Published: 05:58, 20 January 2020
| Updated: 09:16, 14 February 2020
From animal encounters, to trails to take there's dozens of ways to spend the first half term of the year. Here's our guide for what's on across Kent this school holidays:
HISTORIC DOCKYARD, CHATHAM
It's time to wrap up warm and go exploring for a special dockyard mission for half term between Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 23. Round up the troops and get the whole family involved, picking up a trail leaflet on arrival and navigating the site to crack the clues – will you be able to solve the puzzle and decrypt the code? To find out more about Mission Explore and ticket fees, which last all year, visit thedockyard.co.uk
BLUEWATER SHOPPING CENTRE, NEAR DARTFORD
From Monday, February 17 to Thursday, February 20, families are invited to join Story Time with The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the shopping centre. Taking place every day from 10am to 6pm the classic children’s book will be told in a 20 minute interactive show, and children can take part in a craft activity and get to meet the caterpillar himself. The event costs £3 per person and places are limited, so you should head to the event box office outside M&S on the lower level on the day to reserve a place. Also open for half term will be the Gravity trampoline park, and the Dinotropolis adventure park. Find out more at bluewater.co.uk
Find out more about conservation and wildlife at the castle with the half term activity Living With Nature from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23. Learn about wildlife and nature and follow the nature trail in the grounds to investigate animal footprints and tracks, create a ladybug or bumble bee in a craft workshop, or become an animal with some fabulous face painting for a small extra charge. Details at hevercastle.co.uk or call 01732 865224.
On Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, Joe and his team will be flying a mixture of hawks, buzzards, owls and a falcon. Young visitors will get to learn about how they hunt, catch prey, survive and also see different flying techniques they use. There will also include a chance to meet the birds up close and personal. Book places in advance at brogdalecollections.org
Gregory Gargoyle, the cathedral's loveable logo, is the star of Gargoyle Week in the community studio from Tuesday, February 18 to Thursday, February 20, between 11am and 3pm. Young visitors can explore medieval tiles with the Canterbury Archaelogical Trust and make their own Gregory tile. Normal precinct fees apply. Details here.
HOP FARM FAMILY PARK, PADDOCK WOOD
There will be the usual rides, soft play, animal farm and bumper carz between Tuesday, February 18 and Sunday, February 23, between 10am and 4pm daily. Circus Zyair will also be on site every day in half term and there will be indoor live entertainment shows each day including magic shows, party dances, theatre shows and party dances. To find out more go to thehopfarm.co.uk
LEEDS CASTLE, MAIDSTONE
Become a first-class junior explorer this half term, from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23. Grab your wellies and thinking caps and explore the estate on an outdoor adventure trail. Pick up an activity booklet to guide you through the grounds for a small extra charge and complete various puzzles and challenges to be rewarded with a chocolate prize. Start your adventure in the Princess Alexandra Gardens before conquering the Maze and a quiz in the birds of prey area. On the way through see if you can solve mystery riddles on the giant puzzle boards, or head to the Knight's Stronghold Playground and the Adventure Golf. Book at leeds-castle.com or call 01622 765400.
SPA VALLEY RAILWAY, TUNBRIDGE WELLS
There's some affordable family fun on at the railway for half term on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16, as well as dates over next weekend, when kids travel for £1, meaning a family of two adults and two children travel for £22 when booked in advance online. Book at spavalleyrailway.com
PENSHURST PLACE & GARDENS
Young adventurers can explore to their hearts’ content this half term. A new Woodland Trail opens on Saturday, February 15, which stays open until October, while, specially for half term, there's an Inventions Trail in and around the formal gardens, where there will be a trail sheet with clues for children to find items relating to important inventions hidden in the walled gardens. They could be wheels or even an abacus, which relates to today's computers. Children need to match the original invention with today's technology shown on their sheet. The Amazing Inventions Trail runs untilSunday, February 23, from 10.30am to dusk daily. Find out more at penshurstplace.com
DREAMLAND, MARGATE WITH AARDMAN ANIMATIONS
Children can make their very own Morph, Gromit or Shaun the Sheep with Aardman Animations at Dreamland this half term as the Margate site has teamed up with the famous animation studio for a one-off family day. The studio will host a series of workshops on Saturday, February 15, where ticket holders can craft one of their favourite Aardman characters and watch a few of their favourite films. There will be three, one hour workshops led by one of the studio’s expert model makers where young visitors can create their own clay models of Shaun the Sheep, Gromit or Morph to take home. There’ll also be an opportunity to ask questions on the tricks of the trade. Workshop tickets cost £12, with places limited. Book at dreamland.co.uk
Super sleuths, secret agents and investigators are being called on for the February half term activities at Dover Castle with English Heritage. Get Hands on With History: WWII, which runs from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23, from 10am to 4pm daily, there'll be a chance to sharpen your detective skills with hands-on training in disguise, code cracking and clues. Historical performers Heuristics will also be teaching vital skills in codes essential to your mission. Young visitors can join a series of adventures across the castle, find clues and code words to crack the hidden secrets. And then return to HQ to claim a reward. Entry is £20.90, and £12.50 for children. Details at english-heritage.org.uk/dovercastle
The family art trail which looks at the landscape around Chartwell through the eyes of keen painter Sir Winston Churchill, who lived there, runs through to Sunday, February 23. Explore the gardens and discover frames and paintings as part of the trail. The trail is free but normal admission costs apply. Try out the interactive display in Churchill’s art studio too to find out all about the places he went to and how he painted. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell
The St Faiths Street museum will be holding sports themed Make It Workshops for half term, from Tuesday, February 18 to Friday, February 21, between 10.30am and 4pm. The days, making friendship bracelets; sock characters and bunting, cost £3 per child and are suitable for ages four and above. More at museum.maidstone.gov.uk/
MUSEUM OF THE MOON, ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL
The 7 metre replica of the moon has been created using images from NASA by artist Luke Jerram. It comes to Rochester in time for half term, and the cathedral is also holding lunar-related family workshops. It will be open from Wednesday, February 12 until Wednesday, March 4. Entry to the cathedral during the day is free but there will be a charge for other activities and evening openings. Find out more here.
THE BEANEY, CANTERBURY
From Desperate Dan to Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx, they'll all be enjoying a starring role in the Canterbury museum's interactive comic exhibition from Seven Stories, Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art. Running from Saturday, February 8 to Sunday, February 23, famous characters will also include Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman and Hulk as drawn by Ian Churchill, the British artist and producer of comics for America’s two largest comic corporations – Marvel and DC comics. There'll be hands-on fun and the chance to create comic ideas. Tickets are from £5 and are available at canterburymuseums.co.uk
ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM, GILLINGHAM
Ring in the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Rat - at the Gillingham museum from Tuesday, February 18 to Friday, February 21 with the Rat Race activities. The museum’s collections link to rats in many unexpected ways. In the First World War soldiers were living in trenches among the rats, some of which were size of cats. Kids can make a rat hand puppet, ready for some rat-inspired play. Activities run from 11am to 3pm and cost £2.50 in addition to normal admission. Details at re-museum.co.uk
LOVEASHFORD FILM CLUB
The Loveashford film club is back for half term, with a double bill of Disney animal films. Revelation Ashford will be hosting 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp at 1pm and 3pm on Wednesday, February 19. Tickets are available on the door for 50p a film and under 16s need to be accompanied by an adult. Refreshments and snacks will be available, plus a fully licensed bar which will be selling Chapel Down beverages. There will also be a packed programme of crafty activities with Made in Ashford in Park Mall when there will be workshops including making a fairy garden, rainbow tassel garland, and a memory box over the week. Details at loveashford.com.
SCOTNEY CASTLE, LAMBERHURST
There's a Murder Mystery trail on at the castle from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23, when kids can search the rooms and ask questions to solve the crime and get a prize. The trail is £2 plus normal admission. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle
EMMETTS GARDEN, SEVENOAKS
Young visitors can follow the adventures of the famous Victorian plant explorer, Ernest Wilson with the Plant Explorers Trail for half term from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23, between 10am to 4pm. Plant hunters journeyed across the globe to find their botanical treasures, hoping to be the first to bring their latest specimens back home. See what you can discover as you adventure around the gardens. The trail costs £1 with normal admission. For more information, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden
Children can design their own set of windchimes using paint, ribbons, beads and feathers at a windchime workshop on Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, as part of half term activities. Running between 10.39am and noon, the workshops are suitable for ages five to 11. They cost £8 per child, on top of normal admission prices. To find out more of what’s on at the National Trust property in Sevenoaks, visit the website at nationaltrust.org.uk/knole
KENT LIFE, MAIDSTONE
From Monday, February 17 to Friday, February 21, the farm animals are guaranteed to brighten a grey day. Children can feed the pigs, sheep, ponies, goats and alpacas and maybe meet some new arrivals if the sheep are lambing. Visitors can also head over to the Kent Owl Academy, behind the hoppers' huts, to meet the meerkats and the owls. There's also the regular attractions including the vintage village and the Paint-a-Pot. The site in Lock Lane, Sandling, is open from 10am to 4pm with last admission at 3pm during the holidays. Details at kentlife.org.uk or call 01622 763936.
Waste not, want not at the library in the Community Hub, Strood on Tuesday, February 18 will feature stories and crafts for ages four to 10.Booking is essential for the free event which runs from 2pm to 3pm.
To find out more, and find out what else is happening at half term across Medway, go to enjoymedway.org
IGHTHAM MOTE, BOROUGH GREEN
There's an animal homes trail running at the National Trust property from Saturday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23. Running daily from 10am to 4pm, you can follow the trail around the gardens to discover which of the UK's native creatures live at Ightham Mote. They may be having a snooze until the weather gets a bit warmer, so you’ll need to use your stealthiest detective skills to spot them.
The trail is free, but normal admission costs apply. For more information, please go to nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote
WINGHAM WILDLIFE PARK
Marvel at the orangutans as they climb high in their new canopy trail. The walkway in the rainforest section arches over the 'dinosaur zoo', giving visitors a great view of the magnificent creatures as they wander through the walkway, towering five metres above the ground. You can also meet tigers, lions, penguins and meerkats at the 26-acre park near Canterbury, which is home to more than 200 different species. There's a cafe to stop for snacks and an indoor play area so you can play at swinging through the treetops like the monkeys. It is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm. Adult tickets cost £19 and children, £16. Details here.
BETTSEHANGER COUNTRY PARK, DEAL
Kids can get stuck into some outdoor activities with half term fun at Betteshanger Country Park near Deal. The park will be holding its regular half term holiday club through the week, but will also be running Learn to Ride sessions for five to 12s on Saturday, February 15 and on Saturday, February 22. Wild youngsters can also try their hand at lighting fires and campfire cooking; woodland crafts and climbing trees with the Forest School Holiday Club, being staged with Really Wild Wooders. Sessions will be Monday to Friday. Book at betteshanger-park.co.uk/events/
PORT LYMPNE & HOWLETTS
Kids can visit two wild animal parks in Kent for free this half term. The Aspinall Foundation, which owns and runs both Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park, are offering up to three children, aged three to 15, free entry when accompanied by a full paying adult during the half term holiday and right through until Saturday, February 29. You can only claim online. Book at aspinallfoundation.org.uk
DESIGNER OUTLET, ASHFORD
It's not just shopping on offer at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Ashford this half term, as families can explore the immersive Garden of Light installation, designed to stimulate the senses and reflect on nature, plus the Jasmin Vardimon Company pop-up dance space is open for masterclasses, workshops and fitness classes for all abilities. Find out more here.
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More by this authorAngela Cole