29 fantastic activities for the October 2019 half term holidays
October 2019 half term holiday family activities in England
What: Take part in some spine-chilling fun with the whole family this October half term at Birmingham Museums. At Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, have a go at creepy craft activities (make a brain in a jar!), gruesome object handling and spooky storytelling. On 31 October, Thinktank is transformed for Spooky Science Night, where you can unleash your inner mad scientist with an array of eerie experiments. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter also gets a dark makeover: take part in a kids’ jewellery workshop to create your own terrifying Halloween keepsake to take home.
Where: Birmingham Museums, various venues.
When: October half term, various dates.
Need to know: Venues and times vary, most events free and drop-in.
Image: © Thinktank Birmingham
What: Explore new inventions, discover the latest technology and get creative with your own ideas for the future thanks to a whole host of interactive activities at Brighton WonderFest. Use an ultrasound machine to see inside your body, find out about quantum cooling (that's cooling down atoms with lasers), look out through the eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope and maybe even find out exactly what ‘ultrasonic mid-air haptics’ are.
Where: Brighton Racecourse, Freshfield Road, Brighton BN2 9XZ
When: 26 October, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Free. Book tickets online.
What: Also in Brighton, Hands-on Half Term offers an amazing line up of workshops that tackle big ideas through creativity and play. Why not model a fossil-free city, make art inspired by biodiversity and engage with the tools of critical thinking to make sense of the increasingly bizarre online world?
Where: Various venues, part of Brighton Science Festival
When: 26 October - 3 November
Need to know: Ticket prices vary; check online and book in advance or buy a ticket on the door.
What: Get set for some hairy (but not too scary) Hallowe'en fun at Whipsnade Zoo. Little monsters can head to ghoul school, where there’s creepy crafts for all to enjoy including menacing mask making, fearsome face painting and petrifying pumpkin carving. There’ll also be a chance to wrap up the mummy, join the pumpkin party and match each animal to its monstrous creation as you play “poo at the zoo”.
Where: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2LF
When: 19-31 October, 11am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Online ticket £22.91 adult, £14.89 child.
What: There's some serious celebration in the south west as Museums in Bath host an array of special events and activities for their annual Museums Week. As part of the nine-day celebration, you'll be able to make a plant patterned T-shirt at the Fashion Museum, try on a toga at the Roman Baths, create a constellation keyring at the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, take part in an outdoor fossil hunt at the Radstock Museum and even enjoy daily bun tastings at Sally Lunn’s.
Where: Various venues across Bath and North East Somerset
When: 26 October - 3 November
Need to know: Prices vary. Many events are free.
What: Explore the impact that play has on our lives with Play Well, a new exhibition at London's Wellcome Collection. Featuring artworks, comics, video games and toys, as well as a new playspace created by artist David James, the exhibition investigates how play helps children (and adults) to improve their social bonds, emotional resilience and physical wellbeing.
Where: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE
When: From 24 October, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free.
What: Grab your capes, hats and wands, chant your favourite transportation spell and fly over to Eureka! for an enchanting day out. As an apprentice magician you'll be put through a series of tasks and tests in order to see if you're '#teamwitch' or '#teamwizard', before taking part in some truly magical classes which will be conjured up in the Eureka! Theatre.
Where: Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax, HX1 2NE
When: 19 October - 3 November, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Adult £13.95, child £5.95. Activities included with admission.
What: Celebrate the release of the new "A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon" film by exploring a Forestry Commission Glow Trail and help Shaun rescue lovable alien Lu-La. Download the app before you go, and pick up your adventure pack at the visitor centre, which includes an activity book, Shaun the Sheep ears and a UV pen light. Using the UV light will reveal hidden clues and puzzles in the forest, which you can solve in the app to help Lu-La charge her 'communicator' so she can phone home!
Where: Various locations across England.
When: Opening times vary.
Need to know: Adventure pack costs £3.50, app is supported on devices that run Android 6/IOS 11 or later.
What: There's seasonal fun for everyone this half term with workshops, performances and storytelling at Kew Gardens. Discover the amazing tales, legends and people behind plant names, from gods and goddesses to famous explorers and historical figures, take to the stage with the School of Comedy and learn how to entertain a crowd with improvisation techniques and hilarious jokes and follow specially-made garden trails to track down fascinating fungi.
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB
When: 19 October - 3 November, 10.30am - 3.30pm
Need to know: Activities included with admission, family ticket from £40.
Get the bigger picture
What: First launched in the year 2000, the Big Draw is now the world's largest celebration of drawing, painting and illustration, bringing together more than 4 million art lovers in over 25 countries. The new theme this year is Drawn To Life: an exploration of how being actively creative is inspiring positive change all over the world. With thousands of events in the UK alone, all you have to do is pick up a pencil/brush/stylus/finger and get ready to sketch!
Where: Venues around the UK.
When: 1-31 October, times vary.
Need to know: For events near you, enter your town at https://thebigdraw.org/all-events
What: Be Beamish bound this October and discover fascinating facts about transport across the ages. Create a Georgian-style map of your favourite route around the museum, marvel at the height of 1820s technology – the steam train – on a ride along the scenic Pockerley Waggonway, watch a tractor display, try on a tram driver's uniform and take part in a Meccano vehicle race and don't forget to get your ticket clipped as you spot different types of transport along the way.
Where: Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham DH9 0RG
When: 24 October - 3 November, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £51.
What: Are you brave enough to venture into the deep dark woods during 'Halloweden' in Cornwall? You can get to know mythical monsters and outlandish beasts at the Cryptid Petting Zoo (including the rare Mongolian Death Worm and the lovable Giant Beast), brew your own spooky potion with ancient vampire teeth, dragon's fire and ghoul tongues, weave a spider's web before finding out some more about our eight-legged friends, and listen to some spooky-but-fun Hallowe'en tales.
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG
When: 19 October - 3 November, 9.30am-6pm
Need to know: Most activities free with admission. Family ticket from £70 online.
What: Get set for a range of biological-based workshops all held in a unique cell-shaped pod suspended above the laboratories of London's Blizard Institute. This October, the focus will be "blood and guts" as you follow the journey of your circulatory or digestive system with a combination of interactive games, films and hands-on activities guaranteed to gross you out as you explore the science of the human body.
Where: Centre of the Cell, Blizard Institute, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel London E1 2AT
When: 21-25 October, times and dates for specific workshops vary.
Need to know: Adults £8, children (3-15) £6. Book online or call 020 7882 2562.
What: From the centre of the solar system to the middle of the dance floor, Manchester's Science and Industry Museum is the place to be this October. Get the party started from the saddle of a pedal-powered disco bike, find out how the food you eat fuels your fun, see a juggling show bring the microscopic world of the atom to life, have a go at building the city of your dreams, and light up your life with sun-themed workshops.
Where: Manchester Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
When: 19 October - 3 November, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Entry is free, some activities may require an additional charge.
What: Discover the stories behind some truly courageous creatures at IWM London. Based on the new IWM/Puffin book Tales of Amazing Animal Heroes, you can enjoy interactive storytelling adventures featuring Wojtek the ammunition-carrying bear, Lucca the US Marine search dog and other unexpected heroes. Find out more about the animals awarded the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross), such as Gustav the RAF carrier pigeon who flew against a 50mph headwind on D-day to deliver a crucial message. You can also meet modern assistance animals who are helping veterans with life-changing injuries today.
Where: Imperial War Museum London, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
When: 19-20 October, 11am-4pm.
Need to know: Admission and activities are free.
What: Uncover the story of a young William Shakespeare with a spooky twist at Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall. Travel back through 600 years of history on a medieval mouse hunt, bumping into the ghosts of the past while searching for a family of mice hiding in the nooks and crannies of the ancient building. You can also try your hand at quill writing, Shakespearian dress-up and a whole host of traditional Tudor games and puzzles.
When: 19 October - 3 November, 1am-4pm.
Where: Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HB
Need to know: Family ticket from £21.60 online.
What: Catch a show of family classics when beloved children's author Julia Donaldson takes to the stage to present a lively, fun performance of six of her favourites: Room on the Broom, The Magic Paintbrush, The Ugly Five, Superworm, The Gruffalo and The Cook and The King. Expect catchy songs and crazy costumes bringing the pages of the books to life, giving young (and old) fans the chance to meet those well-known characters face to face.
Where: Theatre Royal Winchester, 21-23 Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8SB
When: 31 October - 2 November,
Need to know: Tickets £18 per person.
What: Museum of the Moon is set to rise in Gloucester Cathedral with a free exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. This interstellar exhibition from artist Luke Jerram displays a 3D replica of the Moon, internally lit and floating in the nave of the cathedral accompanied by immersive surround sound composed by BAFTA award winner, Dan Jones. In addition to the viewings, there's a range of moon-inspired events including moon landing talks, moon tower tours, children’s drawing events, moon-themed crafts, storytelling, theatrical performances and a space seekers trail.
Where: Gloucester Cathedral, 12 College Green, Gloucester, GL1 2LX
When: 16 October - 4 November, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Free. Suggested entry donation, £5,
What: Ready for all things space and aliens? Well, head to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and a packed programme of tours, shows and interactive activities. You can get crafty with autumn crowns and cosmic webs, take a daily telescope walking tour, join in with the search for life on new planets in new show Planet Hunters, be wowed with interactive demonstrations and live experiments and meet science and astronomy experts to ask all the space questions you've ever wanted answers to!
Where: Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, The University of Manchester, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DL
When: 27 October - 3 November, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Family ticket, £18.15.
What: Visit Stoke's Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and see a magical transformation take place as you enter a world inspired by JK Rowling’s most famous characters. Get your sorting hat on and see if you can spot the snowy owl hiding in the tavern, then try to identify the witch’s potions in the apothecary shop before unravelling the spell in the schoolroom.
Where: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Bethesda St, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3DW
When: 5 October - 22 December, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Exhibition free.
What: Gather your scurvy crew together and get set to swashbuckle your way to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Walk the plank inside Horrible Histories Pirates: The Exhibition as you meet their band of merry makers before following the pirate trail to see if you can find the missing pieces of eight. Join the crew onboard HMS Victory as Captain Hardy returns to his cabin and ask him questions about the Battle of Trafalgar or find out treasured facts like Nelson's favourite food.
Where: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Visitor Centre, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3LJ
When: 26 October - 3 November, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £68 online.
What: This half-term get creative with a series of activities and workshops at V&A Museum of Childhood exploring a healthier, better future for you and the planet. Join the Extinction Rebellion Art Blockers for a live wood block printing session using a human printing press: just bring your own t-shirts, canvas bag, umbrella, flag or other items you would like to print on, or you could create your own symbol to wear with a positive message for a better tomorrow using fabric pieces, painting and stencils to make it into a wearable patch. You can also create a nature collage portrait using the shapes you can find in plants, flowers and vegetables.
Where: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
When: 19-27 October, 10.30am-4pm
Need to know: £7 per child per workshop, book in advance.
October 2019 half term holiday family activities in Wales
What: Calling all intrepid master builders: WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre's amazing giant LEGO brick animal trail is back. Featuring 14 giant animals and more than 254,000 bricks, see if you can spot Flavia the Andean flamingo, Emily the Emperor dragonfly and Benedict the Bewick’s swan. You can also take part in a special building workshop where you can help mummy duck find her missing ducklings, make a vehicle for a wildlife ranger mini-figure to go on a ‘wetland wildlife safari’ and build your own LEGO brick owl to take home.
Where: WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre, Carmarthenshire, SA14 9SH
When: 26 October - 3 November, 9.30am-2pm. Workshops, 10am & 2pm.
Need to know: Family admission from £24.20. Workshops £10 per child.
Find out more: www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/llanelli or call 01554 741087.
What: Enjoy some fruity fun at Erddig with a whole host of apple-themed games and craft activities, including apple displays, apple walks, talks and trails and apple printing. With music, storytelling, bush crafts, candle making and a fungal foray too, there's something for everyone.
Where: Erddig, Wrexham, LL13 0YT
When: 27 October - 3 November, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £21.40. Wellies recommended.
What: Get set to party in the medieval town of Conwy when it gets transformed by a weekend festival into the largest celebration of music, art and food in Wales. The old quayside, castle and medieval streets will be bursting with flavour, sound and sights for kids including cookery sessions, art drop ins, a farmyard of real live animals and even a mini beast world.
Where: Gwledd Conwy Feast, Civic Hall, Castle Street, Conwy LL32 8AY
When: 25-27 October, 10am-5pm
Need to know: Weekend ticket, £25.20 per family.
October 2019 half term holiday family activities in Northern Ireland
What: Celebrate the ancient festival of Hallowe’en at Ulster American Folk Park with this fun family festival. Hallowe'en traditions have their roots in the beliefs of Irish and Ulster Scots people, who carried them to America when they emigrated. Discover how pumpkin carving, fancy dress and trick-or-treating began through craft making, storytelling and barn dancing, then put your artistic skills to work and carve your very own Jack O’Lantern.
Where: Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh BT78 5QY
When: 26-31 October, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Family ticket £25.
What: Take part in a real life crime investigation and get sleuthing at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. Become a Crime Scene Investigator and track down all the clues to solve the crime – are you smart enough to find the answer? Activities will be delivered with fear finding scientific facts including finger printing, ransom note investigations and slime-hidden crime clues.
Where: Armagh Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh, County Armagh BT61 9DB
When: 29 October, 10am-3.40pm
Need to know: Costs £7 per child.
October 2019 half term holiday family activities in Scotland
What: Celebrate Hallowe'en in style with some spine-tingling spirits at Scone Palace. Running for seven nights of spookiness, you can follow the illuminated ghostly trail through the Palace grounds featuring some truly gruesome characters from the world of film while trying not to get lost in the maze of nightmares. Enjoy some ghostly story telling in the tipi of terror, try on some monstrous make up and have a go at spot of marshmallow toasting.
Where: Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland PH2 6BD
When: 25-31 October, 6-9pm
Need to know: Book online. Family ticket £51.36.
What: Can you design lighter spacecraft to send supplies to space colonies? How will you protect a craft taking humans to Mars? Through hands-on activities and family challenges, find out how space technology companies are leading the new space race at the Aberdeen Science Centre.
When: 2 September - 27 October, 10am-5pm
Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, 107 George Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1HU
Need to know: Family ticket, £19.50
What: This October, step through the portal and discover nine incredible worlds at GlasGLOW 2: an incredible feat of illumination, spectacular soundscapes and storytelling. Dive into the imaginations of the world’s leading light and sound experts as you explore the gardens, with each world transporting you to a different dimension.
Where: Glasgow Botanic Garden, 730 Great Western Road, Glasgow West End G12 0UE
When: 25 October - 10 November, 5-9.15pm
Need to know: £14 adults, £9 child.