{Edinburgh} Free Half Term Activities – February 2024

The February half-term school holidays are about to start here in Edinburgh, and as always we are on the look out for things to do with the kids that won’t break the bank. I’ve pulled together a bunch of free events I found happening over the next week, along with some of our other favourite places we like to hang out and a couple of day trip recommendations, to give you my ultimate guide for the February half-term holidays!

Please note: the information is to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing, but please double check details with the venues directly before travelling!

Special Events

These are some free events I found that are happening in Edinburgh over the February half-term break:

A Walk through Edinburgh’s Ancient Woodlands

Sat 10 Feb, 10am – 12 noon

Family guided environment walk at Hermitage of Braid to accompany the exhibition ‘Deep Rooted’ (showing at the City Art Centre until Sun 25 Feb). No need to book just meet at the cafe at the Hermitage of Braid.

More info on the Museums & Galleries Edinburgh website.

Lion Dance Performance at St James Quarter 

Sat 10 Feb at 12pm & 1pm

To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, Lion dancers will make their way along Level 1 and up to Register Square. They will also surprise some guests with red envelope giveaways, a traditional Chinese New Year custom that symbolises good wishes and luck for the year ahead.

More info on the St James Quarter website

Chinese/ Lunar New Year Activities at St Cecilia’s Hall

  • Craft Sessions: Make and decorate your own dragon mask; Sat 10 & Sat 17 Feb, 10am to 4:30pm, drop-in >> more info
  • Family Trail: Help Cecilia the dragon find her eggs around the museum; Sat 10 & Tues 13 – Sat 17 Feb, 10am – 4:30pm, drop-in >> more info

Ikea Edinburgh Events

  • Jungle Safari Quest, Sat 10 – Sun 18 Feb, drop-in
  • Chinese New Year Crafts, Sat 10 Feb, drop-in
  • Decorate a Treat Jar, Sun 11 & Weds 14 Feb, registration required (Ikea Family members only)
  • Valentine’s Day Crafts, Mon 12 Feb, drop-in
  • Let’s Get Crafty, Thurs 15, Sat 17 & Sun 18 Feb, drop-in

Details of all events can be found on the Ikea Edinburgh website.

Pets at Home Workshops

The My Pet Pals winter workshops will be running in Pets at Home stores from Sat 10 to Sun 25 Feb. You can learn how to take care of small animals and the birds in the garden from their lovely pet experts. Kids will receive an activity sheet and a certificate as well as meeting some amazing animals. Duration: 30 minutes.

Available in Edinburgh in the the Corstorphine, Craigleith, Pentland and Fort Kinnaird Stores. Book your free spot via the Pets at Home website.

Wild About Wildlife at the National Museum of Scotland

Learn more about wildlife at the museum this half term.

  • Rewilding Trail, Mon 12 – Sun 18 Feb, 10am – 4pm, drop-in: Explore the galleries and learn more about the objects on display. Pick up a copy from an Information Desk or download the trail.
  • Object Encounters, Wed 14 – Fri 16 Feb, 11am – 3pm, drop-in: Learn fascinating wildlife facts at the Object Encounter Station through objects from the museum’s animal collections.

More information on the Museum of Scotland website.

‘All Eyes on Earth’ Free Family Activities at Dynamic Earth

Sat 10 – Sun 18 Feb, 10am – 4pm

A programme of 9 different activities running across the February half-term: test your reactions with marine tagging reaction timers, get crafty by making paper satellites, and even spot Dynamic Earth itself, as seen from space! Drop-in any time between 10am and 4pm.

Check out the rest of their half-term holiday programme too, including a free mini exhibition, Meet the Astronomer Q&A talks, a selection of paid workshops, and of course tickets to Dynamic Earth itself. More info on the Dynamic Earth website.

The Wee Hub Valentine Party

Thurs 15 Feb, 1:30pm – 2:15pm

Music, dance, storytelling and card making at The Wee Play Hub at Ocean Terminal. Ideal for under 5s. All Welcome. More info on The Wee Hub’s Facebook page.

Climate Change for Kids: Rising Heat, Raising Hope at the National Museum of Scotland

Sat 17 Feb, 10:15am – 12:45pm & 1:30pm – 4pm

At this half-day drop-in event for families, adults and children can learn more about climate change and the impact it might have on life in the future. Includes short filming screening, visit to the ‘Rising Tide’ exhibition, and an art workshop. More info on the National Museum of Scotland website.

German Board Games Meetup

For any German speakers, the next German language Board Games Meetup takes place on Sun 18 Feb from 3pm at the German Church in Marchmont. Suitable for both children and adults, though recommended for age 8 and above due to the level of games played. You don’t need to be a member of the church to attend, and don’t worry if you are not a fluent native speaker, German speakers of all language levels are warmly welcomed. More info via Facebook (Full Disclosure: I’m one of the hosts!).

Other Free Activities

As well as the special events, there are also plenty of other free activities to do around Edinburgh over the February half-term break. Here are some of our favourites:

National Galleries of Scotland

Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Free family trails, art trolley and sensory bags at the National; Free family trails, sensory walks and ‘Art Space 2’ activity room at the Modern; Free family trail and art trolley at the Portrait. Find out more on the Galleries website or read our previous reviews about Art Space 2 and The National with Kids.

Museum on the Mound

Open 10-5pm Tuesdays to Fridays, and 1-5pm Saturdays. Learn about the (hi)story of banking and money, with lots of hands-on activities scattered throughout the galleries. Find out more in our Museum on the Mound review.

Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage

Reopening after their Winter break on Tues 13 Feb, just in time for half-term! Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 4pm. The museum tells the story of Scottish firefighting from its inception to the present day. Touch screens with photos, interviews, and film footage let you delve deeper, and there are a few digital interactives, a wee trail, and some dressing up too. Find out more in our Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage review.

Museum of Childhood

Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Plenty of hands-on activities to keep kids busy, including games, dressing up and a story corner. Can be combined with a visit to the Scottish Storytelling Centre across from it, which has a nice cafe including a Story Wall that kids can play with.

Museum of Edinburgh

Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Free family activity area packed full of art materials and worksheets relating to the galleries, as well as a reading corner and some replica objects you can explore. Find out more in our Museum of Edinburgh review.

City Art Centre

Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Free ‘ArtSpace’ family activity area packed full of art materials and worksheets relating to the relevant exhibitions. Find out more in our City Art Centre review.

Water of Leith Visitor Centre

Open daily, 10am – 4pm. Cafe and interactive exhibition about nature and waterways, with including water play activities. Find out more in our Water of Leith Visitor Centre review.

Scottish Parliament

Update: The Scottish Parliament will be in recess Saturday 10th to Sunday 18th February, and the building will closed. It reopens on Monday 19th February. I did check before publishing this post, but they must have updated their website just after.

Maybe an unusual choice, but the Scottish Parliament is worth a visit, we had a great day out there with our boys. Find our more in our Scottish Parliament review.

Edinburgh City Libraries

Open Mondays to Saturdays, times vary. The Central Library has a dedicated Children’s Library with reading rooms and an art room. Most of the other Edinburgh City Libraries also have children’s sections, as well as regular family events and activities, including weekly Bookbug sessions, board game meet-ups, arts & crafts afternoons, Lego clubs, and family story time. Find out more about each library on the Edinburgh Libraries map.

Favourite Outdoor Spaces

As they say in Scotland, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Here are some suggestions of places to head for some fresh air over the holidays. Don’t forget to bring a flask of something hot (hot chocolate, tea, soup) to have along the way.

Hermitage of Braid

Take a walk through the woods, explore the various side paths, play Pooh Sticks at the bridges, or download our free Murder Mystery Trail!

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

We love the ‘Botanics’ in all seasons. Opening times in February are 10am – 5pm (last entry 4.15pm). Keep your eye on their social media channels for additional closures due to severe weather warnings.

Lauriston Castle Grounds

The grounds are open daily from 8am until 4pm, and are a popular spot for walks. Though keep your eye on the Lauriston Castle Facebook page for closures to the grounds due to severe weather warnings (e.g. they are closed on Fri 9 Feb, due to re-open on Saturday morning after a safety check).

Parks & Playgrounds 

Edinburgh has no shortage of parks and playgrounds across the city, for when you want to go out with the kids to burn off some energy over the holidays. Tip: Bring a towel to wipe down any wet play equipment!

Check out our A to Z map of playgrounds in Edinburgh for inspiration on which ones to visit next. Our favourites include East Meadows Playpark, Saughton Park, Leith Links Playpark, Victoria Park, and Seven Acre Park.

Or grab a bag of bird seed and visit one of the many spots across the city where you can feed ducks, swans and other birds. Our favourite spots include Blackford Pond, Easter Craiglockhart Nature Reserve, Inverleith Park, and Duddingston Loch & St Margaret’s Loch in Holyrood Park.

Winter Beach Walk

You may associate beaches with sun bathing and paddling, sandcastles and ice cream, but we love a good beach walk at any time of year, including in Winter. We love our local Cramond and Portobello beaches, which you can visit by bus within Edinburgh, and there’s also plenty other beaches within reach that you get to within 30 – 45 minutes by train. Our favourites include Dunbar, North Berwick and Longniddry in East Lothian; and Aberdour and Kinghorn in Fife.

Low Cost Day Trips

These day trip destinations are all reachable by public transport from Edinburgh, and most of them will only cost you a train ticket, and if you buy your tickets in a person at a ticket desk you can ask for ‘Kids for a Quid‘ which will help to keep costs down even more.

Summerlee Museum, Coatbridge

Open daily 10am – 4pm. Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life is a great interactive day out, with both indoor displays and an outdoor open air site to explore, as well as a fantastic playground. Find out more in our Summerlee Museum review. From Sat 10 Feb to Weds 14 Feb there is also the Summerlee Science Festival talking place on site, with lots of free activities to choose from. Find out more on the Summerlee Facebook page. Plus get 10% off in their sweetie shop if you travel there car free, just show your valid bus or train ticket.

Callendar House & Park, Falkirk

The house is open Wednesday to Mondays, 10am – 5pm. The park is open any time. The park includes a Roman themed playground, and an activity trail. The house has Roman dressing up, some interactive displays, and a nice tea room. Find out more in our Callendar House review.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Open 10am – 5pm Mondays to Thursdays & Saturdays, and 11am – 5pm Fridays & Sundays. Glasgow’s museum of transport has plenty of you can step aboard or sit inside, some model and replica vehicles for children to play in, a replica street with shops to explore, a family trail and lots more. Berthed next to it is the Tall Ship Glenlee, which you can also explore. Find out more in our Riverside Museum review.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

Open 10am – 5pm Mondays to Thursdays & Saturdays, and 11am – 5pm Fridays & Sundays. The “museum of everything” as my boys like to call it, covers art, natural history, Ancient Egypt, history, World Cultures and more! There are several interactive galleries for families to play and explore. Find out more in our Kelvingrove Museum review.

Weehailes Adventure Playpark, Musselburgh

February opening hours are 11am to 4pm. Weehailes is a fantastic adventure play park designed for children aged 3-12, though children ages 0-15 are admitted and there is a section specifically for the very little ones. Whilst not fee, admission is reasonable: Adults £1, Children £3, under 3s go free. Find out more in our Weehailes review.

Dundee Science Centre

Standard opening times are Wednesdays 11am -1:30pm and Weekends 10am – 12:30pm & 1pm – 3:30pm. During Dundee Science Festival (12 – 25 February), they are open every day. Admission is not free, but at £6.50 for adults and £5 for kids, it’s one of the most reasonably priced science centres we’ve ever isited.

Please note, this is not a definitive list. If you know of any other great free events in Edinburgh this Autumn, just leave a comment or send me a message and I’ll add them in. Also, the information is to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing, but please double check details with the venues directly before travelling!

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