October half term: Fun family days out, from space shows to zoo days and Halloween-themed outings

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t carve a pumpkin or make a mud pie 

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The Independent Travel

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. 

Action heroes

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.

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Bounce Below makes use of a former slate mine

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.

Go wild

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. 

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An otter gets into the spirit of  Halloween at Whipsnade Zoo

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. 

Life lessons

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. 

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 Curious Combustion at Winchester Science Centre

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.

Spooky fun

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. 

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The House of Monsters is a new attraction at Alton Towers

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