Half term nightmares? Here’s 32 fun things to do
Not sure what to do with the little (and big) blighters this half term? Look no further. From ghost trails to after dark adventures, there's loads of stuff on locally for kids of all ages.
It’s prime pumpkin-picking time, and there are plenty of places to PYO this year. Head to stunning Wasing Estate in Aldermaston to p-p-pick up a pumpkin and wander the Woodland Trail (22-30 Oct). You can also PYO pumpkins at Cobbs Farm in Hungerford (2-31 Oct) as well as Copas Fruit Fields in Cookham, available 16-17 Oct and 23-31 Oct.
If you’re all about the decorating, Wellington Country Park’s Hallo-Welly-Ween pumpkin patch, ride the ghost train, there’s a Halloween disco, family shows and slim making (23-31 Oct). Beale Park‘s Halloween Spooktacular has a ghost train, skeleton trail and the chance to make brooksticks, wnads and bat boxes (23-31 Oct) . Bucklebury Farm also has a Spooky Trail (23-31 Oct) during half term with pumpkin carving at the end. Leaving your house blissfully mess free. (£10 inc pumpkin and carving kit) Space is limited.
The fright night fun continues at The Jelly Lounge in Windsor’s Spooktacular Halloween Party (30 Oct) – gruesome grub, fancy dress, face painting, disco, copious amount of gin for you. For something a bit different, head into Newbury and your kids can join the FREE Dragon School at Parkway Newbury (25-31 Oct). During the 30-minute class your mini dragon slayers will learn about the the fire-breathing beasts and create their own medieval Knights helmet. I reckon that’s just enough time to whizz around the shops.
Or check out The Moon Witch’s Halloween Adventure at Tumblestone Hollow, Stonor Park, on from 20-31 Oct, which celebrates the upcoming publication of their book The Moon Witch and the Thief. There will be readings from the book, puzzles to solve, ghoulish surprises, pumpkins to carve, and plenty of treats. That should do the blighters.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without mentioning Brick or Treat at Legoland Windsor (15 Oct – 18 Nov). It’s been running since the Salum Witch Trails (OK so not that long, but you get my drift). Lots of spooky(ish) additions to the park, plus new for 2020, there’s a new dance extravaganza The Haunted Lighthouse Halloween Show and a new scary character, Scarecrow.
The festivities continue with Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza and spooky themed kids’ teas at Crocus at Dorney Court, 28-29 Oct. There are optional extra afternoon tea for adults, too. For bangs, boos, oohs and aaahs, head to Liquid Leisure‘s Spooktacular Fireworks Extravaganza in Windsor (30 Oct) which neatly ticks the Halloween and Bonfire Night boxes in one hit.
Hop over the border in Oxfordshire between 23-31 Oct, there’s also Half Term Halloween Entertainment at Blenheim Palace: ghost train, pumpkin carving, scary stories, bat trail, and Frightful Fire performances in the Great Court.
For a spooky adrenaline rush, take them over to Black Park in Slough and Wendover Woods between 25-30 Oct for a sundown session at Go Ape, offered especially for Oct Half Term. Starting at 5pm, this means swinging through the trees in the dark — for your daredevil teens. Wimps need not apply!
A dead cert hit with adrenaline junkie teens, the annual Fright Night at Thorpe Park (throughout October) – celebrating 20 years of fear. Expect thrilling rollercoaster rides in the dark, spooks, ghouls and plenty of scares in the infamously terrifying scare maze. Recommended for ages 13+.
SOMETHING WITH HERITAGE
No shortage of stately homes and castles in the Berkshire ‘hood. The Queen will be welcoming young knight recruits to Windsor Castle (23-31 Oct) for Knight Time stories in the State Apartments and the chance to design your own shield. Fancy a National Trust amble? You can’t beat Cliveden for the wow factor, with riverside, woodland and garden walks to enjoy in the autumn sunshine. Basildon Park is on a smaller scale but offers plenty of fresh air and free range fun. The café is worth a pitstop for a cream tea.
On the Berkshire and Hampshire border Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) is a great day out. If you want the upper class treatment there, you can book yourself and the kids on for a Film Set Castle Autumn Guided Tour, and see up-close where the period dramas were filmed, explore the Egyptian exhibition, and enjoy refreshments prepared especially for you by the real life butlers.
SOMETHING TO WATCH
Pull up to the bumper, baby. Whether your kids are little or large there is something for everyone at the Strawberry Moon Drive In Cinema at Windsor Racecourse. See the latest Bond No Time To Die, Shining, Alien or Scream. Or turn the terror dial down for Hocus Pocus – a more palatable PG (from 22 Oct).
Want more? Have South Hill Park‘s box office number on speed dial during half term. There’s comedy magic from Tom Brace: Embrace the Impossible! (25 Oct) where he showcases his totally pointless abilities in a new show inspired by his past! If you love acrobatics, theatre and animals then Tarzanna (26-27 Oct) will have you going wild in the aisles. The Ballet Theatre UK will leap on the stage with The Snow Queen (29 Oct) and finally, here’s something for kids that adults can also enjoy. Beatboxer extraordinaire SK Shlomo gave up astrophysics to perform his amazing vocal pyrotechnics. In this show he gets children involved and teaches them some tricks (30 Oct).
Norden Farm is a sanity saver in the school holidays. Don’t miss the chance to see The Little Prince (27-30 Oct). Luca Silvestrini is a talented comic choreographer who has taken Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic tale and turned it into charming, ingenious portable production. With a cast of just four dancers (who work their socks off) this is great show for kids and adults alike. They’re also doing a Spooky Shadow Crafting workshop on 27 Oct.
Over in Reading it’s all about the shooooooooooooooes ….! The Elves & The Shoemaker (27-28 Oct) at South Street Arts in Reading is delightful on the feet. Soft, dancing shoes; swarthy pirate shoes; silver buckle and silken soles. No one makes shoes like an elf. Theatre of Widdershins bring this Ladybird Classic to life and perform it in less than one hour. Just long enough to avoid a meltdown. Suitable for age 3+.
Discerning teens (age 14+) might enjoy seeing comedian-ventriloquist Nina Conti at South Street Arts in Reading (29 Oct). It’s promises to be gut-bustingly funny stuff from the voice-throwing queen. FOR
Comedy, clowning around and puppetry. The Garlic Theatre Company will performThe Bag That Went BOO! at Shaw House in Newbury (25 Oct). It’s a slightly bonkers story about a little red bag that jumps out of a brown paper bag before heading off on a fantastical journey of paper bag proportions. What/ No clue, but if you have a child aged 3-8, they’ll love it. Over at West Berkshire Museum dino crafting and hunting during half term week.
And heading out of county — hey, it’s allowed! — there’s a great exhibition on Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules coming to Somerset House, London from 21 Oct. Just a zippy train ride away, and a charming exploration of how a beloved icon of British comics fired up successive generations to break the rules.