School might be out for the week, but that doesn’t have to mean learning has to be too. Our pick of fun family half term activities in the UAE has something for kids and teens of all ages, to keep them both entertained and edified over the (much-needed!) mid-term break…
BE A MAKER RACER AT THE OLIOLI GRAND PRIX…
Kids can flex their creative and engineering muscles as they build, test, fail, learn and rebuild cars to race at the OliOli Grand Prix, a unique maker-racer event being held at immersive-play children’s museum OliOli in Al Quoz.
Designed for kids aged five and above, this festival of making, unmaking and remaking cars promises to encourage design thinking, hands-on learning, family bonding, STEAM skills, and interactive pedagogy, while also offering a range of exciting prizes for participants and winners. Before and afterwards children can also enjoy the museum’s many other STEAM-inspired learning and play galleries, which teach kids about the forces of physics, the power of creativity and the value of perseverance through a range of immersive and interactive activations.
DETAILS: Running 7 – 23 October 2021, suitable for children aged five years and older, entry tickets to Oli Oli include access to the Grand Prix and cost Dh126 for one child and one adults, www.olioli.ae.
GO BACK IN TIME WITH ‘HORRIBLE HISTORIES LIVE’…
Have a history lesson with a difference at this live-action show of the much-loved Horrible Histories franchise, performed by professional actors from London’s West End.
A fun mixture of education, sketch comedy, and music, it offers an irreverent but accurate portrayal of key moments in British history from Boudicca to Henry VIII to Guy Fawkes, with a kid-delighting focus on the more grotesque, gory or scatological aspects.
Having been postponed from its original performance date in February, the new dates align perfectly to kick off the half term with some light-hearted learning that is sure to make kids see history as something fun and unforgettable.
DETAILS: Running 14 – 16 October at Theatre by QE2, various times available, tickets from Dh120, www.theatrebyqe2.com.
BE INSPIRED AT EXPO2020…
The world’s greatest show is here on our doorstep and the mid-term break is a perfect opportunity to take the kids to explore the incredible country pavilions, futuristic exhibits and amazing interactive multimedia experiences that are on offer.
There’s something for every member of the family, including mascot appearances, parades, live music, food trucks and roving entertainment for the little ones, as well as one-off events happening daily. It’s the chance for children to really engage with and be proud of something truly unique, historical and spectacular, happening in the country they call home. See the full calendar of events.
DETAILS: Children below 18 free, Dh95 for adults, discounts and packages available, www.expo2020dubai.com.
SOAK UP STORIES AT THE HOUSE OF WISDOM SHARJAH…
The House of Wisdom is Sharjah’s newest cultural hub, commissioned in honour of the Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 title awarded by UNESCO. Part-library, part-cultural centre, and part play space for all ages, its vast premises boasts dramatic modern architecture, peppered with indoor and outdoor nooks to spark to the imagination and get ideas flowing.
Featuring a dedicated Little Readers section, a Japanese garden, children’s playground, design technology lab, reflective pool, cactus garden and the breath-taking The Scroll sculpture, there is plenty to keep kids occupied and stimulated all week long. Throughout half term there are a series of Storytelling sessions for younger kids, while teens might enjoy the Resin Casting Basics workshop on 17 October (ages 15+, Dh50); the Fabrication Lab Open House (ages 10+, free) on 21 October; or the Photo Scavenger Hunt (ages 12+, free) on 22 October, where children will be given a Polaroid camera to help them solve riddles in return for the chance to win prizes.
DETAILS: Entrance and most workshops are free (membership only required if you want to take books out), opening hours 9am – 11pm weekdays and 9am – 12am weekends, www.houseofwisdom.ae
REACH FOR THE STARS AT MADAME TUSSAUDS DUBAI…
If your tween or teen is celebrity and social media obsessed, try dragging them away from their phones for a few hours and into the real (waxwork) world of the all-new Madame Tussauds Dubai, after it opens on 14 October in Bluewaters, Dubai.
Featuring iconic leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II of England, as well as music, movie and fashion stars like Justin Bieber, Shah Rukh Khan, Kylie Jenner and Cara Delevingne, there are 60 global celebrities to be inspired by during a ‘meet and greet’, as well as selfie opportunities aplenty.
DETAILS: Opening October 14, from 12pm – 8pm weekdays and from 10am weekends, Dh122 adults, Dh99 children aged 3-11 years, www.madametussauds.com/dubai.
BECOME A MARINE BIOLOGIST AT AQUAVENTURE…
From meeting starfish and sea cucumbers to feeding new born sharks and rays, the Marine Biologist Programmes at Aquaventure water park in Atlantis give children and teens of all ages the chance to learn all about sea creature care and ocean conservation.
The behind-the-scenes tours allow youngsters to experience first-hand what happens at the Aquaventure fish hospital, pharmacy and laboratory as the team looks after more than 65,000 marine animals around the clock.
DETAILS: Marine Biologist programmes are split into three age groups suitable for 3 to 16 year olds, prices from Dh275 for non-resort guests, www.atlantis.com https://www.atlantis.com/dubai/atlantis-aquaventure/educational-programmes
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN MONET AT TODA…
Teaching children to appreciate great art suddenly got a whole lot easier with The Theatre of Digital Art’s (ToDA) fully immersive and interactive art, culture and science experiences.
Spread across 1,800 sqm at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the theatre-cum-museum combines advanced technology with traditional storytelling and spectacle to offer an inspiring and entertaining experiences for adults and children alike. There is a dedicated section for younger ones, which features virtual reality experiences and multi-dimensional spaces with secret passages and portals to magical worlds. Current exhibitions include ‘Klimt and The Impressionists’; ‘Being Van Gogh’ and ‘From Monet to Kandinsky: Revolutionary Art’.
DETAILS: Open daily 12pm to 10pm. Dh75 for adults, Dh45 for children, under-3s free, Toda.ae.
BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS AT AIN DUBAI…
The world’s largest observation wheel is finally open and operating, making half term the perfect opportunity to treat the kids to the spectacular experience of seeing their hometown from an entirely new perspective.
The almost 40-minute journey offers 360-degree panoramas of the city and all its iconic landmarks from 250m in the air.
DETAILS: Dh130 for adults aged 13 upwards, Dh100 for children aged 3-12 for a shared observation cabin at non-peak hours, www.aindubai.com.
TURN JUNGLE EXPLORER IN THE RAINFOREST…
Kids of all ages will love gawping at macaws, marvelling at monkeys, smiling at sleepy sloths and even stroking slithery snakes at the region’s only indoor rainforest, The Green Planet, in City Walk Dubai.
The vertical biodome features more than 3,000 different plants and animals, including sugar gliders, bearcats and slow loris, all of which are introduced and explained to visitors by the knowledgeable guides. Fancy snorkelling with piranhas? That can be arranged – or plan your trip around the indoor thunderstorms, which see tropical rain, thunder and lightning shaking the jungle every day at 1pm and 5pm.
DETAILS: From Dh89 when booked online, Thegreenplanet.ae.
EXPRESS YOURSELF AT THE LOUVRE’S CHILDREN’S MUSEUM…
Children are invited to become masters of their emotions at Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Children’s Museum’s latest exhibit, Emotions!: The New Art Adventure.
Spread across three floors and aimed at kids aged four to 10 years, this interactive adventure features 10 artworks and four interactive stations that explore the emotions of joy, sadness, fear and anger through a combination of education and entertainment.
DETAILS: The Louvre Abu Dhabi and its Children’s Museum is free to all children below the age of 18. Adult entry to the Louvre is Dh60 (Dh30 for teachers), or family packages can be bought for Dh100, www.louvreabudhabi.ae.
And, last but not least… Happy holidays!
Notes for Parents.
Do you have an event that you think should be shared to help other parents – whether at half term or in the year ahead? Have you experienced something in the UAE that you think deserves acclaim? Do you run a parent’s group that could be of help to other families? Email me at tabitha[email protected] and we will endeavour to cover it in future articles. Watch this space!
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