Bumper half term guide Oct 15
Are you ready to rumble? Looky looky, here comes the October 2015 Half-Term, and we’re meeting it head on with the biggest, most searingly useful Muddy Guide. Like, ever.
This year I’m improving the format (I hope!) with my Top Ten Picks of cool things going on for adults/families/kids. PLUS an All Week guide AND most importantly, an easy-browse day-by-day calendar so you can scan all your options on each day.
No need to thank me (*puff out chest*), it’s what I do. If you’re not already receiving my utterly essential Muddy newsletters, please take a moment to sign up here – your social life will thank you for it, as I work full-time – yes, FULL TIME PEOPLE! – on Muddy finding out the coolest, quirkiest, most unmissable bits of Oxon, Bucks and Beyond.
Right, now you’ve done that (!), feel free to click here if you want to go straight to the day-by-day calendar
HERO’S TOP TEN PICKS
FOR KIDS: The FUNomusica Family Concerts are brilliant for introducing 4-8 year olds to classical music. Held in the lovely Oxford Town Hall every few months, the theme this time around is ‘Adventures of the Magical Kingdom’, featuring The Princess of the Pagodas from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and a Disney singalong sequence from Frozen.
FOR KIDS: Warwick: The Haunted Castle. Always loads going on at Warwick Castle over half term. Fire-jousting, spell-writing, dressing up, Halloween trails, plus the Evening Castle and Dungeon where the fright factor gets cranked up until 9pm.
FOR ADULTS: Dead Friday at The Ashmolean. The Ashmolean’s brilliant LiveFridays return with a Halloween special – free entry after hours to explore ghouls and spirits across cultures and time, with music, exhibitions, cocktails and a little sprinkling of urbane cool. From 7 – 10.30pm.
FOR KIDS: Your mini Harrys and Hermiones can explore some of the darker aspects of the Harry Potter films in at Dark Arts at Harry Potter Studios (Fri 16 Oct – Sun 1 Nov) in Bucks. You’re tantalisingly close to the lovely Black Park country park for some fresh air and good vibes afterwards!
FOR KIDS: Brick or Treat at Legoland (17 Oct – 2 Nov). Worth going just for the play on words frankly. Plus on 24-25 and 30-31 Oct there’s also a Ninjago fireworks display.
OLDER KIDS AND ADULTS: Day of the Dead, Pitt Rivers. After hours from 7pm. Museum objects to handle, a chilli tasting challenge and a Halloween-themed cocktail bar, and – well yes of course! – a Cuban-style Big Band.
FOR KIDS: Spooky Half Term at The Story Museum. This innovative, slightly rough-around-the-edges museum in central Oxford packs a punch with a whole week of author and illustrator events, courses, creative writing, dance, drawing, music and story-telling. A must, particulary for younger children.
FOR OLDER KIDS: Fright Nights at Thorpe Park (Fri 23 Oct – Sun 1 Nov). New this year is a brand new scare maze, The Big Top set at an abandoned carnival. Plus there’s The Swarm, the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, The Ride’s 100ft beyond vertical drop and Stealth, one of Europe’s fastest and tallest rollercoasters. Sounds horrific. Your kids will love it. 13+, 10am-10pm.
FOR OLDER KIDS & ADULTS: Award-winning playwright Barney Norris brings his new work to the lovely North Wall Theatre in Oxford. Eventide tells the story of three people – a landlord, a church organist, a casual worker – whose worlds are disappearing, and their will to survive. It’s had great reviews in The Guardian and The Stage by the way. For 12+
FOR KIDS & ADULTS: Ghost Fest at Oxford Castle. Scary enough at the best of times, Oxford Castle is laying on a whole load of mega-spooky stuff all week to freak out children and adults. Waa-haa-haaaaaaa!
FOR OLDER KIDS & ADULTS: Spectre, the new James Bond film, is out on 26 Oct. OUT, I say! A jaw-dropping cast includes Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, David Bautista, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes. Fingers crossed that Bond’s teeny-weeny-super-skimpy swimming trunks make a cameo appearance again this time round. Twas inspired casting.
FOR KIDS AND ADULTS: There’s a fantastic exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley about pop artist Paolozzi at the moment. There’s an evening callled Paolozzi and a Pint (for adults clearly!) and also extended crafty events for older kids (13-16) using his work as inspiration. Looks good.
ON ALL WEEK
Rather than jam up the calendar with the same things every day we’re listing events that are on all week below. If there’s one specific headline event we think is really cool, you’ll find it in the day-by-day too.
Hallowe’en House Trail at Claydon House, near Buckingham (Sat 24 Oct – Sun 1 Nov). Florence Nightingale’s lovely former home and grounds get the Halloween treatment all week. On Thurs 29 and Fri 30, there are 30 min after-hours Creepy Claydon Tours where spectres from Claydon House’s past appear.
Thespy kids? They’ll love Put on a Play in a Week. week-long workshops from Creation Theatre with games, rehearsals and performance for £170 with sibling discounts. 6-8 years or 9-12 years, Leckford Place School, Oxford, from Mon 26 Oct
Halloween Fright Nights, Family Fun and Workshops at The Hellfire Caves (Mon 26 – Fri 30 Oct). In the day the Caves are transformed with a macabre selection of props, lighting and creepy music and ravaged souls who prowl the passageways. Daily spooky games, colouring comps, fancy dress in the courtyard, witches workshops, potion making. At night, the scary content is for 8+.
Your mini Harrys and Hermiones can explore some of the darker aspects of the Harry Potter films in at Dark Arts at Harry Potter Studios (Fri 16 Oct – Sun 1 Nov) – learning wand combat moves and trying duelling techniques against a Death Eater, see the 20ft model of Voldemort’s snake Nagini, step onto Platform 9 ¾, and see a carriage of the Hogwarts Express dressed as it was in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Spooky Half Term, The Story Museum , Oxford (Sat 24 – Sat 31 Oct). Loads of fun things going on with workshops in story writing, science, dance, improv, trick-or-treating by torchlight and loads of other stuff. Cool.
In term time, the brilliant little museum Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery in Aylesbury is only open for school visits, but during the holidays, it opens its doors to the public. Between 26 – 31 Oct, Kids can discover inventions with Willy Wonka, investigate minibeasts inside the giant peach, crawl along Fantastic Mr Fox’s tunnel and see the Twits’ upside down room. Daily 10am-5pm.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert wiggles its way back to Aylesbury Waterside this week (Mon 26 – Sat 31 Oct), with Jason Donovan starring. Age 15+.
Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre (Fri 24 Oct – Sat 14 Nov). This 60 minute production of Romeo and Juliet has been created specifically for 8-12-year-olds (Years 4-7) and is designed very much as a first experience of Shakespeare with original but edited Shakespeare text throughout and audience participation. There are also pre-show workshops on stage fighting and the play itself. Sounds awesome. nationaltheatre.org.uk
Freaky Fortnight, Mead Open Farm (Sat 17 Oct – Sun 1 Nov) near Leighton Buzzard, promises five new ghoulish family attractions. You can choose ‘little boos’ for littles ones or bigger thrills for older children with a haunted house, ghost stories, spooky puppet shows and all that malarkey.
Brick or Treat at Legoland (17 Oct – 2 Nov). Worth going just for the play on words frankly. Plus on 24-25 and 30-31 Oct there’s also a Ninjago fireworks display.
Fright Nights at Thorpe Park (Fri 23 Oct – Sun 1 Nov). New this year is a brand new scare maze, The Big Top set at an abandoned carnival. Plus there’s The Swarm, the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, The Ride’s 100ft beyond vertical drop and Stealth, one of Europe’s fastest and tallest rollercoasters. Sounds horrific. Your kids will love it. 13+, 10am-10pm.
Warwick: The Haunted Castle (Sat 24 Oct – Sun 1 Nov) Always loads going on at Warwick Castle over half term. Fire-jousting, spell-writing, dressing up, Halloween trails, plus the Evening Castle and Dungeon where the fright factor gets cranked up until 9pm.
Nightwatchers at The Tower of London (Weds 28 Oct – Sat 7 Nov) is an immersive nighttime experience directed by award-winning digital theatre company ANAGRAM, set in the shadowy world of surveillance. Spook-mahook!
Out of this World, Astronomy Centre, London (Mon 26 – Fri 30 Oct). Join Royal Observatory Astronomers to explore dwarf planets, asteroids and meteorites in a planetarium show, watch three short workshops and entry to the historic north site of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.£5 Child.
Boo at the Zoo at the fab Dunstable-based Whipsnade Zoo (Sat 24 Oct – Sun 1 Nov) offers the Halloween regulars – activities like pumpkin carving, and glow-in-the-dark mask-making (though in fairness they do it in a real batcave), creepy costumes. All free with normal entry fee.
Halloween on The London Eye (Sat 24 – Sat 31 Oct). 135 metres above the city, little people can join a Witch Academy, learning spells and spooky facts about London’s landmarks, and offering a free goody bag. For kids 4-9pm.
The London Restaurant Festival is a great way to nosh at over 200 brilliant restaurants for as little as £10 a person. I mean that’s just my pub cashews budget. My tip for the (muffin) top? The restaurant-hopping tours, where you can visit six restaurants in one day, with a small plate and a drink in each.
Family-friendly Halloween at the sensory Fairytale Farm near Chipping Norton (Sat 24 Oct – Sat 31 Oct) offers free games and activities for kids, plus a special late-night Illuminated evenings in the Enchanted Walk gardens until two hours after dusk.
CLICK HERE FOR THE DAY BY DAY CALENDAR