41 things to do in York this half term holiday, February 2017

They've got some sweet treats lined up at the York Castle Museum this half term. Photograph: Richard McDougall
16 Feb 2017 @ 10.05 am
| Entertainment

Spring is in the air, there are Vikings on every street corner and children are demanding ‘what are we going to do today?’

Yes, it’s the half term holiday. And living in York there’s no excuse for boredom with all this going on…

The Vikings!

On the march: Jorvik Vikings. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Festival fun

Across York

Mon Feb 20-Sun Feb 26 2017

Various prices, including free

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Yes, its the annual invasion by those hairy marauders for the Jorvik Viking Festival. Loads to see and do, lots of it free. There are traders to see in Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square. Below are a few highlights… check out all the events in the link above.

Collecting the Vikings

Yorkshire Museum

Feb 23, 11am-3pm


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Bring along your Viking books, toys and objects and share them with the Yorkshire Museum curators. There is even a chance they will include your stories in their new Viking exhibition opening in May.

Have-a-go Sword Combat

St Sampson’s Square

Feb 20, 10am-4pm


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If the young vikings fancy their hand at sword fighting, they can attend this fun workshop and learn battle skills instructed by viking warriors. These exciting combat sessions will last about 20 minutes.

Have-a-go Archery

St Sampson’s Square

Feb 20, 10am-4pm


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For the first time this year young vikings can also learn the art of Archery. Eric Bloodaxe is looking for skilled warriors to join his army, will you make the cut? Sessions last around 15 minutes.

Animal Steading

DIG, St Saviourgate

Feb 20, 10am-4pm


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Get up close to the animals that vikings reared and hear about how they used their meat, milk and even bones. This experience is part of the admission to DIG.

Viking Crafting

DIG, St Saviourgate

Feb 20, 10am-4pm


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Create jewellery the way the vikings did. Have a go at making wire jewellery and badges as well trying out clay pottery. This is part of the admission to DIG.

Poo Day!

Barley Hall, Stonegate

Feb 21, 10.30am-4pm


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Yes, you read it right, learn about how poo used to solve ancient mysteries and make your very own historic replica poo. Included in admission to Barley Hall.

Family fun

‘A quarter of sherbet pips, please lady’

Chocolate Wrapped Up at the Castle Museum

York Castle Museum

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26 @ 10am-4pm

Admission: children and YMT card holders free, adults £10

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Delicious demos, scrumptious sweet-decorating and to produce pretty packaging ahead of the new chocolate experience opening in April – Chocolate: York’s Sweet Past.

Prepare For The Vikings!

Yorkshire Museum

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26

Children and YMT card holders free, adults £7.50

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In preparation for the Yorkshire Museum’s major new exhibition Viking: Rediscover the Legend which launches in May, come along and create your own collage of a display using images from their Viking collection.

Chocolate Competition at York’s Chocolate Story

King’s Square, York

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26

Admission £9.50-£11.50

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If you can think of a creative way to show how much you love chocolate, you could be in with the chance to win a year’s supply of treats. It’s an Instagram comp, with a giant Instagram board installed in King’s Square. Plus there are early bird discounts for the 9.30am and 9.45am York’s Chocolate Story tours this week.

Katie Rough Memorial Family Fun-draiser

Gateway Church, Acomb

Sat Feb 18 @ 10am-4pm

£2 per adult and kids are free

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There’ll be facepainting, food, refreshments, characters, reptiles and animal photos, candy floss, bouncy castle and a disco. And in the evening there’s a music concert with local bands to keep the fun coming.

Some down time at the funfair

York Valentine’s Funfair

Askham Bar

Feb 17-26 @ 1pm-8pm

Free entry, various prices for rides

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The organisers are promising rides never before seen in the city. Hold on to your hats!

Oceon’s Family Funday

York RI Rugby Club, New Lane, Acomb

Sun Feb 19 @ 11am-5pm

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There’s a raffle, disco, activities and food and drink, raising money for York Hospital in memory of Oceon, a little girl who died in her sleep in 2016.

Music and stories

Music and exploring with the Song Box archive adventure. Photograph: York Explore

Meet children’s author Maragaret Mulligan

Waterstones, Coney Street

Feb 23, 11am-2pm


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Margaret Mulligan will be signing copies of her book, Katy Parker and the House that Cried. The book is about little girl, Katy, who wakes up in 1940s England and has the chance to save the life of a girl in an air raid.

Snails Tales Storytelling

Fenwick, Coppergate Centre

Feb 23, 10am-4pm


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The whole family can enjoy listening to tales and ballads told by Vikings and Saxons. There will be lyre music, puppetry, and plenty of joining in.

An archive adventure with Song Box

York Explore

Tue Feb 23 @ 2pm-3pm and 3.30pm-4.30pm

£3.78 – £6.96

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Lendal’s last ferryman is an interactive storytelling adventure, for 3-9 year olds. It will bring to life characters and settings from York Archive’s intriguing collection of scrap books, photo albums and maps.

Song Box Discovery Session

York Art Gallery

Mon Feb 20-Fri Feb 24

Tickets from £3.78 (plus gallery admission)

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Join Thea on a multi sensory safari, exploring the secret world of studio ceramics. Working in very small groups, Thea will share her fascination with these gorgeous and intriguing objects.

Arts, crafts – and coding

Ready to go on an arty safari at the York Art Gallery? Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Ceramic Safari

York Art Gallery

Feb 10-26, 10am-5pm

Admission Free-£7.50, safari trail 50p

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There are all kinds or creatures hiding amongst the pots at the York Gallery. See which animals you can find? Also make your very own clay animal to take home.

Yarn Storming workshop

York Minster

Sat Feb 18 @ 10am-3pm


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Yarn Storming is coming to York Minster. Join the York KnitWits in this first workshop as they plan to create something spectacular in Dean’s Park this summer.

Dringhouses Library Craft Event

Dringhouses, Tadcaster Road

Feb 24, 10am-12.30pm


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Help artist Jane Kennelly create giant pages for a book to decorate Dringhouses Library.

Comic Craft Event

Clifton Explore Library

Tue Feb 21 @ 2.30pm


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Chat about comics, rifle through the library’s comic swap box, have fun with slam comics and even write and draw your own mini comic.

York Maker Hub

Huntington School, Huntington, York

Mon Feb 20-Fri Feb 24

From £15 for a half day or £135 for the whole week

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The hub teaches children aged 8 to 18 years how to write computer code, add the code to a vehicle they have built and get it round the maze. Or code an LED light show…

Transport and military

Say hello to the Scotsman before it flies off again. Photograph: Richard McDougall

National Railway Museum

Leeman Road, York

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26

Entry free, charges apply for some activities

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Take a ride behind Flying Scotsman in South Yard. Join in with Flying Scotsman model making, take a ride on the Miniature Railway and find out all about speedy locomotives in the Need for Speed science show.

Yorkshire Air Museum

Elvington, York

Till Fri Feb 24 @ noon-4pm

Admission £5-£10, plus some activities £1

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Lots of activities are laid on for aviation enthusiasts of all ages, including explore a cockpit, climb aboard the C47 Dakota, visit the radio room, and have a go at flying a Halifax in the simulator.

WWII Living History Weekend

Eden Camp Modern History Museum, Malton

Sat Feb 25-Sun Feb 26 @ 10am-5pm

Adults £8.50, senior citizens & children £7.50

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The Axis-Allied Re-enactment Group is at Eden Camp all weekend, portraying First and Second World War Germans, and British troops. The rest of the museum is open as normal.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Pickering, Levisham, Goathland, Grosmont stations

Sat Feb 18-Sun Deb 26 @ 9am-6pm


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Explore the railway’s four stations and travel along the 18-mile railway line aboard steam and heritage diesel trains. At Pickering station visit Peter’s Railway Young Engineer’s Centre, an interactive exhibition for children to learn about engineering.

Sporty fun

American-style wrestling

Fibbers, Toft Green, York

Sat Feb 18 @ 7pm


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Two hours of family entertainment, grunt and groan, up close and personal. These wrestlers don’t hold back…

York Handball Festival

York St John University

Sun Feb 26 @ noon-3pm


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York Hunters host their first ever Handball Festival. Not only will there be some great handball action to watch, but there will also be an opportunity on the day to try out handball for free.

York City holiday course

Huntington School, Huntington, York

Mon Feb 20-Tue Feb 21


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York City’s holiday courses are perfect for the footie-mad boy or girl in your life, aged 8-12. Sessions develop the technical, tactical, physical, psychological and social aspects of the young player.

Total Sports holiday clubs

Huntington, Manor and Archbishop Holgate’s schools

Mon Feb 20-Fri Feb 24 @ 8.15am-5.30pm

£18.50-£25 per day

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Lots of different activities throughout the day that will suit all ages and interests.

Get outdoors

The nature reserve at New Earswick. Photograph: Mia Titley

Derwenthorpe Wildwatch – taster session

Derwenthorpe Energy Centre

Wed Feb 22 @ 1pm-4pm


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Find out about some of the winter wildlife such as birds and small mammals and their favoured habitats. Bring warm clothes and binoculars if you have them.

New Earswick Nature Reserve Open Day

Alder Way, New Earswick

Sat Feb 25 @ 9am-4pm


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Home to many species of bird and wildlife, New Earswick Nature Reserve is a hidden oasis not far from York city centre. The focus of this first open day of the year is the birds who live here.

Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough, near York

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26 @ 11am-3.30pm


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There will be two trails themed around finding your way around the estate with a map and compass – one for younger visitors and a more challenging option for older children. Plus art on the Wednesday, and stories on the Friday and last Saturday.

Flamingo Land

Kirby Misperton, Malton YO17 6UX

All week, 10am-4pm


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As well as the winter zoo, featuring more than 140 species of exotic creature, Flamingo Land is putting on some special half term entertainment including small rides, Dino-Stone Park rides and sea lion and bird shows.

Films and shows

You can find Dory at the Designer Outlet

Moonlight Drive-in Cinema

York Designer Outlet

Fri Feb 17-Sun Feb 26

£25 per vehicle

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The American-style drive-in movie experience returns to the outlet. There are two showings a night, a family friendly one at 6.30pm featuring the likes of Finding Dory and Back To The Future, and a 9.15pm slot with the likes of Alien and Dirty Dancing.

Sunny Afternoon

Grand Opera House, York

Tue Feb 21-Sat Feb 25 @ 7.30pm


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The brilliant music of The Kinks is at the heart of this musical, telling the story of how the band found their sound and global superstardom.

Murder, Margaret and Me

York Theatre Royal

Fri Feb 17-Sat Mar 4 @ 7.30pm plus matinees


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Starring Susie Blake as Margaret Rutherford and Nichola McAuliffe as Agatha Christie, this show tells the story of how these two remarkable women became embroiled together when Rutherford was cast as Christie’s famous detective Miss Marple.

The Gondoliers

Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Thu Feb 23-Sat Feb 24 @ 7.30pm

Adults £12.50, Students & Children £7.50

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Presented by the University of York Gilbert & Sullivan Society, this show tells the story of gondolier brothers Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, the most charming bachelors in all of Venice, as they choose their bride.

Further afield

Stockeld Park – Mad Science Week

The Adventure Park, Stockeld Park, Wetherby LS22 4AN

Fri Feb 17-Sun Feb 26, 10am-5pm


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Stockeld Park celebrates British Science Week early with a week of fun activities for budding scientists. The team from Sublime Science will be staging magic tricks, spectacular experiments, slime making and more.

Brilliant Books at Nunnington Hall

Nunnington, North Yorkshire, YO62 5UY

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26 @ 10.30am-4pm


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Inspired by the hall’s exhibition of book illustrations, you can make bookmarks and follow a fun trail. Kids can also get creative by rhyming in poetry corner or just let their imaginations run wild by writing a brand new story.

Weather fun at Harlow Carr

RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate

Sat Feb 18-Sun Feb 26 @ 9.30am-4.30pm


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You can head out on the weather hunters’ trail, do some ‘whatever the weather’ crafts and see rain gauge demonstrations.