Half Term Things to Do at Cathedrals

20th October 2022

Visitors will be able to see York Minster in a new light, St Paul’s and Chichester are taking part in the Big Draw festival, Bradford has a space-themed open day, Worcester Cathedral is hosting a Big Green Eco Family Fair, Gloucester is taking visitors behind the scenes, Chester will celebrate its medieval past with a special heritage discovery day this Saturday and Gaia, Luke Jerram’s art installation of our planet Earth has just landed in Wells Cathedral.

Cathedrals are getting ready for half term … what will you discover?

All our cathedrals have family friendly events planned for the half term holidays. Please do check individual websites for a cathedral near you to find out more.

Heritage Discovery Day at Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral will run its second annual Heritage Discovery Day this Saturday (22 Oct).

Visitors will enjoy a range of activities with medieval objects on display, live demonstrations of heritage skills, music-making, family activities, tours, and worship. Visitors will also be able to access parts of the site not normally open to the public with objects on display in the Cathedral too rarely seen by the public.

The Cathedral’s heritage professionals will be joined by colleagues from Chester, the north west and further afield, including the University of Chester’s ‘Mobility of Objects’ Arts and Humanities Research Council Funded Project.  This will see a pop-up exhibition where visitors can handle medieval and early modern objects excavated in and around Chester – shoes, keys, tiles, pottery, ceramics, rings, pilgrim badges and devotional tokens – and discover the stories they have to tell.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester, says

“We are thrilled to be able to bring this event back to Chester Cathedral for the second time. Visitors hugely enjoyed getting to see and learn about our medieval history and talk to our heritage professionals who care for and interpret it for us today. The Heritage Discovery Day is a fantastic way for families and students alike to kick off the weekend and the start of half term and immerse themselves in Chester’s truly fascinating medieval history.”

Visitors are encouraged to book their free ticket to the day (and paid tickets for specific parts of the day) well in advance.


The Big Draw Festival at Chichester Cathedral

Inspired by the beautiful Sussex environment, visitors old and young will be invited to draw and colour in Chichester Cathedral nave using recycled materials.

This free event is drop-in and you can stay for a little as long as you like. Volunteers will be on hand to help you along the way too. More here.


Draw While You Explore! St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is also inviting visitors to take part with a Draw While You Explore project that invites visitors to pick up a walking sketchbook and pencil and draw as they walk around the building exploring all aspects and views from the River Thames to its iconic skyline. Draw While You Explore sessions run from 10 -3 on Saturday 22 October and then daily from Monday 24 Oct to Sat 29 Oct.

The Big Draw Festival is a worldwide celebration of drawing with thousands of creative events, activities, and workshops across the globe and the theme for this year’s Big Draw Festival is ‘Come Back To Colour’.

Bradford celebrates all things space with the city’s famous astronomer and mathematician

Bradford has a special space-themed open day celebrating Bradford’s famous English mathematician and astronomer Abraham Sharp this Saturday.

There are talks, craft activities, space-themed music, an inflatable solar system and you can find out more about Bradford born, Sharp, his discoveries and see his calculation of Pi laid out in the Cathedral.

There will also be a talk from the Bradford Astronomical Society all about space, and lots of space-themed craft activities to take part in. The day runs from 12 noon to 4pm. book free tickets here.

Bradford Cathedral Family activities also returns during half term with autumn-related events and colouring on Tuesday 25 October as well as family-friendly guided tours.

For more information – and to book your free place – please visit Eventbrite here.


The Monks, Mischief and Marauders Tours at Peterborough Cathedral 

Peterborough Cathedral has a special family-friendly tour, a chance to climb the central tower, and a free Halloween trail taking its young visitors and their carers from darkness to light this half term.

The Monks, Mischief and Marauders Tour brings the history of the cathedral to life with stories about badly behaved monks, royal burials and civil war looters – and there’s a special illustrated children’s guide book to take home too.  There’s a tower climb and a Halloween Fear Not trail that takes people from darkness and fear into light and hope.

The tour takes place at 2.00pm each day from 26th to 28th October. Tickets are £5 per person or £20 for a family (2 adults and up to 3 children).

All bookings for these events can be made via the Cathedral website.


Access All Most Areas at Gloucester Cathedral this half term

Gloucester Cathedral is offering visitors  ‘Access All Most Areas’, enabling them to explore the building in a completely new way.

On Sat 22, Fri 28 and Sat 29 October will see a number of the Cathedral’s most historic, secret spaces open to the public, some for the first time, including the 17th century Organ Loft, the Song School, and the Vestry which houses some remarkable medieval paintings.

There will also be the chance to explore the historic Parliament Rooms, where Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once stayed, as well as the opportunity to experience the oldest part of the Cathedral, the Crypt, in the same way that the medieval monks would have, bathed in candlelight and filled with the sounds of plainsong chant.

Visitors are asked to book in advance via the Cathedral website, and tickets for the evening cost £7.50 for adults and £3 for children (under 5s go free). The first entry time is 6.30pm, and the last entry time is 8.45pm.

The Interim Dean of Gloucester, Canon Dr Andrew Braddock, said:

Gloucester Cathedral is always a great place to explore. This October, we are delighted to be revealing more of the Cathedral’s secret places and unfamiliar stories.  From tales of courage to stories of faith, all are welcome to come and discover more about your Cathedral and its life this half-term.”

Head of Visitor Experience at Gloucester Cathedral, Lorna Giles, added:

“Visitors often ask us what’s behind the many ancient doors that are kept closed at the Cathedral, so we’re throwing them open and allowing people a real behind-the- scenes glimpse.

We can’t wait to show our visitors hidden medieval paintings, messages scratched into the stone hundreds of years ago and unique views of this breathtaking building!”

The all-new ‘Stones and Bones’ trail will also be available until Sat 5 Nov.

Further details about all these events can be found on the Cathedral website, as well as on the Cathedral’s social media pages.


Worcester Cathedral’s Big Green Eco Family Fair

Worcester Cathedral will host a Big Green Eco Family Fair in the Cloister, as part of its Living Gently on the Earth series this Saturday.

Thanks to National Lottery Funding, the Cathedral has been hosting the ‘Living Gently’ events for the whole community to come together and explore ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

The Big Green Eco Fair includes family friendly craft and nature activities, green products for sale, information and advice for sustainable living, campfire story time and the local orchard group apple press with Bramblewood Forest School, Bike Worcester, Greenpeace, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, Act On Energy, Transition Worcester and more…

There will also be a drumming performance and workshop by Drumlove for all ages when the fair is officially opened by Robin Walker, MP, at 11am.

For more information, please visit www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/eco


Artist Luke Jerram’s Gaia in Wells Cathedral 

And Gaia, the huge touring art installation of our planet Earth by artist Luke Jerram, has just gone on display in Wells Cathedral.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface compiled from Visible Earth series, NASA.

The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three-dimensions and creates a sense of the Overview Effect, which was first described by author Frank White in 1987. Common features of the experience for astronauts are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture.

There is a special programme of events, music and worship inspired by Gaia during half term and beyond, including a Stewards of the Earth project and Earth Explorer Trails and craft workshops for children.

Gaia is at Wells Cathedral until 10 Nov. More here.


New light and sound projection opens for half term in York Minster

And York Minster will be transformed this half term with a new light and sound installation to help raise funds to conserve the cathedral’s medieval stained glass and stonework.

Platinum and Light is a new projection and sound artwork from artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, who created the multi-award-winning Northern Lights installation seen in York Minster in October 2019.

The new show will run for eight nights from Thursday 20 to Thursday 27 October, with the projection lighting up the cathedral’s Nave, running the full length of its ceiling and down the West End while surrounding viewers with dramatic soundscapes and music.

The installation takes inspiration from Her Late Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the stories told through the Minster’s medieval architecture and historic collections.

The events will help raise funds for the Minster’s current project to conserve the medieval St Cuthbert Window, which is one of the largest surviving narrative windows in Europe, and the stonework of the surrounding South Quire Transept.

Designer and audio artist Karen Monid said: “We find York and the Minster an infinite source of inspiration for our work and to be invited back again to use this space, one of the most beautiful places in the world, to produce an artwork is a fantastic privilege.

The event opens on Thurs 20 Oct with the first show at 9.00pm, and then runs daily until Thurs 27 Oct with two showings each evening.

Tickets are available via the cathedral’s website at www.yorkminster.org and cost £7.50 each, or £25 for a family ticket for up to two adults and two children.