up is 4pm. It’s £38 for the day and booking is essential.
Family Ghost Tours, Ham House, Richmond, Mon 15 – Fri 19 Feb
We’re going on a ghost hunt, it’s going to be a good one. Oh, hang on, that was bears wasn’t it. But at Ham House, the 17th century National Trust house in Richmond, it’s all about the spirits lurking in the shadows. There have been reports of up to 15 different ghosts, and if you’re brave enough you can search them out on a family ghost tour. Booking is essential, and tickets are £9.50. and can be booked by calling 0844 249 1895.
Ham House and Garden, Ham Street, Ham, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7RS. nationaltrust.org.uk
Secret Lives of Insects, RHS Garden Wisley, 13-21 Feb
You’re little ones can learn how pollinating insects move, eat and taste with planting activities and crafts. Paint your own butterfly, design a leaf and butterfly hat or create a wiggly caterpillar – the free activities vary daily but are all centred around insects. Sessions are 10.30am-12.30pm or 1pm-3.30pm.
RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, GU23 6QB. rhs.org.uk
Fantastic Food! G Live, Guildford, Sat 20 Feb
Eat, drink and be merry (oh yes!) at the G Live Family Day, with stories, workshops, activities and shows throughout the day from 10am-4pm. Among the shows are Cake, a brand-new theatre show that takes to the kitchen to tell a story of a heroic knight who sets out to do battle with a vicious enemy, threatening a large cake and the community that live inside it. It’s suitable for ages 4 plus. For slightly older kids, there’s the Comedy Club 4 Kids, which brings the best comedians to Guildford to give you ribtickling giggles, but without the rude bits. Jokes and japes for everyone over 6 years old.
G Live, London Rd, Guildford GU1 2AA. glive.co.uk
Secret Lives of Dogs, Polesden Lacey, Sat 13 – Sun 21 Feb
First insects, now dogs. A fun family trail for the school holidays. Go and uncover the hidden secrets of Mrs Greville’s beloved pets. Mrs Greville, the last owner of Polesden, was a bit of a dog lover, and these trails follow some of her favourite walking routes in theWith 1,400 acres of grounds. Kids can borrow free binoculars to add to the fun. Normal admission prices apply, plus £2 per trail.
Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BD.
Tel: 01372 452048. nationaltrust.org.uk
Wild Woodland Camp, Painshill, 16–18 Feb
Another all-dayer to get them off the X-box and outdoors. At the Wild Woodland Camp at Painshill they’ll learn tracking, wild art, bush craft and den building. It’s from 9am-4pm, so they’ll be out of your hair all day, and guaranteed to come home weary. It’s £40 for the day, and for children aged 8-13 years. Advanced booking is a must.
Painshill, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, KT11 1JE. Tel: 01932 868113. painshill.co.uk
Watts Gallery Artists Village, half-term activities, various dates
If you’re small ones’ fancy getting arty, there are workshops at Watts Gallery Artists Village. On Sat 13 Feb, the older kids (ages 11-16) can learn how to use a sewing machine to create a tote bag with artist Elizabeth Cake, which they’ll decorate using a stamp they’ve designed and made themselves. The cost is £15, and advanced booking is a must. The workshop runs from 10.30am-4pm. Click here to book. And for the younger ones, there’s Make! Crafty Creatures, two-hour craft sessions for children aged 5+, from Wed 17 to Fri 19 Feb. They’ll draw sketches and then make the animals come to life in sculpture with artist Anna Hennings. Sessions are at 11am and 2pm, and, again, bookings are essential. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Click here to book.
Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, 10–21 Feb
It’s worth a trip to London for this treasure trove of children’s activities. The theme for this year’s two-week festival is Roald Dahl, and you can expect loads of events including dance, theatre, music and film, as well as workshops and readings from some of the UK’s top authors. Highlights include The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl, a new interactive experience that takes visitors on a magical journey through Roald Dahl’s imagination; and David Baddiel, the comedian and best-selling children’s author talks about his latest children’s book The Person Controller (13 Feb). Events can sell out, so book early.