Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Schools break up for the holidays this weekend and there is plenty of half-term fun to be had in North East England and best of all lots of it is free. Yes, free family fun for everyone from Tyneside to Teesside. So whether you are looking for family days out in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Durham or along the North East coast we've found is a hot-air balloon festival, theatre, comedy, craft, food and carnival fun to choose from. Let hope this glorious weather we have been enjoying returns and stays long enough for us all to make the most of it.

And don't forget to check out our A-Z of FREE family days out in North East England too.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Balloons in Durham

Friday 25 – Monday 28 May 2018

Houghall College and across Durham City

For everything you need to know about Balloons InDurham see our blog, but expect to see early morning and evening launches taking off from East Durham College Houghall Campus, tethered balloons on Palace Green next to Durham Cathedral, as well as plenty of other family-friendly entertainment for people to enjoy across the City. Up, up and away… Balloons InDurham is going to be bigger and better than ever before!

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England


The reopening of the Middlesbrough Town Hall by Southpaw Dance Company

Friday 25 to Sunday 27 May 2018 - 7.30pm

Friday 2pm - Saturday & Sunday 2pm and 7.30pm

Middlesbrough Town Hall

To celebrate the reopening of the Town Hall, Middlesbrough Council have commissioned Southpaw Dance Company to create a spectacular site-specific performance which will bring the new building to life. Erimus takes its inspiration from Middlesbrough’s motto, We Shall Be, and will celebrate the future of Middlesbrough Town Hall, exploring what it means to be from Middlesbrough, celebrating Middlesbrough’s rich cultural identity and how the Town Hall acts as a beacon for all things culture in the Town. Told in Southpaw’s distinctive narrative style, the performance will highlight the history of the building and lead audiences into previously unknown areas, such as the cells and courtroom, culminating in a large-scale mass movement finale, with projection mapping and text derived from conversations with Middlesbrough residents and participants in the show.

Tickets are free but must be booked for each person attending. Please note Erimus is a promenade performance. The audience is required to move around different parts of the building during the show and is therefore not suitable for small children. The organisers strongly advise anyone attending in a wheelchair or with mobility issues to book a place for a companion to accompany them (if possible)

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Whitley Bay Carnival

Saturday 25 May 2018 from 11am

Whitley Bay

The BIG Carnival Parade Saturday 26 May 11.00 – 12.00
Promenaders will be gathering outside the Whitley Bay Metro from 10.30am
The Carnival parade will set off at 11.00 through the town via Station Road, Whitley Road, Park View, Marine Drive and onto the Links to the Helipad area ending at the War Memorial for 12.00
Each group will take a bow then Whitley Women will perform ‘In numbers too big to ignore’

Whitley Bay Carnival brings local and international artists together with the community to showcase the best of the seaside town. The 5th Whitley Bay Carnival will be BIG - opening the summer seaside season with a full day of live music, street theatre, circus, art markets, street food, stalls & everything good about the big outdoors. The BIG carnival parade will leave Whitley Bay Metro station at 11am and arrive at the seafront via the town by 12 noon.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

The Proper Food and Drink Festival

Saturday 26 – Monday 28 May 2018, 10am – 5pm

Bents Park, South Shields

A massive celebration of food and drink, bringing together the community for a social eating experience which has never been seen before in the North East. They’ll also be trying to break loads of records.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Fun Flags

Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 May 2018, 1pm- 3pm 

Palace Green Library, Durham City 

Design your own battalion flag to remember your visit to the DLI Collection Gallery.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Reach for the Beach

Monday 28 - Sunday 3 June

Durham Heritage Coast 

Durham Heritage Coast comprises over 14 kilometres of the natural, undeveloped and restored sections of the coastline of East Durham and South Sunderland. The definition of Heritage Coast covers some of the most beautiful coastline of England and Wales and forms part of the family of protected landscapes that includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Check out the full programme of outdoor coastal events running during Whit Week with themed guided walks, beach cleans, rock-pooling, bug hunts, photography sessions, Seaham Marina Fun Day and more. Full Reach for the Beach programme here

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Meccano Magic

Sunday 27 & Monday 28 May 2018, 10am - 4pm

Locomotion: National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham 

Inspire your inner creative with fantastic displays of static, mechanised and remote-controlled Meccano models. The North East Meccano Society presents a day of model delights, with displays and activities for Meccano fans young and old. Children can get hands-on in a special activity area, where they can use their creativity to learn more about construction and engineering.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Tremendous Tuesdays

Tuesday 29 May 2018, 11am – 3pm

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

Family activities inspired by the museum's stories. Join in with activities and crafts, inspired by the objects and stories within the galleries, exhibitions and collections. Using collage and colouring materials design a banner, in the style of the mining banners on display in the King Coal exhibition, to promote your own group or something you support. Bring your designs and ideas back to help make their full-sized banner on the 24 and 31 July. Free, but a donation is welcome. No booking required. 

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Victorian Playground: Half Term Fun

29 May 2018 - 1 June 2018 10am - 4pm 

St Marys Heritage Centre, Gateshead

Bring the kids to St Mary's for some good old fashioned family fun! We have a range of Victorian toys and games for you to try. Have a go with a yo-yo, cup and ball or a spinning top, see what you can create with a thaumatrope or try your luck with skittles and dominoes. Activities are available all day, just drop in. Refreshments also available.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Discovery Days – Our favourite things

Tuesday 29 May & Thursday 31 May 2018, Drop-in between 11am - 3pm  

Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne

Half term drop-in activities inspired by our amazing exhibitions and collections, with a mixture of free and charged for activities.

With activities linked to Turbinia, The Challenger 2 tank, The Enigma Machine, Victorian inventors and much more, there will be something for everyone.

Possible activities may include:
• Art Bots
• Code wheels
• Magic picture frames
• Animated toys
• Victorian toys
During these sessions, they’ll be using lots of everyday materials to encourage invention and innovation through craft and play.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Crafty Romans 2018 - dream-catchers and flower sun-catchers

Wednesday 30 May 2018, 11am – 3pm

Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields

Creative family activities inspired by the fort's past. Get creative and join activities and crafts inspired by our heritage as a Roman Fort and the people who made it their home for almost 2,000 years. Taking inspiration from our recent Roman wildflower meadow planting, make your own sun-catcher or dream-catcher from paper plates and other materials in the Garden Room. 

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Make & Take Thursday

Thursday 31 May 11am-3pm

Stephenson Museum, North Tyneside

With George Stephenson’s birthday on 9 June and the imminent return to Tyneside of his famous engine Rocket, the Stephenson Museum is inviting you to celebrate the achievements of George and Robert Stephenson. Visitors will be able to create their own High Level Bridge pop up pictures and construct mini cork locomotive models like their very own ‘Billy’ engine. 

So, make Thursdays a Stephenson day. Bring your youngsters down to the Museum on Thursday during the half term holidays where they can try their hand at our craft activities, explore the Museum's collection, and take a heritage train ride (additional charge applies). Suitable for 3-7year-olds.

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Stockton Stages – Music & Comedy Festival

Wednesday 30 May to Saturday 2 June 

Stockton High Street, Tees Valley

As part of the Stockton Stages Festival, there is FREE town centre entertainment for all the family on Friday, plus a full day of FREE live music and comedy on Saturday, all on Stockton high street! 


Friday 1 June 2pm – 7pm

Join Apollo Arts, Matty’s Bistro, Urban Kaos and The Wildcats of Kilkenny in a crescendo of family activity and entertainment guaranteed to start the weekend off with a smile.

  • 2.00pm – 4pm. Join the artists and creative team of Apollo Arts as we fill the space with arty, messy, slimy, crafty, circussy, musicking workshops. Get involved as they help you to create a backdrop, drumming group and more for the afternoon’s finale! Try your hand at circus skills or join Matty’s Bistro and learn to prepare some healthy summertime street food. Loads more and all complemented with a live platform for some of Stockton’s youngest musicians to show what they can do!!!
  • 4pm – 5pm – Urban Kaos create the ultimate family disco. All the songs and actions that make Summer holiday nights fly by – right in the heart of town. And learn a dance for the afternoon finale! The Grooviest party in Stockton!
  • 5.30 – 6:45pm – The Wildcats of Kilkenny Family Knees Up! Completely synonymous with festivals and events in their beloved Stockton-on-Tees, we present the Wildcats live and loud in your high street. Not just for the children – we are pretty sure that this is going to go down in high street history as the lads jig and bounce you into the weekend. And – just because it is Stockton Stages, enjoy the biggest participatory finale Mike and the lads have ever tried. Choirs, drummers, brass, dancers… this is going to be Stockton at it’s very finest!


Saturday 10:30 - 15:00 2 June

Some of the best comedy acts from the National comedy circuit will be doing their funny thing for families in Stockton. But without the rude bits! Join Howard Read (of Little Howard of CBBC fame, The Slammer), Paul Duncan McGarrity (an actual funny archaeologist!!!), Chris Betts (he’s got a beard!) and our favourite family comedy compere Mr Tiernan Douieb!

Free May Half-Term Family Fun in North East England

Enjoy the holidays!

Deb x

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