Fun half term activities for kids and families across London, from spooky Halloween fun to Where’s Wally museum hunts, craft workshops, theatre for children and pre-teens and more
Lead image: Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt (photo © Alex Dimos 2019 for kidsinmuseums.com)
1 Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt, various locations
18 October-3 November
Kids in Museums is working with Walker Books to celebrate the release of the new Where’s Wally? book, Double Trouble at the Museum, this October half term with Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt. The event is taking place in 50 museums across the UK this October half term, with the V&A in South Kensington (18 October-3 November, free), the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden (19-27 October, free with admission), the Horniman Museum & Gardens in Forest Hill (2-3 November, free), the Cutty Sark in Greenwich (21-26 October, free with admission to the ship) taking part, and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (19-27 October, excluding 26 October, free). Pick up an activity sheet and search for Wally, who will be hiding among the artefacts and exhibitions. Families can also enter a grand prize draw to win an Art Fund Family Membership and a bundle of Where’s Wally? goodies.
2 Ham House Autumn Animals Children’s Trail, Richmond
21 October-3 November
Ham House was recently voted as one of Britain’s top ‘secret spots’ to visit this half term by mccarthyandstone.co.uk, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder. The Autumn Animals Trail is great for kids who love to be outdoors. In the gardens, the animals are gathering in their harvests to help them prepare for winter, and your little ones are invited to help them find their food. This tactile trail – suitable for all ages with sensory elements for younger ones while older children learn how they can help British wildlife prepare for winter – asks kids to help the squirrel find his hidden nuts and the spider catch her flies. Trail £2 per child. 10am-5pm. There’s also Autumn Animal Workshops, where kids can create a bird feeder to help wildlife prepare for the winter (12pm, 1pm and 2pm each day, £3) and Spooky Storytelling (12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm), both running from 26 October-3 November).
Ham Street, Ham, Richmond TW10 7RS; nationaltrust.org.uk
3 Family Fun at Sherlock: The Official Live Game, Shepherd’s Bush
22 October-1 November
Sherlock: The Game is Now, the world’s first official live, immersive Sherlock experience, is opening up its doors to families this October half term with a brand new family ticket. Explore some of Sherlock’s most iconic sets as the whole family races against the clock to crack codes, solves puzzles and progress to the next level with help from original cast members – including Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott – in brand new, specially recorded video and audio sequences. After successfully completing the 100-minute experience, the whole family can relax, debrief and enjoy a bite to eat in The Mind Palace, which contains mementos and artefacts from the Sherlock case-files. Family tickets are on sale for £90 and available 10.50am-17.15pm Tuesday to Friday.
Ground Floor, West 12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush W12 8PP; thegameisnow.com
4 Storytelling & Kids Cheese & ‘Wine’ Pairing at Seven Dials Market, Covent Garden
Seven Dials Market, the new food hall near Covent Garden, is hosting a number of kid-friendly activities and tasty meal deals this October half term. At the Market Bookshop, you’ll find a series of storytelling sessions by popular authors Loretta Schauer (A Monster’s Moved In) on Tuesday 22 & Wednesday 23 October, followed by a craft workshop (11am-12.30pm & 2pm-3.30pm), and Mo O’Hara (Romeosaurus and Juliet Rex) on Thursday 24 October, followed by a craft workshop (12pm-1pm & 2pm-3pm). Cheese experts Pick & Cheese, behind the world’s first cheese conveyer belt, will also be hosting a kids cheese and ‘wine’ pairing with non-alcoholic soda creators Square Root Soda on Friday 25 October from 11.15am-11.45am (tickets are £10).
Earlham Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9LX; sevendialsmarket.com
5 Grim Keepers at ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park
ZSL London Zoo is promising a week of frightful fun this October half term, daring visitors can embark on a Grim Keepers tour to explore what happens when nature gets gruesome. All around the zoo, mischievous monkeys, slithering snakes and all sorts of crazy critters will be getting into the Halloween spirit with pumpkins filled with tasty treats to forage. Little ones can journey through an avenue of ghoulish gourds and hair-raising haystacks to take the perfect Halloween family picture at the Pumpkin Patch, before listening to spooky stories on how nature bites back at Halloween-themed animal talks. There will also be bat mask making, pumpkin carvings design and frightening face painting. Suitable for all ages. Grim Keeper tours run on the hour and half hour between 11am-4pm (except 12.30pm). Entry from £27 for adults and £17.55 for kids.
Outer Circle, Regent’s Park NW1 4RY; zsl.org
The Postal Museum is celebrating the opening of The Great Train Robbery: The Crime & The Post exhibition with a line up of investigative-themed events for the whole family. The new exhibition shines a light on the victims of this infamous crime and the involvement of the Post Office Investigation Branch in tracing the perpetrators. And it’s not just this crime – the largely unknown organisation and its heroic detectives have put their lives on the line to solve many high profile crimes, from mass murder to forgeries. The Family Programme at kicks off on 21 October with storytelling sessions, followed by arts & crafts workshops on 22 October where kids can make their own crime-fighting gadgets, book-reading activities on 23 October where P. G. Bell, author of The Great Brain Robbery, will tell thrilling train tales, ‘WANTED’ Poster Making on 24 October, a Mini Detective Trail on 25 October, and the chance to make a mysterious sliding train postcard on 26 October. Tickets are £17 for adults, £12 for ages 12-24 and £10 for ages 3-15.
15-20 Phoenix Place, Clerkenwell WC1X 0DA; postalmuseum.org
7 Outdoor Fun at Lee Valley Regional Park
22 October-3 November
Lee Valley Regional Park, where families can roam free and explore the wildlife for free all year round, is hosting some special half term activities too. Star Track is a week-long athletics ‘camp’ for children aged 6-12 years old offering expert tuition in a range of skills, from hurdles to high jump, sprinting to javelin at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, Edmonton N9 (22-25 October, 9am-3pm, £78 for the week). There’s also Mischief and Mayhem at Lee Valley Park Farms, Waltham Abbey EN9, offering spooky face-painting, pumpkin carving, toboggan riding and the chance to explore the Haunted House, follow the Trick or Treat Trail and watch a birds of prey display (26 October-Sunday 3 November, 10am-5pm, £10). Finally, kids can explore the world of creepy crawlies at the Lee Valley Bug Club at Waltham Abbey Gardens EN9 with a Forest School-inspired activity led by an accredited outdoor educator (31 October, 1pm-2.30pm, £4 in advance, £4.50 on the day).
8 Hyde Park’s Hair Raising Discovery Days
23 & 24 October
The LookOut at Hyde Park is hosting a series of free Hair Raising Halloween-themed Discovery Days this half term. Drop in any time from 11am to 3pm on 23 & 24 October to join in activities like the hair-raising nature trail full of fascinating facts, muster up the courage to delve into the ‘feely boxes’ in the Witches Den, try your hand at potion-making using herbs and plants from the garden, listen to spooky stories and, for a fee of £15, learn how to build a bat box to take home. Dressing up is encouraged.
The LookOut, Hyde Park W2; royalparks.org.uk
9 Kids Theatre at The Albany, Canada Water & The Unicorn Theatre
You can always count on The Albany to have something special when you need it most. This half term you can book tickets to watch Emily Rising at Canada Water Theatre, where Emily wakes up to find that her feet can’t touch the ground and that, as she keeps rising higher and higher, discovers a world that looks completely different (22-23 October, ages 7+, tickets £7). Over at The Albany, there’s The Bear, based on the book by Raymond Briggs, where a little girl befriends a mischievous polar bear, featuring puppetry, music and lots of laughs 22-24 October, ages 3+, tickets £7). If your children are aged between 9-13, then why not head to The Unicorn Theatre in London Bridge to see Maggot Moon? Sally Gardner’s darkly creative novel for young teens, set in a dystopian world, has been adapted to the stage with projection, live drawing and video footage, all being used to create a fantastical land. Tickets £6-£16 for under 18s and £12-£22 for adults.
The Albany, Douglas Way SE8 4AG
Canada Water Theatre, 21 Surrey Quays Road SE16 7AR
The Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, London Bridge SE1 2HZ
10 Rembrandt Inspired Activities at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery has a great line up for families during the holidays. I love the activities they have on offer as well as the age range they cover. The kids can take inspiration from the latest Rembrandt exhibition in Making a Scene, where kids aged 4-12 can drop in to the gallery for a different activity every day, all inspired by Rembrandt’s use of light, from creating shadowy portraits to colourful viewfinders (22-25 October, 2–4pm, adults £5, kids free). There’s also Dramatic Dioramas, where kids aged 6-9 can use dramatic lighting to create their own 3D model theatre set (22 & 23 October, 10am–12.30pm, £35 for two days). Finally, in Illuminated Etchings, kids aged 10-12 years can create dramatic portraits inspired by the master of etching (24 & 25 October, 10am–12.30pm, £35 for the two days).
Gallery Road, Dulwich SE21 7AD; dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
11 Ascarium at SEA LIFE London Aquarium, South Bank
19 October-3 November
Unlock a spooky adventure this Halloween as SEA LIFE London Aquarium transforms into an Ascarium, complete with an underwater mystery that dares to challenge the whole family. Launching in time for half term, the Ascarium will host a spooky trail full of the scaliest and toothiest of creatures, and you’ll have the chance to crack the code to win a prize. You’ll be given a trail card to fill out as you travel the underwater world of slimy scales, terrifying tentacles and razor-sharp teeth, looking out for the hidden letters you’ll need to fill in your card. Once you’ve cracked the code you can stop off at Polar Point Refreshments to pick up a trick or treat and say hello to the penguins! Online family tickets from £80 for two adults and two children.
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB; visitsealife.com
12 Spooky Storytime on the London Eye, Waterloo
23-26 & 31 October
The Coca-Cola London Eye is taking Halloween to scary new heights with a series of Spooky Storytime events, complete with treats from Hotel Chocolat. Hop on board one of the world-famous capsules for the new 30-minute experience, designed with both kids and adults in mind, where an eccentric storyteller will lead you through four ghostly legends based around London and its history. But there’s a trick! One of them isn’t real, and it’s up to you to decide which one. All guests will leave the experience with an exclusive goodie bag filled with Halloween Hotel Chocolat treats. The Spooky Storytime experience is available to book on from 23-26 & 31 October, with one capsule every hour from 2pm each day. From £35 per adult and child and £17.50pp for any additional people.
The Queen’s Walk, South Bank SE1 7PB; londoneye.com
13 Osterley Park and House Halloween Pumpkin Festival
We just put on our big coats, but how do the animals of Osterley get themselves ready for the long winter months? Follow the trail around the Osterley Park and House gardens and complete the activities along the way. At the centre of the play trail, overlooking the House, rangers will be lighting fires for marshmallow toasting and selling hot drinks to help you warm up (take some pocket money to spend). You can also pick out the perfect pumpkin to carve and take home (please take your own re-usable carrier bag to carry your pumpkin home in to help Osterley House reduce its plastic waste). 11am-4pm. On Friday 25 October there’s also the final Family Gardening Club of the year in the Little Veg Garden, where the whole family can help to harvest the last of the vegetables and prepare the garden for the winter.
Jersey Road, Isleworth TW7 4RB; nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley
14 The Original Tour’s Spooktacular Kids Tour, central London
24 October-1 November
This Halloween, The Original Tour is hosting a Spooktacular Kids Tour, where the whole family can dress up and jump on board. London is overflowing with spooky stories, so hop on an Original Tour open-top bus to learn all about the creepy characters, royal ghosts and the dark history of the capital, from the vampire that attacked people in Piccadilly Circus to the terrifying Black Dog that haunts the area around St Paul’s. The 45-minute non-stop tour is designed specifically with the little ones in mind, passing all the major landmarks. Departing from Charles II Street, next to Her Majesty’s Theatre, from 4pm daily from 24 October-1 November. Adult tickets £15, kids tickets £8 (ages 5-15). For a limited time, enter the code BOO30 for 30%.
15 Half Term Halloween Fun at London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park
21 October-3 November 2019
London Designer Outlet (LDO) at Wembley Park is hosting a full line-up of Halloween-themed activity for all ages, with real life ghoulish actors and professional face-painters from 24-27 & 31 October (free for kids) ready to transform visitors into gruesome ghosts, scary zombies, creepy cats or wicked witches. Cineworld at LDO will host screenings of the latest ghoulish films, including the long-awaited animated remake of The Addams Family, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Shaun The Sheep: Farmageddon. Plus, from 1-3 November a show stopping replica of the Ghostbusters Cadillac as seen in the 1984 cult classic film arrives for even more Halloween fun, complete with interactive activities.
Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley Park HA9 0FD; londondesigneroutlet.com