Half term freedom in Northants
Missed having the little ankle biters around this term? Don't answer that. Half term may be upon us but fear not, there's loads to get up to in Northants from movie screenings to museums and much more.
A day out at Rushden Lakes is about much more than shopping, especially if you’re juggling teens who want to shop and youngsters who need a bit more entertaining. Try one (or all!) of these fantastic activities to burn off some of that small person energy: 360 Play is an indoor soft play centre where the tiddlers can scramble around safely while you relax enjoy a coffee (that’s how it works, right?); Canoe2 offer canoe and kayak and pedalo hire, allowing the adventurous to get out on the River Nene, or the more sedate to have a potter about on the lake; Flip Out is an indoor trampoline and inflatable park suitable for all ages from toddlers to adults; Paradise Island Adventure Golf has two 19 hole golf courses set in a tropical island paradise with a maze of obstacles to overcome; and Rock Up is an indoor climbing centre with a stonking 26 fun climbing walls to scale suitable for kids age 4 and up. Plus there’s always the Nene Wetlands Nature Reserve, with picturesque walks around the lake and sculpture trails to explore. There’s enough here to keen them entertained for the whole week.
Drive-in movies, The Filmhouse at Delapré Abbey, 22 May-6 Jun
Back for another drive-in season of cinematic favourites including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, and Inside Out as well as singalong screenings of The Greatest Showman and Frozen. With the stunning Abbey as a backdrop and hot food available on site you can keep the kids happy and warm with folding chairs and blankets.
Tudor History Days, Rockingham Castle, 30 & 31 May
These look set to be fab family days out, especially of you’re a clan of history nerds like the Muddy Crew. Visitors will meet and get to know some famous faces from the past including the six wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Free event with garden admission.
The Whisper Tree, Northampton, 30 Apr-26 Jun
A free audio performance that guides you and your children as they take a walk through nature in Becket’s Park in Northampton. Starting out at The Royal and Derngate theatre, you’ll follow a beautifully illustrated map, created by the brilliant Fridge Street, as you’re immersed in the story of Rory and Tilly’s adventure to find the Whisper Tree (it’s a real tree btw!) You can also book online workshops (available for 7-8 or 9-13 year-olds) to accompany your adventure.
The Twirlywoos, Deco Theatre, Northampton, 28 & 29 May
Perennial favourite of tots everywhere, the Twirlywoos will be live on stage with interactive puppetry to delight your darlings from age 1 and up with social distancing in place.
This new dino-themed restaurant is squarely aimed at families and we all know that if your kids are happy then you can relax after a hard day’s shopping. Your little palaeontologists will love the fun menu, which includes a Where’s The Goat? burger and Footprint Pizza. Now, if we can just have Jeff Goldblum waiting tables then book me in asap.
Delapré Abbey, Northampton
This fantastic place to take the kids has just begun to welcome visitors inside the Abbey once again. There are so many inspiring elements at Delapre from the Mudlets’ perspective, not least of which is the Stable Yard, which houses the brilliantly engaging, Battlefield Rooms. Visitors are immersed in a compelling, interactive experience that tells the story of the War of the Roses, not just around the downfall of a king, but through the experiences of the women and children living through it. There’s also 500 acres of parkland and gardens to explore.
Wicksteed Park, Kettering
I can vividly remember childhood trips to Wicksteed Park involving bags full of sweets and I still maintain you can’t beat a day out here to keep every age of Mudling extremely satisfied with their lot. From the carousel to crazy golf, and meerkats to mini rangers, plus 147 acres of rolling parkland to explore, grab a picnic and off you go!
Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
You’ll know Bletchley as the home of the Codebreakers in WWII, which means there are plenty of on-site museums, exhibitions and codebreaking huts to explore. For the kids there’s an outdoor playground, plus you can pick up a Top Secret Mission Pack at the front desk for an extra quid. Pre-booking is essential.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford
The Cotswolds is associated with pretty stone architecture, farmers’ markets and countryside rambles, but the 160-acre Bradwell Grove estate, two miles south of Burford, is home to something else entirely – over 260 species of animals! One of the UK’s largest zoological collections, Cotswolds Wildlife Park has all the best characters from the animal kingdom from rhinos and giraffes to lions, zebras and monkeys (although, watch out for the sandwich-stealing ones).