From glow-in-the-dark jelly to pyjama parties, there is a feast of family-friendly things to do during the Museums at Night festival this weekend.
The annual event, which this year runs from May 18-20, sees hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites across the UK opening their doors after hours for special nocturnal goings-on.
The idea? To see some of the country’s cultural tourist spots in a whole new light and introduce visitors to more quirky destinations.
Organised by Culture24, a not-for-profit arts outfit, this year’s kid-centred events range from torch lit tours to a Doctor Who night and spooky ghost hunts.
Here is our top 10 of Museums at Night’s best family-friendly things to do:
Doctor Who Adventure Family Sleepover, The John Rylands Library, Manchester
Watch two fab Doctor Who episodes, make your own Journal of Impossible Things, take a torch lit tour of the library, solve the mystery of the missing TARDIS and – if you’re brave enough – sleep in the historic Reading Room. Come dressed as your favourite Doctor Who character: there are prizes for the best togs. Children (ideal age 8-14) must be accompanied by an adult; picnic area available and Café open early the next morning for breakfast.
The John Rylands Library, Fri 18-Sat 19 May, 5pm-9am, free entry, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH, booking essential on 0161 306 0555 or The John Rylands Library - Events
A Magical Storytelling Evening, Petworth House, West Sussex
Creep through this ancient manor house after hours, hiking up staircases, sneaking through underground tunnels, climbing through picture frames and meeting colourful characters in a storytelling extravaganza.
Suitable for 7-13-year-olds. Petworth House, Fri 18 May, 5-7.30pm, £7.50 per child, £5 per accompanying adult, light refreshments included, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AE, booking essential on 01798 342207
A Spooktacular Evening, North Lincolnshire Museum, Scunthorpe
Explore the Museum’s eerie WWII air raid shelter, Victorian cottage and steel gallery to see who comes to life at night… Includes glow-in-the-dark fun, the chance to touch some of the fascinating exhibits, learn about gadgets of the past and take part in a special night trail quiz.
Suitable for everyone aged 7+ North Lincolnshire Museum, Fri 18 May, 5-8pm, free entry, Oswald Road, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, DN15 7BD, for details call 01724 843533
A Night in the Museum, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent
Go on a spooky ghost tour, see rocket firing, follow a ‘hunt the parrot’ trail, try rope-making, complete a quiz and see a sunset ceremony to round things off at this award-winning maritime museum.
Suitable for children aged 8+ The Historic Dockyard, Sat 19-Sun 20 May, 7.30pm-9am, £25 per person including supper, refreshments and breakfast, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TZ, booking essential on 01634 823845 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
[Related article: Why one mum reckons taking kids out of school for holidays is a good thing]
An Atomic Evening, Caithness Horizons, Thurso, Caithness
Celebrate the opening of the museum’s new exhibition on the history of the old Dounreay nuclear plant by making glow-in-the-dark jelly, quaffing radioactive punch and making your own nuclear survival kit. Suitable for children aged 5-10.
Caithness Horizons, Fri 18 May, 6-8pm, £2 suggested donation, Old Town Hall, High Street, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8AJ, for details see www.caithnesshorizons.co.uk or call 01847 896508
An Evening of Victorian Entertainment, Cromer Museum, Norfolk
Witness daring stunts, escapology and fire-breathing with Rollo the Victorian entertainer, enjoy a 130-year-old magic lantern show, meet Cromer characters from the past, try on old costumes and learn traditional cottage crafts at this drop-in evening for all the family.
Cromer Museum, Sat 19 May, 4-9pm, free, East Cottages, Tucker Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9HB, for details call 01263 513543 or see www.victoriannightsnorthnorfolk.com
Animation Twilight Night, National Media Museum, Bradford
Learn how to animate and edit your very own film then sit back and enjoy a popcorn-fuelled private screening in the mini cinema. For children aged 7-13.
National Media Museum, Fri 18 May, 6.30-10.30pm, £10 per person, Princes Way, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ, to book call 0844 856 3797 or see National Media Museum/Families
Candlelit Family Fun Night, Black Country Living Museum, Dudley
Enjoy the museum at dusk, lit by candlelight and gas and teeming with musical entertainers, street performers, choirs singing in the chapel and brass bands in the Workers’ Institute. Then join in with circus skill games, animal balloon making and face painting – plus tuck into tasty traditional food and drink. For all ages.
Black Country Living Museum, Sat 19 May, 6.30-10pm, £7.50 adults, £4 5-16-year-olds, £6 conc, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4SQ, booking essential on 0121 520 8054 or www.bclmbookings.co.uk
Family Fun After Dark, National Army Museum, Chelsea, London
Find out if it’s true that the exhibits come to life after the doors are locked, help a lost and lonely painting find its way back to the gallery, hear soldiers’ storytelling, watch out for mysterious characters and learn what happens in the museum at night. For all ages.
National Army Museum, Sat 19 May, 6-9pm, £5 per child (must be accompanied by an adult), Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HT, see National Army Museum
Pyjama Party, Museum of Childhood & Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire
Bring your slippers, teddy and favourite bedtime story for this pyjama party where you’ll meet storybook characters who tell tall tales. Teddy Bears’ picnic available from 5-6pm with prior booking. For all ages.
The Museum of Childhood, Fri 18 May, 4-7.30pm, free for National Trust members or £4.20 children, £8 adults, Sudbury Hall, Sudbury, Derbyshire, DE6 5HT, book on 01283 585337 or see Sudbery Hall and the Museum of Childhood
For more Museums at Night events country-wide go to Museums at Night 2012