Looking for things to do with the kids in south east London this October half term? Check out SESussed’s half term guide for south east Londoners, written by local mum of two Marcela Ferreira…
There was a time (not so long ago) when I let half term creep up on me. Those were dark times, spent in a frantic haze scrambling for things to do while muttering about the lack of choice around. But I was wrong. So very wrong…
The truth is there is plenty going on in SE London, and half term is no different. It might require a little extra planning, but you shouldn’t let that get in your way. And just in case you are running on empty juggling kids, work, house, playdates and deadlines, let me give you a helping hand with SESussed’s Half Term Guide for SE Londoners:
1 Half Term Horrors Week at Eltham Palace
Not just a pretty face, Eltham Palace has plenty on offer for the kids. The Half Term Horrors Week has lots of creepy crafts goings on as well as a Halloween Costume competition and Pumpkin Carving sessions. Just don’t forget to explore the grounds too! Monday 23 to Friday 27 October at 11am, 12pm, 1.20pm, 2.30pm & 3.30pm. Pumpkin carving is £4 in addition to the standard entry fee (adults £14.40, kids £8.60). And to further get into the spirit of Halloween, English Heritage is inviting children to make their own beastly mask before a visit. You can download your mask template here.
Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich SE9 5QE; english-heritage.org.uk
2 Rocket building at The Unicorn Theatre
This is one of the theatre’s show-themed workshops held straight after a performance of Laika, the Space Dog (though you don’t have to watch it to attend). The Unicorn Space Team will be helping kids and their grownups to build their very own rocket pack, before being sent off to collect moon rocks. Each adult needs a child and each child needs and adult. Running 24, 26, 27 & 28 October at 12.30pm & 3.30pm. Ages 6-10 / £10 for one adult and child. Fancy catching the performance first? Tickets to Laika, the Space Dog are £6.10 adult and £10 child. Ages 6-12.
3 Little Halloween Disco at The Ivy House, Nunhead
Take the kids to the Little Halloween Disco at The Ivy House in Nunhead and let them discover their own dance floor moves. There is more than music to be enjoyed too – giant bubbles, a snow machine, games and mini-competitions are all part of the fun. Friday 27 October at 10am-11am, 11.30am-12.30pm, 1pm-2pm. £7 per child, £5 per sibling, £1 per adult. Ages 3+. Dressing up is encouraged.
The Ivy House, Nunhead SE15 3BE; thelittlediscocompany.co.uk
4 Moomin fun at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Head to the Dulwich Picture Gallery for some great Moomin-inspired activities throughout the week. Free drop-in sessions include designing Moominmamma recipe cards, family mobiles, and more (23-29 October, 2-4pm, adults are charged the standard gallery entrance). The gallery also has separate two-day workshops where you can create your own characters to keep: Huggable Heroes on 24-25 October (10am-12.30pm, ages 6-9, £35), where you can your own fantasy cuddly toy and come face to face with Snufkin, Moomintroll and Little My; and Create a Character on 26-27 October (10am-12.30pm, ages 10-12, £35), where you can come up with your own characters drawings, then mold and cast your own 3D character head. Do book ahead.
5 Jolly Foresters Half Term Camp
Want to make the most of the fresh air? Then drop the kids off at the Jolly Foresters Half Term Camp. They will get messy and very muddy during their outdoor adventures – but that is the idea! Climbing trees, learning about nature, making dens and camp fires are all part of the fun on offer. Bush craft for 3-8 years at the South London Scout Centre runs Mon 23-24 from 9.30am-2pm (£30 per day).
See jollyforesters.com or book via hoop.co.uk
6 Me… at The Albany
If you are a parent and haven’t been to The Albany yet, then this is your chance. Their relaxed performances are perfect for introducing young children to the joys of the theatre. They have a lovely café too, so you can treat yourself with coffee and cake after! The Albany will be showing ‘Me’ during half term – a touching story about a parent and their love for their child by much loved children’s author Emma Dodd. according to The Stage, it’s ‘an ideal introduction to theatre for little people, and a welcome balm for the soul for bigger people, too’. 26 October. Tickets are £7 for kids or £24 for a family ticket (ages 2+).
7 Half Term Course at Jags
Jags offers so many half term courses that it’s hard to pick a favourite. There is climbing, dance workshops, soccer academy, swimming, archery, tennis, screen printing and trampolining. The best thing about it, is that if you don’t want to commit to a course, you can book a one-off session and see how it goes. Ages (and price) do vary depending on the course, so always best to check.
8 Get Crafty with Splatter Make
If your kids are into crafts than this is for them! Splatter Make is a little further from the SE postcode, but not by much… From witches’ tutus and Jedi light sabres, to hand printing and cushion making, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Check out the spider catcher making workshop on 26 October (11am-12.30pm & 12pm-1.30pm). Once all the catchers are made, the children get to meet and watch a performance from Haggy Moo (based on Winnie the Witch), and her faithful cat Treacle. Ages 5-7 years. Tickets £10 including one adult for the performance.
The Mansion House, Beckenham Place Park BR3 1UH; splattermake.co.uk
9 Pumpkin Carving at Wild Cat Wilderness
The Wild Cat Wilderness is a community green space in Catford coordinated by a local charity. You can explore nature, learn new outdoor skills and crafts, play or just relax. There is something for everyone to do whether its creating a new path, gardening, building something for the wildlife, or making tea. On 29 October, from 12pm-4pm, there are pumpkin carving and lantern making workshops free for all ages. Turn old tin cans and jars into lanterns. Bring your own pumpkin or get one on site for a £2 donation.
wildcatwilderness.org (prior booking required)
10 Tales on Moon Lane’s Half Term Festival
Tales on Moon Lane usually has great activities during the half term, and this year is no different. Every day, they will be holding two different story-time/workshop sessions, so go for the ones that best suit your schedule. Here are a few of my favourites: Learn to draw a superhero with Tom Ford (Monday 23, ages 6+); Story time session with Nadia Shireen (Tuesday 24, ages 3+); Lesley Barnes reads her new book, Jill and Lion, plus a design-your-own-shield session (Wednesday 25, ages 5+); Make your own magazine workshop with the fab Scoop magazine (Thursday 26, ages 8+); Movie making book workshop (Friday 27, ages 6-11). All sessions are £3. Book online.
25 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9JU; talesonmoonlane.co.uk
Let the kids and their inspiration loose with spray cans and a fresh wall! Learn the art and technique of spray painting from professional street artists, and take away a tote bag with your very own graffiti design. It really is great fun!Recommended for ages 5+. Check out their website for information on their next workshop.
12 The Horniman Museum & Gardens
I couldn’t leave the Horniman out of any list that involves children’s activities in SE London. One of the most dependable places to take the family, The Horniman Museum is always brimming with great things to do. This half term, you can enjoy the free Halloween Fair on 28-29 October, spooky storytelling (also 28-29 October, ages 3+, kids £5, adults £1), creepy creatures cave and arts and crafts market. Their usual activities such as the Horniman Explorers, Storytelling, Family Art Fun and Big Wednesday still apply. Half term is very busy though, so do book in advance when you can.
13 Go for a Walk
Sometimes the simple things are still the best. Autumn in a great time to be outside, especially with the kids. And though it might take a little coaxing to peel some children away from their screens (like mine), you can be confident that south east London has a park to suit you. So grab a coat, a pair of wellies and enjoy the fresh air, nature, and exercise – all for free! Here are a few suggestions to get you started: Dulwich Park, Peckham Rye, Ruskin Park, Mayow Park, Nunhead Cemetery, Beckenham Mansion Park, Ladywell, Crystal Palace Park and Hilly Fields.