Take a look at our list of places to take the children in Essex over half-term in February 2017, including Jump Street in Colchester, Abberton Reservoir and Clacton Pier

An elephant at Colchester Zoo. By Paul Burns.

An elephant at Colchester Zoo. By Paul Burns. - Credit: citizenside.com

With half-term fast approaching it’s time to start planning how to keep your children occupied during the week-long break.

A leopard at Colchester Zoo. Photo: Paul Burns

A leopard at Colchester Zoo. Photo: Paul Burns - Credit: citizenside.com

There are plenty of activities and attractions in and around Essex to get stuck into, so there will be something to suit all ages and interests.

But to make it even easier to decide, take a look at our list below of things to see and do this half-term.

Colchester Zoo, Maldon Road, Stanway, CO3 0SL – throughout half-term

There are more than 260 species of animal in the zoo just to the south of the town, allowing children to get up close to everything from elephants to giraffes, whether they be land- or sea-dwelling creatures. There’s also the Lost Madagascar Express road train and the chance to feed some of the animals for no extra charge.

Tickets cost £17.99 for adults and £13.99 for children on the gate and can be bought here in advance, where a discount may be available.

Castle archery, Colchester Castle Museum, Castle Park, Colchester, CO1 1TJ – February 16

Colchester Castle, where children can have a go at archery this half-term. Photo: Paul Burns

Colchester Castle, where children can have a go at archery this half-term. Photo: Paul Burns - Credit: citizenside.com

The castle itself is open throughout half term, but on the Thursday there’s a chance for children to try their hand at archery. See how sharp a shooter they are as they aim for the bullseye while discovering why English bowmen were so effective.

The sessions run from 11am-noon and 2pm-3pm and cost £2 after general castle admission. Booking is required and more details can be found here.

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Den building and campfire at Fingringhoe Wick visitor centre, South Green Road, Fingringhoe, CO5 7DN – February 15

Two chances to get out and about and hands-on at the nature reserve with the Essex Wildlife Trust. Chose either the morning (10am-noon) or afternoon (1pm-3pm) session and enjoy a couple of hours building your very own den and then toasting marshmallows on an open fire.

A donation of £6 per child is requested and bookings can be made by calling 01206 729678. You can also find more details here.

Clacton Pier, No1 North Sea, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1QX – throughout half-term

Aerial shot of Clacton Pier in 2016. Photo: Contributed

Aerial shot of Clacton Pier in 2016. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

There is plenty to do on the pier, from the SeaQuarium to various rides and ten-pin bowling. Some activities will be dependent on the weather conditions though, so best to check ahead before you venture out.

For a full list of what the pier offers, along with prices and more information, see here.

Fit for Sport holiday camp, Blackwater Leisure Centre, Park Drive, Maldon, CM9 5UR – February 13-17

Everything from team games and swimming to arts and crafts each day of the week to keep children from four to 12 active during the holidays. Half days and full days available, with time for healthy drinks and snacks included too.

Various times and prices available. See here for more details and to book.

Jump Street, Mason Road, Colchester, CO1 1BX – throughout half-term

Jump Street in Colchester is ideal for a rainy, or cold, day. Photo: Simon Ballard

Jump Street in Colchester is ideal for a rainy, or cold, day. Photo: Simon Ballard - Credit: Archant

Whether you’re a trampolining pro or you just want the novelty of bouncing around a room rather than walking, Jump Street can help you out. As well as open jump sessions where you’re free to roam as you pleased there are also organised events like Jump Tots and Jump and Tone.

You can book in advance and find out more details here or turn up when you’re free. General access costs £10 per person for an hour.

Ice skating, Chelmsford Riverside, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1FG – throughout half-term

If you’re looking for something new to teach your children (as well as perhaps yourself) you could try taking them to Chelmsfords ice rink. Skate hire is included in the school holiday skate session prices and for younger children there are also supportive penguin skating aids to help them do it independently.

The cost is £7.80 (inc. skate hire) during the week, and the public skating timetable can be found here.

Rollerworld and Quasar, Eastgate Industrial Estate, Moorside, CO1 2TJ – throughout half-term

A group of skaters at Rollerworld, Colchester

A group of skaters at Rollerworld, Colchester - Credit: Archant

Two options here – skate around at your leisure, finding your feet if your a newbie or perfecting your skills if you’re a bit more seasoned. Skates and blades can be hired on the day. Alternatively (or perhaps as well) engage in a laser gun battle with your friends in the Quasar arena, and see who is the sharpest shooter.

Prices from £8.90 for skating only or a single Quasar game – more details here.

Movies for juniors, Cineworld Braintree, Charter Way, Braintree, CM77 8YH – various days

Screenings of new or recent films just for children, with several movies to choose from.

There are various times and prices, so check out the cinema’s website for full details.

Abberton Adventures, Abberton Reservoir visitor centre, Colchester, CO2 0EU – February 15

Abberton Reservoir

Abberton Reservoir - Credit: Archant

This drop-off session for 8-12 year-olds runs between 10.30am and 2.30pm, where there are a range of different activities each session. These could range from pond dipping to bug hunting to campfire cooking.

Advanced booking is essential with a £20 donation per child requested, and they will need to take a packed lunch. Find out more details and book here.

Go Bananas, Cowdray Centre, Mason Road, Colchester, CO1 1BX – throughout half-term

Let your children create their own amazing adventure as they travel through the ruins of Funky Monkey’s jungle home in this indoor play park. Just turn up or, if you fancy, book a party – they even do them for grown-ups!

Open through half-term with prices varying depending on age. See here for full details.

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