W5

A child plays with the interactive exhibits at W5, Belfast

“I loved trying to stop the marble ball, but I never could.” Katie, 11

You don’t have to wait very long to get a rainy day in Belfast, and when you do, it’s a perfect time to visit the city’s “Millennium Project”, the Odyssey Complex – where the highlight for families is W5, a science museum and discovery centre with over 250 interactive exhibits.

The attraction tries to answer five very important questions: Who, What, Where, When and Why? If your kids want to know where electricity comes from, or how to beat a lie detector, then they’ll love this place, and it will entertain them for hours. Adults will be happy too – making soaring rings of steam and trying to unlock the secrets of the ever-turning marble ball. The majority of exhibits are hands-on so you can push buttons, pull levers, turn cogs and swing on ropes as you explore the five floors – there’s even an exhibit teaching children how to read Braille. In designated areas, staff members present experiments at allocated times throughout the day and there’s an area designed specifically for younger children. Events and exhibitions take place at special times of the year, including Easter, during the summer holidays, and at Halloween and Christmas.

The sixty car parking spaces closest to the Odyssey Complex are reserved for Blue Badge holders, available on a first-come, first-served basis. All the designated bays are within fifty yards of the entrance, with just one crossing and no steps to negotiate. Inside the Odyssey Complex, there is lift access to the two upper levels, and level access throughout the ground-floor area where W5 is located. Accessible toilets are on all levels in the complex and the recently improved signage is clear. W5 itself is a highly accessible and friendly attraction: most of the exhibits are low-level and multi-sensory to enable and encourage all children to experiment; there is plenty of seating available and the lighting is very bright. There’s a hearing loop system at the ticket desk and in the lecture theatre.

Food & drink: Visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and drink, and there are designated picnic areas on some floors. If you’d prefer not to self-cater, there’s a Costa Coffee inside W5, and plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants in the Odyssey Complex.