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Muddy Half Term Survival Guide 13 Feb – 21 Feb


Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie

Here it is, the bumper Muddy half term guide with over 25 events going on all over Sussex and beyond. You’re off to a flying start for the school hols and I’m off to soothe my RSI with gin…

Bird box and feeder making, various locations, 16/18 Feb

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It’s going to be a good week for our feathered friends, with all sorts of activities going on to make sure they’re housed and fed over the colder months. Build a bird box at at Tilgate Park, Crawley (16 Feb, £10) or create a box and a feeder at RSPB Pulborough Brooks (18 Feb, £15). Make treats and feeders at Lime Kiln Cottage, Rye Harbour (16 Feb, donations).  Paradise Park at Newhaven also has a birdcare themed week running over half term with various kids’activities. The Wild about Winter Seven Sisters event on 16 Feb with walk and bird feeder making is fully booked but you can join the wait list here.

Stop Animation Project, Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, 15-17 February

Stop animation ~dis-TYTC_Stop_Mo1_161115_700x400

A bit pricier this one at £120 but it will keep budding Nick Parks amused for three days. Stop animation is the process used for Wallace and Gromit films and classic kids’ TV programmes like Bagpuss and the Clangers. A course at Tonbridge Wells’ Trinity Theatre will teach over-sevens to make a short film of their own which they will receive on DVD and have broadcast on YouTube.

Family Fun Days, Fishborne Roman Palace 15 – 19 Feb/ Digging for Treasure, Lewes Castle, 18 Feb

Dress up, bake bread, taste Roman food, make a Roman oil lamp, have a go at weaving, and meet an archaeologist – it’s all happening at Fishborne Roman Palace this week. Activities run from 10.00 am – 4.00pm and are included in the admission price. Meanwhile at Lewes Castle you can dig for treasure… or make your own, with an archaeology themed workshop aimed at four- to eight-year-olds. (10.30-12.00, £5).

Fishborne:  Lewes:

The Source skatepark, Hastings, daily


Much excitement in Hastings where The Source, skatepark opens on the seafront on 13 February in what was once a Victorian swimming pool. It’s indoors and there a café and viewing gallery so it’s parent-friendly too. Sessions are from £6 with dedicated lessons for different ages, girls-only etc. but slots are selling out fast.

Puddle Jumping Championships, Arundel Wetland Centre, 13-21 Feb

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Make a splash at the Arundel Wetland Centre this half term and if it’s judged to be the biggest and best you’ll win a prize. There are marks for creativity, and style as well as splash size. You could even go on to a national championships – one for the CV. The competition takes place between 11.30am and 2.30pm.

Experimental Sculpture Workshop, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, 17 Feb

One for older children of an artistic bent. The De La Warr Pavilion is putting on artist-led workshops to create sculpture out of broken objects from home (don’t break one specially kids…) The 8-12s’ session is 10.30-12.30, 13-17s’ 2.00pm-4.00pm, tickets cost £6. There are also experimental print and drawing workshops on 15 and 16 Feb respectively.

Undersea Explorers, Brighton Swimming Centre, 18 Feb

Undersea Exlorers©Miles Davies_Sussex Wildlife Trust

pic by Miles Davies

Brighton Swimming Centre pool is being turned into a fantastic seascape where kids can learn to snorkel alongside life-like starfish, crabs and jellyfish. Sounds such fun even I’m tempted, which is probably why it has sold out but you can try your luck on the wait list by emailing: [email protected]. Look out too for it coming round again in October half term.

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Chichester, 13-19 Feb/ 19-20

Lots of crafty stuff going on at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Make a bird seed cake, a wildlife badge, a lino print or pen a poem. There are also trails and wildlife challenges. It all happens 11.00 am-3.00 pm.  There are also Agincourt anniversary activities including archery at the weekend.

Brighton Science Festival, various locations, until 28 Feb

BSF-2016-by-Doodling-Jim copy

Brighton’s cracking science festival continues with kids-focused events in the mix over half term. It’s well worth browsing the full line up but highlights include a shadow puppet workshop, trash or treasure art project, the Mystery at Frankenstein Castle family show, sweet making and the chance to turn a drinks can into a pinhole camera.

Half Term trails, Bodiam Castle/Standen House 13- 21 Feb

Bodiam Castle has a Lent related half term trail. Youngtsers get to discover the meals on and off the menu during the fasting time in Medieval days. On Feb 13 and 14 they can even sample some (trails £2.50 on top of entry fee). Standen House also has half term trails, plus make-and-take craft on the 15th.

Bodiam:  Standon:

Marvellous Imaginery Menagerie, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, 15 Feb

marvellous imaginery menagerie 1

This tongue-twister of a show is billed as an indoor circus with puppets. It’s from the same people who brought us Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs and sounds like it could be fun for adults too. After all, they promise a cow that looks like Brian May – I’m in.

Wild Adventure Week, Groombridge Place, 13-21 Feb

Fairy and leaf trails with prizes, den building, archery, nerf battles and story telling are all happening at Groombridge Place near Tunbridge Wells this week (some activities cost extra).

The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux, until 21 Feb


The famous observatory near Hailsham has daily telescope tours and hands on fun for kids over the half terms. The week includes separate chemistry sessions aimed at children and teens.

50 Things Activities Week, Sheffield Park and Garden, 15-19 Feb

The National Trusts’ Sheffield Park is running drop in sessions in its events room (next to the coach house) between 11.00am and 12.30 pm throughout the week to make kites, bug hotels and more. The workshops costs £3 on top of the regular admission charge.

Arundel Museum, Half Term Family Days, 17, 19 and 20 Feb

Arundel Museum is putting on family days where you can all learn to weave, print, make pottery and more, with half-price admission for participants.

Dinosaur Zoo, Chichester Festival Theatre, Feb 16-20


This looks great. An ex-West End show where you get to meet realistic looking dinosaur puppets. Think a kind of pre-historic Warhorse for the over-threes. The show runs for 55 minutes followed by a ‘Meat and Greet’ geddit? Tickets costs from £12.50, (£15 for ‘danger’ seats) and they’re selling out fast. There’s a video trailer on the website. Check out too the dinosaur-related craft and drama workshops linked to certain performances.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, 16 Feb/Connaught Theatre, Worthing 17 Feb

A baby owl called Plop <giggle> has a bit of a problem. A reassuring tale about being brave for the little ‘uns based on the book by Jill Tomlinson. (£9.50).

Button Pictures, The Courtyard café, Rotherfield, 16 Feb


Get the kids’ pictures to progress off the fridge door and onto the wall with this button picture workshop at The Courtyard in Rotherfield. You can have a well-deserved cake and coffee binge while your young one is making their masterpiece. 10.30am – 12.00pm £13 per child.

Art Bank! Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, 19 Feb


If the cost of all those half term treats is mounting up get the kids to print their own money. OK, it might not actually be legal tender but at least it’ll keep them occupied for a couple of hours. They’ll be learning Styrofoam, collagraph and mono printing techniques while you can browse Brazilian Bank by Meschac Gaba in the Art from Elsewhere exhibition, which is the inspiration behind the session. This workshop is for 8-11s and costs £5. Choose the 10.20am-12.30pm or 2.00pm-4.00pm session. The workshop for younger children has already sold out.

Modelworld, The Brighton Centre 19-21 Feb

Daleks, remote controlled tanks, giant lego, giant train sets and a tiny Titanic. See my review here

Normans and Saxons, 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield 15-19 Feb


Kids can play act as a Norman or Saxon soldier and get skilled with swords, shields and spears then pick sides in a mini battle of Hastings at this fun historical event where no one goes home with an arrow in the eye.

Wild About Wildlife Week, Spring Barn Farm, Lewes, 13-21 February

Head to Spring Barn Farm throughout half term for wicked wildlife activities, including ‘It’s a hoot!’ mask making, build your own bird feeder, hedgehog trail, and all the usual fun of the farm.

Books for Boys, Batemans, Burwash until 28 Feb

garden DSC_0615 copy

The late Victorian era was as a golden age for children’s literature and it’s being celebrated with a special exhibition at Rudyard Kipling’s lovely former home. So why the sexist title? Well, back in the day, adventure books were aimed squarely at boys, though the exhibition should appeal to everyone. Vintage toys will be on display and children can have a go at activities from Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys, or chill in the Wind in the Willows reading caravan. It’s open 11.30am – 3.30pm.

Hearts and Crafts, Wakehurst, Ardingly, 15-19 Feb

The Valentine’s theme continues into the week with love-related arts, craft and science activities, like heart-shaped beetroot seed planting, at Wakehurst – the Sussex offshoot of Kew Gardens. Activities cost £3 on top of usual admission. 

Chinese New Year, Trafalgar Square and Chinatown, London, 14 Feb


If you’re in London with children on February 14 (or even on a Valentine’s date) catch the Chinese New Year celebrations round Traflagar Square. From 10.00am a parade lead by Europe’s biggest lion dance works its way from Charing Cross to Chinatown via Charing Cross Road and Shaftsbury Avenue. At Chinatown you can browse traditional craft stalls and take part in activities. Celebrations in Trafalgar Square from noon include firecrackers and stage events from the Culture of China troupe including a finale from 5.20pm with monkey dancers and acrobats and a light projection on Nelson’s Column.


Woodland activities, various locations, 19 Feb

Sussex Wildlife Trust den building©Miles Davies_Sussex Wildlife Trust-1

pic by Miles Davies

There are a host of great sounding woodland holiday clubs around Sussex where youngsters get to build camps, cook over fires and do crafts and games. Sussex Wildlife Trust has one at Swallowtail Hill Farm, Beckley near Rye on Fri 19 Feb suitable for 6-11s (10.00am – 15.00pm, £22).  Elsewhere on the same day teens (12 – 16) can get a taste of the Gatwick Greenspace Youth Group that meets on Fridays in term time and helps protect local wildlife. (Tilgate Park, Crawley, £10 per session).  At Horsham, Woods for Learning has half term sessions at Owlbeech Woods. Most are already sold out but when I looked there were some spaces still for Friday 19 and you can book ahead for Easter too (10.00am – 15.00pm £27 a day, discounts for siblings). It’s geared for ages 5+ unless accompanied.

Half term workshops, Bird Studios, Brighton, until 21 Feb 

Bird Studios in Brighton is promising half term workshops that are ‘cheaper than childcare’. For £25 a day your four-12 year-olds can learn to dance, sing, act and make arts and crafts with popular themes like Minions, Star Wars and Harry Potter. It’s £15 a half day, £25 a full day, £125 a week (or £99 if booked before 14 Feb)


How the Koala Learnt to Hug, The Hawth, Crawley, 27 February

Koala Hawth Brochure Image with text

A cast of critters will be keeping little ‘uns amused in cutsey sounding Australian musical How the Koala Learnt to Hug. The show is based on a best-selling book by Steven Lee. It’s on at a bedtime-friendly 2.30 pm and is aimed at over-threes.

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