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How to elevate everyone’s October half-term

Yep, half-term has crept up on us, too. But rather than climb the four walls (again), here's your ultimate guide to beating boredom and surviving the school holidays this month

It might feel like you’ve only just conquered Clarks’ back-to-school queue, but fear not: Muddy has the inside line on how to keep you and your ankle biters entertained this October. Anything utterly brilliant and unmissable that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comments box below.

Holiday fun at Firstsite

From free sports and family meals to creative workshops kids can do from the sofa, Firstsite in Colchester has a huge array of activities ready to roll this month to help you all stay sane. Our pick? The gallery’s Move programme, which runs every morning over half term and gets the kids out and about for a fun dose of outdoor play. Exact dates and times are yet to be announced, so keep checking the website here for the full line-up.

Audley end at night

Halloween hits at Audley End  

Gather your little monsters, ahem darlings, for a ghoulishly good day out at Audley End House in Saffron Walden, which can be decidedly creepy after dark. The estate’s ‘Spooky Audley End’ event runs from 24 October to 1 November and includes a trail with creepy clues to solve, plus the chance to gather round (in a socially distanced fashion) to listen to ghost stories. There’s a daily fancy dress competition too, so better get that sewing machine out, pronto. 

Halloween Spooktacular on the Audley End Miniature Railway 

Looking for a more genteel day out with the little ones? Try Audley End House’s Miniature Railway outpost, instead, which certainly knows how to throw a themed event. The tracks will be transformed from 24 October to 1 November into a ghost train, where kids journey on the haunted Halloween Express with trick or treat bags to visit the witches in their haunted house. (Yes, fancy dress includes you, too!) The craft tent is also in action this year, so little monsters can create a creepy craft, have their faces painted, test out their thriller dance moves and listen to a spooky tale to three.

Colchester Zoo Halloween

Shriek Week at Colchester Zoo

Hit the county’s largest zoo for some fang-tastic (and socially distanced) Halloween-themed activities from 24 October to 1 November. From dinosaur dens, and pirate treasure trails to gruesome games your little (and big) ones will love (despite their screams!), this Colchester-based family hotspot has got the holidays covered. Our must-do? The pumpkin carving workshop, which starts at a pick-your-own path by spooky All Saints Church and ends (hopefully) in an edible masterpiece. There’s also a witches coven to join, too, which sounds positively spellbinding….

Hylands House half term

Scrapbook Safari at Hylands Estate

Taking place on Wednesday 28 October from 10am-12 noon, this craft-led expedition around Chelmsford’s Hylands Estate delivers the perfect day out for budding botanists, who will learn how to discover new plants, pick them safely and record them in their very own scrapbook. Places are limited to 15 children for social distancing purposes though, so if your primary-age kids are keen, get booking now! Tickets cost £5.

Family fun from further afield…

COOKING: Parent and child classes at Cambridge Cookery, 27 – 30 Oct 

Looking for something to do this October half term that both you and your child will love? Book yourself in for a cooking class at Cambridge Cookery who have two spefcif sessions for both of you to get baking together: Parent & Child classes are running from the 27 – 30 October. See website for all the classes.

ACTIVITY: Clip ‘n Climb, Cambridge, extended hours from 23 Oct – 2 Nov 

The brilliant Clip n’ Climb centre in Cambs is open all week during October half term from 9.30am – 6.30pm, with Little Rockers sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9am, as well as an Autism-friendly and SEND event on the Wednesday at 9am. It’s the most fun and fabulous way to tire out kids young and old. 

man on a zip line in the dark

ACTIVITY: Go Ape, Thetford, Suffolk

This autumn and half-term Sundown Adventures include an hour of treetop excitement and exploration for young adventurers over 1m (see here) and adrenalin-seekers can experience the thrill of zip wires in the dark (see here).

EXHIBITION: 12th Sci-Fi and Action exhibition, Moyse’s Hall, Bury St Edmunds, 24 Oct – 20 Dec 

Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds strikes back with its 12th annual Sci-Fi and Action Exhibition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. The exhibition will feature a display of props and memorabilia from the movie that introduced us to Yoda, AT-AT walkers and a shocking family revelation that set the world talking.

west stow anglo saxon village

DAYS OUT: Spooky Saxons, West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, 24 Oct – 1 Nov

You’ll find some half term horrors lurking amongst the houses of West Stow Anglo Saxon Village, near Bury St Edmunds this half term. Families can also take part in the Spooky Saxons activities including quizzes and stories and the chance to cast the last rune in the Witchy Workshop. West Stow are also hosting The Real Middle-Earth Tour on 25 Oct at 1pm, where you can find out about the links between Tolkien and the Anglo-Saxon world on a guided tour from a member of the Tolkien Society and a Middle-earth enthusiast.

ARTS & CRAFTS: Crafty Foxes Halloween workshops, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, 30 and 31 October

Now here’s a good idea – let your little devils make a big old mess outside your house with this craft workshop on 30 and 31 October at Bury St Edmunds’ The Apex run by The Crafty Foxes. Kids ages 7+ can go to town painting a pumpkin on the 30th, while kids under 7 can try their hand at making a spooky bat, ghostly treat or monster lantern. Old clothes are encouraged! Tickets for both workshops are £15 per child including a cold drink and biscuit.

PUMPKIN PICKING: Skylark Week of Wickedness, March, Cambs, 24 Oct – 1 Nov 

It wouldn’t be halloween without some pumpkin picking and carving. Get the kids to do the hard work for you by taking them to the Pumpkin Carving Workshops at Skylark Maize Maze and Funyard. The week of wickedness also includes a magic show, haunted tractor rides, den building and pig racing (you know that classic halloween activity!). 

HERITAGE: Ghost tours and spooky Framlingham Castle, Framlingham, 28 – 31 Oct; 24 Oct – 1 Nov

Something for the adults and kids this halloween at Framlingham Castle. Ghost tours for anyone 16+ start on 28 Oct where you can follow storytellers on a bone-chilling journey through the past around the castle recounting tales of ghosts, supernatural sightings and horrors from history, crikey! All you need is a torch. For the little ones things are a little less scary with a slightly less intense trail with creepy clues to be solved as well as a fancy dress competition. 

CULTURE: Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and Ipswich Museum, Suffolk, 24 Oct – 1 Nov

Remember Where’s Wally, well he’s still lost believe it or not and this October half term you can Join a spooky search for Wally at The Fitzwilliam Museum. It’s part of the national Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search, organised by Kids in Museums and Walker Books, to celebrate the release of the new Where’s Wally? book, Spooky Spotlight Search.

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