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Things to do this half-term in Southampton

May is here, bringing with it the promise of sunshine, bank holidays, and a much-needed break from the routine. But as the end of the month approaches, so does the half-term break. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply some quality family time, we've curated a list of top picks to ensure your half-term is nothing short of spectacular.

The Big Eat festival at Royal Victoria Country Park

Ariel shot of The Big Eat festival in Royal Victoria Country Park

Alright foodies, this one’s for you! Bring the whole family along to this year’s Big Eat festival at Royal Victoria Country Park. From Saturday 25th – Monday 27th May, walk around the grounds to experience a variety of street food nibbles and live entertainment. This festival brings together the best food and drink that Hampshire has to offer! Entry is free - learn more here.

Photo by The Big Eat.

SeaCity Museum and Tudor House workshops and activities

Family group leaping in the air outside of Tudor House

Southampton’s cultural venues are back with a chocker blocked programme of fun, hosting everything from children’s crafty activities to wizarding school. Arty activities include ‘Under the Sea Printmaking’, a ‘Secrets of Southampton Castle’ tour, and clay dinosaur and clay fairy garden workshops. Click here to learn more.

From now until 30th June, Tudor House & Garden also has their latest ‘Dirt, Grime and Disease’ exhibition which shares the story of how people kept clean and well during the Saxon times, through to the medieval and Victorian eras. For more information click here.

Space to Create! At John Hansard Gallery

Exterior of John Hansard Gallery

Construct, draw, and sculpt - families can enjoy free activities inspired by John Hansard’s latest exhibitions every Saturday from now until 15th June. Every session is different so make sure you take a look at their schedule on their what’s on page here. Simply drop by anytime between 11am to 1pm to get creating!

Jump, play, and climb at Sea Life Play Centre

Sea Life Play Centre Soft Play climbing obstacles and blue slide

On the upper floor of the Marlands Shopping Centre, children can enjoy all kinds of fun at Sea Life Play Centre. This indoor playground offers separate soft play zones for both babies and toddlers and older children up to 12 years old. Kids can jump and play as long as they want, or, if they are interested in quieter activities, story time or song time, messy play and arts and crafts will keep them busy with Sea Life’s rich daily programme. While the children play, parents can sit and relax in their café. Learn more here.

Photo by Sea Life Play Centre.

Have a family-picnic in the park!

Watts Park entrance from Cenotaph

We have had some fantastic weather lately which is sure to only continue into the school holidays. Why not take in all the sunshine and do a bit of exploring? The city has some fantastic parks, many of which have received Green Flag awards which recognises well-managed, welcoming green spaces.

At this time of year, East Park is a particular favourite which sees the wisteria pergola in full bloom or how about a stop at the Queen’s Peace Fountain? Over in Houndwell park there is also a family playground well equipped with slides, swings, and many climbing structures for children to enjoy.

When you’ve finished all your exploring, stop for a bit of packed lunch for a family picnic or pop along to the high street for a tasty takeaway: Neds Noodle Bar, Roosters Piri Piri, Muse Coffee Co and Mexigo are all a short walk away.

Bowl over some pins at Hollywood Bowl

Bowling lane with pins all lined up at Hollywood Bowl

One game or two? Nothing beats a classic game of bowling for some friendly competition. Take to the lanes and bowl some strikes at Hollywood Bowl. If you are looking to extend the fun, they also have a great food offering as well as thrilling arcade games. And don't forget to check out their offers page here to view all their latest deals and discounts. Find out more about Hollywood Bowl here.

Photo by Hollywood Bowl.

Breakfast with BJÖRN at IKEA

IKE As Bjorn the bear

On 27th, 29th, and 31st May, start your day off with a nice breakfast at IKEA with a very special guest! Grab a hot plate of food and head over to the big table in their customer restaurant to meet with BJÖRN the bear. To take part, all you need to do is register on their events page with your IKEA Family account. Reserve your free place here.

Solve exciting challenges at Southampton Escape Rooms

Fake skull and potion props at Elusion Escape Room

A family that explores together grows together! For inquisitive minds and those in search of a real challenge, escape rooms are a perfect way to keep things exciting over the school break. The city has several highly rated spots including Locked in a Room, Houdini’s, and The Dark Arts Potion Bar with each providing unique experiences for all levels and tastes. And don’t forget, if you use your SO Card, you can redeem 10% off your game at Locked in a Room. View the full offer here.

Mayflower Theatre Family Trail

A cross-view of the Mayflower Theatre Auditorium

Looking for something unique? Set off on Saturday 1st June to explore the largest theatre on the South Coast. Mayflower Theatre will be offering families a special opportunity to explore behind the scenes to discover the theatre’s rich history. Guided by their tour guides, you will have the chance to wander backstage, complete activities and help find clues. Find out more here.

Family Fun Day at MAST Mayflower Studios

MAST Mayflower Studios 1

Also on the 1st of June is MAST Mayflower Studios’ Family Fun Day! From face painting to workshops, there is something for all ages to enjoy. You will also have a chance to see an exclusive performance of a new show, ‘My Paper Boat’. This original musical story, aimed at ages 5 to 7, explores the themes of friendship, bravery and climate change.

With MAST Mayflower Studios’ ‘Pay What You Decide’ initiative, it gives everyone the chance to have a bit of fun and experience the venue. Tickets are available on a first come first serve basis so don’t miss out - register here!

Carlton Place Monthly Market

Carlton Place Market Facebook UGC May 2024

To end things off, head down to Carlton Place on Saturday 1st June to enjoy the new local market. The recently pedestrianised area will be filled with a variety of traders from food and drink to art and homeware. The market will be open from 10am until 4pm (weather dependent). Learn all about it here.

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