Brighten up the half term holidays

Posted on: 13 February 2017 by 50connect editorial

Keep the whole family occupied this half term with Visit England's round-up of the best events across the country.

As snowdrops peep through to herald the approaching end of winter, February half term gives many reasons to rejoice in a home-grown holiday. From dazzling illuminations in Isle of Wight’s ancient woodland to circus, magic and live performance at Blackpool’s Showzam and gazing up above at the Dark Skies Festival, England has a host of family-friendly activities to brighten up the days.

Showzam, Blackpool

Weekend break for Showzam, Blackpool

11 – 14 February

This four-day festival by the sea celebrates magic, variety and live performance, providing entertainment for young and old, families and couples. Be wowed by some amazing street theatre and sideshows including the UK’s most flexible contortionist Pixie Le Knot, the girl in the goldfish bowl and the headless lady. Visitors can also expect hula hooping and comedy, magical wonder and effortless charm in what promises to be a thrilling festival for all the family. Many Showzam! events are free so why not make a short break of it and book your accommodation package - the St. Ives promenade hotel in St. Annes combines panoramic sea views and family friendly facilities. Make the most of the half term this February and enjoy reduced children’s rates, from £67 Bed and Breakfast.

Visit www.visitblackpool.com or www.thestiveshotel.co.uk for more information

Self-guided walking tour of Harry Potter locations, Oxford

For all those Potter-mad fans, celebrate VisitEngland’s Year of Literary Heroes as you retrace the steps of Harry and the gang across the city of Oxford. See the Tudor dining hall at Christ Church that inspired the Hogwarts Great Hall, as well as the staircase that was used several times during the films, including where the first years are met by Professor McGonagall at the beginning of the first film, and the Divinity School which features as the Hogwarts infirmary. Additionally, the cloisters at New College were also used as a location in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, including the infamous scene where Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret! Make a weekend of it with a stay in Hawkwell House just two miles from the historic city of Oxford and just a stone’s throw from the river Thames. Double rooms start at £89 per night.

Read more at www.experienceoxfordshire.org and www.hawkwellhouse.co.uk

Dark Skies Festival

Dark Skies Festival

North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and the South Downs National Parks
18 – 26 February

In addition to the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, the second ever Dark Skies Festival will this year encompass the South Downs National Park to celebrate discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result. This can include getting out for an activity such as cycling, walking or caving at night, attending a stargazing party or learning more about star constellations. Events include many family-friendly activities such as a state of the art, multimedia, indoor planetarium; rocket workshops and a series of stargazing events and talks. Most activities are under £5, many are free.

Learn more at www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk

Spy School at Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

13 – 17 February      

Calling all super sleuths, secret agents and intrepid investigators! Sharpen your detective skills with hands-on training in cracking codes and solving clues this half term. Adult £18.30/child £11/family £47.60/concession £16.50/ members free.

More information on www.english-heritage.org.uk/audley

Spirit of the Orient

Spirit of the Orient, The Electric Woods, Isle of Wight

27 January – 26 February (weekends)

As dusk falls, the stunning spectacle of oriental themed light takes effect as a dazzling array of coloured lanterns, flags and features bring the ancient woodland to life and capture the spirit of Chinese New Year. This year, the sound and light show tells the story of the ‘legend of the Rooster’ and how it came to be finally selected as one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The story telling theme continues with a mystical dragon who will recount traditional Chinese stories, before inviting children to take part in a fun and interactive dragon procession. From the 18th February, a colourful Chinese fan dance will be performed by a dance troupe of 20 artists in the woodland amphitheatre. Tickets cost £12.50 per person or £46 for a saver ticket (4 people). Children under 4 years are free.

Further details found at www.electricwoods.co.uk

A Great Escape, London Dungeon

From 11th February

Watch London's original escapologist as he plots his next escape from the London Dungeon. Before Houdini, there was Jack Shepherd, a petty thief who infamously escaped not one, not two, but four prisons by breaking through ceilings to picking locks! Guests will journey back to 1724 to come face-to-face with Jack at Newgate prison – where he has been caught by the thief catcher for the fifth time – and hear from the audacious convict as he tells the tales of escaping from four prisons. Alongside escape artist Jack Shepherd, guests will witness 1,000 years of London's dark past brought to life, including other famous villains who escaped the clutches of the law such as Jack the Ripper, to those who were less conspicuous in their escapades such as Guy Fawkes. Prices on the door £30 (adult), £24 (children).

Read more on www.thedungeons.com/london

Snowdrop planting

Snowdrop planting, Wallington, Northumberland

18 – 26 February

This half-term the gardening team at Wallington aims to plant 100,000 snowdrop bulbs, and they need your help. Get hands-on with nature and plant as many bulbs as you can to make the snowdrop walk even more spectacular. This is the third year of mass planting, so you can also admire the work so far. Why not make a day of it and head out for a wildlife adventure after? You may even spot a red squirrel. Price: Free event, normal admission charges apply.

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk for more information

Wild Adventure Week at Groombridge Place, Kent

13 – 19 February

Kids can get back to nature with den building, wildlife crafts, building a bug hotel and wildlife talks this February half term. They can explore the Enchanted Forest to enjoy playing and exploring Crusoe’s World, with its authentic large wooden ship complete with rope bridges, as well as giant tree swings, zip wire, suspension bridge, and rope swings. Families can also take up the challenge of den building in the enchanted forest and can follow a nature trail to see what wildlife can be discovered around Groombridge, before making a journey stick as a souvenir to take home. There will also be plenty of fun to be had with three jungle explorer shows per day. All the activities are free with admission.

Learn more at www.groombridgeplace.com

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