It barely feels like we have had a chance to settle back into a routine after the Christmas break yet half term is here again.
However fear not as here at Explore Bedford we have rounded up lots of local activities to keep everyone entertained, whatever the weather.
Grab your wellies and head to The Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park as it is a great place to spend a few hours in the great outdoors.
Walk the dog, have a picnic, enjoy the views across the Wetlands Nature Reserve from the Tower Hide and Woodland Walkway or just stroll around Stewartby Lake. The Lakeside Café serves a range of meals and snacks, and you can grab an ice cream, toy or gift at the gift shop.
On 18 February they are hosting paint your own bird feeder – £4 per session which includes the bird feeder and paint – book here. Whilst you are there, why not hire a bike and an explorer pack and get lots of fresh air whilst finding out all about woodlands, minibeasts, trees and birds
Parking charges apply but if you become a Friend of the Forest you get many benefits including free parking.
Over at The Higgins Museum and Gallery there is plenty for all the family.
For half term term they are hosting creative workshops themed around ‘Sweet Dreams’ and whilst you are there catch one of their exhibitions, free to enter (donations welcome).
Dreamcatchers – with local artist Anne Marie Abbate
Tuesday 18 February, £5 per child
Capture the dreams that keep you awake and craft your very own dreamcatcher to take home. (Aimed at 4 to 11 year olds).
Surrealist Collage – with local artist Katie Allen
Wednesday 19 February, £3 per child
Illustrate the brightest colours in your head and create your own masterpiece using cutting and sticking.
(Aimed at 4 to 11 year olds).
Dream Stories – with Terrie Howie of Red Phoenix Storytelling and Productions
Thursday 20 February, £3 per child
Create the stories that capture your imagination and inspires your creativity. (Suitable for ages 8 and above).
Dreamscapes – with Little Science Labs
Friday 21 February, £5 per child
Design a tile to make you smile using a bit of science and creative magic(Aimed at 4 to 11 year olds).
All workshops last for an hour. Children must be accompanied by an adult (under 4’s that are accompanying siblings are welcome at no charge). Book here or visit Bedford Central Box Office at 27 Harpur Street, Bedford or telephone 01234 718044. Enter promotional code HIGGINS12 to remove £3 booking fee.
Once you have exhausted all the activities at The Higgins pop round the corner to the John Bunyan Museum to learn about one of Bedford’s most famous residents, John Bunyan.
Then across the road to The Panacea Museum to discover the amazing story of the unique religious community that created its own Garden of Eden in Bedford. Opening times Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11am – 4pm.
We are lucky to have several libraries who all offer free and fun activities all year round. You can see their full round up here of all the FREE workshops at Bedford, Bromham, Kempston Putnoe and Wootton including Fiery Dragons Masks, Flower Face Sun Catcher and lots more plus of course, story time
We are very lucky to have great theatres in the heart of Bedford who host so many productions all year round.
The Place is a hosting Suitcase Shakespeare – Macbeth, which is fantastic for families. Using original songs, plenty of humour and, of course, many many hats, Suitcase Shakespeare helps audiences to get to grips with the plot and characters of some of the Bard’s most classic plays in an innovative and entertaining way. 18 February.
The also host a monthly Jackastory where you can enjoy readings of well known children’s books.
The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s welcome back Morgan & West this time with their Unbelievable Science. They present captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics, and bonkers biology in this fun for all the family science extravaganza! 21 February
Faster, higher, stronger – explore the colourful world of a symphony orchestra at Bedford Corn Exchange. The Philharmonia Orchestra are hosting an exciting concert celebrating the Olympic spirit – the perfect way to get inspired for Tokya 2020. February 15 – book here.
Out of town visit The Shuttleworth Collection.
Shuttleworth is based at the Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade and they host a large collection of aircraft and vehicles from many decades and they regularly have amazing air shows. The Swiss Garden is also part of their attraction – it’s landscaped gardens are a thing of beauty and tranquillity and is home to the resident peacocks and you can name them. Send them your suggestions and they’ll pick their favourites, find out more here.
17 – 21 February they have Aviation Art for all. Design your own artwork based around flying machines. The workshops will run from 10am to 3pm in the Discovery Workshop and all materials are provided. Normal entry fee applies.
Herrings Green Activity Farm and Bird of Prey Centre is located just outside the town at Cotton End and during half term they have Animal Madness all week. Meet and handle owls, goat feeding, pat a giant continental rabbit, have a go at flying an owl, animal and critter encounters, handle reptiles, snakes, mammals and creepy crawlies, flying displays, alpaca meet and greet, handle an eagle or hawk, donkey grooming and much more.
Join Bird Spotters day on February 17 and take part in the bird spotting quiz, meet the farm mascots Ollie the owl and Eddie the eagle, have a go at flying a bird, colour in your own bird glider to take home and watch the flying displays. On February 18 they have Back to Nature day, meet and handle owls, creepy critter encounter, meet different species of insects and reptiles, have a go at flying an owl, plant your own spring bulb and take it home, scavenger hunt and prizes.
All activities are included in the admission.
Over at the majestic Wrest Park discover what life was like upstairs and downstairs for lords, ladies and the people who served them at Wrest Park with their half term Butler School. Being the butler of a country house is no easy job – do you think you’ve got what it takes? Booking details here. Whilst visiting you can enjoy the 92 acres of award winning gardens, archaeological stores, enjoy something to eat in the cafe and there is also a children’s play area if they need to use up any left over energy.
Get “buzzy” this February half term and create your very own wildflower mini garden at Frosts, Willington. Plant a mini flower garden that will attract lots of butterflies and bees, they will give you a calendar to take home so you can see which you spot paying a visit to your garden this year. Book here.
With over 350 games on the shelves you’ll neber be bored/board (geddit) at Ready Steady Roll Board Game Café – with Game Gurus on hand to explain how to play you don’t need to read the rules. Perfect for anyone aged 6 – 110, you can enjoy homemade cakes, coffee and yummy milkshakes while you spend time with family and friends away from technology. Booking recommended here.
On rainy days LaserWorld is open 10am-5pm every day through half term (and keep an eye on their Facebook page as they often have half term deals) as is KidsWorld, which entertains children for hours in their huge soft play arena, allowing you relax in the café which also has free wifi.
Twinwoods has Playhouse soft play for children up to 10 years. Those wanting more of an adventure can clamber on the climbing walls (5+ years) which have a range of routes and on hand instructor to guide, or try their hand at indoor surfing.
The Talking Statues is another way to have fun whilst in the town. You need a smartphone to swipe on the plaque by the statues to hear their stories – you can download a map here. Wander into town to pick up some shopping including in one of our many independent shops (Bedford has higher than the national average for indies), plus you can keep the kids happy with a visit to Rogan’s Books, Rollback World, Close Encounters, Gallones for a wonderful selection of ice cream and of course no visit would be complete with a bag of retro sweet from Arcadia (for the grown ups too!).
We highly recommend downloading the Bedford Treasure Trail. For £6.99 it is a fun, immersive way to explore our town centre and historic sites, challenging the brains of the whole family. Lasting a couple of hours you can always pitstop at The Pantry or The Longholme en route – you might even spot their resident otters, heron, cormorants and kingfishers.
Why not lose yourself in The Maze at Roxton Garden Centre – once you have found your way out you can reward yourself with cuppa and piece of cake in the cafe, there’s even a little children’s play corner.
And finally don’t forget all the wonderful open spaces in Bedford Borough, including woodlands, lakeside country parks, Bedford Embankment and Bedford, Russell, Addison, Jubilee, Allen and Mowsbury parks where you can have a relaxing walk, run off some energy in the play areas, pitch and putt and grab a coffee and cake – read more here.