London Dungeon/Sea Life, London
Join a witch hunt at the London Dungeon with 17th-century Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, who rounded up those suspected of witchcraft and had more than 100 men and women hanged. A further 19 shows and rides promise plenty of spooky action. On the South Bank, Sea Life London Aquarium has an after-hours “Sharks in the Dark” snorkelling experience from 27-31 October, with participants submerged in a divers’ net exploring eerie dark waters with red-light torches.
• London Dungeon: adult £19.95/child £18.50, the dungeons.com, witch hunt until 31 Oct; Sea Life snorkelling: £180 for four plus four spectators, including a £25 donation towards shark conservation, visitsealife.com
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
Whitby Abbey, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula tale, will be lit up over half-term. Costumed characters will tell stories about grave-robbing and witch trials, and there will be live promenade performances of a drama based on the novel.
• Adult £9/child £5.40, 26-29 October, english-heritage.org.uk
Canal events, various locations
Britain’s waterways are getting in on the Halloween action. There is a “haunted” disco at Standedge Tunnel, West Yorkshire (£4 a child, 26 October), and ghost walks at Stourport Canal Basins, Worcestershire (adult £7/child £4, 30&31 October). Halloween fun at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire (museum ticket £6.30/over-five £4.50), and Gloucester (adult £5/over-five £3.60), include spooky boat trips (adult £2/child £1.50) and pumpkin trails.
Lights and frights, Isle of Wight
Events on the Isle of Wight this half-term include a festival of light inspired by Diwali at Robin Hill’s Electric Woods, and illuminations at the Blackgang Chine theme park (joint park ticket £36 or £18.50 per attraction). There is also ghost hunting at Carisbrooke Castle (adult £9.70/child £5.80) and an Isle of Fright free audio ghost trail (download it on Google Play or the App Store).
Honister Slate Mine, Lake District
Underground tunnels being opened up for the first time in 40 years will extend Honister Slate Mine’s guided tours and allowing visitors to go deeper into Fleetwith Pike.
• Adult £12.50/child £7.50, from , honister.com
Halloweden, Eden Project, Cornwall
Circus meets Halloween at the Eden Project this half-term, with pop-up performances and spooky sideshows. Acts include an acrobatic magic show, a flea circus and a bubble sculptor; workshops include ringmaster training. The week culminates with a Little Monsters’ Ball (£7).
• Adult £25/over-four £14, 22-30 October, edenproject.com
Nature & outdoors
PugFest Halloween, Bridgend
The touring dog festival for pugs and pug lovers has a Halloween theme this month. Activities include a doggie dash, a dog show and Halloween games – dressed-up Frankenpugs are especially welcome.
• Adult £5/over-three £3, 30 October, pugfestevents.com
Conker contest, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire
Family activities in these beautiful gardens include an epic conker contest and a pumpkin-carving college. There is also a scavenger hunt, autumn crowns and garlands workshops, and conker model-making.
• Adult £9.75/£child 4.95/under-five free, 22-26 October, botanicgarden.wales
Red Squirrel Week, Plas Newydd, Anglesey
It’s all about squirrels at this National Trust property, with walks and talks by the Anglesey Red Squirrel Survival Trust, Squirrel Nutkin storytelling, plus rodent face-painting and mask-making. Beyond the bushy tails, there are woodworking demos, games of conkers, den building and wild art sessions.
• Adult £9.80/child £4.90, 24-29 October, nationaltrust.org.uk
Pirate Weekend, Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick
The Seabird Centre’s annual Pirate Weekend is inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson (he is said to have based his map of Treasure Island on the nearby island of Fidra). Swashbuckling events include a treasure hunt, sabre skills and a costume competition. It is also seal-pup season – visitors can watch them being born on the live cameras in the Discovery Centre.
• Adult £8.95/child £4.95/under-three free, 22 & 23 October, seabird.org/visit
Curious Combustion, Winchester Science Centre
There are explosive activities at the Winchester Science Centre in a week devoted to combustion. That means live shows with lots of big bangs, a show about astronaut Tim Peake featuring hydrogen balloon explosions, and science buskers roaming around, making everyone jump.
• Adult £12/child £8.40, 21-31 October, winchestersciencecentre.org
Future Engineers, National Railway Museum, York
These educational events aim to get kids interested in railway engineering, through live demos, group challenges and hands-on activities, such as making bridges, operating signal boxes and designing carriages. For Locos in a Different Light (26-29 October), the museum stays open until 10pm and is illuminated by light installations.
• free, 22-30 October, nrm.org.uk
Tales for Winter, Shakespeare’s Globe, London
The week is devoted to storytelling at the Globe, with introductions to The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth and Henry V, all for under-12s. There are talks by children’s authors and creative workshops, too.
• £10, 25-29 October, shakespearesglobe.com
Juice festival, Newcastle-Gateshead
This festival for families and under-25s covers art, dance, theatre, film, hip-hop and more, at venues around the region. Events include a breakdancing masterclass, remixed lullabies and dancing scientists investigating flatulence.
• free and ticketed events, 21-29 October, juicefestival.co.uk
Cookery course, Vaughan’s Kitchen, Devizes, Wiltshire
This cookery school is running two Halloween-themed sessions. Mini Chefs (aged six to 10) will make garlicky eyeballs with slimy dip, while Young Chefs (aged 11-16) will cook the rather more appetising-sounding pumpkin and lentil soup with bread bowls. Both will whip up ghostly fancies.
• £30, 29 October, vaughanskitchen.co.uk
The Big Draw, nationwide
The Big Draw festival is on all month, designed to get the nation drawing. There are lots of events over half-term, including animal art at the Tower of London and manga-style comic drawing at Gallery Oldham.
• free and ticketed events, until 31 October, thebigdraw.org