50 family things to do in Norfolk this half-term

What is it really half-term already? Yes, it seems like only yesterday they went back after Christmas, but schools are out again. Fear not though parents and grandparents, SIMON PARKIN has plenty of ideas for events and activities to keep the kids happy.


Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth, February 10, 7.30pm, �24-�14 (�18-�12 cons), �14-�8 under-14s, �60-�38 family, 01493 844172, www.hippodromecircus.co.uk

The world famous Chinese State Circus arrives at the historic Hippodrome in Yarmouth for one night only with their brand new show Ying Yang, a celebration of the 2,000 year Chinese circus tradition. Their total mastery of circus arts includes the amazing Bicycle Act, the unpredictable and exhilarating twists of foot juggling with drums, the famous swinging poles, and a display of the awesome art of the Shailon Warriors, all accompanied by an all-girl group of live musicians.


Bewilderwood, February 11-19, normal admission prices, 01603 783900, www.bewilderwood.co.uk

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Guess the wishes of your favourite Bewilderwood characters, warm yourself around the Bewilderwood bonfire and make your wish for the coming year the secret Boggle way at this half-term special event. Can you work out which wish belongs to which Boggle or Twiggle? Find the wishes and match them to your favourite characters to win a prize.


Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, February 11-19, 10am-4pm, normal admission prices, 01328 851465, www.pensthorpe.com

Pensthorpe hosts a fun and educational look at the lives of the birds who call Pensthorpe home. Find out more about species including the European green winged teal or tufted ducks who migrate to Pensthorpe over the winter or peer high into the tree-tops to see if you can spot a tawny owl. The Wow! activity booklet has loads of things to see, spot and do.


Banham Zoo, February 11-19, 9.35am-4pm, �12.95 (�10.95 cons), �8.95 children, www.banhamzoo.co.uk

Discover all about your favourite cats at Banham zoo this half-term. Get your claws into their 'Fearsome Felines' quiz and join in with our 'Catty Crafts' and 'Fabulous Feline face paints'.


Bure Valley Railway, February 11-18, �12, 01263 733858, www.bvrw.co.uk

Join the Bure valley Railways new mascot for a half-term week of fun. There will be free travel for every child when accompanied by a fare-paying adult (maximum two children per adult), plus a kids competition to see how many teddy bears can be spotted on the journey, a colouring corner and a decorated Whistlestop Cafe add to this teddy bear themed event. Trains depart Aylsham 10am, 12.40pm and 3.30pm; Wroxham 11.10am, 2pm and 4.40pm. Don't forget to take your Teddy!


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 11, 2.30pm, �7.50 (�6 cons), �5.50 children, �22 family, 01603 629921, www.puppetthe atre.co.uk

An eccentric couple travel their strange monochrome world in a quirky land-boat, until their lives are turned upside down by a new arrival — the adorable and colourful Lulu. Entertaining and poignant show featuring puppetry, live music and songs. Suitable for ages 5+


Norwich Playhouse, February 10-11, Fri 10.45am/1pm, Sat 11am/1.30pm, �8 (�6 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse

Plop was a baby Barn Owl. He lived at the top of a tall tree, in a field. He was fat and fluffy. He was exactly the same as every barn owl that has ever been – except for one thing. He was afraid of the dark. Based on the classic children's book by Jill Tomlinson, this funny, gentle and reassuring tale, adapted by the acclaimed Blunderbuss Theatre Company, is written especially for children aged 3-7.


Sainsbury Centre, until June 3, free admission, 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk

This vibrant exhibition offers the chance to encounter Japanese characters from television, computer games and comics. Many, like Pokemon and Hello Kitty, have become much loved household names. Providing an overview of manga and anime through the second half of the 20th century, the exhibition provides a unique insight into this cultural phenomenon. It also gives fans the chance to come face-to-face with some of their favourite characters, including human-sized Ultraman, Pikachu and even a room-set of a teenager's Hello Kitty bedroom.


Castle Museum, Norwich, February 11/12/18, 11am-1pm, 1.30pm-3.30pm, museum admission �6.60 (�5.60 cons), �4.80 children, 01603 495897, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

What was Norwich Castle like in the past? Pop along and find out about what it was like to live in our Royal Palace almost 900 years ago.


Wroxham Barns, from February 11, 10am-5pm, farm entry �5.50, 01603 783762, www.wroxhambarns.co.uk

The spring lambs have arrived at Junior Farm at Wroxham Barns and daily indoor bottle-feeding sessions will begin on February 11. The lambs are all the smallest of triplets from local farms and are currently in quarantine, but will be ready to meet visitors throughout half term. The lambs will consume more than 5,000 litres of milk during the bottle-feeding season, so there is plenty of feeding to be done. There are lots of other activities too, from feeding guinea pigs, rabbits and pygmy goats, to taking part in pony grooming and collecting eggs at the hen house.


The Forum, Norwich, February 12/19, �6.15 (�5.75 cons), �5.15 children (7-15 years), pre-book on 0370 9011227, bbc.co.uk/showsandtours

What goes on in the BBC's Norwich outpost? The BBC offers a fantastic chance to gain access to the rarely seen world behind the TV and radio programmes on its behind-the-scenes tours every Sunday. The events include a visit to the Look East TV studio and production gallery, a peek into the presenters' dressing-rooms, a wander through the Radio Norfolk studios while they are broadcasting, plus a look at the new purpose-built Open Studio that gives the chance to try a hands-on interactive studio experience.


Broads Tours, Wroxham, February 12-17, 11.30am-1pm, �8, 01603 782207

Discover the Broads by joining Broads Tours for a river trip and over half-term children travel free of charge (maximum two children per full paying adult).


Hoveton Hall Gardens, February 12/19, 12pm/1pm, 01603 782558, www.hovetonhallgardens.co.uk

The end of winter is a special time at Hoveton Hall Gardens. These two woodland walks, led by Harry Buxton, who will show visitors some of the estate's more secret byways, looking out for rare plants and wildlife, are a sneak preview for visitors, since the gardens don't officially open until April 1. On both days the estate is open from 10.30am-3pm and visitors can also ramble and explore for themselves, perhaps taking in a visit to Hoveton's recently restored 18th century ice well.


Pedals & Paddles, Wroxham, February 13, 10am-1pm, 1.30pm-4pm, �5, �15 children, 0845 4969177, www.thecanoeman.com

Children's half-term activities at Pedals & Paddles include using natural materials gathered on a forage in the woods to make a headdress or crown to take home. Children are encouraged to come dressed as fairies, wizards, Harry Potter etc. Suitable for ages 4+. There will also be a story stick woodland walk on February 14 and bird watch on February 15.


Hickling Broad Nature Reserve, February 13, 10am-11.45am, �3.50 children, accompanying adults free, pre-book on 01603 625540

How can you provide a great home for a great tit and a safe spot for a sparrow? Hickling Broad will prepare for the start of National Nest Box Week with this chance to find out about the nesting bird basics. Don't worry about the weather, there will be a warm retreat of our own in case of rain.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 13-14, 10.30am-3.30pm, �60, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

Working with Tim Edwards – the Puppet Theatre's master of animation – this special half-term workshop, running for five on two days, will be a chance to create a short film. You'll write a script, plan the scenes, create characters from modelling material and then animate them, film their movements and record the sound track. You'll get the results on DVD. Suitable for ages 10+


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, February 13-17, 10am-4pm, normal admission prices, 01362 860563

Do you know Mr Valentine? Pop along to Gressenhall to find out more about this Norfolk character. Follow the trail to collect clues about him, create your own 'Mr Valentine' in Art Attack and check out some of the collection of Valentine objects.


Holkham National Nature Reserve, February 14, 11am-2pm, �5 per bird box, 01328 711183

Take inspiration from the nearby Wells Beach Huts and paint your own beach hut bird box to take home and put in your garden to mark the start of National Bird Box week. Drop in at Wells Beach Cafe at Wells beach car park. Children must be accompanied by an adult. All materials provided, but wear old clothes for painting in.


Sainsbury Centre, February 14-19, 11am-4pm, free admission, 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk

Each holiday the Sainsbury Centre offers free activities for families inspired by objects in the collections and a booklet packed with fun facts, drawing and trails for you to do in the galleries and when you get home. This half-term the objects are two Heishi vessels, the inspiration for a special manga story created by illustrator Chie Kutsuwada.


Norwich Arts Centre, February 15, 10.30am-3.30pm, �35, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

Does your child have a talent for stories and a flair for language? This fun and dynamic workshop will introduce the basic structure of stories so they can turn the ramblings of fertile imagination into well-shaped narratives. Each will take home a simple book made, written and illustrated by themselves. Suitable for ages 7-9.


Lotus, Hethel, February 15, 2pm, �39, 01953 608547, www.lotusdrivingacademy.com

We'd all like to get behind the wheel of a Lotus but how about behind-the-scenes of how they are made? The company's hi-tech manufacturing facility at Hethel, is where the world class, high performance sports cars are all individually hand built. The company hosts one of its regular factory tours that shed light on the history and heritage of Lotus as well as seeing the cars being assembled, painted and checked.


Thorpe Marshes, Thorpe St Andrew, February 15, 11am-3pm, free admission, www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Explore Norfolk's newest nature reserve and discover that urban nature reserves are not just important areas for wildlife but valuable open green spaces for people to enjoy. There will be a range of fun activities for all the family including guided walks, pond dipping, craft activities and much more.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 16, 11am, �7.50 (�6 cons), �5.50 children, �22 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

Narrated by a frog this puppet adaptation of the traditional tale of the girl trapped in a tower by a wicked witch who is rescued by a Prince comes from Glasgow-based Clydebuilt Theatre. A previously announced show has sold out and interest has been so strong the Puppet Theatre has added a second show at 11am to meet the demand. Suitable for ages 4+


Vue, Norwich, February 16, 10.30am, �4.50, www.myvue.com

Barbie fans are in for a splashing treat with this special half-term screening of A Mermaid Tale 2. In her latest adventure, Barbie returns as Merliah, the fun and fashionable surfing champion who's also a magical mermaid princess. In this exciting sea-quel, Merliah heads to Australia for the ultimate surfing competition. However, when the evil mermaid Eris escapes from her whirlpool with plans to take over the throne of Oceana, Merliah and her sea friends dive in to stop her.


Wreningham Village Hall, February 16-18, �6 (�5 cons), �4 children (except Feb 18 when all tickets are �6), 01508 488123, www.wreningham.org

Panto isn't just for Christmas! This year's Wreningham panto, written and directed by Ashwren Drama Group member Bob McClenning, will see honest, law abiding citizens taking to the stage as hostage-taking, thieving pirates led by Raf Silver as Long John Silver. Do the pirates find Blackbush's treasure? Travel with them aboard the Hispaniola and find out.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 17, 11am/2.30pm, �7.50 (�6 cons), �5.50 children, �22 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

The Umbrella-seller Storyteller opens and closes her umbrellas - opening with a story of sea and sand, and closing with a visit to the moon and stars. Along the way we meet the Umbrella bird who lives in the Trouble Tree and finds an unusual solution for Brolly's worries. This one-woman show by artist and musician Su Eaton is a combination of storytelling and visual theatre using shadow puppetry, as well as live music and song. Suitable for ages 4+


Norwich Theatre Royal, February 17, 2.30pm, �14-�5.50, �13-�5.50 children, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Ahoy there landlubbers, Barry and Paul Chuckle — the world's funniest men if you happen to be six — return with their latest show Return of the Pirates of the River Rother 2 In Stranger Tights. The duo are visiting a theme park for the day and decide to brave the daring water rides only to find themselves magically transported back in time in to a world of pirates and sunken treasure.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 18, 11am, �7.80, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

This children's puppet workshop is space themed. Guided by the workshop leader, children will work on their own constructing the basic puppet. They are then free to add character to their creation using the vast array of materials and can take the puppet home at the end. Suitable for ages 5+


The Tollhouse, Great Yarmouth, February 17, 11am-4pm, free admission, 01493 745526, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Yo oh oh! Make some proper pirate crafts using a quill pen to write your own treasure map. Make your own sword and see and learn how to make shadow puppets. There is also the opportunity to hear tales of pirates from the Tollhouse Gaoler.


Castle Museum, Norwich, February 17, 10.30am-12.30pm/1pm-3.30pm, museum admission �6.60 (�5.60 cons), �4.80 children, 01603 495897, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

This special half-term event is a chance to discover more about the Castle Museum natural history collection. Get your hands on some real objects and meet a curator, plus lots more of fun stuff that'll let you see the natural world in a different light.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 18, 11am/2.30pm, �7.50 (�6 cons), �5.50 children, �22 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

Martin is busy baking biscuits and cakes in the kitchen. As he mixes the sugar and spices to tell the story of The Gingerbread Man, he adds a sprinkling of songs and a generous helping of humour, and combines it all with his usual dextrous glove puppetry. Suitable for ages 4+


Strangers Hall, Norwich, February 18, 10.30am-12.30pm, 1pm-3.30pm, normal admission prices, 01603 667229, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Spring cleaning the past for the present as Strangers' Hall reopens after its annual deep clean. Find out how we keep this historic house spick and span today, and how house keeping was done in the past.


Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, February 18, 7pm-11pm, �3.50, �2 children, 01603 270449, www.fairhavengarden.co.uk

Wrap up for a night with the stars! Astronomers from Norwich Astronomical Society will be bringing their telescopes to Fairhaven and there will be a talk by society chairman Dave Balcombe. Take a torch, infra-red if you have one, wrap up warm and prepare to scan the skies.


Grapes Hill Community Garden, February 19, 11am-3pm, free admission, 07729 540482, www.grapeshillcommunitygarden.org

Grapes Hill Community Garden is continuing to attract visitors despite the colder weather and our spring plants are now bursting into life. Norwich RSPB will be present on February 19 for this special event which will include four nestbox building sessions, at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm, plus seed swap, gardening stalls, hot drinks and home-made cakes.