There are countless activities to entertain children during the October half term. Here we round up the best on offer in England and Wales for kids who love adventures, learning about space and a bit of spooky fun.
Back to nature
Youngsters can get back to nature and covered in mud at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales, which is opening a new wild play park on 26 October. It has log beams to climb, materials to build dens with and a dedicated mud kitchen for people to concoct culinary delights.
October half term is also Red Squirrel Week at Plas Newydd House and Gardens in Anglesey. Families can go on walks and trails to try and spot red squirrels, while activities from making masks and ears to face-painting and woodworking demonstrations are available on select days. The events are free with normal admission charges to the grounds. Adult tickets from £9.80 and children from £4.90.
Young thrill-seekers can go to the newly reopened Bounce Below, at Zip World in north Wales, where kids don helmets and leap from net to net in a subterranean cavern. Bounce Below sits in a former slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog and part of its refurbishment has seen a 400sq metre expansion of the play area to include four new slides and six more levels to explore. Suitable for children aged seven and over. Prices start from £25 per person or £5 for spectators.
Children can also get their kicks at BeWILDerwood in Norfolk, which is opening the doors to its treehouse adventure park until dusk during half term. The park is putting on its Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade, and children can listen to stories and carve pumpkins after a day of zip-wiring through the woods. Day tickets start from £15 for people taller than 105cm and £13.50 for those between 92cm and 105cm.
Head to Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire during half term for Boo at the Zoo, where the park’s animal talks, feeds and demonstrations are given a Halloween theme. There are also special events to join in, such as the Jumbo Express Ghost Hunt, which gets kids to find the ghosts of extinct species including the dodo and the woolly mammoth, and Ghoul School, which lets attendees gain an education in everything from creating spells to wrapping up mummies. Zoo entry from £22.80 for adults and £16.50 for children.
In Lancashire, Knowsley Safari Park lets visitors drive around its 550-acre grounds to see lions, rhinos and zebras, while visitors who don’t fancy risking their cars on the baboon route can take the Baboon Bus. The park is offering half-price entry during half term; adults go for £8.25 and children for £6.25 when booked online.
The best family days out for half term
The best family days out for half term
1/15 Go Ape, Various locations
Set amongst some of Britain’s most spectacular forests, the 28 Go Ape sites offer fun yet challenging activities for all the family, including swinging through the forest on zip wires, crossing wooden walkways and bridges, and climbing tree-top ladders, all whilst safely attached to a harness. Worried your nipper is too young? Thirteen of the sites offer the Tree Top Junior, which is a younger child-friendly version, featuring canopy exploring, scaling obstacles and amazing zip wires. Adults from £31; Children £18; www.goape.co.uk
2/15 Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Windsor Castle, which covers an area of 26 acres, is one of three official residences of The Queen and has been home to the Sovereign for over 900 years. It is the largest inhabited castle in the world and the oldest in continuous occupation. For this half term, there’s a “Bring on the Battle” event, in which you can go back to the Middle Ages and the time of the Magna Carta and find out why a great army of rebel barons tried (and failed) to capture the Castle from King John. Follow an activity trail and take part in the art workshop and on selected days, you can dress up and join medieval history interpreters. Adults from £10.40; Children from £6.70 http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle
3/15 Alton Towers Resort, Staffordshire
Escape to The Alton Towers Resort this February Half Term and meet CBeebies star Mr Bloom from 14th – 20th February, when he will be joined by his veggie pals for five daily live shows that are sure to delight young fans. Sing with Justin Fletcher on 21st and 22nd as he appears live in CBeebies Land. Other rides and attractions open especially for the half term period include Sharkbait Reef by SEALIFE and Ice Age the 4D Experience as well as Air, Nemesis, Blade and Runaway Mine Train, among others. Adults from £17.25; Children from £13.50 www.altontowers.com
4/15 Jorvik Viking Festival, York
This York-wide celebration is the largest event of its kind in Europe and runs throughout half term from 14-22 February. Featuring a huge programme of events, it’s both educational and exciting. Kids can take part in a Viking Warrior Challenge, learn about Norse Songs & Games, and learn to dress the Viking way. Meanwhile, little ones can learn about Viking farming techniques or listen to children’s author Jeremy Strong chatting about his hilarious Viking stories. There’s also the annual Best Beard contest and much more besides. Free and ticketed events www.jorvik-viking-festival.co.uk/events/
5/15 Southbank Imagine Festival, London
This two-week children's festival includes captivating theatre, dance, music, film, parades, workshops and comedy, as well as readings from some of the UK's favourite authors. A panel of children will be asking 'What Would I Do as Prime Minister for the Day?' at their very own Question Time. The Young Orchestra for London will perform a free family concert conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and there'll be special appearances from the likes of Russell Brand, Judith Kerr, Anthony Horowitz and Helen Skelton. During half term itself, the Kids Takeover will see children helping with site operations such as intercom announcements, selling programmes and assisting light technicians. Free and ticketed events www.southbankcentre.co.uk/imagine
6/15 Cadbury World, Birmingham
This half-term, a series of family entertainers will be heading up shows in Cadbury World’s outdoor marquee, with a variety of magicians, ventriloquists and jugglers showcasing their extraordinary talents throughout the week. Visitors can also take a trip through the Aztec Jungle to learn about the origins of the cocoa bean before climbing on-board the magical Cadabra ride for a gentle journey through a chocolate wonderland. The Chocolate Making zone and the 4D Chocolate Adventure, complete with motion seats, are also firm favourites. Adults from £15.44; Children from £11.35 www.cadburyworld.co.uk
7/15 Bateman’s Family Winter Garden Trail, East Sussex
Follow the winter spotter trail and learn more about what's happening over winter in the Bateman's garden. Some animals love winter, others hibernate, some plants flower in the winter, some rest. Behind the scenes, lots of animals and insects are busy preparing for the spring. Discover who is out and about and who is yet to make an appearance. Pick up a trail sheet at visitor reception and find out more about nature. 14-22 February, 11am – 3pm. Free event (normal admission fee applies Adult £9.50; Child £4.75) www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/
8/15 Chill Factore, Manchester
If you missed out on the snow this year, why not visit this huge indoor snow centre where you can tube down the slope in huge rubber rings, whizz through the Luge ice slide or race each other Crazy Sledging. You can also ski or snowboard. As long as children are aged 10+, Mum or Dad can enjoy one activity and the children another. Adult from £20; Children from £10 www.chillfactore.com
9/15 The Edinburgh Dungeon, Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Dungeon delivers an unforgettable 80-minute interactive adventure through 1000 years of Scotland’s darker history. The award winning tour includes 10 live-actor shows, state of the art special effects, 360º theatrical sets, two heart stopping rides, rib-tickling laughs and fascinating storytelling by hero characters. Tours run from 10am till 5pm every day during February, departing every ten minutes. There’s plenty to amuse the kids in the local vicinity for the rest of the day, including the much-loved National Museum of Scotland. Adults from £11.25 for adults; Children from £9.80 www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh
10/15 Science Museum, London
The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. The Wellcome Wing showcases developments in contemporary science, medicine and technology. Meanwhile, the Medical History Gallery in the museum's attic contains a substantial collection of medical history treasures. Pattern Pod introduces under-eights to the importance of patterns in contemporary science and Launch Pad is a popular hands-on gallery where children can explore basic scientific principles. And that’s just the beginning. Free http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/holiday
11/15 Ickworth Half Term Hobbies and Adventures, Suffolk
Enjoy a variety of children’s craft activities in the cosy comfort of the West Wing gallery of this Georgian mansion in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Enjoy a week of half term activities where you can make and take home some fun spring time items. And of course you can always head outside and enjoy the play and den building area and become a nature detective with a nature pack. 14-22 February, 11am – 4pm. Free event (normal admission fee applies Adult £12.80; Child £6.35) www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth
12/15 SEA LIFE London Aquarium, London
Journey through 14 themed zones laid out over three floors, where you’ll come face to fin with thousands of creatures in exciting settings as they discover how beautiful and fragile the world's marine eco-systems are. More than 500 different species live in 65 displays with some breathtaking features and plenty of inter-actives along the way. There’s also an exhibition of a collection of beautifully carved miniature animal sculptures – made from naturally discarded teeth from their resident sharks – to kick off a programme of shark related activity for half term. Adults from £18.36; Children from £13.52 www.visitsealife.com/london/
13/15 Pennywell Farm Activity Centre, South Devon
Half term week is Pennywell Pig Week, so littluns can enjoy a whole week of pig themed activities. There are plenty of other animals to see too, with a different animal activity, show or display every half hour, from bottle feeding lambs, pond dipping, ferret racing to egg collecting. There’s also new crazy golf course and if it’s raining, you can the indoor space to picnic and play. If the kids don’t want to go home, fear not as this half term, one price full price day admission ticket gives you a VIP wristband valid for the rest of half term so you can visit as much as you like. Adult £13.95; Children £9.95 www.pennywellfarm.co.uk
14/15 Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour
This offers visitors the ultimate chance to get up close to authentic sets, props and costumes from the Harry Potter film series at the very studios’ where all eight films were made. Visitors can walk through the Great Hall, see the treasures stored in Dumbledore’s office, “fly” a broomstick like a member of the cast and take a stroll down Diagon Alley. In fact, families love it so much that 97 per cent of reviews on TripAdvisor rate it as “Excellent” or “Very Good.” Adult £33; Children £25.50 www.wbstudiotour.co.uk
15/15 Pembrokeshire, Wales
Families have no end of choice here - adventure parks, castles and boat trips, among them. Want to go to the beach? This county has more Blue Flag Beaches and Seaside Awards than anywhere in the United Kingdom, with options ranging from the dunes at Poppit Sands to the two-mile beach at Newgale. At the end of the day, head out to one of the many family-friendly pubs or restaurants to sample Pembrokeshire food and drink. Free http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/
Kids who love science and space will find a hive of activities to keep them entertained at the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. Live Curious Combustion shows, running twice daily during half term, will offer fun demonstrations of energy conversion and show how explosions work, while a Destination Space Show focuses on astronaut Tim Peake's mission to the International Space Station. There will be footage from his journey, more opportunities to enjoy explosions and a hovercraft. General entry from £12 for adults and £8.40 for children.
Train lovers will enjoy a trip to York’s National Railway Museum where the Locos in a Different Light event running between 26 and 29 October sees classic trains like the Mallard and Flying Scotsman lit up with projections, light drawings and films. In the same week a new exhibition will encourage children to find their “hidden engineer” and give them the chance to see live demonstrations and meet engineers working on Crossrail and HS2. Museum admission is free.
This year Easton Walled Gardens in Lincolnshire is creating a spooky day out for families with “Tom the Tale Teller”. Appearing on 27 October, Tom tells children spine-tingling stories as they walk around the gardens, but there are pumpkin-rolling competitions and arts and crafts activities available between 19 and 30 October too. Admission is £7 for adults and £3 for children. Book online for the storytelling event.
Get lost in Alton Towers' new House of Monsters, open 21-31 October as part of the Staffordshire theme park's annual Scarefest. The experience will see visitors led around an “abandoned” building, that is actually home to a series of ghosts and monsters. Suitable for ages eight and up. Scarefest tickets from £20.