London tip: avoid school ‘half terms’

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Who in the world has school vacation in February? The British, for starters.

On Monday, prior to departure, I thought I would saunter into the National History Museum in London, Monday should be quiet after all.

Here was the line from two vantage points:

National History Museum at Half Term 1

National History Museum at Half Term 2

The guard said, “Well, its half term.” Half term? This website collects school holiday schedules from a number of countries, linking to the Westminster City Council’s schedule as an example with 6 terms and various half terms. I cannot imagine how parents cope with so many interspersed breaks.

Fortunately there was no line at the neighboring Victoria & Albert Museum.

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Rapid Travel ChaiThere is No Perfect World Holiday Calendar – Always Ask Locals - Rapid Travel ChaiLarryInNYCKevincmRaffles Recent comment authors

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[…] February I had no hope of getting in to the Natural History Museum in London because of school […]


In New York, we generally get a week off at “President’s” day, and a week-and-a-half off coincident with Passover, which moves around considerably from year to year.


The one thing I love about Half Term? The office becomes nice and quiet ;).

But yes, Half Term Holidays vary in the UK by 1 week or so, causing prices to go through the roof as Raffles noted – so seeing a busy queue like that in the museum district of London like that isn’t surprising in the least.

The joy of different education systems in the world makes it interesting when you see kids out and about… when you least expect them.


It is a major issue in the UK. School holidays all come at the same time across the country and holiday companies double or triple their prices. It is also illegal to take your child out of school to go on holiday.

I looked at flights to Salzburg for last weekend, the first day of the week off, and those flights which were not totally sold out months ago were £500 for a Y seat, bought 3 months in advance. Mad..

Private schools have even longer holidays than state schools.

Rapid Travel Chai

@Raffles – wow, lots of parents would have been arrested in my school. My parents always refused to take me out of school for a break, even for a day.

Rapid Travel Chai

@LarryInNYC and Scottrick – interesting to hear of these Febraury breaks, I have lived in a few places in the US and always thought about mid-March Spring Break, this is my first Feb in NYC so I guess I can be excused for missing that.


We had a weeklong vacation in February. But I went to school on the west coast. I grew up mystified why people would take an entire month off (or more) during December and January.


Actually, New York City public schools have vacation this week — or would have, if some of the days hadn’t been lost to Hurricane Sandy related closures. The shortened vacation ends tomorrow.