50 Ways To Keep The Kids Busy In May Half Term


May half term is nearly upon us. Luckily, there’s lots going on all over the UK during the holidays between Monday 29th May – Sunday 4th June 2017.

If you live in London, we’ve put together 50 great day trip ideas to inspire you. But if you want to pack up the family for a longer road-trip, we’ve researched where you can go for the best weekend breaks in the UK, from Scotland right down to Lands End in Cornwall.

weekend breaks in the UK screenshot

And if you fancy flying away from the winter and grabbing some much needed sun – here’s where’s hot in May.

But to those of you staying at home, whatever your budget and location, here are some other things to do (including freebies).

What’s on in London

The Great Court at the British Museum

The Great Court at the British Museum

1. The British Museum has recently become one of the most popular places to visit in London and it has free workshops over half term too.

2. The V&A Museum of Childhood is a great place to go in east London and it’s also free. It has great collections of toys throughout the ages and oodles of interactive exhibits to tinker with. Adults can also get all nostalgic too, and this half term, it’s been turned into a giant board game, to celebrate the museum’s Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered exhibition.

The cavernous V & A Museum of Childhood, which has a cafe & meeting area right at its heart

The cavernous V & A Museum of Childhood, which has a cafe & meeting area right at its heart

3. Go see a matinee – there are plenty of family friendly theatre shows in the West End during the May half term. Try The Lion King – brilliant music, stunning sets, a fantastic cast in an array of costumes. or the magical Matilda, which is really funny.

London’s off-West End and fringe theatre scene is also great for kids, and even has venues devoted entirely to younger audiences. Islington’s famous Little Angel Theatre has puppet shows suitable for ages 3-11, while the Unicorn Theatre’s The Hunting Lodge is aimed at tweens and teens.

4. Comedy Club 4 Kids features well-known comics, performing special child-friendly sets, in venues around London – including Wimbledon, Deptford, Hayes and Soho. There will also be shows during the half-term week in Chichester, Guildford, Brighton, Salford, Leicester, Ipswich and Norwich.

5. Grab the kids for a James Bond-esque experience on the Thames Jet Boat Rush. Along with the speedy bits there is also a bit of irreverent commentary on the London riverside landmarks. Or head up high and visit the View from the Shard.

St James's Park

St James’s Park

6. Use your loaf and feed the ducks in St James’s Park for free. The Royal Parks always have some half-term wildlife activities on offer, many of them free. To discover our picks and find out what’s on – read our post on London parks.

7. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford is home to the London Aquatics Centreone of the finest swimming pools in the world. You can also try cycling at the Velodrome, tennis at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, and lots of other sports over the school holidays.

8. While you’re in the park, take the lift up to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, see the sights, and then climb (or slide) back down.

Night View from ArcelorMittal Orbit

Night View from ArcelorMittal Orbit

9. Head to the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford for the fantastic world of Dr. Seuss.

10. Book in for some indoor ice-skating at Alexandra Palace.

11. Hit the South Bank and wander down London’s cultural Thames walk, stopping off at one of the family-friendly cafes and restaurants alongside the river. This half term, the Southbank Centre will be hosting Adventures in Moominland.

12. Spend a memorable day in the Tower of London. You’ll learn all about the Tower’s history (more than a thousand years of it) and meet the people that actually live and work there too.

13. Take the kids to see something different at one of London’s independent cinemas. A lot of the venues run special kids clubs during half term or screenings for toddlers groups.

Ritzy (c) Picturehouse Cinema Group

Ritzy (c) Picturehouse Cinema Group

14. Challenge the kids to some vintage board games at Draughts in Haggerston – they have more than 500 games to choose from.

15. There’s loads of free half-term activities at the Museum of London – including Mudlarks sessions at the Museum of London Docklands.

16. Take a jaunt around ZSL London Zoo and get to know over 650 species of wildlife, including many exotic and endangered species. Make sure you check when the feeding times and daily demonstrations are by the keepers.

Science Museum (c) V&A estates department.

Science Museum (c) V&A estates department.

17. Experiment in your week off at the Science Museum in London’s South Kensington.

18. Pop along to the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. There’s lots of interesting exhibits to capture the imagination of kids and adults alike – and they have half-term activities for the children to get involved with.

19. While you’re in the area – explore the magical and historical collections in the Victoria & Albert Museum with 1000s of items of cultural significance from all over the world.

V&A Exterior (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A Exterior (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

20. Get the guided Harry Potter Bus Tour of London for Two and visit the sites used in the film – including Gringotts Bank, and Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross.

21. Buy an Oyster card and spend the day taking the bus around town. Routes 24, RV1, and 11 are good, cheaper alternatives to a sightseeing bus.

22. Visit your local library to pick up some books. Even better, make a day of it and visit the world renowned British Library, it’s modern and right near Kings Cross St Pancras. Their current exhibition looks at pantomimes, circuses and entertainment in the Victorian era.

23. Head out of town to Surrey and visit the Maze, Henry VIII’s State Apartments, the vast Tudor kitchens and more at Hampton Court Palace.

Sunken Garden at Hampton Court

Sunken Garden at Hampton Court

24. Walk along the Thames path and take in the sights – get your free walking guide here.

25. And don’t worry if the weather is wet – we’ve got plenty of suggestions for things to do in London when it rains.

Outside London

26. Stroll across acres of beautiful English countryside and watch lions, tigers, elephants, hippos and giraffes out and about in one of Europe’s largest conservation areas at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, in Dunstable.

27. Get out of the cold and visit Bodyflight near Milton Keynes, where you can try indoor skydiving and fly around the specially-built chamber. You could go for an adventure pass and also try indoor surfing and climbing on a day experience pass.


28. @ Think Tank is the is a series of events for kids at the Birmingham Science Museum, which includes workshops, animation and story telling. Lots of activities are free or under £10.

East Sussex

29. Meet racoons, meerkats, lemurs and snakes at the animal experiences at Drusillas Park in Alfriston. You can feed some of the animals, while others you have the chance to pet and get to know on your behind-the-scenes tour.

Dorset and Hampshire
30. Saddle up this half-term and mosey on down to the New Forest and try the Cowboy Riding Trail. This two-hour horse trail will give you a chance to discover more about the wildlife in the forest as well as having a barbecue at the end to share your experiences.

If you fancy making at longer break out of it with your posse – we’ve found plenty of things to do in this beautiful county, including Poole Harbour, Bournemouth and more things going on in the New Forest – Dorset weekend breaks.

View from Alum Chine of Bournemouth Pier. VisitEngland & Bournemouth Tourism

View from Alum Chine of Bournemouth Pier. VisitEngland & Bournemouth Tourism


31. The famous university city has several world class museums – here’s more suggestions for things to do in Oxford.

32. We’ve found the best places to have breakfast with the kids, and also picked out 15 of our favourite Brighton hotels to stay in. Here are 44 things to do in Brighton to keep you entertained.

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion

33. Every half term the Peterborough Museum has activities for youngsters of all ages. This half term, there’ll be a…

34. Get your walking boots on, grab a packed lunch and take the kids for a stroll around The Lake District – home to children’s author Beatrix Potter and The World of Beatrix Potter.

If you’re planning on going for more than a day – read our suggested places to visit in the Lake District – England’s largest National Park.

West Somerset

35. Get the family on the historic West Somerset Railway train. You’ll visit the Exmoor Coast and Quantock Hills on your tour as well as Dunster Castle and Minehead on this hop-on-off steam train.

36. Diggerland is a fun-packed theme park with 18 different rides, drives and attractions using real full sized construction machinery set in 15 acres of adventure park surroundings. They also have parks in Devon, Kent and Yorkshire.

East Yorkshire
37. The Deep in Hull is one of the biggest aquariums in the UK and has more than 3,500 fish including sharks and rays. If you have small children and live fairly locally – get a day plus pass which allows unlimited entry for a year (some t&cs apply).

Hull has also been named 2017’s UK City of Culture, and there’ll be several family-friendly events happening over the holidays, including the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Harry Potter

The Making of Harry Potter (c) Warner Bros. Studio Tour

38. Head to Hertfordshire and Kings Langley for The Warner Bros. Studio Tours – the Making of Harry Potter. See the Great Hall, Hagrid’s Hut and the Knight Bus, and discuss all this over a butterbeer at the end of the tour.

West Yorkshire
39. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Halifax have a whole range of activities for disabled children, with their Access all Areas programme.

Spinnaker Tower (c) Portsmouth City Council

Spinnaker Tower (c) Portsmouth City Council

40. The Blue Reef Aquarium has more than 30 living displays, as well as informative talks and feeding demonstrations. They also have Aquariums in Hastings, Newquay and Tynemouth. If you’re in the area – here are our 15 things to do in Portsmouth.

Ripon, North Yorkshire
41. The Lightwater Valley Theme Park has a thrilling line-up of rides, including Europe’s longest rollercoaster, The Ultimate, as well as the stomach churning mighty Eagle’s Claw and The Hornet’s Nest.

42. We’ve found 100 Things To Do In Edinburgh, from visiting the zoo to seeing the city in a whole new light at the Camera Obscura experience. If you want to make it a longer trip – here are our suggestions for a week or weekend break in Scotland.

Cairngorm National Park Highlands Picture Credit : P.Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint

Cairngorm National Park Highlands
Picture Credit : P.Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint


43. Head to Drayton Manor. Rides and attractions are set in 280 acres of lakes and parkland – including Apocalypse, the world’s first stand up tower drop, and Shockwave, Europe’s only stand up rollercoaster.


44. Bark up the right tree at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum near Tetbury. This half term’s activity programme includes tree bark-themed craft sessions and challenges. The Arboretum also has more than 15,000 tree and shrub specimens from around the world, nature walks and specially created trails for different age groups.

45. Find out how they battled it out in the medieval days on a trip to Warwick Castle. Among the historical highlights this half-term are a live show featuring the world’s largest working catapault, and a maze inspired by the wildly popular Horrible Histories series.

46. Go to Legoland Windsor., and take a stroll around town too. You’ll easily spot the castle and can walk over the bridge to Eton riverside. We’ve put together 18 Royally Good Things To Do In Windsor to keep you and the kids entertained.

View from York Minster

View from York Minster

47. Have a grand old day in York. Choose from over 50 attractions in and beyond York with a York Pass – including Europe’s largest Gothic Cathedral York Minster, the Jorvik Viking Museum and the world famous Castle Museum. Tickets from £20.

48. SeeWales Gower Walking Tour includes glorious golden stretches of sandy beaches, spectacular cliff top views and ancient monuments – all part of the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Venues all over the UK
49. Try a visit to Sea Life – based in Scarborough, Loch Lomond, Brighton, Birmingham, Blackpool, Great Yarmouth Great and Weymouth .

50. Take to the treetops at Go Ape, with family tickets available. They have nearly 30 locations up and down the country from Aberdeen in Scotland to Exeter in Devon. Just strap on the safety harness and roam across the forest canopy.

Feeling inspired?


Walking in London

We have plenty of places to stay in London if you’re thinking of heading down for the week or weekend during February half term.

For the latest London events – check out our weekly what’s on in London round-up.


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