19 October half term saviours!
Half term's looming but don't be afraid, we've sorted the fun with 19 brilliant things to do in Bucks, Oxon and beyond to keep the little people entertained.
Halloween at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 24 Oct – 1 Nov
The National Trust site is piling on the activities for autumn half term including a ghostly trail around the grounds, pumpkin carving in The Stables and – our personal favourite – a spooky-themed Halloween afternoon tea (how cute is that little ghost meringue?!). Booking essential.
Stonor Park, nr Henley
Home to the Stonor family for 850 years, this historic house has brilliant family walks aplenty with the vast grounds encompassing parts of both the Chiltern and Shakespeare Way. For the little people, there’s the Wonder Woods (we’re talking sandpits, seesaws, tunnels), plus a giant slide and 50-metre zip wire.
Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Prepare yourself for mega-cuteness. Micro-pig breeder Olivia and her team are the geniuses behind Kew Little Pigs, a farm in Amersham that gives you hands-on experiences such as Pet and Play and Mini-Pig Keeping. You can even (whisper it) buy your own pig. Pre-booking essential.
Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
You’ll know Bletchley as the home of the Codebreakers in WWII, which means there are plenty of on-site museums, exhibitions and codebreaking huts to explore. For the kids there’s an outdoor playground, plus you can pick up a Top Secret Mission Pack at the front desk for an extra quid. Pre-booking is essential.
Rush Trampoline Park, High Wycombe
With 100 wall-to-wall trampolines, Rush is the perfect spot for wearing out energetic children. There are dedicated areas and sessions for toddlers and a soft play area that opened this year, while bigger kids can blitz through the assault course, wipeout zones and extreme dodgeball courts. And yes, there’s a mezzanine café for you to sit sedately while the madness unfolds below.
Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
This Milton Keynes must-do is packed with family activities, from wakeboarding and water sports to treetop adventures and archery. In the mood for something slightly more sedate? While away a Sunday afternoon with their four-mile figure-of-eight walk, or enjoy the views from their brand new Willen Observation Wheel, which stands at a whopping 36 metres tall.
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
Winner of Best Family Attraction in 2019’s Muddy Stilettos Awards, the Pitt Rivers quirky archeological and ethnographic collections are catnip for the little people (what kid wouldn’t be hypnotised by rows and rows or unearthed treasures?). The museum also has several family trails to help kids explore and learn from the vast amounts of objects on display.
Longridge Activity Centre, Marlow
For water sports on the banks of the Thames, Longridge has you covered. This outward bounds charity specialises in canoeing and kayaking, but there are activities for kids on dry land too such as bushcraft and laser mazes. If you’re in the market for half-term help, this is a Muddy go-to with activity days running 26-30 Oct.
Ghost Fest, Oxford Castle and Prison, every Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun, 16 Oct – 1 Nov
Oxford Castle’s spooktacular Halloween event returns with some socially distanced scaring, including tours around the castle, crypts and punishment cells (perfect for locking up kids if they misbehave, mwahaha!). Tours are for ages 12+ and must be booked in pods of no more than four people.
Odds Farm Park, High Wycombe
There’s so much on at this High Wycombe farm that you might struggle to get round it in one day! There are animals galore, naturally (to the tune of pigs, cows, goats, sheep and more), as well as a mini golf course, outdoor play area and a Halloween pumpkin patch for autumn. Pre-booking essential.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford
The Cotswolds is associated with pretty stone architecture, farmers’ markets and countryside rambles, but the 160-acre Bradwell Grove estate, two miles south of Burford, is home to something else entirely – over 260 species of animals! One of the UK’s largest zoological collections, Cotswolds Wildlife Park has all the best characters from the animal kingdom from rhinos and giraffes to lions, zebras and monkeys (although, watch out for the sandwich-stealing ones).
Hughenden Manor, Wycombe, 16 Oct – 2 Nov
The National Trust is always a life saver when it comes to half term and Hughenden Manor has a good offering this year with a free Halloween trail around the grounds and quirky scarecrow display in the walled garden.
Budding Chefs, Daylesford Cookery School, Cotswolds, 28 Oct & 1 Nov
Bored of cooking for your ungrateful kids? How about sending them to a cookery classes instead? Budding Chefs at Daylesford Farm will tour the 25-acre market garden and harvest some of the ingredients before heading into the teaching kitchen to whip them into some delish dishes.
IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival, online, 1 Oct – 17 Nov
The city’s annual science and tech fest is taking everything online this year with loads of digital events across half term for kids including storytelling and coding workshops.
Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, 15 Oct – 8 Nov
I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! Lots of spooky(ish) additions to the park, plus new for 2020, there’s a brand new dance extravaganza The Haunted Lighthouse Halloween Show and a new scary character, Scarecrow.
River & Rowing Museum, Henley
This sweet museum excels at creating exhibitions for kids with fun, interactive elements. There’s the museum itself to explore and an on-site café (with outdoor seating), plus you’re right next to a huge park and the river for walking and feeding the ducks. At the moment you can visit the Wind in the Willows exhibition.
Crocodiles of the World, Brize Norton
Hey, what’s up, croc? There are all sorts of scaly happenings going on at this crocodile conservation site including croc keeper experiences, underwater viewing tunnels and the chance to see some of the world’s most endangered species, including the Cambodian Siamese Crocodile. It’s also one of only four UK zoos to house a Komodo Dragon – pretty cool, right?
Bekonscot Model Village, Beaconsfield
There’s something strangely alluring about a model village (I think it’s all the tiny miniature trees lined up in neat rows), and Bekonscot in Beaconsfield is the oldest and arguably the best around, having opened in 1929. There are 200 teeny buildings to peek into, 450 metres of working miniature railway and a tea room for when the excitement gets too much.
Fright Night, Thorpe Park, Surrey
A dead cert hit with adrenaline junkie teens, it’s the 19th annual Fright Night at Thorpe Park. Expect thrilling rollercoaster rides, spooks, ghouls and social distancing. Recommended for ages 13+.