It might feel like the kids have only just gone back to school but we’ve hit the beginning of October which means that the school holidays are not far away. There are lots of great things taking place London this month, including a fun range of events during the half-term holidays.
Now that life is getting back to normal it’s the perfect time for the whole family to enjoy the city. Here are the best things to plan for this month and over the October half term in London.
Don’t forget to look at our free things to do in London with kids as well as our recommendations on the best places for ice cream, our favourite afternoon teas in London with kids and the best playgrounds in town.
Many of the events listed in our things to do in September in London post are still running this month so do check to see what else is on.
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ILLUMINATURE at the London Wetland Centre
One of our top picks for October half term is the new ILLUMINATURE trail opening at the London Wetland Centre. The light trail opens on Friday October 22 and running until January 9, 2022.
Join friends and family as you explore the after-dark wildlife trail through habitats of owls, geese and otters. Along the route, play in the immersive tunnels, hop along the responsive lily-pads, create colourful shadow animals and enjoy a multitude of other opportunities to interact with nature and light.
Illuminature runs from 4pm – 9pm and costs £17.50 for adults and £12.50 per child, under 4’s visit free.
Halloween Hub at Coal Drops Yard
Samsung KX are running a spooktacular Halloween event over the October half term in Coal Drops Yard. Held over three days from October 27 to 31, there will be a spooky movie screening, scary storytelling and the chance to pimp your own pumpkin. And if you’re in need of a new costume for Halloween drop anytime from Friday to Sunday to the Costume Swap Shop (ages 5 – 11). Activities are free but should be booked in advance here.
Half Term Tales at the Globe Theatre
The excellent Telling Tales event is back at The Globe Theatre for October half-term. estival is back and packed full of events and activities this October half term. Uncover the magic of storytelling in a Family Workshop, explore Shakespeare’s plays in a Storytelling session, jump into the action in an On Stage Workshop, learn the secrets of the Globe on a Family Guided Tour, and so much more! Suitable for children aged 5 – 12 years old.
Draw, make and build with RIBA
RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, run a series of workshops for children and families that include big builds, digital workshops and collaborative installations. Over half term RIBA are running a series of hand-on creative workshops to encourage kids to explore contemporary themes around architecture. The Design Quest workshops are for children aged 6 – 10 and the Design Time workshops are aimed at 11 to 15 year olds. There are also courses and workshops for young people aged 15 – 24.
Take a look at their website for details, dates and to book – online booking in advance is essential.
Anansi the Spider: Respun at the Unicorn Theatre
To celebrate Black History Month this October the Unicorn Theatre is bringing the popular Anansi the Spider show back. The story of the mischief-maker and spinner of yarns has been recreated in digital form. The show opens on October 1 and runs until the end of the month.
Pumpkin Patch at Lewis of London
Lewis of London might be better known for making excellent ice cream but this October they also have a pumpkin patch! Get ready for Halloween by finding your perfect pumpkin at their ice cream farm.
There are more spooky treats in store too including their limited edition Halloween ice cream flavours plus Wildlife Live will be on site with some creepy creatures!
The Pumpkin Patch will be open from October 16 – 31, 10 am – 4pm daily. Make sure you book your timed ticket in advance.
Family art workshops at the RAF Museum
The RAF Museum in Colindale is hosting two days of art workshops for families on October 25 and 26 held in the museum’s very own art gallery. Led by staff from the Access and Learning team, children will use a range of materials and techniques to explore and recreate images inspired by the Museum’s art collection and the amazing view over the Historic Hangars.
The workshop is suitable for children aged 7-12 years old and is free but must be pre-booked.
On October 28 and 29 the museum is hosting an interactive storytelling experience as part of Black History Month. Learn what it was like for Black personnel to leave their home country and join the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
This is a drop-in event and takes place at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm
Family activities at Royal Museums Greenwich
There are lots of half-term events taking place in at the Royal Museums Greenwich this October. The Royal Observatory is hosting spaced-themed workshops and planetarium shows. The National Maritime Museum has a calendar of activities and storytelling related to polar science, culminating with the Ice Worlds festival. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a penguin accessory and join in the penguin parade! On board the Cutty Sark children will learn how the crew survived the freezing temperatures of the Antarctic.
UNIQLO Tate Play at the Tate Modern
The UNIQLO Tate Play is the Tate Modern’s free programme of art, fun activities and play for families of all age and runs until November 14. More things for families to do over the half term holidays will be announced soon so keen an eye on their website.
Family Weekender at the Royal Docks
Taking place on October 30 – 31 is this fun weekend of music, circus, art, dance and more at the Royal Docks. There will be live performances taking place on the covered stage and art inspired activities to enjoy in The Docks Gallery.
Other highlights include family friendly storytelling adventures with Patchlarks, workshops to spark creativity from the Institute of Imagination, and a visit from YARA + DAVINA’s Pet Balloon Service. A special evening event takes place after sunset on Saturday.
The V&A Museum
Taking place before half term is a fun Dodo mask marking workshop at the V&A Museum led by artist Gayle Chong Kwan. This takes place on October 10.
Over half-term itself. From October 27 to 30 the museum is running an Imaginary Cities workshop for children aged 6 and above. Kids are invited to create their own modular building as part of a growing community of cardboard houses, and to explore what home means to them.
Bing and Flop at London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo is always a great family day out and this half term they are hosting a special Bing event for Halloween. Families are invited to follow a self-led trail and enjoy interactive story time session. Led by a ZSL Zookeeper, this is a wonderful way for children to learn more about the animals – they’ll also get a pair of Bing ears to take home.
These are free activities but must be booked when you arrive at the zoo. The events run from October 20 – 31.
Aliens, Zombies and Monsters at the Arts Depot
Step into the weird world of artist Aaron Blecha and get ready to meet some very unusual visitors to artsdepot! This interactive exhibition invites you to explore how children’s characters and books are created, and will inspire you to dream up characters and stories of your own.
The gallery will be packed full of life-sized alien, zombie and monster characters, ready to mingle with visitors of all ages. Beam aboard an alien spaceship, take a selfie as part of the zombie family, or join in with the monster mayhem.
The exhibition runs from October 24 – 30. Free entry, no booking required.
Knight Time at Windsor Castle
This one takes place just outside of London but it’s at Windsor Castle so worth the trip! Half term activities at the castle include interactive storytelling sessions, the chance to design your own shield and learn all about the different parts of a knight’s armour.
These activities take place every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from October 23 to October 30.
Delivery to the Lost City at the Postal Museum
On 27-31 October, The Postal Museum is offering a programme of fun activities inspired by the latest book by Author P.G. Bell, Delivery to the Lost City.
Children can meet the author P.G. Bell and have their copy of the new book signed, take part in an interactive storytelling event in the Mail Rail depot with storyteller Olivia Armstrong and get hands-on at one of our arts and crafts workshops. No booking is necessary and admission to the events are included in the ticket price.
Superblue London at Burlington Gardens
For some bubble magic head to the new, site-specific installation by artist duo A.A. Murakami. In Silent Fall, a grove of tree-like automata, visitors can handle scented bubbles! Burlington Gardens is located next to the Royal Academy of Arts.
Superblue London runs from October 12 to January 9, 2022. Tickets cost £9. Children under 3 years of age are free.
Half-term events at Covent Garden
The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition continues in Covent Garden. The exhibit holds hundreds of images from the world of Harry Potter that have never been seen together before. There’s also the chance to strike your best wizarding pose in front of a series of green screens.
Want more magic? Try this Harry Potter walking tour.
Also in Covent Garden are the neon lights of artist Chila Burman. If you visited the Tate Britain over winter you’ll have seen her neon artwork covering the exterior of the building. Her distinctive electric neons will be suspended in the South Hall.
Enjoy more of Covent Garden with kids here.
The Bloomsbury Festival takes place this month from October 15 – 24 with up to 130 events taking place in the streets, parks, museums, galleries, laboratories and public and private buildings around the neighbourhood with the aim of promoting contemporary Bloomsbury.
This year’s theme is ‘Shining Light’ and highlights include the neon installations of artist Chila Burnham, the Family Day at the October Gallery on October 16 and Lights, Banners, Tigers procession that takes place on Cromer Street on the 15th of October.
The Beano at Somerset House
A guaranteed crowd pleaser is taking place at Somerset House this half term. Beano: the Art of Breaking the Rules celebrates the history, impact, and joyful rebelliousness of the 80-year-old comic series. Come face-to-face with the Beano gang through original comic artwork and amazing artefacts, plundered from the Beano’s archive.
The exhibition runs from October 21 to March 6, 2022.
Ghost town at KidZania
KidZania, the town for kids, has some fun Halloween events planned to coincide with half-term. Join their very own ghost tour, look out for scary sightings, design creepy outfits and dance away to a spooky soundtrack. They’re also running a Halloween costume competition so make sure to have your fancy dress ready!
Halloween activities run from October 23 – 31 and are suitable for children aged 4 – 14 years.
Peppa Pig Halloween Bus Tour
Grab your best Halloween costume and jump on board the B-Bakery Peppa Big Halloween Afternoon Tea Bus. Enjoy views of some of London’s most famous sights including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park and Piccadilly Circus while munching on yummy afternoon tea treats.
Each table comes with a built in tablet providing guests with a Peppa Pig guided animation of the London tour along with sing-a-long songs for the whole family will enjoy. There are prizes for the best costumes and an activity book to keep.
The afternoon tea tour runs between 21-24 October 2021 and 28-31 October 2021 and costs £45 adults and £35 for kids.
Halloween activities at the Tower of London
Join the Ghost Raiders and help solve a spooky mystery at the Tower of London this half term. Trumpets from Anne Boleyn’s coronation can be heard near her old apartments, tobacco has been smelt near Raleigh’s Walk, and something terrible is afoot in the Salt Tower.
These ghoulish goings-on take place from October 23 – 31 and are suitable for 8 – 14 year olds and their families. Included in palace admission.
Halloween Trick or Treat trail in Covent Garden
Throughout the month of October you can take part in a spook-tacular Trick or Treat trail in Covent Garden. This free family friendly trail takes you on a journey around Covent Garden where you can test your observational skills, learn some fun facts and pick up some fantastic treats along the way.
Download the Halloween trail here.
STEM Activities at the London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum has a series of STEM activities planned for this October half-term. The ‘Steam to Green’ family activities encourage children to discover how public transport has developed over the last 200 years from the early days of steam power to the engineering marvels helping Londoners make greener journeys today. Enjoy hands on and interactive activities as well as storytelling and workshops.
Morden Hall Park half term activities
National Trust property Morden Hall Park is the perfect place for some half term fun. The property is running drop in sessions (max 10 children per session) over half-term where kids can create their own own whimsical woodland tale using natural materials. There are 8 sessions a day (£5 per child).
Morden Hall Park are also running a whodunnit interactive trail from Otober 23 to November 21 (£3 per trail). Travel back in time to solve the mystery of Mr. Hatfeild’s cake, and with a list of suspects you will have only few witnesses to question…the talking trees!
Follow the map in the trail to find the trees who hold the clues, scan the QR code to unlock hints and important information. Like every top detective use your deduction and note findings that will help you eliminate any of the six suspects from the running.
The Natural History Museum
This is the last year that the Natural History Museum will host its much-loved ice rink. The good news, however, is that you can get your skates on from October 22nd. Make sure to book tickets in advance.
Elsewhere the excellent exhibition Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature continues. The always popular Wildlife Photographer of the Year opens on October 15. Best of all, perhaps, is the news that Dino Snores, the museum’s sleepover is back!
Hampton Court Palace
There’s something spooky going on this October half-term at Hampton Court Palace. Stumble across palace ghosts and ghouls in a brand new self-guided family trail, uncovering the tales of Catherine Howard in her chambers, a grey cloaked lady named Sybil Penn, haunted portraits of the damned, and many more… The trail runs from October 23 – 31.
Don’t forget to visit the Magic Garden or navigate the oldest surviving hedge maze in the UK while here!
The Gruffalo’s Child at Kew Gardens
Go on a Gruffalo adventure at Kew Gardens this October half-term on a trail through the deep dark wood. Along the way you’ll meet Fox, Owl, Snake, the Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s Child and of course, the Big Bad Mouse.
The trail runs from Saturday 16 to Sunday 31 October 2021. The trail starts near Brentford Gate, Kew Gardens
The Japan Festival is also taking place at Kew Gardens where you can practice the traditional art of Momijigari, the art of visiting places that are brimming with red leaves in autumn. The Victorian glasshouse is home to an incredible large-scale art installation, One Thousand Springs, by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.
Autumn Treasure Hunt with Percy the Park Keeper
A live theatrical treasure hunt is taking place this autumn at Chiswick House & Gardens. Join Percy the Park Keeper as you help him and his animal friends get ready for winter. Forest school meets puppetry, world-class theatrical storytelling and clue-based adventure in this unique, non-stop 60-minute experience. The event takes place from October 16 to November 14. Tickets start at £20 for adults, £15 for children. Under 2s go free, family tickets are available.
Half term activities at Buckingham Palace
The Queen might not be in residence but that doesn’t mean that this won’t be a fun half term activity. Held in The Queen’s Gallery, this activities give kids the chance to learn more about amazing paintings in the palace.
Play ‘Spot The Dog’ and try to locate the dog on your cards to the dogs in the paintings. For older children, there’s a spooky trail through some of the more eerie and unusual elements and stories of some of the paintings.
And then you can have a go at creating your own masterpiece(s) inspired by the paintings.