Half Term Things to do With Kids in October 2021
As lovely as it is not having the rush of the morning school run to deal with, half term means occupying the kids all. day. long. Fill your days with fun with these family and child-friendly things to do this half-term and throughout October as well…
Photo: ZSL London Zoo
1 Thorpe Park Fright Night, Chertsey
One for a treat for your teen (13+), every night is fright night at the theme park during half term. Celebrating 20 years of scaring the daylights out of people, teenagers (and adults) can scare themselves sick while they ride on some of the most gut-churning rides in the dead of night such as The Swarm (the first winged rollercoaster in the UK) and Britain’s fastest rollercoaster too. Visitors can also take in live-action experiences and eerie scare zones. You can also take on a scare maze (at an additional cost). Overnight stays available, and the park is about a 20-minute drive from central London.
October 15-31; 10am-9pm tickets from £42 and pre-booking essential; Staines Road, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 8PN thorpepark.com
2 Percy the Park Keeper at Chiswick House and Gardens
From the author and illustrator behind the popular Nick Butterworth series comes this live, theatrical treasure hunt. Participants will help Percy the Park Keeper get his animal pals ready for winter in this activity suited to all age groups. Bring your wellies so you can explore the Chiswick grounds while you’re entertained by puppetry, story-telling and clue-based adventures.
From October 15-November 14; 10am-4.30pm; tickets start from £20 and under 2s go free; Burlington Lane; Chiswick, W4 2RP; english-heritage.org.uk
3 Pirate Treasure Hunt at GoBoat, Paddington. Photo: GoBoat
The self driving and eco-friendly GoBoat is launching an immersive child friendly pirate treasure hunt at Paddington for half term fun on the water. Fun for the whole family, boaters are greeted by actors who set them off on Regent’s Canal so they can find where X marks the spot helped by friendly pirates along the way. Boaters are encouraged to dress up as well – as pirates or a Halloween character – for their chance to win a number of prizes and dogs are welcome. GoBoat Canary Wharf has a Victorian murder mystery on for half term too. Please note, Paddington GoBoat is alcohol-free.
October 25-31; 9am-6.45pm; from £69 per boat (up to 8 people); Merchant Square Paddington W2 1AS; goboat.co.uk
4 Frozen the Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Covent Garden
Even if you don’t have children, you still might want to get tickets for this one. The stage adaptation of one of Disney’s most loved stories, Frozen the Musical is brought to life with impressive special effects, stage design and costumes, as well as impressive vocal ranges too. It features all the songs you and your children know, as well as new ones too. Shown at the majestic Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the venue has been recently restored to its full Regency glory and now includes several places to grab a bite to eat or something to drink before or after the show.
On now until June 2022; tickets from £20; recommended for ages 6+ and children under 3y.o will not be admitted; Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JF; thelane.co.uk; frozenthemusical.co.uk
5 Illuminature at London Wetland Centre, Barnes
Discover giant light sculptures of wetland wildlife and magical, playful installations such as light tunnels and responsive lily pads on this magical, after-dark trail. The illuminated walk includes huge, beautifully-lit models of floating swans, a family of otters, a flock of flamingos and Winifred the owl, all set among the reed beds, lagoons and gazing marsh of WWT London Wetland Centre. The centre is home to a variety of birds, water voles, bats and amphibians as well, so you might chance across a real animal too!
October 22 to January 9, 2022; tickets £17.50/£12.50 adult/child and must be pre-booked; Queen Elizabeth Walk, SW13 9WT; wwt.org.uk
6 There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom and Other Stories
Aimed at children aged 5-11 and featuring a voiceover from Emma Thompson, the show is inspired by Greenpeace campaign films There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom and There’s a Monster in My Kitchen. It encourages children to imagine waking up to a turtle in their bathtub, an orangutan bouncing on their bed, or a jaguar in their kitchen. Through a mix of puppetry and music, the show helps children discover more about these animals and what they can do to help them. The theatre also has a free digital series, Watch, Make, Share, which has a programme of digital shorts you can enjoy from home.
On now until November 7; £13.50/£11.50 adult/child; 14 Dagmar Passage, N1 2DN; littleangeltheatre.com
7 Telling Tales at Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside
If your child loves to create drama, the Globe’s October half term family festival should have something for them and their creativity. Storytelling Performances offer sensory, interactive adventures for children aged 5-12 and retell the plays The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and Julius Caesar. There’s also workshops (for 5-12 year-olds and for 15+), held on the Globe’s stage, that work with the language, characters and themes -in Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet. On top of this there’s sword fighting and costume demonstrations, as well as workshops for the whole family.
October 24-30; prices and times vary; 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT; shakespearesglobe.com
8 The Flight of Babuscha Baboon, The Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice
Whimsical and delightful, this small, floating theatre on a converted barge is currently putting on The Flight of Babuscha Baboon. The puppet show tells the story of a baboon who wants to fly to the moon in a hot-air balloon, who meets an elephant endangered by ivory hunters along the way, using marionettes and shadow puppets. For the adults, there’s a bar onboard which is open before evening performances on Saturday, October 23 & 30.
Various dates between October 18 and November 7; various times; £13/£9 adult/child; Blomfield Road, Westminster, W9 2PF; puppetbarge.com
9 Gruffalo’s Child Trail at Kew Gardens, Richmond
Running this autumn, the Gruffalo’s Child trail plots an enchanting journey through Kew Gardens. Encounter much loved characters from Julia Donaldson’s beloved book including Fox, Owl, Snake, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and the Big Bad Mouse. As part of the trail, kids collect clues that are designed to get their curiosity going and explore the gardens’ landscapes. While you’re there, you can also learn about autumn harvests at the Kitchen Garden and explore the grounds from above on the Treetop Walkway. If you’re wanting to get out of London, Wakehurst will also have The Gruffalo’s Child Trail.
October 16 to October 31; 10am-5pm; trail starts near Brentford Gate, price is included with entry; Richmond, TW9 3AE; kew.org
10 Explore the Tropics at ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park
Head straight for the tropics with London Zoo’s when the Giants of the Galápagos opens Saturday, October 9 – home to Dolly, Polly and Priscilla, three giant Galápagos tortoises. There’s also Tiny Giants: From Minibeasts to Coral Reefs, a celebration of the smallest yet mightiest animals on earth, with underwater corals and the diverse aquatic wildlife they support, to industrious leafcutter ants, spiders and beetles.You can also explore London’s only living rainforest – inhabited by two-toed sloths, tamarins, monkeys and fruit bats – the Butterfly Paradise and the Blackburn Pavilion which is home to more than 40 species of birds. Preschoolers can enjoy free story-time sessions with TV favourites Bing and Flop before taking an autumn trail across the Zoo to help the duo complete a zookeeper’s daily checklist and encountering magnificent animals along the way.
October 23-31; 10am-5pm; tickets from £26/£16.90 adult/concession; Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY; zsl.org