We’ve been a little spoilt for extra holidays this month and with May half term almost here, we’ve come up with some ideas for things to do, always mindful to keep a keen eye on the budget.
The dates for this May half term are Monday 30th May to Sunday 5th June.
We have a guide listing and linking all the school term dates for every council in South Wales for 2023/25. It’s really easy to follow and a useful one to bookmark. You can find it here……
We’re particularly keen to find as many events which are FREE or at least under a fiver. We all need to save a few pennies right now, but still try to keep the family entertained. Enjoy the list and come back soon as the guide expands over the next few days. Just click on the areas below to get to the place that interests you.
Here’s a few other features which should give you some ideas of things to do…..
- A VIRTUAL BIG PIT JOURNEY
- GO POND DIPPING WITH THE KIDS
- ADVENTURE GOLF
- FOLLOW THE GAVIN AND STACEY TRAIL
A peaceful oasis on the outskirts of Cardiff, Dyffryn has something new to discover on every visit, from intricate themed garden rooms to sweeping formal lawns and productive kitchen gardens to a large arboretum. The gardens host a number of different styles inspired by countries from all over the world, from a recognisable Italian influence in the Pompeiian Garden to the rainforest-like quality of the plants in the Exotics Garden. With a café, shop and second-hand bookshop, there is a lot to see and do on a visit to Dyffryn.
The gardens are the early 20th-century vision of coal magnate John Cory and his son Reginald.
This is just a little of what you can enjoy at Dyffryn…..
- ARBORETUM – 22 acres of woodland, featuring trees from all over the world. Some areas are currently closed to the public, but many routes and paths remain open.
- GLASSHOUSE – Home to a large collection of cacti, succulents, grape vines and tropical plants, there is always something exotic in bloom.
- NATURAL PLAY AREAS – The Log Stack play areas are wooden playgrounds, one in front of the Welcome Centre and a larger one in the Arboretum.
- SHOPPING – A shop by the main entrance selling unique gifts, plants, and food. There’s also a second-hand bookshop in the Gallery.
The gardens, shop, book shop and cafe are open seven days a week, 363 days a year (the only closure days are Christmas and Boxing Day). The Edwardian mansion house within the gardens is currently closed to the public and undergoing a full external restoration. Last entry to the gardens is one hour before close.
They have discounted prices for groups of a minimum of 15 people. Pre-booking your group visit beforehand is essential.
|Ticket type||Gift aid||Standard|
|1 adult, 3 children||£18.20||£16.50|
DYFFRYN GARDENS, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is always worth a visit. If you’d like details on what’s going on, and to book your tickets, go HERE.
This is more of a reminder than anything else. If you’re a Cardiff residents (or work in Cardiff) you get to have unlimited free days out at Cardiff Castle. The CASTLE KEY, as they call it, gives you free entry to the castle grounds, Norman Keep, the Firing Line exhibition, the wartime tunnels and the Interpretation Centre as many times as you like.
It gives you free entry to…..
- The Norman Keep
- Castle Apartments
- The Trebuchet
- Firing Line Museum
- Roman Chariot Corner
- Roman Walls
- Wartime Shelters
- Battlement Walk
- Enjoy free entry to Cardiff Castle for 3 years.
- A number of other special discounts.
- One off admin charge of £7.00 per adult card issued.
- No charge for Keys issued to children (under 16s).
Apply at the Castle Ticket Office, make sure to take proof that you live or work in Cardiff (a council tax bill or a letter from the boss is fine). The key used to be free but does have an admin charge, worth every penny though. Trust us, the kids love a castle and they will have a brilliant time this half term. For details, go here. CASTLE
HIGH ROPES AT ST FAGANS
Climb, swing, balance and wobble your way through the trees, and see the sights of St Fagans from above before zipping back down to earth. Tackle CoedLan’s 18 different obstacles, including a balance beam, zig zag bridge, cargo net and a zip wire.
The course costs £15 per person for one full circuit of the high ropes, including a 50m zip wire to finish. Tickets can be booked as an add-on when booking your entry ticket to the Museum or from the reception desk in the main entrance.
Participants must be 110cm tall and aged over 6 in order to take part. Children between 110cm and 130cm must be accompanied by an individual over 130cm and aged over 12. The maximum weight is 18 stone.
Weather-appropriate clothing should be worn. Closed in shoes, no sandals, high heels or flip flops. Pockets should be empty and jewelery removed, long hair should be tied back.
- On arrival, please head to the Atrium reception desk to show your CoedLan confirmation ticket.
- Children over the age of 11 and all adults are required to wear a face mask during the health and safety briefing.
- Children that require supervision during the Coedlan experience will need to be accompanied by someone from the same household unit.
If you’d like more information and to book, just go HERE.
CARDIFF BAY BARRAGE
Sometimes it’s the things which are there everyday and we kind of take for granted that turn out to be the most fun for the kids. A day out at the barrage is one of those. It’s exciting, a brilliant way of getting some exercise (for all of us kids) and most of all, it’s cheap as chips.
Just seeing the pictures reminds us that maybe it’s something we’ve not seen in action for a while, or maybe even never. The kids can watch as the barrage’s lock system allows boats and yachts to go in and out of Cardiff Bay. Then walk along to the fantastic pirate playground or if you feel really energetic walk all the way round to Mermaid Quay. Parking at the Penarth end costs 50 pence an hour, but it is free to walk along the barrage and to play at the playground. Take some sandwiches and a drink and you’ve got a great day out for next to nothing
HALF TERM AT CELTIC MANOR RESORT
There’s a host of activities that the whole family can enjoy at the Celtic Manor Resort, it’s worth reminding you that you don’t have to be staying there to enjoy them, you can just book, or in some cases, roll up and enjoy.
From the 26th May to 4th June pack your bags and head to the Celtic Manor Resort for a half term full of adrenaline-filled activities, luxurious surroundings, sensational family dining and acres of outdoor space for the little ones to run wild – what better way to make unforgettable memories with your favourite people!
If you are looking to get escape with the family on a half term getaway can also enjoy an overnight stay from just £115 for the whole family – plus children stay free. Just go HERE for all the details.
For an action-packed adventure, the Celtic Manor Resort has a host of exciting indoor and outdoor fun on offer –designed to give parents a stress-free half term.
- FOREST ROPE COURSES – Located in woodland on the Resort’s grounds, this exciting development features both high and low ropes courses, bridges, walkways, and challenging obstacles. From: £14.00
- FOREST NETS – Set off from the treehouse for your high-altitude adventure. With a giant bounce zone and forest lookout, vertical slides and ladder tubes, net ninjas of all ages can experience the thrill of an amazing bird’s eye view from the safety of our large, enclosed Forest Nets, high in the treetops. From: £16.50
- LASER CLAYS – Take aim with state-of-the-art, laser-adapted rifle and see how many clays you can hit as they speed through the air, travelling at up to 65mph. This high-tech digital version of traditional clay pigeon shooting is suitable for all ages from 8 years upwards.
- LASER COMBAT – More fun than paintball (and without the bruises!), take on the challenge of our exciting Laser Combat adventure activity featuring a wide variety of games including Elimination, Zombies, Team Challenge, and many more, ensuring that you enjoy a different experience every time. From: £16.50
- INDOOR INFLATABLE ASSAULT COURSE – Children can enjoy a fun-filled assault course with amazing inflatables to jump, bounce and climb on. From: £16.50
If you’re feeling even more competitive…….
- ARCHERY – Put your skills of accuracy to the test and try your hand at the ancient art of archery. From: £16.50
- FOOT GOLF – Get your kicks from one of the UK’s fastest growing new sports, as you channel your inner Bale and McIlroy in one fantastic game. From £3.00
- ADVENTURE GOLF – Experience the most famous holes in golf including St Andrews, Pebble Beach, and Augusta, or enter the dragon’s lair and navigate around the miniature lakes. From £9.00
For those seeking more sedate fun, there’s also arts & crafts, family treasure hunts, the adventure playground and beautiful woodland walks throughout the grounds.
For details on all the activities, and stays available at the Celtic Manor Resort, go HERE.
HALF TERM AT TREDEGAR HOUSE
See what nature has to offer at Tredegar House.
The garden, parkland, bookshop, cafe, stables and orangery are all well worth a visit. On weekdays you don’t need to pre-book your visit. At busier times, like weekends, bank holidays and school holidays, booking is recommended to guarantee entry.
Here’s a few things to do at Tredegar…….
DOG FRIENDLY – They’ve always loved dogs at Tredegar House, from Lord Tredegar’s beloved Skye terrier, Peeps, to the four-legged members of the team. There’s always a warm welcome for your dog and you, and we’re working hard to find different ways to welcome dogs here on site at Tredegar.
FAMILT TRAIL – Every day they’re open, they have a fun-filled family trail included in your entry ticket. Join Godfrey Morgan’s favourite pet, Peeps the Skye Terrier, who lived here 150 years ago. Peeps will guide you around the house and gardens, telling stories about some of the interesting people and animals who once called Tredegar House home.
- This trail is available every day that the house and gardens are open.
- This is a self-led trail, with an activity booklet to use as you explore the site.
- Free to use (included in your entry ticket).
PLAY WITH PUPPETS – Head into the Morning Room where you’ll find a cosy corner with an interactive puppet display. Create your own stories about the people who once lived here with your family and friends, or see if you can re-enact some of the stories you’ve heard during your visit.
As you can imagine there’s so much more to do at Tredegar, for all the detail go HERE.
You can also download a map HERE.
Fourteen Locks is the most spectacular flight of canal locks in South Wales. A scheduled ancient monument situated in this idyllic part of Newport. It lies on the Crumlin Arm part of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. Surrounded by striking landscape, it is one of the most beautiful scenic waterways.
They really are an engineering wonder of the industrial revolution and a very popular family attraction.
The Fourteen Locks Canal Centre is manned by volunteers ready to assist you. They can provide information on local knowledge, history, circular walks and more. By visiting the Canal Centre, or by becoming a volunteer or a member, you are helping MBACT maintain this 200 year old waterway. It could not have been possible without all involved!
It’s a May holiday so a treat in their cafe would be nice, they offer a delicious range of mouthwatering food. Produce is sourced locally and prepared fresh to order. Meals are perfectly accompanied by speciality coffees and fair-trade teas. The friendly staff can cater for any dietary requirement including gluten free, vegan and vegetarian.
The family and dog friendly centre holds events throughout the year including activity trails, forest school, fayres, family fun days, music festivals, BBQ’s, history talks and walks. The canal towpath is part of national cycle route 47 and the beautiful Sirhowy valley walk.
The Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, Shop, Museum and Dadford Tea Room is open 7 days a week 10am to 4pm. Hot food finishes at 3:30pm. Takeaway only from 3:45 to 4:00pm
The toilets are available for public use. The car park is operated by Newport City Council and a fee is payable.
If you’d like to find out more about the work they do, and what you can get up to during the holidays, and beyond, just go here – HERE
NATIONAL ROMAN LEGION MUSEUM
We’re pretty certain the kids will love this one and it ticks lots of boxes. Fun for the kids and some great photos to send to Granny. Head along to the National Roman Legion Museum and step back in time to explore life in a far-flung outpost of the mighty Roman Empire.
Wales was the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire. In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years.
The museum is absolutely FREE too, so all the better. It’s at the National Roman Legion Museum on the High Street in Newport. For more details, go here. ROMAN
There’s never a better time to get out and enjoy what the countryside has to off and the park here is fantastic.
Pontypool Park is locally known as the People’s Park, covering some 64 hectares with several historical features – including Italian Gardens, Ice Houses and Shell Grotto – which have been restored with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and funding from Torfaen County Borough Council. There is also a link from the Park, through adjacent farm land to the Folly Tower, via a public footpath.
Facilities include a children’s play area, rugby pitch (home to Pontypool RFC), tennis courts, pitch and putt, bowls and a dry ski slope. There are footpath links into the Brecon Beacons National Park on the most northern boundary.
There are a few things to bear in mind when you visit………
- Feel free to have a picnic, play games or even hug a tree!
- Dogs should be kept under control and responsible owners are welcome, but please clear up after your dog and dispose of the waste in the bins provided.
- Use the litter bins – it helps to keep the Park looking good.
- No cycling allowed.
- No horses allowed.
- No motorised vehicles allowed.
- No fishing unless you have purchased the appropriate licence.
The park is just to the East of Pontypool Town Centre. To find out more, go here. PARK
MARGAM COUNTRY PARK
Margam country Park is incredible and while a lot of what you can do will cost money, the best thing of all, a walk in the park, will cost you no more than travelling and parking. They have four walks ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 miles. The 800 acres of the Park provides a perfect backdrop for a walk in the countryside, whether half term stroll with the kids, or an adventure hike along the Coed Morgannwg Way to Afan Forest Park Country Park, the sister country park in the Afan Valley.
Take a look at their Walks video HERE.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, on the 29th May, they have a special family fun day out packed full of ‘INCREDIBLE BEASTS’ in live shows and performances.
Also don’t for get your kites and join in with the Margam International Kite Festival.
A day full of fun and frolics
- Your once in a lifetime chance for an extraordinary encounter with a Goblin Queen and her huge and ancient Dragon!
- Meet Kevin Tickle, falconer extraordinaire and his collection of eccentric birds of prey; Malvolio the vulture, Princess the baby owl and Booboo the peregrine falcon.
- Roar into Spring– Meet the Maiden of Flowers and Bacchus the Fawn in a merry procession as they guide Blossom Lion through the visitors.
- Giant 6 ft bouncing Kangaroos, that’s Roo’d! Jumping a metre off the ground and 2 metres in a bound, they’re a phenomenal sight.
- Meet Zelva the oldest and wisest giant puppet tortoise who plods along with her keeper.
- The Joy of Spring is always in the air with The Magical Butterfly & her Crystals. Her hypnotising skills will leave you spellbound.
- What’s in that box? Eyes appear from every angle and surreal creatures begin to emerge from within. What other creatures will appear from the bottomless box?
- Despite all the odds, an unknown subspecies of the dodo has been discovered! Much larger than their extinct cousins and able to fly (sort of), say ‘Hi’ to Charles and Amelia.
- Enjoy an incredible wizardy circus and play workshop with Albus Stumblemore- with bouncy beasts, horrible horses and beastly bubbles.
Don’t forget your camera for this unforgettable day out! For details and tickets, go HERE.
If you prefer to follow a self guided trail they have four way marked routes for you to follow. ‘Walk packs’ giving full details of the routes and what to look out for along them are available to purchase from entrance cabin and Gift Shop.
Each walk is colour coded, they all begin just up the track from the Castle Visitor Centre. Entrance to the park is free and car parking is £6, but will all of you packed in that’s really good value. Below is a list of everything they offer with appropriate links to find out more.
Bear in mind again that there are restrictions so a lot of the information we’ve given will need checking before you can go ahead an do it.
- Established Country Park, Winner of Green Flag Award and voted the Nations Favourite Park in the ‘National Peoples Choice’ Awards
- 800 acres of rolling Parkland with Deer Herd
- Stunning gothic style castle, 17th Century Orangery and monastic ruins
- Landscaped gardens with Arboretum
- Dogs welcome on leads in Orangery Gardens and under close control in park
- Rare breeds farm trail
- Castle and garden tours available
- Visitor Centre Courtyard with Gift Shop and Charlottes Pantry Café. Please check on arrival for opening times for the Cafe and shop.
- Children’s Adventure Playground and Fairy Tale Village
- Narrow Gauge Railway (runs seasonally)
- Margam Discovery Centre offers high quality environmental education to all age groups, both residentially and for day visits.
- Ivy Cottage unique luxury holiday Cottage.
- Park Map
- Electric Trampers and Wheelchairs available
If you’d like to find out more about the park just head HERE.
THE NATIONAL WATERFRONT MUSEUM
The museum tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.
The Industrial Revolution in Wales had a tremendous effect on People, Communities and Lives as well as that of the rest of the World. You can soak up the history with a breathtaking mix of old and new in the city’s rapidly developing maritime quarter.
The National Waterfront Museum puts you in charge of the experience, allowing you to delve as deeply into the exhibitions, displays and information as you want.
For more details on The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, go HERE.
DYLAN THOMAS CENTRE
The Dylan Thomas Centre is renowned for holding many free activities, and is a great place to visit any time.
They are currently open from 10am to 4.30pm, from Wednesday to Sunday. Entry is free.
The current ‘Love the Words’ Exhibition explores Dylan Thomas’ life, work and cultural context. Follow a timeline of key dates and events, explore our interactive displays, and discover some fascinating objects, as original manuscripts, recordings, art and film tell the story of the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest writers.
This family friendly exhibition also features a free Children’s Trail for younger visitors, and is all on one level on the ground floor, with a range of seating. We’ve also developed sensory bags and resources to enhance the experience of our exhibitions and collections for visitors who find benefit and enjoyment from sensory interaction.
To see what else is going on at the centre go HERE or give them a call on 01792 463980 from Wednesday to Sunday.
TO DO AT HOME
If you want to stay home during the holiday and want to keep the kids off the tablets, phones or TV then here’s a few (old-school) ideas which we guarantee will entertain them and make more memories than watching them stare at a screen all day long.
With the Bake Off series at an end there really isn’t a better time to get into the kitchen with the children. Baking is a great way to keep them happy and entertained on a rainy half term. As far as killing time goes, it’s brilliant for that too.
Involve them in the whole process. Choosing the recipe. Shopping for ingredients. Preparing the kitchen and then the actual baking itself. It’s a fantastic way to kill time too. Choose recipes that include lots of time for decorating, as kids find this to be the most fun part. Don’t be afraid of getting messy, kids love to help but might be a bit messy in the process.
- 100g butter, roughly chopped
- 300g dark chocolate, broken into squares
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 140g rich tea biscuits, roughly crushed
- 12 pink marshmallows, quartered using scissors
- 2 x 55g of Maltesers (my favourite), Milky Way or Crunchie
- Gently melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a large pan over a low heat, stirring frequently until smooth, then cool for about 15mins.
- Stir the crushed biscuits and sweets into the pan until well mixed, pour into a 17cm/6 ½ inch square tin lined with non-stick baking paper and spread the mixture to roughly level it.
- Chill until hard and then take out of tin and remove paper. Cut into squares. Store in an air-tight container.
- 125g plain flour
- 250g Carnation Condensed Milk
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 85g buttery spread
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- For the icing
- 200g icing sugar
- 55g buttery spread
- Few drops vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp Carnation Condensed Milk
- Sugar sprinkles or cake decorations
- Preheat oven to 180°C, (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4.
- Beat flour, condensed milk, egg, vanilla, buttery spread and baking powder until pale and fluffy.
- Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases. Bake for 15-18 minutes until springy and golden. Allow to cool.
- Beat icing sugar, buttery spread and vanilla with enough condensed milk to make a smooth creamy icing. Spread onto cakes and top with sprinkles and decorations.
- 80g rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
- 160g wholemeal flour
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 135g light-brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 115g milk chocolate, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 175°C. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse until the oats are finely ground. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and agave nectar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth and glossy. Reduce mixer speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the flour mixture until just incorporated; stir in the chocolate.
- Drop level tablespoons of the dough onto silicone mat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (12 cookies per sheet). Transfer the sheets to the refrigerator and chill the cookies until solid, about 30 minutes. Bake until lightly golden around edges, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool on the sheets for 1 minute; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Be aware, these cookies like to spread. If you are bothered by them touching, bake on 3 trays.
OPEN UP THE OLD-SCHOOL BOARD GAMES
There really isn’t anything better than watching the kids learn a new, or get reacquainted with an old favourite board game. I don’t know what it is but the effect is far better than watching some character drive aimlessly around a track on some console game. Now don’t get us wrong, we play the kart games as much as the next person, but once the board game is out, the real fun begins.
The simplest of things can often be the best. I used to love settling down with a good book, having the kids squash up on the sofa and read away with my terrible voices and corny impressions. You know what? They hung on my every word and they will with you.
Encourage your children to read along if they’re old enough. Make a hot chocolate and snuggle together on the sofa and get stuck into a classic.
BUILD A DEN
It’s amazing what you can do with a few bed sheets, towels, cushions, chairs and a great imagination. This is the perfect way for the kids to get creative. Then when you’ve got it all put together you can get inside, eat what you’ve baked. Play one of the board games. Read your book to together. Or if they really insist, grab the tablet and watch a bit of TV.
We have a series of features we put together after lockdown to help encourage us to get out and explore what is right on our doorstep. Take a look at OUR SOUTH WALES by clicking on the link that interest you.