October half term saviours
Half term's looming but don't be afraid - we've sorted the fun with 16 brilliant things to do in Hants and the Isle of Wight to keep the little people entertained.
Action Adventure Days, Calshot Activity Centre, daily through half term
Skiing followed by climbing, track racing and rifle shooting? Sounds exhausting – and therefore the perfect way to occupy your offspring this half term. Activities run all day for children aged 7 to 16, so you can wave them goodbye and have a full, undisturbed day to yourself. Bliss.
Horrible Histories Pirates: The Exhibition, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, daily until 30 October
We know kids love toilet humour, so if you haven’t already, don’t miss the UK’s first Horrible Histories exhibition. Let your own little landlubbers loose as they captain their very own pirate ship and design their own flag. Touch-screen games and role play activities aplenty.
Rogate Pumpkin Patch, Petersfield, daily through October
Pumpkin patches are highly Instagrammable right now. Petersfield’s popular PYO is back this autumn, ready for your mini-mes to carve back at home. It’s all very American, Thanksgiving-style fun, and to tell you the truth, we kinda love it. Now, where’s my pumpkin chai latte?
West Wight Alpaca Farm, Wellow, Isle of Wight, daily throughout October
Ever wanted to pet an alpaca? West Wight Alpaca Farm is home to only the cutest of animals – including llamas, pygmy goats and miniature donkeys. Take an alpaca for a walk and learn more about these amazing creatures. You won’t be able to leave without saying ‘Aww’ twenty times and creating 700 Instagram stories. Just watch out for the spit!
Exbury Gardens, daily until November
Watch out for monsters in the gruesome gardens then board the ghost train if you dare – Exbury has plenty of ghoulish family events this October. If spooky happenings aren’t your kid’s thing, get creative with pumpkin carving and learn how to make a bat box as part of its special educational workshops. Leave time for a leisurely walk afterwards and enjoy the 200 acre-site in its full, glorious autumn glory.
Supersized! At Marwell Zoo, Winchester, daily until 1 November
Giant bugs might make your skin crawl, but no doubt your kids will go wild for them. From assassin bugs to three-metre tall tarantulas, Marwell Zoo is dotted with these larger-than-life creatures, made from colourful bricks. Think LegoLand vibes. Spy on the 1,200 real-life animals while you’re at it, including giraffes and snow leopards.
Halloween Week at Paultons Park, Romsey, 15 October – 2 November
Theme park ‘fright nights’ can terrify you for all the wrong reasons – but not at Paultons Park. Labelled the ‘friendliest’ of them all, it’s home to Peppa Pig World, so expect Peppa and George suitably clad in pumpkin attire. Spot-on for the little people in your life, they can enjoy Halloween without the gruesome stuff.
Crash, bang, wallop! Nope, it’s not your clumsy kids knocking over a museum display – it’s the Live Science Show. This year, the focus is on sound, complete with real flames and cannon blasts. Don’t leave without watching Flight Through The Universe in the planetarium cinema, an insight into the true magnitude of our galaxies. They may even learn something!
Harvest Trail & Pooh Sticks, Mottisfont, Romsey, 17 October – 1 November
Fancy a game of Pooh Sticks? In fact, Mottisfont is the National Trust’s number one Pooh Sticks destination with plenty of bridges to play from. Over half term, a new harvest-themed trail will take you and the kids on an adventure around the grounds. Sticks at the ready!
Teen Sewing and Textiles, Ashcroft Art Centre, 17 October
Fast fashion is becoming, like, so uncool. Making your own clothes is having a real revival, from sewing embroidered denim jackets to personalising trainers. Tutor Maria Stones is inviting 11-16 year olds to join her two-hour workshop, designing and making clothes. Their grandparents will be so proud.
Saturday Morning Cinema, Forest Arts Centre, 17 and 31 October
For just £3 per person, you can plonk yourself down in the Forest Arts Centre at 10.30am and enjoy a Saturday morning movie. Sonic the Hedgehog is up first on 17 October, followed by Frozen II on 31 October. Ideal for rainy days when you fancy a little nap in the corner.
Wolves Awareness Week at New Forest Wildlife Park, 18-24 October
Ahhh-ooooo! Werewolves might be mythical but these real life moon-howlers have just been brought back from the brink of extinction. For just £1.50, you can take part in a wolf awareness quiz with a medal awarded on completion. After all, kids love a medal.
Spooky Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, 24 October – 1 November
Gather your little monsters for a ghoulishly good day out at Carisbrooke Castle this half term. Follow the creepy clue treasure hunt and listen to spooky tales of the castle. Fancy dress is in order – dig out your scariest costume for a chance of winning the competition.
Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton, 26-30 October
Get spooky, pagan-style, where the team at Butser Ancient Farm explain Samhain, the ancient version of Halloween. Fairies, hobgoblins and elves will be out in force, alongside craft workshops and storytelling sessions. Space lovers won’t want to miss the stargazing evening on 23 October too.
Songwriting workshop for kids aged 8 to 13, Forest Arts Centre, 27 October
Got a budding Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift in the house? They will love this songwriting workshop, guided by expert wordsmith Laura. Allow the creative process to flow with these exercises and techniques. £10 per child for a two-hour workshop.
Owl-O-Ween at The Hawk Conservancy, Andover, 30 October
Cosy up with a hot chocolate and listen to ghostly stories (don’t worry, they’re not too terrifying) before watching the mesmerising moonlit flying owl display. How very Hogwarts. Dressing up is thoroughly encouraged and tickets cost £17.50 – which includes a hot dog or burger, chocolate apple and hot drink.