With the Easter holidays and other school breaks coming up, Esther O’Toole has some suggestions to keep your offspring amused.
With the Easter and May holidays ahead, how can you make sure the kids are exhausted enough to fall into bed and leave you alone with a bottle of red wine and left-over chocolate?
If you are in Amsterdam, why not start off over the long Easter weekend with Nemo’s High Tea on April 20 and 21?
Especially for Easter there’s a set-price menu with a wide array of cakes and treats to nibble while you learn the science behind turning your tea into…ice cream!
If the wonderful weather holds, you may decide to eat your high tea on their fantastic roof top terrace; eat some more while the children pretend to be kings and queens on the giant chess board. Then, of course, you have the rest of the day to explore the permanent exhibition (for those taking tea, there is a 50% reduction on the entry price of €15).
Top tip: take extra clothes in case the littlest throw all their cake up again on the centrifugal force machine.
Find out more: www.e-nemo.nl
If you’re not feeling scienc-y how about getting arty? There’s new awesomeness to explore down at the Rijksmuseum for ages 6+. Since it’s reopened the museum has expanded its family activities, including learning how to etch like Rembrandt, discovering life in the Golden Age and a family tour.
Find out more: www.rijksmuseum.nl
Over at the Van Gogh take a trip back in time with Vincent’s suitcase. Available in Dutch or English; it’s full of interesting activities for kids to dive into that turns the visit into a treasure hunt (again from age 6). They also offer very affordable art courses for youngsters throughout the year.
Find out more: www.vangoghmuseum.nl
Regular arts and crafts workshops can also be found in the studio of the children’s department at the Central library near Central station. For bi-lingual kids these are often coupled with book readings in the library’s Annie MG Schmidt theatre.
Find out more: www.oba.nl
If you fancy getting out of town and getting messy then check out Oerrr from Dutch natural heritage (Natuurmonumenten). It’s full of great family ideas on where to get muddy country-wide.
Plus sign up for the newsletter and get free wildlife activity cards throughout the year. Learn how to survive in the wild from April 13 with the ‘Wild Outdoors Day’ at Overijssel, Utrecht, Gelderland and other locations up and down the country.
The thing that most caught my eye amongst the night time walks, castle exploration and deer watching activities had to be seal spotting off Zeeland – an exciting and mucky day is guaranteed for all!
Find out more: www.natuurmonumenten.nl/kinderen/oerrr (Dutch only)
For those further south here’s a tried and tested favourite in our household. Eleven minutes out of central Eindhoven brings you to Nuenen and its massive children’s wildlife park – Dierenrijk.
Large enclosures and a wide selection of well-cared for animals – both obvious biggies (tigers, bears, lions and seals) and surprise winners. My kids both adored the…Garra Rufa Fish. That’s right – the ones you get at foot spas. You can wash your hands and put your fingers in so they can be nibbled at. Endlessly exciting for the under tens.
Two major benefits here: if it’s raining there is a gigantic indoor jungle-themed play-zone with seating for parents with tired feet, and great Puro coffee for any parents with tired heads.
Find out more: www.dierenrijk.nl
And last but not least: if you have children of three and up then maybe they need to know that in The Hague there is a rabbit on the run from the police.
On Sunday May 4 the hunt is on for the meddlesome bunny in Maas Theater en Dans’ WANTED: RABBIT. This highly successful show is on its fourth run promising lots of slapstick and suspense for young and old.
Find out more: www.mastd.nl
Now is the time when Dutch amusement parks come to life again after the winter months. Website Netherlands by Numbers has a list of 10 of the country’s best theme parks, from the much-praised Efteling to Walibi and the more gentle fun of Plopsaland.