Festival of Mischief: fun activities for all the family

Inspired by the mischief and mayhem unleashed by the fun-loving residents of Seaton Delaval Hall, we've created a Festival of Mischief to keep you and your family entertained during the May half-term break.

There's a mind-boggling array of playful activities that will spark your imagination, make you laugh, and appeal to your silly side.

We've got top tips from comedians on putting on a family comedy show, dressing up, funny faces, havoc in the kitchen, and much more.

Many of the historic houses we look after have connections with some of history's most prolific party-goers, performers, artists and mischief makers. 

One family that particularly stands out is the Delavals, whose eccentricity and flamboyant lifestyle made their home, Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, one of the most entertaining places to be in Georgian Britain. They were known for their practical jokes, lavish dinner parties and lively theatrical productions. We've drawn on their sense of fun to bring you the Festival of Mischief. 

These activities have been designed so they can be done in your house or garden, so please take part from the comfort of your own home.


Take on a comedy challenge

We've partnered with comedians from The Stand Comedy Club to challenge you to put on a performance as a family or for loved ones you're missing right now. Whether you want to put on a play, write a joke or perform a chapter from your favourite book, they've got some tricks up their sleeves to help. Watch this video and start your comedy challenge.

Invent a party prank machine

Invent a party prank machine 

Our friends at the Little Inventors have come up with a special challenge to celebrate the pranks played at Seaton Delaval Hall. Some guests retiring to their bedrooms at the end of the night were often in for a bit of a shock. Mechanical hoists would suddenly raise the bedroom walls as they were getting changed. While we're not asking you to try anything this impossibly silly at home, we would like you to design a party prank machine. Let your imagination run wild.


Get lost in a topsy-turvy world

See Seaton Delaval Hall like you've never seen it before. As part of their Rising Stars partnership, the team there has been working with students studying a Masters in Animation at Northumbria University to create short animations inspired by the Delaval family's sense of fun and mischief. Watch this silent animation and enter into a magical world of flying teapots and helpful bats.

This work has been created by Animator Thom Sansom and Art Director Jacob Brown as part of the Rising Stars partnership between Northumbria University and the National Trust at Seaton Delaval Hall, with graphics by founded.design. Rising Stars is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Learn more about Seaton Delaval Hall Discover a history of fun and games

Party food, past and present 

Food and drink were a very important part of the lavish parties and theatrical events held at Seaton Delaval Hall. Guests attending a play at the house in February 1792 were treated to an enormous feast. Ox tongues, a boar’s head, lobsters, a variety of hams and fillets of veal were some of the many dishes on the menu.

There was also a huge array of different desserts, including apple tarts, cheesecakes, plates of jellies, blancmange, blanched almonds, apricot tartlets and savoy cake. That’s not to mention the 54 bottles of port and 45 gallons of cask ale, which were just some of the beverages on offer.  

Make a pizza with a funny face

Make a party pizza  

Our chefs have come up with a delicious new pizza recipe. So why not cause some mayhem in the kitchen by having a go at making it? Add some extra vegetables to turn your pizza into a funny face. You could even look at images of the gargoyles at the places in our care for inspiration.

Maze at Glendurgan, Cornwall planted in 1833

Create your own maze

Mazes have long been a source of intrigue and fun for adults and children, and we have some incredible ones at the places in our care. Use this picture of the maze at Glendurgan in Cornwall as inspiration to create your own maze. You could sit down with pen and paper and draw a maze for a toy car. Or you could create a maze using chairs and blankets around the house with hidden objects to find along the way.

" Play matters, for creativity, for our wellbeing, for fun and distraction, for making sense of the world around us. When we play, new possibilities and imaginations are ignited."
- Anita Stevens, Play Specialist, National Trust
Boy pretending to be a pirate in the gardens at Nymans, West Sussex

Make a scene  

Enjoy a moment of drama. Design a mask for your family play or dress up as someone in a painting, or your favourite character from a book or film. The places we care for have lots of links to artists, actors and dramatists. Learn more about the glamorous life of Dame Ellen Terry, who was an A-list celebrity of the Victorian age and lived at Smallhythe Place in Kent.

Tell a joke

Ned the Nature Nut's Nutty Nature Facts and Jokes

Discover nature's funny side 

The above jokes were taken from the book Ned the Nature Nut's Nutty Nature Facts and Jokes by Andy Seed and illustrated by Sarah Horne.

Make a funny face or a strange object

The historic houses and gardens we look after have some weird and wonderful objects that make you look twice. We're talking about grimacing gargoyles, funny statues and some strange collection items, including a tray of glass eyes.

Take a ride on the carousel below, which is packed full of funny faces, puzzle cups and unusual household objects. Use what you find as inspiration to draw a design for your own quirky object. Write your own label to reveal what it's made of and how it's used. Or you could even have a go at impersonating some of the funny faces that you see. 

Join nature's show offs

Mosely Old Hall Peacock

Peacock around

Some of the most colourful show offs can be found in the animal kingdom, and the peacock is one of our favourites. Can you strut like a proud peacock?

Affectionate puffins on the Farne Islands

Clowns of the sea

The puffin is one of the nation's favourite birds. We look after these special birds on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland. Can you clown around like a puffin?

Male natterjack toad

Natter like a Natterjack

Natterjack toads have a loud rasping call. The male toads are particularly noisy during the mating season. Can you croak loudly like a Natterjack toad?

Fun for families

Explore our fun family-friendly ideas for things to do indoors and outside at the places in our care. Make the most of your time with the kids