Building dens and playing in the rain: Cheshire offers half-term digital detox

Families will find lots of ways to beat the boredom across Cheshire during the February half-term holiday, including events at Jodrell Bank, which has just been named the UK’s nominee for World Heritage site status in 2019. Here six of the best, while more ideas can be found at www.visitcheshire.com.

Build a den at Beeston Castle

Building a den in the woods at Beeston Castle, a medieval fort perched on a crag overlooking the Cheshire Plain, is one of the crafty highlights of a special half-term activity titled Nature Craft 10.30am-3.30pm, 19-23 February.

Image courtesy of English Heritage

Young children can also play detective in the Early Man Quest 10am-4pm, 17-25 Februaryinspired by the new movie Early Man. They will follow in the footsteps of the film’s heroes, Dug and Hognob, on the trail of clues that will uncover centuries of history in just one day. Early Man Mini Model-Making Kits will be awarded when the mission is complete.

What else is on? There’s also the castle ruins to explore, including one of England’s deepest castle wells, and 40 acres of woodland in which to romp. Beeston Castle will be open 10am-4pm from 17-25 February, see entrance prices here.

Reach for the stars at Jodrell Bank

What is dark matter? How can the visible appear invisible? These and other puzzles will be posed at the family-friendly Half Term Science Shows 10.30am, 11.30am and 3pm, 19-23 February at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, in the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope near Holmes Chapel. Younger children can discover how planets sound, smell, look and feel at Half Term: Under 5s Journey through the Solar System 20-minute sessions, 11am and 2.30pm, 19-23 February.

What else is on? There’s also the Planet Pavilion, the Space Pavilion, the Star Pavilion, and the Jodrell Bank Observatory to enjoy, along with 35 acres of gardens and an arboretum. Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre is open daily 10am-5pm throughout half-term, see entrance prices here.

Play with words at Storyhouse

Chester’s new arts centre, Storyhouse, will host the WayWord Festival this half-term break 17-24 February, with a bumper pack of activities, including rhyme-time for tiny tots, beat-boxing, stand-up poetry, musical storytelling and more.

What else is on? Storyhouse will also host performances, movies, murder mysteries, arts-and-crafts activities and a family disco at this new arts centre, which opened in 2017, featuring a theatre with its own repertory company, cinema, public library, café and bar. Storyhouse is open throughout half-term, 8am-11pm Mon-Sat, 9.30am-11pmSun, see ticket prices here.

Go puddle-jumping at Chester Zoo

Rain won’t stop play this February half-term break at Chester Zoo, which has a waterproof Wet Weather Trail 10-25 February to follow, from the Asian Forest to the Plant Project. Alternatively, kids who like to have a splash about can learn about Puddle Science on rainy days, 12-25 February, with the assistance of the experts in white coats who will be on hand to help welly-wearing little ones rate the size, depth and splashability of different puddles before jumping in. Rangers will also put kids’ skills and knowledge to the test at the daily Animal Game Show 3pm, 12-25 February, in the Madagascar PLAY! Basecamp.

What else is on? There are more than 400 species to meet in the 125-acre grounds. Chester Zoo will be open daily, 10am-4.30pm, throughout the half-term holidays, see entrance prices here.

Stuff a scarecrow at Tatton Park

Kids can hunt down the 30-plus scarecrows in the gardens at Tatton Park, a historic estate near Knutsford, and have a go at making their own during the Scarecrow Festival 17-25 February. There will also be close encounters of the animal kind on the Deer feed and trailer ride 9.30-10.30am, 20 February. Meanwhile, Toys Through Time will show today’s children what kids played with in the past 10.30am-12pm and 1pm-2.30pm, 23 February.

What else is on? There’s also the park, gardens and farm to see, although the hall and mansion isn’t open at this time of year. Tatton Park will be open as follows: park open daily 10am-5pm, gardens open daily 10am-4pm, 19-25 February, farm open 11am-4pm, 19-25 February. See entrance prices here.

Hunt for monsters at Norton Priory

Monster Hunters! 11am-4pm, 12-13 and 19-20 February are invited to track a Yeti and make Abominable Snowmen among other craft-based activities at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens near Runcorn, the site of some of Europe’s most important monastic excavations, some fascinating artefacts from down the centuries, and the National Collection of quince.

What else is on? Norton Priory Museum and Gardens is open daily, 11am-4pm, throughout half-term holidays, although the Walled Garden is closed. See entrances prices here.

Images courtesy of Beeston Castle, Jodrell Bank, Chester Zoo, Tatton Park, Norton Priory and Visit Cheshire.

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