Get ready for some spooktacular fun this October Half Term, as we round up the best family-friendly activities taking place for children and grown-ups of all ages.
As the leaves fall from the trees and frost covers the ground, there is also a whole host of Halloween, Bonfire Night and autumnal activities taking place throughout the month and over the October Half Term school holidays.
So here are 20 of the best activities and events taking place that you won’t want to miss.
1. Window Wanderland, Sherston, WILTSHIRE
When: 7th – 8th October
Window Wanderland is a magical walking tour that takes place in local streets around the UK, where members of the public transform their windows into decorative displays that come alive after dark. This year the Sherston Arts Festival in Wiltshire is working together with Window Wanderland to create a fun trail during the Festival (6th -15th October). If you have a house in the area, get creative and join in. If not, take your children for a walk around the participating streets after dark – you never know what’s round the next corner! If you’d like your neighbourhood to take place, contact the organisers; they are always looking for new locations.
Visit here for more information about Window Wanderland
2. Sleeping Beauty Afternoon Tea, The Dorchester Hotel, LONDON
When: 23rd – 27th October
Fancy an afternoon tea with a difference? Iconic London hotel The Dorchester is holding a Sleeping Beauty afternoon tea during half term, where guests can enjoy tea and cakes while watching performances by the English National Ballet School’s young dancers.
Key characters from Sleeping Beauty will dance around guests in The Promenade, even pausing the performance to talk to the visitors in the audience. One for all the ballet fans, young and old.
Cost: Sleeping Beauty Afternoon Tea is priced at £68 per adult (including a glass of Champagne) and £39 for children aged 5 -12.
Visit here for more information about The Dorchester Sleeping Beauty Afternoon Tea
3. Go Ape this Half Term, locations across the UK
When: 23rd – 27th October
Want an exhilarating and unforgettable experience this half term? If so, pay a visit to one of the 31 Go Ape forest adventures nationwide. Adults and children aged 10 years and above can swing through the trees on the Tree Top Adventure, fly through the sky on a zip wire or glide through the forest on a Segway. For younger children, there’s the Tree Top Junior, a series of suspended tunnels, walkways, tricky obstacles and zip wires up in the trees. Located everywhere from Devon to Kent and Yorkshire and Wales, there’s also the new Go Ape Nets Kingdom at Black Park, just off the M25 West of London.
Cost: Varies per venue
Visit here for more information on Go Ape
4. Cheltenham Literature Festival, CHELTENHAM
When: 6th – 15th October
One for all the bookworms, the Cheltenham Literature Festival offers a wide range of literary-themed events to entertain the whole family, from toddlers to teens. Highlights include new Children’s Laureate Lauren Child; Queen of Comedy Miranda Hart; Great British Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussain; Festival favourite Michael Morpurgo; actor Adrian Edmondson, with his first children’s novel; the launch of YouTube superstar Ali-A’s first graphic novel and TV Burp’s Harry Hill with his hilarious new kids’ book.
For the little ones, Kes Gray and Jim Field (Oi! Cat), Rachel Bright (The Koala Who Could) and Kristina Stephenson (Sir Charlie Stinky Socks) bring their stories to life. The Festival will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five with a special theatre event, and 30 years of Where’s Wally? With a trail around Cheltenham’s regency town centre. With two brand-new free children’s spaces, The Den and The Woodland Trust Wild Wood, there are countless free activities and workshops for the whole family.
Cost: Events are priced individually, check the brochure for details here
Visit here for more information on the Cheltenham Literature Festival
** Also, read our interview with Maisy Mouse author Lucy Cousins
5. Brick or Treat at the LEGOLAND ® Windsor Resort, WINDSOR
When: 14th – 30th October
Brick or Treat is back at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort this October, featuring the all new LEGO® NINJAGO® themed fireworks to celebrate the opening of the LEGO NINJAGO World. Little ones can get stuck into a range of Halloween-themed activities from a LEGO Skeleton Big Build to building their own LEGO and DUPLO® pumpkins for the pumpkin patch. There will be a special spooky takeover of the DUPLO Puppet Theatre shows, a fancy dress competition and the chance to see the world’s smallest LEGO pumpkin patch in Miniland.
On the last two weekends in October the skies will light up with a truly spectacular LEGO NINJAGO-inspired fireworks display, where thousands of tiny LEGO bricks can be viewed through special glasses.
Cost: Tickets from £30 for select dates throughout Brick or Treat when booked online 7+ days in advance. Tickets for fireworks days from £45 when booked online 7+ days in advance. Under-threes go free.
Visit here for more information on Legoland and to book tickets
6. Pick your own pumpkin, across the UK
When: Throughout October
Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without carving your own pumpkin into a spooky face or intricate shape – so why not pick it from the patch first? Fast becoming an annual Instagram favourite, you can pick your own pumpkin before taking it home for carving. The pretty and atmospheric patches look brilliant in family photos, too.
Cost: Varies per location
More information: Check your local listings
7. Artful Autumn at Kew Gardens, LONDON
When: 7th – 29th October
As the seasons shift and trees change colour, you can take a journey around Kew Gardens to embrace art and nature among the vibrant autumnal landscape. Sixteen contemporary, botanically focused paintings and sculptures by four different artists will be set outside the Kew Galleries and along Kew’s Cedar Vista. The bespoke pieces of outdoor art have been created specifically to fit into Kew’s changing environment and will sit among some of the park’s spectacular trees.
Cost: Tickets cost from £2.50 for 4-16 year olds and £14 for adults
Visit here for more information on Artful Autumn at Kew Gardens
8. English Heritage Properties, around the UK
What better time than Autumn to experience the spooky side of history as English Heritage castles, abbeys and stately homes are transformed into Halloween hotspots? With everything from Gothic Falconry at Framlingham Castel, where you will hear tales of gothic tragedy and superstition while birds swoop overhead, to a Batty about Bats experience at Witley Court (where you’ll even get to make your own to take home) there’s a whole host of autumnal experiences taking place across the UK.
Cost: varies per location
Visit here for more information on English Heritage
9. Wizard Week at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Havenstreet, ISLE OF WIGHT
When: 23rd – 27th October
Get ready for some wicked but wonderful Halloween Fun during October Half Term at the Isle of Wight Steam railway’s annual Wizard Week. As well as magic shows, an enchanted Woodland Walk and the chance to help the friendly witches of Havenstreet with their spells, you can also enjoy steam train rides on the railway. There are prizes each day for the best costumes and you can even enter a Halloween Treasure Hunt.
Cost: Adult entrance is £11.50 and children are £6.00 when you book online
Visit here for more information on Wizard Week and The Isle of Wright Stream Railway
10. The Spooky Ship at Halloween, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, BRISTOL
When: 28th – 29th October, 6.30PM – 9.50PM (tours run every ten minutes)
Fancy a good, old-fashioned, Victorian fright-fest? Then climb aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain after-dark. Following your ghoulish guide, you can navigate the dark nooks and crannies of Brunel’s 174-year-old ship and explore the eerie sights while watching out for characters lurking in the shadows, hoping to share their terrible tales with you. In association with Bristol Old Vic, The Spooky Ship takes inspiration from the SS Great Britain’s history and brings the ship vividly to life as professional actors roam the decks and ghostly figures from the past stalk the corridors, making it a nightmare to remember.
Cost: £9.00 -£14.00 (plus booking fee)
Visit here for more information on The Spooky Ship at Brunel
11. Boo at the Zoo, ZSL London Zoo, LONDON
When: 21st – 31st October
Get ready for a spooktacular week of events at ZSL London Zoo this Halloween half term, with Boo at the Zoo, a week of frightful fun and fang-tastic activities. This year visitors can embark on an all-new Extinction Trail, where children are tasked with finding six extinct species hidden around the Zoo. You can also join a Ghost Tour, head to the Bat Cave to make mysterious masks or carve out creepy pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch.
As well as spooky arts and crafts there’s a Halloween Story Telling where visitors can listen to terrifying tales told by spooky storytellers and find out how nature bites back at Halloween-themed animal talks as well as the Zoo’s Ghoul School, where children can dress up as their favourite Halloween character, learn how to ‘cast a spell’ and even try their hand at mummy-wrapping, before showing off their devilish disco moves at the Pumpkin Party.
Cost: Tickets from £24 for adults and £18 for children (under 3s are free)
Visit here for more information on Boo at the Zoo at London Zoo
12. Screamland at Dreamland, MARGATE
When: Selected nights from 20th – 31st October
This Halloween One of Kent’s biggest tourist attractions will mutate into Screamland, following the £25 million investment and refurbishment of the Dreamland amusement park this summer.For 2017 Screamland includes six all-new outdoor mazes as well as interactive photo opportunity, The Prop Store. There’s the return of popular Dead and Breakfast and The Final Cut mazes as well as live music for the first time at Screamland on the Scenic Stage with Rockaoke and Radio 1’s Daniel P Carter.
Strictly one for the teenagers, the mazes are rated 12A and anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost: Tickets from £7
Visit here for more information on Screamland at Dreamland
13. Raver Tots, various locations across the UK
When: From 1st October
Raver Tots is a new family rave where kids and grown-ups can hit the dance floor together. Celebrating the best of British rave culture, you can expect some of the UK’s biggest name DJs playing the best in old school rave, drum & bass, house and UK garage. You can also expect soft play areas, parachutes, glow sticks, ball ponds, bubbles and balloons. DJs range from Nicky Blackmarket, Pied Piper, MC DT and DJ Luck & MC Neat and old school rave pioneers Slipmatt, Vibes and Druid. And it’s all for a brilliant cause, with the events raising money for ADHD and Autism awareness.
Cost: From £10 for adults and £7 for children
Visit here for more information on Raver Tots
14. Lantern Parade at Bewilderwood, NORFOLK
When: 14th – 29th October
Bewilderwood is an outdoor adventure park for families that really comes alive at this time of year. You can spend the day exploring the magical woodland, meeting the Bewilderbats and seeing the spooky decorations in the park. But make sure you stay for dusk as that’s when the real fun begins – where you take a lantern and participate in the Bewilderwood magical light extravaganza.
Cost: Tickets start from £9.50, with children under 92cm free
Visit here for more information on Lantern Parade
15. Big Fish Little Fish events, events across the UK
The original family raves for ‘2-4 hour party people’ will be entertaining families throughout the month and across the UK. Launching in Brighton and also Cambridgeshire in October, there’s also a circus-themed rave at the Museum of London Docklands on 15th October and a surf-themed event in Bournemouth on 21st of the month. There are several Halloween-themed events taking place in Ely, Lincoln, Camden, Bristol and Manchester. Spooky costumes are optional but fun for everyone is guaranteed.
Cost: From around £8
Visit here for more information on Big Fish Little Fish
16. Dark Arts at Warner Bros. Studio – The Making of Harry Potter tour
When: 1st October – 12th November
Fans of the darker side of the Harry Potter franchise should head over to the Warner Bros. Studio this Half Term to discover the secrets behind enchanted floating pumpkins and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. New for 2017, the iconic Great Hall set will be decorated with a Halloween feast and over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen on screen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You can also view the original Death Eater costumes from the film series as well as the unique masks worn by actors as well as learn wand combat moves with a Wand Choreographer and even take part in an live duel with Death Eaters in the Studio Tour’s backlot.
Price: Tickets start from £29 for children and £35 for adults
Visit here for more information on Warner Bros. Tours
17. Museums at Night, across the UK
When: 26th – 28th October
Museums at Night is the UK-wide festival of Lates in museums and galleries, where venues stay open after dark in a series of special events. Produced by Culture24, the Brighton-based arts charity dedicated to highlighting Britain’s culture and heritage, Museums at Night is a bi-annual event taking place around the country meaning you can view your favourite museums in a whole new light.
Price: varies per museum
Visit here for more information on Museums at Night across the UK
18. Avon Valley Witch and Wizard School, BRISTOL
When: 21st – 29th October
If your child dreams of Hogwarts or wishes they were the Worst Witch, make sure you enrol them into Avon Valley’s Witch & Wizard School this half term. The curriculum this year includes slime making in the potions class, as well as learning wand and broomstick skills. Each pupil will take home a witch or wizard hat, decorated broomstick, slime created in class and their very own flying licence. The ticket also includes free pumpkin carving and other Spooky Fun activities across the park.
Recommended age: 4-9yrs.
Price: £15 plus booking fee
Visit here for more information on the Wizard and Witch School
19. Halloween Fair, The Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London
When: 28th – 29th October
London’s favourite hidden gem of a museum, The Horniman Museum, is well worth the trip out of Zone 1. As well as the usual exhibitions, aquarium and giant walrus, you can meet creepy crawlies, enjoy spooky storytelling, and look around the arts and crafts markets and food stalls at the museum’s annual Halloween Fair. Over the weekend you can enjoy performances by Jumble Abode Theatre, take part in a spooky Halloween treasure hunt and meet creatures ranging from the Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches to Emperor Scorpions in the Wild Fangs Cave.
Price: Free to enter, some events have a charge
Visit here for more information on the Halloween Fair at Horseman Museum
20. Halloween at Eureka, The National Children’s Museum, Halifax
When: 21st October – 5th November
Prepare to be educated and also scared at the National Children’s Museum, with events including the Monster Mash-up show, where you can discover how your body works and investigate how doctors performed operations in ancient times. The keen crafters in the family can make their own monsters and you can also have a go at giant Operation. There are also Ghost Walks – complete with spooky stories – taking place throughout the Eureka! Grounds. Keep an eye out for some spooky characters roaming the museum, ranging from vampires and ghosts to werewolves.
Price: From £5 for children and £12 for adults (however, if you’ve been before it means you have a free pass for an entire year)
Visit here of more information on the National Children’s Museum
21. Guy Fawkes Evening at Dobbies Garden Centres, across the UK
When: 3rd November
Most parents know the secret of a good day out at the local garden centre; however, this year the Dobbies chain have taken it up a notch for Bonfire Night. The whole family can enjoy a meal of street food or supper in the restaurant, followed by an outdoor fireworks display. Once the display has finished you can then go back into the centre to see the new Christmas range of products (we think it’s never too early to start your shopping).
Price: From £12.00 each
Visit here for more information on Dobbies Garden Centre
Complied by Gill Crawshaw who blogs at A Baby on Board