Southampton May Half Term Highlights

Solent sailing, pirates walking trail, coral art exhibition, WW2 Science and Star Wars crafting – some of the city’s cultural highlights


Southampton’s May line-up makes the most of the half term and bank holiday happenings.

Highlights include:

Cruise the sights of Southampton Water on Britain’s largest working steamship – the SS Shieldhall

A member of the National Historic Fleet and a registered charity, the SS Shieldhall offers on-the-water excursions to experience the golden age of steam. This half term there’s a choice of five half-day afternoon cruises on selected dates from 28th May to 5th June.

Highlights include special musical themed sailings, with Aphrodite’s Singers joining the cruise on 29th May and the Selsey Shantymen on 4th June. While on the 3rd June, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the 110th anniversary of one of Southampton’s most famous vessels, there’s a special Titanic themed cruise. As well as taking in the sights of Southampton Water and the Solent, once onboard visitors can head below decks to admire the impressive engine room with its original steam engines at work, join the captain on the bridge and admire the traditional instruments and gleaming brass work. Prices from £38 for adults and £13.50 for children, family tickets from £90.00.

History ahoy at the Seacity Museum

More of the city’s maritime connections, including its fascinating interactive Titanic exhibition, can be explored at the SeaCity Museum (£9.50 adults, £7.00 children) The museum’s free to download self-guided Titanic walk, which retraces the city’s connections to the doomed vessel, is also a great half term option.

Coral Crisis in Art Form at ‘Bleached’ a new exhibition at God’s House Tower

This half term, Southampton’s heritage and arts attraction, God’s House Tower, is encouraging young ecologists to learn about coral reefs in a new collaborative exhibition by artists from the Vulgar Earth Collective and the Coral Reef Laboratory of the University of Southampton. Called Bleached, the immersive science meets art exhibition explores the jeopardy coral is facing and an artist response to the crisis. Visitors will be invited to contribute to the ‘calls from the reef’ wall with their thoughts, messages and poetry, as well as take part in interactive and educational activities. Friday 13th May until Sunday 5th June. Free entry

Family Old Town Walk: Pirates, Plunder & Plague: 30 May

The resident historian at Southampton’s Tudor House & Gardens will be venturing beyond the building’s 800-year-old walls this half term on a family focused walking tour that explores the hidden histories of the city’s old town. Each 90-minute tour provides a peek into vaults, and the chance to scale the town’s ancient walls while discovering tales of plunder, plague and villainy. Departing 11am and 2pm each tour cost £6 per person or £24 for families of up to 5. For tickets or for more information about the Tudor House and Gardens

Secret Science of the Second World War: 31st May

Also on at Tudor House, this half term is a family Super Science event comprising practical experiments and history based around the Second World War. From creating egg parachutes and designing gas masks to witnessing a wartime invention known to deflect bombs, each 90 minutes session is hands-on and full of fascinating facts. Best suited to 7–13-year-olds, sessions start at 10.30am or 1pm and cost £8 per child (accompanying adult free). For tickets or for more information about the Tudor House and Gardens

Feeling the creative force with Star Wars at Southampton City Art Gallery 1 June

As well as checking out one of the finest art collections in the south of England, families heading to Southampton City Art Gallery on 1st June will also have chance to feel the force and take part in a Star Wars pencil pot upcycling project. There are three one hour workshops sessions available to book at 10:15am, 11:45am and 1:30pm. Cost is £7 per child with the accompanying adult free. Entry to museum is free.

Queen’s QR Beacon Trail Treasure Hunt

Southampton is one of several UK cities taking part in a Jubilee Beacon Trail. Perfect for families, the trail involves finding seven Buckingham Palace characters who are out and about in the city. As each character is spotted, participants can scan unique QR codes to learn about a different decade in Her Majesty’s 70-year reign, then answer questions leading them onto the next clue and whereabouts of the other characters in this smart phone-led treasure hunt. The interactive game also enables participants to engage with the characters as they come to life in AR. Once all the character stamps have been collection there are digital sticker prizes to be won, with plenty of selfie opportunities with the characters on the way. For more information:

Where to stay

Room2: A heavenly self-catering hometel, is ideally located beside quiet and leafy Queens Park yet close to the marina and buzzy Oxford street – lined with restaurants and bars. Stylishly decorated, each room has an en suite shower room, fully equipped kitchenette, dishwasher, dining table, sofa, TV plus onsite laundry, bar and café area. Stays are for 24 hours with check in and check out at 2pm. Sleeping four, the L Loft is an ideal family space with prices from £180.00 per night over half term.

For news and inspiration about what’s on and what to do in the city

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