Best February Half-Term Days Out Handy for Luxury Family Hotels
While part of the joy of staying at a Luxury Family Hotel is just kicking back and relaxing while the kids have fun, or joining in with them as they explore the fabulous properties and grounds and play on-site, there are heaps of great things going on near all of the hotels that might tempt you away for a couple of hours. We’ve brought you our highlights for each hotel for the 2014 February half term.
What: Big Week
Where: RAF Duxford
Handy for: The Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk
February half-term activities at this outpost of the Imperial War Museum tell the story of Big Week, the bombing campaign that paved the way for the D-Day invasion, with a costumed interpreter playing the roles of members of RAF Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Forces. There will also be storytelling sessions and hands-on craft fun, making badges and paper aircraft, under the wings of Concorde.
What: Marvellous Marine Life Supersized Weekend
Where: National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Handy for: Polurrian Bay Hotel, Cornwall
The NMMC is kicking off half term with a weekend of activities inspired by aquatic animals, including live encounters with marine life from Falmouth Aquarium and a crustacean animation workshop during which kids can make a short film using ‘stop-motion’ Claymation. Other goodies on offer during half-term week are Go Fish! (15th–23rd), fishing themed activities including making fish-masks and paper-plate fish, Free Flying Fish (18th), interactive storytelling sessions involving stormy seas and courageous characters, and Douglas Dapper the Story Explorer (20th), a brand-new adventure in search of the museum’s most inspiring artifacts. All activities are free with museum entrance ticket.
What: Family Trail
Where: Lanhydrock House
Handy for: Fowey Hall Hotel, Cornwall
When: from February
A new family trail launching in February adds to the fun of a half-term visit to this magnificent late-Victorian country house with its gardens and wooded estate. And although the house itself is closed for winter cleaning and conservation until March, there’s plenty to keep families busy in the grounds: pond-dipping, tree-climbing and bug-hunting among the estate’s many fallen and/or hollow ancient trees, and geo-caching are just a few. The Stable tearoom will also be open.
What: Arts and Crafts
Where: Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre
Handy for: Moonfleet Manor Hotel, Dorset
Free drop-in nature-inspired arts and crafts will be available all February half-term week in the state-of-the-art Discovery Centre of this RSPB nature reserve opened at Radipole Lake in 2012, with mosaic-making available on the 17th and 20th too – the results will be displayed on the patio walls. Other things to do while you’re here are pond-dipping, duck-feeding, following the family trail and watching the ‘nest cams’. The reserve’s buggy-friendly boardwalks take you to raised viewing platforms overlooking areas of reedbeds, ditches and open water, and there’s also a storytelling and picnic area with wildlife-themed wooden seating.
What: Handling sessions and giant Scalextric racing
Handy for: New Park Manor Hotel, Hampshire
Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House and Abbey are all open as usual during half term, but a special ‘hands-on’ half-term focus means families will also get the rare opportunity to handle and learn about historical motoring objects and to race against each other on a giant Scalextric track for a fantastic prize. Meanwhile, in historic Palace House, costumed guides in the kitchen will tells visitors what cooking in a Victorian country house was really like. All half-term activities are included in the standard admission price, which also allows for unlimited rides on the high-level monorail and open-topped replica London Bus.
What: Farm Quest and Farmer Tim Sessions
Where: Windmill Hill City Farm
Handy for: Thornbury Castle
When: 18th (Farm Quest), 19th (Farmer Tim)
This Bristol urban farm is hosting a team-based Farm Quest outdoor adventure and activity trail teaching kids aged 6–8 about the natural environment, food growing and farming (parents are advised to dress kids on the basis that things could get very messy!). Meanwhile, 7–12-year-olds can take part in a Farmer Tim Half Term Session exploring all aspects of urban farming with the farm’s manager, including feeding, grooming, mucking out and egg collecting (places are limited so get your skates on to nab a place).
What: Wilderness play area
Where: Witley Court and Gardens
Handy for: The Elms, Worcestershire
A great spot for a day in the great outdoors, this palatial 19th-century mansion has been made more family-friendly by the addition of the Wilderness play area with a treehouse inspired by a seed pod, outdoor musical instruments, an adventure trail and a grass-covered amphitheatre, created by one of the country's top play area designers, William Hardie.
What: Dark Sky Discovery Day
Where: Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village
Handy for: Woolley Grange, Wiltshire
This half term, visitors to this picturesque site and popular TV location are invited to discover the world of space and star photography with science and technology experts on a drop-in basis. Lots of hands-on exploration and fun craft activities will be accompanied by tips on how to look at the skies with Wiltshire Astronomical Society. Daily until March 2nd, you can also take the Super Star Family Trail, while on 16th February you can meet science fiction characters including a Cyberman, a Dalek and Darth Vadar at the Fox Talbot Museum.
Image copyright: IWM