October Half Term in Sussex
25+ things to do in during the holidays from crafts to comedy lessons and spooky Halloween fun
Shriek Week, Drusillas Park, near Alfriston, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
There’s plenty to keep your horrors entertained at Muddy award-winning Drusillas Park over Half Term. Dare to visit Haunted Heights – the Halloween hangout of witchy sin sisters Hocus Pocus who’ll just love to play hide and seek with you. Scuttle along to the Discovery Centre for daily creepy crawly encounters with amazing mini monsters, then brave Eden’s Eye, where an ancient mummy can be seen wandering daily through the pathways of the maze. On Wednesday 24 Oct “Oh help! Oh no! It’s a gruffalo!” ready to meet you. Your kids can meanwhile transform into a witches, black cats or monsters thanks to some freaky face painting and tattoos. Book online before you visit for 10% off.
MUDDY DISCOUNT Hallowe’en Scream Train Wed 24 – Sun 28 Oct, Bluebell Railway
Meet Brigid the witch and her hapless sidekick Brian the wizard for fiendish fun and games at Horsted Keynes station when you journey on the Scream Train from Sheffield Park and back. Tickets are £16 but you can use the code MSH18 for a 50% Muddy discount on child fares! Check out too the new SteamWorks interactive area at Sheffield Park station, plus kids go for just a quid on regular ‘third class’ services over the break.
Halloween at Fishers Farm, Fishers Adventure Farm Park, Wisborough Green, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
Will Magnificent Max, Mona and Witchy Willow be able to save the world from Gerta the notorious evil witch? Find out in the ‘Spook Show’ taking place every day in the Barn Theatre at Fishers. You can also join the spooky scavenger hunt to find Halloween props and earn a sweet treat. The Animal Encounters Barn and daily farm show will be running as usual for furry fun.
Halloween Hocus Pocus, Borde Hill Garden, nr Haywards Heath Sat 20 – Wed 31 Oct
Borde Hill always has plenty on in the school holidays and October half term is no exception. There’s a spellbook trail; spooky story-telling; Halloween crafts; wand making; owl, reptile and creepy-crawly meets; magic shows; face painting and balloon modelling and a Pumpkin Glow carving contest. Check dates for different activities, there’s a small extra charge for some on top of admission.
The Spooky Magic Show, the Capitol, Horsham, Thurs 25 & Fri 26 Oct
Join Magic Mr Steve and Rufus the dog in The Studio at The Capitol for a Spooky Magic Show with amazing magic tricks, spooky special effects and hilarious puppets. It’s suitable for ages 4+ and there are prizes for the best fancy dress. Tickets £11.
DROP OFF Holiday Clubs, Railway Land, Lewes, 22 – 25 Oct
New for this year at Lewes Railway Land Nature Reserve are holiday clubs for 6 – 13 year-olds. Children can take on the fire lighting challenge, build dens and discover creatures in the ponds and birds overhead. There will also be stories, games, crafts and campfire cooking and the chance for older children to work towards an award. The club runs 9am – 4pm. For non-members it’s £150 for four days, £80 for two (second sibling £120/£60). Book ahead.
Witching and Wizarding Week/Amberley by Moonlight, Amberley Museum, Sat Oct 20 – Sun Oct 28
Visit the wand maker to choose your wand, brew potions, have flying lessons on your very own broom and follow the Halloween trail at Amberley Museum this half term. Activities take place from 11am – 3pm. Youngsters who come dressed up as a witch or wizard will receive a sweet treat. During the Amberley by Moonlight event on Fri 26 Oct between 6.00pm and 9.00pm join a guided ghost walk, hear spooky stories, see birds of prey and take a ride on the ghost train and spooky bus.
Brighton Science Festival Sat 20 – Wed 31 Oct, various Brighton venues
The festival of 40-plus events moves from its regular February date to October half term, bringing experts and educational entertainers including Simon Watt, Michael Brooks and Robin Ince. Last time they cut up a heart; this time they’re dissecting a human brain in front of a live audience. All in the name of science. They’ll also be setting off rockets, building robots and searching for the world’s ugliest animal.
The YUCK Show/ Celebrity Dusty Duck Trail, WWT Arundel, Sat 20 Oct – Sun 28 Oct
Discover the gross side of nature in the YUCK show led by Professor Batwing running twice daily during half term at 11.00 am and 1.30 pm. Meanwhile, Wetlands mascot Dusty Duck has some celebrity friends visiting. Follow the trail to find 14 Giant Dusty Ducks designed by the famous Aardman animation studios and dressed by celebs, including Steve Backshall’s Explorer Dusty, and Joanna Lumley’s absolutely fabulous Patsy Dusty. As always there’s plenty to do besides with guided boat safaris, the chance to hand feed ducks and geese plus adventure playgrounds.
The Midnight Gang, Chichester Festival Theatre, Sat 13 Oct – Sat 3 Nov
Chichester Festival Theatre has a major new adaptation of David Walliams’ children’s book The Midnight Gang. Adapted by Byrony Lavery with music and lyrics by Joe Stilgoe, it tells the story of a group of young patients at a spooky hospital who each night escape their beds and go on an adventure. Tickets are from £10.
.DROP OFF Young Bohemians, Stop Frame Animation at Charleston, 22 and 23 October
Beginners aged 8-14 can learn the basics of stop frame animation with Lee Shearman using both professional equipment and smart phones. The course it structured so participants can keep creating animated films at home after this two-day workshop. They can also create animated sequences using their own artwork. £75.
DROP OFF Sussex Wildlife Trust Holiday clubs, various locations, Tues 23/Wed 24/Thurs 25
Den building, bushcraft, campfire cocoa and more for the kids, while you get some catch up time. Most run 10 or 10.30 am to 4pm. At last look there were still places at Tilgate Park at Crawley, Seven Sisters, Stanmer Park at Brighton, Rye and Gatwick.
FREE Snailspace trail, Brighton, 15 Sept – 18 Nov
Giant snails have invading the streets of Brighton. 50 sculptures have been decorated by artists (celebrity sponsors with personalised creations include Peter James and Fatboy Slim) and will later be auctioned to raise money for Martlets hospice. In the meantime, ticking them off is a great free family activity. Follow the snail trail by picking up a map in the library, a Martlets shop or elsewhere or downloading the app.
Halloween Half Term Fun, Hever Castle, Kent, Sat 20 – Sat 28 Oct
Prepare to be spooked this Halloween at Hever Castle & Gardens. Listen to ghostly tales in the Ghost Catcher’s Lair, follow the pumpkin trail in the grounds and get learn about the ghosts of Hever in the Castle. Create a ghost puppet in a free creepy craft workshop or decorate a ghoulish biscuit small. There are prizes too for the scariest costumes!
Spookfest and PYO pumpkins, Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill, Crawley, Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
It’s best known for its adult fright nights over Shocktober Fest but Tulleys Farm also offers a rather less terrfiying chance to pick your own pumpkins from Sat 20 -Sun 28 Oct and a Spookfest, with more child-friendly scares. Tickets for the latter are from £10. There’s also a Fireworks bash on Sun 4 Nov.
The Addams Family at Groombridge Place, Sat 20 – Sat 28 Oct
Join the Addams Family at Groombridge Place as they follow an invitation to meet a mysterious guest, encountering creepy ghouls, ghosts, demons and witches along the way through the Enchanted Forest. There will also be two Addams Family musical shows and singalongs around the attraction every day together with children’s games and activities. Get practising those finger clicks!
KIDS GO FREE, British Airways i360, Brighton Mon 22 – Fri 26 October
This half-term offer allows you to take up to two children per paying adult onto the seafront attraction. Spot rooftop art and on a clear day, the Seven Sisters cliffs and Isle of Wight from Europe’s tallest vertical cable car.A word of warning; there’s no easy toilet access once the thing gets airborne if the kids get too excited… Adults £16.50
DROP OFF Poppy’s Halloween Spooktacular, Woodside, Haywards Heath, Wed Oct 24
Join Poppy the witch and her trusty sidekick Chico the cat for a ghoulishly good Halloween party with a mini performance, craft activities, workshop and refreshments! Run by Muddy Award-winning Poppy’s Parties, sessions last three hours and are drop offs – 10.00am-1.00pm for children aged 4-6 years or 2.00-5.00pm, for children 6 -8. £18. Sibling discounts available.
Harry Hill Kids Show: How To Be Funny – for Kids! Theatre Royal Brighton, Fri 26 Oct
Get set for autumn half term by booking this show, aimed at helping kids with an interest in comedy to improve their skills by offering hints, tips and anecdotes. TV’s Harry Hill will be sharing his dos and don’ts as well as offering kids who fancy themselves as a bit of a joker the chance to express their own comedy skills. Tickets are £16.00.
Halloween trail and crafts, Petworth House and Park, 20 – 28 Oct
Take part in some spine tingling activities at Petworth this half term. There’s a new trail around the Pleasure Grounds about a hair-raising science experiment. Or make something spook-tastic to take home on a drop in Halloween craft day on – 23, 24 and 25 Oct. Normal admission applies plus £3 per trail.
Hibernation Morning, Railwayland Nature Reserve, Lewes, Fri 26 Oct 26
Don’t hide under the duvet, join a hibernation activity morning at the Linklater Pavilion on Fri 26 Oct from 10am-12.30pm. Youngsters can make pom-pom hedgehogs, taking a look at the bug hotel, and make a hedgehog house from natural found materials in the nature reserve. £3 donation for materials.
Halloween Horrors, Wood Mill nature reserve, Henfield, Fri 26 Oct
Join in spooktacular fun and games at Woods Mill nature reserve as darkness falls. Take a candlelit walk through the woods, enjoy a campfire cocoa and watch out for ghosts in the trees! Inside, children can make a bat mask or use hand tools to create their own wooden creepy creature to take home. The event runs 5.30 – 7.30 and is aimed at children 5-11 years. Booking is essential. Non-member prices are £8 children, £4 adults.
Halloween pumpkin carving, Saddlescombe Farm, South Downs, Sat 27 Oct
Choose your own pumpkin and transform it into your own scary creation, then make a Halloween animal mask in sessions 10.00am to noon on Sat 27 Oct. £8 per child.
Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures, Brighton, new this month
New Brighton attraction Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures is inspired by the Jules Verne novel and challenges groups of audiences to help the explorer make his way around the world in 80 days – with a few trials and tribulations along the way. It’s an indoor immersive experience blending theatre and escape room and has been brought to life by the design team behind Star Wars, Episode VII, Skyfall and The Miniaturist. With adult and family versions of the experience it’s suitable for ages 7+ Standard tickets are from £34.50.
Autumn Harvest Trail, Standen, 20 –28 Oct
Apple tastings and a fun trail inspired by harvest in the garden and spooky bat walks are happening at Standen over half term. Normal admission plus £2 per trail.
The Halloween Monster Quest, Leeds Castle, Mon 22 – Sat 28 Oct
Help Monster Hunter Valerie Van Helsing on a quest through the Castle grounds to investigate ‘The Case of the Halloween Monster’ but watch out for bandits along the way! From 12pm to 3pm, dance in the outdoor children’s ‘Monster Mash ball’ and take part in the daily fancy dress competition with prizes – plenty of frightful fun to be had!
Halloween at Penshurst Place, Tonbridge, Kent Sat 20 – Sun 28 Oct
There’s lots going on this Halloween over at Penshurst from Wicked Witch of the Wild Wood Storytelling to Surgery Through The Centuries (only if you have a strong stomach – that one contains sound effects!).
The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London, Tues Oct 2 – Sun 30 Dec
Exciting news – there’s a theatre being opened in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.
Halloween events further afield, various dates, various locations
If you want to get your spooky thrills before the big night, Fright Nights at Thorpe Park opened on Fri 5 Oct. The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios Great Hall is currently decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts from now until Nov 10.
Steamworks, Family Festival, Bluebell Railways, Sheffield Park Station, on 20 and 21 Oct 2018
To celebrate the opening of its fun SteamWorks interactive area at Sheffield Park, Bluebell is holding a Family Festival on 20 and 21 October, free with station admission. Blast Science will be putting on a Family Forces science show – with live physics experiments and plenty of laughs. There will also be a range of hands-on activities – see how capacitors, batteries and solar power can drive a car’s wheels and how wind turbines work, test circuit boards and try different electric cars on a track. See also the Scream Train below.
DROP OFF Let’s Get Animating! Depot cinema, Lewes, Mon 22/Tues 23 Oct
Claire Underwood (creator of ‘Boj’ on Cbeebies) will show chidren aged 8-12 (22 Oct) 0r 12- 16 (23 Oct) step by step how to make an animated TV series; looking at all the different jobs involved… creator, writer, designer, editor, actor, musician, animator, producer. They’ll get the chance to try out some of these roles, invent their animated character and bring it to life using the simple MiniMation drawn animation system. The day runs from 10:00 to 16:00 and costs £50. There’s also a claymation course coming up in Nov.