Oh. Gosh. Christmas is only 80 days away, while Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner. The nights are drawing in – I’ve even knocked the heating on, you know, just to take the chill off the air.
It only seemed like yesterday when I was compiling a list of things to do during the Summer holidays so it’s madness that we’ve already arrived at October half term. As much as sitting wrapped up on the sofa is very appealing, I’m sure the kids will have different ideas. Luckily, there are plenty of brilliant activities in and around London to keep them entertained from museums, farms and outdoor attractions. But if you fancy something a little different, here are MTM’s top picks for things to do.
Fancy meeting a walking T-Rex! Or seeing a life-size Stegosaurus? At London’s Wetland Centre this half-term you can see real dinosaur bones, discover the link between birds, wetlands and dinosaurs, find fossils, check out the dinosaur art and sculptures and lots more! The Dinosaur Society will also be holding walks and talks suitable for all ages during the weekend.
WWT London Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT; 28-30 October; Normal admission prices. Dinosaur Talk tickets: Adults £3; Family £10.00
Boo at The Zoo
London Zoo gets all spooky this half-term when spiders take centre stage in an exhibit exploring how they spin webs and use their venom to snare prey. Brave visitors can also make their way through the spider forest to marvel at the golden orb spiders dangling within, before venturing into the darkness of the Owl Emporium and whipping up potions in the Grim Curiosity Shoppe. Other activities include pumpkin carving and preparing fruit for the bearded pigs. And if you book online, you’ll get a free pumpkin carving for every child.
ZSL London Zoo Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY Entry free with admission; 22-31 October; Free with admission Adults: £24.25; Kids £17.60
How To Hide a Lion
Helen Stephen’s fantastic tale is brought to the stage this half term. Iris finds a new friend, but it’s not easy hiding him as he’s too big and fluffy! Adapted by Peter Glanville and with music by acclaimed singer-songwriter Barb Jungr, watch as Iris tries to hide her new pal in the sneakiest of spots. There is even a shorter, toddler version of the production for younger guests.
Polka Theatre 240 The Broadway, London SW19 1SB From 26 October-26 February 2017; Tickets £12.50
Spooky Secret Island
Halloween gets spooky on the Secret Island during half term week when Dr Gore takes to the Mad Lab for a gruesome series of experiments. An array of frightfully fantastic activities will be available for all ages. Try hat and mask making to transform yourself into a witch, monster or other spooky character for the day. Be prepared to get messy with some ooey-gooey monster slime making, freaky monster skin, and make gruesome discoveries in the feely boxes. There’ll also be guided tours of the haunted mills and military truck tours across the spooky secret island.
Royal Gunpowder Mills Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey EN9 1JY 22-30 October; Entry free with admission Adults £9.75; Kids £7.75; Under 3s Free
The Stratford Circus Arts Centre has a whole host of events including Bedtime Stories – a family show comprising of circus, projections, dance and music. There’s also a family circus workshop on set with the cast after the performance. Children and their adults can explore the themes of the show, learn new tricks and work together to raise each other off the ground!
Stratford Circus Arts Centre Theatre Square, Stratford, London, E15 1BX 28-29 October; Tickets £10
Best of the rest…
London’s Canal Museum
The Halloween special is a unique trip through Islington Tunnel on board one of London’s community narrowboats specially decorated for the occasion with a friendly witch amongst the crew. Kids receive sweets on board and a free glowstick. There will also be special activities for children in the museum itself.
London’s Canal Museum 12-13 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RT 29-30 October; Tickets Adults £11.00; Kids: £8.50
The Big Barbican Adventure
Explore the Barbican in this do-it-yourself adventure trail for families. Set off to discover the secrets of the Barbican through cryptic clue solving, drawing and games both at indoor and outdoor locations. For brave adventurers who complete the trail and crack the code, there’s a reward at the end of the tour.
Barbican Centre Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS Until 30 December at 10:00am & 12.00pm Trail kit from box office
Ghost Tours at Ham House
While the National Trust are hosting several half term activities throughout the UK, a visit to Ham House will include a spooky family ghost tour where you will discover more about a spirit dog and haunted step on the great stairs, given it a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Britain! There are also art activities, while fancy dress is most definitely encouraged.
Ham House and Garden Ham Street, Ham, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7RS From 21-31 October; Tickets: £22 including refreshments