October half-term is fast approaching, which means it's time to start planning any outings or activities to help keep the kids entertained, as many things tend to get booked up pretty quickly.
If you’re racking your brains for ideas for things to do, we've rounded up our pick of some of the very best family-friendly activities that promise a week full of fun.
From exhibitions, plays and films, to broomstick making, pumpkin carving and story telling events, we bring you the best family days out and attractions during half-term from every corner of the UK.
1. Learn to become a spy with Si5
Does your child love espionage and all things Jason Bourne or James Bond? Si5 Spy Missions is suitable for children and adult recruits and takes you on an hour-long mission where you test your mettle in a series of mental and physical puzzles and challenges aboard the battle cruiser UND Steadfast. Brilliant storylines bring your mission to life as you covertly board the vessel, try to disable a battle cruiser with a nuclear missile that has been seized by enemy forces, then make your adrenaline-fuelled escape. Spy Missions has sites in Croydon, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Nottingham. Price from £8.50
2. Make your own action movie with Z-Arts in Manchester
Green screen looks astonishing at the movies but it’s even more impressive when you know how it’s done. Z-Arts in Manchester are revealing all this half-term at their Green Screen Family Workshops. Kids from eight to 11 can go it alone on 26 October and by the end of the day they’ll have made their own film – from scratch. Five to seven-year-olds and parents can pick up green screen skills too on 27 October: a little bit more like play but there’s still a movie to make. On 26 and 27 October 10am to 3pm, £10 per person
3. Meet witches and mice for half-term at Tatton Park
The whispery and decidedly creepy Tatton Old Hall makes a great witches’ hotel for the Spooktacular Halloween Party. Chilling tales will be told in the haunted barn. And there are mice everywhere. The scary fun doesn’t stop indoors: conkers need collecting off the Witches’ Tree and the very daring can go find their own sorceress on the magical Witch Hunt round Tatton’s enormous gardens. From 22 – 30 October, from 10am to 5pm, from £4
4. Pick your own pumpkin
You can pick your own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch at The Strawberry Farm, just a mile from Upminster Station in London. Then take your pumpkin home to carve, decorate, make Jack O’ Lanterns, or try some warming pumpkin comfort food recipes! From £1
5. Visit the Loogabarooga Festival in Loughborough
There’s plenty for book-lovers to see and do at the Loogabarooga Festival (from 19 - 24 October), from storytelling sessions, theatre and cinema shows, advice on how to write and illustrate your own book, gaming demo days and appearances by favourite children’s authors and illustrators including Michael Rosen, author of classic picture book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, to fun and creative workshops including how to make your own Peter Rabbit Plant Pot or create a glowing bee or bookworm, and a chocolate-making Willy Wonka Workshop. Free
6. Experience Neverland at the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
The popular playground is tucked inside Kensington Gardens in Knightsbridge and resembles a Peter Pan-inspired ‘Neverland’ for children. A vast wooden pirate ship sailing a sea of sand allows children to steer at the ship’s wheel, play with cabins, pulleys and ropes, and when children get bored with the ship there are teepees, a tree-house with walkways, ladders, slides and ‘tree phones’, giant swings, turtle drums, and even free entertainment including storytelling sessions. Free
7. Learn how to build a den in Coventry
What do you mean you haven’t built a den yet? Get stuck into a woodland environment, gather some sticks and rustle up some makeshift shelters. Ultimate Den Building is all about teaming together, learning survival skills and making safe places to stay warm and dry in the wilds. Great family fun, perfect for kids over six and a chance to get better acquainted with exciting Bubbenhall Wood just outside Coventry. On 26 October, from 1pm to 3pm, free (but book in advance)
8. Go see George's Marvellous Medicine
The Birmingham Stage Company are touring with the Roald Dahl comic masterpiece, George’s Marvellous Medicine. Meet George, a young boy who makes a marvellous new medicine to cure his grandmother of her terrifying and foul temper. But when his grandmother drinks his special new potion the results are explosive and the most incredible things begin to happen – taking George on an amazing adventure. Adapted by David Wood, the UK’s leading children’s playwright, you can expect wit and wonder, fun and frolics, madness and mayhem in this stage play of one of Roald Dahl’s most popular stories. From 18 Oct, at eight theatres nationwide including Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff and Guildford
9. Play with over 3 million Lego bricks
Do your kids love lego? The UK’s biggest Lego event is coming to Birmingham just in time for half-term. Kids can dive into pits with over 3 million bricks and basically make anything at all for as long as they like. The tricks that turn super-fans into professional builders are revealed. It’s all fun and games – until it comes to designing a robot or competing in the first ever Lego League, then it’s serious. From 27 to 30 October, from £21.75
10. Learn to ride
There are 40 or so horses and ponies (ranging from Shetlands to Irish hunters) at the Stag Lodge stables in Richmond Park. Three to six-year-olds can enjoy half-hour leading rein rides through the park (£25-30), and lessons for all abilities take place in one of two outdoor maneges (arenas). There are pony weeks for the over-sixes in school holidays and half-term – but book ahead!
11. Go Digital at The Digital Kids Show in Manchester
If your kids love all things digital, they will love The Digital Kids Show (from 29 - 30 October)! From Minecraft Mayhem, cool coding for kids, and parent and children gaming tournaments, to virtual reality driving lessons for 11-17 year olds, super science shows and unlimited game play in the retro tech and general gaming zones. £25 per person
12. Get spooked out at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire
Something spooky is happening at Cliveden. Start your witch and wizard training in the woods. Begin by choosing a wooden wand with the power you wish to possess and learn how to cast a spell. Continue on your spellbinding journey into the woods where you must collect natural things with which to brew your potion. Make sure you're dressed in your best witch and wizard attire! Come along and be bewitched... Saturday 22 Oct 2016, 11 – 3pm. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Ideal for children aged 4-11. £3 per child.
13. Swap the playground for a ROARsome adventure
Visit the Horniman museum in South London for the last chance to see the Dinosaurs: Monster Families exhibition, which closes on 30 October. The interactive show explores how dinosaurs looked after their eggs, nests and babies, and features a nearly-complete dinosaur hatchling skeleton. There will be a range of child-friendly activities: young explorers can also dig in a discovery pit and touch a real dinosaur bone. Children £4.40; Adults £7.70: Family (2 adults, 2 children) £18.70.
14. Go see The Wind in The Willows
Follow Ratty, Badger, Mole and Toad on a series of adventures and misadventures caused by Toad’s insatiable need for speed! Imprisoned for theft and with his existence under threat from the inhabitants of the Wild Wood, Toad (played by Rufus Hound) must attempt a daring escape to defend Toad Hall. Featuring spectacular stagecraft, this sparkling new musical will bring the treasured British classic to life. Coming to Plymouth, Manchester and Southampton.
15. Go down the world’s tallest and longest slide
For older children or those in search of adventure, The Slide at the Arcelor Mittal Orbit in Stratford is down the world's longest and tallest slide. Designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, the attraction is sure to give you a rush! £5 in addition to general admission (£10 adults, £5 children). Book in advance.
16. Carve your pumpkin at Lyme
The gorgeous Lyme grounds in Cheshire are knee-high in leaves for some serious stomping around and Jumping Jack ‘o’ Lanterns is on at the Stable Yard just for half-term. Bring kids along in their scruffiest clothes and they can carve a pumpkin, carefully supervised by the Lyme craft team. You need to book in advance for this one but a pumpkin’s included in the ticket price. From 25 to 27 October, from 11am to 3pm (1 hour time slots), £4.50 per person
17. Experience a Halloween afternoon tea
Take your little ones to tea this half-term for a ghoulish twist on the British tradition that they’ll love. The Lancaster London’s Halloween-themed ARTea Afternoon Tea includes a host of spooky sweet treats such as spider web lollypops, shattered glass cupcakes, Frankenstein macaroons and bloodied finger éclairs. Pumpkin scones are served warm, with cremated blood orange marmalade plus artists’ tubes of home-made strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. The tea will be served daily in the Lounge Bar from 2pm- 5.30pm, priced at £35 per person.
18. Visit a haunted house
Fans of creepy crawlies will enjoy visiting Powderham Castle in Devon this half-term, as the beautiful landsite is transformed into a house of horrors for Halloween. There will be a range of child-friendly activities including a pumpkin trail plus a visit from Dartmoor Reptiles’ family of snakes and spiders. Tickets are £11.50 per person.
19. Try Jungle Book yoga
Fans of The Jungle Book should head to St James’ Court A Taj Hotel in London this half-term to check out the Jungle Book Yoga class in association with Tatty Bumpkin Yoga. The class combines movement with music and story telling, and is followed by a themed afternoon tea with treats including Baloo’s Himalayan Honey Macaroons and Shere Khan’s Masala Chai Eclairs. The Jungle Book Yoga Experience will take place on 24th, 28th and 29th October and will cost £29.50 per children and £35 per adult (£1 will be donated to The Born Free Foundation’s tiger conservation work in India). Price includes a 30-minute yoga session for one child and a Jungle Book afternoon Tea.
20. Conquer Alnwick Castle
Harry Potter fans can scale Hogwarts itself in Northumberland, where Alnwick Castle stands atop a lush green hill. From broomstick training to dressing up games, budding wizards and witches can experience a little magic in this rather special setting. From 22 - 30 October, free with admission
21. Let it go
If your kids are Frozen obsessed, then this might be the best thing to guarantee a happy half term. Book in for the Disney On Ice production of Frozen. The show will be visiting Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Aberdeen, Sheffield and London starting on the 13th October.
22. Experience Day of the Dead in Basingstoke
Experience an alternative Halloween celebration like no other with this free event inspired by the traditional Mexican festival known as Dia de los Muertos. Taking place from noon on Friday 28th October, the event offers face painting, craft activities, live music, street food stalls and storytelling. Free
23. Watch the kids experience their dream jobs at Kidzania
What child hasn't at least fleetingly dreamt of becoming a pilot, a firefighter, or the next big pop icon? A brilliant experience your kids will love, Kidzania (in Westfield, Shepherds Bush, London) offers more than 60 real-life role-play adventures in an epic 75,000sq.ft play space. Children can learn financial literacy in the bank, dramatics on stage, the essence of beauty in the salon, or justice on the streets as a police officer! Plus climbing, bell ringing, dancing and retail; a chance to be a tour guide, a doctor, a dentist, an engineer, a technician's assistant, a model, a hotelier, a DJ, a recycling specialist, a fruitologist or an athlete. For older kids, there is everything from taking part in a drum workshop or chocolate making class to learning about how to be a radio presenter. Each ticket allows for a 4 hour visit, and as each activity lasts roughly 30 minutes, your little ones should be able to take part in around 8 activities per session. If it's all too much, kids can take a break in the games room for some bowling, air hockey and foosball; get arty in the painting school or hit the special under 4s' zone with musical instruments, dress up, puppet shows and puzzles.
24. Get stuck in with Halloween fun at Hever Castle
Come dressed in your scariest costume this Halloween half-term for Ghastly Goblins & Ghouls taking place from October 22 – 30. Prizes are also on offer for the best Halloween costume in each session. Enter the Castle to take the Medieval Mysteries quiz and learn about some of the mystifying myths around Halloween. Discover how this scary day has evolved over the past 800 years since Hever Castle in Kent was built. Kids can make a Halloween puppet in creepy craft workshops and enjoy following the Halloween trail through the gardens, looking for hidden clues to earn a treat!
25. Become a scientist at the Manchester Science Festival
England’s largest science festival is jam-packed with hands-on family activities to inspire would-be boffins everywhere – whether you like your science messy, explosive, high-tech or even edible. Highlights include a Virtual Reality Playground featuring the very latest in virtual reality devices offering tech loving tots and teens a unique insight into what the future holds. There will also be science demonstrations, crafty workshops, science stories, inventing stations and Sublime Science at selected libraries across the city where gooey slime and yummy sweet making is on the menu. From 20 to 30 October, Free
26. Have a spooky sleepover
Children aged seven to eleven can enjoy the ultimate spooky sleepover at the Museum of London on Friday 28 October at the Night Owls Halloween sleepover. With a whole evening of seasonal activities for brave young things, it will be a night to remember. One adult required per four children, £60 per person.
27. Go ice skating
Get wrapped up warm and visit the Natural History Museum's ever-popular outdoor ice rink in London, which is set to open on 27 October and run right until 8th January 2017. Alongside it will be a mini ice rink, perfect for entertaining little ones too young to skate, and a café serving hot chocolate when it's time to warm up.
28. Make your own broomstick at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire
Get ready for Halloween by making your very own broomstick at Dunstable Downs on 29th October, from 11 – 3pm. Get your broomstick license and head out for a race across the beautiful hills!
29. Carve a pumpkin and listen to spooky stories at Rowallane Garden
Rowallane Garden in Northern Ireland will come alive on 22 and 23 October with a terrifying ghost trail, spooky stories and sinister characters. Behead, scoop out and carve your very own pumpkin to take home and ward away the evil spirits. There'll be face painting to transform little ones into fearsome creatures.
30. Do some Halloween crafting at London Zoo
Some of the zoo's inhabitants are pretty scary at the best of times, but Halloween is their chance to be extra creepy as visitors are treated to this week of family-friendly activities during half-term. 2016 sees mask making and pumpkin carving in the Bat Cave and a ghost hunt aboard the Whipsnade Zoo's steam train. There's also a Ghoul School to sign up for, giving little ones the chance to concoct spells and wrap up a mummy. Fron 22 Oct – 30 Oct. Free with admission.
31. Carry a torch for terror at Cotehele Fright Night in Cornwall
Medieval Cotehele House near Plymouth in Cornwall is charming on a sunny day. Turn off the lights and it’s another story altogether. Bring your brave kids on 29 October and tour round the corridors and great halls, kitchens and drawing rooms in the company of ghostly guides and tall, terrifying tales. There isn’t so much as a flickering candle lit and it’s pitch black every step of the way, so don’t forget torches. On 29 October from 5.30 to 7.30pm, from £5
32. Roald Dahl storytelling
As the beloved author's centenary approaches, the Lyric is hosting a mischievous and inventive theatrical experience for 7 to 10-year-olds inspired by the works of Roald Dahl, from the whimsy of 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' to the gross-out horrors of 'The Twits'. Suitable for ages 7-11, £10 per ticket.
33. Ride Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park
This Ghost Train isn’t sheets on sticks and cotton wool spider webs, it’s a chaotically creepy experience at Thorpe Park and nothing like kids have seen, heard or felt before. There’s a 1.4m height restriction, but this one’s probably not suitable for under 10s – even if they’re taller than average! From 22 to 31 October, from 10am to 10pm. Price From £27.99 (book in advance for Ghost Train)