If you feel like the half-term holidays have really crept up on you this year, don’t fear – you’re definitely not alone.
With a week stretching ahead to entertain the kids, no doubt you’re on the lookout for some fun activities to keep them from climbing the walls.
Fortunately, there’s plenty going on in and around Greater Manchester. Even better, quite a lot of it is free.
From Nathan Sawayer’s amazing LEGO sculpture exhibit at the Great Northern to the new Tiger Who Came To Tea and Mog exhibit at Hulme’s Z Arts, there’s more than enough to keep them busy over the holidays.
Keep reading to find out what’s going on, where and when this half term in Manchester.
Hop on the East Lancs Railway for a magical experience
Only 30 minutes by Manchester by tram, the East Lancs Railway has loads going on for families this half term.
Climb aboard a time-travelling steam train on 20th February for an eccentric expedition. with a herd of adorable baby dinosaurs. You’ll join expert rex wranglers and triceratops tamers on a steam train ride and take part in a host of entertaining activities before the day is up.
Or, if dinosaurs aren’t their thing, trainee witches and wizards can embark on a magical adventure with the East Lancashire Railway Wizard Academy Express on 21st.
Joined by a magical cast of wacky warlocks and wild witches, they CAN brush up on broomstick flying, work on wand-waving and practice potions.
Tickets cost £15 per adult and £10.50 per child.
Take them on an enchanted fairyland adventure
Visit Cockfields farm in Ashton between 15th and 23rd February to experience an enchanted fairyland adventure.
Little ones can follow the fairy trail to see Flora’s fabulous fairy show, visit Wanda’s wand factory to make their own and plant their very own magic beanstalk.
They can also try out the troll and fairy detector and meet Twinkle Trott and her unicorn Buttercup inside the Enchanted Stables.
Tickets start at £8.95 for adults and £10.95 for children.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat
Let the little ones discover the world of Judith Kerr’s books and learn more about the life of their beloved author in this 3D immersive exhibition at Hulme Z arts centre.
Featuring work from 14 of Judith Kerr’s treasured books, this new interactive exhibit gives visitors the chance to explore the different worlds of Mog and the Tiger.
They can join the Tiger for tea, hear the tale of his surprise visit to Sophie and even crawl through a giant cat flap into Mog’s house. Children can also explore Mog’s garden, search for hidden eggs for her breakfast, go shopping at her local stores, or settle down with a story at the bookshop.
They can meet Katinka with the magic tail and see if they can find the Crocodile under the bed, too.
Tickets are £8 for little kids and big kids or £30 for a family ticket.
Visit Dippy the Dinosaur in Rochdale
The eagerly-awaited 70-foot-long superstar dino has finally gone on display in Rochdale – just in time for half term.
Dippy is a plaster cast replica of the fossilised bones of a Diplodocus found by railroad workers in Wyoming, USA in 1898. He is one of just 10 replicas in the world.
During his visit, Rochdale is holding more than 20 dinosaur and natural world inspired events to mark the occasion.
These include a dinosaur-themed Halle orchestra performance, a Diplodocus brick build with an official LEGO artist and a multi-sensory theatre experience for younger visitors.
Entry to visit Dippy is free and you don’t need need to book unless you’re in a group of 10 or larger. Find him at Number One Riverside.
Kids eat free at Mamucium
Little ones can eat for free at double AA Rosette winning Mamucium, inside Hotel Indigo next to Victoria station, this week.
With two paying adults, kids can pick from a special three-course menu which includes homemade roast vine tomato soup, Goosnargh chicken strips, and mini salmon skewers.
Quote ‘halftermkids’ when you book in.
Take them to the Chill Factore
The UK’s longest indoor real snow slope has loads going on for kids this half term.
Kids under four can enjoy playing in REAL snow at Mini Moose Land (£7), with tonnes of snow activities like playing in igloos, tunnels and riding mini donuts down the ramp.
The Snow Park is available for those aged 4+ to sledge, slide and race down the real snow slope (£26).
Here the whole family can race one another to the bottom, or team up and take to the slope in double donuts.
Visit the Art of the Brick LEGO exhibit
Created by artist Nathan Sawaya, the Art of the Brick exhibit showcases a mixture of traditional sculptures and classical art reproductions all formed using LEGO bricks.
From a tremendous T-Rex to a magnificent Mona Lisa, there are over 75 amazing pieces to marvel at here.
And at the end of the exhibit, there’s a huge ball play area filled with LEGO bricks so they can build their own creations.
Get a free ticket for your little one when purchased with an adult ticket throughout the half-term break.
Defy gravity at this Upside Down house in Trafford
Flip their half-term upside down at this topsy turvy adventure house. There are only three of these in the whole country – and one is in Trafford.
Using optical illusions to make you look like you’re floating, you can take ‘zero gravity’ pictures and walk on the ceiling of the inverted two-storey building, which comes fully furnished with a kitchen, bathroom, living room art and bedroom.
Find it outside the Great Hall at the Trafford Centre.
Tickets bought online cost £3.50 on weekdays and £4.50 on weekends, or £5 if bought on the day. Under threes go free.
Become a bowling champ at All Star Lanes
Bowl over your family at All Star Lanes this half term.
There is a restaurant, bar, karaoke booths, and a bowling alley all under one roof at the Great Northern Warehouse location – so plenty to keep everyone entertained.
Any party with a restaurant reservation on Pancake Day (25th) will receive free pancakes with their meal too.
Read, wriggle and rhyme with Acorn Wood at Waterstones
Bring the little ones for a morning of story time and crafts at Waterstones in the Trafford Centre.
Taking place at 10am on February 18th, the kids can listen to favourite Acorn Wood stories Fox’s Socks, Postman Bear and Rabbit’s Nap, as well as enjoying lots of singing and dancing to all of their favourite nursery rhymes.
Treat them to a fun afternoon tea at The Midland Hotel
This colourful children’s afternoon tea at The Midland comes with delicious finger sandwiches, decorate your own gingerbread man, a mixture of sweet treats and a fresh fruit milkshake.
It is available for children up to 12 years old when accompanied by an adult ordering afternoon tea.
The Midland’s children’s afternoon tea is priced at £13.50 per child.
Bambinos eat for £1 at Carluccio’s
Carluccio’s is spreading some cheer by filling up little tummies for just £1 throughout February half term. With every adult main ordered, under 10s can enjoy a delicious main course, dessert, and a soft drink for just £1.
The bambino menu features a choice of classic Italian family favourites: think pasta with ragu, meatballs or pesto, ham and pea risotto, or a creamy lasagne.
They’ll be kept entertained with Carluccio’s at-table activity packs, maybe allowing you time for a cheeky prosecco.
Watch the Back to the Future musical
If your kids are a little bit on the older side, this Back to the Future musical showing at the Manchester Opera House should be a perfect distraction.
Premiering in Manchester first before it hits the West End in 12 weeks time, it follows the same plot as the iconic 1985 film.
Teenager Marty is transported back in time to 1955 in a time-travelling DeLorean – where he needs to make his teenage parents fall in love all over again, or he will cease to exist.
The show opens on 20th February and runs for 12 weeks. Tickets start from £19.55.