Give the children a treat - here are 50 ways to make half-term fly

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

1 Hallowe'en at Drusillas Park

1 Hallowe'en at Drusillas Park

From 23 to 31 October, the children's zoo in East Sussex is staging Hallowe'en events for mini-witches and wizards, including mask- and stained-glass-window-making workshops. There will also be special visits to the Rodrigues Fruit Bat enclosure.

Drusillas Park (01323 874100; www.drusillas.co.uk), Alfriston, East Sussex. Open daily 10am-4pm. Admission £9.99 adults, £9.49 children aged two-12. Family tickets £36.45 for two adults and two children.

2 Illuminate your Jack O'Lantern

Enter a personalised pumpkin in Port Lympne Wild Animal Park's pumpkin-carving competition. The ghastly gourds should be brought to the park before 28 October and judging will take place over the weekend of 30-31 October. Prizes include sponsorship of a park animal of your choice, a complimentary family ticket and a cuddly toy. The pumpkins will be displayed at the park over the weekend, when children will get the chance to have their faces painted, too.

Open daily 10am-4pm. Admission £11.95 adults, £8.95 children aged four-16. Port Lympne Wild Animal Park (01303 264647; www.howletts.com), Lympne, near Hythe, Kent. Family tickets cost £34 for two adults and two children.

3 Madame Tussauds Scare School

Master the art of frightening your friends at Madame Tussauds Hallowe'en Scare School until 31 October. Have your face painted as a scary character, learn how to tell a good ghost story or summon the courage to visit Chamber Live! Serial Killers, where creepy waxworks of serial killers come to life. Activities are suitable for children under 12 years of age. However, Chamber Live! is suitable only for over-12s.

Madame Tussauds (0870-400 3000; www.madame-tussauds.co.uk), Marylebone Road, London NW1. Open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm and weekends 9am-6pm. Admission £21.99 adults, £16.99 children aged 15 and under. Pre-booking recommended.

4 Hobbit's heaven rehearsal

Tread the boards at London's Theatre Museum from 23 to 31 October. Budding thespians will get the chance to create their own special-effects make-up, design a pair of hobbit feet, listen to a reading of The Hobbit and even meet some dragons and wizards.

The Theatre Museum (020-7943 4700; www.theatremuseum.org.uk), Russell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission free, except the "Movement, Costumes and Creatures workshop" which costs £3 for children aged four-seven and £6 for children aged eight-12. Pre-booking essential.

5 A garden tour in West Sussex

Cruise Wakehurst Place estate in West Sussex in style. The 500-acre estate will be putting on autumn minibus tours today and on 24 October for visitors who would normally find it difficult to get around the gardens. The estate has walled and water gardens, a wetland conservation area, woodland, lakes and rare and exotic plants.

Wakehurst Place (01444 894018), Ardingly, West Sussex. Open daily 10am-5pm with free minibus tours departing regularly. Admission to gardens £7 adults, under-17s free. The minibus is suitable for wheelchair users.

6 Ghosts of soldiers in Somerset

Get spooked at Dunster Castle in Somerset, reputedly haunted by Civil War soldiers and a lady in grey. Half-term activities include craft workshops, story-telling and a ghoulish fancy dress competition on 27 October and ghost tours on 30 October.

Dunster Castle (01643 821314; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), near Minehead, Somerset. Open daily 11am-4pm, with evening ghost tours departing 5.45pm-10.30pm. Admission free for children in fancy dress, £6.80 adults, £3.40 children under 17. Family ticket £16.80 for two adults and three children. Pre-booking is recommended. Ghost tours £9 adults, £4 children.

7 Gaslight ghoulishness

Dress up at Blists Hill Victorian Town for its Ghostly Gaslight event on 30 October. Experience the recreated Victorian town at night, browse around the Spooks Market or try a coffin out for size. Round off the evening at the Monster Bash disco.

Blists Hill Victorian Town (01952 884391; www.ironbridge.org.uk), Legges Way, Madeley, Telford. From 6pm to 9pm. Admission £4 adults, £2 children aged five-16. Family tickets cost £18 for two adults and two children.

8 Brolly moves

Marvel at the skills of the dancers performing in Dance Umbrella 2004, London's International Festival of Contemporary Dance, until 27 November. One of the performances taking place during half term, called "Bird Song", fuses dance with film and light installations. It will be performed by the Siobhan Davies Dance Company at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on 23 and 24 October. There will be a chance to meet the artists after the Sunday performance.

Dance Umbrella (020-8741 4040; www.danceumbrella.co.uk) takes place at venues across London. Tickets £5-£15. Performances begin at 8pm with a matinee at 3pm on 24 October.

9 From Belfast to Oz

Celebrate the 42nd Belfast Festival, which runs from 22 October to 7 November. The festival, which has a wide-reaching theme with offerings from Mexico to Australia, includes a packed programme for families. Highlights include dance, theatre, music, comedy and film.

The Belfast Festival (028-9097 2626; www.belfastfestival.com) is at venues across the city. Prices and times vary.

10 Dylan Thomas in Swansea

Remember one of Swansea's most cherished sons at the Dylan Thomas Festival, at the Dylan Thomas Centre from 27 October to 9 November. The programme features performances, readings, films, music and exhibitions and Thomas's daughter, Aeronwy, reading from a collection of her own poems on 31 October.

The Dylan Thomas Centre (01792 463980; www.dylanthomas.org), Somerset Place, Swansea. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4.30pm. Admission free, with most special events at varying prices and held during the evening.

11 A witch's trail in Nottingham

Follow the witches' trail at the Brewhouse Yard Museum of Nottingham Life during its half-term Hallowe'en Happenings from 25 to 29 October. Among the events, children over five can paint their own glass candleholders and make masks and Hallowe'en pictures.

Brewhouse Yard Museum of Nottingham Life (0115 915 3600), Castle Boulevard, Nottingham. Events take place between 10am and 4pm. Admission is free on weekdays, £1.50 adults, 80p concessions at weekends.

12 Mini-off-roaders at Beaulieu

Rev up at Beaulieu Motor Museum, which will be staging off-road mini jeep driving experiences daily during half term. Children will get the chance to drive a scaled-down version of a four-wheel drive jeep around a specially designed off-road course at the museum (under strict supervision).

Beaulieu Motor Museum (01590 612345; www.beaulieu.co.uk), John Montagu Building, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission £14 adults, £7.25 children aged five-12. Family tickets cost £39 for two adults and three children.

13 Spooky sky ride by the Thames

Leave your broom at home and take to the sky in the London Eye. From 23 to 31 October, the attraction will be transformed with on-site witches' tales and Thames legends, presented by London Eye witches. Children arriving in fancy dress will receive a complimentary trick or treat bag and there will be a competition to win DVDs, meals and a mini-television and DVD player.

The London Eye (0870-5000 600; www.londoneye.com), County Hall, South Bank, London SE1. The stories will be told between 4pm and 8pm. Admission £11.50 adults and £5.50 children aged five-15.

14 Fly away with Peter Pan

Take off for Neverland at the Golden Hinde's half-term Peter Pan drama workshops. The Golden Hinde, a five-level galleon, has circumnavigated the world but is now a museum. On 26 and 28 October it will stage drama workshops in which you can play the boy who refused to grow up.

The 'Golden Hinde' (08700-11 8700; www.goldenhinde.co.uk), St Mary Overie Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. Events take place from 1pm to 4pm. Admission £12 for the first child and £10 per additional child. Pre-booking essential.

15 Play flamingo croquet in Wales

Go pink at the National Wetlands Centre in Wales's Flamingo Festival on 23 and 24 October. Play Alice in Wonderland-style croquet (with imitation flamingos, of course), get arty in craft workshops and take a guided tour to see the chicks.

National Wetlands Centre Wales (01554 741087; www.wwt.org.uk), Llanelli Centre, Penclacwydd, Llwynhendy, Llanelli. Open daily 9.30am-5pm. Admission £5.50 adults, £3.50 children aged five-15. Family tickets cost £14.50 for two adults and two children.

16 Catch the colours of autumn

Create an autumnal landscape at the Nant Mill Visitor Centre in Wrexham. On 26 October visitors will get the chance to create a painting inspired by the Clywedog Valley as it turns to autumn gold.

Nant Mill Visitor Centre (01978 752772; www.wrexham.gov.uk), Rhosberse Road, Coedpoeth, Wrexham. The event takes place from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Admission £1 to paint, otherwise free. Participants must bring an apron.

17 Story-telling in Edinburgh

Listen to one of the hundreds of stories that will be told during the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh from 22 to 31 October. A packed programme of family events is planned, from "Sea Stories from Scandinavia" at the McDonal Road Library to "Secret Stories from the Rainforest" at Our Dynamic Earth. Most events are free but should be pre-booked.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (0131-556 9579; www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk) takes place at venues throughout Edinburgh. Prices and times vary.

18 An enchanted forest near Perth

Experience a night-time journey through the "Enchanted Forest" at The Hermitage in Perthshire. From 22 October to 7 November, the forest will be transformed with light and sound installations that will bring it to life, using different colours and tones inspired by the natural world.

The Hermitage (01738 621031; www.perthshire.co.uk/enchantedforest), Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross. Open 6.30pm-10pm. Admission £8.50 adults, £4.50 children aged five-15. Family tickets cost £24 for two adults and two children. Pre-booking recommended.

19 Potter along to Salford Quays

Spot the difference between Hagrid look-a-likes at The Quays' Hallowe'en Half Term Fun events in Greater Manchester from 25 to 31 October. There will also be craft workshops, puppet and magic shows, treasure hunts, face painting and a fancy dress competition. For stressed-out parents, there will be free Indian head massages.

The Lowry Outlet Mall (0161-848 1850; www.thequays.org.uk), Salford Quays, Manchester. Events take place daily from 11am to 4pm. Admission free.

20 Extreme exercise

Brave the Isle of Wight White Air extreme sports festival, which takes place from 23 to 31 October. Visitors can try their hands at windsurfing and mountain boarding or marvel at the skill of professionals demonstrating BMX biking and street luge.

White Air (01983 813818; www.whiteair.co.uk), Yaverland seafront, Sandown, Isle of Wight. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission free. Events are weather-dependent.

21 All aboard the Pumpkin Express

Ride the Pumpkin Express train at the Pumpkin Fest Fortnight at Crealy Adventure Park from 23 to 31 October. Paint a Hallowe'en pumpkin, make a lantern or visit the haunted house. On 29 October, the park will sparkle with fireworks and children can take part in a fancy dress competition.

Crealy Adventure Park (0870-116 3333; www.crealy.co.uk), Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter. Open daily 10am-5pm and until 10pm on 29 October. Admission £4.75 adults, free for anybody under 92cm tall.

22 Alton Towers blasts off

Get your thrills after dark at Alton Towers's half-term fireworks display. Over the weekends of 23-24 and 29-31 October, the park will stage a magnificent display to rival last year's 10,000 fireworks. The rides will be open until 9pm and a Hallowe'en ice show is planned.

Alton Towers (0870-520 4060; www.alton-towers.co.uk), Alton, Staffordshire. Open daily 9.30am-5pm and until 9pm on the days of the displays. Fireworks start at 7pm. Admission £28.50 adults, £23.50 children under 12.

23 Leeds Castle, naturally

Put your best foot forward on the Leeds Castle Nature Trail from 25 to 29 October. Get out and enjoy spectacular views of the Kent countryside at Leeds Castle while learning about the flora and fauna on a guided walk. Children can also enjoy craft activities in the Wykeham Martin Centre, held throughout the day from 23 to 29 October.

Leeds Castle (0870 600 8880; www.leeds-castle.com), Maidstone, Kent. Grounds open daily 10am-5pm, the castle opens at 11am. Guided walks at 12.30pm and 2pm. Admission to castle and grounds, including walks, £12.50 adults and £9 children aged four-15. Family tickets cost £39 for two adults and three children.

24 Light the blue touch paper...

Ooh and aah at Legoland Windsor's Fireworks Spectacular shows, on 23-24 October and 29-31 October. Thousands of fireworks will light up the park to mark the end of the season.

Legoland Windsor (08705 040404; www.legoland.co.uk), Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire. Open daily 10am-6pm, 21-31 October. Displays daily at 6.30pm and at 6pm on 31 October. Admission £20.70 adults, £18 children aged three-17 when booked online in advance.

25 Sixties Birmingham in art

Get a second chance to see the Tate exhibition "Art and the 60s: This Was Tomorrow" at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 23 October to 3 April 2005. Expect to see a diverse collection of work from artists including Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and Patrick Caulfield.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (0121-303 2834; www.bmag.org.uk), Chamberlain Square, Birmingham. Open daily 10am-5pm, from 10.30am on Fridays and from 12.30pm on Sundays. Admission £5.50 adults, £3.50 under-16s.

26 'Leicester, we have lift off'

Explore the universe during Leicester Space Centre's Moon Madness event from 23 to 31 October. Children can create a lunar work of art to take home, inspired by the centre's exhibits, and there will be a Moon Trail around the five themed galleries.

National Space Centre (0116-261 0261; www.nssc.co.uk), Exploration Drive, Leicester. Open daily 10am-6pm and from 12 noon on Mondays. Activities take place daily from 2pm to 5pm. Admission £8.95 adults, £6.95 children aged four-16. Family ticket costs £28 for two adults and two children.

27 Save the coral

Understand the need to protect the North Sea's endangered coral reefs during The Deep's Coral Rescue project, which runs until 31 October. Activities include quizzes, badge-making and a talk.

Open daily 10am-6pm. Admission £6.75 adults, £4.75 children aged three-15. The Deep Millennium Project (01482 381000; www.thedeep.co.uk), City Centre, Hull. Family ticket costs £21 for two adults and two children. The talk, which takes place on 27 October, costs £5.

28 Chug, chug, chug, Boo!

Listen to railway ghost stories at the National Railway Museum in York. From 23 to 31 October, spooky ghost stories will be told at 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm. Then, for a little light relief, there will be a traditional children's fairground with games, stalls and rides.

National Railway Museum (01904 621261; www.nrm.org.uk), Leeman Road, York. Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission free, except railway ghost stories, which cost £1 per child, and the individual charges that apply at the children's fairground.

29 Monster mash

Mutate into monsters for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard's Little Monsters half-term week, from 23 to 31 October. Face painters, monster trails and an art competition will keep your little fiends occupied throughout the week.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (023 9286 1512; www.flagship.org.uk), Portsmouth Dockyard. Activities take place daily from 11am to 3pm. Admission free.

30 Black sea shanties

Bop around at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, during its street dance workshop with Nzinga Dance, part of Black History Month. On 23 October, the group will teach R&B and street dance, with workshops at 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

National Maritime Museum (020-8312 6565; www.nmm.ac.uk), Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10. Open daily, 10am-5pm. Admission free.

31 Dance with Rambert

Hone your dance skills with Britain's oldest dance troupe, the Rambert Dance Company, which will be complementing its performances at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle with an open-dance workshop on 23 October. The workshops are suitable for anyone over 14 with some dance experience.

Theatre Royal (0870 905 5060; www.theatreroyal.co.uk), 100 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. The workshop takes place from 10am to 12 noon. Admission £4.50. Pre-booking recommended.

32 The magic railway

Journey on the Wizards' Express. From 23 to 24 October, the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway will be putting on special train rides. Children will receive a goody bag. Refreshments will be provided at the end of the journey where a magician will be waiting to dazzle visitors with tricks and spells.

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway (01472 604657; www.cleethorpescoastlightrailway.co.uk), Lakeside Station, Kings Road, Cleethorpes. Trains depart at 4.30pm and 6pm. Price £5 return. Pre-booking essential.

33 Celtic open house

Celebrate Celtic life at Belfast Open House Festival, which draws to a close from 23 to 24 October. Sing or take a guitar master class, watch home-grown documentaries and films or listen to Celtic music.

The Belfast Open House Festival (028-9145 4754; www.openhousefestival.com) is at venues across Belfast. Prices and times vary. Pre-booking recommended.

34 'Quick, tell a lie'

Feast your eyes on the performances being staged during the Visions Festival of International Performance in Brighton, from 21 to 30 October. Events for children, families, teenagers and adults include Norwich Puppet Theatre's production of Pinocchio and a theatre production based on the Mexican Day of the Dead festival.

Visions (01273 643194; www.visions-festival.org.uk) events take place at venues across Brighton. Prices and times vary. Pre-booking recommended.

35 Death disco

Carouse at Nottingham's NOW Festival until 31 October. A packed programme of events ranges from short films to public displays of contemporary art. There will also be an evening from Alan McGee's popular Death Disco night, which will migrate north from Notting Hill to Nottingham for the festival, as well as a theatre production for children aged three to six years.

The NOW Festival (0115-915 8624; www.beherenow.org.uk) is at venues across Nottingham. Times and prices vary. Pre-booking recommended.

36 Autumn in Exeter

Welcome the season at the Exeter Autumn Festival, which runs from 22 October to 5 November, with George Melly headlining the musical offerings and street theatre springing up all over the city.

The Exeter Autumn Festival (01392 265200; www.exeter.gov.uk/autumnfestival) is at venues across Exeter. Times and prices vary. Pre-booking recommended.

37 Animated Ayrshire

Make the most of half term at the North Ayrshire Children's Festival, from 18 to 30 October. Children can enjoy magic shows, theatre productions and art exhibitions throughout the region. For teenagers, there will be workshops on working in the music industry, from DJ-ing to digital animation.

The North Ayrshire Children's Festival (01294 324494; www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk) is at venues across the region. Times and prices vary. Pre-booking recommended.

38 Victorian games

Swap your PlayStation for a skipping rope and enjoying traditional Victorian games at the Black Country Living Museum, which is putting on a week of Victorian entertainment during half term. As well as the games, there will be a Victorian craft school and costumed characters to lend a hand.

Black Country Living Museum (0121-557 9643; www.bclm.co.uk), Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission £9.95 adults, £5.75 children aged five-18. Family ticket costs £28 for two adults and three children.

39 Apple pressing time

Sink your teeth into a Bramley or a Royal Gala on Apple Day at Gressenhall Rural Life Museum in Norfolk. On 24 October, the museum, set in 50 acres of countryside including a 1920s working farm, will be pressing cider, identifying apple varieties, and organising an array of apple games. Children can also learn how to look after birds during winter.

Gressenhall Rural Life Museum (01362 860563; www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk), Gressenhall, Dereham, Norfolk. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission £5.70 adults and £4.40 children aged four-16.

40 The Big Draw

Dig out your pencils, pens and paint brushes for The Big Draw, a nationwide initiative to encourage children's creativity. Twelve hundred events are planned, from Harry Potter-themed activities to drawing with wire. Many events include talks by professional artists.

The Big Draw ( www.thebigdraw.org.uk) is taking place at venues across the country. Times and prices vary. Many events are free.

41 The knock

Delve into the murky world of Customs seizures at the Customs and Excise Museum in Liverpool. On 25 October, the museum is hosting an Explore Customs event, when visitors will get the rare chance to listen to stories of uncovered smugglers, discover items that have been confiscated by Customs and find out how the operation works.

The Customs and Excise Museum (0151 207 0001; www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk), Albert Dock, Liverpool. Open daily 10am-5pm. The Explore Customs event starts at 12.30pm. Admission free.

42 Potter in pottery

Prepare for Hallowe'en with your favourite Harry Potter stories, plus more spine-tingling Hallowe'en tales, at a reading in the Gladstone Pottery Museum on 27 October.

Gladstone Pottery Museum (01782 319232; www.stoke.gov.uk/gladstone), Uttoxeter Road, Longton, Stoke on Trent. Open daily 10am-5pm. The Harry Potter event takes place between 10.30am and 4pm. Admission £4.95 adults, £3.50 children aged four-16. Family tickets cost £14 for two adults and two children.

43 Windmillmania

Discover alternative energy ideas at the Ecotech Centre in Norfolk designed by Sir Norman Foster. Britain's tallest wind turbine looms over the surrounding countryside and offers some of the best views of the area from its 65m platform. Visitors can see how the turbine works from the inside during daily tours at 1pm. On 28 October, a children's entertainer will be in attendance.

The Ecotech Centre (01760 726100; www.ecotech.org.uk), Turbine Way, Swaffham, Norfolk. Open daily 11am-2pm. Admission £5 adults, £3 children aged seven-16. Family tickets cost £15 for two adults and two children.

44 Become the next Thierry

Kick a ball about. Girls and boys aged six-14 years are invited to take part in football coaching sessions in Greater Manchester on 27 and 31 October, part of the Football in the Community initiative launched by the Professional Football Association. The coaching courses take place across the country.

Chorlton High School (0161-438 7715; www.givemefootball.com), Nell Lane, Chorlton, Manchester. The Chorlton sessions cost £10 and run from 10.30am to 3pm. Pre-booking recommended.

45 Visit the Vikings for Vetrnaetr

Enjoy an alternative Hallowe'en at the Jorvik Centre in York. From 25 to 30 October, the centre will celebrate the Viking festival of Vetrnaetr, the beginning of winter, while taking a look at how the Vikings prepared for the long cold Northern European winter. Myths will be recounted with hot drinks from 11am to 3pm every day in a mini-encampment. Children can create a Viking mask on 30 October.

Jorvik Viking Centre (01904 643211; www.vikingjorvik.com), Coppergate, York. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission free.

46 Master the trapeze

Get active en famille at Ullswater Outward Bound activity centre from 25 to 29 October. The centre is organising family activity days during half term involving zip wiring, mastering the trapeze, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and much more.

Outward Bound Ullswater (0870-513 4227; www.outwardbound-uk.org), Water Millock, Penrith, Cumbria. The activities take place daily 10am-5pm. Price £26 per person. Family ticket £85 for two adults and two children. Minimum age eight years.

47 Embark on a food safari

Eat your way around the south west on the Ruby Country Devon Food Safari on 30 October. As part of the Devon Celebration of Food Festival, the event is a one-day tasting trail in which participants visit farms, meet producers and join in demonstrations.

The Ruby Country Devon Food Safari (01392 383144; www.devoncelebrationoffood.co.uk) takes place at venues across the county between 10am and 4pm and a free map is available on www.therubycountry.com. Opening times vary.

48 'Wos goin on?'

Sit back and relax with a bucket of popcorn and enjoy one of the dozens of films being shown as part of the London Film Festival, which runs until 4 November. In addition to screenings, half term events include workshops on for to develop characters in television scripts given by the team behind EastEnders, script-writing master classes and horror make-up workshops.

The London Film Festival (020-7928 3232; www.lff.org.uk) takes place at venues across the capital. Times and prices vary. Pre-booking is recommended.

49 Hip Hove

Soak up the vibes at Black History Month in Hove Town Hall. Brighton and Hove will host an arts and culture open day with DJing, dance and music workshops, films and art displays celebrating black culture and history.

Hove Town Hall (01273 290000; www.black-history-month.co.uk), 18 Cromwell Road, East Sussex. The event runs from 3pm to late. Admission free.

50 Potted history

Save your pennies. This half term the Museum of East Anglian Life is opening its doors to visitors for half price. Guided tours of the new Abbots Hall gardens are planned with a potted history at 11am and 2.30pm from 25 to 31 October. Visitors can also see Suffolk Punch horses, rare breeds of pigs and sheep and a Gypsy and Traveller exhibition.

The Museum of East Anglian Life (01449 612229; www.eastanglianlife.org.uk), Stonemarket, Suffolk. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm and 11am-5pm on Sunday. Admission £3.25 adults, £1.75 children aged four-16. Family ticket £8.75 for two adults and three children.

Comments