Let’s start with the hardest to please, shall we? For activities, Ignite Sports’ Football Skills sessions (for both girls and boys) cater for up to 14 year olds, and are running 21-25 Feb in Oxford, Bicester, and Witney.
Then, the Wycombe Swan has an Improv & Theatre Sports workshop on 22 Feb that’s aimed at ages 12-18. It’s also worth noting that the Creation Theatre’s at-home drama workshops cater for up to 16 year olds.
Arty teens might get a kick out of the exciting new Modern Art Oxford online exhibition branch, available until 13 March. This is shaping up to be really something: combining game design, interactive storytelling, speculative fiction, and citizen science, it experiments with the future in a properly cool and engaging way.
For something to watch, try a screening of the Royal Opera House’s ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Chipping Norton Theatre on 20 Feb. There’s also pretty much always a range of interesting, indie films showing at the MK Gallery, which make for a higher-brow cinema trip. Check the listings here. The same goes for the Curzon cinema in Oxford.
Music fans? For serious brownie points, get them tickets to watch the chart-topping Tom Odell at the O2 Academy Oxford on 22 Feb.
Teens who can appreciate a musical might love seeing the Jersey Boys up at the Milton Keynes Theatre as they croon about late December, back in ’63 from 23 Feb – 5 March.
Or, the comedy Magic Goes Wrong, playing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from 22-26 Feb, is suitable for ages 10+. Older teens might wrinkle their nose and return to TikTok, but for the younger end of the spectrum it’s got some glowing reviews.
(See our London section below for a few more out-of-catchment teen ideas.)
Waddesdon Manor has a great selection of sanity-saving half term activities, running 19-27 Feb. These include an outdoor animal trail, a sensory walk, and woodland playground.
Up in North Oxon, The Banbury Museum has a whole slew of events for ages 3+: Winter Wildlife Crafts (21 Feb); Time Travellers (22 Feb); Windmills & Wind Chimes (23 Feb); Seeds for Spring (24 Feb); and Amazing Brain Crafts (25 Feb).
The Hill End Outdoor Education Centre, near Oxford, has some self-led Half Term Fun Days 23-24 Feb, involving plenty of nature play and some included refreshments.
Meanwhile at the Magic Garden at Yarnton Garden Centre, near Woodstock, you can expect a series of themed half term days: Spiderman Day (21 Feb); Unicorn Day (22 Feb); Cinderella Day (23 Feb); Circus Day (24 Feb); and Dinosaur Day (25 Feb). What a line-up!
Over at Millets Farm near Abingdon, there’s a bustling schedule of Half Term Fun that includes Toy Brick Challenges (i.e., lego building contests, for 6-12 year olds, 21-22 Feb); a magic show (for 3-8 year olds, 21-23 Feb); comedy song performances (for 3-8 year olds, 23-24 Feb); painting parties (for 6-12 year olds, 24-25 Feb); and a 4-tier playframe (all half term).
You can also get stuck into some amateur archaeology with Oxford Castle and Prison‘s DIG into February Half Term, running 22-27 Feb. Designed for kids between 5-11, this involves making a mosaic tile, performing a mini excavation, and discovering a treasure to take home. Booking is advised, as capacity’s limited to 14 children per session.
Kids will love the Banbury Museum‘s hands-on educational exhibition Your Amazing Brain: A User’s Guide, available from 12 Feb – 5 June. A close collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Wellcome Trust, this offers fun activities and fascinating illusions for all ages, and explores the way we perceive our surroundings.
Or, see the SIT and PLAY art exhibition at The Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury, on until 12 March. With 12 chair-like sculptures made out of recycled plastic, this explores what can be made from waste, and acts as both an exhibit and a play experience. The museum also has an amazing Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, open in school holidays and on Saturdays, that’s sort of like wandering through a pop-up storybook.
Between 3-28 Feb, visitors young and old will be delighted by the interactive gallery on The Wind in the Willows at The River & Rowing Museum, Henley. Tea in a caravan, escaping from prison as a washer woman, ousting weasels from Toad Hall…now that’s a day out.
The big one is Camp Beaumont, with camps at Beaconsfield High School in Bucks, as well as ones across the border in Berks at St George’s in Windsor and Leighton Park School. Check out what to ask before you book a kids’ holiday camp here.
If you can’t get Beaumont, try a February Half-Term Camp at The Little Gym in High Wycombe, for active tornadoes aged from 3 to 12 years. Running from the 21-25 Feb, you can sign your little one up for morning camps, full-day camps, or an afternoon cartwheel bootcamp.
Another sports club, this time running in Oxford, Bicester, and Witney is Ignite Sports, which has general sports clubs as well as girls’ / boys’ football skills, suitable for ages 4-14, running 21-25 Feb.
Or, try Oxford Active Camps for Ofsted-regulated adventures, team-building exercises, and activities for ages 6-14, with camps to choose from in Aylesbury and then 11 different ones across Oxfordshire. There are also a range of Buckinghamshire locations and Oxfordshire locations for Super Camps, which cover all your standard activities (go-karting, swimming, you know the drill).
For something science-y rather than sporty, try Bright Sparks Science, which runs day-long science holiday camps for 5-11 year olds across Oxfordshire: Oxford (21 Feb); Wantage (22 Feb); Woodstock (23 Feb); Didcot (24 Feb); and Abingdon (25 Feb).
For budding clowns, the Wycombe Swan has a holiday workshop on Comedy & Clowning, for ages 7-12 (21 Feb), as well as a Beatbox Adventure for “ages 1-101” on 21 Feb, which is more of an interactive performance.
It’s also always worth checking out the Creation Theatre’s at-home drama workshops, with different sessions for kids aged 5-16.
STAGE & SCREEN
Ah yes, our children love the theatre, darling! At least, they’ll like the ballet of Alice in Wonderland that’s on at the MK Gallery on 20 Feb, especially intended for 2-14 year olds.
Also worth checking out is Oh No, George! at the Oxford Playhouse, suitable for 3+, a playful story of a dog that can’t resist temptation, running 23-24 Feb. Then there’s David Gibb’s Family Jukebox, a comedy musical journey that’s suitable for ages 3+, on 26 Feb at the Chipping Norton Theatre.
OUT AND ABOUT
Why not show the kids some snowdrops? It’s charming, it tuckers them out, and it gets them out in the fresh air. Win-win! In Waterperry, near Oxford, Waterperry Gardens’ Snowdrop Season lasts until 28 Feb, and boasts more than 60 different snowdrop varieties in its ornamental gardens, as well as a veritable snowdrop carpet along its River Thames walk.
There’s also a Snowdrop Open Day at Thenford Aboretum, near Banbury, taking place on 22 Feb. Meanwhile Upton House, also near Banbury, has a great winter walk where you can chart the appearance of spring, plus an all-pleasing jacket potato lunch at its Pavilion Café. See our full round-up of the best local snowdrop walks here.
THE BIG SMOKE
Fancy a day-trip to London this half term? You could book discerning teens (and yourself, crucially!) in for a bit of excellent theatre: try Cyrano de Bergerac at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End, starring the multi-talented (and, er, rather dashing for a Bergerac…) James McAvoy, 3 Feb – 12 March, or Shakespeare’s Henry V delivered with aplomb by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington in Covent Garden at the Donmar Warehouse, 12 Feb – 9 April. There’s also a much-lauded production of Small Island at the South Bank‘s National Theatre, from 24 Feb – 30 April.
Or, there’s a cool and immersive Bob Marley Experience running 2 Feb – 18 April at the Saatchi Gallery in West London. Using photographs, memorabilia, artworks and interactive rooms, this remembers the artist’s life like nothing before. Should appeal to a too-cool-for-school teen or two.
Younger kids will love — at least, they will if we can help it — the Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature exhibition at the V&A in Kensington, running from 12 Feb.
Especially exciting is the South Bank‘s Imagine Children’s Festival, running 9-20 Feb, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year. There’s a whole host of children’s theatre, comedy, music, literature, dance and full-on fun scheduled, with plenty of free events too, so definitely worth checking out.