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School's out: unmissable events this half-term

PUBLISHED: 16:11 18 February 2011 | UPDATED: 16:11 18 February 2011

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What, half-term already? Fear not, SIMON PARKIN has plenty of ideas for events and special treats to keep the kids happy this holiday.

Come On In From The Cold

Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, February 19-27, £8.90 (£7.70 cons), £5.90 child, £27.50 family, 01362 860563, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Winter’s nearly over so wrap up warm and venture out to Gressenhall where there’s a wealth of activities to blow away those winter blues. Half-term activities include the chance to watch enactments on workhouse life, listen to storytelling and search the site on the Gressenhall trail. Children’s activities also offer a chance to get up close to some of our museum objects.

Fresh Air Day

Oxburgh Hall, February 19-20 and 26/27, £4.30 (£3.90 cons), £2.15 child, £10.75 family, 01366 328258, www.nationaltrust.co.uk

Get out in the fresh air, blow the winter cobwebs away with a self-guided walk around the woods at Oxburgh Hall, and follow the children’s trail.

Teddy Bear Express

Aylsham Station, February 19-27, £8 single/£12 rover return ticket, 01263 738882, www.bvrw.co.uk

The furry Bure Valley Railway mascot will be joining passengers this half-term. There is free travel for every child who brings it’s own teddy when accompanied by a fare-paying adult (maximum of two children per adult) too. Along the route take part in the children’s competition to see how many Teddy Bears there are on the train journey.

Boggle Wish Bonfire

Bewilderwood, Hoveton, February 19-27, £11.50 (8.50 cons), £8.50 child, under 92cm tall free, 01603 783900, www.bewilderwood.co.uk

Bewilderwood opens for 2011 with a chance to keep out the chill and warm your tootsies around their Boggle Wish Bonfire, hidden deep amidst the trees. You can make a wonderful wish by the fire, the secret Boggle way. Mildred, Swampy and some of the other curious creatures that live here at Bewilderwood will be there to make some wishes too. Hunt them down in our wild wish list trail and decide who wished which wish.

Dean’s Dad’s Ducks

Dereham Library, February 19, 7.30pm, free admission, pre-book on 01362 656971.

Suffolk-based poet Dean Parkin presents his popular show, the funny and bittersweet story of what happened when 30,000 plastic ducks sank in the North Pacific in 1992 after their cargo ship was bombed by a US fighter jet. Ex-pect stories, poems and songs about bubble wrap, swan machines and lemon trees on trains.

Mustering Magic

The Forum, February 19-25, 9am-5pm, free admission, 01603 599578, www.theforumnorwich.co.uk

Pop along to the Forum to see an amazing display of dragons created by community groups from around Norfolk. The centre-piece dragon made of textiles has been made by volunteers from the Hamlet Centre and represents the shared textile history of Norwich and the Low Countries. The display also features artwork and creative writing from ‘Dragon Quest’ — a schools competition.

Traditional Games

Castle Acre Priory, February 20, normal admission prices, www.castleacre.net

The English Heritage site, a couple of miles north of Swaffham off the A1065, turns back the clock. Enjoy some traditional games in the warm barn including draughts, dominoes, nine men’s morris, noughts and crosses, skittles, snakes and ladders, fox and geese and the latest addition – Shut the Box.

Festival of the Dragon Moon

Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 20, 2.30pm, £7 (£5.50 cons), £5 child, £20 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

A traditional Chinese tale told using principally Chinese Palm Puppets (forerunner of the glove puppet) and an ornately decorated travelling Pagoda Theatre with music and atmospheric lighting, that will enthral and entertain 4-11 year olds.

Adventure Treasure Maps

Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth, February 20/22, normal admission prices, 01493 743 930, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Half-term family drop-in events at Time and Tide include an Adventure Treasure Maps workshop for children on Sunday (12pm-4pm). Then on Tuesday (11am-4pm), there’s Life Before the North Sea.

Tall Tales

Dragon Hall, King Street, Norwich, February 20/23, 10.30am-3.30pm, £4, £2 child, £12 family, 01603 663922, www.dragonhall.org

Join Dragon Hall’s very own storytellers, as they entertain visitors with some tall tales of scoundrels, damsels and dragons. Then make up your own story by creating a Dragon Hall inspired flip book. Suitable for all ages.

Lambing Season

Church Farm, Stow Bardolph, from February 21, £7 (£6 cons), £6 child, under-2s free, £24 family, 01366 382162, www.churchfarmstowbardolph.co.uk

Lambing season is getting underway and the ‘maternity ward’ at Church Farm will be open this half-term ready to receive lots of lovely lambs. A series of lambing encounters are held being every day at: 11.15am-11.45pm; 1.30pm-2pm; and 4pm-4.30pm. There are lots of other baby animals to see as well, including piglets, calves, duck-lings, baby guinea pigs, baby giant rabbits and goat kids.

Explore and Draw

Great Hospital, Bishopgate, Norwich, February 21-25, free admission, 01603 622022, www.greathospital.org

A rare opportunity to explore the 15th century Refectory in the Great Hospital and discover the six dragons in the roof beams. Draw and paint all types of dragons with the chance to win a £10 gift voucher for the best drawing in the categories under-5s, 5-9 year olds and over-8s.

Dragon Films

Chapelfield Big Screen, February 21/25, 10am/12pm/2pm/4pm, free admission, 01603 753344, www.chapelfield.co.uk/dragon

The big screen at Chapelfield will be used for free screenings of Disney’s Mulan on February 21 and How to Train Your Dragon on February 25. Seating will be provided. Full of daring action and hilarious characters, Mulan tells the tale of a young girl and her guardian dragon Mushu. Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild drag-ons, How to Train Your Dragon is based on the book by Cressida Cowell.

Theatrical Costume Workshop

Sainsbury Centre, February 22, 10.30am–3pm, £18 (£12 cons), pre-book on 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk

Spend the day working with artist Eve Stebbing from Spin Off Theatre, and using a range of weaving techniques, create a dramatic structured costume to transform your identity. Spin Off Theatre is a Norfolk based company known for its musical-comedy productions and ‘mardling’ (Norfolk-style storytelling). Suitable for young people aged 13–15. No previous experience is necessary.

Film-Making Workshops

Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 22/23, £55 for both days, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

Working with Tim Edwards — the Puppet Theatre’s master of animation — you will create a short film at this half-term workshop.

During the two-day event you will write a script, plan out the scenes, model the characters and then animate them and record the sound track. Tim will then edit all the material you have created and put all the films onto a DVD for you to keep. The resulting films may also appear on the Chapelfield big screen.

Object of Fun

Sainsbury Centre, February 22-27, 11am-4pm, free admission, 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk

Each school holiday the Sainsbury Centre runs free activities for families to do together at the art table and in a booklet packed with fun facts, drawing, puzzles, challenges and trails. Activities are designed by guides and are linking to objects in the world art collection. This half-term time the object in question is the Chinese Dragons, to coincide with Norwich Dragon Festival.

Family Walk

Holkham Estate, February 23, 10.45am-12.30pm, free admission, pre-book on 07825 377652, www.holkham.co.uk

Join this special family-friendly guided walk around Holkham National Nature Reserve to look for wildlife, make your own binoculars to use in the bird hides. Only 20 places available, so make sure you pre-book.

Techno Treasure Hunt

Ranworth Nature Reserve, February 23, 2.30pm-4.30pm, free admission, pre-book on 01603 756095, www.broads-authority.gov.uk

Experience the world of geo-caching by joining a Broads ranger for an afternoon guided treasure hunt using GPS units. Starting at Ranworth, the trail will follow countryside footpaths taking in views of the marshes, farmland and woodlands. Along the way you will find clues to reveal the hidden treasure.

Alice and the White Rabbit

Norwich Arts Centre, February 23, 2pm, £7 (£5 cons), £20 family, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

Indigo Moon Theatre present the shadow puppet show Alice and the White Rabbit. Join Alice on her magical ad-venture as she chases the White Rabbit back in time to Wonderland. The show celebrates different shadow tech-niques. Suitable for ages 4+.

The Little Shop of Horrors

Rackheath Village Hall, February 24-26, £7, £5 under-16s, 07591 194092, www.rackheathplayers.co.uk

This tongue-in-cheek sci-fi musical romp that is always popular with all generations is being staged by the Rack-heath Players. It tells the story of sweet but nerdish Seymour, his friendship with unlucky-in-love Audrey, and how their luck changes when a strange plant finds its way into their lives.

Tales of Dragons and Knights

The Guildhall, February 25, 3.45-4.45pm, pre-book free tickets on 01603 599577.

Join the popular Yarnsmith of Norwich to hear exciting tales of dastardly dragons, brave knights and King Ar-thur’s Court inside the medieval Guildhall.

Old Mother Hubbard

Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 25, 2.30pm, £7 (£5.50 cons), £5 child, £20 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk

A fun nursery rhyme journey as Old Mother Hubbard clatters about in her kitchen with her dancing dog. With a spicy blend of slapstick and folk humour, Garlic Theatre has created a fresh and funny adaptation with well-crafted puppets and musical treats.

Manga Drawing Workshop

The Forum, February 26, 11am-2pm, free admission, 01603 774774.

Join in dragon-themed Manga drawing workshops run by a professional Manga artist from the Sweatshop Studios. Learn how to draw in the popular animation style of Japanese comic books. The events are aimed at 7-14 year olds and last about 90 minutes.

The Dragon’s Daughter

Norwich Playhouse, February 26-27, £7.50 (£5.50 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

Blunderbus Theatre Company stage The Dragon’s Daughter, a magical tale of adventure and friendship set, like all good fairytales, in a faraway land. With bewitching music and puppets, it’s a funny and moving story about a brave little boy and a scared little dragon, who grow to become the very best of friends. Performances at 1.30pm and 3.30pm on February 26 and 11.30am and 1.30pm on February 27.

Chinese Dragon Dance

All Saints Green, February 26, 1.30pm and 2.30pm, free admission, 01603 660021.

Celebrating the global appeal of dragons, there will be a Chinese Dragon Dance with live music outside John Lewis. Come along to hear drums, cymbals and gongs accompany the energetic nine-person dragon dance.

Golden Star Morris Dancing

Norwich Castle, February 26, various times during opening times 10am-4.30pm, normal admission prices, 01603 495897.

Watch the Golden Star Morris troupe as they perform in the Castle Keep. Of course there will be dragons, so make sure you keep a look out.

Cathedral Dragons

St John the Baptist, February 26, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, £4 per person, pre-book on 01603 724380.

Tour of St John Cathedral focusing on dragon sculptures, ending with the opportunity for children to make their own dragons out of recycled materials. This event is aimed at children between the ages of 7-14.

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