The first school holidays of the year are coming up, so it’s time to start thinking of ways to keep your kids entertained.
From sword-wielding action at historic landmarks to coming face-to-face with dinosaurs and fairytale characters, there’s plenty to do in Kent during the February half-term…
BETTESHANGER COUNTRY PARK, Deal
There are a host of exciting activities for children of all ages at Betteshanger this half-term. For thrill-seekers, there’s axe throwing, archery, nerf battles and the obstacle course while, for younger visitors, there are plenty of outdoor workshops such as fossil hunting and orienteering. For those who want to make sure the whole family stays active during the school holidays, there’s also mountain bikes for hire and walking, cycling and running trails across the park.
Details: Open daily at Betteshanger Country Park in Deal from 8am to 4pm. Book tickets online here.
Don’t let the cold weather put you off going out for the day; in fact, Brogdale is encouraging us to celebrate it. The orchard’s Wild Weather day includes activities such as creating a tornado-in-a-jar, making weather-themed souvenirs, exploring the music garden, learning how to use meteorological equipment and taking a tour of the fruit orchard.
Details: Wednesday, February 14 at Brogdale Farm in Faversham from 10am to 3pm. Book tickets online here.
The grounds of England’s oldest cathedral is currently inviting visitors to explore its historic precincts for free as part of a six-week trial. The trial, which lasts until March, will see the south side of the precincts, including the ‘haunted’ Dark Entry, the poignant Memorial Garden and the stunning Green Court, open to the public free of charge.
Details: Open daily from 9am to 5pm until Sunday, March 10. Entry to the precincts is free, but visitors still need to pay to enter the cathedral.
CENTRAL THEATRE, Chatham
Get up close to prehistoric creatures with a thrilling new show from Dinosaur Adventure Live. The roar-some new adventure, Trouble on Volcano Island, features three new dinosaur puppets and two expert dino rangers who will help audiences escape the explosive volcano and meet their larger-than-life Jurassic friends.
Details: Sunday, February 11 at the Central Theatre in Chatham at 2pm and 4.30pm. Book tickets online here.
CHURCHILL THEATRE, Bromley
Let your children explore their creative side with Claytime. This hands-on experience encourages kids and their parents to make their own characters and stories using modelling clay. There will also be experts on stage who will be creating spectacular animals, monsters and scenes from clay.
Details: Wednesday, February 14 and Thursday, February 15 at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley at 11am and 2pm. Book tickets online here.
Meet knights and villagers from medieval times with Dover Castle’s time-travelling adventure. Gruesome hangman Thomas de Warblynton will welcome you to his grisly execution area to punish some of history’s worst traitors. Then, you can get stuck into activities such as the sword school and visit the castle’s secret underground tunnels.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Dover Castle from 10am to 4pm. Book tickets online here.
HAZLITT THEATRE, Maidstone
Theatre company Lost the Plot is returning to Kent for another fun, family show. This year, it’s the Three Little Pigs, a musical comedy with child-friendly jokes, toe-tapping songs and audience participation. Follow the three pigs as they leave the family sty for the very first time, meeting new friends and enemies along the way.
Details: Tuesday, February 13 at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone at 2pm. Book tickets online here.
HEVER CASTLE, Edenbridge
Visit Hever Castle’s award-winning gardens and join in with Eco Week. The castle will be hosting a nature-themed competition for children to create sculptures using sustainable materials. The public can vote for their favourite sculpture, which should also include a nod to history, and the winner will receive a free visit to the castle for their entire school class.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Hever Castle in Edenbridge from 10.30am to 3pm. Book tickets online here.
HISTORIC DOCKYARD, Chatham
Climb aboard a historic warship and learn about its fascinating time on the high seas at the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Visitors can step onto the deck of the HMS Cavalier, take part in the crew’s daily tasks, send messages using Morse code and master knots like a sailor. You can also watch the thrilling battle against the HMS Rapid to find the Royal Navy’s fastest ship.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham from 10am to 4pm. Book tickets online here.
HOWLETTS WILD ANIMAL PARK, near Canterbury
Take the kids to see more than 390 animals in one of Kent’s largest wildlife parks with Howletts’ half-term offer. During the school holidays, children up to 15 can go for free with a paying adult and enjoy meeting giant anteaters, African elephants, gorillas, lion cubs and more.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Bekesbourne, near Canterbury, from 10am to 4pm. Book tickets online here.
IGHTHAM MOTE, Sevenoaks
Visit the 14th-century estate, Ightham Mote, and explore its stunning gardens with the Animals of Ightham trail. The outdoor trail takes you around the National Trust estate where you can spot all of the animals hidden around the woodland, formal gardens and moat.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, March 17 at Ightham Mote in Sevenoaks from 10am to 4pm. The trail is free, but entry tickets can be booked online here.
KENT AND EAST SUSSEX RAILWAY, Tenterden
Learn all about Kent’s diverse countryside with a trip through the Rother Valley. When you step aboard the train, you will be given bird-themed activities to enjoy and can spot as many animals as possible through the windows. There will be a free sticker at the end for children and, the best part is, kids can ride for just £1 during the half-term.
Details: Select dates from Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at the Kent and East Sussex Railway in Tenterden from 10.20am to 2.15pm. Book tickets online here.
KENT LIFE, Maidstone
Dig out your wellies and get ready for a fun day out on the farm at Kent Life. The half-term activities include meeting farmyard animals such as pigs, sheep and ponies; animal feeding sessions; a chance to visit the owl academy; watching the blacksmith expert at work; and spending time in the Victorian farmhouse and WW2 cottages.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Kent Life in Maidstone from 10am to 4pm. Book tickets online here.
LEEDS CASTLE, near Maidstone
Meet Mr Borrett, the head butler at Leeds Castle, and help him get the estate in shape for Lady Baillie’s grand party. There will be a treasure hunt, butler training sessions, magic tricks, interactive performances and a race against time to prepare an extravagant banquet for the party.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, from 10am to 5pm. Book tickets online here.
The county town’s flagship museum is putting on another round of craft activities during the school holidays. This February, the theme is Egypt and children can get stuck into crafts such as making their own Egyptian headdresses, puppets and pyramids.
Details: Tuesday, February 13 to Thursday, February 15 at the Maidstone Museum from 10.30am to 2.30pm. Book tickets online here.
ORCHARD WEST THEATRE, Dartford
Children’s TV favourite Fireman Sam is back with a brand new show. The Great Camping Adventure sees the Pontypandy hero and his friends, Ellie, Elvis, Station Officer Steele and Norman, head into the mountain in search of the rare red squirrel. When the group wind up stuck in a cave, it’s up to Fireman Sam and his fire engine to save the day.
Details: Sunday, February 11 at the Orchard West Theatre in Dartford at 12 noon and 3.30pm. Book tickets online here.
PENSHURST PLACE, Tonbridge
The historic Penshurst Place is opening for the year with a new half-term trail. The immersive family trail, Batoor the Dragon and the Disappearing Dessert, gives visitors a chance to help Penshurst’s friendly dragon find the ingredients he needs to make his delicious apple pie. Explore the gardens, hunt for food and figure out the clues to complete the trail.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Penshurst Place near Tonbridge from 10am to 5pm. Book tickets online here.
SCOTNEY CASTLE, Tunbridge Wells
If you’re a budding investigator or daring detective, you might want to visit Scotney Castle to help figure out the murder mystery trail. It’s a cold case, but there’s still hope as the clues are scattered around the garden – but it’s up to you to figure them out. There will be a reward if you can work out ‘whodunnit’.
Details: Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18 at Scotney Castle near Tunbridge Wells from 10am to 5pm. Book tickets online.