Brilliant night time family events at museums return in 2012

The after hours celebration of the arts, heritage and history known as Museums at Night is back for 2012. Hundreds of UK galleries and museums are staying open late and hosting special events over the weekend of Friday to Sunday the 18th-20th May.

This years there is a great variety of events focused on families and children. In places such as Dorchester and Norfolk all museums will be open, making them the perfect destination for a short break, immaterial of the weather. If you fancy a sleepover in an historic building that is possible too.

Dr Who, helicopters, astronomy, battleships and dinosaurs are just some of the activities on offer, for the complete list of events log on to

Family highlights include:


Bompas & Parr, the renowned Jellymongers, who create spectacular culinary experiences ranging from architectural jellies to lakes of cocktails will be flooding the glass plate around the SS Great Britain, Bristol with jelly and neon replicas of the iconic ship. Not to be missed.


The Great Tower Sleepover at Dover Castle: Dare you spend an exclusive evening staying in one of England’s most haunted castles? Live like royalty as you bed down for the night in King Henry II’s medieval Great Tower, dating back to the 1180s.

Pyjama Party at Childhood Museum & Sudbury Hall, Sudbury, Derbyshire. Come with your slippers, teddy bear and favourite bedtime story. Meet some storybook characters who can tell some tales

Enjoy the first ever Dr Who Adventure Family Sleepover at Manchester’s John Rylands Library! Watch two Doctor Who episodes – Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead. Make your own Journal of Impossible Things, take a torch-lit tour of the Library, solve the mystery of the missing TARDIS and then sleep in the Historic Reading Room.

Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower offers a chance to sleepover in the galleries and in the Georgian former gunpowder store.

Families are invited to spend the night within the historic confines of Kenilworth Castle for an exclusive spooky sleepover.


Special late-night opening of the Astronomy Centre at the Royal Observatory Greenwich with a range of workshops and talks with top astronomers plus planetarium shows at London’s only planetarium.

The National Space Centre will host an evening of stargazing, both indoors and outside! With talks, workshops, planetarium shows and the whole Centre to discover, this is an exciting evening for the whole family.


Join the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham for a family friendly, interactive murder trail around the only museum of its kind in Europe! You will have to go on a hunt to find clues to discover the name of the victim, the suspect, the murder weapon and the location of where the murder took place to solve the ‘Murder at the Museum’, but be careful…there maybe a few red herrings in there somehwere!

Chirk Castle (National Trust) Medieval Garrison Experience. This is a unique experience for families to see life for the medieval soldier, after hours. Dress up in authentic costume, learn to guard the castle, have a go at archery and pike drill, explore the medieval tower and brave the dungeons. You’ll even get to try a taste of medieval food.

Lockin In at Ruthin Gaol, Denbighshire . A unique chance to have an after hours tour of Ruthin gaol, a Victorian prison, with stories and songs telling the tales of the prisoners who found themselves inside, from John Jones “Coch Bach y Bala” who escaped from the Gaol – twice and William Hughes, the last man to be hanged at the Gaol.

Aberdeen University, Zoology Museum. Enchanting tales, fashionable crafts, meet the experts, creepy crawlies, exciting trails, brain busting quizzes, hands on experiments and much more at Night at the Museums 2012.

The Helicopter Museum, Weston-super-Mare commemorates the 30th Anniversary of The Falklands Conflict with an extra special weekend. A Living History Encampment, War Time Re-enactment Society and Military Vehicle Display will all be on site for one of the biggest events the museum has ever hosted. Also over 30 flight simulators will be set-up in the aircraft hangars for visitors to ‘test fly’ the planes and helicopters used during the 1982 conflict.

Sci-Fi Night at the Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon. The force will soon be with you as Steam-Museum of the Great Western Railway opens it’s doors for an exclusive evening viewing of it’s block buster Sci-Fi Exhibition. Come and see your favourite sci-fi characters including Spiderman, Chewbacca, the Iron Man and more. Designed to appeal to both children and adults, special displays include original costumes and props from the Star Wars, Terminator, Gremlins and Iron Man series, plus many life-sized character figures.

Multiple Venues:

The Terracotta Warriors Museum has teamed up with all the other museums in Dorchester – Dinosaur Museum, Keep Military Museum, Teddy Bear Museum, Dorset County Museum and Tutankhamun Exhibition for a very special evening. All 6 museums and the Roman Town House will be open late for Museums Night.

Cromer, Sheringham and Wells in North Norfolk, will be transported back to Victorian times for Museums at Night weekend. Participating venues in the three towns will be opening their doors for a packed programme, including Victorian fire eaters, escapologists, an old fashioned photo parlour, fairground attractions, circus acts, a traditional train ride, cottage craft workshops, film, guided walks and the chance to meet lots of costumed characters. All events, the majority of which are free, are aimed at families, the local community and visitors to the area.

There are lots of other events across the UK. For details of all venues, events and activities visit, where listings information will be updated right up until the weekend itself.