HUGE Oxford Family Half Term Guide

HUGE Oxford Family Half Term Guide

May 23, 2024

Looking for things to do with the family this half-term in Oxford? We’ve got you covered with all the events, activities and days out – many free. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for more day out inspo.
Happening all through half term:


🥽FREE swimming for children under 17 who live in OX1 – OX4 at More Leisure pools

Children go free during the family swim session at any More Leisure pool: Barton, Leys and Ferry. Free swim sessions do not apply at Hinksey outside of term time. If you had a free swim membership before 30 March 2024, you will need to re-register as a new operator (More Leisure) has taken over the running of the centres. Bring proof of age and address into one of the More Leisure pools and register, then you can book on the website into one of the family swim sessions.

🗓 Free swim sessions for U17s living in OX1 – OX4 ⏰ Different sessions, see online. 💴 Adult £5.70 U17 FREE (postcode dependant) 🎫 Pre-booking required ℹ️ More info here.

🧑‍🌾High Lodge Farm: Big Bale Play 

Hundreds of straw bales: run, jump, play and go wild! Natural playgrounds like this are so important for children; not only connecting them to nature but also the British countryside too. There are two Sunset Bale Play sessions for children up to age 16 from 5pm – 9pm and two SEN sessions. See website for full details.

🗓 25th May – 2nd June ⏰10am – 4pm plus two sunset sessions 💴 Children: £6.50, Adults: £3, Under 1s: Free. 🎫 Pre-booking recommended ℹ️ Book your ticket here.

🌲Waddesdon Manor: Kids go FREE this half term 

FREE admission to the house and grounds for the kiddos this half term! You can also enjoy the Celestial Sound Cloud – an interactive digital sound and light sculpture inspired by cosmic clouds – the clouds of dust and gases in which stars are formed. Dogs on short leads welcome!

🗓 29th May – 2nd June (closed Wednesday in half-term)⏰10am – 5pm 💴 Adults £13.50, Free for children 🎫 Pre-booking recommended ℹ️ Book your ticket here. 

🌳Waterperry Gardens Gnometastic Trail

Find the garden gnomes hidden around Waterperry Gardens and collect your prize! The gardens are beautiful at the moment and the wisteria is out in force! The trail costs £3.95 per child. Waterperry is part of your Gardeners’ World 2-4-1.

🗓 25th May – 2nd June ⏰10am – 5.30pm 💴Adults £11.50, U16 Free 🎫 Booking not essential ℹ️ More pictures of our adventures at Waterperry here.

🐘The Story Museum Half Term activities 

Lots on during half term! Elmer Day is packed with activities, including the opportunity to meet Elmer himself! Visitors can wish a Happy Birthday to Elmer with pantomime dame Mama G and explore the newly developed Elmer play space in Small Worlds, the museum’s dedicated space for under-fives.  Get crafting a giant Elmer in a drop-in workshop or dive into Lego Masters Builder’s Club or Comic Club with Neill Cameron. Some activities are free with museum entry and some require booking.

🗓 Open all through half term ⏰10am – 5.30pm 💴 Check individual events for pricing 🎫 Booking essential ℹ️ Check out the full half term itinerary on the Story Museum website.




🐘The Story Museum: Elmer Day

Happy Elmer Day!  The Story Museum invites you to join in our Elmer Day festivities as the world wishes Elmer the Patchwork Elephant a Happy 35th Birthday! There’ll be plenty of fun with storytelling with Mamma G where you can also meet Elmer (£2.50, book in advance) and crafts. Plus, the family-friendly café will be serving up Elmer-themed treats.

📅 Saturday 25th May ⏰10am – 4.30pm 💴 Adults: £14, Children (1 – 4 years old): £6.50, Under 1: Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See The Story Museum website for more details.

🪩FamJam: Family disco

Are you asking? ‘Cos I’m dancin! Get grooving at this family disco; it’s so much fun with games for all the family and face-painting. There’s two of these ever popular shindigs on: Rose Hill and Jon Bunyan Hall (formerly Ark-T). Get in there! 🕺

📅 Saturday 25th May ⏰ JBH: 1.30pm – 3pm Rose Hill: 3.30 – 5pm 💴 Pay what you can 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See the Dancin’ Oxford website for more details.

💦 Oxford Clean Rivers Fest at Longbridges Nature Park

Celebrate Oxford’s rivers…and raise awareness about the threat that they are under from pollution and the urgent need for more action. Lots of interesting talks and stalls representing Earthwatch, Friends of the Earth Oxford, River Action and more. It’s a family-friendly event with with entertainment, artistic activities and food and drink.

📅 Saturday 25th May ⏰11am – 6pm 💴 Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ More info on the Oxford County Council website.

🔬History of Science Museum: How does it work?

Get hands-on with some of the collections and see them in action! Grab a Light and Space backpack to explore science stories in every gallery or take part in a family scavenger hunt. This event is on Sunday too so pick your day!

📅 Saturday 25th May ⏰2pm – 4pm 💴 Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ More info on the History of Science Museum website.




🖼️Museum of Modern Art: Closing weekend!

Eeeeeek! It’s closing weekend…not forever, but until October!! There is a HUGE refurb coming up! We cannot wait to see the transformational refurbishment of the ground and lower-ground public areas. All weekend there are facilitated activities in the Creative Space based on the current exhibition from Frieda Toranzo Jaeger. In the café you can try digital drawing and play with new equipment to create your very own works of art. There’s also 25% off all orders in the Café! Whoop! (but also SOB!)

📅 Saturday 25th – Sunday 26th May⏰10am – 5pm 💴 Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ Visit the Museum of Modern Art Oxford website for all the details on closing weekend and a sneaky peak at the redevelopment plans.

⛪Barton Abbey: Open Day

Ever heard of the National Garden Scheme? It gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, and raises impressive amounts of money (millions and millions and millions) for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake. Barton Abbey in Steeple Barton (OX25) has a 15 acre garden with views from the house (not open) across sweeping lawns and a picturesque lake. There is also a walled garden, informal woodland and meadows to wander through. I’ve been to many of these Open Gardens and never been disappointed. Children are very welcome, as are dogs on a short lead.

📅 Sunday 26th May ⏰ 2pm – 5pm 💴 Adults: £5, Children : Free (cash) 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ Visit the NGS website for more details on this opening and search for more local openings whilst you are there!




🐘The Story Museum: Meet Elmer

Meet Elmer over the May Bank Holiday with appearances at 12:00 on Sunday 26 May and Monday 27 May. Free with museum entry!

📅 Monday 27th May⏰10am – 4.30pm 💴 Adults: £14, Children (1 – 4 years old): £6.50, Under 1: Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See The Story Museum website for more details. Read all about our previous visit.

🚌 Oxford Bus Museum: Meet Conductor Bear

Bring along your favourite toys or items with wheels and show and tell with Conductor Bear! FREE bus rides at 12.15pm and 2.15pm.

📅 Monday 27th May ⏰ 10am – 4pm 💴 Adults: £8, Children (5 – 15 years old): £5, Under 5: Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See Oxford Bus Museum website for more info.

🚂 Cutteslowe Miniature Railway

Bank holiday vibes! A lovely miniature railway experience and with the track extension it’s great value for money too. There is SO much to do at Cutteslowe park: numerous playgrounds, huge sandpit, free splash park (open now!), crazy golf, tennis courts, wildlife area, duck pond, beach volleyball court, café and more! It’s easily a whole day adventure!

📅 Monday 27th May ⏰ 1pm – 4.30pm 💴 £1.50 per ticket, Under 2’s free with fare paying adult🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See the railway website for more details.

♥️ Thomley: Open for all

This extraordinary place is for children for all abilities and disabilities. The theme for the day is Beach Party and this is reflected in the day’s activities such as art sea creatures and sea snake fruit snacks. There’s also the huge bouncy pillow, soft play, bikes and bike track, sensory and construction rooms and more!

📅 Monday 27th May ⏰ 10am – 3.30pm 💴 £13 per child (adults do not require tickets)🎫 Pre booking required ℹ️ See Thomley website for more information and booking.




💦Radley Pool Fun Sessions

Two large inflatable assault courses, pool toys and two diving boards! These pool sessions area whole lot of fun. These sessions are for children aged 8-12 years old. parents are not permitted in the pool with the children. The session is fully lifeguarded by a highly experienced team.

📅 Tuesday 28th May⏰ 2pm – 3.30pm 💴 £8 per person 🎫 Pre booking required ℹ️ Book on the Radley website.

🪡The Oxfordshire Museum: Weaving and plaiting

Weave a pattern onto card and create your own museum inspired woven landscape. If you don’t fancy weaving how about plating a colourful cord which you might want to use as a bookmark or even, make into a friendship bracelet to give to someone special.

📅 Tuesday 28th May ⏰ 10.30am – 12.30pm / 2pm – 3.30pm 💴 Free, donations welcome🎫 No booking required ℹ️ Check out this – and more – on the Oxfordshire Museum website 

🌳Hill End: Go Wild in the Woods

Explore the 67 acre site on your own steam: build dens, play in the Early Years garden and Junior Challenge Zone. Bring a picnic or buy something from the pop up café selling hot drinks and cakes. No dogs allowed at Hill End.

📅 Tuesday 28th May and Wednesday 29th May ⏰ 10am – 2pm 💴 Adults £6.50, Children (over 2) £3.50 🎫 Booking required ℹ️ Book via the Hill End website. Don’t forget to book your ffennell Festival tickets whilst you are there for the 8th June.




🖌️Pendon Museum: Junior Modelling (6 – 14 years old)

The Pendon Museum is such an interesting place! It’s a glimpse of rural life through extraordinary display scale models and large scenes of the rural countryside. We absolutely love following the railway around; especially as it passes so many places that we recognise! This hands-on model-making session (11am – 3pm) is run by expert modellers who create and maintain Pendon’s world-famous models. Each participant will work on their own small diorama to take home.

🗓 Wednesday 29th May ⏰11am – 4pm 💴 Adults: £8, Children: £6, Under 5: Free 🎫 Drop-in session is free  ℹ️ Visit the Pendon website to see what it’s all about.

🌲Harcourt Arboretum: Marvellous Meadows Family Day

The meadows at the Arboretum will be open to the public offering bug hunting and meadow plants guided tours, educational activities, and a chance to explore vital habitats. This event will celebrate the beauty and importance of wildflower meadows.

🗓 Wednesday 29th May ⏰11am – 3pm 💴 Adults: £7.20, Children: £3, Under 2: Free 🎫 No need to book  ℹ️ Visit the Arboretum website for info.

📚 Abingdon Museum: Book making

Construct hand made long stitch books and zigzag books. Decorate book covers and make a colourful book mark.

🗓 Wednesday 29th May ⏰10.30am – 12.30pm/ 1.30pm – 3.30pm 💴 Free, with suggested donation of £1 🎫 Drop-in ℹ️ Check out what’s on at the museum on their website. 

✋Earth Trust: Sensory Play with Clay

Designed specifically for families who experience autism, this workshop encourages exploration with natural clay and foraged items. ‘Stations’ will be set up to allow families to enjoy their time at the workshop in a way that is comfortable to them. There will be play and exploration with natural clay and foraged items, creating vibrant paintings using natural inks and getting messy with charcoal mark-making. Run by a facilitator with SEND experience.

🗓 Wednesday 29th May ⏰ 2pm – 4pm 💴 £6.13 per ticket 🎫 Booking essential  ℹ️ Book via the Earth Trust website.




🖨️Weston Library: Half-term keepsake printing

So many family-friendly events at the Weston Library! Have a go at pulling a souvenir print on their historic printing press. If you have little ones then head to the “Toddleian”, a family reading nook, with books and storytelling toys inspired by the theme of journeys.

🗓 Thursday 30th May ⏰ 10.30am – 1.30pm 💴 Free 🎫 Drop-in session  ℹ️ Visit the Weston Library website for all the details.

🦖 The Oxfordshire Museum: Dinosaur Collage

Use card and felt to create your own unique felted dinosaur. Don’t forget to visit the HUGE dinosaur hiding in the bushes of the museum garden…

🗓 Thursday 30th May ⏰ 2pm – 4pm 💴 £2 suggested donation 🎫 Drop-in session  ℹ️ Visit the Oxfordshire Museum website for more info. Check out our previous visit here. 

🍍Caper: The Enormous Pineapple book launch

Let’s support local! Local author Teresa Heapy is launching her brilliant new children’s book, The Enormous Pineapple. There will be a reading of the book and an open draw-along session for little ones to create their own enormous fruit or vegetable alongside Teresa. Plus cake. It is a celebration after all! Most suitable for children aged 3–6.

🗓 Thursday 30th May ⏰10.30am – 11.30am 💴 Free 🎫 Booking required to manage numbers ℹ️ Book here and check out this most wonderful of bookshops here.

🦖Museum of Natural History: Evolution Revolution Workshop

An afternoon of games and activities themed around the theory of evolution for young people aged 10-14. My eldest and his friend have been to three of these in a row and absolutely love them! Parents don’t have to stay. Booking essential.

📅 Thursday 30th May ⏰ 2pm – 3.30pm 💴 Free 🎫 Book ahead via email: [email protected] ℹ️ Event info here. Never visited the museum? See one of our many trips here.

💦Radley Pool Fun sessions

Two large inflatable assault courses, pool toys and two diving boards! These pool sessions area whole lot of fun. These sessions are for children aged 8-12 years old. parents are not permitted in the pool with the children. The session is fully lifeguarded by a highly experienced team.

📅 Thursday 30th May ⏰ 2pm – 3.30pm 💴 £8 per person🎫 Pre booking required ℹ️ Book on the Radley website.


⭐🪲Jitterbug: 31st May – 2nd June 🪲⭐

This is on the whole weekend! University Park will be taken over by ‘Jitterbug’, an incredible and enormous inflatable bug tent created by award winning-artists, Trigger. A free programme of day to night creative activities will take place inside the insect, with workshops and events for all ages: from talks, yoga and crafting to storytelling, Check out the programme here!




🦖Museum of Natural History: Autism Friendly opening

A relaxed morning opening to explore the Museum collections in a quiet environment for families with members on the autism spectrum.

📅 Friday 31st May ⏰ 9am – 10am 💴 Free  🎫 Booking essential via email: [email protected] ℹ️ Never visited the museum? See one of our many visits here.

🥣Banbury Museum: Plaster Bowl Modelling

Get messy – somewhere other than home! Yay! Make decorative bowls out of mod rock then decorate and take them home.

📅 Friday 31st May ⏰ 10.30am and 1.30pm sessions 💴 Free 🎫 Drop-in ℹ️ Loads on at Banbury Museum over half term, check it all out here. 



🦁Pegasus Theatre: ROAR Festival

A FREE day-long programme of events celebrating disability in the arts at Pegasus. Formed in 2016, ROAR provides opportunities for people with additional needs to engage in the arts and aims to advocate for inclusive arts practice in Oxfordshire and beyond. There’s movement and music workshops, short film, a BSL workshop and more!

📅 Saturday 1st June ⏰ All day 💴 Free  🎫 Pre-booking required ℹ️ Book via Pegasus theatre website. 

👶Pitt Rivers Museum: VR experience

Find out more about the Evenki Cosmologies through 360 degree immersive films using virtual reality headsets. The Evenki are a diverse cultural group living across Northern and Central Asia and have strict guidelines and Indigenous customary law systems for their relationship with the forest and cosmos. Fascinating!

🗓 Saturday 1st June ⏰ 2pm – 3.30pm 💴Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ More info on the event on the Pitt Rivers website.

🐏 Oxford City Farm: Family Friendly Day

Visit the farm and meet the animals! There are chicks, chickens, goats, kids and sheep. There’s also an area for free play and much to learn about farm to fork in the vegetable patch. Bring your purse and re-useable bags to buy some of their farm-grown food. A true farm to fork lesson for children!

📅 Saturday 1st June⏰ 10am – 1pm 💴 Free  🎫 Booking recommended ℹ️ Book via Eventbrite. Never been to the farm? Check out our visit here.

🔭Science Oxford: Family Day

The UK’s first indoor-outdoor primary science education centre with a hands-on Exploration Zone and 15 acres of woodland and ponds. This is STEM on another level and the fun factor is off the wall! I was there on a school trip last week and it was just as engaging as ever – there is always something new to learn.

📅 Saturday 1st June ⏰ 10am – 12noon/ 12.30pm – 2.30pm/ 3pm – 5pm 💴 £7.50 per ticket, Under 3s Free 🎫 Booking required ℹ️ Book via the Science Oxford website and check out our previous visit here.




🚂 Cutteslowe Miniature Railway

Cutteslowe is such a great day out!  There is SO much to do: miniature railway, numerous playgrounds, huge sandpit, free splash park (open now!), crazy golf, tennis courts, wildlife area, duck pond, beach volleyball court, café and more! It’s easily a whole day adventure!

📅 Sunday 2nd June ⏰ 1pm – 4.30pm 💴 £1.50 per ticket, Under 2’s free with fare paying adult🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See the miniature railway website for more details.

🗼Faringdon Folly Tower

It’s open! 100 feet high with panoramic views – will you climb to the top of the tower? If heights aren’t you bag then stay on the ground and enjoy the woodland sculpture trail…it has a beautiful new addition – who will find it?

📅 Sunday 2nd June ⏰ 11am – 5pm 💴 Adults: £3, Children (11 – 16): £1, Under 11: Free  🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See Folly website for further details.

🏠 Kingston Bagpuize House

Bridgerton fan? You may recognise Kingston Bagpuize House in season 3! Of course it’s a natural choice with Emma and Downton Abbey being filmed here too. Wide avenues, walled gardens, glorious borders and woodlands are yours to explore. This is in your Gardeners’ World 2-for-1 offer so do bring your card along.

📅 Sunday 2nd June ⏰ 2pm – 5pm 💴 Adult: £7, 12-21 year olds: £4, Primary aged children: Free 🎫 No booking required ℹ️ See website for further details and our previous visit here.

Want to just freestyle? Here’s some more ideas:



Beacon Hill 
The Cheese Shed 
Wytham Woods
Farmoor Reservoir
Dorchester to Wittenham Clumps


Kennington Bike Track and playground
Tackley playground
Exeter Hall playground
Barton Park playground
Combe playground


Did you


Bridewell Gardens works alongside people in recovery, rebuilding confidence, self esteem, self compassion, rediscovering interests and hopes for the future.

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