What's On This May Bank Holiday

Posted on: 15 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Keep the whole family entertained with our Bank Holiday weekend and half term ideas.

From sporty festivals to historic fetes, storytelling to spy science, there's plenty going on to celebrate May's second Bank Holiday, and keep kids as well as grown-ups entertained throughout half-term. Here's a taste of what's on offer around Britain.

Treasure Island, Smugglers & Salty Seadogs, Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

A packed weekend of nautical fun, complete with pirates, smugglers, privateers and sea dogs. Watch a children's musical adaptation of the classic Treasure Island which tells the story of young Jim Hawkins as he set sail in search of buried treasure. See duelling pirates armed with cutlasses and swords demonstrate their fighting skills and learn about their flamboyant lifestyle. Meet Mrs Cook - played by one half of comedy duo Inner State Theatre - mother of Whitby's most famous son, Captain Cook as she boasts of her boy's many exploits. The English Heritage event takes place from 24th to 26th May, from 11am.

Asparagus Auction, Asparagus Festival & Evening Ceilidh, The Fleece Inn, Worcestershire

Come along for the National Trust's evening Asparagus Auction to open the annual Vale Asparagus Festival, on 25th May from 7pm to 10pm. Join in the festival with a Farmers' Market, Craft Fayre and Hook Norton's Dray Horses, on 26th May from 11am onwards, and finish the day at the evening ceilidh with a twist of asparagus.

Licence To Thrill At The Lookout Discovery Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire

To coincide with the centenary of James Bond author, Ian Fleming, The Lookout Discovery Centre will be offering children and adults alike the opportunity to enter the world of spies and become the next James Bond. The centre's brand new family show - 'Shh! The Sneaky Secret Spy Science Show' - will show children how to take fingerprints, hear through solid walls and even how to find a bomb. The show is being held four times daily over the half-term week.

Cheese Rolling, Coopers Hill, Brockworth, Gloucestershire

A passion for cheese is not necessary for this annual event, always held on the second Bank Holiday Monday in May, which involves daredevils hurling themselves down the steep, grassy slopes of Coopers Hill in pursuit of a Double Gloucester cheese. There are four downhill races in total including one for the ladies. The race starts with the master of ceremonies rolling a 7- 8 lb (4kg) cheese down the hill. Dozens of competitors, who in the past have varied from Belgian international football players to Gurkhas run, roll and somersault down the hill after it. Due to a 1:2 gradient it is unusual for runners to stay in control all the way down. The winner takes home the cheese as well as a few cuts and bruises.

Great Fun With Great White Sharks, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire

It's Shark Week at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea this half-term, where visitors can learn all about the secret world of these man-eating mammals. There will be regular talks and feeding demonstrations taking place throughout the week for families to enjoy. Visitors can also enjoy an undersea tour through the aquarium's underwater walkthrough tunnel, where they will come face-to-face with Jaws.

Baby Boom At Woburn Safari Park, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Spring is in the air with lots of rare baby animals to be seen on a safari drive through Woburn Safari Park. From the comfort of a car, families can spot a number of new additions roaming the 350 acres of land, including three baby bisons; a rare Bongo antelope calf; a Red Bellied Lemur; and three lion cubs. Other animals strolling the grounds include tigers, bears, wolves, giraffe, rhino, elephants and zebra. This half-term there will also be a special funfair suitable for small children.

The Big Green Picnic, Quay Street, Newport

As part of the Isle of Wight Council's vision to turn the Island into the first Eco-Island, there will be a Big Green Picnic for locals and visitors alike. Expect lots of local food, arts & crafts and live music as well as the latest info on saving the planet. It's on 24th and 25th May, from 10am to 7pm each day.

Skye Storytelling Festival & Glendale 2008 Gathering

The Glendale Gathering brings people close to the storytelling traditions of Highland Scotland in the unspoilt north west of Skye. This event is based in Glendale village, in outdoor locations around Glendale and in local ceilidh houses, from 23rd to 25th May. This year, 100 years ago, Glendale established what no Highland Community ever achieved before, a community buy-out to gain ownership of their crofts and estate. Accommodation is available in self-catering chalets or BB. Camping is also possible in the glen, while lunch and evening meals will be offered in An Strupag, the local café and licensed restaurant.

Record-Breaking Fun At Legoland, Windsor, Berkshire

Set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland, this family theme park has recently made history by constructing the world's tallest tower of Lego bricks. Visitors can now marvel at the new record-breaking structure, which is made up of almost half a million Lego bricks to celebrate 50 years of the popular children's toy. The 100ft high structure was built by thousands of children and their families and is designed to resemble a Viking longboat mast to mark the opening of the brand new seven million pound Land of the Vikings. The Land of the Vikings features seven new attractions for families to explore, including the park's biggest and wettest ride to date - the Viking's River Splash.

Bike The Wight, Shanklin & Islandwide

Did you know that 20 miles of cycling a week can halve your heart attack risk? This May, you can kick-start the habit at the Big Wight Festival Mountain Bike Festival - a combination of superb riding events to suit the whole family with on-site camping, catering and entertainment. It's at Ninham Country Holidays, from 23th to 26th May.

A Taste Of Spain 2008 - A New World Record? Regent Street, London

Dancers can register to take part in the Guinness World Record attempt for the largest Sevillanas dance on 25th May. Regent Street will be closed to traffic from 12pm to 4pm, where Andalucian bands will provide music for dance lessons. Some stores are offering money off and Spanish food and drink. A live screening will be shown in Heddon Street with further live music from Andalucia beginning at 4pm to entertain those who wish to continue dancing into the night. A Taste of Spain 2008 will last a further two weeks running until 8th June with events in stores and restaurants. A programme of live performances are also planned for Heddon Street and Swallow Street, the Regent Street food quarters, which will be serving Spanish delicacies, wine and more.

Courtesy of Bodies of BanffNew Festival Coming To Banff & Macduff

The COAST Festival of the Visual Arts is a new annual festival coming to Banff and Macduff from 23th to 26th May 2008. The event has been established to promote the visual arts in many forms, with the aim of boosting tourism and developing the arts community in the area. Set to become a permanent fixture on Scotland's events calendar, the festival in 2008 will feature exhibitions, an affordable art market, a food fair, music events, demonstrations, talks and participatory workshops for all age ranges.

Sea Kayak Festival, Stackpole Estate, Pembrokeshire

Explore the coves, caves and cliffs of Pembrokeshire and learn about its resident wildlife and environmental issues. This popular and environmentally-friendly event is run by the National Trust in conjunction with the Welsh Canoe Association. Some canoeing experience essential. Booking essential. Charges apply. Price includes accommodation and food. Camping options/day tickets also available - ask for details. 24 May - 26 May Pricing All Tickets £100

Weapons Of War, Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Join English Heritage for this exploration of weapons through the ages, and even take the chance to try your hand at firing a model cannon, from 25th May to 1st June, from 11am to 4pm.

Elizabethan Week, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Enjoy a week of Elizabethan-style entertainment in preparation for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth I. Visitors will experience the music, games and riddles, and sword fighting that were the traditional entertainments of the time. See how life really was in Tudor times as Tudor folk take over the castle on the Sunday and Monday of the bank holiday weekend. The English Heritage event is open from 25th to 30th May, 11am to 5pm.

Super Nature With Spring Fling, Dumfries & Galloway

Artists collective, CNN, presents a live arts event for Spring Fling 2008, which offers a chance to explore the beautiful environment of Dumfries and Galloway through the arts. Super Nature will revisit, update and reinterpret the 1970s American urban disco experience à la Saturday Night Fever. Experience performance, music and wildlife, within the magical setting of Balloch Woods community woodland. Join in with your most sensible footwear for an unforgettable guided night time walk full of artful surprises and specially commissioned light installations in the pulsing heart of the forest. A fun spectacle for all the family, the evening adds a new type of arts experience to the open studio which is at the heart of Spring Fling. Best experienced after dark, the event runs from 8pm until midnight, meeting at Adamson Square, Creetown, where parking is available and transport will take you to the site.

Willow Sculpture, Family Fun Day, Printing Demonstrations & Movers & Shakers, Cherryburn, Northumberland

Make a small willow sculpture to take home at a drop-in session with the National Trust on 24th May from 1pm to 4pm, suitable for adults and children aged over 7 years as some strength is needed to bend willow. On 25th May from 1pm to 4pm, there's an afternoon of family activities, with folk music and song for all ages from local band 'Canny Crack', and children can join in playing simple instruments supplied by the band. There's a prize for the best laid out picnic in the 'Posh Picnic' competition. Also, printing demonstrations using traditional methods on original hand presses take place on Sunday afternoon. If you're travelling a long way for the event please ring first to ensure the printer is available. Movers & Shakers on 26th May from 1pm to 4pm is especially suitable for younger children, try 'movement play' and create music using a variety of percussive instruments.

Web Links

Lookout Discovery Centre: www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/lookout

Cheese Rolling: www.cheese-rolling.co.uk

Blue Reef Aquarium: www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk

Portsmouth Tourism: www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Woburn Safari Park: www.discoverwoburn.co.uk

Big Green Picnic: www.iwight.com/biggreenpicnic/whats_on.asp

Isle of Wight Tourism: www.islandbreaks.co.uk

Scottish Storytelling Centre: www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk

Legoland: www.legoland.co.uk

Big Wight Festival Mountain Bike Festival: www.trailbreak.co.uk/bigwight

Regent Street: www.regentstreetonline.com

Taste Spain: www.tastespain.info

Greater London Authority: www.london.gov.uk/bigdance

Coast Festival: www.coastfestival.org.uk

Spring Fling: www.artandcraftsouthwestscotland.com/springfling

South East Tourism: www.visitsoutheastengland.com/familyfun

Scotland Tourism: www.visitscotland.com

National Trust: www.nationaltrust.org.uk - search for events around England and Wales.

English Heritage: www.english-heritage.org.uk - search for events around England.

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