A wonderful space for all the family to enjoy hands-on experience of science in action, in ten themed galleries. Perennial favourites include the planetarium, which hosts ‘Star Tots’ story-telling sessions for under-5s, and ‘Kids’ City’, for under-7s, which features a health centre, a café, a garage, a street and a water play area where your liitle ones are encouraged to dress and up and play the everyday roles carried out by members of their community.
New for Summer 2012 is the Science Garden, where visitors of all ages can get ‘bodies-on’ with exciting exhibits including an 8m-high clanging ‘Terminus’ machine and a giant human-sized hamster wheel. Parent packs are available to help you help your kids make the most of everything the museum has to offer.
MAC is the most-visited arts centre in the Midlands, with over 650,000 visitors a year who come to enjoy theatre performances, music, comedy, plays for children, literature and poetry events, courses, magical family shows, films, dance performances and free exhibitions.
A fascinating slice of history, the carefully-restored 19th Century back-to-backs – houses literally built back-to-back around a shared courtyard – provide an atmospheric glimpse into the lives of ordinary Birmingham people from the 1840s to the 1970s. Get to know the former residents who crammed into these houses, through an informative guided tour, taking in the sights, sounds and smells from the past. Do note that booking your tour in advance is essential.
Housed in a Grade II listed building in the City Centre, The BMAG has over 40 galleries that display everything from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to ancient Greek and Egyptian artefacts. New for 2012 is ‘Pharaoh: King of Egypt’, the UK’s largest ever exhibition of ancient Egyptian artefacts on loan from the British Museum.
Special family-friendly activites include live demos of creative techniques such as weaving, carving and pottery. Kids will love the ‘In touch’ gallery, where they can experience art using all their senses, stepping inside a 17th Century painting and ‘eavesdropping’ on Albert Einstein.
There are family activities every weekend (1-4pm) with arts, crafts and much more. Events cost just £1.50 per child and are free for accompanying adults.
The National Sea Life Centre takes visitors on an undersea voyage with displays of freshwater and marine life, an otter sanctuary and adventure trail. Regular talks and feeding demonstrations provide a deeper insight, and budding little mariners will be thrilled to hold a crab and touch the starfish in the interactive rockpool. There’s even a 4D Cinema, and a soft play area for little ones.
Love chocolate? Want to know how it’s made, make your own and even play in choclate rain? Then head to Cadbury World, which tells the story of this world-famous confectioner through 14 fun and informative zones. It features a demonstration area, a jungle with waterfalls and boardwalks as well as a 3D cinema screen where ‘Flex6’ the robot brings to life the Cadbury pack and wrap process.
Highly-rated by local families, the Nature Centre offers a fun, educational and very reasonable day out. Animals in residence include goats, sheep, pigs, beavers, otters and some more exotic species, such as the red panda. Small children in particular will love the Lilliput Village of small animals. The Centre is fully accessible and costs £4 for adults, and £1.50 for 5-15s. Under-fives go free.
Regarded as the finest and largest motocycle museum in the world, over 250,000 visitors a year flock to venture through the five exhibition halls which house over 650 machines. The museum spans ’60 glorious years’ of motorcycling manufacture in the UK, and aims to preserve them for future generations. Important new acquisitions are always being added to the collection, and facilities include a gift shop and licensed self-service restaurant. Open 9.30-5.30, 7 days a week.
The ‘Blue Ice Plaza’ offers much more than a few wobbly circuits of the ice. If you have little ones, why not check out the Parent and Toddler Classes? Suitable for 2-5s, the focus is learning through play: both parent & child are welcomed onto the ice to play with toys suitably provided to develop balance, confidence & co-ordination.
Five-week ‘learn to skate’ courses are available, and ‘discos on ice’ are held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Open 7 days a week, as well as ice skating, the plaza also incorporates restaurants, a pool and snooker club and a Fitness First health club, and parking is free.
If your child is loves adventure and excitement, or if you’re just looking to get them doing somthing active after school or in the holidays, check out Ackers. They boast a list of activities longer than an abseiling rope, including skiing and snowboarding, tobogganing, climbing, canoe and kayaking, archery, orienteering, bushcraft and more!