VIKINGS, trains and snowdrops will all play their part this half-term with visitors expected to descend on York, North and East Yorkshire.

Whether families are looking for a hands-on outdoor adventure or hoping to be scared by bloodthirsty re-enactments, there will be plenty to do.

  • The Jorvik Viking Festival returns for its 30th anniversary in York from February 15 to 23, with a full programme of events, lectures, guided walks and battle re-enactments. Activities take place at various venues, including the Coppergate Centre, the Eye of York and Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens. For details visit
  • Continuing the Viking theme.... Yorkshire Museum has a range of free activities and will have Viking swords and gold jewellery on display. The Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum are free to York residents. For non-residents, there is a Kids Go Free deal and adults can purchase a £10 ticket for admittance into both attractions.
  • York Castle Museum will be focusing on the Victorians, with daily activities from creating keepsakes to having your own silhouette portrait made by a real Victorian silhouette artist on Kirkgate (Wednesday 11am to 4pm, a small charge applies), and trying Victorian-inspired cucumber soup.
  • There are action-packed activities for the whole family at the National Railway Museum during half-term including safety sessions with the British Transport Police, hands-on fun in the Chuggington play area and the opportunity to build a railway line out of sleepers, chairs and rail, and then test it.
  • Visitors to York Dungeon will come face to face with some of history’s darkest characters with “Plague-ridden Polly” lurking in her cell.
  • York’s Chocolate Story is celebrating the nation’s favourite sweet brand, Smarties, offering visitors the chance to learn more about the colourful sweet created in York more than 70 years ago, on a guided and interactive tour.
  • Snowdrop season is under way at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, near Ripon, where the flowers are lining the banks of the river Skell. The main snowdrop show is likely to begin next week, subject to weather, and you can see them in drifts around the Abbey and on the Earl de Grey walk which takes you from the Water Garden to the Abbey.
  • The North Yorkshire Moors National Park has teamed up with East Barnby Outdoor Centre, with children aged 9-16 able to choose from kayaking, indoor climbing and dry-slope skiing on Tuesday, February 18.
  • Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley, is welcoming a new exhibition this Spring featuring up-and-coming artists from York College’s art and design-based courses who have been challenged to create pieces based on the theme of Discovery. Opening on Saturday, February 15, the exhibition showcases mixed media works, including sculpture, ceramics, paintings, mixed media, illustration and even glass and enamel. Mollie Dodd, general manager, said: “It is wonderful to be able to showcase such new and exciting artists."
  • Portraits are being brought to life at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens, just north of York. On February 19 and 22 there will be a session with Eden, a professional story teller from Stories Alive, who will be bringing history to life using various historical characters to give voices to the people in the portraits. Beningbrough’s Artrageous workshops will also be returning with sessions on Sunday 16 and Sunday 23, from 1pm to 3pm, helping children to make their own family portraits.
  • York Minster has a story chest for children aged from six months, including books and puppets. It has also organised discovery trails and has discovery back-packs, for keen young explorers. Visit the Minster website for more details.