October Half Term and Halloween 2023: Things to do in London with kids

Looking for things to do with the kids this October half term 2023? London is bursting with fang-tastic activities this Halloween half term holiday. Whether you’re trying to entertain tots or teens, here’s my pick of the city’s best family activities and events this October half term. 

In 2023, the October half term falls between 21 to 29 October 2023. Most London schools will be closed between Monday 22 and Friday 27 October 2023. Check individual school and council websites for exact dates in your area. 

Ghoulish Halloween fun, immersive art, diwali celebrations, family exhibitions, storytelling, hands-on workshops and spellbinding theatre – there’s so many family-friendly events this half term that you’ll (almost) wish they had more time off school!

Whether you’re in the capital for a day, or a lifetime, there’s bound to be something on this list that they’ll love. I’ve included plenty of free London events, leaving more cash for Christmas. 

There’s links to every event page so you can book in a click of a button. I’ve only included places which at the time of writing still have spaces left or have drop in spaces. Be quick – many events I share sell out quickly.

Without further ado, here’s the best cultural things to do in or near London with kids this October 2023 half term.

Note: many 2023 Halloween events haven’t yet been announced. Bookmark this page and keep checking back to hear about more! Last updated: 11 October 2023.

Psst: Like what I do? Show your support by buying me a coffee.

CONTENTS

  1. LONDON HALLOWEEN EVENTS FOR FAMILIES
  2. HALLOWEEN DAY TRIPS
  3. HALLOWEEN FOR BIG ONES
  4. NATIONAL TRUST HALLOWEEN AND HALF TERM ACTIVITIES
  5. FAMILY EXHIBITIONS AND FAVOURITES
  6. FAMILY-FRIENDLY ART
  7. FAMILY WORKSHOPS AND ACTIVITIES
  8. STORYTELLING SESSIONS
  9. UNDER 5s
  10. FAMILY THEATRE
  11. SEN-FRIENDLY EVENTS


London Halloween events for families

Ghoulishly good Halloween events in London, designed for families.

Halloween half term at English Heritage
Grab your broomsticks and get ready for a bewitchingly brilliant day out at over 20 English Heritage sites. Join ghost-hutning storytellers and solve creepy clues in their Halloween Quest. Sites participating in or near London include Eltham Palace, Audley End, Battle Abbey, Dover Castle and Wrest Park. 21-29 October 2023, included with paid entry. 

Eek!Week at WWT London
Make your way around the wetlands for a truly eek!citing interactive trail. Will you dare to put your hand in a snake box, grab a photo op with a bat or get up close and personal with a toad? Activities include pond dipping, potion making and rainbow nature art workshop. 21-29 October 2023, included with paid entry. More info and booking here.

Mini monsters at London Museum of Water and Steam
Discover the monster bacteria that lurked in the River Thames. Find out where our water comes from and see the science that cleans the mini monsters from London’s water in a Soggy Science Show. Plus, with storytelling, crafts, and community art project. 21-29 October 2023, paid. More info here.

Pumpkin trail at Headstone Manor Museum
Pesky pumpkins have invaded Headstone Manor Museum. Can you find them all, spell out the mystery spooky word and earn a t̵r̵i̵c̵k̵ treat? 21-29 October 2023. Free, drop in. More info here.
Plus make a beautiful web and spooky spider from wool on 29 October 2023. Paid, book.

Boo at the Zoo at London Zoo
Trick-or-treat yourselves to a trip to London Zoo for traditional Halloween crafts, hair-raising animal facts, or a session in sorcery. Navigate through the extinct species graveyard, head to Ghoul School to learn some spells, party away in their bubble boogie or craft a menacing mask to take home with you. 21-31 October 2023. Included with paid entry, book.

Halloween at Hampton Court Palace
Explore Henry VIII’s notoriously haunted palace with atmospheric projections and creepy sound effects.Feel the chilling presence of infamous ghosts, spot intricately carved pumpkins and hear spooky stories. See eerie portraits come to life or take part in a spine-tingling séance. Whose voice will echo from beyond the grave? Designed to put you on edge, rather than push you over it. 21-29 October 2023. Included with entry, book here.

Halloween at the Tower of London
With a thousand years of history housed within the Tower’s walls, can you find spirits of the past this Halloween? Take the Halloween trail to catch sight of a medieval queen upon a crooked throne, spot a Roman soldier near the remnants of the London Wall, or glimpse the Wizard Earl concocting potions in his apothecary. A family-friendly adventure designed to spook, but not to terrify. 21-29 October 2023. Included with paid entry. More info and booking here.

The Witches Adventure Trail at National Theatre
Grab a game pack and stop the Grand High Witch! Inspired by the upcoming stage musical production of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, spot the hidden witches, decode spells and decipher a map to her deluxe suite to claim a prize. 21-31 October 2023. Free, drop in. Best ages 8+. More info here.

Millie’s creepy creatures trail at Whitehall Historic House
See how many creepy creatures you can find, make your own Halloween cone-character and colour minibeasts. 21 & 26-28 October 2023, 10:00-17:00. Paid, drop in.

Halloween broomstick at Chelsea Physic Garden
Craft your own broomstick using plant materials foraged at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Learn about the craft of broomstick-making from around the world and customise your broomstick to suit your personality. 23 and 25 October 2023, 11:00-12:30. Paid, book. Ages 4+.

Halloween Pumpkin Trail in Belgravia
Find spooky Halloween displays on this family-friendly pumpkin trail to see showstopping pumpkin displays and smaller eye-catching displays. 23-31 October 2023. Free, drop in. Find more details here soon.


Halloween at Capel Manor Gardens
Dress up and be prepared for spooks and scares! Take a bewitching trail through the Gardens, with surprises and characters to meet. Plus Halloween disco and creepy crafts. 23-29 October 2023. Paid, book.

Halloween trail at Marble Hill House
Experience the spookier side of Marble Hill with a Halloween Trail made with decorations by their local nursery. 23-31 October 2023. Free, just turn up. More info here.

Halloween Multisensory Workshop at Museum of Brands
Find Halloween-themed sweets and chocolate in the Time Tunnel, then take part in ghostly discussions, spine-chilling games and hair-raising craft activities. 24 October 2023 at 11:00 and 26 October 2023 at 14:00. Paid, book ahead. Ages 7-11.

Mambo Jambo’s spooktacular Halloween session at Old Royal Naval College|
Sing, play shakers and claves along with Mambo Jambo’s Halloween Carnival tune. Join in with the Pumpkin Gumbo as they walk like a ghost and do the Skeleton Dance and the Witches Hat Dance. Disguises and costumes welcomed. 24-25 October 2023 at 11:00 and 13:30, plus 15:00 on 24 October 2023 only. Duration: 50 minutes. Paid, book ahead. Ages 3-7.

Halloween pumpkin carving at Chelsea Physic Garden
Learn about pumpkin plants and explore the Garden through autumn. Then enter the spooky garden shed to transform pumpkins into Halloween friends. All materials and tools will be provided, and each participant will get one pumpkin to take home. 24 and 26 October 2023, 13:00-15:00. Paid, book. Ages 6+.

Discovery day: Hair-Raising Halloween at the LookOut Centre in Hyde Park
Explore an eerie nature trail, discovering fascinating facts along the way. Guess the gruesome contents of feely boxes. Listen to a spooky interactive story or learn about the brilliant bats in the Royal Parks. Dressing-up encouraged! 24-26 October 2023, 11:00-15:30. Free, drop in. Here’s more information.

Halloween at Benjamin Franklin House
Ever wonder why we carve pumpkins, dress up in scary costumes, and eat lots of candy? Explore the history of America’s spookiest holiday whilst you make your very own Halloween card, a garland of ghosts to hang from your rafters, and a wickedly wonderful witch ornament for your window. 25 & 26 October 2023 at 11:00 and 13:30. Free, book.

Halloween half term workshops at Heath Robinson Museum
Make spooky decorations (25 October 2023, 10:00-11:30, ages 5-8), or sculpt a gargoyle (26 October 2023, 13:00-15:00, ages 8-16). Paid, book.

Merchant Square Halloween display
350 pumpkins transform Merchant Square in Paddington into Merchant Scare. Activities include pumpkin carving competitions, and a free outdoor film screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas. 25-31 October 2023. Free, drop in display/book pumpkin carving. More information here.

The Haunted Archive and Time Travel Craft Club at The National Archives
Prepare to be spooked by all things weird and wonderful lurking in the vaults at The National Archives! Are there really ghosts, sea monsters, and even UFOs? Afterwards, decorate spooky crafts at the Halloween Craft Club. 26 October 2023, 11:00-14:00. Free, book. Best ages 8-11.

Beastly Board Games at Soane Museum
Inspired by the magical monsters and curious creatures among Sir John Soane’s Museum collection, design and make your own beastly board game to play this Halloween. 26 October 2023, 11:00-15:00. Free, drop in. Here’s more details.

Family Monster Brunch at Between the Bridges
Dress (up ) to kill for a FREE 5-hour extravaganza of face painting, dance classes, singalongs, drawing games. Bottomless bubbles (of the blowing variety) and family friendly halloween based nonsense hosted by The Grand’s Dreamteam in the Reapers Arms. 26-29 October 2023, 11:00-15:00. Free, drop in. More info here.

Family Fun Friday: Wonderfully Witchy at Society of Antiquaries of London
Listen to tales of the Caribbean water witch Mama d’leau and her fairymaids with professional storyteller Wendy Shearer. Be inspired by a witches’ jar and create your own magical potion to take home, then cast a spell to spread some magic. 27 October 2023, 10:00-12:00 with storytelling at 10:30 and 11:15 (duration 20 minutes). Free, drop in on first-come, first served basis. More information here.

Spooktacular Nature at Grosvenor Square
Learn about super spiders and brilliant bats. Listen to stories and take part in crafts to discover more about these splendid spooktacular animals! 27 October 2023, 12:00-15:00. Free, book. Tickets available 2 weeks before the event.

Covent Garden Mum Halloween trail
Take Covent Garden Mum’s FREE family friendly ‘Halloween Trick or Treat Trail’ around Covent Garden. Along the way, explore parts you may never have been to before, as well as testing your observation skills and learning some fun facts. Best of all, bag yourself some awesome treats from some fang-tastic contributors! Register here to bag the trail when it’s released – only trail holders can claim the goodies! 27 October 2023, 12:00-17:00. Free.

Halloween fair at Horniman Gardens
Learn circus skills and hooping, bop along to spooky tunes from We Bring Good Disco, play party games, chase mega-bubbles and join in with woodworking sessions. Show off your costume in the Halloween Parade through the Gardens. Plus paid food stalls, face painting, rides and more. 28 October 2023. Paid, book ahead.

Night at the Movies at West Norwood Cemetery
In collaboration with West Norwood Free Film Festival, watch Hotel Transylvania at 15:30, followed by Beetlejuice at 19:00. 28 October 2023. Free, book.


Halloween day trips

The Great Hall at Hallowe'en - Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Dark arts at Warner Bros Studios

Escape the city for a day with one of these really wizard out Halloween events in the South East. 

Dark arts at Warner Bros Studio
Marvel at 100 floating pumpkins in the magnificent Great Hall, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Look out for the Death Eaters’ procession through the Studio Tour in a menacing display. Hunt for the dark mark and learn wand comabt. 15 September-5 November 2023. Paid, book.

Halloween at Tumblestone Hollow
Find hidden riddles in the mysterious world of Tumblestone Hollow and the Gardens at Stonor to win a special chocolate prize (or an alternative treat). Folk of Tumblestone Hollow read stories and give away spooky temporary transfers. There’s pumpkins galore and ghoulish surprises. Afterwards, enjoy the epic playground. 18-29 October 2023. Paid, book here.
Read about our visit to Tumblestone Hollow here.

Boo at the Zoo at Whipsnade Zoo
Delve into the world of unseen animals at Whipsnade Zoo. Listen to terrifying talks about animals who prefer nighttime, bust a move a Halloween disco and enjoy a monstrous magic show. Plus spooky storytelling, creepy crafts, and a costume contest. 21-29 October 2023. Included with paid entry. More info here.

Halloween at Mountfitchet Castle
Last year, Mountfitchet Castle built a Halloween tunnel of terror, with a prize for all who wandered through the spooky village and dark tunnels to collect the stamps. Let’s see what they do this year! 21-29 October 2023. Paid, drop in. Read more here.

Halloween at Hatchlands Park
Find spooky spirits in Hatchlands Houe, thanks to award-winning projection artist Luke Pendrel (22-23 October 2023, 12:00-16:00). This one really captured Museum Girl’s imagination last year. Outside, find the pumpkins with the painted face on the front lawn, and tick them off the spotting sheet (21-31 October 2023). Both included with paid entry. Read more about the house trail and the Pumpkin Hunt.

Halloween spectacular at Chiltern Open Air Museum
An evening of spooky fun for all ages in the unique and atmospheric setting of the Museum’s historic buildings and woods. The very brave can explore the scary woodland walk – but beware of the monsters that might lurk in the dark! Younger children will enjoy the not-so-spooky walk and storytelling. Plus fire-breathing, crafts, bonfire, marshmallow toasting, and frightening fancy dress competition. 27 October 2023, 17:00-21:00. Paid, book.

Spooky woodland walks at Audley End
Join ghost-hunting storytellers on a family friendly walk through the shadows of Audley End. With well-told tales full of spooky and strange goings-on, it’s a more light hearted event this Halloween for families with children aged 5-12. 27-29 October 2023 at 17:30, 18:30 and 19:30. Paid, book. Duration: 45 minutes.

Halloween half term fun at Hever Castle
Don your scariest costume to meet the Vampire, Vampire Hunter and Ghost roaming the grounds of Hever Castle. Listen closely and they will tell you a ghostly story. Find letters spelling out a mystery word in return for a small gift. Plus spooky pebble painting. 21-29 October 2023. Paid, book.

Halloween adventure at Knebworth Gardens
Complete Halloween games like ‘Hungry Ghosts, ‘Hook a Pumpkin’ and ‘What’s in the Box’, fill your Pumpkin Passport and claim a prize. Play Crazy Golf, find Halloween sculptures in the Wilderness Gardens and brave the Terror Tunnel. Enter your pre-made pumpkin into the Decorated Pumpkin Competition. Fancy dress encouraged for all ages! Includes access to Knebworth gardens and dinosaur trail (the playground is closed). 24-26 October 2023, 09:30-12:30 or 12:30-16:00. Paid, book. Ages 3-10. 


Creepy – and cool – for teens

The London Dungeon
50 Berkeley Square at London Dungeons

Halloween activities terrifying enough for teens – and adults!

London Dungeons
Face your demons, 1815 style. More information coming soon… From 13 October 2023. Paid, book.

The Gunpowder Plot at Tower of London
Be transported to the heart of the Gunpowder plot with this new immersive experience combining motion simulators, physical sensations, stunning special effects, live actors, and a digital cast featuring Tom Felton. Paid, booking recommended. Ages 10+

Eltham Palace ghost tours
Be guided on a bone-chilling journey through the past in Ghost tours at Eltham Palace. With tales of ghosts, supernatural sightings and horrors from history, this is not a night for the faint-hearted. Bring a torch – things are going to get dark… 27, 28 and 31 October 2023 at 18:00, 19:15, 20:30 and 21:45. Paid, book. Age 16+.

And for some non-Halloween fun for teens, take a look at:

  • Exploring culture and identity through Ludo at William Morris Gallery. 28 October 2023, 11:00-13:00. Free, book. Ages 12+ and adults.
  • YV&A Teen Takeover: all about anime at Young V&A. Learn manga drawing skills, design a Yokia mask, discover Foley, and make anime-inspired origami. 28 October 2023, 13:00-15:30. Paid, book. Ages 11-14.


National Trust Family Activities Halloween and October Half Term 2023 [AD]

A house steeped in history is the perfect place to let children’s imaginations run wild this Halloween. You’re spoilt for choice with the National Trust’s spooky-themed family-friendly events, designed to captivate rather than terrify. Go on a monster hunt through woodlands, make herbal potions in walled gardens and carve pumpkins in historic stables. Find ghosts floating in majestic showrooms and pumpkins hidden in beautiful gardens.

With so many outdoor children’s trails and activities you can really escape into autumn and enjoy the beauty of the turning seasons. Celebrate fungi, explore the changing colours and make leaf crowns.

And after all that leaf stomping, recharge with hot chocolates and seasonal treats in their cafes.

Here’s a handy summary of the National Trust places running family activities this October 2023 half term:

London

Autumn half term holiday fun at Ham House and Garden, TW10 7RS. Follow the trail of pawprints left by resident cat Roscoe to spell out a secret code and claim a prize. Play autumn bingo and outdoor games, make a leaf crown and take a stables tour. 21-29 October 2023, paid. 

Diwali workshops at Morden Hall Park, SM4 5JD. Join the Merton Asian Women’s Association on a fun-filled community arts and crafts session. Learn about the Diwali celebration which marks the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil. 26 October 2023, paid. Plus Community Tales storytelling. 21 & 28 October 2023, paid.

The Tale of the Monster Hunter at Osterley Park and House, TW7 4RDB. Look for monsters in Osterley’s parkland walk featuring eight activities and two outdoor games stations. 14-29 October 2023, paid. Plus carve your own pumpkin. 27-29 October 2023, paid.
Psst: If you arrive by public transport, use the TfL Oyster and Contactless app to show your journey to claim two-for-one entry. Check the website for details: In the City – deals and things to do – Experience London blog (tfl.gov.uk)/

Halloween at Rainham Hall Community Garden, RM13 9YN. Ghostly garden trail and pumpkin trail. 24-28 October 2023, paid.

Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

Halloween half term trails at Scotney Castle, TN3 8JN. Find all the skeletons and help the forgetful fish skeleton remember their name. Older children can follow The Secret of Scotney trail to find out what has happened to Professor Huxley, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. 21-29 October 2023, paid. 

Half term Festival of Light and Colour at Basildon Park, RG8 9NR. Celebrate light and colour. Find rooms illuminated by colourful lanterns, diyas, tealights, torans and projections on the children’s trail. Create your own vibrant rangoli bookmark. 14-31 October 2023, included with paid entry. Plus Fantastic Fungi outdoor trail. 14-31 October 2023, paid.

Enchanting Herbs and Potions trail at Hughenden, HP14 4LA. Make your own herbal potion and discover the magical qualities of plants in their enchanted walled garden. 21-29 October 2023, included with paid entry. Plus apple tasting, salt dough leaf making, craft your own magical wand, wand decorating and mini beast hunt.

October half term at Stowe Gardens, MK18 5EQ. Spot weird things in trees! Solve puzzles, search for clues, take selfies and find weird and wonderful things in Stowe’s spooky trees. 21-29 October 2023, included with paid entry.

Hampshire

Spooky Pumpkin Halloween trail at Hinton Ampner, SO24 0NH. Wilma the Witch’s pesky pumpkin pals have stolen the pages from her spell book! Track down the pumpkins around the grounds, tackle the challenges to help Wilma cast her spell and claim a prize. 14-30 October 2023, paid. Plus Harvest Celebration, pumpkin displays, apple tastings and Spooky Halloween Costume Weekend

Funnybones activity trail at Mottisfont, SO51 0LP. Pick up a skeleton mask and Funnybones map to take part in ‘eerie exercises’ around the gardens.  Guess what’s inside trick or treat boxes, shuffle bones to create creatures and craft a dog skeleton to take home. With a simple spotter trail for little ones. 23 September-5 November 2023, paid. Plus Adventures with the Ahlbergs indoors exhibition with Funnybones room. Until 5 November 2023, included with paid

Witch’s Halloween recipe trail at the Vyne, RG24 9HL. Hunt The Vyne’s gardens in search of mysterious and bizarre ingredients to complete the witch’s potion and win a prize. 21 October-5 November 2023, paid. Plus traditions and superstitions indoors trail. 3-29 October 2023, included with paid entry.

Kent

Pumpkin trail at Chartwell, TN16 1PS. Learn about the lifecycle of a pumpkin and guess their biggest pumpkin’s weight for a chance to win a prize. 21-29 October 2023, paid. 

Fungi Festival at Emmetts Garden, TN14 6BA. Explore the garden, spot giant willow mushrooms and learn about the different fungi found at Emmetts. Half term activities include adventures with Kent Wildlife Trust, toadstall crafts and a graffiti masterclass. 6-29 October 2023, paid.
Plus pumpkin carving, apple bobbing a spooky spores trail on the Spooky Fungi Finale. 29 October 2023, paid.

Ghosts at the Mote half term trail at Ightham Mote, TN15 0NT. Hunt down the naughty ghosts hiding around the garden. 21-29 October 2023, included with paid entry.
Plus October half term crafts. 21 October 2023, included with paid entry. 

The Big Draw Weekend at Knole, TN15 0RP. Draw a self-portrait with your eyes closed, paint with your hands instead of brushes, or sketch what you can hear in the parkland. 28-29 October, included with paid admission. Plus Framing Knole trail. Until 30 October 2023. Included with paid entrance.

Surrey

Enchanted Claremont at Claremont Landscape Garden, KT10 9JG. It’s party time! Find out what all the magickal creatures are bringing to the Wandering Witch’s All Hallows Eve party. 14-29 October 2023, paid. 

Hubert the hedgehog’s trail at Dapdune Wharf, GU1 4RR. Explore the island, discover fun facts and enjoy free arts and crafts activities. 23-27 October 2023, free.

Halloween half term at Hatchlands Park, GU4 7RT. Garden pumpkin hunt for little ones, spooky activities on the parkland trail and broomsticks to help you on your way! 21-31 October 2023, included with paid entry. Plus see ghosts in the showrooms in Haunted Hatchlands. 22-30 October 2023, included with paid entry.

Halloween trail at Hindhead Commons, GU26 6AB. Pick up a free family trail and explore the Hindhead Commons, steeped in myths and legends. 21-29 October 2023, free.

Little People – Big Dreams at Polesden Lacey, RH5 6BD. Based on the best-selling children’s book series, this inspiring exhibition trail presents the lives of iconic people who dreamed big and made positive changes in the world. With books to read, activities to try and a free trail journal to complete. 9 September-29 October 2023, included with paid entry.


Sussex

Fairies and fantastic fungi trail at Batemans, TN19 7DS. Spot fungi to lead you to the impish fairies. See what kind of rascally games they’ve been getting up to, and maybe have a go at some too! 21–29 October 2023, paid. 

Spell Quest at Bodiam Castle, TN32 5UA. Unlock your magical powers and become the hero of this children’s trail filled with suspense and mystery. With best dressed competition on select dates. 14-29 October 2023, paid. Plus Halloween crafts and medieval archery demonstration.

Count Frogula’s Halloween Half Term Trail at Nymans, RH17 6EB. Explore the spooky gardens at Nymans with pumpkins, witches hats, spells and plenty of tricks and treats. 21-29 October 2023, paid. Entry includes free face painting 23-27 October 2023. Plus family needle felting workshop: harvest pumpkin.

Spookiful Standen at Standen House and Gardens, RH19 4NE. Explore the spookiful garden to find the missing homegrown pumpkins. Keep your eyes peeled for magic meetings, a mystical witches coven and a Spookiful Bothy. 14-31 October 2023, paid.

Halloween Trail at Petworth House and Park, GU28 9LR. Solve the spooky mystery of the stolen Halloween trail pumpkin with activities, games and challenges for the whole family to complete together. 14-29 October 2023, included with paid entry.


Family exhibitions and favourite places

With interactive displays, hands-on exhibits, and child-friendly explanations, here’s the current must-see temporary exhibitions in London aimed specifically at families.

Illustration of a family walking along in the countryside with a bear close behind

Japan – Myth to Manga at Young V&A
From Hokusai to Pokémon, Studio Ghibli, robots and beyond, the exhibition takes young visitors on an atmospheric and playful journey revealing the influence of folklore on Japan’s art and design. Hands-on activities including Manga-making, Taiko drumming and yōkai interactives sit alongside exceptional objects and artwork from the 15th century to today. Opens 14 October 2023. Paid, book.

Turn it up at Science Museum
Explore the science of how music shapes our lives in this interactive, family-friendly exhibition. Play with beat, melody and harmonies in a musical playground, make musical patterns with Duplo, and discover weird instruments. Learn how music can become more accessible with technology and the ways in which music unlocks emotions and memories. 19 October 2023-6 May 2024. Paid, book.
Make a day of it at the Science Museum: visit retro gaming paradise Power Up! and hands-on science centre Wonderlab, two of the Museum Kids’ favourite things to do in London. Both paid, book.

We’re going on a bear hunt at Kew Gardens
Take a sensory adventure through Kew Garden’s Lake and into the Arboretum, inspired by much loved picture book and animation We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. ‘Swishy swashy’ through grass, ‘squelch squelch’ through mud and ‘splash splosh’ through rivers as you set off on an expedition in search of bears. 21-29 October 2023. Included with paid entry. More info and booking.

Brilliant Black British History at the Black Cultural Archives
From science and sport to education and law, celebrate the hard work of brilliant Black people from different backgrounds that helped build Britain. In partnership with Bloomsbury Publishers. Until 6 November 2023. Free, drop in. More info here.
Plus when you buy the Brilliant Black British History book you get a timeline poster (A3) and Windrush poster(A4). While stocks last.

The Box Rocket at Discover Story Centre
Travel on an intergalactic adventure in one of our favourite play spaces for young kids. In this immersive exhibition, arrive on a peculiar planet where you must complete an important mission to help relight the planet’s magic Story Stone. Afterwards, enjoy their other indoor and outdoor literacy-themed play galleries. Paid, book. Ages 0-8 and their families.

Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur at Natural History Museum
Be transported back millions of years to an era ruled by giants. Discover the secrets of the Titanosaur, the largest creature to have ever roamed our planet, hug its huge cast and help hatchlings find their way to safety in digital games. Until 7 January 2024. Paid, book ahead.
The ultimate guide to visiting the Natural History Museum with kids.

Last chance to see: Brick Dinos at Horniman Museum
Discover more about the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods with Brick Dinos at Horniman Museum. Wonder at dinosaurs and other prehistoric giants built using LEGO bricks. There’s plenty of hands-on activities for under 5s, less so for older children. Until 29 October 2023. Paid, book.


Family friendly art

Art exhibitions, activities and trails which will appeal to children.

Uniqlo Tate Play: Shadow and Light Holiday Make Studio at Tate Modern
Cast shadows and explore enchanting light play in the Tanks at Tate Modern. Make your mark on the glow wall, create vivid ‘shadow photos’ using UV torches and design puppets to light up with overhead projectors. With sensory play for under 5s. 21-29 October 2023. Free, drop in. Here’s more info.

Family art day at Estorick Collection
Discover stories of kindness and fairness inspired by the Lisetta Carmi exhibition (under 5s), or learn the scientific principles of photography and create your own cyanotype print (ages 5-11). 23 October 2023, 10:00-13:00. Paid, book.

Frieze Sculpture at The Regents Park
Frieze Sculpture returns to The Regent’s Park with a new curator and new works from well known artists to young practitioners pushing boundaries. 20 September–29 October 2023. Free, drop in. More info here.

Museum of the Moon in Southwark Cathedral
Marvel at the moon as it lands at Southwark Cathedral this October. See Luke Jerram’s iconic artwork which uses detailed NASA imagery of the moon’s surface, accompanied by a surround sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones. 10-28 October 2023. Paid, book.

Art Sundays at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Experiment with colour and make different artworks together as a family inspired by their Rubens & Women exhibition and the gallery’s collection. 29 October 2023 at 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00. Duration: 45 minutes. Free, book. Ages 7-12 and their families. 

Family studio: hand portraits at the Royal Academy
Inspired by Catherine Opie’s Portraits of Artists, work with artist Eva Jonas to stage your own hand portraits with props and backdrops that reflect your hobbies, interests and passions. 29 October 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Read more here.

Frameless
The largest immersive art experience in the UK opens just a hop away from Oxford Street. Wander through a maze where art appears to float in space, use your own gestures and movements to paint and be enveloped by art. Features 40 works by famous artists including Monet, Dalí, Klimt, Munch, Rousseau, Rembrandt, Turner, Kandinsky and Mondrian. Paid, book.

Play studio at Tate Britain
Dress-up and place yourself in a Tate collection artwork thanks to green screen technology. Explore a range of soundscapes, and play with sound and vision. Make something together inspired by the stories you’ve encountered in the galleries, or relax with under 5s next to the sand trays, collections of objects and books. Every Friday–Sunday during term time and weekdays during holidays, 10.00-17.00. Free, just turn up. More details here.

Sculpture in the City 12th edition
This annual sculpture trail is one of my favourites, especially on a weekend when the City is so quiet. Explore the 18 artworks on display in the City of London’s financial district until spring 2024. Free, just turn up. More info here.

Henry Moore studios and gardens
Spend a few hours in the glorious Hertfordshire countryside exploring the work of sculptor Henry Moore in his former gardens and studios. Grab a map and wander through 70 acres of lawned gardens, meadows, woodland and sheep fields to find 20 monumental sculptures. In autumns past they’ve allowed us to pick apples from the trees. Wednesdays to Sundays until 29 October 2023. Paid, more information here.
Read about our visit to Henry Moore Studios here.


Workshops and activities

Let someone else come up with the creative sessions– all you need to bring is the kids!

Telling Your Story at Southbank Centre
A family-friendly day of live readings, performances, storytelling, music and workshops celebrating diversity in children’s literature. Part of London Literature Festival. 21 October 2023, free. More information here. Ages 5+.

World Anatomy Day at Barts Pathology Museum
Join anatomists from Queen Mary, University of London to to explore the intricacies of the human body with family friendly activities! Stations range from learning about bones, to how ultrasound works, to working with clay to explore what your organs look like. 21 October 2023, 12:00-15:00. Free, book.

Story Space Read Aloud: Flavia Z. Drago at Tate Britain
Meet author and illustrator Flavia Z. Drago and get to know Vlad, the fabulous Vampire. Make your own paper doll of Vlad and experiment with different outfits through a dress-up activity. 21 October 2023, 14:00-15:30. Free, drop in. Best ages 5-12. More info here.

Half term at the Postal Museum
Crafts, making and storytelling inspired by the postal uniforms in their brand new special exhibition, Dressed to Deliver. Design your own iconic postal uniform for a hand puppet (21-22 October 2023). Design or embroider your own good deed patch to celebrate your kind acts (24 & 26 October 2023). And meet some extraordinary postal characters in storytelling with Olivia Armstrong (25 & 27 October 2023). All included with paid entry. More info here.

Perfect Posters at London Transport Museum
Get crafty designing a perfect transport poster, settle in for a lively puppet theatre show, or join a trail through our galleries to track down a secret artwork. Learn about the colours used on London’s buses, Tubes and trains and discover how some of these choices have become world-famous!  21-29 October 2023. Included with paid entry. More info here.

Military Nursing in Focus at Florence Nightingale Museum
Meet Miss Nightingale, one of the best historical character meet and greet experiences we’ve had – Museum Girl was so inspired! Plus ‘Make a Medal’ and more military history related activities. 21-29 October 2023. Included with paid entry. More info here.

Jet and Space Week 2023 at RAF Museum
Race robots with code, build a LEGO rocket, visit an out-of-this-world planetarium, join an interactive space science show and take part in an extremely competitive paper jet designing contest. 21-29 October 2023. Plus free drop-in daily crafts. Paid, book. More details here.

Hunt the Mice at HMS Belfast
Lookout shipmates! Some mischievous mice and crafty cats have snuck on board HMS Belfast, and are after the sailors’ jobs. Pick up a free family trail guide and see if you can find all ten of the crafty cat and mouse crew hiding in the ship and discover the crew who kept everything ship shape. Included with paid entrance. 21 October-22 December 2023, included with paid entrance. More info.
Plus meet eyewitnesses and veterans at We Were There Family Day on 27 October 2023.

Kongtinue: Hong Kong cultural fun day at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery
Create collages and drawings with London-based comic artist Justin Wong, watch the captivating lion dance and other performances, play games and shop the special market on the front lawn. 22 October 2023, 10:00-16:00. Free, more info here.

October half term at Museum of London Docklands
Strut your stuff down to Docklands for free family activities in celebration of fashion and Jewish culture. Make a hand-sewn fabric pouch to keep your trinkets safe, learn how to cross stitch, and decorate your own ‘fashionista’ paper figure. Create paper fruit and vegetables to celebrate Succot, the Jewish harvest festival. Join in with a Yiddish family sing-along, and make your own clay charity pot making. Plus storytelling, art installation, performances and more. 22-27 October 2023. Free, first come first served. More info here.

Horsey Half Term at Household Cavalry Museum
Learn about the horses of the Household Cavalry whilst making a Cavalry Black horse of your own to take home with you. 23, 25 & 27 October at 11:45-12:45. Included with paid entry, pre-booking recommended.

October half term: Data detectives at the Bank of England Museum
Detective Glover needs your help! Detectives ages 7-11 are needed to help discover the name of a banknote forger. Follow the clues, solve the puzzles and crack the case! 23-27 October 2023. Free, drop in. Learn more here.

Big Draw at Tower Bridge
Did you know that more than 40,000 people cross Tower Bridge each day? Be inspired by the sights and sounds of the iconic landmark by adding a drawing of yourself – or something else – to a giant picture of Tower Bridge. 24 October 2023, 10:00-16:00. Included with paid entry, booking recommended.

Playhouse and puppetry: On Railton Road family day at Museum of the Home
Inspired by the lives of pioneering queer squatters, craft your own puppets with master puppeteer Oliver James Hymans. Build a squat-inspired den with their playhouse and transform it into a stage for your puppet show. 24 October 2023, 10:30-16:00. Free, drop in. More info here.

A tour for the curious at Fulham Palace
Step through a secret door and travel back in time as you discover Fulham Palace. Explore the house and historic rooms before continuing your adventure outdoors. Complete challenges, take in your surroundings and dress the part of a true Palace resident using our costume collection. 24 October 2023, 11:00-12:00. Paid, book ahead. Ages 2-12 and their grown ups.

Time Travel Club: Inventions at The National Archives
Delve into unique and unusual Victorian inventions with this storytelling session for ages 5-7. Use your imagination to meet a wacky inventor from history and even become one yourself! Take part in a craft after the story. 24 October 2023, 11:00-14:00. Free, book.

T. Rex Show with Teach Rex at Natural History Museum
Calling all dinosaur fans! Teach Rex use life-like dinosaurs in their interactive show about the anatomy and life of Tyrannosaurus rex. Take photos with the dinosaurs after the show. 24 October 2023 at 11:00, 13:30 and 16:00. Duration: 1 hour, plus meet and greet. Paid, book. Ages 3+.

Army Animal Crafts at National Army Museum
Take to the skies and make your own messenger pigeon or charge into battle with your own horse and accompanying soldier. 24-26 October 2023 at 10:30-12:30 and 13:45-15:30. Free, drop in on a first come, first served basis. Ages 5+. More information here.

October Half Term family workshops at Foundling Museum
Creative family workshops in response to The Mother & The Weaver exhibition. Make spooky spiders with wire, like the sculptures of Louise Bourgeois. Learn basic knotting and weaving skills to create a woven vessel from fabric and yarn. Create soft sculptures of the people who are important to you or playful, experimental prints of familiar objects. 24-27 October 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Paid, book. Ages 5-12.

Big Tree climbing at Wimpole Estate
One of Museum Girl and Dad’s highlights of last October half term. Explore Wimpole Estate from the tree tops with The Big Tree Climbing Company. Alongside two skilled and friendly instructors, scale some of Wimpole’s giant trees all the way to the top using ropes and harnesses. If you’re feeling brave, try some branch walking before returning safely to the ground. The whole family is encouraged to join in. 24-27 October 2023. £25 per person, book. Ages 6+. 
Read about our Big Tree climb experience here.

Secrets of the Crypt at Museum of the Order of St John
Using 3D painting techniques, bring images of their 900-year-old crypt to life, and venture down into the depths to see how it looks today! Includes tours to the Crypt and handling collection. 25 October 2023, 11:00-15:30. Free, book. Best ages 3-10.

Gleaming Georgians: Holiday workshop for 7-10yrs at Soane Museum
Try linen painting, lantern making and Georgian sugar sculpting in this activity packed workshop. Discover how Sir John Soane became a master of theatrical light displays and how the Georgians enjoyed spectacular fireworks across the River Thames and London parks. 25 October 2023, 11:00-15:00. Paid, book. Strictly ages 7-11, drop off only.

Japan activities at Young V&A
Inspired by Japan: Myths to Manga exhibition. In Stories from Japan, hear folktales from storyteller Tomoko Komura (21-22 October at 12.00, 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00. Duration: 15 minutes. Free, drop in. Ages 5+). Create your own story scroll using collage and illustration (25-27 October 2023 at 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Paid, book. Ages 8+). Get inspiration from creatures of Japanese folklores and design your own Yokai costume using paper and other materials (25-27 October 2023 at 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Paid, book. Ages 4+). Visit the Open Studio to contribute to a growing origami sculpture, or explore the Imagine Gallery and create and dress up as a character (25-27 October 2023, 12:00-16:00. Free, drop in).

Diva-inspired activities at V&A Museum
Dress up and make fashion items out of fabric and other interesting materials in Drop-in Design: Diva Style (25-27 October 2023, 11:00-16:00. Free, drop in). And join the School of Confidence with Drag Queen and King, That Girl and Brent Would, to explore your inner diva through movement, props, performance, and a little cheekiness!  (25-27 October 2023, 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00. Free, book).

Garden Together: Family gardening sessions at Fulham Palace
Get your hands dirty in this family-friendly gardening session in beautiful historical Gardens. Do something brilliant for your local community, learn new skills, meet new people and have lots of fun! Plant bulbs for spring in soft, warm soil; clear leaves and prepare plant beds for winter with compost, and more. 25 October 2023, 13:30-15:30 and 27 October 2023, 10:30-12:30. Free, ages 8+. Book.

Family day at Two Temple Place
Scan the QR codes to hear The Green Man and his friends tell stories about one of London’s hidden architectural gems. Or pick up the paper trail to follow Little Red Hood, including colouring in and drawing games. 27 October 2023. Free, drop in. More info here.

Hands on Armour: Mail Order at Wallace Collection
Discover how flexible and fashionable mail armour was worn throughout history, from the legionaries of the Roman army to the princes of Mughal India and beyond. Get to grips with the little links that made this amazing armour so manoeuvrable, and try some on for yourself. 28 October 2023. Free, drop in. Here’s more information.


Under 5s

It’s never too early to introduce a child to culture! Here’s some activities suited to the very youngest.

Hop, skip, Hackney at Hackney Museum
Runs Tuesdays and Saturdays, including 24 October 2023. Free, drop in. Under 5s, older siblings welcome. Link currently flagged as unsecure – will add soon.

Tots at the Docks at Museum of London Docklands
A regular play session inspired by the history of the Docklands – dive deep in the river, stack and sort cargo or build the tallest tower! 25 October 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Ages 1-4. More info here.
Psst: Don’t forget to pre-book your Mudlarks Children’s Gallery play session, paid.

Storytelling and Music Sessions at Royal Albert Hall
Select Wednesdays and Thursdays, including 25 and 26 October 2023. Paid, book. Under 5s.

Holiday to space at Royal Observatory
Join Ted and Plant as they explore the Solar System in search of the best place to take a holiday in a morning of fun including a planetarium show and interactive workshop. 26 October 2023, 10:30-12:00. Paid, book. Ages 3-6.

Palace Explorers: A Banquet for Queen Elizabeth at Fulham Palace
25 October 2023, 09:30-10:30. Paid, book.

Toddler Group at Boston Manor
Dance, sing and play your way around Boston Manor historic house. Dress for adventurous play! Every Thursdays, including 26 October 2023, 10:00-11:00. Free, book. Suggested ages 2-4 years.

Under 5s Explore: Mini Masterpieces at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Last Thursday of the month, including 26 October 2023. Paid, book.

Mini makers at Pitzhanger
Join artist and teacher Antoine Genevier in an exploratory play session inspired by the season. Child-led activities and art-making, including building and painting with cardboard and other materials, sensory play, drawing, and more. 27 October 2023, 10:00-12:00 and 12:00-14:00. Paid, book. Ages 6 months-8 years.


Children’s Theatre and Shows

There's a Tiger in the Garden 1

Big Bad Me at Little Angel Theatre
There are two sides to every story – let’s hear from the wolf himself in this alternative spin on Little Red Riding Hood. 23 September-19 November 2023. Paid, book here. Ages 6+.
Plus Big Bad Me family workshops on 21 and 22 October 2023.

There’s a Tiger in the Garden at Jackson’s Lane
Flock Theatre Makers musical-theatre adaptation of Lizzy Stewart’s award-winning children’s book, using puppetry, imaginative design and music. 23-27 October 2023. Paid, book here. Ages 3+.

Stick man live at Leicester Square Theatre
Freckle Productions’ delightful adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s favourite children’s book. 21 October 2023-2 January 2024. Paid, book here.

Zippos Circus at Hampstead Heath
An international cast of talented circus performers guaranteed to entertain the whole family. One of the Museum Kids’ favourite shows. 19-29 October 2023. Paid, book here.

Oh No, George! at Polka Theatre
Adapted from the award-winning picture book, this brand new show uses acrobatics, slapstick comedy, Sign Supported English and live music to bring George’s joyful escapades to life as he tries to avoid temptation. 19-29 October 2023. Paid, book here. Ages 3+.
With FREE book signing with the author of Oh No, George!, Chris Haughton. 24 October 2023, 15:15-16:00. Book your free ticket here. 

The Girl and the Dragon at Greenwich Theatre
Join hero Toral on the adventure of a lifetime as she swims uncrossable rivers, braves impassable forests and scales unclimbable mountains, all to fight a great and terrible dragon. Folk tale-style stories with diverse characters and progressive narratives. Winner of the Derek Award for ‘Best Children’s Show’ at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2022. 22 October 2023. Paid, book. Ages 5-12.

Alberts Band Presents: Myths and Magic at Royal Albert Hall
A musical journey through the mysterious world of Myths & Legends. Buggies, babies and budding musicians all welcome! 23 October 2023. Paid, book here. Best ages 4-11.

Little Angel Theatre’s Miniature Travelling Circus at Greenwich Theatre
Be delighted by beautiful puppets, nostalgic magic tricks and acts so tiny you may wonder how you can possibly see them! From performing mice to acrobatic fleas – this circus has stars you won’t see anywhere else! 25-28 October 2023. Paid, book here. Ages 3-6.


SEN-friendly activities

Holidays can be challenging for families with autistic and neurodivergent children and adults. Here’s a selection of special events designed to help create a relaxed environment.

Set to Stun: Autism Friendly Family Day at Gunnersbury Park Museum
A relaxed and quieter day at the museum, designed for families and carers with children and young people on the autism spectrum and those with additional sensory needs. Explore the Set to Stun exhibition in a peaceful atmosphere and take part in activities such as trails and dressing up, with quiet room for downtime. 23 October 2023, 11:00-15:00. Free, email learning@visitgunnersbury.org to book.

Post Early at the Postal Museum
Ride Mail Rail, access Sorted! postal play space, explore the exhibitions with lowered volume levels and take part in a facilitated open-ended arts and crafts activity. With quiet space. A relaxed event co-produced with Ambitious about Autism and their autistic Youth Patrons. 23 October 2023. Paid, book.

Morning stars at the Royal Observatory
Developed for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learn about topics from the planets to the constellations in a more relaxed environment. The planetarium show is presented live by an astronomer with a slower pace and reduced narration. With reduced numbers and brighter lights to avoid pitch black. 23 and 27 October 2023 at 10:15-11:00. Paid, book. Includes free entry to the Royal Observatory.

Relaxed hours at Uniqlo Tate Play: Shadow and Light Holiday Make Studio in Tate Modern
Play with magical light and shadows in underground tanks. A playful-yet-still-relaxing opening hour with slightly limited admissions so fewer people in the space. For neurodivergent children and adults, and other visitors with sensory needs who prefer a more relaxed experience, plus their families, friends and carers. 24 October 2023, 10:30–11:30. Free, drop in. More info here.

Slimy Dragons at the Museum of the Order of St John
Create sticky Dragon’s slime and uncover the story of Gozon the Dragon Slayer, with storytelling by Olivia Armstrong. Part of Seacole Sessions sensory-friendly events for families with children who need a quieter environment. 24 October 2023, 11:00-12:30 and 13:30-15:00. Free, book.

Relaxed early opening tours at ZSL London Zoo 
Be guided by the Community Engagement team on a set route through London Zoo whilst it is quiet and calm enough to be a comfortable experience for autistic and neurodivergent people. 25 October 2023, 08:30-10:00. Paid, book.

SEN Autumn Tales workshop at Harrow Arts Centre
Join Harrow Arts Centre on a sensory and interactive storytelling adventure to celebrate the turning of the seasons. 25 October 2023 at 10:00. Book. Ages 4+.

Early birds at Science Museum
For those who benefit from visiting the museum free from the hustle and bustle of the general public (for example, individuals with autism spectrum conditions or sensory processing differences). Explore select galleries and enjoy fun workshops, with quiet areas to take a break. Plus Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery and Power-Up tickets available at reduced prices. 28 October 2023 08:00-10:00. Free, book. For families with children aged 4-15.

Early explorer event at London Transport Museum
Enjoy the Museum at a quieter time, free from the general public, and with many of the gallery sounds turned off. Explore the All Aboard family spaces in peace, have a go at their holiday activities, get hands-on with genuine parts of transport history, or make use of their sensory bags. For families with Special Educational Needs, including Autistic Spectrum Disorder. 28 October 2023, 18:30-20:00. Free, book.

Children’s Garden Quiet Session at Kew Gardens
Explore all the things plants need to grow and enjoy the sensory elements of the Children’s Garden.
Fewer people will be admitted and easy access will be ensured to avoid potentially stressful queues. With gentle sensory activities. 29 October 2023, 08:30-10:00. Free, book. Aimed at children aged 2 to 12 years with special educational needs and disabilities.


I hope this guide helps you have a fantastic Halloween and October half term in London with the kids.

Please take a second to share this post. It helps others find half-term activities, grows my community, and encourages more visits to cultural attractions. Everybody wins! Use whichever platforms you feel most comfortable on – from WhatsApp parenting groups to in person, all mentions and shares make a difference.

And if this guide has been useful, why not buy me a coffee to say thanks?

I love seeing what you get up to, so please do let me know if you make it to a museum this October half term. Either comment below or tag me @museummum on Instagram. I’ll be posting our own half term adventures over on my Instagram Stories.

Disclosure: Just like a journalist, I have been gifted free entry to many of these museums for review purposes. I work at the Museum of London, although I can’t take any credit for their half-term activities, and this blog is not associated with them.

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Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

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2 Comments

  1. October 24, 2021 / 7:06 pm

    Ruffly! I’ve visited Ignite at Polesden Lacey and can highly recommend it #CulturedKids

  2. Shelley Whittaker
    November 12, 2021 / 7:10 am

    Its been less than 2 months since we have been gone, and I miss London already! Thanks for this super informative post as always #CulturedKids

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