Ahh, May. The month where one ill-advised afternoon in a pub garden is all that stands between you and your first sunburn of the year. Bask in the bank holidays! Revel in the birdsong! Cast ne’er a clout, whatever that means! It’s time to throw off the shackles of winter and throw yourself headlong into some half-term family fun…

Bring The Paint

Surly adolescent in tow? Congratulations, that’s always terrific. But before you initiate the traditional half-term row over what is an acceptable time to be out of bed even if it IS the holidays, earn yourself some Brownie points by pointing your favourite monosyllabic teenager in the direction of the Bring The Paint festival. This unique celebration of urban street art, first launched in 2017, is back for another round of stunning street creations, which you can see taking shape over the weekend of 25-26 May.

Focused around the Cultural Quarter on the Saturday and The Mill, Frog Island, on the Sunday, the festival is the brainchild of local artists’ collective Graffwerk (who host a fantastic vegan café at their HQ in Frog Island, by the way). Watch as internationally-renowned artists create large-scale, original pieces on city buildings, with the chance to sample street food in Orton Square, or take part in a family-friendly workshop during the Sunday Social at the Mill. Your teenager will barely believe that YOU, of all people, told them about something so cool. Just don’t stand too close to them, OK?

Open Streets

While you’re in the city centre, join in with the monthly Open Streets festival on Sunday 26 May. From 1pm to 4pm, the streets in the Greyfriars area of the city will be closed to traffic and opened up for people to enjoy. This is the historic ‘Old Town’ part of Leicester that includes the Cathedral, St Martins and Millstone Lane and during the event, you can find out more about the area’s unique and fascinating history on a themed walk or bike ride. Take part in a game of bike polo or giant Jenga, grab a rickshaw ride or get your bike fixed at new Market Square – it’s a great chance to enjoy the city’s urban landscape, and it’s all free.

Walk Leicester Festival

Abbey Park is only a stone’s throw from the city centre – venture out there with your young children on Wednesday 29 May and you can join in with Funky Feet and Wacky Wheels – a free celebration of getting around without cars, being held as part of the Walk Leicester festival. From 11am until 1pm at the Oval, you can decorate your shoes, scooter or bike and join in a parade through the park. The park’s packed with other attractions, too – including a large children’s playground, café and the ever-popular Pets’ Corner. Take a picnic and make a day of it!

Apollo 10

An Apollo-packed half-term is in store over at the National Space Centre to celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Throughout half-term,  Apollo 10 – Almost There explains how the dress rehearsal for the landing brought the Apollo lunar module to just 8.4 nautical miles from the lunar surface. Activities will include Grossology, focusing on the grosser side of space, from faecal bags to microgravity sneezes (bleurgh). There’s also the chance to become a lunar artist, and to unearth the mysteries of the moon’s geology – will you be able to find the moon rock hidden in the space centre’s galleries?

Medieval Medicine

The King Richard III Visitor Centre has a treat in store for anyone interested in a bit of blood and gore – a look at Medieval Medicine from 25 May to 2 June. Meet a ‘medieval medic’ and hear gory tales from the battlefield – it’ll make your last trip to the urgent care centre seem a lot less eventful. The centre is also, of course, the greatest place to learn about the amazing discovery of King Richard III, with full-price tickets valid for a year after purchase for as many visits as you like.

Family Art Workshop 

Meanwhile, there’s the chance to get arty – for free – on Saturday 25 May at The Gallery, on the De Montfort University campus, with a family workshop from 1-3pm. Hands-on, creative activities will be on offer, inspired by the gallery’s current exhibitions, aimed at children aged 5-10 but with younger siblings welcome too. The campus itself is also great for a wander, with riverside walks and the peaceful Castle Gardens just a stone’s throw away.

Dino Week at Twinlakes

Naturally, no half-term break would be complete without something to appease the dinosaur fans among us, and Twinlakes theme park in Melton is only too happy to oblige. Monday 27 to Friday 31 May is Dino Week, with the chance to see Tank the Triceratops, Velociraptor Blue and some baby dinosaurs, as well as sampling all the fun of Twinlakes’ rides, water activities and farm park. As Alan Partridge would say – Jurassic Park!  

The Secret Garden

The genteel gardens of Newarke Houses Museum are one of Leicester’s hidden gems, which is why the Secret Garden event, on Tuesday 28 May, is so aptly named. Bring a picnic, take part in some garden games and see the plants in full bloom while the kids enjoy garden trails and themed arts and crafts. The museum is ripe for exploring, too, with a 1950s street scene, a recreation of a First World War trench and a collection of toys from Tudor times among the displays and artefacts visitors can discover.

Robin Hood and Other Legends

Think you’ll have to travel to Nottingham to get a bit of Robin Hood in your life? Think again! At Belgrave Hall on Wednesday 29 May, there’s a family fun day entitled Robin Hood and Other Legends, with arts and crafts, face painting, treasure trails and storytelling. Come dressed in your finest outfit (that might be an invitation more aimed at children, but don’t let it stop you reaching for your dickie-bow) and have a go at the bow and arrow competition. There’s free parking, and the drop-in activities cost just £3. Bargain!

Pikes and Pillage Family Fun

At the Guildhall, on Thursday 30 May, you’re invited to come dressed in your best armour (don’t be turning up in your second-best armour) for a Pikes and Pillage family fun day. You’ll be within the very walls where, 374 years ago to the day, Royalist forces attacked and looted the city in the Siege of Leicester. Learn all about the English Civil War with historian Eddie Smallwood, create puppets of Roundhead and Cavalier soldiers and make Royalist crowns, pendants and bracelets at this fascinating family fun day, with the only charge a mere £3 for the drop-in craft activities.

Leicester's Riverside Festival

Leicester’s popular Riverside Festival, now in its 22nd year, returns on the first weekend in June (1 & 2 June). This free, two-day festival features fun on and off the water, with attractions including a funfair, food stalls, arts and crafts, a beer tent and music stages. Check out the colourful narrowboat rally, take a boat trip or buy work from local artists at the Art on the River exhibition. And if swing’s your thing, head over to Castle Gardens, where there’s also the chance to get down to some jazz, big band and swing at the Broken Records Swing Festival

Rutland Water Aqua Park

And if all that water has given you a penchant for soaking, Aqua Park Rutland will be pleased to oblige. Back for 2019 at Rutland Water – it opens on 25 May ­- the park features climbing walls, trampolines and some of the UK's most splashtastic jumps and slides. It’s an absolute blast, and great exercise to boot. Suitable for children aged six years and over (and more than 1.2m tall), you’ll be kitted out with a wetsuit and buoyancy aid to keep you afloat as you tackle balance beams, a blast bag and trampolines. (Top tip: If you’re over 35, pack your dignity securely in a little bag and leave it at home. Who needs dignity when you’ve got giant inflatable obstacles to clamber over?)

If the aqua park sounds too daunting, Rutland Water is a fantastic place for lots of other outdoor activities, such as cycling, sailing or stand-up paddleboarding. It’s the nearest we get to a beach in our land-locked counties!

And when you’ve done all this (or at least some of it), that pub garden will be beckoning again – you’ve definitely earned a trip there now. Just don’t forget the suncream…




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