Looking for a family day out – or perhaps a short break together – this May Bank Holiday half term? From robots to Vikings, flamingos to Gruffalos, there’s a huge range of fantastic family experiences to enjoy across the UK. And as a Boundless member, you can make great savings on many of them. May Half Term runs from Saturday 27 May to Sunday 4 June 2017. Here’s our pick of what’s on:
Step into a sci-fi world
This spring, London is home to an army of robots, droids and mechanical marvels, guaranteed to entertain junior sci-fi fans. At The O2, the Star Wars Identities exhibition (until 3 September 2017) features hundreds of costumes and props from the classic saga – including a menacing Darth Vader and shaggy Chewbacca – plus the chance to create your very own Star Wars avatar. If you’re a Boundless member, Book your tickets here to get an exclusive discount.
Meanwhile, over at the Science Museum you’ll find the world’s largest collection of real-life Robots (until 3 September 2017). From Renaissance automata to the latest, eerily lifelike Japanese androids, it’s a show that’s bound to spark conversations about humanity as well as science.
And at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, the robots have been specially designed to show how real-life animals live and behave. The acclaimed Robot Zoo exhibition (until 29 October 2017) features giant mechanised creatures, from giraffes to grasshoppers, and lots of hands-on fun for younger kids.
Enjoy a wild encounter
Prefer to get closer to nature? May is a great time to explore Britain’s zoos and wildlife parks, and many offer special wildlife experiences for junior animal-lovers.
At Yorkshire’s Flamingo Land zoo park, kids can step into the enclosure for half an hour with penguins, meerkats or lemurs. At Drusilla’s Park in East Sussex, you can feed the mischievous coatis or even (by appointment) hang out with the pandas. And at Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, brave souls can even feed the lions (through a fence, we’re relieved to learn).
Many wildlife parks also offer Junior Zookeeper experiences, lasting a half or full day and giving kids a real taste of life behind the scenes. Try Cotswold Wildlife Park just off the M4, Dudley Zoo near Birmingham, or Edinburgh Zoo.
Take a theme park ride
Got little thrill seekers on your hands? The UK’s theme parks have plenty of new rides for 2017. At Legoland, the new Ninjago The Ride (due to open May) gives aspiring ninjas the chance to throw fireballs and shockwaves for real, using hand gesture technology.
Over at Chessington, tots and toddlers will love the new Gruffalo River Ride - a lazy river voyage into the famous ‘deep, dark wood’. At Drayton Manor Theme Park’s steam-engine-themed Thomas World, there’s a new James and the Red Balloon carousel ride. And at Alton Towers the much-loved CBeebies Land is getting bigger, with a new GoJetters Vroomster Zoom ride and Furchester Hotel Live experience for this season.
Older kids will love the adrenaline-fuelled rides at Thorpe Park, though terrifying new VR ride Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon is limited to over 13s (and will scare the pants off many grown-ups).
Step back in time
Image English Heritage
For a more educational day out, head into the past. At Dover Castle in Kent, 27-29 May is World War II weekend - kids can admire a Spitfire and tackle the assault course at English Heritage’s biggest event of the year.
Up in York, the Jorvik Viking Centre has recently reopened after 2015’s floods, and new technology now allows you to smell the streets of 10th century York (phew). At Hampton Court Palace, there’s the history-themed Magic Garden play area for kids to explore – complete with dragons.
And if you want to keep a young motor enthusiast happy, head to the Cotswold Motoring Museum in the chocolate-box village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Just opened is the Summer of Love exhibition, a nostalgic look back to the wheels of 1967.
Or catch a movie
Finally, half term isn’t complete without a trip to the cinema. Among the new releases, for older kids there’s action galore in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (12A) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (12A). Youngsters will enjoy the fourth in the hit US book-to-film series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (U). Or for something a little different, My Life as a Courgette (PG) is an award-winning animation set in an orphanage, a thoughtful and charming alternative to Hollywood fare.