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Museum of London
© Museum of London

Squeeze more in this half-term

Plenty of ideas designed to help you squeeze even more into your half-term break

By Time Out in association with Actimel
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The more you put in, the more you get out. It's an old saying but it rings true – at work, at home, with the family. Whether you're trying to squeeze in a family day out between dentist appointments and a day at the office or you just want to make your day trip budget go further, we've put together lots of ideas for things to do, whatever the weather. From adding something extra to your day in the park to finding somewhere for lunch that also has a play area for the kids to let off some steam, you can squeeze more in to the school holiday – have a look at the list below and give it a try.

Indoor activities

Art on the Underground

Things to do Cultural centres South Bank

Make getting there half the fun. Artist Mark Wallinger has designed strange puzzles to be discovered and solved at most of the tube stations across London. Go to the website and find out if the stations you're using have a surprise you can challenge the kids with.

Natural History Museum
Courtesy of Trustees of Natural History Museum

Exploring at the Natural History Museum

Museums Natural history South Kensington

If you're going to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, the kids can borrow an Explorer Backpack free of charge from the information desk. Complete with a gallery guide, safari hat and binoculars, it helps the little ones get in the mood!

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© Giles Penfound

National Army Museum

Museums Military and maritime Chelsea

The National Army Museum in Chelsea is a fascinating free museum that includes soft play for babies, dressing-up costumes and lots of other activities to keep under-eights busy, without you spending a single penny.

SeaLife London Aquarium
© Garry Samuels

SeaLife London Aquarium

Attractions Zoos and aquariums South Bank

SeaLife London Aquarium unveils a fabulous new exhibit this half term, called Claws, featuring massive crabs and other crustaceans. There are talks and feeding displays every day, but one of the most spectacular sessions is the piranha feeding frenzy. It only happens at 12.30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so make sure you time your visit to catch them at it.

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Vue Westfield London

Cinemas Multiplex Shepherd’s Bush

Every Saturday and Sunday, and daily in school holidays, kids' morning cinema at the Vue Westfield London costs just £1.75 per ticket and £3 for 3D movies.

Science Museum
© Justin Sutcliffe for the Science Museum

Science Museum

Museums Science and technology South Kensington

The Science Museum is one of London's best family treasures and it's free to visit, but you can also book ahead to enjoy some brilliant extras for a small charge. In the Fly 360° flight simulator, for example, you can feel what it's like to be in control of a Red Arrows jet. It's £12 per capsule for two people (adults or children aged nine or over), but there's a brilliant Fly Kids session too, for just £2 per child.

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Tate Modern

Art Galleries Bankside

Tate Modern is free to visit all year, but at weekends and in school holidays the Open Studio organises free craft and art sessions for families that are just drop-in – no need to book.

Ghost Bus Tours

Attractions Trafalgar Square

If you want to take a bus tour of London, why not do something different that will especially suit kids into gory and ghoulish tales. The London Ghost Bus Tours run daily at 7.30pm and 9pm departing just off Trafalgar Square. The Ghost Bus Tours is a theatrical sightseeing tour around the darker side of London on a classic 1960s Routemaster bus. Onboard actors and technical trickery create a hilarious comedy horror show the kids will never forget.

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Outdoor activities

Coram's Fields

Attractions Parks and gardens Bloomsbury

Right in the centre of town, near Russell Square, Coram’s Fields is a secure park with swings, slides and an adventure playground. It’s free to visit, but only adults accompanying children are admitted. There are goats, chickens, sheep and rabbits to say hello to as well!

Hyde Park

Attractions Sightseeing Hyde Park

If you want to get some fresh air in Hyde Park at half term, drop into the Isis Education Centre at the LookOut on February 19 and 20 for free craft and birdwatching activities.

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Tower of London
© Jonathan Brady

Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Tower Hill

If you’re planning a trip to the Tower of London, write in advance to apply for free tickets to see the Ceremony of the Keys, when this magnificent stronghold is locked up each night. It’s very popular, so you do have to plan ahead. Find out how to apply for tickets on the Historic Royal Palaces website.

Alternative London Tours

Things to do Literary events Spitalfields

If you’ve got older children who are nagging to go to one of London’s funkier markets, head for Shoreditch and time your visit to follow an Alternative London tour that explores the graffiti and hidden gems of east London – and you only pay what you want.

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The Royal Mews

Attractions Sightseeing The Mall

If you’re going to take a look at the Queen’s des res, get closer by making time to visit the Royal Mews, which is open to the public all year round. Here you can see the royal carriages, horses and livery used for all the biggest occasions. There’s a drop-in family activities room, too.

commercial - actimel - london zoo
© Tristan Newkey-Burden for London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo

Attractions Zoos and aquariums Regent’s Park

Make more of a trip to ZSL London Zoo. Book ahead for animal encounters and get to meet penguins and giraffes, or go one further and have a family sleepover at London Zoo’s wildlife park at Whipsnade, at one of their really cool lookout lodges.

More ways to keep the kids captivated

We're Going on a Bear Hunt; Created by Michael Rosen; Music and lyrics by Benji Bower; Directed by Sally Cookson.
Francis Loney

Children's theatre

Even the smallest members of the family can enjoy the theatre. Enjoy our picks of the theatre, shows and performances will suit the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown-ups too. 

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© Benedict Johnson

Museum sleepovers

Want to sleep with dinosaurs? Bed down under an Elizabethan cannon? Or wake up beside the mummies? Time Out rounds up the top attractions that will let your kids bed down for the night. Call venues to find out dates of upcoming sleepovers.

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