Across the whole of the South Western Railway region this month there are events, exhibitions and – importantly for lots of us! – half-term focussed happenings taking place. We’ve rounded up just a few of them to ease the impact of the first major school holiday of the year. When those loveable scamps get a taste for freedom, it’s always useful to have some distractions lined up...

Half-Term Events

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
  • Somerset House, London
  • Nearest Station - Waterloo
  • Ends 3 March
The main half-term event for us (even though it’s not specifically child-focussed) is Good Grief, Charlie Brown! At Somerset House. The reason that this tops the list is because it's the perfect event that will entertain you and the kids all at the same time.

There are 80 original comic strips, hand-drawn by the great Charles M. Schulz on display, as well as works by 20 international contemporary artists. For the more hands on among you, there are installations including a real-life re-imagining of Lucy’s 5¢ Psychiatric Help booth, Snoopy typewriters where you can collectively write a novel starting with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, light boxes to learn how to draw the Peanuts gang and a Snoopy Cinema with over an hour of remastered Peanuts TV specials. If you fancy reliving the joy of Peanuts while also introducing your own brood to the crew there may never be a better chance. In the words of Linus (to Father Christmas) “Then go, man… GO!!!”

Squidgetastic Sculpture
  • Forest Arts Centre
  • Nearest Station - New Milton
  • Every Thursday 5-7pm (check website for details)
This promises to be a fun introduction to sculpture for the budding Rodin in your life. Covering a variety of materials and techniques it’s bound to keep them entertained, if not entirely covered in clay.

Ashcroft Arts Centre
  • Nearest Station - Fareham
  • 19, 20 & 21 February
If you’re within travelling distance of Fareham then the Ashcroft has a whole host of events that will keep your young ones busy...

19 February
Make your own Podcast Play (ages 7+)
Parcel up a packed lunch and send your progeny off to perform in a podcast play led by professionals. This event is going to be recorded (as the title suggests) so friends and family can listen to the results in perpetuity. Lasts 6 hours 30 minutes.

20 February
Harry Potter Art Workshop (Ages 5+)
Send the magical beings in your life off to a full day of wizarding creativity. They’ll make spell scrolls and house banners, flying keys and golden snitches and there’s even a chance to pimp your own magical wand. Bring a packed lunch and an apron.

21 February
Lily and the Albatross (Ages +5)
After all their exertions, maybe it’s time the little ones sat back and let the grown ups do some running around for a bit. Tall Tree creates theatrical performances with wooden and metal puppets and live music that will capture children’s imagination. In this story Lily lives in a small coastal village with dreams of stretching her wings.

Brooklands Half-Term Family Fun
  • Brooklands Museum
  • 18-22 February
  • Nearest station - Weybridge
Brooklands is legendary. It was the first motor racing circuit in the world, then it was an airfield and then it became an aircraft manufacturing centre. So you’ve probably guessed that the petrol-head in your life will get a little giddy here. Happily they put on a special selection of events for half term, including the ever-popular car rides, the chance to sit in a plane’s cockpit, take part in a workshop or a special kid’s tour of Concorde.

  • Milestone Museum
  • Nearest station - Basingstoke
  • 16 February and 28 April 2019
LEGO® is ace, we all understand and accept that. But the one thing it’s lacking (until humans get involved) is a narrative. That’s where Bricktopolis comes in. In this interactive adventure your favourite blockheads can fight evil and save the world through the power of construction. This is a brilliant idea and it’s bound to capture the imagination. There’s more brick-based activities on 19 and 20 February, too.

Antarctica 2019
  • Gilbert White & The Oates Collection
  • Ends April 2019
  • Nearest station - Liss or Alton
Gilbert White was a parson-naturalist and his house has become a museum to learning. Their Antarctica 2019 display reveals some of the collection’s treasures not usually shared with the public and they’re also hosting an array of events to boot.

Making the Past: Anglo-Saxon Brooches
  • Winchester City Museum
  • Nearest station - Winchester
  • 20 February (11am - 1pm & 2pm-4pm)
Those good old, fun loving Anglo-Saxons – they adored horse racing, chess and drafts, and went to harp gigs and told the time by candle clocks. They were also incredibly partial to bling... At this brilliant family-focussed activity you can find out all about their fascination with jewellery and even fashion your own Anglo-Saxon brooch. History can be as dry as a twig, at times, but with this the past will come streaming in. Suitable for ages 5 years and above. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Family Fun at Westbury
  • Westbury Manor Farm
  • Nearest Station – Fareham
  • 18 February
All That Jazz is the current exhibition at Westbury Manor Farm that explores the post-war boom in the coolest musical genre, and the first one to put on dark glasses. It’s a fun event and great for the whole family. But on this drop-in craft day you can really get syncopated, design your own band to feature in a pop-up card and even create your very own Clarice Cliff design. Find out about the impact that jazz had in the post-war period, globally and locally, while getting your hands on scissors, paper and sticky-back plastic.

Print Making and Animation Workshop
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) 
  • Nearest Station - Exeter Central
  • 20 February
This is a doozy! Until 17 March the RAMM is hosting the Criminal Ornamentation exhibition – a lively riot of colour with dazzling art including, film, fashion, ceramics and sculpture. Pop along to check out a sequinned Alexander McQueen gown or some amazing William Morris wallpaper. It features 100 works by more than 50 artists including Andy Goldsworthy, Sarah Lucas, Bridget Riley and David Nash.

On this special activity day, your budding artists can design a series of prints, print onto paper, photograph and then digitise into animation. There’s a host of skills to learn and be inspired by here, all next to a wonderful exhibition. You can see some examples of previous work here. The RAMM is one of our favourite regional creative centres and it’s always worth a visit.

Other Events

London Fashion Week and London Fashion Week Festival
  • BFC Show Space The Store X (and multiple venues)
  • Nearest station - Waterloo 
  • London Fashion Week 14 - 19 February
  • London Fashion Week Festival 16 - 17 February
There really is something to suit everyone here, from the rebellious swagger of Vivienne Westwood to the street smarts of Adidas. Other shows include Alexa Chung, Pam Hogg, House of Holland, Margaret Howell, Burberry and more besides. Fashion Week events are invite only, but at the festival we’re all welcome to check out the catwalks, attend talks from industry insiders and shop.

This week sees London ramp up the glamour and one of the best activities here is people watching, so stake out the best coffee shop with a view of the action before heading to the Fashion Week Festival to snaffle up some catwalk couture.

Portsmouth BookFest 2019
  • Across the city
  • Nearest station - Portsmouth
  • 9 February - 10 March
It’s always a joy to see a city rapt by creativity, and that’s what happens at the Portsmouth BookFest. Each year it pours talent into every corner of the city. There are far too many individual events to list, but take a look at their website and there’s bound to be something that suits your particular literary niche. There are talks and walks and walking talks, screenings, musings, a Doctor Who quiz night and a weekend dedicated to emerging new writers, so grab your hat, dust off that manuscript and get yourself to Portsmouth.

Exeter Half Marathon
  • Across the city
  • Nearest station - Exeter Central
  • 9-10 February (race closed to entrants)
If a city in the thrall of a literary high is wonderful to see (above) then one floating on a flood tide of endorphins is especially joyful. Sadly entrance to the race has closed but spectators are more than welcome.

Swanage Blues Festival
  • Across the town
  • Nearest station - Swanage
  • 28 February - 3 March
With 60 gigs, 40 amazing bands and 15 indoor venues this blues festival isn’t playing by the numbers. This is a weekend of friends, fans and fantastic bands celebrating the blues and one of the best times to visit this gem of a seaside town.

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