Top family activities for 2016

A piercingly bright curtain of stars is the backdrop for this beautiful image taken by astronomer Håkon Dahle. The silhouetted figure in the foreground is Håkon himself surrounded by just a couple of the great dark domes that litter the mountain of ESO’s La Silla Observatory. Many professional astronomers are also keen photographers — and who could blame them? ESO sites in the Atacama Desert are among the best places on Earth for observing the stars, and for the same reason, are amazing places for photographing the night sky. Håkon took these photos while on a week-long observing run at the MPG/ESO 2.2 -telescope. During this time, the telescope was occasionally handed over to a different observing team, giving Håkon the opportunity to admire the starry night — as well as to capture it for the rest of us to see. The Milky Way is brighter in the Southern Hemisphere than in the North, because of the way our planet’s southern regions point towards the dense galactic centre. But even in the South, the Milky Way in the night sky is quite faint in the sky. For most of us, light pollution from our cities and even the Moon can outshine the faint glow of the galaxy, hiding it from view. One of the best aspects of La Silla Observatory is that it is far away from bright city lights, giving it some of the darkest night skies on Earth. The atmosphere is also very clear, so there is no haze to further muddy your vision. The skies at La Silla are so dark that it is possible to see a shadow cast by the light of the Milky Way alone. Håkon submitted this photograph to the Your ESO Pictures Flickr group. The Flickr group is regularly reviewed and the best photos are selected to be featured in our popular Picture of the Week series, or in our gallery.

The holiday season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! As we embrace the enchanting spirit of Christmas, let’s not forget to plan exciting activities for the entire family. During the chilly winter months, there are countless opportunities to make memories at some of our nation’s most captivating events. From festive markets adorned with twinkling lights to exhilarating ice-skating rinks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, get ready to indulge in seasonal delights and create cherished moments in the coming months!


Family riding bicycles outdoors


Movie fun

Family movie night

Winter is the perfect time to escape the cold weather by visiting your nearest multiplex to catch up on the latest movies. Although all of the hype is around the latest Star Wars release, there’s so much more to enjoy in the upcoming months, and all families will definitely be looking forward to the updated version of the Jungle Book that even features Bill Murray singing the Bare Necessities!

Comic book adaptations are particularly big at the moment and your kids can look forward to the likes of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice film, along with X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad in the upcoming months. And adults can even revisit some of the favorite films of their youth with the all-female cast of the Ghostbusters update looking especially promising.

Playing Board Games

It’s easy to forget in the world of high-tech video games, but playing board games together as a family is one of the easiest ways to spend quality time with your kids. Board games can teach important lessons about strategy and cooperation, while also providing entertainment for everyone involved.

Plus, depending on what type of game you select, you can get a math lesson in as well. You could opt for the classics: Clue, Monopoly or Scrabble are sure to please most everyone. Or you could find a game that’s more targeted towards younger kids like Pop Up Pirate, Guess Who? or even Battleship if your children are ready for it.

Whatever game you choose, the goal should be about having fun!

Rank Game Name Year of Release Purchase Link
1 Monopoly 1935 Buy Now
2 The Game of Life 1860 Buy Now
3 Scrabble 1931 Buy Now
4 Clue 1949 Buy Now
5 Connect Four 1974 Buy Now
6 Operation 1965 Buy Now
7 Candy Land 1949 Buy Now
8 Jenga 1983 Buy Now
9 Mousetrap 1963 Buy Now
10 Trouble 1965 Buy Now


Sporting highlights

The Euro 16 Championships in June and July in France should provide your children with the perfect opportunity to let off some steam in the summer months. But before then there’s always the London Mini Marathon on 24 April that can provide a great day out in our capital whether taking part or merely spectating from the sidelines.

The capital is currently hosting the highly-competitive Professional Darts Corporation Championship that can easily be enjoyed by anybody regardless of age range or skill level. And adults can always add a little excitement to the PDC World Championship event thanks to the Coral sports betting site that provides an exhaustive range of odds, as well as all of the latest news stories from this gripping event.

Out and about


Mr. Sketch Scented Markers - Click to Purchase

Fun Scented MarkersFun Scented Markers

Just because the weather may be a little chilly doesn’t mean that we have to stay indoors to have fun, even though it’s quite possible. One good thing about the long dark nights of winter is that it makes for perfect stargazing. And many observatories up and down the country like Kielder Observatory will be hosting family-friendly stargazing events that are perfect for introducing your family to the mysteries of the night sky.

Even though it’s been a remarkably mild winter so far, there’s always that element of anticipation for the unexpected – a sudden snowfall! So, why not take this opportunity to get your sleds all set and ready for some exhilarating traditional winter fun? Feel the rush of exhilaration as you glide down snow-covered hills and create lasting memories with your loved ones. Embrace the beauty of the snowy landscape and relish in the joys of the season!

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