Half-term – the kids are off, the family’s together, the spring sun is shining, the shorts are out, and dad’s wearing his socks and sandals again. All is blissful. And the warm sandy beaches of the Isle of Wight are calling – just a quick Wightlink ferry trip away.
To inspire your Island getaway, here are five things the whole family can enjoy on the Island during this half-term, which spans from Saturday 27th May to Sunday 4th June. Book up your ferry trip — foot passenger or car — and then scroll down to plan your day trip or week-long itinerary.
1) Blackgang Chine ain’t big enough for the two of us
Help Sheriff Don McReady take down Rattlesnake Jake, the meanest of all outlaws, during Blackgang Chine’s Showdown in Cowboy Town this May half-term — a live cowboy show with ‘real’ shoot-outs and explosives!
The Isle of Wight amusement park will be serving up cowboy food on the barbecue to keep you fuelled up while you save the town.
Blackgang’s land of imagination also features exciting rides, pirate ships, princess castles, life-size moving dinosaurs and many more attractions — it’s the ideal destination for family fun, whether you’re on a day trip or a longer stay.
2) Animals on the Isle of Wight
The Island is alive with animals, from natural trails to zoo attractions. If you’re heading to Sandown for the resort town’s beautiful sandy beach, add the Isle of Wight Zoo to your itinerary and see a vast number of animals from around the world, including one of Britain’s largest groups of tigers and a whole range of other big cats.
Over in Newport, there’s the Monkey Haven, which houses whooping gibbons and mischievous monkeys, plus owls, reptiles and our personal favourite: meerkats! Hear the story of how the animals came to be on the Island in this award-winning primate rescue sanctuary.
Nestled between Sandown and Newport is the Amazon World Zoo Park, where the whole family can take a walk on the wild side with crocodiles, parrots, toucans, and lemurs.
3) Needless to say, the Needles are a must-visit
Head to the south-western tip of the Isle of Wight to explore the marvels of the natural coastline, discovering the Needles rock formations, the Trinity Lighthouse and the multi-coloured sands of Alum Bay’s cliff faces.
Glide from the top of the cliffs to the beach below in the island’s renowned suspended chairlift, hop aboard a boat tour around the Needles, grab a bite to eat while enjoying the seaward views and pop into the cliff-top gift shop and get a glass ornament filled with coloured sands.
4) Prehistory family activities
There’s a reason the Isle of Wight is often referred to as ‘Dinosaur Island’ — it’s heralded as one of the richest places for dinosaur discovery in Europe. There are enough dinosaur-themed attractions and activities to fill a week.
At the heart of it all is Dinosaur Isle, sited in Sandown, bringing to life the prehistoric story paleontologists have been able to uncover over decades of studying the Island’s fossils — a story which spans 126 million years. The museum runs a fossil and geology walk on Monday 29th May.
Children can learn how to excavate and identify real fossils and handle replicas of the biggest dinosaur claws at the Dinosaur Expedition Centre, who also lead fossil hunts. You can find fossils yourself nearby at Brook Bay, from small fragments to larger reptilian bones.
5) Interactive Heritage events
It wouldn’t be a half-term break without English Heritage running a number of fun and exciting family events, and true to form, they’re hosting a Victorian garden party at Osborne House from Tuesday 30th May to Thursday 1st June. It’s Victoria’s birthday month, after all, and she’s celebrating with saddle riders, jugglers, sideshows, tea, and cake. Quintessentially British!
Meanwhile, the Civil War will be raging at Carisbrooke Castle, as the Cavaliers and Roundheads clash over a divided country. Kids will be able to test their agility and team cavalry skills, and take part in soldier drills, all while learning about the Civil War and the story of King Charles I.
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