34 activities to do with the kids this half-term break

Meet the resident hedgehog at Pensthorpe's Bee a Nature Explorer event this half term

Meet the resident hedgehog at Pensthorpe's Bee a Nature Explorer event this half term - Credit: Archant

What is it really half-term already? Yes, it seems like only yesterday they went back after Christmas but the schools are out again. Fear not though, SIMON PARKIN has plenty of ideas for events and activities to keep the kids happy.


Bee a Nature Explorer

Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, February 14-22, 10am-4pm daily, included in normal admission £11.25 (£9.50 cons), £9.75 children, 01328 851465, www.pensthorpe.com Half term offers the chance to 'beecome' nature explorers at Pensthorpe on a trail, which is themed around shelters and keeping warm through the winter, to find out more about the fascinating species at the nature park. With den building and three outdoor 'photo booths', you can get creative and capture photographs of your family while nature-loving children can seek out hedgehog clues across the park and have the opportunity to make their own 'Hector the Hedgehog' out of natural materials. There will also be nature activities and puzzles, plus spot the park's resident red squirrels and hedgehogs.

Ring Quest

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, near Lackford, Suffolk, February 14-22, from 10am, £5 (£3 cons), £3 children, under-5s free, £15 family, 01284 728718, www.weststow.org Following on from the final part of the Hobbit trilogy, explore the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village & Country Park in this JRR Tolkien themed family adventure. Find the clues, solve the riddles and help hold back the forces of evil from the lands of Mordor. At the weekends, meet Orcs and other characters from Middle Earth, and walk through the Mirkwood paths! There is a themed tour of the stories of JRR Tolkien and their links to the Anglo-Saxons led by a Ranger of the North. A 'Defence of the Realm' training session with Ormsgard offers the chance to get hands on experience as you learn the techniques and weaponry used to defend against raiding parties and even Orcs! Extra activities can be booked on the day (subject to availability).

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Love Our Birds

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, February 14-22, 10am-4pm, children free, normal reserve prices apply to adults (plus challenge sheet £1), 01603 715191, www.rspb.org.uk Take part in this half-term self guided trail. The birds are getting busy; it's the season for finding a mate and house hunting. Take part in our nest building challenge – can you build a nest to withstand the wind? Children's entry is free. Complete our challenge sheet (£1) for a small prize.

Signs of Spring Week

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, South Walsham, February 14-22, 10am-5pm, garden entry £6.20 (£5.70 cons) £3.65 children, under-5s free, 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk Explore the Fairhaven garden, look out for signs of spring and win a prize on the special half-term trail. On February 18 (11am-3pm) help create a giant woodland collage with materials found in the garden. Look out for photographs of the finished result online. Both activities are free with garden entry.

Half-Term Activities

Holt Country Park, February 16-18, various times, £1 per child, adults free, www.northnorfolk.org North Norfolk District Council's Countryside Rangers are hosting a range of activities for children and adults at Holt Country Park during half-term. On February 16 (10.30am-12.30pm) learn how to survive in the woods and build an outdoor shelter from woodland material without any tools. Explore the woods for winter wildlife on February 18 (1pm-3pm). Enjoy a mini beast hunt, followed by scavenger hunt. Learn about the different trees and how birds and mammals survive in winter. Make a leaf crown, bird mask and bird feeder to take home. There's no need to book in advance, just turn up on the day.

Heroes & Villains

Framlingham Castle, February 16-20, 11am-4pm, £6.90 (£6.20 cons), £4.10 children, under-5s free, 0870 333118, www.english-heritage.org.uk Deadly enemies and bitter battles, choose your side and start your training in this historical event running throughout half-term. Pick up your sword and advance in the drill, hear astonishing tales of your favourite rogues and plot your ambush of Framlingham Castle.

Wild Animal Tracking

Sheringham Park, February 17-18, 10.30am-12.30pm, £2.25, £4.25 children, 01263 820550, www.nationaltrust.org.uk Foxes, badgers and deer live all live in Sheringham Park but are seldom seen. This guided event offers the opportunity to learn how to follow the trails these animals make and spot the tell-tale signs they leave behind. Learn the signs animals leave behind and make a plastercast print. Then take a walk off the beaten track to look for animal signs ' footprints, feeding signs and poo. Finally we'll check our camera trap to see animal activity from the night before

Wiz Around Oz

St John's Church, Broad Street, Harleston, February 20, 2pm, £5, £4 children (4-12), under-3s free, £18 family, 01379 853258, email harlestonsfuture@gmail.com If you are one of the many millions of people who love Dorothy, her ruby slippers and her adventures searching for the elusive Wizard of Oz, you should follow the Yellow Brick Road to Harleston. The Walking Theatre Company, which produces a unique brand of interactive outdoor theatre, will be transforming Harleston town centre into the magical world of Oz. Gather at St John's Church in Broad Street for a 2pm start, and will be led on a route around the town encountering Dorothy who has lost Toto, the Cowardly Lion who has lost the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch who has lost the plot,and the Great Wiz who has lost his marbles!

Family Survival School

Sheringham Park, February 20, 10.30am-3.30pm, £5, £10 children, 01263 820550, www.nationaltrust.org.uk Hone your survival skills with a bitesize bushcraft adventure. Build a shelter, light a fire and cook your own lunch with foraged food. Has your family got what it takes to survive in the wild? Make your own weatherproof shelter and get a fire started without using matches. We will then see if we can find wild-growing ingredients to make lunch. Be dressed for a full day out in the Norfolk backwoods!

Star Night

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, South Walsham, February 21, 7pm, £3.50, £2 children, 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk Telescopes, talks and teas all evening at this special event in partnership with Norwich Astronomical Society that will have eyes cast skywards into the heavens. Mark Thompson, from BBC Stargazing Live and BBC's The One Show will be giving talks during the evening. Visitors are welcome to bring your own telescope if you have one. Wrap up warm. No torches though - it destroys your night vision. Hot snacks, teas and coffees will be available in the tearoom from 7pm. No need to book.


Half Term Adventures

Ickworth Estate, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, February 14-22, 11am-4pm, free event normal admission prices, 0844 2491895, nationaltrust.org.uk

Ickworth hosts a variety of children's craft activities in the cosy comfort of our West Wing gallery. Make and take home some fun spring time items snuggle up in the story corner. If the weather isn't too bad, you can always head outside and become a nature detective.

Tree Tops to Leaf Litter

Time and Tide Museum, Blackfairs Road, Great Yarmouth, February 14-15, 12pm-3pm, included in museum admission, 01493 743930, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Trees can be habitat for insects from Purple Emperor Butterflies to milepedes and woodlice. Look at how leaves become leaf litter and follow the 'Leafing through Leaf litter' trail to discover which bugs live where in Norfolk's woodland.

Teddy Bear Express

Bure Valley Railway, Wroxham Station, February 14-22, 9am-5pm, £12.50 return, £6.50 children, £33 family, 01263 733858, www.bvrw.co.uk

Join the Bure Valley Railway mascot bear for a week of fun. There is free travel for every child when accompanied by a fare-paying adult (max 2 children per adult). There is also a children's competition to see how many teddy bears can be spotted on the journey. Don't forget your own teddy so Railway Bear is not lonely!

Half-Term Duxford

IWM Duxford, Cambridgeshire, February 14-22, daily from 10am, £22.50, £13.75 children, £45.65 family, 01223 835000, www.iwm.org.uk

February half term activities at Duxford include shared stories about the people and equipment that won the Second World War. Daily (10.30am-2.30pm), marvel at the impressive Avro Lancaster, find out how it works, the crew it carried and the role each played in a mission. Also (12.30pm-3pm) explore the career of Field Marshal Montgomery.

Magpie's Treasure Trove

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, February 16-20, 10am-4pm, £9.90 (£8.60 cons), £6.50 under-18s, under-4s free, £29-£20 family, 01362 869263, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

A treasure hunt with a difference as Gressenhall reopens for half-term. A mischievous Magpie has got into the museum and has collected lots of treasures. How many of them can you find? Meanwhile in the Chapel enjoy mesmerising performances from The Fools Puppet Theatre Companie. Each day they will be staging three enchanting shows, including The Legend of the Magpie.

Family Fun Day

The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, February 17, 11am-3pm, £10, £5 under-25s, £22.40 family, 01603 283382, www.thegarage.org.uk

A fun-filled family day packed with lots of activities and an array of taster workshops taking place throughout the day. Try your hand at drama classes, learn funky dance moves and street dance routines, song and actions from your favourite musicals.

Carousels and Candy Floss

Lynn Museum, King's Lynn, February 17, 11am-2pm, £2, 01553 775001, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Engineer Fred Savage of King's Lynn made fairground rides. Each was a masterpiece, not only of engineering, but also of flamboyant art and craftsmanship. At this event day you can make your own Galloper Carousel and imagine how people years ago would have enjoyed when the fair came to town.

Astronutty Adventure

intu Chapelfield, Norwich, February 17-18, free admission, 01603 753344, intu.co.uk/chapelfield

Intergalactic visitors the Boov – stars of the upcoming DreamWork's animated adventure Home – take over Chapelfield. Space and adventure workshops run from 10am–4pm giving little ones the opportunity to get really crafty making clay aliens, alien masks and finger puppets.

Scooby's Street School

The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, February 19-20, 9.30am-3pm, £40, 01603 283382, thegarage.org.uk

Two days of holiday dance fun for 7-11 year olds at The Garage with legendary tutor Scooby, his first ever two-day street dance school. You will be put through your paces, play games and dance. Plus participants will learn one of Scooby's routines to perform to an audience of family at the end of the second day.

The Butterfly Club

Assembly House, Norwich, February 21, 11am, £7, £5 children (£18 ticket including a signed copy of book), 01603 767292, www.waterstones.com/events

Special lunch event of the new novel by Jacqueline Wilson. Hear the bestselling children's author discussing her career and The Butterfly Club, the story of Tina a triplet who has always been the odd one out. When the girls are split into different classes by scary, super-strict teacher Miss Lovejoy, Tina has to fend for herself for the first time. There will be no book signing after the talk but there will be an opportunity for children to ask questions.

Family shows


Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until February 13, 7.30pm, 2pm Feb 12, £20.50-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

A cocktail of innovative storytelling, circus and live percussion, the stage adaptation of Zizou Corder's Lionboy that follows young adventurer Charlie Ashanti as he seeks to free his parents from the clutches of an evil corporation in a dystopian future — chiefly through the use of his unusual ability to talk to cats (and some very big circus ones at that). The show has proved a critical success thanks to the imaginative adaptation by award-winning theatre company Complicite, tafckling a children's show for the first time.

Room on the Broom

Norwich Playhouse, February 12, 1pm, 4pm/February 13, 10.30am, 1pm/February 14-15, 11am, 1.30pm, £11, 01603 598598, norwichplayhouse.co.uk

Tall Stories, who have previously adapted Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo, Snail and the Whale and Gruffalo's Child, turn their attention to her tale of the witch, her cat and broomstick. When a stormy wind blows her hat, bow and wand away into the night a helpful dog, bird and frog find them and hop on the broom for a ride. Featuring songs, laughs and scary fun and Donaldson's sing-song storytelling style. Ages 3+

Red Riding Hood

Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 14, 11am/2.30pm, £8, £8 children, £28 family, 01603 629921, puppettheatre.co.uk

On the way to her Grandmother's house through a forest filled with howling wolves, Red Riding Hood must stay alert to the danger surrounding her. This production brings a fresh twist to a well-loved tale – a feast of visual innovation and extraordinary puppet theatre with music and song. Designed and directed by Peter O'Rourke, written by Tim Kane, with original music and songs by Ben Glasstone. The 11am show is a baby friendly performance.


Spixworth Village Hall, February 14-15/February 19-21, 7.30pm, 2pm Feb 15/21, £6 (£5 cons), 01603 897605

A panto isn't just for Christmas. Celebrating their 25th anniversary year, Spixworth Amateur Players have waited until half-term to stage their pantomime at Spixworth Village Hall. Expect the usual tale of Aladdin, Widow Twanky, the genie of the lamp and evil Abanazar. Tickets are selling fast.

Milkshake Live!

King's Lynn Corn Exchange, February 16, 1.30pm/3.30pm, £13, £11 children, £44-£33 family, 01553 764864, www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

An all new 2015 musical extravaganza based on a surprise birthday party that will again have young audiences up on their feet, singing along, and jumping with delight. The show's line-up features favourites characters including Little Princess, Bananas in Pyjamas, Noddy and Tessie Bear, Pip from Pip Ahoy! Bello from Jelly Jamm, Chloe from Chloe's Closet, Tommy and Tallulah from Tickety Toc, Toby and Dolores from Toby's Travelling Circus and Milkshake's very own Milkshake Monkey. Presenters include Jen Pringle, Derek Moran, Amy Thompson, Olivia Birchenough and Curtis Angus.

Chicken Licken

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, February 16-17, 11am/2pm, £12-£7, 01473 295900, www.wolseytheatre.co.uk

Dynamic New Animation's one-person show is a trilogy of classic tales from the Ladybird books - Chicken Licken, The Little Red Hen and The Fox and the Hen told with shadow and rod puppetry. Starting as a baking demonstration, the show rapidly becomes the adventures of a growing chick and her encounters with a hungry fox. Ages 3+

The Feather Catcher

The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, February 17, 10.30am/1.30pm, £10, £50 under-25s/students, £22.40 family, 01603 630000, www.thegarage.org.uk

Freda loves feathers but there's one special feather that she just can't catch on her own. Can Greta help her on her quest and teach her about friendship at the same time? This non-verbal show from the acclaimed Filskit Theatre playfully uses live music and beautiful projection to tell this delightful tale of friendship, working together and mischievous feathers. Ages 3+

Draupadi – The Fire-Born Princess

Fisher Theatre, Bungay, February 17, 2pm/7pm, £10, £6 children, 01986 897130, www.fishertheatre.org

The Sujata Banerjee Dance Company presents this modern interpretation of an Indian classic. Draupadi's world is magically brought to life through dance, music, song, storytelling and puppetry. A tale of conflicts in kinship met with fiery strength and courage. Will our fiery heroine prevail? Ages 7+


Rackheath Village Hall, February 18-21, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Feb 21, £7 (£5 cons), 07552 086982, www.rackheathplayers.co.uk

Rackheath Players stage the tale of Camelot, ruled over by King Uther and awaiting the arrival of Guinevere, who is betrothed to the King's son, Prince Arthur. The evil sorceress, Morgan Le Fay, has other ideas and believes Guinevere is the ideal match for the King of the Tangled Wood. Add to this Arthur's friend and jester Laughalot who can't talk to the girls and is scared of everything. And of course no Camelot would be complete with Merlin.

Piped Piper

Memorial Hall, Dereham, February 18, 11.30am/1.30pm, £8, £6 children, 01362 696995, derehammemorialhall.co.uk/Kettlestone Village Hall, February 21, 3pm, £5, £3 children, £12 family, 01328 8782012

Norwich Puppet Theatre bring their clever and enthralling re-working of the traditional fairy story to Dereham and Kettlestone. When the Pied Piper plays his flute, the rats run, the greedy mayor rubs his hands together and the children dance. It's a blend of puppetry, music and storytelling by one irrepressible performer, armed with a host of characters. After the show, meet the puppets.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 19, 11am/2.30pm, £8, £8 children, £28 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

The award-winning Indefinite Articles present their show for the very young — a play with clay, where the audience are invited to participate. A world of fabulous forms, amazing animals and morphing monsters. Each interactive show is totally unique. The 11am show is a baby friendly performance.

Goldilocks & The 3 Bears

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, February 19, 2.30pm, 4.30pm/February 20, 11am, 2pm, £12.50-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

They only went out for a stroll to let the food cool down, but when the three bears got home the house was a mess and Baby Bear's porridge had vanished, and that was just the beginning. Performer Niki McCretton, of children's theatre group Stuff & Nonsense, uses a mix of ingenious puppetry and music to tell the popular tale. Ages 2+

Robin Hood

Aylsham Town Hall, February 19-21, 7.30pm, 2pm Feb 21, £6 adv/£7 door (£5 adv/£6 door matinee), 01263 731430, www.aylshamplayers.co.uk

The Aylsham Players put a local spin on the adventures of 'Robin Hood' at Aylsham Town Hall. Robin of Borfolk and his band of merry men do their best to make sure that all is right and good in ye olde town of 'Baylsham'. On hearing that his true love has been captured, our hero of the forest summons his 'men' Scarlett Will, Little Joan, Alan 'Let me just tweet that' O'Dale and Friar Tuck if they can ever get him out of the Baylsham Lodge and the Smarsham Arms!

A Fishy Tale

Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 20, 11am/2.30pm, £8, £8 children, £28 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

A show set by the sea, on the sea and under the sea. Using his unique style of puppet-presentation, Martin Bridle, of Hand to Mouth Theatre, tells of the Litterbug who uses the sea as a dustbin, and of the problems this causes. With a touch of mermaid-magic, some lobster logic, and the audience's assistance, the environment is restored to its former glory. Witty, wet and even windy!

Jungle Book

St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, February 20, 7.30pm, £10 (£7 cons), 01493 331484, www.stgeorgestheatre.com

Indigo Moon Theatre brings a wonderful story inspired by the poetry and spirit of Rudyard Kiplings original books. Mowgli's daring adventures in the daring adventures in the dangerous world he inhabits are brought to life with inventive shadow theatre and colourful digital projection and performers Anna Ingleby and Haviel Perdana, who also provides the original music. Ages 4+

The Chuckles of Oz

King's Lynn Corn Exchange, February 20, 2pm, £15, £56-£42 family, 01553 764864, www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

Paul and Barry, the country's funniest brothers, well if you're aged eight that is, step down the Ywllow Brick Road with their latest show for 2015. Dorothy, The Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow are among the familiar characters who join the Wizards (guess who) for this version of the familiar Wizard of Oz story. Laugh–out–loud comedy, sets and costumes and special effects.

Goblin King

Guildhall Theatre, King's Lynn, February 21, 4pm, £9 (£6.50 cons), 01553 764864, www.kingslynnarts.co.uk

Down in the Deep World the Goblin King has a problem in this show from Norfolk-based MissAdventures Theatre Company, who specialise in whimsical and magical children's shows. His daughter, the Princess Thomasina has gone missing. Follow the kindly and slightly grumpy old Goblin King and his little servant Sniffles as they search for her here in Norfolk. Ages 5-8

Basil Brush Show

Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, February 21, 2.30pm, £14, £12 children, £42 family, 01485 532252, princesshunstanton.co.uk

Britain's most loveable fox is back on the road along with his TV chum Mr Stephen — aka Chris Pizzey. Together they will take you on a journey of laughs, storytelling and song in a brand new specially written 'live' stage show packed with fun and excitement. Expect mayhem as Mr Stephen tries to reign in the continually interruptions from by naughty uncontrollable Basil.

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