Is Winchester the Perfect English City?
Winchester is an ancient city, inhabited since prehistoric times. It is a fantastic city for families any time but visit during the February half term period for even more on.
Rich in history, culture and surrounded by beautiful countryside, it certainly seems the ‘Perfect English City’ to entertain the kids. With so many events happening in and around Winchester, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Winchester’s convenient location means that families don’t have to travel far for half term adventures. Those taking the train from London Waterloo can enjoy a journey of under one hour to the city centre. Alternatively, Winchester’s easy M3 and A34 accessibility makes it the perfect place for those looking to drive into the city.
Below are some of Visit Winchester’s favourite events:
1, Winchester City Mill
Image credit: National Trust – Anna Purkiss
The National Trust runs this working mill and brings it to life. Visit the mill and you are contributing to the fundraising campaign that is going to help shore up its foundations – a millrace has been over the river for 1000 years so you are witnessing a unique story. Throughout the half term break, families can take part in a scavenger trail, exploring indoors and outdoors across Winchester City Mill – unearth answers, find items and complete missions. It’s an opportunity to learn how the mill’s team of volunteer bakers combine the freshly milled stoneground flour with local seasonal ingredients. Throughout the demonstration families can sample the delicious sweet and savoury foods being made before their eyes.
From 18th to 26th February 2017. Open Sat & Sun 10am-4pm, then 10am-5pm daily. Adults: £4, Child: £2, Family: £10.
2, Winchester Science Centre and Planeterium
Image: ©Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
This half term, the Winchester Science Centre is putting on an enlightening extravaganza all about the brilliant science of light. There will be a bumper programme of live shows, demonstrations, busking activities and lots of hands-on fun to illuminate inquisitive minds. Explore the different concepts of light, discover the secret world of fluorescence, experience the incredible rainbow colours of spectroscopy and learn ways of making things disappear in front of your very own eyes!
Running daily from 10 – 27 February (10am to 5pm). Adults: £10.91, Child (3-16): £7.64, Child under 2: Free. Tickets can be bought here
3, The Great Hall
Image: © Hampshire County Council
The Great Hall is home to the legendary Arthurian Round Table, which has hung there since 1348. The Table has been dated to the 13th or early 14th century and was probably constructed within the Hall. The names of 24 of the Knights of the Round Table are written around the edge of the table, surmounted by King Arthur on his throne. Guided tours available upon request. Group booking advised.
Nearest parking at Tower Street Car Park.
Admission: No charge but donations gratefully accepted.
4, Explorer’s Trail at Marwell Zoo
Image: Marwell Zoo (c) Mark Fryer
Marwell Zoo is a fantastic day out all year round! Between 18th to 27th February, kids can explore Marwell Zoo and collect stamps of their favourite exotic and endangered animals. Immerse yourself in the animals’ environment and take in some incredible views of white rhino, zebra and scimitar-horned oryx roaming together. Only at Marwell can visitors get up close to Kazmir and his brother Anik, an adorable pair of endangered Amur Leopard cubs, as well as the endearing and curious tiger cub triplets.
From 18th to 27th February 2017. Adults: £13.62, Child (3—16): £10.50, Family( 2 Adults, 2 Children): £44.50
5, Winchester Military Museums
That’s not a spelling mistake there are in fact of five military museums situated within yards of each other on an historic site close to the city centre of Winchester and adjacent to the Great Hall.
Image: Royal Hampshire Regiment
The five museums are:
• HorsePower, the Regimental Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars
• The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum
• The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum
• The Gurkha Museum
• The Guardroom Museum, the Museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps
Each museum is separately run and well worth a visit in its own right. Perfect for a rainy day!
6, Winchester Discovery Centre
Image: Discovery Centre ©Joe Low
There will be a number of half term activities at Winchester Discovery Centre- From 3D colouring to Zumba and dancing classes for kids, there is something for all the family to enjoy. Watch a comedy show, featuring top comedians from around the world – but without the rude words. Or take part in a Fairy tales and Fables Workshop, where kids can dress up and play fun games – guided by an experienced drama teacher.
For the full list of activities and to book visit https://www.hants.gov.uk/wdc
For information and day-to-day events, visit http://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/
7, Jane Austen 200 trail
Jane Austen, one of the world’s most famous authors, spent most of her life in the historic and beautiful city of Winchester. This half-term, visitors can celebrate Jane’s life by walking in her footsteps on the Jane Austen trail. The trail traces her journey from birth to her death giving you an insight into the life and times of this ‘Hampshire girl.’ As her final resting place, Winchester Cathedral is a central landmark for a Jane Austen fan.
For more information please visit: http://janeausten200.co.uk/
8, Winchester Cathedral
An inspiring day out for all ages. Explore more than 1000 years of history in Europe’s longest medieval Cathedral. Discover the beautiful illuminated Winchester Bible, 12th-century wall paintings, medieval carvings, contemporary art and the awe and wonder of this magnificent building.
A free children’s trail, written by a professional children’s writer, offers families a fun and informative look at the Cathedral and introduces them to some of the characters associated with its colourful past and present.
Cathedral Guides offer tours of the Cathedral each hour from 10am – 3pm and tours of the crypt at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm from Monday to Saturday.
9, Beaulieu National Motor Museum
image: ©Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd
Not quite in Winchester, but worth the nip down the A34. Throughout half term, Beaulieu Motor Museum is putting on a whole host of interactive events for the entire family. It’s a chance to handle historic motoring objects and try on early motoring clothing, pick up some medieval building tips and learn to build an arch in Beaulieu Abbey. Create a balloon-powered car and see how far and fast you can race it, and even dress up as a Victorian and play traditional games.
Running daily from 11- 26 February (10am to 5pm). Adults: £24.75, Child (5-7): £12.50, Family (2 adults. 3 children): £64
10, Notorious Navvies at Fort Nelson
Again, a fun family destination a day trip out of Winchester near Fareham on the South Coast. From 20th to 24th February, families visiting Fort Nelson can have tonnes of fun experiencing ‘navy challenges’ and traditional Victorian crafts. Kids can take part in Junior Navy challenges, where teams of young navvies explore the Fort with their very own ’19th century navvy’, Bill, who will show them some of the incredible construction features of Fort Nelson. Then the hard work begins and the apprentices will have a go at wheelbarrow races, constructing keystone arches and loads more. But will they earn their pay? You will even have the opportunity to find out what life would have been like in the sick bay for Victorian garrison soldiers.
From 20 – 24 February (10.30am to 4pm). Junior Navy Challenge: £3.50 per child, Victoria make and take crafts: £2.50 per child. Tickets can be booked in advance by calling 01329 233 734.