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Top 10 half-term activities in London

Impress the kids with some of the quirkiest activities London has to offer this February half-term

© Yvette Woodhouse

As much as we love telly and video games, we have to admit: a half-term (Monday February 15 - Friday February 19 2016) 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 February half-term. Batteries not included – or necessary.

RECOMMENDED: the full guide to half-term in London for kids

Top 10 half-term activities for kids


Family Sundays at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Arts, crafts and stories: the Sunday afternoon trifecta for families in need of activities, is available on the first and last Sunday of each month at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Get creative at Artplay, a drop-in session where kids learn to make everything from bunting to paper puppets. Or, if the clan’s feeling tuckered out, settle in for Gallery Stories, a series of interactive tales presented in the main gallery at 2.30pm and 3.10pm. No booking required.

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Dulwich Picture Gallery , Dulwich Village Sunday November 29 2015 - Sunday December 6 2015

Up at The O2

This attraction at the O2 gives visitors the chance to go on a guided expedition across the arena roof, via a tensile fabric walkway that peaks at 53m above ground level. At the summit there's an observation platform, giving views right over London: the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, the Shard and Canary Wharf. This outdoor challenge begins at 'Base Camp', where participants are kitted out in jumpsuits, shoes and safety harnesses before being guided in groups along the walkway.

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Greenwich Peninsula

Cartoon Museum

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.

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Sealife London Aquarium

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.

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South Bank

Science Museum

Critics' choice

The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. Launch Pad is a popular hands-on gallery where children can explore basic scientific principles.

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Tower of London

Despite the exhausting crowds and long climbs up stairways, this is one of Britain's finest historical attractions. Who would not be fascinated by a close-up look at the crown of Queen Victoria or the armour (and prodigious codpiece) of King Henry VIII? The buildings of the Tower span 900 years of history and the bastions and battlements house a series of interactive displays on the lives of British monarchs, and the often excruciatingly painful deaths of traitors. There's easily enough to do here to fill a whole day, and it's worth joining one of the highly recommended and entertaining free tours led by the Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters). Make the Crown Jewels your first stop, and as early in the day as you possibly can: if you wait until you've pottered around a few other things and generally got your bearings, the queues are usually immense. The other big draw to the tower is the Royal Armoury in the White Tower, with its swords, armour, poleaxes, halberds, morning stars (spiky maces) and other gruesome tools for separating human beings from their body parts. There's also (from July 10 2013) a redisplay of the Line of Kings – an original exhibition dating back to the 1680s – which includes wooden horses carved by Grinling Gibbons, Henry VIII's armour and a scale model of tilting knights. Kids are entertained by swordsmanship games, coin-minting activities and even a child-sized long bow. The garderobes (medieval toilets) also seem to appeal.

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Tower Hill

The View from the Shard

The View from the Shard offers panoramic, 360-degree views across the capital and beyond (up to 64km or 40 miles on a clear day) from 244 metres (800 feet) up – almost twice the height of any other viewing point in London. The attraction is a two-level deck (the first enclosed, the second open to the elements above head-height) on floors 68 to 72 of the skyscraper, to which visitors are whisked in two stages on supersmooth, high-speed lifts that take just 30 seconds to reach the 'View', accompanied by a soaring anthem recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Joyful Company of Singers – a decidely upmarket twist on elevator muzak. Tongue-in-cheek illustrations of famous Londoners past and present, including Margaret Thatcher and Karl Marx on a tandem, and Vidal Sassoon and Vivienne Westwood giving Charles I a makeover, and video screens and display panels with digital maps of London and archive footage of city life remind you of your surroundings. In the viewing galleries themselves, digital 'Tell:scopes' update the coin-in-the-slot binoculars at traditonal viewpoints - touchscreens allow you to call up additional information on the buildings you're looking at, and help you locate the important landmarks, as well as allowing you to zoom in or see what the view is like at different times of day. There are no toilets or refreshments on the viewing levels.

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London Bridge

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Run by the team behind London Zoo and set in 600 acres of Bedfordshire parkland with views across the Chilterns, Whipsnade offers a huge variety of animals including all the favourites – chimps, lions, elephants, camels, zebras, hippos and giraffes. The emphasis is on learning about how the animals live in near-as-possble natural habitats, with viewing huts providing exceptional views through glass walls. There are also daily shows where you can watch feeding time and find out more about the zoo's exotic beasts. The ZSL Animal Photography Prize Exhibition runs at the zoo until July 1, featuring impressive images of animals around the world.

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More half-term activities for kids

Golden Hinde Overnight Living History Experience

An opportunity to sail the seven seas in the company of famous and infamous explorer Sir Francis Drake. Sleepovers aboard the Golden Hinde, a reconstruction of Drake's ship permanently moored on the southern bank of the Thames, offer a 'voyage' in search of hidden treasures, and perhaps a bit of plundering too. 

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Golden Hinde , South Bank Saturday November 28 2015 - Saturday December 19 2015

Looking for more half-term ideas?

Half-term in London

London has enough fun lined up this half-term to have the family raring to leave the house

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By: Time Out London Things To Do



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...


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.


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.