Family Special

Beat the boredom of school half-term

Is there anything in life worse than a school holiday with no plans? No. So get the family out and about. Use Simone Kane's handy regional guide to this week's fun events


London

Explore an exhibition on the West Indian Front Room and join workshops inspired by African and Caribbean arts, crafts and culture, plus storytelling, baking, textile, T-shirt and lantern-making. From 25-28 October, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm, 5-15 years (under-8s must be accompanied), free. Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd, London E2 (020-7739 9893; www.geffryemuseum.org.uk).

Take a creepy cruise down the River Thames on an eerily lit boat. The Hallowe'en host will recount ghoulish tales and legends behind the city's famous landmarks and give you a parting gift. BA London Eye Creepy Cruises, 23-29 October, 4.45pm, 5.45pm, 6.45pm, adult £10, child (5-15) £5. London Eye Pier, South Bank, London SE1 (0870 5000 600; www.ba-londoneye.com). From shifting sands to scuttling scorpions, discover the life of the world's largest desert, with music and stories from the Tuareg people. Secrets of the Sahara, 24-28 October, 11am-4pm, free. British Museum, Great Russell St, London (020-7323 8000; www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk).

South and South-east

The Kent countryside is home to strange goings-on this week. Hop Farm Country Park is hosting apple-bobbing and scary stories. Or follow the Dover Castle ghost trail. The Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood, Kent (01622 211067; www.thehopfarm.co.uk). Haunted Castle, 23-26 October, 11am-4pm, adult £8.95, child £4.50. Dover Castle, Kent (01304 201628; www.english-heritage.org.uk).

Had enough of Hallowe'en? Then head to Winchester, where there are loads of non-spooky events, including Meet the Vikings, a chance to understand life a thousand years ago. From 27-29 October, 10am-5pm, free. The City Museum, The Square, Winchester. (01962 848269; www.winchester.gov.uk)

South-west

Explore the natural wonders of Devon on a Celebrity Wild Night Out Overnight Camp in Totnes. Nick Baker, a presenter on the BBC's The Really Wild Show, will lead this family adventure, featuring sensory awareness and night and dawn walks.

On 28 October, adult

£50, child £25. Wildwise, Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon (01803 868269; www.wildwise.co.uk).

Get drawing in Wiltshire's Glastonbury Abbey. Big Draw Days, 24-26 October, 9.30am-5pm, adult £4, child (5-16) £1.50.

Ask about special half-term ticket deal.

Glastonbury Abbey, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury, Somerset (01458 832267; www.glastonburyabbey.com).

Get your skates on because the ice rink at the Eden Project in Cornwall has opened for winter. Daily, 9.30am-4.30pm, £4 for 40 mins (including skates), plus admission of adult £12.50, child £5. Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall (01726 811911; www.edenproject.com).

Midlands

The Autumn Orienteering Family Challenge in Onny Meadows, Shropshire, aims to provide an entertaining introduction to map-reading and orienteering. On 24, 26, 28 October, 1pm, adults accompanying children free, child £1.50. The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms, Shropshire (01588 676000; www.shropshirehillsdiscoverycentre.co.uk). Get into action at the British Ski and Board Show in Birmingham. Highlights will include stunts and tricks by professionals on the Big Air Ramp, an ice bar, a teaching slope, kids' activities and action film and photography exhibitions. On 23 October, 10am-6pm, adult £10, child £2 (3-15). NEC, Birmingham (01580 201533; www.globalsnow shows.co.uk).

Kick off Guy Fawkes with the spooky firework show at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire. Ghost of Drayton Manor Firework Spectacular, 29 October, 6pm, adult £19, child £15 (under 12s) including entrance. Drayton Manor, Tamworth, Staffs (08708 725252; www.draytonmanor.co.uk).

East Anglia

Pencils at the ready for the Monster Making drawing competition at the Natural History Museum in Colchester, Essex. Or scare yourself at Shriek Week at the city zoo. Monster Making, 24-28 October, drop-in between 10am-5pm, Sunday 11am-5pm, free. Natural History Museum, High Street, Colchester, Essex (01206 282941; www.colchestermuseums.org.uk). Shriek Week, 23-29 October, 9am-5pm, adult £12.99, child £6.99. Colchester Zoo, Maldon Road, Stanway, Colchester, Essex (01206 331292; www.colchester-zoo.com).

Help Your Garden Wildlife, Happy Hallowe'en and Ghost Walk are all taking place at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire this week. 25, 28, 29 October, from £3.50. Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Lode Lane, Wicken, near Ely, Cambridge (01353 720274; www.wicken.org.uk).

Wales

Celebrate all things pink at the Flamingo Festival, complete with Flamingo Olympics. On 23 October, 9.30am-4pm, adult £5.50, child £3.50. National Wetlands Centre, Penclacwydd, Llwynhendy, Llanelli (01554 741087; www.wwt.org.uk).

Take off with the crew at this great storytelling event. The Singing Kettle perform Blast Off, 24 October, 2pm, £9. St David's Hall, The Hayes, Cardiff (029-2087 8444; www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk).

Feast on Welsh cuisine at the Conwy Food Festival. There will be competitions, demonstrations and events. On 23 October, £1. Muriau Buildings, Rosehill Street, Conwy (01492 593874; www.conwyfoodfestival.co.uk).

North-west

Learn more about the late Beatle John Lennon's quest for peace from the Hallowe'en Hunt at Beatles Story in Liverpool. From 23-29 October, 10am-6pm, adult £8.99, child (5-16) £4.99. The Beatles Story, Britannia Vaults, Albert Dock, Liverpool (0151-709 1963; www.beatlesstory.com).

Explore the beauty of Grizedale Forest in Cumbria on a fun walk. Appreciate the wonders of nature on the Autumn Colours Walk, 24 October, 1pm, adult £3, child £1.50. Grizedale Forest Park near Hawkshead, Cumbria (01229 860010; www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland).

Redhouse Farm in Cheshire has transformed its milking parlour into a creepy Hallowe'en ensemble of spooky cottages with fearful sights and gruesome refreshments. From 23-29 October, 12pm-8pm, £5. Redhouse Farm, Dunham Massey, near Altrincham, Cheshire (0161-941 3480; www.redhousefarm.co.uk).

North and North-east

Try this trio of free music and dance workshops with professional performers in Bradford. DJing and music production, breakdance, street dance, body poppin' and freestyling, rap/MCing and rapping. For 8 years and over. From 25-27 October, 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm, free, booking recommended. Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Lister Park, Bradford (01274 431212; email: cartwright.hall @bradford.gov.uk).

Illustrator Jamie Paterson demonstrates drawing his signature mice. Children can try some of his techniques. For 5 years and over. Mouse in a House, 25 October, 2pm-3pm, adult £5, child £4. The Engine Room, Seven Stories, 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne (0845 271 0777; www.sevenstories.org.uk).

Scotland

Dip into the variety of children's events at the Scottish Storytelling Festival 2005 in Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders. From 23-29 October. Various venues, times and admission prices (0131-557 5724; www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk).

Take a spectacular night-time journey through Perthshire's Big Tree Country, featuring a choreographed creation of sound and light performances. The Enchanted Forest, 23-29 October, from nightfall, adult £8.50, child £4.50 (5-15), booking essential. Faskally Wood, Pitlochry, Perthshire (01796 484626; www.perthshire.co.uk).

Don't miss Glasgow's biggest and best Hallowe'en Party, with wicked workshops, scary science shows and fancy-dress competitions. On 28 October, 6.30pm-9.30pm. £3.95, booking advised. Glasgow Science Centre, 50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow (0141-420 5000; www.glasgowsciencecentre.org).

Northern Ireland

Belfast comes alive - or rather dead - with its annual Hallowe'en Festival. Various venues, times and admission prices (028-9024 6609; www.gotobelfast.com).

The Thrills and Chills Hallowe'en Family Concert, part of the Belfast Festival, at Queen's University, promises a fearsome mix of music. On 29 October, 3.30pm. £5-£10. Whitla Hall, Queen's University, University Rd, Belfast (028-9097 1197; www.belfastfestival.com).

Londonderry hopes that its Hallowe'en celebrations, which will include The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe'en Carnival, will rival those of Belfast. Judge for yourself. From 24-29 October. Venues, times and admission prices (028-7137 6545; www.derrycity.gov.uk/hallowe'en).

The best

Beach activities

Four days of adrenalin-pumping water and land sports will take place on the Yaverland Beach, Isle of Wight, at the King of Shaves White Air Extreme Sports Festival. Watch the best windsurfers, surfers, cyclists, powerboat drivers, skaters, etc compete in 11 championships. From 27-30 October, four-day passes, adult £12, child (7-16) £7. White Air Village, Yaverland Beach, Sandown, Isle of Wight (01983 813813; www.whiteair.co.uk).

Circus secrets

Learn all the secrets of the circus at Science of a Circus, West Yorkshire, which promises to reveal some top tricks. Gary the Clown and his helper Suzy will explore the science behind some amazing feats - and then allow children to try classic circus skills, such as plate-spinning.

From 24-28 October, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm, free, admission to Eureka! £6.50. For six years and over. Eureka! The Museum for Children, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire (01422 330069; www.eureka.org.uk).

Cultural pursuits

Explore black and Asian cultures at free workshops, part of Black History Month. Learn to play the Indian tabla drum (8yrs+, 1-2pm) or make African shaker instruments (4-8 yrs, 1.30-2.30pm/4-5pm, £4). Pick up cartooning (8yrs+, 2.30 to 4pm) or performance poetry techniques at Planet Poetry (11-18yrs, 2-5pm, £4). Black and Asian Futures, 29 October, artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, London N12 0GA (020-8369 5454; www.artsdepot.co.uk; www.black-history-month.co.uk).

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