Half Term: Get Planning Early With These Top Ideas

Matt Brown
Mar 01, 2024 By Matt Brown
Originally Published on Oct 01, 2020
Kids dressed as knights running through the outdoors with shields.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 5.4 Min

Half Term for most schools in England runs from Monday 26 to Friday 30 October 2020, and also encompasses the Halloween weekend. It’s never too early to plan out your week. We’ve put together this guide to help you find all the Half Term inspiration you need. 

You might also want to look at our tips for making Halloween just as spooky this year, in spite of limitations on gatherings.

Museums And Galleries

You’ll need to prebook, but there’s never been a better time to visit a museum or gallery. With strict crowd control measures in place, you won’t have to jostle or lift up the kids to get close to exhibits. We’ll add further suggestions to this list, as they’re announced by museums.

LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM: Perennial kids favourite, the London Transport Museum has a fun-packed half term in store. The wonderful Acton Depot will also be open. The main activity is a trail to find “Billy Brown”, a wartime character who appeared on numerous transport posters. “Families visiting both the Museum in Covent Garden or the Museum Depot in Acton Town can track down Billy Brown figures amongst the historic buses and trains on display. Along the way, Billy will point out transport gems in the Museum’s collection and share some of the playful rhymes he used to encourage passengers to be on their best behaviour on public transport.”

POSTAL MUSEUM AND MAIL RAIL: Deep beneath Clerkenwell in London runs an old railway you won't find on the tube map. So-called Mail Rail was operated by the post office for many decades, but recently turned into a visitor attraction. It's reopening just in time for Bank Holiday, giving kids the chance to ride through the tunnels, and then explore the wider Postal Museum.

SMALL MUSEUMS: We’d particularly recommend a visit to a nearby small museum. Many are putting on special activities for half term. We’ve picked out five of the best for families in London, but excellent small museums can be found all over the country. When did you last visit those close to you?

If you’re shielding or otherwise unable to visit museums, then try our museums ‘mystery object’ quiz, or take a look at some of the most bizarre exhibits we’ve ever found in a museum.

Visitor Attractions

Again, we’ll add further events and activities to this list as they’re announced.

LEGOLAND: The brickish theme park near Windsor promises plenty of Lego scares for Halloween, "including spooky entertainment, giant builds, scavenger hunts and much more". Read our guide on getting the most from Legoland while socially distancing.

LONDON DUNGEONThe South Bank attraction is spooky all year round, not just at Halloween. This half term, it'll have a special section on the dark history of scarecrows.

LONDON ZOO: Halloween at London Zoo is always fun. Expect plenty of craft activities, fancy dress, and pumpkins everywhere. This year, the special theme is animal costumes. “Ever wondered why penguins are black and white, or poison dart frogs so brightly coloured? Ghoulish guests can download activity packs at home before following a creepy trail through the Zoo, discovering the weird and wonderful costumes of the animal kingdom.” 

A lemur sat on a stone outdoors next to a pumpkin with a face carved into it.

ENGLISH HERITAGE: 16 English Heritage sites around the country are putting on spooky activities over the holiday. Activities include ghostly treasure trails, scary stories and fancy dress. Participating sites include Whitby Abbey (North Yorkshire), Audley End (Essex), Beeston Castle and Woodland Park (Cheshire), and Pendennis Castle (Cornwall).

Other sites are hosting creepy ghost walks for children aged 5-12. Check them out at Belsay Hall (Northumberland), Brodsworth Hall and Gardens (South Yorkshire), Walmer Castle (Kent), and Witley Court (Worcestershire).

Live Events

Live performances are a rarity at the moment, but not entirely absent. 

ARTS DEPOT: North Londoners might like to get to ArtsDepot in Finchley, where a socially distanced performance of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar takes place between 24 and 27 October. If you can’t get to the centre, look out for The Marvellous Myth Hunter live Zoom event on 17 October.

LITTLE ANGEL: The children-centric theatre in Islington is starting to run socially distanced live performances again. Starting on 24 October, you can catch performances of Reach for the Stars, a puppet show inspired by the life of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to go into space. The show continues into November.

Get Out Exploring

Exploring the natural world is one of the safest and healthiest things you can do with your kids right now, plus encouraging a love of nature is always a good idea.

Lots of green acorns.

OUTDOOR GAMES: We’ve put together… made up, in fact… five unusual games for families to play outdoors over autumn. Suggestions include a hunt for acorn cups, to provide cycle helmets for toys, and a horse-chestnut-based game called William the Conkerer. None of the games need you to socialise with other households.

HOME COUNTIES: Get out exploring the woods and hills of the south-east. We’ve assembled guides on open spaces to visit near the M25, zoos and animal parks near the capital, and the best hills near London

WALKS: If you’re looking for inspiration for family walks in the Home Counties, try our guides to Berkshire; Essex; Herts, Beds and Bucks; Kent; Suffolk and Norfolk; or Surrey. Or else try this guide to family-friendly walks within an hour of London.

PIRATES!: Take a pirate-themed walk around London, tracking down some of the city’s famous pirate landmarks, such as the Golden Hinde and the swashbuckling playground in Kensington Gardens.

PARAKEETS: Find out how to spot wild parakeets, including tips on how to make them land on your hand.

NEED THE LOO? If you’re out exploring in London, make sure you’ve read our guide on where to find toilets and babychange in the capital. Don’t get caught short.

Staying At Home

Many families will opt to stay at home -- or at least their local neighbourhood -- for Half Term. If that’s you, then you’ll love our long list of games, activities and inspirational fun to be had without leaving the house. We’ve also curated a list of every craft idea we’ve ever had on Kidadl -- hundreds of them -- from animal origami to DIY lightsabers. This should keep you going way beyond half-term.

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Written by Matt Brown

Bachelor of Science specializing in Chemistry, Master of Research specializing in Biomolecular Sciences

Matt Brown picture

Matt BrownBachelor of Science specializing in Chemistry, Master of Research specializing in Biomolecular Sciences

With a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's in Residency specializing in Biomolecular Sciences and roots in the Midlands, Matt has developed a passion for writing about London. As a former editor and prolific contributor to Londonist.com, he has authored several books exploring the city's hidden gems. In addition to his work, Matt enjoys spending time with his two preschool-aged children.

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