How to tire the kids out at half-term

Dance classes are part of the Big Day Out event. Picture: Kate Chandler
Dance classes are part of the Big Day Out event. Picture: Kate Chandler
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Is it really that time already? Here are a few ideas to keep your little ones amused now the holiday bell has sounded.


Save your dining table from destruction by channelling your kid’s creative talents on someone else’s property. Free family art workshops are taking place at Meadowbank Sports Centre from today until Wednesday (1pm-4pm). Open to all, but particularly suitable for ages seven to 12, help Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren design and make a banner for the build-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The final creation will be taken up Arthur’s Seat on Thursday. Booking is essential (

Combine history with craft at the National Museum of Scotland, on Chambers Street, through daily Make and Take sessions. Join staff for courtly crafts and wild creations in the level four learning centre from today until next Sunday (excluding October 19), 12pm-4pm. The event is free and does not require advance booking.


If getting out and about is your child’s thing, then head to Ratho to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena on Monday for a Survival Skills adventure. Staff at Honeypot Ceramics arts and crafts studio will guide youngsters on how to make fire, build shelters and carve wood in an outdoor masterclass. The session takes place from 1pm-4.30pm, costs £12 and is suitable for over-eights. To book, call 0131-333 6348.

For more outdoor fun, the Water of Leith Visitor Centre, at Slateford, is the place to be on Tuesday for Autumn Antics. Discover what is lurking in the Dells at this fun session, while on Thursday hone your winter survival knowledge with expert staff on the waterway. Both sessions require advance booking, start at 2pm and cost £4 per child. For more information, call 0131-455 7367.

On Wednesday, it is all about the welfare of our garden birds as children are encouraged to help prepare them for the cold winter months ahead at Harlaw House Visitor Centre, Currie. From 1.30pm-3.30pm, make bird feeders and cakes while becoming an explorer and discovering exactly which birds are camouflaged in our gardens. The event is suitable for kids aged five to ten and donations are welcome. For further details, call 0131-529 2401.


Spoil your little ones this half-term with a trip to the bright lights of the theatre. CBeebies favourite Cerrie Burnell will tread the boards at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, next Saturday in The Magical Playroom, which she also wrote. Inspired by Burnell’s own childhood, Libby dreams of becoming a ballerina but is not keen on the idea of wearing a false arm to do so, instead seeking escape in a magical playroom where her toys come to life. Recommended for three-year-olds and above, tickets cost £10 and doors open at 2pm. To book, call 0131-665 2240.

Burnell’s CBeebies friends Chris and Pui are also in the area this half-term with their roadshow taking to the King’s Theatre on Friday and Saturday (11am and 2pm each day). The Show Me Show Me presenters are expected to thrill young crowds with songs, rhymes, comedy sketches and lots of joining in for all the family. For ticket details, visit Tickets cost £11 and the show is suitable for children over two.

If singing and dancing is not up your youngster’s street, perhaps a short day trip away to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway would be. This half-term, why not treat the kids to a steam train journey, tucking into your packed lunch on board, before heading off to the Museum of Scottish Railways to come up close with the railway yard. Under fives go free. For more details and offers, visit


If the weather does not work in our favour this week – and the idea of splashing about in wellies does not appeal – there is a host of indoor activities to embrace. For the bookworms among us, libraries – as well as museums – across the city have lots of activities on so check with your nearest to see what is in store. On Monday, at Lauriston Castle, museum staff are hosting a Cosy Storytelling event, perfect for a chilly autumn day. The two-hour session begins at 10.30am in the old library and is perfect for families keen to hear classic children’s stories. Tickets cost £4 (adult/child) and include an after storytelling craft session where kids can make a marble style paper cover for their own notebooks. To book, contact 0131-529 3963.


This half-term sees the arrival of one of the largest family events to have hit the city, meaning some people will have to look no further for all their October half-term fun.

Big Day Out takes place next Saturday and Sunday in the Corn Exchange with a host of activities for all the family, many of which are pre-bookable. On the programme are sports, dancing, music, crafts and shows. There is also face painting, animal petting, story telling and crafts. And if that is not enough, there will also be entertainment for adults, including food and drink, shopping, demos and activities.

Advance entry tickets for the event cost £18 (family of four), £15 (family of three) or £6 each (0-12 months go free). Most taster activities cost £2.50 in advance. For full details, visit

If your little ones are still yearning for more next week, do not forget the staples: swimming, swing parks and soft play. Happy half-term.