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30+ things to do for kids of all ages this May half term

Will the region's children be bored senseless, running circles around the kitchen table? Not on our watch! We've got exhibitions, music, and fun galore for teens and tots alike.

LITTLE KIDS | MIDDLE SIZED KIDS | OLDER KIDS | WHOLE FAMILY ACTIVITIES

IDEAS FOR YOUNGER KIDS

Playgrounds – the best have a cafe nearby for that essential coffee fix whilst you watch them, so head for Cardinham Woods, Lanhydrock, Callestick farm (above), Tanglewood wild garden near Penzance, Roskilly’s, Heartlands at Redruth – or choose a sea view and pack your own tea. My personal faves are Polruan and Port Isaac, both handily next to the car park.

Twirly Woos Live, Hall for Cornwall, 1 – 2 June 2022

Join Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy, Chick and their friends as they discover the wonderful world around us! Expect mischief, music and plenty of surprises as they set sail in their big red boat. 

The funny, loveable Twirlywoos, familiar to CBeebies fans everywhere, are brought to life on stage with beautifully inventive puppetry promising an hour of colourful fun and laughter. From the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Sarah and Duck Live on StageTwirlywoos Live is an enchanting introduction to theatre for all ages.

Cornwall has some of the most scenic railways in Britain – soak up the views of glorious beaches, estuaries and wooded valleys – we like the The St Ives Bay Line (from St Erth to St Ives) and the The Atlantic Coast Line crosses some of the finest countryside traversing the county from Par on the south coast to Newquay on the north. Fancy a more old-fashioned kinda trip – hitch a ride on the steam railways at Bodmin (above) or the Lappa Valley.

IDEAS FOR MIDDLE SIZED KIDS

The Greatest Showman Sing Along, Hall for Cornwall, Truro, 31 May

Look out ‘cause here it comes…. From the producers of Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music and Sing-a-long-a Grease, the smash hit film musical that everyone can’t stop singing. Cheer on Hugh Jackman, marvel at Zendaya and maybe even lust after Zac Efron as you experience The Greatest Showman in the greatest way possible – with lyrics on the screen so you can join in as loud as you want. “And it’s marching on to the beat we drum.”

Wild Week, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Sat 28th May – Sunday 5th June

Help your kids rediscover their wild side, to restore their survival skills and to enjoy a week of much needed outdoor play. Explore the Giant’s Head Adventure Trail and follow the route to East Lawn.

Head to the survival skills enclosure where the team from Canoe Cornwall will teach you how to throw an axe like a woodsman, and to take aim and fire with our target practice lessons. What skills for survival in the wild will you learn? All Heligan Wild Week activities are included within normal garden admission charges.

Eden Project, Celebration of bees and nature, 28 May – 5 June

Yes, it is a little touristy, but it’s still well worth an explore – the grounds are beautiful at this time of year, there’s a playground and the biomes of course are fascinating and educational. Plus, a little drier as they are under cover.

Plus, it will be all abuzz over May half-term with a joyous celebration of bees, nature and communities, culminating in The Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday June 5. From May 28 to June 5, visitors will be able to follow an all-new and interactive Create-a-Buzz trail and learn how to make their own bee-friendly garden. On arrival they will also receive a free family pack full of pollinator-friendly games and activities inspired by the launch of Pollinator Pathmaker at Eden, a major new 55-metre-long living artwork created by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. Also don’t miss CBBC Blue Peter Gardener Lee Connelly, also known as The Skinny Jean Gardener. Lee will be bringing his acclaimed Gardening Entertainment Show to the Mediterranean Biome from Monday to Friday.

Mini Monsters of the Not So Deep, Rock Pooling Town Trail, Falmouth, 30 May – Friday 3 June, 11am, 1pm & 3pm

Organised by the National Maritime Museum, dotted throughout Falmouth are a series of Mini Monster markers. Each with a QR code to find out more about the fascinating world of rock pools. With The Rock Pool Project we’ll look at how to rock pool safely, how to identify creatures and how to look after their environment. At the end of the trail, if the tides are right, use your new rock pooling skills and go searching for the Mini Monsters of the not so Deep.

Knights Tournament at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Tues 31st May – Thurs 2nd June

Set on a headland with breathtaking views out to sea, Pendennis Castle is one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses. Visit Pendennis Castle (members free but still need to book) and take the family on an outdoor adventure, with performances to watch and story telling to listen to, all included in standard admission.

Go back in time and get closer to the action as rival knights compete in the ultimate test of strength and skill at Pendennis Castle’s Knights’ Tournament. Swords will clash and the winner will be decided in the Grand Melee finale. Immerse yourself in medieval life in the encampment, where you can meet people from the Middle Ages and witness life at camp.

The Piskie in the Garden Storytelling, The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, 30 May 2022 – 9 Sep 2022

An old gardener is woken late at night by mysterious noises coming from the potting shed. If it’s not a fox or a badger it can only mean one thing, he has a piskie in the garden.  A mixture of puppets, music and wonderful storytelling John Brolly’s new one-man show is full of mischief and fairy magic. All the family will enjoy this charming story as the hapless gardener is outwitted by the piskies.

Circus Week, Camel Creek, Nr Wadebridge, 30th May – 5th June

Daily circus workshops to learn circus tricks, along with 2 x 45minute acts from the ‘pro’s’ each day, plus a few surprise tricks hiding around the park!

ART INSPIRED ACTIVITIES

Make and Take at Home with National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, Monday 30 May – Sunday 5 June, 12.30pm – 3.30pm

Create a sketchbook inspired by rock pooling and be inspired by the different ways to fill it.

Make a Bowl Workshop, Leach Pottery, St Ives, 28 May, 31 May, 2 June

The Leach Pottery Family programme offers families fun ways to engage with making and the story of the Leach Pottery during holiday and weekend workshops, under-fives activities and family focused museum interpretation and making prompts. 

ACTIVITIES FOR OLDER KIDS

Via Ferrata Cornwall, Penryn

The 60-acre Via Ferrata site, Penryn’s Adrenaline centre, hosts a high-wire and climbing route around a disused granite quarry. This year it has added kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding as well as coasteering and archery. Via Ferrata is also operating an adventure holiday club during the hols with activities for 6–13-year-olds. Options include courses in climbing, zip-lining, kayaking, canoeing and archery as well as half, full and wraparound day care

Hangloose Zip Wire, Eden Project

Skywire is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience – soar over the Eden Project! Only for those over 8 years of age (they must also weigh between 40kg and 120kg).

Adrenalin Quarry, Plymouth

With its mega zip wires and giant swing, Adrenalin Quarry is a fun day out for the whole family. Great for stroppy teens too – throwing axes at tree trunks is all part of the fun (12+ on that).

Retallack Aqua Park, St Columb Major

Jump, splash, bounce, climb and slide at the huge ‘total wipeout’ style floating inflatable Aqua Park, including the FlowRider (above), at Retallack Resort. This huge inflatable Aqua Park has a giant trampoline, catapult, water wheel, ‘stepping stones’ climbing wall, slides, blast bags, challenging balance beams and lots more. Sessions cost £15 per person and include wetsuits, buoyancy aids and lifeguards (Age 6+) The resort also offers wake boarding.

Get on the water

Giving surfing a go is a must on a Cornish getaway (no, dipping your toes in wearing a wetsuit doesn’t count). George’s Surf School at Polzeath is great for individual coaching, or there’s Wavehunters at the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay and the Sennen Surfing Centre, near Land’s End.

Try Stand Up Paddleboarding at Polkerris or Gylly Beach in Falmouth, and there’s also Cornish Rock Tours based at Port Gaverne, near Port Isaac, which will take you kyaking, SUP, coasteering or open water swimming. Check out Camel Ski School at Rock for waterskiing and sailing schools operate in Fowey, Rock, Mylor and Falmouth. Porthoustock, on the eastern side of The Lizard peninsular, is a great spot for kayaking.

On your mountain bike – Old Hill Bike Park near Wadebridge, which is not so much a trail as a maze of wheeled obstacle courses! You’ll need to have got all the kit in advance (helmets with face protection are mandatory, body armour recommended) – book in for a half or full day’s riding and try out jumps, ramps and drops along miles of graded tracks in what looks like off-road biking heaven. Top tip – walk the black route first!

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Giant Slip and Slide, St Endellion, Nr Wadebridge (opens 28 May)

Loads of fun – kids of all ages (including the big kids) will love to slip and slide down the giant 100m water slide with sea views near Port Isaac on the North Coast. £12 per person per hour, under 4s free but must be accompanied and booked in advance as an add-on to your ticket. Wetsuits highly recommended – bring your own – and no changing rooms this year, but you can bring your own picnic.

St Michael’s Mount, off Marazion, nr Penzance

Emerging out of the water in Mount’s Bay off the coast of Marazion is a tidal island with a castle perched on the top. As the tide falls, the causeway literally appears before your eyes; a magical fairytale in action, beguiling both adults and children to begin the intrepid journey across the bricks to the rugged outcrop across the bay (you’ll need to book a boat trip if your visit falls outside of the hours either side of low tide).

Plus loads more of Cornwall’s castles here & our top ten Cornish museums here too.

Camel Creek Adventure Park, Tredinnick, Wadebridge

With exhilarating rides, a gigantic indoor play centre, outdoor fun, water flumes and the UK’s most hi-tech 5D Super Sim Theatre (look out for the new time-travel film coming this summer!), Camel Creek is great fun for the kids, rain or shine. Look out on social media for their character days.

Bike Riding

Check out our piece on bike trails here which includes the Camel trailBissoe trail, through Cardinham Woods or around the woodland paths at Lanhydrock (you’ll need to book first) – all pretty kid-friendly, even for those with no gears!

Matilda Afternoon Tea at Fowey Hall Hotel

The much-loved, timeless tale of Matilda has been brought to life through words, screen, theatre and now food, for guests to enjoy on their terrace for outdoor dining as well as inside. This special tea will be served throughout the spring and summer until the end of September and features an adult version as well as a special kids version.

The Seal Sanctuary, Gweek

On the river at Gweek, which is beautiful, find the seals – so full of Cornish character. Pre-booking essential.

Tate St Ives, St Ives

New exhibition Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Jonathan Michael Ray opens on 28 May – exploring the works of two artists connected with West Cornwall. While separated by time, as well as the media and form their works take, both artists draw inspiration from the local landscape, exploring the idea that there is more to experience in nature than can be found on the surface. Combine with a visit to Barbara Hepworth’s Garden too. Makes a great day out for the whole fam, and brings a little culture to your beach trip.


National Marine Aquarium
, Plymouth

Inspired by Netflix’ Sea-spiracy? Head to Plymouth’s harbour for the UK’s largest aquarium, with sharks, rays, octopus feeding-time and fascinating jellyfish. They’ve made some changes to their pricing so all tickets now come with a year’s free pass, and locals with a PL postcode always pay the cheaper Saver price, regardless of what time you visit. All 3-15 child tickets are HALF the price of an adult and under 3s go free. Booking essential.

Tintagel Castle

Photo credit: Hufton & Crow Photography

Immerse yourself in history, myths and stunning scenery at Tintagel Castle set high on Cornwall’s rugged north coast. Inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, for centuries this dramatic castle and coastline has fired the imaginations of writers, artists and even the brother of a king. Now it’s your turn to be inspired – complete with a trip across the new bridge. Note that due to storm damage to the beach steps and the surrounding cliff area, there is no access to the beach and Merlin’s cave currently.

Caerhays Castle Gardens, Gorran, St Austell

Caerhays Castle Cornwall © Emily Whitfield Wicks

On the south coast near St Austell you’ll find the magnificent gardens and Grade II listed 140 acre woodland at Caerhays, often described as a spring-time wonderland for visitors. Home to a National Magnolia Collection, the collection even houses a 100 year old Magnolia tree. The gardens also feature many rhododendrons, camellias and trees which are nationally classed as Champion Trees by the Tree Register.

Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel

Restormel is said to be one of the most remarkable castles in Britain – and certainly sits among some beautiful countryside near Lostwithiel, with far reaching views across the valley to the river Fowey. The present circular structure, built in the late 13th century, was a luxurious retreat for its medieval owners and was twice visited by Edward, the Black Prince. Now looked after by the English Heritage, don’t miss the new walking trail between the castle and Muddy fave Duchy of Cornwall Nursery where you can pick up a takeaway coffee, or even some plants.

Launceston Castle, Launceston

Launceston Castle is an imposing sight in the town itself, the ancient capital of Cornwall. Building of the castle started soon after the Norman Conquest – it is an unusual keep consisting of a 13th-century round tower built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, inside an earlier circular shell-keep. The castles main function used to be a prison before Bodmin Jail was constructed. After you’ve walked up to the keep and round the town you can also head out on to the moor to see the Hurlers which are three fine late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone circles arranged in a line, a grouping unique in England. Parking is free, but you’ll need to keep dogs on leads due to grazing lambs.

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE!

Much excitement this half term, what with the whole Platinum Jubilee thing (and a four day weekend for us grown-ups, baby!). Sounds like one hell of an excuse to head to the capital and partake of the parties there. On 2 JuneThe Queen’s Birthday Parade will feature over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians going down The Mall, as well as RAF fly-bys. Then, on 5 June, more than 6,500 performers will be dancing, singing, and celebrating outside Buckingham Palace for The Queen’s Pageant, with a starry list of celebs including Ed Sheeran, Sir Cliff Richard, Gary Lineker, Bill Bailey, and Gok Wan. (Dazzle the kids, then indulge in some shopping for mum…?)

Can’t be faffed to head to London? There’s plenty happening right here – all the details this way. 

Find more ideas here

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