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53 fantastic activities for the October 2023 half term holidays

Child with pumpkin © Longleat
Get set for an awfully big spooky adventure this half term with our top selection of 53 educational activities for you and your family to enjoy together – watch a flying vampire acrobatic display, crack codes like a World War Two spy, or even go hunting for spirits on the streets of Tokyo!

Follow the links below to discover activities in your area: 

South East
South West
North West
North East

Northern Ireland

Main image: © Longleat/Lloyd Winters 

TheSchoolRun &

TheSchoolRun has partnered up with to help expand your options for school holiday activities and keep things affordable.

So, as well as the activities in the list, you can also find plenty of events and activities in your area at discounted prices or even for free.


IWM children exploring

Image credit: © IWM 

I Spy

What: Uncover over 100 years of intrigue, deceit and infiltration as the major new exhibition, Spies, Lies and Deception, opens its doors at IWM London. Discover the sordid stories of real-life secret agents from the First World War to the present day as you learn how deception has changed the course of conflict.
Where: IWM London, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
When: 29 September-14 April 2024, 10am-6pm, Wednesday-Sunday.
Need to know: Admission to museum and exhibition free.

Gunpowder, treason and plot!

What: Travel back in time to the dark and dangerous streets of London in 1605, where there is a conspiracy afoot to blow up Parliament and kill thousands of innocent people. Who are the traitors and who can you trust? This 1 hour and 40 minute immersive performance is brought to life by live actors, carefully curated room sets and three incredible virtual reality scenes.

Where: 8-12 Tower Hill Vaults, London, EC3N 4EE

When: Various time slots available in September and October.

Need to know: During September and October, you can secure tickets for £35 when you use the code SCHR35.

A world of words

What: Now in its 16th year, the longest-running celebration of writing in the city, the London Literature Festival is back, with a programme perfect for getting kids hooked on books! You can join in with a giant rap battle as you learn about Black British history with author Jeffrey Boakye, go on a globe-trotting aerial adventure with Fred and the Fantastic Tub-Tub accompanied by a live orchestra performance, take a dance class with Strictly’s Oti Mabuse, or snuggle down and listen to Jacqueline Wilson introduce her new book, The Best Sleepover in the World.

Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

When: 18-29 October, times vary

Need to know: Prices vary, some events free.

Terror in the Tower

What: With almost a thousand years of hair-raising history locked behind its walls, the Tower of London is transformed into the ultimate haunted house this half term. Keep your wits about you as you make your way through the stone corridors – was that a wisp of white sweeping by on the stairs, or the trail of a Tudor gown swishing past a doorway? Catch sight of a medieval queen upon a crooked throne, spot a Roman soldier near the remnants of the London Wall, glimpse the Wizard Earl concocting potions in his apothecary, or discover the dark secrets of the ruined garden lying in the White Tower’s shadow.

Where: Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB

When: 21-29 October, 11am-4pm

Need to know: Event free with admission. Adult ticket from £33.60, child ticket from £16.80. Under 5s free.

Bard to the future

What: Get set to enjoy the beauty of the Bard with storytelling sessions and workshops taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. In these interactive sessions, all led by experienced actors, teachers and directors, you’ll be able to explore the magic of Shakespeare’s stories through the language, characters, and themes of his plays – from the bloody hurly-burly of Macbeth to the eternal romance of Romeo and Juliet – with plenty of fun activities and games along the way.

Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

When: 21-28 October, times and dates vary.

Need to know: Storytelling, £15 per person; workshops, £10 per person. Separate workshops aimed at 5-8 and 9-12 year olds.

Manga madness

What: Journey East with the newly refurbished Young V&A museum as it launches its first exhibition: ‘Japan: Myths to Manga’. A whirlwind tour through Japanese history  - you’ll discover how the country’s folklore and landscape have shaped its culture and design. Discover what connects Sylvanian Families and historic netsuke (tiny sculpture), learn how a seal-shaped robot helps modern living and understand why catfish signal for danger. You can join in by making your own manga, looking out for yōkai (spirits) prowling the city streets and watch classic clips from My Neighbour Totoro and Ponyo, before getting up close to plenty of Pokémon.

Where: Young V&A, Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA.

When: Exhibition opens 14 October, 10am-5.45pm.

Need to know: Exhibition tickets, £10 per person.

Playhouse and puppetry

What: This October half-term, Museum of the Home is putting on a special Playhouse & Puppetry: On Railton Road Family Day. A free day of making puppets inspired by the real-life stories of London’s queer activism that took place On Railton Road in the 70s. Families can build their own squat-inspired den and stage, before performing to each other, families and friends.

Where: 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA

When: Tuesday 24 October, 10:30am – 4pm

Need to know: Free, drop-in

South East

Kids having fun Roald Dahl Museum

Image credit: © Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

Bewildering beasts

What: Head on over to the Roald Dahl Museum and get set to meet some truly buzzwhangling beasts! Taking inspiration from Dahl’s own monstrous villains, you can create your own clay creature or a weird and wonderful boggled box beast using different materials, pattens and textures in modelling workshops. 
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High St, Great Missenden HP16 0AL
When: 21-29 October, 10am-4.30pm
Need to know: Admission, £7.95 per person. Under 5s free. Clay and junk modelling workshops and walk, £4 extra per person.


Flying high

What: It’s chocks away at the Brooklands Museum as you zoom into the history of all things aviation with its special Air Heads event. Discover the stories of the museum’s past as a centre for pioneering flight and the venue for many world records, make your own paper aeroplane and watch it fly in the Aircraft Factory, meet aviation icons including Hilda Hewlett , Tommy Sopwith and Sydney Camm alongside other historical characters, step aboard the Brooklands Concorde Delta Golf, or become a detective for the day by solving clues, cracking cryptic messages, and uncovering hidden objects to win a prize.

Where: Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 0SL.

When: 21–29 October, 10am-5pm

Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £59.95. Pre-book Concorde visits at £3 per person extra.

Seaside science

What: Gather your bright sparks and help them make stars at the Brighton Science Festival with Hands-on Half-Term – nine days of workshops, shows and events all featuring that strange, exciting, explosive, curious, magical thing called science! You’ll be able to discover the real reason why your body gets goosebumps, hiccups and yawns, enjoy a (literally) hair-raising experience with a Van de Graff generator, play Periodic Table Top Trumps, or discover how to conduct chemistry experiments using only the contents of your kitchen.

Where: Multiple venues within Brighton and online.

When: 23-30 October, times vary.

Need to know: Prices vary by event, some are free.

Magical mischief

What: Get set for a spellbinding Halloween adventure as a motley crew of magical creatures, the Guardians of the Grounds, have made their home in and around historic Leeds Castle in Kent. Embark on a mystical quest to collect the missing pieces of a powerful spell, meeting monsters, witches, golems, and goblins on the way, before using your newfound knowledge to attend the Halloween Ball and break the terrible curse afflicting the fortress!

Where: Leeds Castle, Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL

When: 21-29 October, 10am-5pm.

Need to know: Event included with admission. Adult ticket from £30, child ticket from £22.50.

Creepy crawlies

What: Discover all you ever needed to know about amazing arachnids with these creepy-crawly activities at Drusillas. The entire park is getting into the seasonal spirit, complete with pumpkins, skeletons, and cobwebs, and you can join friendly spiders Tarangela and Ray in the den to learn more about these often-misunderstood eight-legged creatures. Afterwards, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Mummy’s maze, or enjoy a good fright in Haunted Heights, the spooky home of witches Hocus and Pocus.

Where: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5QS

When: 21-29 October, 10am-6pm.

Need to know: Events included with admission, tickets from £23.60 per person.

South West

Two children with marshmallows © Lost Gardens of Heligan

Image credit: © Lost Gardens of Heligan

 Where the wild things are

What: Head over to the Lost Gardens of Heligan and enjoy a bug-tacular Halloween adventure. Come face-to-face with spiders, snakes and other creepy creatures, before going on a peaceful forest walk to follow the Carved Pumpkin Trail. Afterwards, you can enjoy some ghoulish Halloween crafts in the Reserve Yard.
Where: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
When: Creepy creatures and other activities, 21-29 October. Giant pumpkins, 27-29 October. 10am-4pm.
Need to know: Activities free with admission; family ticket £48. 

Safari so good

What: Set off on a seasonal safari and celebrate all things autumnal at Longleat. After getting stuck into some Halloween carving and becoming a mini tractor driver for the day, you can head outside to hunt for giant pumpkins, each one bearing a clue to help you solve a riddle and win a sweet treat. Afterwards, discover curious kinkajous, prickly porcupines, and plenty more amazing animals or take a drive through safari, where you can see tigers at home amongst the hues of autumn and the wolves testing out their howls for the winter nights.

Where: Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW

When: 21-29 October, 10am-6pm

Need to know: Many activities free with admission, adult from £39.95, child from £29.95.

Boating booty

What: Experience trick-or-treating with a difference thanks to this bewitching boat trip down the Beaulieu River. Don your Halloween costumes and hop into a Canadian canoe before setting off on a two-hour trip downstream, taking in the scenery and wildlife as you hunt for Captain Redbeard’s hidden Halloween treasure along the riverbank!

Where: New Forest Activities, Hazel Copse Farm, Beaulieu, Hampshire SO42 7WA

When: 21-29 October, times vary.

Need to know: Suitable for all ages. Adults £36, children £24.


USA okay

What: Enjoy a half-term feast of seasonal activities in classic US style at the American Museum. Enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt around the autumnal gardens, or hunt for potion ingredients hidden in the Manor House, where bats, skeletons and pumpkins add a touch of seasonal spirit. There’s also the chance to build your own spooky Lego brick creation, or enjoy some Halloween treats in the Deli – but don’t forget to come in costume!

Where: American Museum and Gardens, Claverton Manor, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7BD

When: 21-29 October, 10am-5pm

Need to know: Family ticket, £39.50. Trails, £3 extra per child.


Wooden you know it

What: Get set for plenty of seasonal surprises as Cornwall’s Eden Project prepares to host its annual Halloweden spectacular. This year, the legendary Tree Giants have arrived, with plenty of ancient wisdom and enchanting stories to share. Go on a magical quest to become a forest guardian as you meet them all throughout Eden’s different biomes, before taking part in a mystical craft workshop where you’ll use magical natural materials to create your own wonderful wand.

Where: The Eden Project, Bodelva, Par PL24 2SG

When: 18-29 October, 9.30am-6pm.

Need to know: Most activities free with admission, adults, £33, children, £11. Wand making workshop, £2 extra per person.


Meerkats and pumpkin © ZSL / Whipsnade Zoo

Image credit: © ZSL / Whipsnade Zoo

Boo at the zoo

What: Join the dark side at Whipsnade Zoo as you find out everything there is to know about nocturnal animals of all shapes and sizes. Get into the Halloween spirit with all sorts of spooky activities – bust out your best dance moves in the deadly disco, enjoy some thrills and chills with seasonal storytelling, get stuck in with creepy crafts and pumpkin carving.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF
When: 21-29 October, 10am-6pm.
Need to know: Most activities free with admission, tickets from £28.50 adult, £19.90 child.

Psst... if you're looking for specific pumpkin-picking ideas, visit our friends at Twinkl for their fabulous Pumpkin Patch Guide 2023.

Going loco

What: Hop onboard the fangtastic Halloween Express at the Audley End Miniature Railway and enjoy a spook-tacular train ride into the deep, dark woodlands. Meet a coven of friendly witches and their monster friends, before using your magic skills to make your own spell bag. Then pay a visit to the fairy and elf village before meeting William the Wizard, who needs your help keeping the woodland creatures warm this winter. Plus, if you book an afternoon or evening slot, you’ll be able to see the forest festooned in glittering lights!

Where: Audley End Miniature Railway, Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JB

When: 21-31 October, 10am-5.40pm.

Need to know: Tickets, adults, £17, £8.50 for children under 92cm tall.

Messing about

What: Head into Ipswich for the spectacular SPILL festival – a jam-packed programme of music, performances, visual arts and much more for all ages to enjoy. Meet the massive inflatable Mega Bunny, have a go at trying out some normally forbidden deeds in the 50 Dangerous Things live show,  discover the hidden histories of women at sea, or even help to create – and later destroy – a huge cardboard-box cathedral.

Where: Various locations in and around Ipswich, and online.

When: 13-29 October, various dates and times.

Need to know: Prices vary. Some events free.

Do the dinosaur

What: Calling all dino lovers! Get ready for some not-so-serious spooky study sessions at the ROARR! Weston-Smythe School of Dinosaurs and the Undead. Meet six different quirky teachers as you attend the weird and wonderful lessons, from dinosaur history with Professor Bloodlust to Halloween dance classes with Professor Crochet. And once your education is complete, don’t forget to check out the high ropes course, Dinomite soft play area, and go-kart track before you go.

Where: ROARR!, Lenwade, Norwich NR9 5JE

When: 21-29 October, 10am-5pm.

Need to know: Activities free with admission. Tickets, £15 for adults and children over 90cm, free for children under 90cm.


Grave matters

What: Make no bones about it, the Land of the Dead festival will be making its way to Chelmsford, bringing with it tons of events and activities inspired by the famous Mexican Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Expect eerie acrobatics and creepy clowns underneath the big top, meet wandering ghouls and ghosts throughout the fairgrounds, or go potty for pumpkins, and enjoy picking yours from the pumpkin patch before getting stuck into carving and making pumpkin pie.

Where: Kings Farm, Margaretting Rd, Writtle, Chelmsford CM1 3PJ

When: 21-29 October, 10am-4pm

Need to know: Online daytime tickets (per person) for pumpkin picking only, £7.50, for pumpkins and fairground, £15.99, for pumpkins, fairground, and circus, £25.99.


Mum and daughter at dig © York Archaeology

Image credit: © York Archaeology

I should cocoa!

What: If you’ve got a sweet tooth there’s plenty to unwrap with these scrumptious events taking place at York’s Chocolate Story. Learn the skills of an expert chocolatier as you master chocolate piping and ghostly truffle rolling, go on a spine-chilling Halloween tour around the city, with bonus activities and tasty chocolates!
Where: York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York YO1 7LD
When: Tour and Truffles, 28 October-5 November, 5pm. Trick or Treat Trek, 28-31 October, 1.15pm and 4.15pm (30 and 31 only). Family Masterclass, 30 October, 1 and 3 November, 2pm.
Need to know: Tour and Truffles, £23.50, adult, £21 child. Trick or Treat Trek, £10, adult, £15, child. Family masterclass, £29.95 per person.

Of Norse you can

What: Huddle round the campfire and enjoy some horribly historical ghost stories with these special evening events at JORVIK DIG! Explore behind the scenes with the Ancient Dust Busters exhibition and discover more about the past peoples of York – and the fascinating gruesome toothsome facts you can learn from just their teeth – before settling down for some sinister stories about a Viking warrior’s tragic spirit, and the ghost hunter who tried to track him down.  

Where: JORVIK DIG, Central Methodist Church, St Saviourgate, York YO1 8NQ

When: 28-29 October, 5.30-6.30pm and 7.30-8.30pm.

Need to know: Family ticket, £30. Includes entry to exhibition, ghost stories and hot drink and snack.

Blooming marvellous

What: Enjoy some awesome autumnal activities taking place amidst the fallen leaves at RHS Harlow Carr. Take part in creepy craft workshops and make some spooky creations, including crafting your own magic wand from fallen twigs, leaves and branches, before decorating it with colourful strings and raffia. You can also meet all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures, from slithering reptiles to tiny invertebrates, in the animal handling area, or say hello to the garden detectives and enjoy some enchanting seasonal stories and Halloween-themed games.

Where: RHS Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB

When: 28 October–5 November, 9.30am-6pm

Need to know: Activities included with admission, adults, £13.85, children, £6.95.


Ghostly goings-on

What: All sorts of sinister spooks can be found haunting Temple Newsham House this Halloween season. As you make your way through the darkened corridors, make sure to pick up a camera and take some snaps as you hunt for ghosts – what spooky secrets will be revealed when the film is developed? You can also join in with creepy crafts or take part in a tour exploring the terrifying history of Temple Newsham, from mysterious orbs to the spectre of the Blue Lady, before journeying beneath the creaky floorboards to the dark and dingy cellar – if you dare.

Where: Temple Newsham, Temple Newsam Rd, Leeds LS15 0AE

When: 28 October–5 November, 10.30am-5pm.

Need to know: Family ticket to Temple Newsham House, £21. Tours, £5 per person.

Take fright!

What: Meet all of your favourite ghastly ghouls and bothersome beasties as you enter Yorkshire’s Frightwater Valley. Pick up your Halloween swag bag at the boo-tique and follow the trail around the park to collect all sorts of goodies, get into the spirit of the season with freaky face painting, brave the live scare maze, enjoy spooky spells and mysterious tricks taking place in the Show Barn, and don’t miss the chance to win plenty of prizes on offer for the most chilling costumes.

Where: Lightwater Valley, North Stainley, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3HT

When: 28 October-5 November, 10.30am-5pm.

Need to know: Tickets from £26.50 per person, visitors under 90cm tall go free. Additional charge applies for trick-or-treat trail.


Castle after dark © Warwick Castle

Image credit: © Warwick Castle

Ghost busting

What: Explore over a thousand years of haunted history at Warwick Castle. Expect all kinds of frightful delights, from learning to capture ghouls at ghost busting spook school, to joining a coven of witches in their den of bubbling cauldrons or enjoying live entertainment on the Dead Centre Stage
Where: Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU
When: Halloween activities, 21 October-5 November, 10am-4pm. Castle After Dark, 21, 27-29 and 31 October, from 6pm.
Need to know: Events free with admission, tickets £32 per person. Castle After Dark tickets £21.50 per person.

Bricking it

What: It’s all coming together at Birmingham’s Legoland Discovery Centre, so get set to enjoy lots of creepy construction-based fun. Help a team of master builders put the finishing touches to a giant Lego vampire statue, craft your own creation to take pride of place in the Pumpkin Patch Hall of Fame or join the spooky skeleton mascot for a boo-gie at the Halloween dance party.  Don’t miss the chance to watch the new 4D animated movie the Great Monster Chase, and keep your eyes peeled for spooky surprises hidden around the building.

Where: Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham, King Edwards Road, Birmingham B1 2AA

When: 30 September-5 November, 10am-6pm (weekends), 10.30am-3pm (Monday and Friday), 10.30am-2pm (Tuesday-Thursday).

Need to know: Activities included with admission, tickets from £18.50 per person.

Band together

What: Join CBeebies superstar Andy Day as he steps off the screen and onto the live stage at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. Expect a brilliant, madcap mix of songs, slapstick and silliness as he jams up a storm with popular songs from his show Andy and the Band – with the help of Moxy, Rio, Blu and Cousin Mac – to create an uplifting and fun performance that makes a perfect first gig for little ones.

Where: Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND

When: 23 October, 12pm.

Need to know: Tickets from £20 per person.

Horror at the Hall

What: Meet a selection of weird and wonderful characters as you go for a wander around the corridors of Birmingham’s 400-year-old Aston Hall. You’ll bump into the sinister witch hunter as he prowls around looking for witches, meet a medieval wise woman offering potions, poultices, and other quirky cures to heal all that ails you, and a man of science and medicine who ponders if the Hall can truly be haunted…

Where: Aston Hall, Trinity Rd, Birmingham B6 6JD

When: 29 October, every 15 minutes from 12pm to 2.45pm.

Need to know: Adult tickets, £10, children, £5.

Fairground frights

What: Prepare yourself for spooks and shocks galore as the annual Scarefest spooktacular returns to Alton Towers. Explore the dark depths of Altonville Mine and encounter the strange creatures that lurk there, knock on the doors of Spooky Avenue for tricks and treats galore, dance the night away with the spirits of the Alton Ancestors, or dress up in your favourite costume and join the Cbeebies characters - Bing, Ubercorn and Peter Rabbit - at the Monsters Ball!

Where: Alton Towers, Farley Ln, Alton, Stoke-on-Trent ST10 4DB

When: 7-8, 13-31 October, 10am-9pm

Need to know: Day passes from £39 per person. 

North West

Julia Donaldson at The Lowry, Salford © Nathan Chandler

Image credit: © Nathan Chandler

Out of this world

What: Get set to soar into space and meet some (literally) star-crossed lovers at Manchester’s Lyric Theatre, thanks to this new adaptation of The Smeds and The Smoos by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. On a far-off planet, Smeds and Smoos can’t be friends. But when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love and zoom off into space together, the stage is set for a tale full of music, laughs and interplanetary adventures.
Where: Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Pier, 8 The Quays, Salford, Manchester M50 3AZ
When: 24-29 October, 11am and 1.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £18.50 per person. 

Creature feature

What: From dogs and horses to bears and pigs, animals have always been involved in war, and this half-term you’ll be able to discover some of their amazing stories at IWM North. Discover the different roles animals have played in conflict, from communication to companions, as you match the creature to its job, learn all about the Dickin Medal, the highest award for animal bravery that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and even get the chance to handle real historic artefacts and photographs from the IWM collections.

Where: IWM North, Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ

When: 21-29 October, 10am-4pm, drop-in.

Need to know: Admission and activities free, entry tickets must be booked in advance.

Terrifying tours

What: Discover the ghoulish side of Liverpool with this trio of immersive ghost tours, packed with storytelling, history, and sinister sites. Expect tales filled with spirits, skulduggery, slums and slavery as you explore the eerie Necropolis of St James’ Cemetery Gardens, take a tour of the Auld City or stroll down spooky Hope Street, the most haunted street in northern England.

Where: The Philharmonic Pub, 36 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BX (Hope Street Shivers and Secret Garden & Cemetery Shivers tours), Queen Victoria Monument One Derby Square, James St, Liverpool L2 1AB (Auld City and the Dead House tour), meet outside.

When: Secret Garden & Cemetery: 21 and 28 October, 6pm. Auld City & The Dead House: 23 and 30 October, 7pm. Hope Street Shivers: 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 and 29 October, times vary.

Need to know: Family ticket, £72 for all tours.

Wizarding wonders

What: Take a trip to Tatton Park estate and step into an enchanting, magical adventure with an invitation to the annual Wizard’s Gathering. Join the Troll King and his retinue of gnomes, elves, witches, wizards, goblins, fairies, and fauns as they celebrate the Autumn Wakes festival: expect plenty of songs and performances, apple bobbing challenges, broomstick flying, captivating spells, and much more. Don’t forget to pick up a farm-fresh pumpkin before you go, and if you’re keen on getting into the Halloween groove, why not rock up to the family silent disco?

Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford WA16 6SG

When: Wizard’s Gathering, 26-29 October, 10.30am-2.30pm. Pumpkins, 21-29 October, 11am-4pm. Silent disco, 28 October, 2-3pm.

Need to know: Wizard’s Gathering, from £16 per person when booked before 1 October, £18 per person afterwards. Pumpkin picking, £4 per pumpkin, plus parkland entry of £8 per vehicle. Silent disco, £6.50 per person.

Underwater world

What: Dive into SEA LIFE for some eerie underwater fun as you learn the tricks of different sea creatures while picking up some spooky treats! Meet Serafina the Sea Witch and follow her interactive trail, completing some splash-tastic challenges along the way to becoming a Defender of the Sea, and afterwards you’ll be able to visit the Pumpkin Patch and craft your own scary shark hat.

Where: SEA LIFE Manchester, The Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS

When: 23 September–31 October, 10am-5pm (weekdays), 10am-7pm (Saturday), 10am-6pm (Sunday).

Need to know: Included with admission, adult tickets from £18.50, children £15.50.

North East

Kids crafting © Life Science Centre

Image credit: © Life Science Centre

Go to extremes

What: You’re guaranteed a warm welcome at the Life Science Centre as it explores the science of fire and ice! Find out how extreme heat and cold interact in the new live science show, keep an eye out for the spooky skeletons scattered around the centre, or get stuck in to making some super squishy slime.
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4EP.
When: Most activities throughout October. Slime workshop, 28 October-5 November. Open every day, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Activities included with admission, adult, £12.17, child, £9.09.


Beastly books

What: There’s plenty of ghoulish goings-on to enjoy at the Seven Stories’ Halloween spook-tacular in Newcastle. Sneak into the museum after dark for a special trick-or-treating tour meeting ghostly chums along the way, before settling down with your snacks for a screening of Casper the Friendly Ghost. Or journey into the dark, dark attic and get cosy as the rib-tickling classic tale of Funnybones is brought to un-life before your very eyes!

Where: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, 30 Lime St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ

When: Funnybones storytelling, 28 October-5 November, 10.30am-1.30am (until 3.30pm on 2 November). Film screening, 30 October-3 November, 5.30pm-8.30pm.

Need to know: Funnybones storytelling, £5.50 per person. Film screening tickets, £16.50 per child, £10 per extra adult. For both events, one adult goes free with each child ticket.

Pottering around

What: Follow in the footsteps of your favourite boy wizard as you enjoy a magical day out at Alnwick Castle. Learn the basics of broomsticks in the very spot where Harry had his first flying lesson with the help of an expert Wizarding Professor, and soon enough you’ll be levitating across the lawn too! Afterwards, you’ll be able to find out more about how the castle was transformed into Hogwarts or brave the wrath of a dangerous dragon as you embark on an interactive quest.

Where: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick NE66 1NQ

When: Open every day, 10am-5.30pm. Broomstick training sessions last 25 minutes.

Need to know: Events free with admission, family ticket, £53.

Spooky strolls

What: Pay a visit to bewitching Belsay Hall after dark and join a pair of Victorian ghost hunters as they explore the secrets of the shadowy gardens. As you tread carefully along the lantern-lit paths, you’ll hear plenty of spine-chilling stories full of strange and spooky goings-on that are sure to get you into the spirt of the season.

Where: Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Belsay, Nr Morpeth, NE20 0DU.

When: 28-31 October, 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm.

Need to know: Adults, £14, children, £8.50. Does not include admission.

Fangs a lot

What: Enjoy a hilarious Halloween story as Newcastle’s Northern Stage theatre presents their latest family show, the Bat with No Bite. In a cobweb covered attic, above a dark and dusty house, a series of spooky surprises unfolds after the coffin lid is lifted on a secret that is best kept out of the sunlight… but can you really trust a vampire to keep their mouth shut? Complete with plenty of spooky puppets, this musical adventure is a perfect Halloween treat for little ones to sink their teeth into.

Where: Northern Stage, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RH

When: 28 October-4 November, 11am and 2pm.

Need to know: Adult tickets, £12, under 16s, £10.


Witch in black chasm © The Silver Mining Experience

Image credit: © The Silver Mining Experience

Going underground

What: Descend into the depths of a Victorian mine at the Silver Mountain Experience and uncover some spooky surprises, as well as the gruesome history of those who used to work there. 
Where: The Silver Mountain Experience, Llywernog, Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth, SY23 3AB
When: 21 October-5 November, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Activities free with admission. Tickets for one tour (The Black Chasm, A Dragon’s Tale, or A Miner’s Life), £15.95, adult, £11.95, child, booked online. Pumpkin carving, £3 extra.

Mighty museums

What: The Welsh Museums Festival is back, with two whole weeks of events and activities for all ages taking place at museums across Wales. Expect all sorts of historical and Halloween-y happenings, with games, crafts, and activities galore. You’ll be able to go behind the scenes in special museum tours, take part in conservation sessions and get up close to historical artefacts. For example, at St Fagans National Museum of History you can meet a horde of ghostly guests straight from the weirdest pages of Welsh folklore, watch the Wicker Man burn, and enjoy lantern-making and potion-stirring workshops.

Where: Museums throughout Wales, online and in person

When: 28 October-5 November, times and dates vary. St Fagans, 29-31 October, 6pm-9pm.

Need to know: Many events free. Book in advance. St Fagans £14 per child, £11 per adult.

Picking pumpkins

What: Enjoy some fun at Forage Farm while you pick up a fresh pumpkin just in time for Halloween. The pumpkin patch isn’t the only attraction, with the farm also boasting pumpkin catapults (yes, really!), a maize maze, tractor rides, hay bale towers and face painting, or why not say hello to the friendly alpacas, piglets and pygmy goats.  If you’re feeling brave enough, you can even enjoy a twilight pumpkin picking session too!

Where: Forage Farm, Penllyn Estate, Llwynhelig, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7RN

When: 21-22, 26-31 October, 10am-4pm. Twilight picking, 20-21, 27-30 October, 7-9m.

Need to know: Day picking, £8.50 per car. Pumpkin catapulting, £2. Face painting, £5, twilight picking, £5. Wear warm clothes and wellies.

Getting schooled

What: Cardiff’s Techniquest science centre will be welcoming their victims – er, visitors – to Ghoul School this October to find out how you can use science and technology to make Halloween an absolute scream. At this very special scare school, you’ll learn how to create the perfect spooky atmosphere – from making a truly terrifying entrance to finishing with the biggest bang. It will be a hair-raising experience for everyone to enjoy!

Where: Techniquest, Stuart Street, Cardiff, CF10 5BW

When: 30 September-31 October, 10am-5pm.

Need to know: Event tickets, £2, family ticket from £40.90 with £2.50 booking fee.


Roman McIntyre and Effie Beamish get ready for the National Museum of Flight’s Half Term Bricks event © Paul Dodds

Image credit: © Paul Dodds

Block party

What: Take a brick-based journey through time at the National Museum of Flight as you explore the Brick History exhibition, where 30 moments from throughout history have been recreated in Lego bricks – from Viking invasions to the doom of the dinosaurs, from Mozart’s compositions to Suffragette protests. 
Where: National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield, B1347, North Berwick EH39 5LF
When: Brick History until 3 November, 10am-5pm. Activities, 14-22 October, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.
Need to know: Free with admission, adults £13, children £8.

Pure imagination

What: The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, an annual celebration of tales, fables, and yarns of all kinds, is back and invites everyone to gather around the hearth and get cosy for some oral storytelling from across the world. Join in with the tall tales and discover Cinderella stories from all over the globe, listen to traditional Japanese music and storytelling to create your own manga, discover the history of Auld Edinburgh on an interactive walking tour, or even watch a unicorn parade!

Where: Online and locations across Scotland.

When: 13-29 October, times and dates vary.

Need to know: Some family events free, others £5 per person.

Gothic goings-on  

What: Get set for three nights filled with creepy creatures and macabre mysteries as the Paisley Halloween Festival returns for another spook-tacular year, this time with a gothic theme. You can follow the trail through the haunted gates to explore the bat’s cave and raven realm, watch a flying vampire aerobatic show, or catch a performance by festival-faves Spark! LED drummers and the flame-throwing PyroCeltica. There’s also sword-swallowing, stilt-walkers, live music and more!

Where: The town centre of Paisley, around the Town Hall, Abbey, and River Cart.

When: 26-28 October, 5-9pm.

Need to know: Free. Warm clothes recommended.

Spook-tacular science  

What: Embrace the eerie side of science with this extra-spooky event at the Aberdeen Science Centre. Join in with your fellow guys and ghouls for a massive Halloween party – you can make potions using ghost tears and fairy dust amidst bubbling cauldrons, meet a visiting mad scientist for all sorts of hair-raising demonstrations, get stuck into some squishy slime, but don’t forget to come along in your best costume for a chance to win the grand prize.

Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, 179 Constitution St, Aberdeen AB24 5TU

When: 28 October, 5.30pm-7.30pm.

Need to know: Child tickets £13.95, up to two accompanying adults free per child.

Northern Ireland

Father and son looking at binoculars © WWT

Image credit: © WWT

Blake, rattle and stroll  

What: Unlock your creativity and explore wonderful wetland nature with these artistic activities at WWT Castle Espie, all inspired by Quentin Blake. Pick up one of the trail maps, compete with Blake’s characteristic illustrations, and enjoy an autumnal bird spot through the reserve. 
Where: Castle Espie Wetland Centre, 78 Ballydrain Rd, Comber, Newtownards BT23 6EA
When: Activities until 1 January, exhibition, 14 October-8 December, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Events and exhibition free with admission, family ticket £23.27.

Picture perfect

What: It’s lights, camera, action! as Cinemagic – the International Film and Television Festival for Young People, returns to venues in Belfast for its 34rd year bringing with it a stupendous selection of the world’s best family-friendly cinema. With dozens of events, there’s sure to be something for cinephiles of all ages to enjoy – whether that’s brushing up on your skills in a filmmaking, animation or gaming masterclass, catching special showings of family favourites like Wallace and Gromit, The Wizard of Oz and The BFG or even taking the opportunity to become a junior film critic!

Where: Belfast’s Ulster Museum, Odeon Cinema, and Queen’s Film Theatre, as well as online and in other regional locations.

When: 30 September-31 October, various dates and times.

Need to know: Prices vary by event, some are free.

Fairy fun

What: Go on an enchanting evening walk through the illuminated gardens of Hillsborough Castle as all of your favourite fairytales come to life, with a special spooky twist. Say hello to Little Red Riding Hood as you set off on your adventure, meeting wicked witches and evil stepsisters as you search for the secrets of the scarecrows, who’ve been brought to life by mischievous magic.

Where: Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, The Square, Hillsborough BT26 6GT

When: 26-29 October, 6pm-9pm.

Need to know: Adults £15, children £9.80, under 5s free. 

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