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…
Lead image: Peckham Levels by Marcela Ferreira
1 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
2 Play Time at Peckham Levels
Take the kids and let them lose at Peckham Levels’ communal play area (the ramp will keep them busy for hours) while you order some of the fab foods on offer. Peckham Levels is a great place to let the kids explore, as it has lots of room and plenty to look at. Go early in the day, as it tends to be quieter. You can follow lunch with a trip to Peckham Plex or try some crazy golf at Plonk Golf down by the car park. My kids loved it.
Peckham Multi-storey carpark, 95A Rye Lane SE15 4ST; peckhamlevels.org
3 Story Time at Moon Lane Books, Forest Hill, & Tales on Moon Lane, Herne Hill
Moon Lane Books is already a firm favourite bookshop in the area after opening two years ago. Both Moon Lane Books and its sister shop, Tales On Moon Lane, have a great itinerary for half term, with author visits and activities scheduled every day from Monday 21-Friday 25 October. Check out their website and choose an event suitable for your child. Tickets are £3.60, £3 of which is redeemable against the book on the day).
300 Stanstead Road, Forest Hill SE23 1DE; moonlaneink.co.uk
25 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9JU; talesonmoonlane.co.uk
4 Author Events at Rye Books, Peckham, & Round Table Books, Brixton
Join writer-illustrator Jason Ford at Rye Books in East Dulwich on 27 October, 11am-12pm, and learn how to draw the best scary characters just in time for Halloween. Jason will be signing copies of his latest book, The Monster Book of Zombies, Spooks and Ghouls. The event is free, but you must book your spot via eventbrite.com (ages 6+). For teenagers into scary novels, visit Round Table Books in Brixton on 26 October, 2pm-3pm, for a spooky Halloween signing with Kiran Millwood Hargreaves as she reads from her debut Young Adult fiction book, The Deathless Girls – a story about the brides of Dracula. Free, but you must register via eventbrite.co.uk (ages 14+).
Rye Books, 47 Northcross Road, East Dulwich SE22 9ET
Round Table Books, 97 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village SW9 8PS
5 Wild Writing with Write Sparks, Dulwich
I love the concept of Write Sparks, a creative writing club for 4-12 year olds. This half term they have teamed up with another local favourite, Foxglove Forest School, to host Wild Writing: Outdoor Creative Writing Inspired by Nature. Taking place on Tuesday 22 October Bell House in Dulwich, the Halloween-themed Wild Writing day will be packed with fun, outdoorsy experiences such as den-building, writing spells, creating spooky art and cooking up treats. The workshops will be run by Holly Dabbs, a qualified teacher and Forest School leader, and Sarah Parrott, a qualified teacher and writing consultant. It costs £70 for full day and £40 half day. A 5% sibling discount is available, as are subsidised places for those who feel the cost is prohibitive. Email email@example.com to book a spot.
6 The Horniman Museum & Gardens, Forest Hill
If you have kids and live in south east London, then you know the Horniman is a gift that keeps on giving. Their October half term highlights this year include: Horniman Explorers, where kids can take part in a series of challenges like finding all the ingredients for a witch’s spell or discovering which animal creates the most slime (weekdays 11am-12.30pm and 2pm-3.30pm; free, drop-in); Halloween Slime Workshops, where kids aged 5+ can join Einstein’s Entertainers in the Gardens Pavilion for a gooey slime-making science workshop. (Mon-Thurs in 45-minute intervals; tickets £7.50); and the annual Horniman Halloween Fair with spooky storytelling, arts and crafts, creepy crawlies, food stalls and treats (26-27 October, 10.30am-4.30pm; free).
100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ; horniman.ac.uk
7 Spooky Sewing at Beckenham Place Mansion
Know How You is running Spooky Sewing sessions at Beckenham Place Mansion this October half term. In Witches Stitches – Sewing Machine Drivers Licence, kids can start their sewing machine journey and learn to sew and make a Halloween edition drawstring swag bag (21 & 24 October, 10am-12.30pm, £35, ages 8+). They can also learn how to create their own Pumpkin Patch Softie – model and shape a soft, fabric pumpkin into a Jack o Lantern or whatever you fancy (21 October, 2pm-5pm, £25, ages 8+, sewing machine experience essential). Other workshops include Sewing Halloween Bat Tops on 22 October, Skull & Roses Skirt for Teens on 23 October, and the Monster Academy Introduction to Prosthetic Make Up on 24 October.
Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham BR3 1SY; beckenhamplace.org
8 Halloween Disco at Beckenham Place Mansion
If dancing is more your thing, then give the Everybody Dance Family Disco, a relatively new event launched by Clee-J in 2017. Clee-J, AKA Cleo, is a vinyl and digital DJ and experienced children’s entertainer based in south east London (she’s also a trained actress and has been DJing professionally for 17 years). Her fun-packed children’s discos are a chance for parents and their little ones to have fun on the dance floor together, and her gigs often sell out. The event will feature party tunes, snow and bubble machines, children’s entertainment, glow sticks, a baby and toddler area, plus games and prizes (24 October, 3pm-4.30pm, adults £4, children £8, under 1s go free).
Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham BR3 1SY; beckenhamplace.org
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 Campioni Soccer Academy, Dulwich
Campioni Soccer Academy is launching its first soccer academy at The Edward Alleyn Club in Dulwich this October half term, in partnership with Masterclass Football Coaching. Aimed at ages 6+, participants will gain an insight into the techniques and training methods of professional footballers. The three-day development course runs from 21-23rd October, 9.30am-3.30pm, at a cost of £110 (or £40 per day). A 15% sibling discount is available for one child per family. Parents are asked to provide a packed lunch & plenty of fluids (but no fizzy drinks please!). To book email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hayley on 07976 740 860.
Alleyn’s School Grounds, 85 Burbage Road, Dulwich SE24 9HD; campioni.co
11 The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
The National Maritime Museum always has plenty to keep the kids entertained, but from 20-27 October there’s even more, with special October half term activities taking place in the Learning Space for free. Highlights include The Interesting Narrative of my Life where, as part of Black History Month, kids can map out their life with collage, drawing and more, inspired by the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano (20 October at 11am, 1pm, 2pm & 4pm); Arctic Travel, where kids can learn the skills required to live in the Arctic cold and create a sledge or snow buggy (25 October from 11am-1pm & 2pm-4pm); and Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt, which takes place from 19-27 October (excluding 26 October), celebrating the release of the new Where’s Wally book, Double Trouble. There’s plenty going on at the Royal Observatory and Cutty Sark, too.
Park Row, Greenwich SE10 9NF; rmg.co.uk
12 The Painted Hall, Greenwich
The Painted Hall reopened in March this year following an extensive two-year conservation project, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Known as Britain’s ‘Sistine Chapel’, the Painted Hall is guaranteed to take your breath away. Entry tickets include a multimedia guide, kids activity packs, hands-on exhibits, and a chance to have a go on a real Victorian Skittle Alley. You can also opt for a 500 Years of History Tour of the whole Old Royal Naval College site, running on the hour from 11am until 3pm, which is included in the ticket price. Adults £12 on the door or £11 in advance online, children under 16 go free. While in Greenwich, there’s plenty going on at the Royal Observatory and Cutty Sark, too.
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich SE10 9NN; ornc.org
13 Muddy Boots at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve, Forest Hill
Devonshire Road nature reserve is a hidden gem in south east London, and we are really lucky that Muddy Boots hold their October half term holiday sessions there. Run every day during half term, there are morning and afternoon sessions for children right from 15 months all the way up to 11 years old. Kids can have a go at bushcraft, nature craft activities, learn about some of the plants and animals that live there, and get plenty muddy (you have been warned!). A must for outdoor lovers. £12 per session with a discount for siblings.
Devonshire Road Nature Reserve, Forest Hill SE23 3SZ. To book see hoop.co.uk
Surrey Docks Farm is a staple for south east London families. Open every day from 10am-4pm, it is free to enter and has a great café on site with delicious food using home grown ingredients, plus a super friendly kids’ menu. During the school holidays, you can book a Meet the Small Animals session where the kids can cuddle rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chickens and ducks. They also run a Farm Holiday Club for 8-13 year olds with activities like feeding and grooming, as well as arts and crafts, gardening and pond dipping. Meet the Small Animals runs Mon-Fri 2.30pm-3pm for £1 per child (no booking required, but they do rely on good weather). Farm Holiday Club runs from 10am-4pm and is £35 per child (booking essential).
Surrey Docks Farm, Rotherhithe Street SE16 5ET; surreydocksfarm.org.uk
15 Explore Crystal Palace Park
Checking out the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park is always a winner with young families, but it’s not the only thing to do at Crystal Palace Park. Kids can enjoy the skatepark (which launched last year with BMX, quad-skating, rollerblading, scootering and skateboarding are all welcome), or tackle one of the largest mazes in the country! There is even an urban farm (Capel Manor) to visit, with the usual pigs and horses on show as well as a few less farm-like animals like snakes, lizards and five meerkats!
Good luck everyone. See you on the other side!