Top 10 half-term activities in London

Spend the week with the kids doing some of the coolest and quirkiest activities London has to offer this October half-term

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As much as we love telly and video games, we have to admit: a half-term spent hunched on the sofa is one wholly wasted. With that in mind, here’s our round-up of London’s best events, activities and even more this half-term (Monday October 27 – Friday October 31 2014). Batteries not included – or necessary.

  1. Flick through our top 10 half-term events
  2. See them as a list
  3. See the best of the rest
  • © National Theatre

    Inside the Horse

    This family friendly event goes behind the scenes of critically acclaimed blockbuster War Horse with Jimmy Grimes. The Associate Puppetry Director for the production demonstrates how the puppets work and explains how the show came to fruition. The event is made extra special with Joey, the life-size horse puppet meeting visitors after the talk. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This event is one of several half-term events at the Imperial War Museum. See the Imperial War Museum website for a full list of events.

    Tue Oct 28 - Wed Oct 29

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  • © Menino Mundo

    London International Animation Festival

    For ten days the LIAF takes over the Barbican's cinemas with over 200 animated films from around the world to show that there's more to animation than 3D blockbusters. Amongst the techniques used in the festival's selected indie flicks are paint on glass, collage, sculpture, cut outs and puppets. On the opening night there will be a special programme to honour the centenary of the birth of Scottish animator Norman McLaren, plus three children's programmes (for ages 0-15) running throughout the festival, as well as talks and workshops. Kids of all ages will find popcorn fodder in strands including Amazing Animations (a workshop and film collection for ages 0-7; Oct 25, 10am); Marvellous Animations (a morning of films for ages 7-11; Oct 26, 11am); ‘Tom and the Slice of Bread with Strawberry Jam and Honey’ (a series of shorts introduced by the animator Andreas Hykade; Nov 1, 11am); and drop-in flipbook workshops led by animator Elizabeth Hobbs (Oct 25, 1pm & 3.30pm).

    Fri Oct 24 - Sun Nov 2

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  • © Historic Royal Palaces

    The Royal Wee

    Even kings and queens have to relieve themselves, and the Georgians didn't have such sanitary systems as we do. Get a whiff of the smellier, murkier corners of the Georgian royal court and find out if you have the skills needed to be a royal physician in these half-term activities at Hampton Court Palace.

    Sat Oct 25 - Sun Nov 2

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  • © LLDC

    Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Boat Tours

    There’s a new way to see London’s newest park – from the water. Navigating the waterways that run through the Olympic Park, the tours start from Stratford Waterfront near the Aquatics Centre. While you're there, don't miss the truly awesome Tubling Bay Playground. The boat tours run daily (weather and park events schedule permitting) and last 45 minutes, heading north up the Waterworks River to take in views of the Copper Box, the Olympic Stadium and the various artworks dotted around the beautifully landscaped parklands. Tickets are available on the day from the Lee & Stort Boat Co pontoon.

    Until Wed Dec 31

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  • © Grant Museum

    Marvellous Mammals

    Come face to taxidermy face with a whole load of fascinating creatures this half-term as the Grant Museum introduces families to the wonderfully varied world of mammals. Visitors can even get their hands on some unusual specimens such as tiger skulls and elephant tusks. The workshops are free.

    Mon Oct 27 - Sat Nov 1

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  • © Shirley Sherwood Collection

    Deadly and Disgusting Plants and Fungi

    Get a taste – not literally – of the natural world's most sneaky and dangerous flora with this collection of special tours, displays and workshops at Kew Gardens. Young visitors can follow clues and puzzles on a trail through the gardens to help save London from the evil Smedly Deadly and his poisonous plants, meeting some interesting characters along the way. A Deadly Poisons Trail will introduce you to terrifying plants, including the tree favoured by serial killers and the beans with the world's highest toxicity. Magical Mushroom workshops will take place on The Secluded Lawn each morning (11am-1pm) to help you find out more about fungi, and daily tours of the gardens revealing the darker side of plants will take place at noon (limited capacity – register with the guide 15 minutes beforehand). All this life-saving information is free with admission, so there'll be no excuses for plant-based risk-taking in future.

    Sat Oct 18 - Sun Nov 2

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  • Family activity day © Pia Ostlund

    Half Term Activities at Chelsea Physic Garden

    Kids can get stuck into a selection of nature-inspired activities and workshops at Chelsea Physic Garden this half-term, with some events taking place in the garden if the weather holds up for long enough. Rococo Chocolates are helping with the tasting sessions on Chocolate Tuesday (Oct 28), you can find out about the healing qualities of plants and make your own ointments in Lotions & Potions (Oct 29), get involved in The Big Draw by creating some Autumn Art (Oct 30) and meet all sorts of interesting animals at Creepy Crawling (Oct 31). See the Chelsea Physic Garden website for more details, times and age ranges.

    Tue Oct 28 - Fri Oct 31

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  • © Rob Greig

    The King's Table

    Children aged five to eleven are invited to hear all about King George II's dinners from his head cook in these storytelling sessions at Kensington Palace for October half-term. Games and craft sessions will also be taking place in the palace, and all activities are included in the price of admission.

    Sat Oct 25 - Sun Nov 2

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  • © Maciej Winiarczyk

    Astronomy Photographer of the Year

    Among the awe-inspiring shortlisted entries for this year’s competition are pics of psychedelic auroras, spine-tingling meteor showers and the centre of the Heart Nebula. The last example is a star-clustered region of glowing gas in the Cassiopeia constellation – in case you didn’t already know. The free exhibition features remarkable photos from a record number of submissions, showcasing remarkable feats of astrophotography for a sixth year. It’s a chance to see magical views of both our own night sky and of galaxies far, far away. The winning spacey visions come from dozens of professional and amateur snappers in four categories: ‘Earth and Space’, ‘Our Solar System’, ‘Deep Space’ and ‘Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ for under-16s.

    Until Sun Feb 1

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  • It's My Party

    Wilfred is a shy boy. He lives at the Museum of Childhood and it's his birthday, except he doesn't want to celebrate. At least he didn't think so until he saw all the ways there are to enjoy your birthday – with close friends, with a huge party or even on your own. The MOC have pulled together a variety of birthday experiences for their new exhibition, 'It's My Party', including interviews with children and their parents about what have been their preferred ways to celebrate. There's also a special 'Wilfred's Party' installation to show the unique surprises he received from his friends – all of whom have been conjured via artists' interpretations of characters in the MOC's collections.

    Sat Sep 20 - Sun Jul 5

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© National Theatre

Inside the Horse

This family friendly event goes behind the scenes of critically acclaimed blockbuster War Horse with Jimmy Grimes. The Associate Puppetry Director for the production demonstrates how the puppets work and explains how the show came to fruition. The event is made extra special with Joey, the life-size horse puppet meeting visitors after the talk. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This event is one of several half-term events at the Imperial War Museum. See the Imperial War Museum website for a full list of events.

Tue Oct 28 - Wed Oct 29

READ MORE

  1. Flick through our top 10 half-term events
  2. See them as a list
  3. See the best of the rest

Users say

5 comments
lilibartley
lilibartley

Thanks ThomasCrock, I am going to take you up on the Lincoln thing! My daughter is weirdly obsessed with him so that will definitely wile away a few hours...

ThomasCrock
ThomasCrock

great selection. thank you, has been invaluable. Did also go to the new Tiger space at London Zoo, unfortunately was a very rainy day and the tigers (as with most of the animals) were in hiding. Have also been using www.lincolnfingerpuppet.com as a companion to keep the kids amused!

Daniela Dellacqua
Daniela Dellacqua

hello i am very impressed with your choices of children half term activities only i would like to suggest to include a few for the under 5 years old many thanks

Anne Bradley
Anne Bradley

Half term for some parents outside of London started on the 11 February 2013. London should take into account this.

Maureen
Maureen

I do feel sorry for more than 2 kids in family as I feel they do miss out I know my 4 grand children do I want to take them to places but just cant afford places of interest as 4 comes so expensive.