As much as we love telly and video games, we have to admit: a half-term in London spent on the sofa is one wholly wasted. With that in mind, here’s our round-up of the capital's best events, activities and more to keep the kids entertained over the Spring half-term (Monday February 13 – Sunday February 19 2017). Batteries not included – or necessary.
RECOMMENDED: Explore the full guide to half-term in London as we'll be updating this page with events nearer the time
Top ten half-term activities for kids
Kew Gardens' celebration of the orchid returns for its 22nd year, this time with an Indian theme. Sounds of India will surround the visual displays in the glasshouse, which will feature elaborate floral creations inspired by Indian markets. The festival includes behind the scenes tours, hands-on workshops and ‘Orchid Lates’ - allowing you continue the fun after hours.
Once upon a time, the basement of Madame Tussauds was home to the Chamber of Horrors. The wax likenesses of murderers and criminals have made way for a Sherlock Holmes-themed interactive experience, which brings the world of the fictional detective to life for a walk-through adventure. See Holmes's drawing room, walk along a lamp-lit Victorian street and search for the infamous 'demon' hound on a dark moor. This permanent addition to Madame Tussauds London is included in the venue's entry price.
Iris has a brand new friend, but she knows her family and friends won't love him quite as much as she does. This story of a girl trying to hide a lion in all sorts of devious ways is adapted by Peter Glanville from Helen Stephen's children's story, and will feature songs by singer-songwriter Barb Jungr. There are two versions: one for todders ages 1-2, and another for kids ages 3-6.
On September 2, 350 years ago, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary about ‘an infinite great fire’ raging in London. Homes burned, people scrambled to save their goods and pigeons ‘hovered about the windows and balconies till they some of them burned their wings’. It’s a compelling tale but, for a museum, a tricky one to tell. How do you stage an exhibition when so many of the artefacts have been incinerated?
Downstairs the artists' names are immediately recognisable; upstairs – where comic strip art from 2000AD, the Dandy and the Beano is displayed – is much more about the characters portrayed: Rupert the Bear, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd et al. The excellent shop is recommended. Children's animation workshops are held during school holidays.
In addition to the hundreds of varieties of fish and sea life from all over the world, including stingrays, sharks, piranhas and sea scorpions, the aquarium's Shark Walk allows visitors to walk over a floating glass platform with sharks swimming just below their feet.