Half term SORTED!
Freaking out as the school hols loom large? Fear not, Muddy to the rescue with 29 fang-tastic things to do with kids and teens.
I have got chills they’re multiplying… and before you lose control this half term we’ve got your back. I can’t promise you won’t be racing to the nearest 24-hr Tesco to find a kids Halloween costume at 11 o’clock at night, but Muddy has gone to the hubble bubble toil and trouble of planning a week of fast-tastic fun… And If I’ve missed any, just holler.
FAMILY FUN: Halloween week, Stonor Park Henley, Sat 20 – Wed 31 Oct
Stonor are going for it this year with their Spooktacular Halloween. Your kids can run amok round the grounds to search for secret messages and riddles to win a prize, carve or decorate pumpkins, wear creepy fancy dress and explore the Wonder Woods adventure playground. Plus they’ve reeled in the big guns – famous Oxford ghost tour guide and storyteller, Bill Spectre, will be reading horror stories Bram Stoker’s The Judges House and The Monkey’s Paw by W W Jacobs on 24 Oct in the atmospheric Medieval Hall. If you’d rather not be scared witless on an empty stomach, come along for a pre-show soup and dessert supper (grown ups and over 10s only).
COMEDY: James Campbell: The Hilariously Funny World Of…, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Mon 22 Oct
Can you be funny without swearing? Personally, I love a show that drops sweaty bombs all over the place, but not in front of the children. Obvs. All hail the squeaky clean but hilarious James Campbell and his stand up show for children, their parents and anyone whose idolises Mary Whitehouse. He sees the funny in everything from pets, couscous, spaniels, making your own yoghurt, bees and why we have hair. Age guidance 6+ years.
COOKERY: Macaron Baking Class, The Real Macaron Company Newbury, Tues 23 Oct
A future Bake Off star in the making? If you have a kids between the age of 7 and 12 book them up on The Real Macaron Company’s awesome macaron backing class. You get 90 mins to yourself (2pm-3.30pm) and they get into stuck into the sweet stuff, baking, decorating and eating. If you’re lucky there will be one left for you when you pick them up. Call Gaye 07887870274 – on your marks, get set… BAKE!
FAMILY FUN: Halloween, Bucklebury Farm Park, Mon 22 – Sun 26 Oct
This October half term wave your magic wand to whisk you of to Bucklebury Farm Park for the great annual pumpkin hunt. Hurry through the haunted house, carve your pumpkin, then you can take on the critter cave to find the scarecrow in the scare maze, fuelled by gooey marshmallows. All included in the £12.95 entry price.
DAYS OUT: Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, until Mon 30 Oct
As old as Frankenstein himself, Legoland’s Brick or Treat is back at Legoland. but new for 2018 are the Brick or Treat Halloween Trail (find the missing potion ingredients round the park to win a treat), the Spooky Hill Train plus a Halloween themed Lego Mosaic. There’s also a monster disco, rides, shows and fireworks displays (21, 22, 27, 28 October and 2 Nov) with exploding lego bricks (or so it seems when you wear the special specs). Take my top tip and start at the back of the park and make your way forward – you’ll miss the most monstrous queues, trust me..
THEATRE: Stage Combat Workshop, Watermill Theatre Bagnor, Mon 22 Oct
First rule of Fight Club, is not to talk about Fight Club. Ah the wise words of Brad Pitt – not just a pretty face. This half term the Watermill Theatre near Newbury is running a few workshops for wannabe actors, stunt people and hose who want to take fighting with their siblings to the next level. A highly trained stage combat director and learn how fights are convincingly created onstage without causing injury. Ages 8-11, 10am-12pm; Ages 12-16, 1pm-3pm – price £15.
To book or for more information about our Holiday Courses, call 01635 570934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTIVITY: Superhero Mask Workshop, Craft Coop Maidenhead, Sat 20 Oct
On Saturday 20 October why not bring the kiddies down to The Craft Coop in Maidenhead’s Nicholson Centre, where the awesome Squidgydoodle will be running free Super Hero Mask Making Workshops. This will run from 10.00am – midday and there’s no booking required so feel free to drop in and have a go!
To find out more about the Craft Coop, click here.
ACTIVITY: Brickies Halloween Workshops, various locations, Mon 22 – Fri 26 Oct
If you’re kids(aged 5-11) love Lego, then sign em up for a 2-hour Halloween themed brick building workshop where they can check in at the spooktacular Hotel Bricksilvania and dabble in the dark arts. Pop along to the play centre in Wokingham, or workshops in Maidenhead, Windsor, Camberley, Woodley and Brickies HQ in Wokingham. Fro ages 7+ there’s also a 2-hour Lego movie making workshop on 22, 24 and 26 Oct.
COURSES: Kids Tuition and Courses, Bray Lakes Watersports
While we’re all enjoying Hotober, might as well boot your Mudlets out to enjoy the water while they can. Peel them into a wetsuit and they’ll be fine. Bray Lake Watersports offers a fantastic selection of courses from sailing, paddle sports and windsurfing for kids 8+. Learn the basics, brush up on your skills or take your next step to Olympic glory, you can dip your toe in the water here.
ACTIVITY: Hocus Pocus Half Term, The Jelly Lounge Windsor, Tues 23 Oct – Fri 26 Oct
Arrrrrgh! The school holidays just come round so quickly. Fear not, your little monsters won’t leave you looking like a zombie thanks to The Jelly Lounge. I love this place. A soft play/ family club that’s a cool hang out for grown ups and kids (Hello cracking coffee and Molten Brown toiletries). In addition to the soft play fun, your little monsters can join in for cookery, spooky crafts and slime club (an additional £5). Plus on Halloween, join Spook Fest for a disco, games, best costume comp and they’ll give them their tea (£15). No trick or treating? Winning.
HALLOWEEN: Pumpkin Carving, Cobbs Farm Shop Hungerford, Mon 22 – Sun 28 Oct
Slime and seeds – pumpkin carving is a nightmare. Leave the mess to someone else and hop over to Cobbs Farm. Pick up a pumpkin (pay for it) and get creative in our carving tent this October Half Term. Entry is £3.50 per child and includes a complimentary Halloween treat and squash to keep those creative juices flowing!
ACTIVITY: Absolutely Karting, Maidenhead, open all year
If you’re sick to death of pumpkins, why not take the kids go karting? feel the need for speed att Absolutely Karting in Maidenhead. There’s a fun two tier track, you get the usual video briefing, lots of essential info on flags, lights and expected behaviour on the track, ‘rev her up’ and off you go in a 270cc petrol kart, reaching speeds up 45 mph. It’s suitable for ages 8+. So a good option if you have slightly older kids and teenagers.
DAYS OUT: Hallo’welly’ween, Wellington Country Park Reading, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
A week of spooktacular fun for the kids at Wellington Country Park from 20 – 28 October – Storytime, alien panto and Big Foot show, spooky disco, magic shows, a creepy craft room, scary face painting, a haunted Halloween train ride, pumpkin carving and much more! Book em up.
CULTURE: Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Bucks, from Sat 20 Oct
Finally opening after 6 months of renovations following a flood, this fantastic museum is celebrating with life-size statues of Matilda Wormwood standing up to Donald Trump! Part of Matilda 30 (marking 30 years since its first publication), a national public survey revealed that if Matilda could stand up to Trunchball, she could sure stand up to Trump. Check them out in the museum courtyard, they’re sooooo cool! Activities planned for half term include making a stop-frame animation, creating fridge-magnet nonsense stories, a Twits’ dinner plate, a witchy mask and a crodswoggling clay critter. PS There’s a café to hand if all this relentless creativity gets too much for you and you want to stare vacantly at your flat white for half an hour.
EVENT: Halloween: The Bats Lair, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
Half week is looming large (don’t worry, we’ll be helping you survive the week a little late in the month) but if you’re kids want to DO Halloween but you’re not keen on Trick or Treating, do this instead. Dress your gruesome kids in Halloween costumes, let them go bat sh*% crazy around Cliveden’s 376 acres while while hanging out with Cliveden’s old bats. No, not Lady Astor… Say that again and she’ll haunt you.
MUSIC: Sing-a-long Concertini, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Wed 24 Oct
Take a rest from all that goes bump in the night and wave your jazz hands at a Concertini sing-a-long. West End singer Mairi Cowieson and friends will be performing songs from Mary Poppins, Matilda, Frozen and more. The 11.30am show is a relaxed performance – ideal for children with SEND.. Tickets £8
THEATRE: Circus of Horrors, South Hill Park Bracknell, Mon 20 Oct and Corn Exchange Newbury Wed 24 Oct
Circus of Horrors was the first act of its kind to make it to the Britain’s Got Talent finals and the first circus to appear in a West End Theatre for 100 years. Welcome to the Psycho Asylum is set in Victorian London in 1899, with Sword Swallowers, Fire Eaters, Cross Bow and Knife Throwing Ultra Vixens, Death Defying Aerialists, A Guinness World Record holding diva swinging solely from her hair. You get the picture. It sounds like the kind of show you’ll watch from behind your hands. Grimly compelling. Also appearing at the Corn Exchange Newbury on 24 Oct.
ACTIVITY: Tree Climbing, National Trust Cliveden Taplow, Thu 25 and Fri 26 Oct
Harnesses on? Not eaten anything in the last half hour? Then head to the delicious Cliveden for Tree Climbing with The Great Big Tree Climbing Company. Wheeeee! I humiliated myself doing this once (I will need 3 gins to spill that story) so have a go just for the laughs. Minimum age: 6.
Nick Sharratt’s Big Draw-Along, South Hill Park Bracknell Thu 25 Oct
Nick Sharratt has illustrated close to 260 books. They range from board books for babies to novels for teens. He’s worked with top authors including Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen, and Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Up your doodle game, and join Nick for a fun draw-along, as he reveals the secrets to drawing Tracy Beaker and Timothy Pope, kings and cats and all kinds of crazy creatures.
TRAVEL: Take them to an hotel for FREE!
Leave all responsibilities behind and stay at a fancy hotel! Quite a few now offer free stays, and sometimes free meals, for kids in the school holidays, as long as they are sharing your room. Muddy favourite Stoke Park in Bucks is pushing the boat out for kids this half term with free meals, use of the indoor swimming pool, outdoor play area, mini football pitch, games room with Xbox, Playstation, table tennis, table football, TV and more. Over the border in Berks, what’s good enough for Meghan Markle is good enough for us – kids under 12 at Cliveden House stay free in the hols with a complimentary place at the Lords and Ladies Kids Club, use of the pools, maze, storybook play den and woodland play trail. Five star stunner The Grove in Herts (very handy for Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio) with 300 acres of countryside, award-winning restaurants, spa and golf lays on a week of fun-filled activities (treasure hunts, football, arts and crafts, even a spa experience) with a free stay for kids. Luxurious Luton Hoo in Beds provides a free stay and free meals (including milk and cookies at bedtime) with a kids’ movie club, play room, pool, activities and goody bag. And Oxfordshire’s Eynsham Hall is free for kids to stay 20 Oct to 4 Nov and has ginormous grounds to roam, bikes to hire and a lovely pool. Plus it’s within easy reach of great day out destinations like Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds Wildlife Park. Go on, treat yourselves, you deserve it.
EXHIBITION: Duke and Duchess of Sussex Exhibition, Windsor Castle, from Fri 26 Oct
Not one but two Royal Weddings in Berkshire. Better late than never, but we’ve finally been invited to Windsor Castle to get up close and personal with the newlyweds. Meghan’s Givenchy bridal gown designed by Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller, her 5m veil embroidered with flora symbolising the 53 Commonwealth countries and the 1932 Queen Mary diamond and platinum tiara loaned to the Duchess by the Queen are all going on display. It’s not all about the bride (even though we known it is really), Harry’s Blues and Royals frock designed by Dege & Skinner on Savile Row will also be standing to attention.
THEATRE: Bing Live, Hexagon Reading, Sat 27 – Sun 28 Oct
Anyone with pre-schoolers will know this blinking rabbit very very well. The youngest Mudlet, loves Bing. I one the other hand have an irrational loathing for him. Well, it’s time to take one for the team because Bing and his friends are coming to Reading in the first ever Bing stage show! Drop a tramadol and polish your parental halo and book up.
FAMILY FUN: Go Ape, Swinley Forest Bracknell, open all year
No matter what the weather, if you want to get outdoors, get some fresh air and have some fun head to Swinley Forest and tackle the Go Apecourse. You’ll enjoy a fun-filled hour exploring the canopy, trail blazing and tackling obstacles – finishing on the zip wire. The Junior Adventure is aimed at 6-12 year-old Tarzans, but if your child is under 6 but over a metre tall they can still join in.
EVENT: MaidenDead Zombie Walk, The Bell Maidenhead, Sat 28 Oct
The annual fright night is almost here. Ditch trick or treating (it’s so 1980s) a, it’s all about the zombie walk. A chance to dress up, go crazy with the face paints, spill your guts (literally) and drag yourself from The Bell in Maidenhead to The Anchor for the Monster Mash After Party.
DAYS OUT: Harry Potter and the Dark Arts, Warner Brothers Studio, Watford, now until 10 Nov
Back by popular demand, the Great Hall is decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with an Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts with wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels, plus walk down a darker Diagon Alley with foreboding music. Vats of slimy Troll snot, buckets of dribbling drool of the three-headed dog variety, and pools of silvery unicorn blood will also be available to dip your hands into. Any slime fiends in your house will get to learn how it’s made (here’s hoping they don’t want to replicate it at home).
DAYS OUT: Thorpe Park Fright Nights, Fri 29 Sept – Tues 31 Oct
Wah-ha-haaaa! This is my idea of total hell, but if you or your kids like to be frightened to death, be my guest at Thorpe Park Fright Nights. They’re promising new horror experiences, live action attractions based on The Walking Dead, extreme live action horror mazes, Derren Brown’s Rise of the Demon ghost train and and all manner of other horrific stuff not suitable for middle-aged women called Hero over 40.
Beast Quest Hampton, Hampton Court, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
My eldest loved Beast Quest when he was younger, a modern Dungeons & Dragons for anyone as ancient as me. Now your kids can immerse themselves in this fantasy adventure story at Hampton Court Palace. Working in teams they’ll solve puzzles, riddles and games to our heroes Tom and Elenna defeat the Dark Wizard Malvel and his beast army. Sounds fun, non.
Have a Hell-Fire Halloween, Hell-Fire Caves, West Wycombe, Mon 22 – Sun 28 Oct
The Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe are spooky all year round but for Halloween they get a macabre makeover with a selection of props, lighting and creepy music, not to mention a number of ravaged souls who prowl the passageways. For kids, the courtyard will play host to free Halloween fun – spooky games, fancy dress competition, broomstick races, and werewolf banishing. Older kids and adults can scare themselves witless on Fri 26, Sat 27 and Wed 31 Oct on one of the Fright Nights (suitable for 10+ but under 16s have to have an adult in tow) when who knows what you’ll encounter as you wander the tunnels? Wah, ha, haaaaaa!
Haunted Castle, Warwick, Sat 20 Oct – Sun 4 Nov
Warwick Castle is one of the slickest family entertainment operations around and halloween is no exception. Dreadful dungeons with an escape room experience, a brand new show in The Witches Tower, Horrible Histories maze, Haunted Hallows trail and birds of prey demos, it’s no wonder The Haunted Castle will remain open until 10pm (25 – 31 Oct). There’s live entertainment on Dead Centre Stage and spectacular real-life jousting with fire – might get a bit hot if they’re wearing full armour! Inside the castle find the new House of Wax scare maze while maximum fear factor belongs to Séance a spectacle exclusive to Warwick Castle that uses innovative binaural spatial audio technology to share spirits’ stories of life on ‘the other side’: prepare to be petrified! The whole setting of a Medieval castle lends itself to Halloween perfectly and it’s an expensive but family-crowd-pleasing day out. If you decide it’s too much to fit in to a day, you can stay in the Knight’s Village with kids getting free entrance to the castle for 2 days.