What's On for Kids across North East England : May Half Term 2021

This post is updated regularly. Please check back for new events soon. 

Attractions regularly change their opening hours, admission fees, booking policies and offerings. I try to keep this post as updated as I can but it is important that you check updated details with the venue direct before setting off. Many attractions will require pre-booking. 

Many attractions will still be closed or partially closed this year but they have still been included as this post is used every year/school holiday - please double check which areas will be open before booking/visiting to avoid disappointment. I have previously worked with many of the attractions mentioned in this post. Please follow Government guidelines and advice. 

(ad) May Half Term at Beamish 

There is a lot to enjoy at Beamish this May Half Term. In this section of the post I will take you through some of the events planned over half term and what you can expect / what will be open when you visit. 

With the Beamish Unlimited Pass, you ticket will provide you with unlimited visits across the year (excluding a couple of special events) which offers exceptional value. There is always something new to see and I love how Beamish changes with the seasons.

Later this year there are plans for a classic car rally (20 June), Tractor Gathering (24 & 25 July), Summer of Fun (School Holidays in July/August), Dig for Victory (2-5 September), Leek Show (11 & 12 September), Flower Show (18 & 19 September), Classic Car Rally (19 September), Transport Weekend (25 & 26 September), Heritage Skills Weekend (2 & 3 October), Harvest Festival (9 & 10 October) & more...... Obviously these events are subject to change but it gives you an idea of what to expect. 

From a personal perspective, I love that Beamish welcomes dogs and you can read more about what to expect when visiting with your four-legged friend over on their website here. 

Beamish is a charity and relies on visitors for 95% of its income - every penny you spend at Beamish helps. 

The 1950s buses are running once again 

Beamish has a range of COVID-19 Secure health and hygiene measures in place including pre-booked timeslots, enhanced cleaning, social distancing, one way systems, hand sanitiser points, contactless card payments, track and trace in operation and table service / takeaway. They also hold the 'We're Good To Go' accreditation which is awarded to organisations following government and industry guidelines. 

Beamish is open daily from 10am - 5pm and it is essential that you pre-book a timeslot (including existing annual pass holders). You can do this by visiting Beamish.org.uk. At the moment, timeslots are available to book for visits up to 20 June 2021. 

Let's take a look at some of the special events taking place over May Half Term. These are all included with admission: 
  • Daily : Complete the Flower Trail 
    There are 20 colourful flowers blooming in the windows around Beamish. Download a copy of the trail here before you visit and tick them off as you follow the trail and learn some fascinating facts. 

  • 29 May : Eastern European Car Rally
    Visitors will be able to admire unusual and quirky cars on the museum's Events Field. 

  • 29 - 31 May : Meet the Georgians Weekend 
    This is the last weekend of the Meet the Georgians event. Expect displays by The Old 68th Durham Light Infantry Society and Display Team. Expect explosive musket firing demonstrations and members to share fascinating information. You can also watch traditional candle making demonstrations and on Monday, Georgian musicians will play traditional tunes on the final day of the event. 

  • Daily from 29 May : 1820s Pockerley Waggonway Re-opens 
    For the first time since the museum's first closure due to Coronavirus, the 1820s Pockerley Waggonway will return and will operate daily steam train rides. Visitors can enjoy a journey through the Georgian landscape behind replica engine, Puffing Billy. Rides will be limited to one compartment per household/support bubble and face coverings should be worn as per Government guidelines.

  • 31 May, 5 June, 6 June : Colliery Railway 
    Visitors can watch the Colliery Railway in action on the above dates. 

  • 1 - 6 June - Historic Vehicle Display 
    The Friends of Beamish will be operating historic vehicles around the site. Keep your eyes peeled and head to the 1900s Town Garage to see the main display. 

  • 2 June - 6 June : 1950s Royal Coronation Celebrations 
    The museum remembers the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II which took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Celebrations will centre around Beamish's Welfare Hall with original street decorations, bunting and a traditional Coronation spread. You can also watch footage of the Queen being crowned. 

  • 5 & 6 June : 1950s Coronation Party 
    As part of the Royal Coronation Celebrations, head to the Welfare Hall and make your own paper party hat, listen to 1950s music and take part in traditional 1950s party games and challenges. 
All of the above events are subject to change, please double check details on the 'What's On' section of the Beamish website and follow Beamish across Social Media to keep up to date with any changes. 

Meet The Georgians Weekend 

As well as a walk around the museum grounds, under step 3 of the Government roadmap, many of the museum's exhibits and indoor buildings can be enjoyed including in the Edwardian town: 
  • The Edwardian Co-op
  • Chemist 
  • Garage 
  • Bank 
  • Masonic Hall & Ravensworth Terrace (including the Dentist's house) 
Visitors can also enjoy the fairground including the gallopers, side show, chair-o-planes and helter skelter (small charge). 

In the 1900s Pit village, visitors can enjoy: 
  • The Band Hall 
  • School
  • Chapel 
  • Pit Cottages 
For May Half Term only, visitors can go inside Garden Cottage at the 1940s Farm and enjoy spotting farm animals whilst walking around the cottages (the 1940s farmhouse is not yet open). There may also be the opportunity to take part in Home Guard drills. 

Beamish's 1950s buses are running once again which is great news. 

In terms of catering, you can enjoy table service in the Tea Rooms in the 1900s Tows, takeaway treats from Davy's fish and chip shop, Jubilee Confectioners sweet shop, Herron's Bakery and The Sun Inn. Table service and takeaway options are also available in the 1950s welfare hall (weekends and school holidays only). 

1820s Waggonway will be in operation from 29 May 


Most of these will require booking (check individual links for details) and I imagine will be popular, I would advise booking early to avoid disappointment. 

29 May - 4 June - Spanish City Funfair

29 May - 6 June - The Dragon Trail at Hardwick Park (no pre-booking)

29 May - 6 June - Kids Fun Zone at Brocksbushes (pre-book)

29 May - 6 June - Teddy Bear's Picnic Trail at Raby Castle (pre-book)

29 May - 6 June - Have an Adventure at Alnwick Garden (pre-book garden tickets)

5 & 6 June - Summer Seasonal Market at Raby Castle  (pre-book a car parking pass)

Bowling Deal 

Hollywood Bowl in Washington have some pretty good deals running at the moment including 50% off when you bowl before 11am. I tried this with a mock booking and it worked out at just over £10 for 4 people which is a bargain! 

They also have a fab family meal deal available too. Hollywood Bowl in Washington is in the Galleries and super easy to get to. Find out more and book here.

FREE Entry to Seven Stories

Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books reopens its well-loved exhibits from 31 May and for the coming months, entry is FREE. You do need to book a time slot online before you visit. 

There are two exhibitions open over half term: 

  • Could there really be SEVEN STORIES in all the world? which will take you on a journey around storytelling. Get up and close with rare original artworks (including The Gruffalo) , share a story with Mog and design your own amazing underpants. 
  • Winnie the Witch and Wilbur Make Reading Magic! This interactive Winnie the Witch and Wilbur room is a place for children under 6 to let their imagination run free. Expect magical spells, drawing and storytime. 

Tickets are also on sale for Story Time in the Attic - a half an hour adventure into popular children's books and the bookshop and cafe will also be open. 

Find out more and book your FREE time slot / purchase Story Time tickets here.  I recommend combining with a trip to Ouseburn Farm next door. 

Sports & Holiday Camps / Activity Days 

Rainy Day Ideas / Indoor Family Days Out

  • Tynemouth Aquarium Find out more here

  • Locomotion Museum Shildon - Find out more here
    Locomotion Shildon is a fantastic FREE museum with train displays, model railways, train rides (small charge) and a fantastic train-themed playground. It is accessible, can be reached by car or public transport and has an indoor picnic area which is always a bonus. Read our full guide to visiting here. 

  • Bowes Museum - Find out more here
    The Bowes Museum is a large museum in Barnard Castle with a wide range of exhibitions. Check out their website to see what's on at the moment. 

  • Head of Steam Museum Darlington - Find out more here
    The Head of Steam Museum is a small but perfectly formed train museum with hands on exhibitions for kids. It is accessible and can be reached by public transport or car (see their website for information). You can see photos from Head of Steam & find out more in this blog post (we visited as part of a Wildlife Warriors Trail). 

  • Angry Birds Golf / Clip n Climb / Namco at the Metrocentre - Find out more here
    The Metrocentre is always a good shout on a rainy day. As well as shopping / going out for a meal, you can enjoy Angry Birds Golf, Clip n Climb or bowling/amusements/soft play at Namco. Read our full review of Angry Birds Golf here. The Metrocentre is easy to reach by car or public transport. 

  • Soft Play 
    Soft Play is always a good rainy day option and they could definitely do with our support this year. Our favourite is The Fun Shack. 

  • Segedunum Museum & Roman Fort -  Find out more here
    We love visiting Segedunum - it is somewhere which is very easy to visit via public transport (it's across the road from Wallsend Metro and Bus Station). The viewing tower offers magnificent views of the fort and Tyne, there is a small playground and gardens, cafes and various Roman displays and hands-on activities. 

    From the end of May, there is a new escape room style outdoor adventure game with characters in costume to try too (book online in advance). 

    Segedunum is a good museum to visit alongside Richardson Dees Park which is fantastic and just a short walk away. 

  • Sunderland Winter Gardens - Find out more here 

  • Roman Army Museum - Find out more here
    The Roman Army Museum is on Hadrian's Wall and managed by Vindolanda Trust - you can buy a discounted/combined ticket to both if you'd like to make a day of it. The museum is all indoors so ideal for visiting when the weather isn't so great. It features galleries explaining life as a Roman Soldier, a Roman School and more. If you are looking for somewhere to eat nearby, try Twice Brewed Inn or The Sill (the Sill is also worth popping into, it is free and mostly indoors). 

    The Roman Army Museum has free dedicated parking and you can access by the AD122 bus. 

  • Amusement Arcades 
    This is a brilliant fall-back idea if you need to get out of the house, they usually require no pre-booking. We like Whitley Bay arcades as they are our closest. 

  • Climbing Walls 
    A fab activity for tweens and teens, there are a few clip n climbs in the North East plus various independent climbing centres. Most will be busy during school hols and I would recommend booking in advance. 

  • Flight Simulator & VR Gaming - Find out more here 
    This centre in Brunswick Village offers a range of VR gaming experiences, 4D racing and flight simulators. The minimum age for most experiences is 8+ but please double check on booking. A fab rainy day option for tweens and teens. 

  • Trampoline Parks 
    Another popular choice for rainy days (again, they do get booked up in advance in school holidays so try and book early if you can). Our favourite is AirBox Bounce in Cramlington. 

  • Ten Pin Bowling 
    Ten Pin Bowling is a good rainy day option - we like Concordia Cramlington, Gutterball (opposite Royal Quays) and Lane7 in Newcastle. I recommend booking as far in advance as you can. 

  • Shipley Art Gallery - Find out more here
    An art gallery sharing various exhibitions. Check out their website to find out what's on now. 

  • Bailiffgate Museum & Barter Books - Find out more about Bailiffgate Museum here and and more about Barter Books here
    These two attractions are both indoors and less than a 5 minute walk from each other so ideal to combine. 

    Bailiffgate is an award winning museum which mostly shares the history of Alnwick and the surrounding areas. There are two floors of permanent exhibitions to enjoy and the top floor is a gallery which changes throughout the year. 

    Barter Books is the most wonderful second hand book shop with a mini train which runs above the bookshelves, a nice children's section and a brilliant tearoom (part of an old train station) and ice cream kiosk. 

    Alnwick is easy to reach by car or public transport. Dogs are welcome in Barter Books. 
  • Swimming 
    Another classic rainy day option! Our favourite pools are Concordia in Cramlington, PaddlePod Shiremoor, Waves Whitley Bay and South Shields. I always think WaterWorld Prudhoe looks fun too. 

  • Butterfly World & Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees - Find out more about Butterfly World here and Preston Park Museum here. 

    Butterfly World and Preston Park Museum share the same site so it is easy to visit both on the same day. Indoor options include Butterfly World, Preston Park Museum, the cafe by the playground, the Victorian Tearooms and Old Fashioned Sweet Shop. Preston Park has a large free car park and is accessible by public transport. 

  • Whitley Bay Ice Rink - Find out more here
    Whitley Bay Ice Rink is open for lessons and skating. It's easy to reach via public transport / car too. 

  • Hatchet Harry's, Newcastle -  Find out more here
    Hatchet Harry's in an indoor axe throwing centre just behind the Centre for Life. It is suitable for over 8s and you can book family sessions. We loved our visit a few years ago and would recommend. Things can get competitive though! Hatchet Harry's is accessible by public transport (Central Station is the closest) or car. 

  • Baltic, Newcastle -  Find out more here 
    Baltic is a large, contemporary art gallery on the NewcastleGateshead Quayside. It is free to visit and always worth a look. My kids always enjoyed the speedy lifts and the viewing platform which offers fab views of the Quayside. You can combine with a visit to the Sage next door too. Both have lots of space and child-friendly cafes with lush views. 

  • Seven Stories, Ouseburn -  FREE entry to two exhibitions, pre-book your time slot Find out more here  

  • Discovery Museum, Newcastle -  Find out more here
    The Discovery Museum is running some fab events over half term (some need to be pre-booked so please check their website for information) and you can visit their galleries and exhibitions which are perfect for a rainy day. I like to combine with a trip to the Great North Museum and Exhibition Park for a brilliant free day out in Newcastle. The museum is easy to reach by public transport, Newcastle Train Station is just a short walk away. 

  • Great North Museum, Newcastle -  Find out more here
    A trip to the Great North Museum is a brilliant free option. At the moment you can view their permanent exhibitions including a replica T Rex, model of Hadrian's Wall and their popular Ancient Egypt exhibition alongside 'Other Worlds : The Art of Atomhawk' which is available until the beginning of September. This design studio is based in Gateshead and contributed to films and video games such as Guardians of the Galaxy & Minecraft. The museum is easy to reach by public transport with Haymarket Metro and Bus Station being just a short walk away. 

  • Climb St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay -  Find out more here
    It is free to visit the island but at the moment, you do need to book to visit and climb the lighthouse. Please check crossing times before visiting. The Facebook linked above will have the most up to date information. 

  • Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Find out more here

    You do not need to book to visit the free areas of Laing (the free exhibitions, cafe and shop) so this is a fab option if it's raining and you fancy a trip out but have nothing booked. The Laing Art Gallery is in Newcastle City Centre and easy to reach by public transport. 

  • The Gate - Find out more here.
            I highly rate The Gate as a brilliant rainy day option, especially with tweens and teens. There is                loads going on including:
Plus, you have a few food and drink options and Mr Mulligan's Golf is next door. The Gate is easy to reach by public transport (bus/train/metro to Newcastle City Centre) or car. 
  • Mr Mulligans Crazy Golf Find out more here
    Mr Mulligans is a popular themed indoor golf course next to the Gate in Newcastle. They are due to reopen on 17 May and bookings are now being taken. Mr Mulligans is easy to reach by public transport (train/bus/metro to Newcastle City Centre) or car. 

  • National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool - Find out more here
    I have personally not visited this museum but I have heard lots of good reviews and might be worth a visit if like us, you've not been and fancy something new. 

  • Newbiggin Maritime Centre - Find out more here
    Newbiggin Maritime Centre is small but shares life in the historic fishing village. There is a lovely cafe and it is right by the sea too. They have lots of fab info on their website re: access and the museum is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Newbiggin bus terminal is a 2 minute walk from the centre. 

  • Quasar Amusements South Shields - Find out more here
    We love playing Laserforce here - an indoor multi level laser tag arena which is fab for young and old. South Shields is easy to reach by public transport and car, you can combine with The Word / South Shields Museum / the arcades / Dunes Soft Play & Bowling on a rainy day. 

  • Oriental Museum Durham - Find out more here
    This museum is devoted to the archaeology, art and cultures of North Africa and Asia. 

Foodie Treats & Deals

Anglers Arms, Sheepwash Bank NE62 5NB
For every 1 paying adult, 1 child eats for £1 (excludes beer bait). Offer valid Monday 31st May to Friday 4th June, 2021. Please mention the deal when ordering. 

The offer runs on the Kids mains section only from the menu and includes the following:-

  • Cheeseburger Served with Fries & Beans
  • Homemade Chicken Nuggets Served with Fries & Beans
  • Cod Strips Served with Fries & Beans
  • Sausage Served with Fries & Beans
  • Tomato & Cheese Pasta Served with Garlic Bread

Our restaurant will be open on 17th May should the weather be rainy, but we have a lovely beer garden with riverside views.  We have a great games box full of traditional games such as playing cards, dominoes & draughts for some family fun whilst you wait.  There are also colouring sheets and crayons if the children are creative and like art.  Children can also bring their scooters and balls as there is a great play park for the older kids, plus a skate park, football pitch and basketball court.

Find out more here 

Walks, Parks & Picnics

Outdoor Days Out 

  • Spend the day at Ford & Etal, a fab day out with a mini railway, heavy horse farm, flour mill, tearooms and more - Find out more here

  • Air Trail Tees Valley, a brilliant outdoor climbing challenge  & zip wires for kids & grown ups - Find out more here
  • Spend the day in Warkworth, a lovely village with a castle, beach, riverside walks and pizza shack - Find out more here
  • Visit Raby Castle & Grounds, somewhere you can spend a full day with a castle, walled gardens, deer park, woodland playground, tearoom and more - Find out more here 
  • Whitehouse Farm, one of our favourite farms with loads to do inside and out including lots of animals to pet and feed and some brilliant indoor and outdoor play areas  - Find out more here

  • Arbeia Roman Fort, step into the world of Romans in South Shields - Find out more here
  • Ocean Beach, a popular outdoor funfair in South Shields with no booking required, just turn up  - Find out more here 
  • Have an Adventure at Alnwick Garden  - Find out more here 

    Here is what they have to say: 

    Come along this May half term to give Bear Grylls a run for his money.....

    Between 10am - 4pm from Saturday 29th May - Sunday 6th June you can pick and choose which activities you would like to take part in, all included with Garden entry tickets!

    10-11 –Fairies hair bracelets and stickmen
    Make your own fairies hair bracelet and/or create your own stick man from natural resources.

    11-12 – Fire lighting and marshmallow toasting
    From collecting the right resources to how to start your fire from natural resources right through to the most important part – toasting the perfect marshmallow!

    12-1 – Nature orienteering/scavenger hunt
    Find the pictures of woodland items hidden in the area. Then find and bring back the woodland items to prove you found the pictures. A great way to explore the area!

    1-2 - “Night” line!
    Make your way along the trail through the trees holding onto the rope to guide you. It would be simple if you weren’t blindfolded! A challenging and fun activity which encourages communication and support.

    2-3 - Fire lighting and marshmallow toasting
    From collecting the right resources to how to start your fire from natural resources right through to the most important part – toasting the perfect marshmallow!

    3-4 Picture frames and pixie shelters
    Make your own basic picture frame from sticks and you can even create your own natural masterpiece to hang in it. The Gardens’ pixies will need somewhere to stay for the night. Help them out by creating a little shelter.

    (the small print!......

    Visitors should be there at the beginning of a session to get the best experience. Numbers on some activities may need to be limited, particularly the fire lighting and marshmallow toasting for which a maximum of 24 people would be sensible for being around the fireplace.

    For some of the activities there will be equipment that more than one person will handle. We will ask participants to use hand sanitizer prior to the activity and again immediately afterwards to reduce chances of any virus transmission. Equipment will also be cleaned wherever possible between users.)
  • Visit Ouseburn  - Find out more here 
  • Visit Jesmond Dene  - Find out more here 

Theatre & Cinema 

  • Jam Jar Cinema are showing Peter Rabbit 2 and Cruella over half term - Find out more here

  • 29 May - 6 June: Jack & the Beanstalk Socially Distanced Panto at Tyne Theatre - Find out more here 

National Trust 

Gibside  - Find out more here 

Seaton Delaval Hall  - Find out more here 

Wallington  - Find out more here 

Souter Lighthouse - Find out more here 

Lindisfarne Castle   - Find out more here 

Dunstanburgh Castle  - Find out more here 

English Heritage 

Warkworth Castle  - Find out more here 

Belsay Castle, Hall & Grounds  - Find out more here 

Tynemouth Priory  - Find out more here 

Lindisfarne Priory - Find out more here 

Hadrian's Wall  - Find out more here A 'Kids Rule' event is also taking place (see here)

Dunstanburgh Castle  - Find out more here 

Day Trips 

Stay-at-home ideas 


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