10 great ideas for October half-term

1 June 20157 min read

A whitewashed cottage perched on the cliffs of Cape Cornwall surrounded by autumnal brown and orange shrubs and looking out to the sea

For kids throughout much of the UK, October half-term has just begun or is fast approaching – children in Scotland generally break from school on October 13, while those in England do a week or so later.

There’s plenty of choice to give all the family a great break, from events in your local area to a few days away. Here are 10 ideas for October half-term breaks this year or next.

1. Book a UK getaway

Autumn has arrived, and the UK has some stunning destinations to enjoy the colourful season in all its golden-hued glory.

Choose a picturesque location such as Cornwall, the Lake District or the Cotswolds for superb views and long walks as the kids stomp in their wellies through patchworks of colourful leaves. Or head to one of the UK’s traditional seaside resorts, such as Blackpool or Brighton, to enjoy blustery days building sandcastles, have fun in the arcades or eat fish and chips on the beach.

A country cottage is the ideal retreat for a cosy autumn break, so take a look at our cottages page for plenty of options.

Or you might prefer on-site entertainment to keep the kids busy and ensure you get a break, too. In that case, a holiday park might be a better option, where there are often swimming pools, daytime activities and evening entertainment.

2. Grab some winter sun

If you didn’t manage to get away this summer, October half-term is the perfect time for an injection of winter sun before the festive season gets into full swing.

Popular options for families wanting to spend valuable time together on the beach include the Canary Islands, the Caribbean and Florida.

And, if you shop around, your trip needn’t be expensive. We found a four-star holiday to Tenerife for a family of four, for example, leaving Manchester on October 24, for £460 per person.

3. Visit London in autumn

A change is as good as a rest, and even just a day out to somewhere new could leave the whole family feeling refreshed.

Where better for a bundle of stimulating options than the capital, London?

You needn’t spend a packet while you’re there. How about an educational day out at one of the capital’s free museums – such as the V&A Museum of Childhood, with its collection of toys, dolls and games from Victorian times, or a hands-on day at the Science or Natural History Museums?

There are also plenty of low-cost activities to be found across the capital. For £27.50 for a family of four, you could visit the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, where families can play, learn and make up stories together.

Or if you’re feeling daring and looking for a day out with a difference then London’s ‘Up at the O2’ offers an exciting option for all the family (children must be aged 10 or over). An experienced guide will take you on a 90 minute climb to the peak of the entertainment venue where you can experience fantastic views across the capital and see its famous landmarks.

If you decide to travel by rail to get there, the earlier you book your tickets the cheaper the price.

If you want to spend a few days in London over the half-term this year or next, TravelSupermarket’s hotel channel will help you to find the cheapest deal and filter your search according to what’s important to you.

4. Have a spooky day out

It’s spooky time – Halloween – on October 31, when many schools are still off for half-term. You’ll find a bundle of ghoulish events for families to enjoy across the UK.

Historic St Georges Hall, in Liverpool, is hosting a Halloween Haunted Sleepover and Ghost Hunt from 8pm on the fateful night. Paranormal experts (apparently) will be leading the hunt – not one for the faint-hearted!

In Stratford-upon-Avon, a Halloween Festival runs for the whole of the month, from October 1 to 31. Held on Halloween Street at the Creaky Cauldron and Magic Alley attraction, it lets the whole family get involved in all sorts of weird and wonderful activities.

If you’re feeling really brave, there’s a Spooky Tour of Old Wardour Castle, in Wiltshire, on October 31 and November 1. Children’s tours are at 6.30pm on the Friday and 5.30pm on the Saturday; adults’ tours run at 7.30pm and 8.30pm on both days.

5. Or make your own Halloween fun

You can have just as much fun at home over Halloween if you don’t fancy venturing out.

The BBC Good Food website, for example, has plenty of ideas for spooky treats, such as eerie eyeball pops and scary Halloween jelly, to cook up with the kids in the kitchen.

Or you could help the kids to make spooky masks, dress up and organise Halloween games such as apple-bobbing or a spooky-themed treasure hunt. They’ll be kept entertained for hours, and the adults might have fun, too!

6. What’s on in your local city?

Most major cities will have activities going on over half-term for families and kids, so get organised now and find out what’s on in your local area.

Central Art Gallery in Manchester, for example, is showcasing a new exhibition, Generation Noise, with plenty of appeal for kids. Families can get involved with this hands on event and create noise with futuristic sound machines.

And from October 17 to November 2, Nottingham is hosting a Family Arts Festival. Head to Nottingham Castle on October 25 and 26 to meet Robin Hood and his Merry Men and see the castle grounds transformed into a medieval village encampment.

And don’t forget to look at libraries and community and leisure centres to find out what they’re putting on during the holidays. It’s easy to neglect what’s on your doorstep – have a ferret around and you’ll find lots on locally to keep the family busy.

7. Discounted days out

Days out can cause havoc with your bank balance when you factor in not only the entry price to the event but also food and drink and other extras such as the cost of getting there.

But days out are a handy way to keep the kids entertained, so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for discounts and deals.

Often booking in advance and online can save you pounds. Booking tickets to Chester Zoo at least seven days in advance, for example, will save you 10%, while also letting you beat the queues with Fast Track entry.

8. Get crafty

Nature shows off in autumn and provides heaps of ways to keep the kids busy.

You could go on a walk in the countryside and make a collage from varieties of leaves you collect on the way. Or you could pick up pine cones for the kids to decorate at home with glitter – add some string and make early Christmas tree decorations.

Or how about visiting the RSPB website, where children can learn how to make a speedy bird cake to keep our feathered friends fed during the sparse winter months?

9. Get theatrical

It might not be free – like nature’s gifts – but treating the family to a trip to the theatre could make for abiding memories.

For a real treat you could even combine a show with a few days away – if you live outside London – and take a trip to the West End. Matilda the Musical is currently showing at the Cambridge Theatre, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another musical, is on at Theatre Royal, in Drury Lane.

10. Enjoy a discounted day at the flicks

Then there are all the advantages of taking the kids to the cinema – they’ll enjoy the onscreen fun, and you’ll get a couple of hours of peace!

There are several ways to get cheap tickets. If you’re an Orange or O2 mobile customer, you can get two-for-one entry on certain days or discounted tickets.

Vue Cinemas also offers kids’ tickets for £1.75 every Saturday and Sunday morning (3D movies cost £3). Odeon cinemas put on weekend kids’ screenings for around £2.50 per child (prices vary according to the cinema) and often throughout the school holidays, as well.

Need more holiday inspiration?

Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll narrow down the best destinations and deals for your holiday!

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