Museums at Night 2014 – Museum Mum's UK family picks

Forget bedtime this coming weekend! As mentioned in my post on sleepovers, Museums at Night is a festival of cultural events taking place at museums and heritage sites across the country on the 15 to 17 May 2014.

Night sky

Red sky at night = Museums at Night WILL be a delight!

Venues will open their doors at night, and put on special events –  including film showings, live music, DJs, teddy bear parties, light shows, balloon races, story telling, craft activities and torch or candle light viewings of collections. Kids love staying up late, and many of the activities are free!
To highlight what’s going on, I’ve chosen my favourite Museums at Night 2014 events for families across the UK. I’ve stuck to one per region which took some deliberation (and cursing that I don’t live nearer some of these places). With 108 events listed as family friendly on the Museums at Night website, take a look here to see what else is happening near you. Here are my picks:
– South West
Saturday 17 May 2014, 5-9pm
Visit all six museum and heritage attractions in Dorchester in one night. With everything from dinosaurs to Tutankhamun and teddy bears to Romans, there’s sure to be something your little ones will love. £10 for a family ticket, gives free entry to all sites.
– North West
Friday 16 May 2014, 4pm-late
Liverpool hosts ‘Light Night’, a one night art and cultural festival including light projections, pop-up performances, walking tours, theatre, exhibitions, hands-on workshops and late night parties. Museum of Liverpool’s special gallery for children aged 6 and under is open for special late night sessions. FREE. 
– West Midlands
Friday 16 May 2014, 6.30-7.45pm
See the magnificent Staffordshire Hoard in a different light at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent. Explore with candles and torches, and whilst relaxing with a drink they’ll  entertain with Anglo-Saxon hero tales. Tickets £5.
– South East
Saturday 17 May 2014, 6.30pm-late
Be enchanted at Chiltern Open Air Museum’s ‘Myths and Legends’ event. Meet author Kate O’Hearn, explore the candle and lantern lit collection of historic buildings at night, see famous mythological characters and take part in family activities including Knight School. Come in fancy dress! Standard admission prices apply.
Tsk tsk, London – almost all of your museums at night events are at aimed at adults. I’ve gone for an event at a cultural institution, just because it sounds brilliant.
Saturday 17 May 2014, 7-11pm
Join The House of Illustration for visual experiments in their Mutant Science Lab, get sent to Detention to watch illustrators drawing live, and stroll out to their Playground to discover some of the best street artists working their magic. £8/£5 adults/concessions.
– Yorkshire
My favourite sounding event of the whole festival, hands down. My daughter loves Grayson Perry almost as much as I do – if only someone could sort us out a train and somewhere to kip for the night!
Thursday 15 May 2014, 5.30-9pm
Meet the Museum Bears at Yorkshire Museum. A special evening of stories, making and hide and seek. With special guests, Grayson Perry and Alan Measles (his bear). Bring your bear and a picnic. FREE.
– East of England
Saturday 17 May 2014, 6-10pm
A Starry Night at Watford Museum Performing duo Let’s Talk About Space will be guiding families through the solar system using poetry, spoken word, film, animation and children’s creative dance workshops.  FREE, booking essential.
– East Midlands
Friday 16 May 2014, 5-8pm
Enjoy a Knight at the North Lincolnshire Museum in Scunthorpe. In partnership with Little Theatre Group, they feature a trail where you meet medieval characters, as well as crafts and displays of special Medieval objects. FREE.
– North East
Saturday 17 May 2014, 10am-10pm
Ay caramba! Enjoy a Mexican Fiesta and family fun day at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. Fun activities include craft, storytelling, face painting, glass blowing demonstrations, tapas menu and live Mariachi band. FREE.
Saturday 17 May 2014, 5-9pm
Ahoy, me hearties! Aberdeen’s University Museums have organised a pirate-themed treasure trail across five sites. Activities include storytelling, ‘Mr Bug’ animal handling, object handling, and lots of craft activities. FREE.
Northern Ireland
Friday 16 May 2014, 7-10pm
Enjoy a Night with the Stars at Armagh Planetarium’s Night. Activities include fancy dress, twilight rocket launches and a night time balloon race – last year’s winner reached as far as Germany! FREE.
Friday 16 May 2014, 6pm
National Waterfront Museum in Swansea are hosting a Despicable Me themed evening, including making your own mini pocket minion and a 3d screening of the film. Families cost £3.50, under threes free.
I hope this has inspired you to take your family out for Museums at Night. Make sure you check with the venue whether you need to book in advance. Let me know what you make it to, and what it was like!



  1. May 12, 2014 / 10:04 am

    HI – I work at National Glass centre in Sunderland and I just wanted to let you know that our event is on Saturday 17 May – not Friday 16 May as stated above – Hope you can join us!

    • museummum
      May 12, 2014 / 10:32 am

      Thanks Sara – I’m really sorry for getting the date wrong! Can I blame pregnancy exhaustion? I will update now. Would love to come but have a theatre date in London that night. Hope it goes well!

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