October half term and Halloween guide
20+ things to do to keep the kids busy over October half term: from jump scares and pumpkins to changing the world
GREET A GHOST
Step aboard the 175 -year-old SS Great Britain for an immersive Victorian fright-fest based on the true story of Captain James Hosken, whose fatal error caused the ship to run aground in Dundrum Bay in 1846. Sunken souls and spectres await on The Spooky Ship: Shipwrecked! in conjunction with the Bristol Old Vic, Bristol, Thurs 31 Oct – Sat 2 Nov.
Take a night time ghost walk around the streets of Roman and Georgian Bath. Ghost Walks of Bath run (or hopefully, stroll) every Thurs, Fri and Sat with a special Halloween walk on Thurs 31 Oct.
Spiders and skeletons, ghosts and cobwebs in the East Somerset Railway‘s Halloween carriage and spooky station. Sat, 26, Sun 27 and Weds 30 Oct.
DO THINGS WITH PUMPKINS
Carve spectacular pumpkins with environmental artist Stephen Whitehead at the international art gallery Hauser & Wirth Somerset in Bruton, Sat 26 Oct. Your pumpkin will become a centrepiece at the gallery’s Pumpkin Festival – live music, storytelling, games, pumpkin baking competition, glorious food and drink – on Sun 27 Oct.
Pumpkin rolling, a haunted trail and other spooky happenings at Halloween Half Term, Forde Abbey House and Gardens, nr Chard, Weds 23 – Thurs 31 Oct.
Discover pumpkins hidden amongst one of the world’s best collection of cars and other vehicles at the Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford, Sun 27 Oct – Mon 4 Nov.
Pick a pumpkin, any pumpkin – they’ve got 15,000 of ’em in all shapes and sizes at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, in Keynsham. Games, music, food, spooky fun too. From now until Thurs 31 Oct.
Drop in with your kids (of any age) or drop off (8 years+) at Somerset’s super crafty Bootmakers Workshop in Wincanton. Make easy DIY Elsa and Anna outfits from Frozen, killer Halloween costumes, Harry Potter flying flying candles, winged keys and Hogwarts letters – all out of scrap materials. Plus wood-fired pizzas, home made crepes, Bean Shot coffee, smoothies and candy floss from midday. You can just come for the pizza. Tues 29 Oct – Fri 1 Nov.
Have a go on a pottery wheel at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury, Sun 27 Oct. Other crafts, other days.
Last chance to make your own Gromit with one of the Wallace & Gromit Aardman animators at Montacute House, the real-life inspiration for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’s Tottington Hall, Weds 30 Oct.
GO DOWN TO THE WOODS
Dens, mud kitchens, rope swings and more in 80 acres of huge oak and beech trees, burbling brooks and an abundance of plants and wildlife in the Hidden Woods, between Bath and Frome. Age 8+ Read our review. Holiday Club for up to Tues 29 and Thurs 31 Oct.
Light a campfire without matches, make campfire popcorn and build the perfect den at a ranger for the day at the National Trust’s Barrington Court, near Ilminster. Tues 29 Oct.
WATCH SCARY MOVIES
Special Halloween screenings of cult musical the Rocky Horror Show and Beetlejuice are on at Bath’s Little Theatre Cinema., Thurs 31 Oct.
GO ICE- SKATING
Slip, slide away on the UK’s largest covered real ice rink, with hot chocolate or mulled wine in the rink-side Lodge Bar. The 45 min sessions at Icescape@The Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare run on the hour 10am/11am – 8pm. Fri 25 Oct – Sun 5 Jan 2020.
FIND A FOSSIL
Somerset use to be a mining county, so how about finding fossil insects on a coal batch (spoil heap)? Bring your own, small, hammer to the Radstock Museum’s annual fossil hunt, Mon 28 Oct.
CHANGE THE WORLD
Part show, part TED talk and part party, the dynamic Zest Theatre’s Youthquake at the dedicated children and young people’s theatre, the egg, in Bath uses the words and opinions of 800 young people around to reveal the hidden lives of Teen Britain and asks what it actually means to change the world. Suitable 14+ Tue 22 – Fri 25 Oct.
MEET A BUG
Go on a insect bug trail around the 270 acres of National Trust Dyrham Park in Bath. The trail looks at insects from the late 1600s when Dyrham Park was in its heyday, and when scientists first started putting miniscule critters under a microscope. Crafts, 17th century storytellers and more. Thurs 24 Oct – Sun 3 Nov.
SOLVE A MYSTERY
It’s 1860 and Lady Mildred Hester has disappeared in Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton. Eek! Head gardener Terrance needs help cracking some riddles to find out what’s happened to her. Not just for kids: there’s an accompanying trail for adults. Fri 19 Oct – Sun 3 Nov.
WITNESS A PHENOMENON
It’s mid-late October, it’s the start of the starling murmurmations, when hundreds of thousands of starlings come to roost in the Avalon Marshes, near Glastonbury, creating fantastical gyrating shapes in the sky at dusk and dawn. Call the Starling hotline 07866 554142 for info on where you’re most likely to see them.
BUILD A COMPUTER GAME
For older kids (16+), code a computer game (not Snake) in just two hours. Part of Bath Digital Festival. Tues 22 Oct.
RIDE A CRANE
Take a ride in an electric cargo crane and Fairbairn steam crane at MShed on Bristol Harbourside, Sat 19 & Sun 20 Oct.
DO STUFF IN THE DARK
All sorts of starry stuff at the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival – stargazing, planetarium, camping, crafts – around Exmoor, Mon 14 Oct – Sun 3 Nov.
Prowl around countryside paths in the dark, spot nocturnal animals, toast marshmallows and sip hot choc at the Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Highbridge, Weds 30 Oct.
Take a twilight tour around the 5,000 graves in the Landsdown Cemetery – if you dare. The cemetery was once the garden of Beckford Tower to the north of the city of Bath, Tues 29 Oct.
Halloween-themed children’s art workshops, the Big Draw, drinks, nibbles and more at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, Thurs 31 Oct; Halloween night with story-telling and fossils at the Lyme Regis Museum in Dorset, Thurs 31 Oct. Part of the UK-wide Museums at Night Festival, Thurs 31 Oct – Sun 2 Nov.
UNVEIL A MONSTER
Help a detective duo find Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and Bill Sikes hiding in the caves at Cheddar Gorge. Weds 23 Oct – Sun 3 Nov.
BECOME A THRILLER ZOMBIE
Learn the routine in the morning and be transformed into a zombie for the afternoon’s scary performance. Thriller workshop, Merlin Theatre, Tues 31 Oct. Ring the box office on 01373 465949 to book your place.
MAKE APPLE JUICE
All things appley including pressing and making apple juice, etc at Apple Weekend, National Trust Barrington Court, nr Ilminster, Sat 26–Sun 27 Oct. It’s Zummerset isn’t it?! Adults take note: Barrington’s craft cider – ‘ a honeycomb scent and characterful smoky caramel taste, which left an aftertaste of butterscotch’ – won the top prize at the National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Awards.