There came a point, towards the end of the long, cold, winter months that we got a little bit bored of going to the same old places at the weekend. With only the hardiest of souls braving the parks, we’ve become regulars at the National Railway Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, Creepy Crawlies, York Castle Museum and City Screen. Anything to keep warm and to entertain the little Vikings for a while. This weekend, with an empty day ahead of us, we decided to venture further than we normally do for a daytrip and head over to Halifax to visit Eureka!, the national children’s museum. I hadn’t been there for decades, and it was the first visit for the little Vikings too. They couldn’t believe their luck.
What is Eureka!? Eureka is a museum aimed squarely at children aged between 0 and 11. Everything in it is for them. Unlike other museums where you’re worried about them knocking over something priceless or making too much noise, Eureka actively encourages kids to get stuck in.
What can you do? There is so much to see and do that you’ll run out of energy before you’ve done it all. The museum is divided up into different themed galleries, with areas focusing on different aspects of life and the planet such as living and working together, space, sound, and lots more. There’s a pretend branch of Marks & Spencer where you can do a shop and scan the goods, a branch of the Halifax where you can sit on a chair made of £1m bank notes and withdraw play money from the cash machine, a Post Office and even a hole in the road where you can don a hard hat and see how gas pipes are laid and what’s under the ground.
The little Vikings also performed an ultrasound scan on a (thankfully pretend) pregnant lady, measured how far they can stride and stretch, made an emergency telephone call, operated CCTV, learnt about how sound is made and – in spite of it being wet and cold – played on the play equipment and in the sandpit outside the museum. There are also zones that are just for babies who aren’t yet walking so they can join in too.
Where can you eat? There are indoor and outdoor areas for eating your own food, which is a good option because the café isn’t cheap and gets busy during peak hours. We were disorganised and hadn’t taken our own, so we ate in the café and there was plenty of choice for everyone. There are Ella’s Kitchen pouches for babies, as well as plastic plates and cutlery and a microwave for heating food. This place definitely knows how to cater for families.
What’s the damage? Prices from 1 April 2014: Free with Standard Admission/Annual Pass. Pay once and come back as many times as you want for a year: Adult/Child (age 3+): £11.95 each, Toddlers (age 1-2 years): £4.25, Babies (under 1 year): FREE. Additional charge may apply for some events.
What’s the verdict? Our little Vikings absolutely loved Eureka! It was probably one of their best days out, with both the 18 month old and 4 year old finding plenty of things to interest them. That meant they both behaved themselves for the whole day and didn’t moan at all – a record. And they slept very well that night, too. Bonus! The biggest Viking has taken the map of the museum to nursery to tell everyone about it. We’ll definitely be back.
Good to know This place is fantastic, but can get incredibly busy as a result. Brace yourselves if you’re visiting during the holidays. It’s open until 5pm, so visiting later in the day may be a good idea. If the downstairs galleries are packed, you could start upstairs. The car park is very close by, as is the station if you’d rather take the train. There are lots of special events and activities throughout the year; check the website for further details.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
Many thanks to Eureka! for inviting us to review their fab museum.
This article was first published in the May/June 2015 issue of Little Vikings magazine.