History Comes to Life at English Heritage Properties this May Half Term

kenilworthknight99History will come to life across the country this summer, as English Heritage launches a season of spectacular events that tell the story of England, from Roman times to the Twentieth Century.

Over the late May bank holiday weekend and the half term week, visitors are invited to step into history and witness dramatic displays and re-enactments, meet historic characters, get hands-on with activities from times gone by, and enjoy a great family day out!

In this centenary year of the First World War, visitors can discover what places were like in this time of conflict, as English Heritage recreates events that happened on the home front 100 years ago. Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire will host a Wartime Wedding – reliving a real life event from the time – while Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire will host Boots, Bayonets and Brasso, bringing the castle to life with a look back at soldiers representing the British Army through both World Wars.

Wrest Park in Bedfordshire will relive its wartime role in both major conflicts in Wrest at War, including the chance to find out more about its role as a First World War convalescent hospital. Dover Castle in Kent will commemorate later conflict with the family favourite WWII Weekend, a dramatic and explosive event including reconstructions, military encampments, displays and live music.

Further back in time, the Romans will return to Wroxeter Roman City, Shropshire, with displays from the world-famous Ermine Street Guard and their siege machines, while the popular Hadrian’s Wall Festival returns with a week of Roman themed events. Highlights include Roman food and cooking at Birdoswald Roman Fort, the return of Roman cavalry to Chesters Roman Fort, and a Roman Soldier School for kids at Housesteads Roman Fort.

For those in search of medieval knights, there is plenty of chivalry on display to reflect this colourful era. The thrilling Clash of Knights returns at Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire, as teams of knights battle it out in the ultimate contest of skill and strength, while the Knights’ Tournament will visit Old Sarum in Wiltshire, as participants compete for individual glory. Visitors to Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, will find a weekend of mischief, merriment and family activities, as it hosts, Medieval Mayhem!

There’s plenty more to take you through to the modern day too, with the chance to meet historic figures and get hands-on with history across the country. Queen Victoria herself will welcome visitors to Osborne, Isle of Wight, for a celebratory fete complete with sideshow stalls and games, Victorian music and entertainers. At Audley End House and Gardens in Essex, Sonnets and Swords will celebrate the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth I, with merry-making including minstrels, music and military displays.
If you’re stuck for how to entertain the kids over the half term week, there’s plenty going on for families too. Children are invited to attend Soldiers’ School at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, meet Charles Darwin and explore evolution at Down House, Kent, and discover the gruesome side of history at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. And of course, there are always the simple pleasures of climbing up castle walls, exploring hidden corners and imagining yourself as part of history!

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Full event details can be found below; to find out more please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/events, or call English Heritage customer services on 0870 333 1181.

English Heritage is the custodian of over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites through which we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million visitors each year.
www.english-heritage.org.uk

Event listings

Prices as follows:

Members: Adult / Concession / Child / Family
Non-Members: Adult / Concession / Child / Family

WWII Weekend
Dover Castle
Sat 24 – Mon 26 May 2014
10am-5pm
Dover Castle’s popular WWII Weekend is back with a bang! Witness an explosive battle and soak up the atmosphere as the castle returns to the 1940s. Walk through military encampments and get up close to a full size replica Spitfire.
Step inside Mr Smith’s bombed out shop and discover the austerity of the war years from the Ministry of Food. Experience the German field hospital, get tips on the latest period fashion, and witness the firepower display. With live music from the 40’s and plenty of hands-on activities for children, it’ll be a day to remember for all ages. M: £1 / £0.90 / £0.60 / £2.60
NM: £18.50 / £16.70 / £11.10 / £48.10
Booking required: Recommended
Price notes: Some additional charges may apply for activities

Wrest at War
Wrest Park
Sun 25 May – Mon 26 May 2014
10am-6pm
Get ready to take cover as this explosive action-packed weekend propels you into wartime Britain. From the Tommy in the trenches of WWI to the Trooper of the WWII D-Day landings, prepare yourself as you’re drawn into the theatre of war from all quarters at Wrest Park.
Fall into step at soldiers school, scramble into a replica biplane and relive Baron Lucas’ life as a fighter pilot in WWI, and be blown away at the spectacle of the explosive arena show. From the sadness and injury of the battlefield to the make-do-and-mend lifestyle of the homefront, we’ll tell the stories behind the battles that shaped the world as we know it.
M: Free
NM: £10 / £9 / £6 / £26
Booking required: Not Necessary

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Victoria’s Fabulous Fete
Osborne
Sat 24 – Mon 26 May 2014
10am-5pm
Come and celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday with a fabulous fete at her favourite home by the sea. Join the party with traditional Victorian music, entertainers and sideshow games, take a stroll on the private beach, laugh out loud at Punch and Judy and ride the seaside swingboats. Enjoy the spectacle of the soldier’s parade and marvel at exhibits of the Victorian inventor. Kids can make and fly a colourful kite, then play princes and princesses down at Swiss Cottage. Get your portrait taken at the Victorian Photobooth for a souvenir of a fabulous family day you’ll never forget.
M: £1 / £1 / £0.70 / £2.70
NM: £14.90 / £13.50 / £9 / £38.80
Booking required: Recommended
Price notes: Additional charges apply for some activities.

Brodsworth at War – Wartime Wedding
Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
Sat 24 – Mon 26 May 2014
11am-5pm
Charles and Constance Thellusson cordially invite you to attend the wedding of their chauffeur, George, and their cook, Martha, at Brodsworth Hall.
Witness the story of the happy couple, from George’s proposal, to Martha’s preparations while the country is at war. Meet the happy pair, and discover the impact of war and the kindness of the Master and Mistress of the Hall. Don your best hat and raise a glass to the newlyweds. Cheers!
M: Free
NM: £11 / £10 / £7 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Medieval Mayhem!
Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden
Sat 24 – Mon 26 May
11am-5pm
Polish your armour and dust off your tiara – it’s time to become the hero of your own medieval adventure. Mischief and merriment rule the day as you play the king, knight, princess or fool of the castle. Well, if the crown fits…
M: £2.10 / £1.90 / £1.30 / £5.50
NM: £11.40 / £10.30 / £6.50 / £29.70
Booking required: Not Necessary

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Knights Tournament
Old Sarum
Sun 25 & Mon 26 May
11am-5pm
Marvel at our noble knights as they take on the ultimate medieval tournament. Swords will be wielded, archery skills tested and helmets battered. Soak up the sights and sounds of medieval encampments and laugh out loud at our silly jester.
M: £1.50 / £1.40 / £0.90 /
NM: £5.50 / £4.50 / £3.30 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Romans Invade!
Wroxeter Roman City
Sun 25 & Mon 26 May
11am-5pm
Witness the might of the Roman Army as it invades Wroxeter Roman City! Tremble in the face of the formidable Ermine Street Guard and their fearsome siege machines. Budding young centurions can hone their skills in a series of drills and games.
M: £1.50 / £1.40 / £0.90 / £3.90
NM: £6.90 / £6.30 / £4.10 / £17.90
Booking required: Not Necessary

Clash of Knights
Scarborough Castle
Sat 24 – Mon 26 May 2014
11am-5pm
Chain-mailed and adrenalin-fuelled, massed ranks of knights meet head-on. Feel the heat of the battle as they fight with shield and club in this genuine contest of skill and strength. Medieval combat just got personal.
M: Free
NM: £6 / £5.50 / £3.50 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

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Sonnets & Swords: Elizabeth at Audley
Audley End House and Gardens
Sun 25 May – Mon 26 May 2014
10am-6pm
Prepare your bow and perfect your curtsey as you meet Queen Elizabeth I on her royal progress to Audley End. Join in the merry making with minstrels, music and military displays.
M: £1.60 / £1.40 / £1.20 / £4.40
NM: £17 / £15.30 / £10.20 / £44.20
Booking required: Not Necessary

Boots, Bayonets and Brasso
Richmond Castle
Sun 25 & Mon 26 May 2014
11am-5pm
Set in the centre of Richmond town, surrounded by breathtaking views, is a castle with a fascinating war story. For one weekend only, soldiers representing soldiers of the British Army through both World Wars will bring to life the history of the castle.
M: Free
NM: £6 / £5.50 / £3.50 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Warriors at Beeston
Beeston Castle and Woodland Park
Sun 25 & Mon 26 May
11am-5pm
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of life as a 13th Century warrior as the Garrison set up camp at Beeston. Meet the mighty armoured soldiers as they train for war with spear, shield and bow!
M: Free
NM: £6.60 / £6 / £4 / £17.50
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: Car parking charges apply

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Pirates Invade!
Dartmouth Castle
Sun 25 & Mon 26 May
11am-5pm
Arr me hearties! The castle is under attack from a fearsome bunch of pirates from the famous ship La Grand Derriere. Hear the bang of muskets and see history brought to life as the pirates show off their weapons and weave fantastical tales of shameless skulduggery.
M: Free
NM: £5.50 / £5 / £3.30 / £14.30
Booking required: Not Necessary

Medieval Fighting Knights
Ashby De La Zouch Castle
Sun 25 May – Mon 26 May 2014
10am-5pm
Marvel at our noble knights as they take on the ultimate medieval tournament. Swords will be wielded and helmets battered – who will reign supreme and become champion?
M: Free
NM: £4.70 / £4.20 / £2.80 / £12.20
Booking required: Not Necessary

Hadrian’s Wall Festival: Roman Food & Cooking
Birdoswald Roman Fort – Hadrian’s Wall
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
11am-5pm
Birdoswald Roman Fort will become a centre of Roman food and cooking. Enjoy samples of food you never knew existed and be surprised by traditions that stem from our Roman ancestors. Tantalize your taste buds and pick up tips and traditions in this one-off surprising event. Check out the events at Chesters & Housesteads Roman Fort too.
M: Free
NM: £5.60 / £5 / £3.40 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Hadrian’s Wall Festival: Here comes the Cavalry!
Chesters Roman Fort and Museum – Hadrian’s Wall
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
11am-5pm
Join us as we celebrate Roman traditions during a week of ancient festivities. Charming Chesters, once home to many horses and riders, welcomes the return of the Roman Cavalry.
M: Free
NM: £5.60 / £5 / £3.40 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Hadrian’s Wall Festival: Roman Soldier School
Housesteads Roman Fort – Hadrian’s Wall
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
11.30am-4.30pm
Join us as we celebrate Roman traditions during a week of ancient festivities. At Housesteads, little soldiers will become a part of the Roman military!
M: Free
NM: £6.40 / £5.80 / £3.80 /
Booking required: Not Necessary

Squire School
1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
10am-5pm
Put your skills with sword and shield to the test in this fun challenge for kids. A knighthood awaits the brave and noble who complete a series of tasks set by the King. Have you got what it takes to make it through Squire School?
M: Free
NM: £8 / £7.20 / £4.80 / £20.80
Booking required: Not Necessary

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Wild Week at Belsay
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
11am-5pm
The Wildman character was of great importance to the Middleton family, so we’re inviting adventurous families to imagine what Wild Belsay was really like. Join artist den-builder, Chris Harman and build your own den.
M: Free
NM: £8 / £7.20 / £4.80 / £20.80
Booking required: Not Necessary

A Monk’s Life
Whitby Abbey
Sat 24 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
Performances at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm
For the school half term we return Whitby Abbey to its medieval origin. Children can dress in monk’s and nun’s robes and, under the instruction of Brother John, can discover the lives of novices, monks, lay brothers and nuns.
M: Free
NM: £6.60 / £5.90 / £4 / £17.20
Booking required: Not Necessary

Brodsworth at War – Skittles, Hoops and Whistles – Edwardian Children’s Games
Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
Tue 27 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
11am-5pm
Tell the kids to leave their computer games and mobile phones at home, and let them get their hands on some traditional Edwardian games.
M: Free
NM: £9.70 / £8.70 / £5.80 /
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to take part in this event. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every non member child to help us fund this entertainment activity.

Cavaliers and Roundheads
Carisbrooke Castle
Tue 27 May – Sun 1 Jun 2014
10am-5pm
The country is divided, brother against brother. Discover what it took to be a soldier of the English Civil War. Test your agility in the kids’ battle and learn to master your weapon in our soldiers drill. Pikes at the ready!
M: £0 / £0 / £1 / £0
NM: £8 / £7.20 / £5.80 / £0
Booking required: Not Necessary

Kings & Queens Academy
Audley End House and Gardens
Tue 27 May – Fri 30 May 2014
10am-6pm
Put on a right royal welcome at Audley End as we teach you to avoid the pitfalls of palace life and impress your regal rulers.
M: Free
NM: £15.40 / £13.90 / £9.20 / £40
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to join in these events. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every child, member and non member, to help us fund this entertainment activity.

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The King Recruits
Bolsover Castle
Tue 27 May – Fri 30 May 2014
10am-6pm
Pikes at the ready! Aim your muskets! Be put through your paces as you fall into step and defend Bolsover Castle against Cromwell’s cronies.
M: Free
NM: £9.50 / £8.60 / £5.70 / £24.70
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to join in these events. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every child, member and non member, to help us fund this entertainment activity.

Gruesome Goings On
Framlingham Castle
Tue 27 May – Fri 30 May 2014
10am-5pm
Ghastly gallows, horrific hangmen and terrifying torture – travel back in time and discover the painful punishments your history teachers were too timid to tell you!
M: Free
NM: £7.70 / £6.90 / £4.60 / £20
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to join in these events. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every child, member and non member, to help us fund this entertainment activity.

Discover with Darwin
Home of Charles Darwin (Down House)
Tue 27 May – Fri 30 May 2014
10am-5pm
Join the man himself – Charles Darwin – and explore evolution at its birthplace as you delve daringly into the mysteries of science.
M: Free
NM: £10.30 / £9.30 / £6.20 / £26.80
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to join in these events. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every child, member and non member, to help us fund this entertainment activity.

Soldiers’ School
Wrest Park
Tue 27 May – Fri 30 May 2014
10am-6pm
Attention! Right you ‘orrible lot, it’s training time. Become a Home Front hero and be put through your paces at Wrest Park.
M: Free
NM: £9 / £8.10 / £5.40 / £23.40
Booking required: Not Necessary
Price notes: All children are welcome to join in these events. An additional £1 will be charged on standard admission for every child, member and non member, to help us fund this entertainment activity.

Framlingham Castle. Photo by Richard Marsham for English Heritage

Framlingham Castle. Photo by Richard Marsham for English Heritage

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National Trust Properties are the Places to be in May!

A family admire the peacocks at Brownsea Island, Poole harbour, Dorset

A family admire the peacocks at Brownsea Island, Poole harbour, Dorset

With spring flowers in full bloom, warmer weather on the way and those extra days off to enjoy, May is the ideal time to get outdoors and discover some amazing coast and countryside locations.

The National Trust looks after beautiful gardens and some remarkable places. This May you can go back in time and relive history, get back to nature or learn to use a telescope and search for the stars. And that’s not all, there’s a raft of activities for all the family with trampolining, archery, tree climbing and ‘50 things’ adventures.

Spend half term and some long weekends and with the Trust and explore some unforgettable places. What’s more, every single visit helps support the charity’s work looking after special places for ever, for everyone.

Out of the ordinary

Ickworth, Suffolk
Climbing wall and bungee trampolining, 4 May, 11am – 4pm
Climb and bounce as high as the Rotunda, well almost, for great fun and great views with Barracudas’ climbing wall and bungee jumping system. You’ll be harnessed onto the wall and the automatic belay system will hold your weight whilst you bounce up and down. Along with the wall there’ll be a trampoline bungee system for the children under the age of eight to enjoy and jump as high as they can. These fantastic bungees will have you jumping great heights and allowing you to do flips and turns whilst in the air. After all the excitement take a walk around the Italianate garden, and spot the spring flowers and young lambs around the tranquil parkland.
Price: Tickets £10 (Unlimited climbing), Tickets £2 (1 climb), Tickets £5 (3 climbs)
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01284 735270

Knightshayes Court, Devon
Victorian circus workshops, 24 May – 1 June, 11am – 5pm
The Victorian period saw a surge in the popularity of the circus, so why not come along and give it a go yourself at Knightshayes. From juggling to plate spinning, and a whole lot more, it’s the perfect way to keep the kids occupied this May. Afterwards you can explore the acres of glorious parkland, fine gardens and Gothic revival house.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01884 254665

St Agnes to Padstow, Cornwall
Sun and stars at Carnewas, 31 May, 7pm – 10pm
Join the National Trust rangers and Kernow Astronomers for some stargazing at this stunning cliff-top location, recently awarded Dark Skies status. As the sun, our nearest star, sets slowly into the sea, you may see sunspots and flares on its surface with a special solar scope. The moon will follow close behind. Look for ‘seas’, mountains and craters through telescopes. Thousands of stars of various colours and brightness will gradually appear and local astronomers with telescopes will guide you through the amazing Cornish sky.
Free event.
For more information, please call 01208 863046

Tyntesfield, North Somerset
Shiver me timbers, pirates ahoy! 31 May – 1 June, 10am – 4pm
Come and experience life on the ocean waves as Tyntesfield is invaded by a motley band of pirates and their cannon. There will be loud bangs and Jolly Roger japes throughout the weekend. Lose those sea legs and become a land lover for just long enough to uncover the pirate’s treasures around the Tyntesfield estate.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01275 461 900

Family discover a den built on the Natural Play trail at Box Hill, Surrey.

Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire
White Horse Hill – chalking the horse, 4 – 5 May, 10am – 3.30pm
Get hands on and help keep the wonderful historic Horse white for future generations. Every year, hours are spent scouring the White Horse of weeds and moss and then re-chalking it. Come and get stuck into this peculiarly satisfying task, and play your part in this dramatic monument’s history, helping to keep it visible for miles around. Protective gloves and a hammer are provided. While you’re there, why not tick off some of your ‘50 things’ challenges, by flying a kite, climbing a hill and rolling back down again.
Booking essential, free event
For more information, please call 01793 76220

Cherryburn, Northumberland
Folk in the farmyard, 4 May, 1pm – 3pm
Bring a picnic and enjoy a toe-tapping afternoon of folk music in Cherryburn’s traditional Northumbrian farmstead. Find out more about the birthplace of Thomas Bewick, perhaps one of Northumberland’s greatest artists at this cottage and farmyard with glorious views over the Tyne Valley. There’s lots for all the family to enjoy, you can take a picnic on the lawn, see historic fruit trees in the orchard, vegetables growing in the allotment and farm animals on the paddock walk.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01661 843276

May Day family fun, 5 May, 11am – 3pm
Join in the fun this May and dance around the Maypole and watch the crown being placed on the May Queen at Cherryburn. Enjoy live music, face painting, Thomas Bewick’s whistling competition and much more.
Normal admission charges apply
Booking not needed.
For more information call 01661 843276

Bewick’s boredom busters, 26, 27, 29 & 30 May, 11am – 3pm
Enjoy Cherryburn as Thomas Bewick did as a young lad with free outdoor art and nature adventures every day during half term.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01661 843276

50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾

Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, Neath Port Talbot
50 things to do before you’re 11¾ – Launch Weekend, 24 – 26 May, 11am – 4pm
Aberdulais Tin Works are kicking off a summer of hands-on outdoor adventure and fun. Tick off number 45 and 47 of your ‘50 things’ by learning to find your way with a map and compass and cooking on a camp fire and then eating the results. There are lots of family activities, including pooh stick races, making daisy chains and discovering geocaches. Explore the famous waterfall and this fascinating industrial site set in a steep gorge with all the family this May.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01639 636674

Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim
50 Things, 5 May, 10am – 12pm
Join the Rangers and explore this rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge for a morning of fun and adventure. Have a go at completing your ‘50 things’’ with den building, hunting for bugs and much more.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 028 2076 9839

Croome, Worcester
‘50 Things’ challenge trail, 24 May – 1 June, 10am – 4.30pm
Croome is one of the best places in the country to get stuck into the challenge of completing your ‘50 things.’ Take the outdoor challenge trail this half term and receive a prize. Head to the natural play area beyond the RAF themed playground and make your own adventure with balance beams, a wooden throne and den building materials.
Price: £1.50 per child
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01905 371006

Children and bunting in the grounds at Mottisfont, Hampshire.

Dunstable Downs, Chilterns Gateway Centre and Whipsnade Estate, Bedfordshire
50 things activities, 4 May, 2pm – 3pm
Bring the kids to explore these extensive chalk grasslands in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this May. On the first Sunday of the month you can get outdoors and try something new with ‘50 things’ activities.
For more information, please call 01582 500925

Gibside, Tyne & Wear
May bank holiday family fun, 5 May, 11am – 3pm
Visit Gibside this May and discover a stunning landscape garden and a haven for wildlife. It’s just the right place to enjoy a bumper batch of family activities including den building, campfires, family sports, storytelling, face painting and lots more.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01207 541820

May half term family fun, 26 – 30 May, 11am – 3pm
Visit Gibside for fine Derwent Valley views and refreshing open spaces for the kids to run around in this May. With free family activities and outdoor adventures on offer every day of half term, it’s the perfect place for all the family to explore. There’s a lot to do with explorer Monday, foodie Tuesday, wildlife Wednesday, adventure Thursday and fab Friday.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01207 541820

Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall
50 things fun at Glendurgan, 24 May – 1 June, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Glendurgan in Cornwall is a subtropical garden full of fun, natural beauty and amazing plants, and there are lots of activities to keep you entertained this May. You can have a go at skimming a stone on Durgan beach or spot some crazy creatures in the rock pools. Make a trail with sticks through the garden for your family to follow or hunt for bugs in the bushes and long grass.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01326 252020

Lydford Gorge, Devon
Den building, 3 – 5 May, 10am – 5pm
Visit the deepest gorge in the South West with a spectacular 30m waterfall this May. Tick off an activity from your ‘50 things’ list with this self-led event enabling everyone to have a go at building their own den. Materials and inspiration will be provided as you learn how to build your own magical or practical natural outdoor shelter.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01822 820320

Lyme Park, House and Garden, Cheshire
The Lyme Park ’50 things’ challenge, 24 – 26 May, 11am – 4pm
Lyme Park is nestled on the edge of the Peak District and is the perfect place for ’50 things’ activities. This half term they are offering 26 of the ’50 things’ activities. It was voted as the top spot in the UK for den building, so see how many activities you can tick off over the bank holiday weekend or even in one day.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01663 762023

Overbeck’s, Devon
50 Things to do before you are 11 ¾, 1 May – 30 September, 11am – 5pm
There’s lots of excitement to be had at Overbeck’s this May. Collect your ’50 things’ scrapbook at reception and you’ll be well on your way to having lots of fun at this hidden paradise with subtropical gardens in the Devonshire countryside. Be an adventurer and discover bugs around the garden or walk barefoot and feel the grass between your toes. Never mind the weather – run around in the rain and see if you can catch a falling leaf to complete another task in your scrapbook.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01548 842893

Costumed interpreters in Victorian dress at Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow, Cheshire.

River Wey and Godalming Navigations and Dapdune Wharf, Surrey
Let’s go fly a kite, 4 May, 11am – 3pm
Come and make a kite and test its build quality by flying it high on the meadow at Papercourt and tick the box in your ‘50 things’ handbook. Afterwards you can explore this tranquil waterway running for nearly 20 miles through the heart of Surrey.
Price: £2.50
For more information, please call 01483 561389

Shalford Mill, Surrey
Have a go at geocaching, 4 May, 11am – 4.30pm
With lots of caches hidden near the watermill, why not try your hand at geocaching?
Bring your smartphone or GPS, or borrow one of the GPS handsets and follow the co-ordinates to go off and hunt.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01483 561389

Saltram, Devon
Wild in the wood, 30 May, 10am – 2pm
Saltram is the perfect family day out: close to Plymouth and yet in a world of its own. Join the Forest School leader for a creative day of woodland activities and games.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Booking essential
Price: Child £7.50
For more information, please call 01752 333500

50 things activity day, 24 May, 12pm – 3pm
Tick off lots of your ‘50 things’ wish list this May at Saltram and have some outdoor fun in the park. Free guided activities include pond dipping, wild art and bird spotting. The Garden Team will be showing how to plant it, grow it and eat it with plants you can take away and grow yourself. There’s a wide range of self-led activities including den-building, tree climbing, crafts and much more.
Normal admission charges apply
For more information, please call 01752 333500

Things with wings, 29 May, 11.45am – 12.15pm
Tour the magnificent Georgian House and children will discover some of Saltram’s winged inhabitants and a side of Saltram’s decor that adults don’t notice. Meet cranes, griffins and more mythical, winged creatures that hide in Saltram’s sophisticated decoration.
Suitable for children aged 5-12 years.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01752 333500

Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾: Plants & planting week, 26 – 30 May, 11am – 12pm & 2 – 3pm
Tick off number 41 of your ‘50 things’ at the beginning of the growing season and take home your very own potted seed to nurture into a full-grown plant. There’s lots to explore in the acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands as well as the flood meadow and river Ouse that form a haven for wildlife in the area.
Price includes pot, soil & seed: £2.50
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01825 790302

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
May holiday ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenge, 29 & 30 May, 11am – 3pm
There’s nothing quite like fresh air, exercise and family time. You can’t beat the fun you’ll have in the great outdoors whilst creating memories that will last a lifetime. Visit Stackpole this May and encourage the kids to get mucky, discover their wild side and most of all enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Explore the beautiful stretch of coastline and wooded valleys and complete as many of the ‘50 things’ activities as you can. Parents and older brothers and sisters are welcome to join in too.
Price: £2
For more information please call 01646 661425

Children with a costumed interpreter learning how to scrub the table clean in the Kitchen at the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire

Standen, West Sussex
May-hem, 24 May – 1 June, 11am – 4pm
Visit Standen, a beautiful Arts and Crafts family home with hillside garden this May and have some ‘50 things’ family fun. There’s a lot to do with walks and trails in the garden and woodlands as well as special activity days with ‘Batty about bats’, ‘Go bird watching’ and a ‘Fantastic photography workshop’.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01342 323029

Wray Castle, Ambleside
‘50 Things’ activity days, 27 & 29 May, 10am – 4pm
Visit Wray Castle this May and tick off more ‘50 things’ activities with a little help from the friendly ranger team. Catch a falling leaf, roll down a really big hill, run around in the rain, climb a tree or build a den – which will you try? There’s plenty to do outdoors with rope swinging, den-building and trails, in the family-friendly gardens and grounds.
For more information, please call 015394 33250

Get back to nature

Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Blickling spring fair, 24 – 26 May, 10.15am – 5pm
Step back in time to the early days of the Blickling Estate when knights showed their skills and jesters entertained the crowd in the Norfolk countryside. With cameos from many eras of Blickling’s history and a modern day craft and plant fair, there is something for everyone this bank holiday weekend. The landscape, with its narrow hedges and tree lined lanes, woodlands and red brick buildings is little changed over the centuries. Hire a bike, or grab a map of way-marked walks and head out into the park with all the family.
Ticket: £3 admission to craft and plant fair and entertainments, children under 14 are free.
Normal admission applies to rest of house and garden.
For more information, please call 01263 738030

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
Gourd seed sowing, 5 May, 12pm – 3pm
Visit this beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods this May and discover a haven for wildlife in an idyllic setting. Children can get stuck into seed sowing whilst parents can explore the walled kitchen garden that grows hundreds of varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. The gourd plants will be used to form a ‘gourd tunnel’ in the kitchen garden over the summer.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01909 544917

Evening owl walk, 27 May, 5pm – 6.30pm
Join this hands-on owl walk where you can be up close and personal to some wonderful birds of prey in the beautiful woodland of Clumber Park.
Booking essential, all tickets £10
For more information, please call 01909 544917

Cotehele, Cornwall
May half-term fun, 27 – 30 May
Visit Cotehele for some half-term family fun this May. You’ll be able to tick off some great stuff in your ‘50 things’ scrapbook with plant it, grow it and eat it on Tuesday, hunting for bugs on Wednesday and pond dipping on Friday.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01579 351346

Child playing with a kite at Stowe ©National Trust Images John Millar

Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire
Bat watch, 3 May, 7pm – 9.30pm
Join a bat expert to discover more about the different species of bats the make Nostell their home. Take a walk and use a bat detector to track them feeding after dusk and see if you can spot them whizzing above your head.
Price includes supper and a walk: £10
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01924 863892

Polzeath to Port Quin, Cornwall
Marine discovery day, 29 May, 11am – 4pm
The National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Council and Polzeath Marine Conservation Group among many others are joining forces to bring you a Marine Day you will never forget. Come and celebrate the seas in Polzeath, a rugged coastline with an abundance of wildlife this May. You can go rock pooling with marine experts, create beach sculptures, take part in an arts and crafts animation, and learn how to save dolphins with marine life rescue experts.
For more information, please call 01208 863046

Powis Castle and Garden, Powys
Pond dipping & bug hunting, 17 & 18 May, 11.45am – 3pm
Visit Powis Castle for an action packed afternoon looking for mini-beasts and micro-monsters in the world famous Powis gardens. What’s the creepiest crawly you can find whilst looking under rocks and logs in the Powis wilderness? Try a spot of pond dipping and catch dragonflies, skaters and waterboatmen, and discover what else lurks beneath the surface of the stable pond.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01938 551929

Stowe, Buckinghamshire
50 Things to do before you are 11 ¾, from 24 May – 30 September, 10am – 6pm
Pick up a Stowe explorer map where you can do 34 of the possible ‘50 things’ activities and see how many you can tick off in one day. Join in with an adventure and use a range of natural materials to build a den in the parkland on the 24th May. There are lots of things to do on your ‘50 things’ list in the surrounding parkland from taking a bike ride to hunting for bugs.
Normal admission fee applies, parkland free of charge
For more information, please call 01280 817 156

Sensing spring – family activity, 24 April – 24 May, 10am – 6pm
Discover Stowe in a new way and use your senses to experience things you might usually miss. Stowe’s vast gardens and huge temples often catch our eye, but there is more than meets the eye. Pick up a bag and pencil from our visitor welcome area and make your way to the garden to discover Stowe with your other senses. You can collect blades of grass, leaves, and bird feathers, taste the herbs from our farmhouse garden, listen to the bird song, and draw what will remind you of your walk. Close your eyes and imagine the people visiting the gardens in the eighteenth century as you walk in their footsteps.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01280 817 156

Studland Beach, Dorset
Explore this vast area of sandy beaches which are ideal for water sports and the heathland which is haven for wildlife this May. You can get closer to nature and learn about birds, go bug hunting and track wild animals.
Wildlife explorer: go birding, 26 May 11am – 12.30pm & 27 May, 2pm – 3.30pm
Wildlife explorer: bug hunt, 26 May, 2pm – 3.30pm & 28 may, 11am – 12.30pm
Wildlife explorer: track wild animals, 27 may, 11am – 12.30pm & 28 may, 2pm – 3.30pm
Booking essential
Price: individual tickets £3, family £10
For more information, please call 01929 450500

Children on a bug-hunt at Sheffield Park, East Sussex.

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Pond dipping and mini-beast hunt, 27 May, 10.30am – 3.15pm
Wicken Fen, one of Europe’s most important wetlands, supports an abundance of wildlife. There are more than 8,500 species, including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies. Come and discover the minibeasts that live here with a 30 minute pond dipping session, followed by a mini-beast hunt.
Booking essential
Price: Child £2.50
For more information, please call 01353 720274

Get active

Attingham Park, Shropshire
Game On! : Attingham’s big sports weekend, 3 – 5 May, 11am – 4pm
Visit Attingham this May and explore the beautiful parkland and mansion set in the heart of this great estate between Shrewsbury and the River Severn. There’s a packed bank holiday weekend of sports activities for the whole family in the play field where you can meet local sports groups, try taster sessions and challenge your friends and family to a game or two.
Additional charges will apply for some activities: please see visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park/ nearer the time for more details.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01743 708148

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
Family outdoor climbing day, 26 May, 10am – 4pm
Have a go at weaselling, bouldering, roped climbing and abseiling at these dramatic moorland rock formations with Harrogate Climbing Centre. This amazing collection of weird and wonderful rock creations makes a great day out for families, climbers and those wanting to enjoy the simple pleasures of fresh air and magnificent views over Nidderdale.
No previous experience necessary and a maximum of two children per booked adult.
Booking essential
Price: all tickets £50
For more information, please call Harrogate Climbing Centre on 01423 815024

Castle Ward, County Down
Game of Thrones archery experience, 4 & 17 May
Have a go at archery in the very place where the BAFTA award winning TV show was filmed, also known as ‘Winterfell.’ Stand in our recreated Game of Thrones archery film set, dress in some Game of Thrones style costumes and take aim.
Booking essential, please call 028 4372 3933

Sea Safari Sightseeing Boat Trip, 25 & 31 May
Everyone loves this sightseeing boat tour of Strangford Lough with its abundance of nature and wildlife. See the SeaGen, Angus Rock Lighthouse, surface whirlpools and some of the many seals at Cloughy Rocks Nature Reserve. You might even see a pod of porpoise or even a basking shark. Suitable for age 3 years plus.
Trips leave from Strangford Pier.
Booking essential, please call 028 4372 3933

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall
Kayaking at Mullion, 17 May, 9am – 1pm
Take to the water at Mullion on this guided kayak trip exploring caves, coves and the island. Spot seals and basking sharks and if you’re feeling lucky have a go at fishing for your dinner. Novices to experts are welcome and children over eight years.
Price: all tickets £40
For more information, please call 01326 558424

Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Big tree climbing, 4 May, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Climb in the canopy of the big tree in Preserve Copse with the supervision of highly skilled friendly instructors and get a bird’s eye view of Polesden Lacey and the Surrey Hills beyond. If you’re brave enough, take the zip wire back down to the woods below.
Hourly from 10:30am – 4:30pm each day
1 hour sessions limited to 7 children per session. Suitable for children from age 6 years (no height restriction)
Full tuition, safety equipment and harness will be provided.
Price: £15.50 per hour session. Free entry to Polesden grounds for participant (+ 1 accompanying adult).
For more information, please call 0800 0556760

Children sitting on the sand at Knoll Beach, Studland, Dorset.

Studland Beach, Dorset
Paddle boarding for teenagers, 28 May 10.30am & 28 May, 1.30pm
Studland Beach is a glorious slice of natural coastline in Purbeck featuring a four-mile stretch of golden, sandy beach, with gently shelving bathing waters and views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight. Get outdoors this May and have a go at this popular new activity.
Booking essential
Price: all tickets £12
For more information, please call 01929 450500

Relive the past

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Medieval merriments, 3 – 5 May, 11am – 4pm
Visit Bodiam this May and celebrate the arrival of spring with some medieval games and music. This evocative castle is one of Britain’s most romantic and picturesque, set in the heart of a historic landscape. The medieval household will be on hand to show you how life was never dull in the castle in days gone by. To celebrate the arrival of spring they will be demonstrating and encouraging you to join them in playing some medieval games and enjoying medieval music from the Wondering Mistrals, Portcullis.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01580 830196

Borrowdale, Cumbria
Force Crag mine open day, 31 May, 10.30am – 3pm
With an air of the ‘Wild West’, Force Crag was the last mineral mine to be worked in the Lake District. Join a guided tour to explore the processing mill and other remains revealing the history of mining at Force Crag.
Tours available throughout the day, Adult £5
Not suitable for children under the age of ten.
For more information, please call 017687 74649

Dunster Castle, Somerset
Siege and surrender experience, 5 May & 27 May, 11.30am – 1pm & 2pm – 3.30pm
Journey back in time with our Civil War soldiers to the siege of Dunster Castle. Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, a castle has existed here since at least Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent history. Hear tales of sixteenth-century surgery, meet the camp cook, and feel the weight of a 400 year old cannonball.
Normal admission fee applies
Booking essential
Price: Adult ticket £3.50, Child £2
For more information, please call 01643 821314

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal (Water Garden), North Yorkshire
World Heritage weekend, 3 – 5 May, 10am – 5pm
Fountains Abbey is a World Heritage Site, Georgian water garden and medieval deer park set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and they’re having an all-singing, all-dancing World Heritage weekend. You’ll be able to see Fountains’ ages brought to life by medieval crafts, dance and cookery as well as elegant Georgian costumes and fan-making activities for the children to enjoy.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information, please call 01765 608888

Speke Hall, Liverpool
Tudor May Day Festival, 4 – 5 May, 12pm – 4pm
Celebrate spring in Tudor style with sixteenth-century dancing, musicians and children’s crafts at Speke Hall, set on the banks of the River Mersey in glorious gardens. Try your hand at archery, discover the historic display of Tudor weaponry and armour and join in with some Morris Dancing.
Normal admission fee applies
For more information please call 0151 427 7231

Trerice, Cornwall
Medieval village, 31 May & 1 June, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Explore the tented Medieval Village at this Elizabethan manor and see what life would have been like around 1471. Come and see how archers would have used their bow and arrows in the archery demonstrations and be delighted by the medieval fashion show. Speak to the cook, fletcher, herbalist, spinner, box weaver among others; all brought to life through living history enthusiasts who give a real window into the past.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01637 875404

Tudor Merchant’s House, Pembrokeshire
A Tudor May Day, 5 May, 11am – 4.30pm
You’ll find the Tudor Merchant’s House on Quay Hill, a narrow alley overlooking Tenby Harbour. The merchant had a shop at the front of the house, opening onto the street. Discover how the merchant and his family would have spent May Day back in 1500. Explore the merchant’s shop and working kitchen on the ground floor. The first-floor hall is newly transformed for this year with colourful wall hangings and replica Tudor furniture.
Normal admission fees apply
For more information, please call 01834 842279

Family at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire ©National Trust Images David L - Copy