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Take your family on a perfect half-term outing in London

From festivals to inspire little imaginations to dino-themed mini golf, there’s loads of off-peak family fun to be had in London over the school holiday

by Time Out in association with Transport for London
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Need some ideas for entertaining the little ones during half-term? We’ve selected a bunch of exciting, hands-on activities – many of which are free. You can get to them all during off-peak hours (that’s during the day, evenings and weekends), which means you’ll be saving on travel too. For grown-ups, Transport for London’s off-peak fares start at just £1.50 for a single adult pay as you go fare. All kids under 11 can travel free at any time on buses and trams. Up to four kids under 11 can travel free at any time on Tube, DLR, London Overground, and TfL Rail services when accompanied by an adult.

Remember to check TfL Journey Planner before you travel.

Alice Boagey

1. Imagine Children’s Festival

The Southbank Centre’s annual festival for kids is a perfect half-term gem. Running February 13-24, it offers many free events for ages up to 12, including a rhyming workshop for under-fives (Feb 18), live music with Heart n Soul for children and young people with learning difficulties (Feb 20), and eighteenth-century doll making with drag artist Timberlina, followed by a doll parade (Feb 22). Some events require buying tickets, including an interactive Peppa Pig concert set to a live orchestra (Feb 15-17, £12-£16) and an out-of-this-world illustration session with ‘The Skies Above My Eyes’ children’s author/illustrator duo Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer (Feb 16, £6-£8).

Getting there: Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee or Waterloo & City line to Waterloo.
Local bus routes: 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 243, 521.

Golders Hill Park
Layton Thompson

2. Golders Hill Park Zoo

Attractions Golders Green

Ever seen a ring-tailed coati up close? Go and have a gander this half-term. You’ll find these adorable raccoon-like critters and more in Golders Hill Park Zoo. Located in the western corner of Hampstead Heath, visitors of all ages can stroll the leafy pathways to see mammals and birds, both exotic and indigenous to the UK. Elsewhere in the park is a bandstand and sculpture trail. Free.

Getting there: Northern line to Golders Green.
Local bus routes: 210, 268.

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Ben Rowe

3. Mudchute Farm

Things to do Isle of Dogs

Open daily, this inner-city farm is one of London’s largest, stretching across 32 acres that offer a breath of fresh air away from the buildings of Canary Wharf. It’s dog-friendly, with winding pathways taking you around the enclosures, which are filled with pigs, sheep, alpacas and more. Head there at 9am or 3pm to witness feeding time. Free.

Getting there: DLR to Mudchute.
Local bus routes: D3, D6, D7, 135.

4. Bongalong

As part of the first-ever London Borough of Culture programme, there will be workshops, talks, performances and more in Waltham Forest in 2019. One of those is Bongalong – a class where under-ones are invited to sing, dance and express themselves creatively. You’ll find it at the London Borough of Culture hub – One Hoe Street – every Friday morning at 11am. £6.50.

Getting there: Victoria line or Overground to Walthamstow Central.
Local bus routes: 34, 97, 123, 215, 275, 357, 675.

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Ham House and Garden
Photograph: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

5. Family activities at Ham House

During half-term, seventeenth-century Ham House needs help from budding gardeners. Find out what goes into planning and creating your own pretty plot in the Family Picking Garden (Feb 18-19), then learn how to prepare the flowerbeds for seeding by shuffling like penguins over the soil (Feb 20-21). Both events start at 11.30am. Don’t forget to wrap up warm and wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Free with museum admission (£12.50 adults, £6.25 children, £31.25 family). Booking advised.

Getting there: District line to Richmond.
Local bus routes: 65, 371.

Jurassic Encounter Adventure Golf
© www.robbesant.com

6. Jurassic Encounter

Imagine how much more fun mini golf would be with nine massive dinosaurs that move and roar! Jurassic Encounter isn’t just a mini golf course, it’s an adventure in time travel that’ll have you putting in prehistoric caves, beside murky waterfalls and over rocky islands. Pitching up midweek will save you a pound a person, too. £9-£10 adults, £7-£8 children, £29-£33 family.

Getting there: Northern line to South Wimbledon.
Local bus routes: 131, 152, K5.

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Adrian Wroth

7. Toddler trampolining at Oxygen

Things to do Acton

In one-hour sessions every day in Acton, pint-sized jumpers aged five and under can brave the bouncy playground at their own pace in a toddlers’ session. £6 per person (toddler and supervising adult). £2.50 per person for mandatory jump socks.

Getting there: Central line to West Acton.
Local bus routes: 95, 440, 487.

Wonderlab at the Science Museum, 18 things to do before you're 18
Plastiques Photography Limited

8. Wonderlab at the Science Museum

Museums Science and technology South Kensington

Up in The Equinor Gallery, on level three of the museum, you’ll find more than 50 exhibits split into seven zones. In this space, visitors will experience the maths and science behind everyday situations. Get hands-on at the chemistry bar, witness a controlled lightning strike and see something go bang in one of four daily demonstrations. £10 adults, £8 children, under-threes free.

Getting there: District, Circle or Piccadilly line to South Kensington.
Local bus routes: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, C1.

Get there for less!

T001-00775
© Transport for London

Get there for less!

TfL’s off-peak pay as you go fares mean that you’ll save more pennies this half-term. Off-peak fares apply on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services. You can tap into the wonderful world of off-peak every weekday before 6.30am, between 9.30am and 3.59pm, and after 7pm. Off-peak fares also apply all day at weekends and on public holidays. Always touch in and out with the same card or device to pay the right fare. Touch in only on buses and trams. To check a fare, visit TfL’s single fare finder.

Kids travel free!
All kids under 11 can travel free at any time on buses and trams. Up to four kids under 11 can travel free at any time on Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services when accompanied by an adult. An adult is anyone 16 and over using an adult rate ticket (but not a Group Day Travelcard), pay as you go or travel concession.

Travel in Zones 2-6 for £1.50
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey not going via Zone 1 on Tube, DLR and most London Overground services.

Travel into Zone 1 from £2.40
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey from Zone 2 into Zone 1.

Travel by bus and tram for £1.50
TfL’s Hopper fare lets you make unlimited bus and tram journeys within one hour of first touching in for just £1.50.

TfL Cultural Map placeholder
© Transport for London

Your key to London adventures

The Cultural TfL Map is your key to finding more of London's family friendly hidden gems. This interactive map reveals more than 500 Time Out-recommended museums, galleries, street art and more, all within a short walk or bus ride of each station. Many of these experiences are free!

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Wonderful World of Off-Peak Winter badge
© Transport for London

Discover more of the wonderful world of off-peak

We know that affordable, convenient public transport is the key to accessing the best that London has to offer – and thanks to TfL’s affordable off-peak fares and other discounts across the network, the possibilities for adventure are wider than ever. Here, you'll find plenty more unexpected and exciting off-peak outings.

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