Hot Midterm Tickets: Great Ways To Spend The October Break | UK Public Holidays



The fifth Black sky festival takes place in Exmoor with lots of family-friendly events including animal safaris, owl experiences, space workshops, and of course, stargazing (Oct 22-Nov 7, some free events) margin party takes place in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, with self-guided planet trails, nocturnal animal scavenger hunts, adventure walks and more (October 22-31). The North Pennines Stargazing Festival takes place around the same time and includes family astronomy sessions at Grassholme Observatory (22-31 October, £ 13 adults, £ 10 children). The Moon Museum, a traveling work of art by Luke Jerram, exhibits Chichester Cathedral halfway through. There will be storytelling, craft sessions, and space workshops around the seven-meter spherical sculpture, which features NASA images of the moon’s surface (Oct 25-Nov 14, free).

The Norwich Science Festival has a different theme every day (nature, climate change, the human body, etc.) and many child-friendly workshops, including one called The Science of Poo. The festival is based at the Forum but holds events citywide and online (October 23-30, some free events). At Gilbert White’s home in Selborne, Hampshire, kids can make eight-legged friends on a spider safari (£ 5, October 28).

Light shows

All things shiny … Light up at Polesden Lacey in Surrey. Photograph: Ignite at Polesden Lacey

Fire on water is a new nighttime show at The Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth, featuring spectacular fire, light and water installations, plus dancing and acrobatics (£ 6 for up to six people, October 21 – November 6 ). Ignite at Polesden Lacey, a National Trust property in Surrey, is another new spectacle of fire and light. Visitors have lanterns to light the path between fire-breathing dragons, a river of flames and fireballs, before entering a 50-meter tunnel of light (£ 15 adults, £ 10 children, 22 October- November 7). GlasGLOW, which returns to the city’s Botanical Gardens, combines an illuminated trail with a detective story – this year visitors must save the city from the toxic gloop (£ 20 adults, £ 12 children, 27 October-14 November). Fairytale farm, an Oxfordshire attraction where children with disabilities come first (but all are welcome), has lighted evenings every weekend until the end of November (from £ 6.75 per person including dinner, until November 28).


With Halloween falling on the last day, midterm has a spooky feel this year. One of the biggest celebrations takes place in the walled city of Derry, in Northern Ireland, where there are three days of performances, street performers, storytelling, art installations – and a giant spider wandering the streets (October 29-31). At Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast, there’s a spooky but kid-friendly Halloween tour, plus a spookier tour for over 12s and a truly terrifying tour for ages 15+ (from £ 9 for adults, 12 , £ 50 for children, October 21-31).

York Cocoa House Chocolate Treats Workshop
York Cocoa House Chocolate Treats Workshop. Photograph: Holly Davies / York Cocoa Works

Eighteen English heritage properties have new Halloween adventure trail based on the books Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell, from Belsay Hall in Northumberland to Pendennis Castle in Cornwall (included in standard admission price, October 23-31). Many farms are opening PYO Pumpkin Patches, including Bluebells Dairy Farm in Derbyshire, which also offers Halloween activities and shows, and seasonal ‘ice scream’ flavors such as Deathly Mallows (£ 10.95 adults, £ 12.95 children, 23 -31 October). Heritage railways host themed trips, such as Wizard Week and Fright Nights on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, featuring witches, wizards, owls and a journey through the haunted woods (14.50 £ adults, £ 7.25 children, October 25-31). Or look for a Halloween film screening near you – St Donat’s Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan presents Scoob !, Hocus Pocus and The Lost Boys (£ 12 adults, £ 7.50 children, October 30 and 31).

More unusual Halloween activities include a pumpkin obstacle course during Shriek Week at Wild Forest in Brentford, Essex (£ 18, October 25-29); ghostly canoe trips and candy hunts on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire (£ 34 adults, £ 25 children, 23-31 October); and a sleight of hand chocolate bar workshop at York Cocoa House (£ 20, October 23-31).

Shriek Week at Wild Forest in Brentford, Essex.
Shriek Week at Wild Forest in Brentford, Essex. Photograph: Nuclear Wild Forest / Visit Essex

Outdoor arts

Winter driving, typically a one-day festival in Penrith, Cumbria, extends to three days this year. In addition to plenty of live music (including the UK’s only all-female mariachi band), the program features circus performers, a vintage funfair, an arts and crafts market, a children’s course , and food and drink in the market square (£ 2, Oct 28-30). Leicester digital culture festival, Frequency, celebrates its 10th anniversary, with outdoor installations, performances and exhibitions. Highlights include Luma, a giant inflatable robot snail; The Invisible Man, puppet-audiovisual projection; and Monolith, “an audio adventure in eternity” (free, October 28-31). Little Amal, a 3.5m tall puppet refugee child, traveled 8,000 km across Europe, meeting real refugee children along the way. She landed in the UK for the last leg of her trip and will be attending outdoor events in London, Oxford, Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield and Barnsley, before arriving in Manchester on November 3 (free).

Interior arts

The New Margate Crab Museum
It’s creepy out there … The New Crab Museum in Margate. Photography: Visit Thanet

Chester, designed by nature is a new six-month community art project. The first part, open in time for the mid-term, is the Nest: an enchanted forest hosting performances, artistic workshops such as shadow theater and activities including mindfulness for children (some free events, from October 23 to end of November). The Box in Portsmouth hosts the largest exhibition of Australian indigenous art outside of Australia. Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters showcases the work of over 100 artists, through paintings, photographs, objects, songs, dance and multimedia (£ 10, until end of February). The new from Margate Crab Museum opens for a period of public experimentation, inviting visitors to give their opinion on the only European museum dedicated to the decapod. Exhibits cover everything from history and philosophy to the climate crisis, the forgotten story of the giant Margate crab and woodlouse jokes (free, reservation required, October 23-31).


Kayaking at the Woodmill Outdoor Activity Center in Southampton
Kayaking at the Woodmill Outdoor Activities Center in Southampton. Photograph: Active Nation Woodmill Outdoor Activity Center Southampton

The Outdoor activity of the wood millies Center in Southampton runs 90-minute discovery sessions to introduce people to new sports. Halfway through, families can try their hand at archery or rock climbing, or kids can take part in a full day multi-activity (90 minutes £ 22 adults, £ 12 children, £ 37 full day ). Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is a magical new forest trail at Arley Hall & Gardens in Northwich, Cheshire. Visitors will come face to face with creatures from the Harry Potter books and the Fantastic Beasts movie – hippogriffs, centaurs, unicorns, nifflers and more – and will be able to cast spells with their wands, including warding off a patronus charm all the way to the start. from 2022). Lord of the Rings fans may prefer Ring Quest at the Anglo-Saxon village and country park of West Stow, a treasure hunt to find rings and runes and save Middle-earth. Kids can visit a Hobbit Hole, take on dragons and giant spiders, meet Halbarad, the Ranger of the North, and try their hand at archery (£ 6 adults, £ 4 children, plus £ 2 for each Ring pack Quest, October 23-31).

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