10 things to do this February half term

Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, featured in Dr Who, Merlin and Atlantis, reopens this February hal

Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, featured in Dr Who, Merlin and Atlantis, reopens this February half term - Credit: Archant

There’s all sorts for the whole family to do around the Cotswolds this February 2015 half term! Here is our selection of 10 events to get you out and about...

Circus of Horrors: The Night Of The Zombie

February 17 // The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

The show that reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2011 and is now a West End hit is returning to The Roses Theatre to mark its 20th anniversary in macabre style.

The Circus of Horrors is the first circus to appear in a West End theatre for 100 years. This latest incarnation is set in 2020, where a decrepit and corpse-ridden London is plagued by a swarm of the undead. The story twists and turns with grisly murders and sensational shocks, all interwoven with spectacular and bizarre circus acts, climaxing in a flaming ‘apocalypse’.

With sword swallowers, knife throwers, daredevil balancing acts, astounding aerialists, fire acrobatics and more set to a rock soundtrack, Circus of Horrors is far removed from conventional theatre but still contains ample drama and darkness.

For information and tickets, visit: www.rosestheatre.org/events/entry/circus-of-horrors-the-night-of-the-zombie#.VN4ofZisWi8

Outdoor fun at Puzzlewood

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February 14-22 // Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean

What better time for the family to enjoy the great outdoors than this half-term?

Puzzlewood, an enchanting place located in the Forest of Dean, reopens from February 14. Visitors can explore a mile of meandering pathways through the 14-acre ancient woodland, replete with lush tree and rock formations.

JRR Tolkien is reputed to have taken his inspiration for the fabled forests of Middle Earth from Puzzlewood, which is quite an endorsement. It has also featured in television series Dr Who, Merlin and Atlantis for the very same reasons.

As well as the woods, there are lots of animals, a willow maze, indoor mazes and a toddler racing track, an outdoor playground, picnic benches, a cafe and gift shop with local crafts.

For more information, visit: www.puzzlewood.net

Art Playground

February 17-19 // The Brewery, Cheltenham

Art Playground, a new social enterprise in Cheltenham, are teaming up with The Brewery and Cheltenham Youth Theatre this February half-term with sci-fi robots, superhero challenges and extra-terrestrial extravaganzas.

On Tuesday 17 and Thursday 19 February 12-4pm, you can make your own microbot, design a superhero, try your hand at scientific experiments, or help add to the Hero Wall at The Brewery, Cheltenham, to tie-in with the release of Disney’s Big Hero 6.

These fun events are free, and drop-in sessions led by Art Playground will be suitable for all ages. You can stay for as little or as long as you like with superhero attire optional.

Christina Poulton, Director Art Playground said: “These free activities are suitable for budding artists and scientist of all ages, and mums, dads and grandparents can get stuck in too! We’re donning out superhero capes and we would love to see you there.”

If you fancy something more extraterrestrial, Art Playground and Cheltenham Youth Theatre are collaborating to offer a three-day workshop, February 17-19, to create a dramatic alien invasion: They Came from Outer Space. Ages 7-16 will get to work with theatre professionals to devise an intergalactic promenade show all around an extra-terrestrial invasion. They will be exploring acting, movement, film, physical theatre, devising and script writing, costume and set making, and lots of drama games too. The workshops will run daily from 10am-4pm, with flexible drop-off and pick-up between 9am-5pm, so working parents don’t have to rush to pick up at the end of the day. The course will conclude with a performance for family and friends at 4pm on Thursday 19th.

For information on all of Art Playground’s events this February half term, visit: www.artplayground.org.uk

Birds Behaving Badly!

February 14-22 // Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water

Birdland is celebrating birds behaving badly over the February half term. From blood-sucking songbirds and puking penguins to stinking storks and spitting swallows, keepers will reveal revolting facts about some of the world’s baddest birds.

There will be ‘toxic talks’ and ‘terrible trails’ highlighting the horrible aspects of natural history and visitors will also be able to meet some real feathered critters during special ‘meet the creatures’ sessions.

Head Bird Keeper, Alistair Keen, said: “Despite their often angelic reputations, birds are definitely among the worst behaved animals on the planet with some truly disgusting table manners. They have also devised devilish defences and awfully amazing attacking abilities.

“The Marabou Stork defecates on itself in order to cool its legs, fulmar chicks aim projectile vomit at the face of any potential threats and oxpecker birds will open old wounds on cattle in Africa in order to drink their blood!

“Swallows, swifts and kingfishers use their own spit to build nests and the so-called ‘stink bird’ from New Guinea eats toxic beetles and then converts it into poison which covers its wings!”

With its combination of woodland, riverside and gardens, Birdland features more than 500 birds, ranging from the UK’s only breeding colony of king penguins and parrots to cassowaries and cranes in a mix of free-flying and aviary displays.

For further details go to www.birdland.co.uk

Meet Shaun The Sheep!

February 17-19 // Gloucester Quays, Gloucester

This February Half Term, Gloucester Quays will host three days of family-friendly fun, with a distinctive farmyard feel at its Outlet shopping and leisure complex, starring none other than farm animal favourite, Shaun the Sheep.

To celebrate the release of the big screen adventure ‘Shaun The Sheep: The Movie’, showing at the onsite Cineworld cinema, Shaun will be appearing in the centre with the opportunity for children to meet and greet the woolly hero.

Children are also invited to help find the missing sheep which have wandered off around Gloucester Quays with prizes for all those who successfully ‘herd’ them home.

In addition, there will be free, fun craft activity across the three days of the half term, and with a number of other new family-friendly movie releases including ‘Peppa Pig and the Golden Boots’ and Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ showing at Cineworld, families could make a day of it!

For more information, visit: www.gloucesterquays.co.uk

Folk Three Festival

February 13-15 // Cheltenham Town Hall, Cheltenham

The Folk Three festival will be taking place this weekend. The event consists of three headline acts and three support acts, with DJ entertainment before each concert, during the intervals and afterwards, bringing a contemporary dimension to a previously traditional format. A pop-up bar will be located at the back of the Main Hall, serving drinks throughout the concert, enhancing the experience with a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Folk Three has been organised with the recommendations from folk music community experts and the new Folk Three programmer Tristan Glover, who is an international folk artist and member of group The Chipolatas.

The Folk Three line up has Shooglenifty featuring Kaela Rowan and Chris Wood on Friday, Eliza & Martin Carthy and Rory McLeod on Saturday and Seth Lakeman and the Blair Dunlop Band on Sunday, with DJ Dolphin Boy performing sets throughout the weekend in the Pillar Room at Cheltenham Town Hall.

Each night is £20, or £50 for the whole weekend.

For more information visit: www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk/whats-on/festivals/folkthree/

Artist Extravaganza Fortnight

February 17 - March 1 // Nature In Art, Gloucester

This half-term, Nature In Art will feature a wide array of local artists and children’s art activities.

All week, local artists Carole Bury, who creates unique paper textiles, and Andrew Forkner, who works in acrylics, will be the artists in residence, demonstrating their skills and talking to visitors.

Children’s Art Activities are taking place from Tuesday to Friday, including:

Tues Feb 17 – Province Town Print Making

Wed Feb 18 – Mini Beast Pencil Drawings

Thurs Feb 19 – Turn a Photo into Fabric Art

Fri Feb 20 – Stained Glass Effect Flowers

Each Activity Day has a theme, and each workshop interprets that theme using age appropriate materials and techniques. They run at the following times each day;

10.30-12.00pm: for 3 – 7 years

1.00-2.30pm: for 3 – 18 years

3.00-4.30pm: for 8 – 18 years

For more information, visit: www.nature-in-art.org.uk

Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music

February 18 // Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

To celebrate The Sound of Music’s 50th anniversary, the hit screening event Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music returns to the UK at the Everyman Theatre this half-term.

Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music is a screening of the Julie Andrews film in glorious full-screen Technicolor, with subtitles so that everyone can sing along, a host and free prop bag.

Though not obligatory, there will be plenty of fans of the show in fancy dress as the event also features a costume competition - with the winner invited onto stage to show-off.

For more information, visit: www.everymantheatre.org.uk/m-shows/sing-a-long-a-sound-of-music

The Complete History of Comedy

February 21 // The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

They’ve skewered history, the Bible and the world’s most celebrated playwright. Now the Reduced Shakespeare Company tackles the subject it was born to reduce. From the high-brow to the low, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) covers comedy through the ages, from Aristophanes and Shakespeare and Moliere (Is Moliere funny? Why not?), to Vaudeville and Charlie Chaplin, to The Daily Show and Nick Clegg (Is Nick Clegg funny? Why not?). From cavemen telling “Rock Rock” jokes to Chris Rock and everything in-between, the bad boys of abridgment leave no joke untold as they deconstruct the entire history of comedy in 90 minutes.

Written and Directed by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. Tickets £10.75 - £19.75.

For more information, visit: www.rosestheatre.org/events/entry/reduced-shakespeare-company2#.VN49lpisWi8

Magic & Reptile Handling!

February 20 // Gloucester City Museum, Gloucester

Gloucester City Museum will be giving children aged 8 and over the opportunity to try their hand at magic, with an hour-long workshop lead by professional magician Kerry Scorah! Tickets £6 per child, with one adult admitted free with each child.

There will also be a chance to enjoy the magic of the natural world, as Gloucester City and Folk museums are hosting reptile handling sessions, providing everyone with an opportunity to get up close and personal with all manner of creepy crawlies!

Sessions will run from 1.30pm – 3.30pm; on Tuesday February 17 at the City Museum, and Friday February 20 at the Folk Museum. General museum admission payable (free to members). No pre-booking required.

For more information, visit: www.venues.gloucester.gov.uk/Freetime/Museums/events/specialeventscity.aspx