What’s on this May in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight

April 5, 2024

mother and son doing archery

What’s on this May in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight… thrills, fun, and family adventures galore! From dazzling science shows to immersive historical experiences to outdoor explorations, there’s something to spark joy for all ages. Keep reading for a full guide to May events, exhibitions, and May half-term happenings that will make this month unforgettable.

Throughout May

Get ready to dive into excitement at Clarence Pier this May! With thrilling rides open until 9pm on select days, there’s non-stop fun for everyone. Coasters, log flumes and nauseating spinning rides will have the whole family entertained! Book online for discounts and a free date change for peace of mind! 

Love + Colour: Step into Birdworld’s brand-new indoor attraction, where love and colour combine to create an unforgettable experience! Learn about the remarkable breeding programmes through immersive and interactive play. Be surrounded by a mesmerizing array of colourful birds, and journey through an enchanting ‘walk-through’ experience. 

Whether you’re looking to embrace the spring sunshine and Walk the Wight, or soak up Bank Holiday entertainment at Cowes Fringe, the Isle of Wight is jam-packed with brilliant things to do just a one-hour ferry from Southampton. Check out Red Funnel’s event pages for inspiration and travel offers.

This May come and explore underwater secrets at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Meet creatures of the deep and see the modern scientific missions of today’s Royal Navy at the World Beneath the Waves exhibition or help raise the Mary Rose from the bed of the Solent in our immersive Dive 4D cinema experience. 

Join Paultons Park for the opening of their new ride, Splash Lagoon! The new family flume ride is opening on 18th May, ready for half term, in the Jurassic-themed world of Lost Kingdom. With lots of dinosaurs to spot along the way, you will have the BEST. DAY. EVER!

two kids jumping in front of a FIESTA sign in a field
Winchester Science Centre

Calling all science spies and curious kids, head to Winchester Science Centre for Mysteries & Mayhem. Join the Science Spy School show and watch as light uncovers the secrets of the mystery safe. Plus, put your forensic skills to the test in an indoor and outdoor hide-and-seek activity trail.

Have fun exploring the wonders of the natural world at Gilbert White’s House & Garden’s Nature Day on the 12th May. A Family Fun day where we are joined by nature and conservation organisations for a day packed with family-friendly activities, crafts and workshops.

Make May one to remember with an Action Adventure Experience at Calshot Activities Centre. Race down the Slope in ringos, scale the Take Off wall, or complete an obstacle courses six metres in the air. Or enjoy the soothing waters of the Lagoon as you set sail on the Solent.

The Brickwork’s Museum is celebrating May with vintage buses, fun dog show, live music, stalls including beekeepers and spinners. Enjoy the brick making machinery in steam, vintage arcade machines and the fascinating history of bricks and the people who made them. 

For the ultimate outdoor activity, look no further than Laser Squad, tactical games played out in the beautiful woodland setting of Queen Elizabeth Country Park bring people together, whether friends, family or workmates. There’s a packed schedule this May and throughout the summer including both Bank Holiday Mondays.

Summer has arrived at the Hawk Conservancy Trust! Soar on over for their jam-packed daily timetable of flying displays, activities, talks and trails that will keep you and the kids entertained and inspired all day long – all included in the price of your entry!

Visit Royal Victoria Country Park on 12 May and explore hundreds of stalls selling new and used boating and fishing equipment at the Solent Boat Jumble. Or, feast on the best of Hampshire’s street food at The Big Eat, a three-day food festival from 25 to 27 May.

Treat your family to a fun-filled day out this May! With bowling, mini-golf, shuffleboard, AR-Darts, and exciting arcades, there’s endless fun for kids and parents alike. Watch your children’s joy soar as they compete and win prizes in Riverside Bowl’s lively and vibrant venue!

Discover kid’s history-inspired events at Aldershot Military Museum! From board games to lawn games, gardening and planting to practicing military drills, there’s so much to see, do and discover for all. All included in admission! Please see website for full programme schedule.

Exhibitions and shows

A new exhibition at Fort Nelson, D-Day 80: A Portsmouth Story, will open on 24 May in time for half term. It will feature the stories of people with a local connection to Portsmouth recalling their memories of the planning of D-Day, the day itself and the aftermath in the city.

See Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic ‘Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book’ live on stage at New Theatre Royal Portsmouth on 8 and 9th May. Delve into a range of books with Charlie Cook, brought to life with puppetry and enchanting songs, and perhaps you will be able to help his sister discover the wonderful world inside a book. Aimed at ages 3-8.

Star wars characters on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall
Comic Con

Portsmouth Comic Con, the largest family-friendly Comic Con of its kind returns to bring you the best in comic, film, TV and pop culture entertainment with special features for 2024 including a Strangely Marvelous Wizarding Walk-Through, Jurassic and Star Wars Experiences and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Ghostbusters! See it at Portsmouth Guildhall on Sat 11th – Sun 12th May. 

Theatre Royal Winchester is bursting with magic – from Morgan and West (5 May) to High Jinx (26 May), packed with mind-boggling illusions and heart-stopping circus stunts. Audiences can choose how much they want to pay with two Pick Your Price shows – Jack’s Ashes (1 May) and Austen’s Women: Lady Susan (2 May). Plus, Winchester Musicals and Opera Society are back – with Priscilla Queen of the Desert (22 – 25 May).

At MAST Mayflower Studios this May, visit The School For Scandal, staring The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s very own Joseph Marcell, where gossip never goes out of fashion (8 – 11 May). Get ready to sing and dance the night away with Disco Inferno (16 May). Magic, escapology, and a Who dun it, Houdini’s Greatest Escape is a comedy thriller, bound to keep you laughing and testing your detective skills at the same time (17 – 18 May). Finally, don’t miss the first UK tour of The Lion Inside, a bestselling story about confidence, self-esteem, and a shy little mouse who sets out on a journey to find his roar (29 May – 1 June).

May Half Term events and activities

Join Thomas & Friends for a day of family fun with a Day out With Thomas at The Watercress Line between 25th May and 2nd June. Take a ride behind Thomas, meet some of your favourite characters, and join Sodor Station Sweepers Rusty & Dusty for a trainload of excitement. Enjoy children’s fairground rides, miniature railway and much more. 

Choose from one of three themed activity packs to help you explore Mottisfont at your own pace this May half-term. Each activity booklet includes puzzles and challenges to complete while you explore, as well as a themed scene to cut out, decorate and keep.

Catch Hampshire Hawks in T20 cricketing action at Utilita Bowl on Thursday 30th May for the Blast Off Double Header. The Hawks face Surrey in the Vitality Blast’s opening fixture, which will also see reigning Women’s champions, Southern Vipers in a T20 of their own on the same day! Expect an electric atmosphere, free family-friendly activities and the best food & drink in cricket as rated by the fans, the stadium offers an unparalleled experience for spectators of all ages.

All things otter are being celebrated at New Forest Wildlife Park during half term to coincide with world otter day. Otter keyring making, pebble painting and trail are just a few things that can be discovered at the wildlife park. Don’t forget to say hi to the endangered giant otter cubs and new residents, the Scottish wildcats!

Fancy a Hover Day to the Isle of Wight? On 28th May enjoy a 10 minute flight across the Solent on the world’s only year-round scheduled passenger hovercraft service. Arrive in style on the shore at Ryde, your coach will take you for your day trip around the Island visiting Shanklin Old Village, The Needles Landmark Attraction and Yarmouth!

This May half-term, look no further than Southampton’s SeaCity Museum to keep your kids entertained. There is a host of different activities on offer including the Southampton Culture Club for Kids. Days of investigation, imagination and discovery for children aged 6 to 12 years who love being creative and learning through fun activities.

Osborne

Victoria’s Family Day Out at Osborne – Don’t miss your chance to experience a royally good day out this half-term between 28th – 30th May at Osborne on the Isle of Wight! Join Queen Victoria and her beloved Albert for old-fashioned thrills and spills on traditional fairground rides, gasp at the silly antics of the palace Jester and marvel at mesmerising illusions by skilled magicians! Enjoy live Victorian musical merriment performed by Sounds of Time throughout the day as well. Book online and save 15%.

Kids Rule! at Carisbrooke. Join English Heritage in the grounds of Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight this May Half Term for hands-on activities, characters from the past and fresh air family fun. Book online and save 15%.

Visit the Army Flying Museum during half term for Second World War themed craft activities to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. There’s also model making with Models for Heroes on Sunday 26th and Tuesday 28th May. Plus, the chance to try out the Museum’s VR headsets on Thursday 30th May.

Make a mini Maypole at Whitchurch Silk Mill on 29 May, 11am – 1pm, £3 per child aged 3-16 yrs, 1 adult free with each paying child craft ticket. Children can make a mini version of the tall wooden Maypole that is traditionally put up during festivities, followed by lively Maypole dances.

The RLC Museum near Winchester is launching into half-term with their popular parachute-making activity. Pop into the Museum to launch your parachute. Entrance is free, and donations for the activity are welcome.

Outdoor family adventures this May

Go to the New Forest and hire bikes from Cyclexperience. Download the free GPS route app and head off onto the cycle trails with free roaming wildlife and quaint country pubs dotted throughout. With a wide range of bikes and route choices, there’s a pedalling adventure suited for all! 

Half Day Adventures at Tile Barn Outdoor Centre and Runway’s End Outdoor Centre are designed to keep children entertained and guaranteed to send them home tired and happy. So, book a trip now and spend May scaling a climbing tower, exploring an artificial cave system, or learning brilliant bushcraft skills.

Departing from Northney Marina, take a trip along the magnificent natural harbour with Hayling Boat Trips, you may even get to see the majestic seals sunbathing on the mud banks in the shallows

A great way to use up your kid’s energy in the holidays is to head out on a Text Quest together. Children love spotting the clues and adults delight in exploring their cities. A quest can be a gentle potter or an exciting mystery adventure.

New Forest Activities has some great activities for your families this May! Family Paddling – Enjoy a gentle family-friendly introduction on a guided canoe and kayak tour where you will spend time exploring the hidden creeks and waterways of the stunning Beaulieu River whilst trying to spot the varied wildlife along the way. Archery – Perfect for families and friends alike! Spend time being taught the basics before putting what you’ve learnt into practice during some fun target archery challenges (main image)! 

Check out all the amazing events taking place over May half term!

Don’t forget that you can save money this half term with Hampshire’s Top Attractions vouchers. Still looking for an idea to do this Spring? Check out our blog here.

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