1. EVENTS Half-term Festivals
This weekend and week there’s enough half-term festival and event action across the country to keep eyes wide and brains active. Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Victorian extravaganza, Steam, Sweat and Spinners is on all week; make your own clockwork creation, see science shows and pose in the costume-filled photobooth (pictured above).
London’s Southbank is home to the gigantic Imagine Childrens’ Festival, packed with workshops and shows (some free), join Fun DMC’s hip-hop disco, play outdoor games, take your babe-in-arms to a comedy club, watch a live orchestra accompany film versions of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, or join in with the daily Little Big Sing. There’s loads going on – definitely worth making a special trip to London. Full programme here.
If your library is in need of updating, exchange your old books for new stories at the London Children’s Book Swap. Held at venues across the capital, there are scores of related workshops, readings and events. More here.
Brighton Science Festival gets under way this weekend. This weekend’s flagship event Bright Sparks will host over 50 stalls, stands and shows; see robots reacting to light and telescopes that let you look at the sun, build brains, train snails and make Minecraft mods. More here . Still at the Science Festival, kids aged over 11 will go nuts for White Heat (Saturday February 17), with its mix of talks (find out why swearing is good for you!), Talkaoke debates, cartooning workshops and games.
2. EVENTS The Great Outdoors
If you’d rather head outdoors, there are events to whet the appetite of every fresh air junkie. The Dark Skies Festival takes place in National Parks across the country, with a galaxy of events that include stargazing parties, rocket making, cycling, walking or caving at night, and nocturnal animal trails. If you’re more keen on daytime fun, the National Trust’s half-term events include bushcraft for kids sessions in Cotehele, Cornwall, Plodge mud extravaganza at Gibside, Tyne & Wear, and a session at Hughenden in Buckinghamshire where you can make luxury apartments for hedgehogs.
Or fire up your family’s imagination with English Heritage as their sites come alive this week. Go on a Roman quest, hunt for fairies, enrol at Spy School, or learn to be a butler. Full programme here
3. MAKE and COOK The Big Freeze
It’s cold! Use the freezing temperatures to create spectacular art, and try making these coloured ice sculptures (the secret is in the bottle of water!). There are some more complicated, extravagant ideas for making larger-scale pieces here – perfect for teenagers. Round off your day with a bowl of snow ice cream!
4. MAKE Love Action
The usual rose-in-plastic Valentine’s Day gifts make our hearts feel heavier rather than soar, but we adore this very simple woven grass take on the tradition courtesy of Mother Natured. Alternatively, show your garden dwellers some love with this heart-shaped, vegetarian bird feed block. Find lots more nature-inspired ideas for Valentine crafts here (we love the Richard Shilling-inspired land art heart).
5. COOK Dirty Vegan
Veganuary might be over, but plant-based eating is for life, not just one month. If you’re missing the trashier end of your diet, be inspired by One Green Planet’s great collection of vegan versions of fast food favourites (spoiler alert: most of them are much, much healthier than the originals). We love the Crispy, Crunchy Cornmeal and Pepita Onion Rings and the nearly fat-free Krispy Kremes For One. Alternatively, head to Edgy Veg and chow down on their heavenly Curry Fries with Coconut Lime Dip and Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes.