IT’S the start of half-term next weekend and the excitement is building.
No wonder, as it’s the first time in months that families are free to enjoy Britain’s attractions on a day out or short break.
So choose from the delights of a seaside resort, a jousting spectacular, a canal trip, a stay in a castle and much more.
Trisha Harboard has selected a bundle of fun-filled experiences for all the family.
JOUST THE JOB
Blenheim Palace will be alive to the thunder of hooves and clatter of lances on shields as it hosts the Knights of Middle England’s Jousting Tournament from May 29 to 31.
Knights in armour will take to the field on their steeds in a display of bravery and skill against the stunning backdrop of the palace.
Home to the dukes of Marlborough since 1705, the Oxfordshire estate was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.
Set in more than 2,000 acres of Capability Brown-landscaped parkland, the palace is also where Sir Winston Churchill was born and an exhibition just opened in his honour.
Adult ticket, £18.50, child £9. See blenheimpalace.com.
Beamish, the “living museum of the North”, cannot wait to welcome families at half-term.
After restrictions were lifted on Monday, the County Durham museum reopened many of its period places – including the Edwardian dentist, Co-op, chemist and bank.
Beamish’s 1950s buses are running and you can enjoy table service in the tea rooms in the 1900s town.
Davy’s fish and chips, the sweet shop, bakery and pub are open for takeaway treats.
Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish deputy director, said: “We’re incredibly grateful for everyone’s ongoing support.”
Adult annual membership with unlimited access £19.50, child £11.50. Make sure you book a time slot on beamish.org.uk.
Walk the walls of Lincoln Castle for superb views of the cathedral, city and countryside.
A family ticket for the Medieval Wall Walk, and entry to the Victorian prison and original 1215 Magna Carta, costs from £37.
Explore the historic city on a Mystery Treasure Trail, a self-guided tour to discover Lincoln’s past while solving clues. Trail booklets for four to five people cost £9.99.
Nearby, 42-acre Hanworth Country Park has camping pitches, static caravans and luxury lodges with hot tubs.
The coffee shop Brewers offers locally sourced food, and beer and wine too.
Tent pitches start from £15 per night. See visitlincoln.com.
Rams are running riot in Derby. The new Museum Of Making opened on Friday, launching a host of events including the Derby Ram Trail, featuring 30 uniquely decorated ram sculptures.
A flock of 5ft rams celebrating the city’s close association with the ancient mythical beast will create the new free, walkable art trail from May 27 to August 22.
A new app will allow families to digitally interact with the rams – see derbyramtrail.org.
The museum, in the city’s historic Silk Mill, has hands-on experiences and immersive displays.
Free entry, but time slots must be booked in advance – for details see derbymuseums.org/museum-of-making.
Treganhoe in West Cornwall is a working farm so kids can feed the chickens, sheep and pigs every morning.
It has been in the James family for the past 100 years, and Sue and Ivor are happy to introduce guests to the animals and suggest places to visit, including beaches off the beaten track.
Land’s End, Penzance and Mousehole, one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall, are close by, as is the amazing open-air Minack Theatre, which is open again.
Three nights from June 4 for up to six people in a canvas lodge with en suite facilities costs from £645.
LEARN NORSE CODE
Active families are bound to enjoy a short break in Herefordshire.
Go canoeing on the River Wye for an unusual view of Goodrich Castle, or feel an adrenalin rush on the high ropes and speed around on quad bikes at Oaker Wood activity centre.
Try six traditional Nordic games, including axe-throwing and archery, at The Viking Games in Ewyas Harold, and bike through old English villages – known as the black and white villages because of the timbered houses, some from medieval times.
Stay at 5H Arrow Bank Country Park in Eardisland. Three nights’ self-catering in a two-bedroom timber lodge sleeping four costs from £339.
Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast has 15 miles of soft-sand beaches – and latest attractions include a 164ft London Eye-style wheel in the Sea Life Centre Gardens, with spectacular views for up to ten miles.
A family ticket is £23. For £10, you can board the seafront’s Slingshot ride, which propels two people in a capsule nearly 200ft into the air.
The Pleasure Beach has a new Supreme Waltzer, while the Hippodrome circus has a Pirates Live show over half-term. Tickets from £14. See visitgreatyarmouth.co.uk.
Three nights’ self-catering for up to six people at Haven Seashore holiday park, from May 28, is from £457. See haven.com.
Warwick Castle’s Zog Play And Stay package is the ultimate sleepover for kids.
During the day, little dragons can follow the new Zog And The Quest For The Golden Star trail and see the birds of prey and knights roaming the castle walls.
At night, they can hear all about Zog’s adventures, with a cosy storytime including a visit from the brave dragon and special Zog goodies in their tent or lodge.
Lodges sleep up to seven and include self-contained washrooms. Glamping tents, with shared washroom facilities, sleep up to four.
B&B for a family of four including a day’s entry costs from £389. Day tickets from £21 per person. See warwick-castle.com.
SCIENCE OF SOUND
There are a host of fantastic experiments and demos to discover how sound is created at a new live show at Winchester Science Centre in Hampshire.
Journey through the Planetarium, spotting stars, planets and the Milky Way as a presenter talks about the constellations appearing on the 360-degree dome.
Book in advance, tickets from £11.88, under-threes free. See winchestersciencecentre.org.
Winchester Cathedral also has half-term tours for kids. Over-12s can climb the turret and see the bell chamber.
Adults £9.95, under-16s free. See winchester-cathedral.org.uk.
TOAST TO THE COAST
Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa has 76 luxury bedrooms and suites and is a short drive from Liverpool.
Explore Formby’s sand dunes where from the highest point you can see Snowdonia, Anglesey, Liverpool Bay and even Blackpool Tower. And visit Freshfield Squirrel Reserve to see the rare native red squirrel.
There are great coastal paths for cycle rides, with bikes available from the resort, which can also arrange horse-riding.
B&B for two adults and one child is from £139 per room, £10 supplement per child up to age 15. Under-fives stay and eat free. Package including dinner is from £179.
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