Wondering what to do with the kids this February half term? Keep the little ones entertained with The Resident’s pick of the best half-term activities in London
Lead image: Hamley’s
1 Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre
Imagine Children’s Festival returns to Southbank Centre for 12 days of February half-term fun run by kids for kids. The festival features children’s theatre, music, comedy, workshops and inspirational authors like Michael Rosen, Dermot O’Leary, Cressida Cowell and Konnie Huq. Feed and interact with dinosaurs, celebrate the Harry Potter books, go on adventures with Pippi Longstocking, doodle on the giant chalkboard or play in the interactive sound pit. Many activities are free, but some require tickets.
Belvedere Road SE1 8XX; southbankcentre.co.uk
2 Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs at Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill
15 February-1 November
252 million years ago, in a period called the Permian, Earth was dominated by fearsome sabre-toothed predators, giant insects and bizarre-looking sharks. The Permian ended with a mass extinction that destroyed 90% of all life, paving the way for the planet’s next great rulers – the dinosaurs. This fascinating, family-friendly exhibition offers an insight into this mysterious time period, with fossil skeletons, full-size models and animatronics bringing the Permian back to life. You can also sift through interactive dig pits and get creative in an art area. Kids £5, adults £9 (family ticket £20).
100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ; horniman.ac.uk
More for London Parents
London’s first immersive bakery, Bread Ahead Wembley, is offering families the opportunity to take part in a Stained Glass Heart Biscuits workshop on Saturday 22 February. Families can come together to cut out beautiful heart-shaped shortbread biscuits and decorate them with boiled sweets to make edible stained glass treats, which they can then take home and enjoy. The courses run for 90 minutes, with a morning session from 10am-11.30am and an afternoon session from 2pm-3.30pm. Tickets are £25pp, but one adult goes free for each child booked.
26-28 Olympic Way, Wembley HA9 0NP; breadahead.com
4 The Kids’ Table at Boxpark Croydon & Wembley
The Kids’ Table is a creative pop-up children’s corner for 3-10 year olds with supervised arts & crafts, face-painting and creative games lead by DBS-checked professionals. The service pops up at pubs, restaurants, food halls and shopping centres, so that parents can enjoy a long leisurely lunch – maybe even finish a sentence – while the nippers enjoy crafts and games. This half term, find them at Boxpark Croydon & Boxpark Wembley, with arts and crafts, Lego building, tabletop games and face painting. You’ll find them at a number of venues across London on Saturdays and Sundays – click here for the full list and timings.
5 Free Activities at Battersea Power Station
15-16 & 20-23 February
Battersea Power Station is hosting a number of free activities for the kids this February half term. On 15 & 16 February, kids can design their own kaleidoscope with stickers, letters, pens and more or design scratch art masks by scratch off the special surface to reveal rainbow colours (both ages 3+). From 20-23 February, kids can grow their own blooms and herbs with sustainable farmer Sinead from Aweside Farm (ages 3+), and get ‘buzzy’ colouring in their very own bug-inspired mask (all ages). On all of these dates, kids can also enjoy the soft play area, Giant Jenga and Giant Connect 4 (all ages). All activities are drop-in (no need to book) and take place under the Grosvenor Arch from 11am-4pm.
Circus West Village, Battersea SW11 8AB; batterseapowerstation.co.uk
More for London Parents
Science Gallery’s MAKESHOP returns this February half term, offering kids the chance to get hands-on making their own Doodlebot – a drawing, doodling robot with a lot of personality. Kids will also be given you some instructions to continue the experimentation at home. Each session is £10 per maker, payable on the day. Sessions run 11am-12pm & 2pm-3pm.
Great Maze Pond, London Bridge SE1 9GU; london.sciencegallery.com
7 KidZania, Shepherd’s Bush
Throughout half term
This half term, plan a trip to KidZania London, the indoor city run by kids at Westfield London, Shepherd’s Bush. Alongside some exciting new additions to the real-life adventures on offer, KidZania has introduced some special half-term activities in collaboration with KidStart to teach kids about money. On 20 & 21 February, kids can turn magic beans into savings by growing a beanstalk and designing their future home – all linked to learning the importance of saving money. They will leave with a goody bag with their own planting kit including their own magic beans. Parents will also get an insight into the new Beanstalk app, and how this will change the way they save for their little one’s future. The Middlesex Cricket coaches will also be there on weekdays in half term, offering kids the opportunity to play on a mini replica of Lord’s Cricket ground while learning the importance of exercise, teamwork and key cricket skills. There’s plenty more fun to be had at KidZania too, with some of the latest activities including the Rock & Roland Music Academy, Pokemon Creative Studios, Just Dance 2020 Club and Children’s Intelligence Agency. Activities free with entry tickets (from £19 for kids and £16 for adults).
Westfield London, Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush W12 7GA; KidZania.co.uk
8 Sky Studios & KickTown at The O2, Greenwich Peninsula
Throughout half term
Step into an interactive news studio and sit behind the desk to read the latest Sky News or Sky Sports headlines at Sky Studios. Keen football fans can choose their favourite team, don the shirt and pose while the pundits celebrate them as the Sky Sports Player of the Match. There’s also the fully immersive Virtual Reality content from Sky’s VR app, which puts you at the heart of the action in a range of 360-degree videos across sport, film and the arts. Sky Studios is free and open daily. No need to book. Footy fans should also head for KickTown, the first football challenge club in the world, where physical football meets the digital world. Teens in tow? Head for the pop-up Selfie Factory.
Peninsula Square, North Greenwich SE10 0DX; theo2.co.uk
9 Junior Chefs at Hicce, King’s Cross
18-20 & 25-27 February
Get the kids cooking at hicce’s Junior Chef workshops at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross this half term. Budding cooks will be able to create their own healthy, nutritional lunch from the best restaurant ingredients, washed down with hicce’s homemade, sugar-free soft drink in support of fizz-free February. The workshops take place from 18-20 & 25-27 February (11am-12pm). £15 per child (ages 5-14). Bookings are required and children must be accompanied by an adult.
Unit 102, Stable Street, Kings Cross N1C 4DQ; hicce.co.uk
10 Half Term Fun at Hamley’s Regent Street
Hamleys’ flagship Regent Street will be transformed into a giant playground this half term, with exclusive activities from Barbie, LEGO, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Harry Potter, Disney’s Frozen 2 and more. A number of daily activities will be taking place for children of all ages, including the Hot Wheels Loop Competition, Barbie ‘You Can Be Anything’ Photobooth, Hamleys’ Frozen 2 Castle, Harry Potter Sorting Hat Ceremony and LEGO City Build and Play. Little ones are also invited to meet and greet some of their favourite TV characters throughout the week. On Monday 17 February it’s Peppa Pig, on Tuesday 18 February it’s Gekko, Catboy and Owlette from PJ Masks, on 19 & 20 February it’s Freya and Ralph from Sylvanian Families, and on Friday 21 February it’s Chase from Paw Patrol. Don’t miss Hamleys’ showstopping daily dance parade at 4pm, too.
188-196 Regent Street, Soho W1B 5BT; hamleys.com
11 Kids’ Sci-Fi Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington
The Ampersand Hotel’s Kids’ Sci-Fi Tea adds an interactive twist to the hotel’s award-winning Science Afternoon Tea. Inspired by the neighbouring Natural History and Science Museums, the afternoon tea is served on brightly coloured rocket stands proffering a selection of mini hot dogs, rocket cheese straws and brioche & jam sandwiches. Kids are encouraged to experiment by topping white chocolate & cranberry scones with lemon curd served in squeeze tubes, freeze-dried raspberry pieces & crunchy caramel balls, and you can even dust for mini dinosaur biscuit ‘fossils’ hidden beneath chocolate soil. The menu is washed down with ‘spaceman’ hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles. Available Mon-Sat from 12.30pm-9pm and Sun 12.30pm-7pm, priced £31.50 per child.
10 Harrington Road, Kensington SW7 3ER; ampersandhotel.com
More for London Parents
Throughout half term
House of Vans London is offering cinema screenings, weekend skate school sessions and a dedicated Girls Skate Night this half term – all for free! Skate Skool runs from 15-16 February, offering ages 5+ from beginners to advanced the chance to leanr everything from a kick-push to landing your first back-flip (spaces are limited). There’s also a Girls Skate Night on 20 February from 6pm, and on Saturdays at 10.15am & 12pm, and Sundays at 12.15pm, it’s time for Little Rippers Film Club, hosting screenings of kids film favourites, new and old, after an hour-long Skate Skool session.
Leake Street, Arches 228-232, Station Approach Road, Waterloo SE1 8SW; houseofvanslondon.com
13 Teddy Bears’ Picnic Afternoon Tea at London Hilton Park Lane
The new Teddy Bears’ Picnic Afternoon Tea at London Hilton on Park Lane includes bite-sized delicacies, finger food and treats crafted by Executive Chef Anthony Marshall and recent winner of C4’s Bake Off: The Professionals, Pastry Chef Emmanuel Bonneau. It also comes with a cuddly Hamley’s teddy bear for the kids to take home! Colourful and fun, the Afternoon Tea features scrumptious Teddy Bear sandwiches – including ham and tomato, chicken, cucumber and mayonnaise and tuna and sweetcorn – freshly baked plain, raisin and chocolate chip mini scones served with strawberry jam, whipped cream and Nutella, as well as pastries and miniature fancies such as meringue mushroom, teddy and puzzle biscuits and a chocolate sponge cake pop. Available for £24 per child on weekdays from 2pm-5pm and weekends from 12.30pm-5pm.
22 Park Lane, Mayfair W1K 1BE; podiumrestaurant.com
14 Family Fun at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery is hosting a number of crafty workshops for various ages over half term. In My Family & Me on 18 & 19 February, kids aged 6-9 can make their very own zine using collage and carbon paper, filling it with art inspired by their family, pets, home and interests (10am-12.30pm priced £35 for two days). There’s also What Are You Like? on 20 & 21 February, where kids aged 10-12 years can fill a book with their stories, exploring their identity using drawing, collage, images and text (10am-12.30pm priced £35 for two days). It’s also Family Friday at the Museum of Us on 21 February, where young adults and grown ups alike can help the museum to create an exhibition of self-portraits, leaving their likeness in the Museum of Us (10am-4pm, drop in, priced £5 for adults or free for under 18s).
Gallery Road, Dulwich Village SE21 7AD; dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
15 The Paper Dolls at Little Angel Theatre, Islington
6 February-18 April
The Paper Dolls, a Little Angel Theatre and Polka Theatre co-production, is based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. When a little girl cuts out a string of paper dolls, she takes them by the hand and together they go on a fantastical adventure whirling through their home and garden. They face the clutches of a toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, and then a very real boy with very real scissors threatens to snip their adventure short… Ages 3-8. Adults £14, kids £12. You can also see The Wolves in the Walls, a new puppet-tastic production based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, from 14 February-26 April.
14 Dagmar Passage (off Cross Street), Islington N1 2DN; littleangeltheatre.com
16 Lightopia Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens
Until 1 March
Lightopia Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens features a lantern trail of 47 lantern groups and 2,000 lanterns that revive and reinterpret the classics. Lightopia is an exploration of light, movement and form, captivating the senses with unique interactive and immersive lights, lanterns, and installations that create an enchanting, otherworldly experience. Key installations include The Love Gate, Tree of Life, Elysian Field, S-Harmony, The Flower Road, Happy Valley, Two Moons Eagle, each symbolising various experiences throughout life and humanity. There will also be acrobatic performances every night, food and drink stalls, 3D mapping projections, where objects are used as a surface instead of screens. Running 22 January until 1 March from 5pm-10pm. Tickets start from £13 for kids and £20 for adults (family tickets available).
Chiswick House Gardens W4 2QN; lightopiafestival.com