5 of the Best Family Activities for Half-Term in London

half-term in London

Events and activities to keep the little ones entertained this February half-term in London

Words Helen Brown

The Sherlock Holmes Experience

Once home to the Chamber of Horrors, the basement of Madame Tussauds has been transformed into Sherlock Holmes-themed interactive experience, which brings the world of the fictional detective to life. Children will discover Holmes’s drawing room, walk along a lamp-lit Victorian street and search for the infamous ‘demon’ hound on a dark moor. This is a permanent addition to Madame Tussauds London and is included in the venue’s entry price.

Open daily from 8:30am until 6pm.
Marylebone Rd, Marylebone, NW1; madametussauds.com

Magical Lantern Festival

Kids will be engaged for hours exploring this fairytale world of light sculptures
and Chinese art at Chiswick House and Gardens. 65 acres have been packed with over 50 illuminated installations in a dazzling extravaganza of lights, music theatre and an ambitious lantern adventure formed of wildlife, nature, and architecture. Elsewhere lies a 600 square metre ice rink, photo opportunities, Chinese bamboo lantern riddles and a mini funfair and games. Guests can step inside the world of Virtual Reality, from running with dinosaurs to virtual roller coasters and delight in a mouth-watering range of international cuisine and traditional street food, including Spanish Churros, Chinese dumplings and authentic jerk chicken.

Open Thursday to Sunday, from 5pm until 10pm
Chiswick House, Conservatory Yard, W4; magicallantern.uk

The Cartoon Museum

The Cartoon Museum is London’s first cartoon museum, dedicated to showing the best British cartoons, comics, caricatures and animation from the 18th century to the present day.
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; from Rupert the Bear, Dan Dare and Judge Dredd. There is an excellent shop and children’s animation workshops are held during school holidays.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:30am until 5:30pm.
35 Little Russell St, WC1A; cartoonmuseum.org

Fire! Fire!

Take the kids back in time to relive the Great Fire of 1666, a disaster that has shaped the London we know today. They will discover the city before, during and after the Great Fire of London, with an interactive exhibition that marks the fire’s 350th anniversary. They will explore a recreated Pudding Lane, the scene where the fire began, and understand how the city overcame the disaster to emerge through the rubble stronger than ever. Rarely seen 17th-century artifacts are on display as well personal accounts from Londoners alive at the time.

Open daily from 10am until 6pm.
150 London Wall, EC2Y; museumoflondon.org

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

This celebration of the orchid returns for its 22nd year, this time inspired by the vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life of India. Children will be amazed by gigantic floral displays in the shape of elephants, peacocks, tigers and a giant Indian flag, created using exotic orchids, alongside decorative rickshaws, Indian soundscapes, films and much more. The festival includes special half term activities for the little ones, including block printing, Bodhi leaf colouring and face painting. Behind the scenes tours are additionally available as well as the ‘Orchid Lates,’ where families can enjoy live performances of traditional Indian music.

Open 11am until 3:30pm Royal Botanic Gardens, TW9; kew.org

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