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58 brilliant half term ideas

Like a scary ghost, half term has crept up behind us, EEEEK! Here are 58 spooktacular half term activities to keep the smalls amused and your sanity in check.

Children’s Theatre

morgan west science posterFirst up we have the magical happenings of Morgan and West: Unbelievable Science at New Theatre Royal (27 Oct). One of those delightfully sneaky entertainment ideas where the kids are happy and they’re also learning something (ho ho ho!) Also on at the New Theatre Royal is the beautiful production of Soonchild (1 Nov), featuring 3D and shadow puppets for a tale of ice and snow.

If your kids are all about being a bit cool then how about Bows & Bunny Ears at Anvil Arts (29 Oct)? This tribute to Ariana Grande and Jojo Siwa, will delight any tweenies although there may be an inward grumble for you about the required Jojo bows.

If you’re looking for something a tad skyward then definitely book up Stella at The Point, Eastleigh (30 Oct). Stella the Star Engineer (how is that for a job role?) has to overcome the stars burning out and imparts a little wisdom to kids about taking the time to look up at the sky. This show also contains some aerial theatre to really keep the kids in awe.

gruffalo witch warthog press shotOver at the Theatre Royal in Winchester, they have shows coming out of their ears this half-term. Starting off with Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass (26 Oct), The Little Prince (28 – 29 Oct) as well as Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, The Witch and the Waterhog (31 Oct – 2 Nov) (check out our interview with the lady herself here!)

For anybody with a slightly puerile sense of humour, then the King’s Theatre is delivering this week. As Southsea plays host to Dick Vs Dom (29 Oct), the kids will be screaming ‘BOGEYS!’ in public for ages afterwards… oops!

Creepy Crafting

Forest Forge Craft make your own gore shot of arms

Image: Forest Forge

If the thought of glue and glitter on your kitchen table is giving you the heeby-jeebies then swing down to Happy Half Term at Gunwharf Quays. As well as the Aspex Gallery (definitely worth a visit anyway), putting on lots of Halloween crafts you can also get a wiggle on with that *whispers* Christmas Shopping.

If your kids are interested in makeup or general gore (hitting both sides of the market with this one), then this Halloween Make Up Workshop at the Forest Forge Theatre (30 Oct) is a must. Creating faux blood and guts, it’ll save you a fortune on Halloween costumes if they can construct it out of flour and food colouring.

Watership Down Inn Mural of rabbitFinally, with a spot of deliciousness thrown into the mix check out the Halloween celebrations at Muddy Award winner Watership Down Inn (31 Oct). As well as a special Halloween Pizza Lunch where the kids can get making their own pepperoni pie there are also prizes for the top pumpkin carvings as well.

Spooky Adventures

Robin Hill Festival of Lights showing a boombox lit up and neon glowing lightsTurn a trip to the garden centre into an exciting half-term adventure as the Rosebourne Spooktacular Family Challenge (19 Oct – 3 Nov) returns to Weyhill for this half-term week. Get the kids to hunt around the store for all the ingredients for the spooky potion and win a sweet treat at the end.

While not technically spooky, it’s still definitely worth a trip over to the Robin Hill Festival of Light inspired by Divali (until 2 Nov). As the sun goes down, the lights come up and the whole park is transformed into a magical wonderland. It’s proving very popular (they’ve added some more dates) so best book the tickets up quick.

For two kinds of scares then check out Happy Halloween at Paultons Park which runs until 4th November. With live shows, Peppa and George dressed in spooky outfits, plus a Creepy Gatekeeper in the mix, the rides are going to be a secondary thought for this day out.

Freaky costumed people on the exbury halloween train rideOver at Exbury Gardens, they have a calendar packed with events this half-term including Spooky Skeleton Trail and Halloween Ghost Train, while up in the north of the county (Ok, so it’s *technically* Berkshire but not by much) they’re celebrating Hallo’Welly’ween at Wellington Country Park until the 3rd Nov.

Another spot to head out on an outdoor adventure is Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, where they have a calendar packed with a Halloween Family Trail, Archeaelogy activities about the Saxons (29 Oct), a special Halloween Bushcraft experience and the always popular Outdoor Adventure Club.

Don’t fancy getting wet? Then for something a bit more indoors check out the Haunted Histories at Emirates Spinnaker Tower (26 Oct – 3 Nov). As well as a chance to get some of the most beautiful views over the Solent, the history of Portsmouth means that there is plenty of creepy stories to tell.

Also, don’t forget about the Joules Autumn Walks initiative. Grab your wellies and coat and head out with the family for a bracing stroll. You can check out all the best local walks for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight here.

Heritage Spots

Watercress Line Wizard Weekend kids in halloween costumesHalloween really comes into its own when you add an old building into the mix and we have so many amazing spots around both Hants and the Island. Starting off with the Frankenstein Trail at Hinton Ampner (26 Oct – 3 Nov), you and the brood can follow the trail and work out how Frankenstein’s Monster could have survived around the estate.

It’s getting a bit Hogwarts this week with not one but TWO wizarding railway events with the Wizard Week at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the Wizard Express on the Watercress Line (26 – 27 Oct). Accio, fun!

Portchester Castle Spooky Event with kids in costumesNeed a spooky castle for Halloween? We’ve got you covered with a week full of activities at Spooky Carisbrooke Castle on the Wight and Spooky Porchester Castle  (both 26 Oct – 3 Nov), as well as Halloween at Hurst Castle. Ancient fortifications, long-forgotten nobility and a whole host of creepy surroundings as well.

HMS Warrior by geni

HMS Warrior – Photo: Geni

There’s also a lot of myth and legend attached to the sea so it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of nautical themed spooky events happening as well. Starting off with The Mary Rose Museum’s Shipwreck Explorers – Rotten Rats, where you can discover the grim and rotten reality of life aboard a Tudor ship.

Nextdoor at the Historic Dockyard, there’s the awesome Horrible Histories Pirates exhibition, plus a chance to create your own eye patch, meet Captain Hardy on the Victory and also explore the immersive HMS Warrior 1860. Not going to lie, I went on the Warrior in the middle of Summer and while really fun, the engine room freaked me right out. *shiver*

Over the water, in Gosport, there’s Pirates and Pumpkins at the Explosion Museum of Firepower (29 – 30 Oct) and up on the hill towards Fareham, there’s Spooky Science at Fort Nelson (28 Oct – 1 Nov).

The National Trust always goes all out for their half-term activities, and along with the aforementioned Frankenstein Trail they also have October Half Term at The Vyne  which also includes a spooky Halloween Rune Trail and The Needles is embracing its smuggling and shipwreck history.

Mottisfont Neill Howard

Mottisfont Photo: Neill Howard

A bit too much spooky for your liking? Then opt for the gentler Mottisfont event where they celebrate a whole year of the Kitchen Garden with Harvest Time until 3 Nov.

If you’ve not had a chance to check out the fab Chitty Chitty Bang Bang exhibit at Beaulieu yet then make your way down there for the October Half-Term event plus plenty of crafts and activities for all ages. There’s also Monster Mayhem at Milestones Museum, Basingstoke (26 Oct – 3 Nov) where you’re encouraged to dress up for a small prize.

If you’re looking for some gentle family fun then there’s creepy crafts and torchlight tours at Andover Museum (26 -30 Oct), plenty of activities at Westbury Manor Museum (Wed 30 Oct), late nights and spooktastic storytelling at Winchester City Museum (Wed 30 Oct) and just on the border with Dorset there’s woodland walks, creepy makes and spooky stories at Red House Museum and Gardens, Christchurch (29 Oct – 2 Nov).

Bursledon Windmill with halloween creepy blair witch dollFor something particularly freaky there are special evening events at Bursledon Windmill (26 – 27 Oct), a place that’s ALWAYS on ghost hunters radars.

If you gave any mini military buffs, it’s certainly worth visiting the Rushmoor Remembers event at Aldershot Military Museum (Thurs 31). Featuring history-themed activities, crafts and more, it’s a great opportunity to visit this important museum.
Animal Magic

Marwell Boo at the Zoo posterFor creepy activities with some cute and cuddly animals to balance it out, head to near Freshwater on the Island for Tapnell Farm Halloween Half Term (19 Oct – 4 Nov) or alternatively Spooky Zoo at the Isle of Wight Zoo, Shanklin (though I doubt they’ll let you cuddle the tigers). Back on the mainland Muddy Award winning family attraction Finkley Down Farm in Andover is hosting Freaky Down Farm between 26 Oct – 3 Nov.

Marwell is holding Boo at the Zoo!, and allows kids to track down 12 colourful monsters around the zoo, take broomstick lessons and hear spooky stories with Esme the witch.

For any kids that are obsessed with creepy crawlies then head westward to the Stag Beetle Spectacular at New Forest Wildlife Park (26 Oct – 3 Nov). Learning about one of the rarest bugs in the country, kids can follow the quiz trail and learn about the mini beasts along the way.

Older kids

If you’ve got a super particular teen who isn’t into carving pumpkins and sticking glitter on bats, then there’s a couple of options to get them off their phones and you into their good books on the Island.

Wight Karting has a range of Junior Track Days. With options for 8-11-year-olds and 11 – 15-year-olds, they can be dropped off (woohoo!) and spend the day racing around the track and out of your hair.

terror island blackgang chine logoHave an over 16? Then check out Terror Island at Blackgang Chine. This immersive experience is alleged to be pants-wettingly terrifying and will show your teen you’re not scared of anything (we totally are, but we won’t let them know).

Further afield 

Warwick Castle is one of the slickest family entertainment operations around and Halloween is no exception – the Medieval castle makes for a perfect setting. On offer this year is a new show in The Witches Tower, Horrible Histories maze, Haunted Hallows trail and birds of prey demos, plus a new Ghost Trail for younger kids or scaredy-cats (guilty!).

Over in Beds you’ll find Whipsnade Zoo, the sister outpost of London Zoo which is putting on its annual Halloween event. It’s hands down my favourite zoo with the countryside setting giving it a more natural feel than city zoos – plus kids will go mad for the train. As well as its usual animal viewing, feeding, demos and talks there’ll be pumpkin carving, face painting and crafts, with each day ending with a Pumpkin Party and storytime.

Heading to the Big Smoke? There’s the brilliant Science Museum‘s cool interactive gallery- Wonderlab, with over 50 exhibitions including hands-on, live experiments at the Chemistry Bar and daily shows. The Space and AI tech exhibitions are also worth seeing.

Find more ideas here

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