It’s been a late one this year but autumn has now definitely arrived. The trees are turning but the weather is still pretty mild, making it a great time to get out and about with the kids. Come rain or shine, Esther O’Toole has a great selection of half-term activities around the country, to entertain children of all ages.
This fantastic children’s cinema festival started in Amsterdam but now has 39 participating locations throughout the country. Running from 17th – 23rd October, this 29th edition sees expansion into new media experiences, such as virtual reality exploration and the Applab, in addition to the cinema and TV-related activities. What started as a single screen, a video recorder and some cushions on the ground, has grown into one of the world’s most successful cultural festivals for primary school children, attracting up to 60,000 visitors a year. Well worth a look.
Prices: vary per location and activity but they aim to make the festival accessible for all budgets www.cinekid.nl/english/festival
Slot Loevestein is a 14th century moated castle on the banks of the Waal, 28 mins from Gorinchem, and is beautifully preserved as a museum and archeological site. There’s plenty to do. Take your ‘key to the castle’ and explore the fortress or grounds, visit the exhibition ‘Dug Up’ and see what’s been found there, hear stories of the early inhabitants and dress up as those very same knights, princesses and prisoners. On the 24th and 25th they even have a jousting tournament! All tours and exhibitions are available in English as well as Dutch.
Prices: €12.50 for adults and €8.50 for 4-18 yrs www.slotloevestein.nl/en/
If there’s fine weather (or you fancy getting muddy) then check out the great selection of kids activities from Oerrr, the children’s division of national park organisation Natuurmonunmenten. During October half term they boast a great range: from night-time walks through the Dwingelderveld National Park and Wild Outdoors days (like that in Boekesteyn) to Halloween inspired magic lessons in the Sallandse Heuvelrug.
Prices: variable but affordable, with discounts for members. Call for assistance in English 035 035 – 655 99 11 www.natuurmonumenten.nl/kinderen
De Klim Muur
Raining again? But the kids have energy to burn, right? Well, if you’re looking for somewhere that adventurous little people can let off steam indoors, then how about booking a trial lesson at one of the national Climbing Centres? There are centres in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Rotterdam and two in The Hague.
Price: €18 per child for an all inclusive 2 hour introductory lesson. Accompanying adults go free. http://www.deklimmuur.nl/en/jeugd/introductieles/
One other children-specific festival to take note of is The Betovering (The Enchantment). This massive children’s arts festival takes place in The Hague, with events going on at more than fifty locations throughout the city. There are performances and workshops for children from 2 to 12 years old in dance, music, theatre, film and fashion. Their international focus means many of the activities are ‘Language No Problem’.
Price: variable, early booking advised. www.debetovering.nl/english
Here’s something unusual if you’ve got a little tinkerer or musician in the house. Under half an hour from Arnhem, the Uitvinderij (The Discovery Place) gives guided access to everything for doing and making. Your child can work with wood, metal, plexiglass, polystyrene and even a paint machine – to create their own art work or invention. Best of all they get to take it home!
Next door in the Speelerij (The Play Place) children can play on life-size musical instruments and play artworks created by artist Jos Spaanbroek. What’s more, during half term, kids can make their own instruments and become a member of the Speelerij Orchestra for a day or catch the daily theatre show at 2.30pm.
Price: €12.00 for 4- 65 year olds (under 4s free, over 65 €10). Call for assistance in English 0313 413 118 www.spelerij.nl/de-uitvinderij/
DinoAdventures – Amersfoort Animal Park
Amersfoort Animal Park are going all out for half term. There is a ‘new arrival’, a dinosaur of unknown origin and your wee one (6+) can take a peek! You can only enter the park under the guidance of the Dinosecurity team and entering the Dinowoods is strictly at your own risk! If you’ve got a dinosaur obsessed, thrill seeker in the house then this could make for a great day’s adventuring.
Price: €17 for kids 3-12 years, thereafter €20. Call for assistance in English, 033–4227100 www.dierenparkamersfoort.nl/doen/dinoadventures/
The Power of Poison
If dinosaurs aren’t scary enough then take your little horrors down to Rotterdam where half term coincides with the opening of a major interactive exhibition about poison! Get a good look at poisonous beasties and dive into the history of humans’ relationship with it. Runs till February.
Price: €13 adults, €7.50 children, family group discounts available. Call for assistance in English 010 2030 482 www.thepowerofpoison.nl/nl/Home/