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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 May half-term

Family activity day © Pia Ostlund

As much as we love telly and video games, we have to admit: a half-term (Mon May 25 - Fri May 29 2015) 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. Batteries not included – or necessary.

1

Create and Make

Kids aged five to 11 can become a designer in these informal art workshops inspired by the Design Museum's temporary exhibitions. The monthly events focus on making activities and are free with museum entry. No booking required.

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Design Museum, Tower Bridge Sunday August 30 2015
2

Ceramics Family Sessions

The whole family can get their hands dirty in these creative ceramics sessions. Friendly, helpful assistance comes from an artist and a childcare professional, and all materials and tools are provided. Your creations will even be fired so that you can take them home to be admired or used as you wish. Those who are very productive can purchase extra clay for £5.

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Blighty Coffee, Finsbury Park Saturday August 8 2015 - Saturday August 29 2015
3

Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze Classes

Gorilla Circus take kids and adults through the basics of aerial circus skills. The open-air trapeze contraption consists of two swings 25ft up. Adults and children alike gather for the two hour session – which sees you progress from hooking your legs over your head and hanging upside down to getting caught by an acrobat.

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Regents Park, Regent's Park Until Sunday September 6 2015
4

Plantastic

This family-friendly, interactive exhibition is one big tribute to the plant. They're clever, useful and beautiful and visitors will discover a huge amount about their diminutive world through exhibits and games. Discover how a bee sees the world, how essential plants are to the world's survival and how they move without being uprooted. From May onwards specially designed outdoor displays such as a mass planting of sunflowers and a border themed around pollinators will be added to the exhibition.

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Horniman Museum, Forest Hill Until Sunday November 1 2015
5

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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Tower Hamlets
6

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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Bloomsbury
7

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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Waterloo
8

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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Knightsbridge
9

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 Bridge
10

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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Southwark

Looking for more half-term ideas?

Half-term in London

Summer looks to be on its way so the kids needn't be stuck in front of the telly all week. This May half-term London has enough fun lined up to have the family raring to leave the house

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Comments

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.