Imperial War Museums (IWM) announces an exciting schedule of activities at HMS Belfast and IWM London during October and December 2021’s school holidays. Visitors can earn their sea legs, discover the science behind keeping HMS Belfast afloat, and speak to eyewitnesses to conflict at IWM London. Opening for the first time on the 20 October 2021, families will also be able to explore the brand-new Second World War Galleries at IWM London.

Activities will run at each site daily, but the activities on offer will vary. We recommend checking details at the admissions desk on arrival to find out what is on that day. Activities will not run 24 – 26 December when HMS Belfast and IWM London are closed. We Were There and Wartime Mealtimes will run on the specified dates.

HMS Belfast

Family Mission: D-Day Edition

Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October, 11am – 3pm

Saturday 18 December – Thursday 30 December, 10am – 3pm

Free (included in price of admission), drop-in

Families are invited to grab a Kit Bag and travel back to D-Day in 1944. Explore HMS Belfast, find hidden messages, discover ship life and crack morse code, all while learning about the biggest invasion in history. Created in partnership with KIT Theatre and Kirsty Harris, this interactive storytelling experience is based on the personal stories from those who served on D-Day.

Sea Legs

Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October, 11am – 3pm

Saturday 18th December – Thursday 30th December, 10am – 3pm

Free (included in price of admission), drop-in

Budding sailors can earn their sea legs and go back to 1942 in this interactive activity exploring the science and ingenuity needed to keep HMS Belfast afloat. Hop on the balance board to test steadiness on choppy seas, figure out how to feed 950 men on board with limited rations and solve nautical puzzles. Developed in partnership with children’s TV personality Ben Shires, this activity gives families an insight into what life was like for the ship’s company during the Second World War.

Ship Shape

Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October

Free (included in price of admission), drop-in, 11am – 3pm

All hands on deck! Step into the shoes of a conservator and help keep HMS Belfast, the largest object in IWM’s collection, ship shape. Search for hungry insect pests burrowing into the ship’s core, test expert packing techniques to protect fragile objects and learn to use specialised equipment with HMS Belfast’s team of expert conservators. This activity takes place in the Arctic Messdeck on Level 2.

IWM London

We Were There

Saturday 23 October and Sunday 24 October

Free, drop in, 10am – 3pm

Visitors will have the unique opportunity to meet eyewitness to conflict, gaining first-hand insight into the impact of war on people’s lives. These special guests will be placed across the museum to converse with visitors, drawing upon their personal stories of conflict, from driving a tank to being evacuated. Interactive workshops with illustrators, authors and journalists will also allow visitors to explore how memories, including their own, can be recorded.

Wartime Mealtimes

Saturday 11 December and Sunday 12 December

Free, drop in, 10am – 3pm

Learn about rations across the ages, discover recipes from the Second World War and find out what passed for a sweet treat in wartime. Listen to first-hand accounts of food in conflict from veterans, eyewitnesses and storytellers and join demonstrations of what could be made with rations. Developed in partnership with RA Venues and Story Spinner Theatre, this interactive experience will uncover the impact of war on everyday life through the lens of food.

Story Seekers

Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October, 10am – 4pm

Saturday 18 December – Thursday 30 December, 10am – 4pm

Free, drop in

Families can get hands on with real artefacts and learn about the global impact of conflict, from the First World War to today. Dig deeper into the museum’s collections and uncover the moving stories they tell, from people who braved shark-infested waters to ingenious nurses.