It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly half way though the autumn school term but sure enough, the October half term school holidays are just around the corner.
There are a lot of fun activities taking place this half term for the whole family to enjoy from spooky goings-on at Hampton Court Palace and Halloween at the Tower of London to new theatre shows, new exhibitions and much more!
Don’t miss this post sharing details of events taking place throughout the month of October. If you are going to be spending the October half term in London, however, then read on as this post is packed full of fun things to keep everyone busy.
October half term dates in the UK are typically from Monday 23 October to Friday 27 October, 2023 however holiday dates vary according to regions, boroughs and the individual school. For the majority, however, the week from October 23 to 27 is when schools are on holiday for the autumn term.
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 why Christmas is the perfect time to be in London.
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Things to do in London during the October half term
The following are some of the best half term events taking place in London this October.
Shows at the Polka Theatre
There are a handful of fun shows taking place at the Polka Theatre this half term including Oh No, George! and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Oh No, George! is aimed at children aged 3 and older and tells the tale of a dog who wants to be good but just can’t resist temptation. The playful tale has been adapted from the award-winning picture book by Chris Haughton.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a great option if you’re looking for something to do over October half term in London. Aimed at children aged 6+, this sideways take on Shakespeare’s famous play is imaginative and hilarious in equal measure.
When: Various dates over the October half term, check the website for details
Where: The Polka Theatre, Wimbledon; nearest tube Wimbledon and South Wimbledon
MCM Comic Con
This three day festival of all things pop culture is taking place at ExCel London. Older children will enjoy meeting their favourite stars from anime, film and TV; gaming; and exploring the Pop Asia zone and much more. For younger kids there’s The Treehouse where activities including mask making and creating comics are taking place.
When: 27-29 October
Where: ExCel London, nearest station Canning Town
Big Bad Me at the Little Angel Theatre
The Little Angel Theatre have a fun line-up of shows over the next few months including Big Bad Me that is running over the October half term and beyond.
Based on the family-favourite Little Red Riding Hood, this playful tale flips the narrative and tells the story form the Wolf himself. Discover how the kind and hungry wolf strayed from the path and lost his friends.
Big Bad Me is aimed at children aged 6+
When: 28 September – 19 November
Where: Little Angel Theatre, Islington; nearest tube Angel and Highbury and Islington
Turn It Up: The Power of Music at the Science Museum
Arriving just in time for the October half term in London is this new exhibition at the Science Museum that explores how and why music drives us to create, perform, feel and connect with others. Enjoy plenty of interactive exhibits including a musical playground and Haile the musical robot, discover weird and wonderful instruments and take a musical Turing test – and more!
When: Opens 19 October – 6 May 2024
Where: The Science Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Peppa Pig Halloween Bus Tour
Enjoy the Halloween season on board Brigit’s double-decker bus with Peppa Pig for company. This afternoon tea tour is always good fun; you can see some of London’s top attractions, enjoy a fabulous tea and watch Peppa Pig on a tablet at your table as she guides you through central London. Singing along to songs is highly encouraged!
All young guests will receive a Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Activity Book to take home with them.
When: 19 – 22 October and 26 – 29 October 2023
Where: Departs from Somerset House
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Kew Gardens
Get ready to splash, splosh; squelch, squerch; and tiptoe, tiptoe this October half term at Kew Gardens. This charming adventure of discovery through Kew Gardens is based on the award-winning picture book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
The interactive trail takes place across the Lake and into the Arboretum, home to some of Kew’s most magnificent trees and visiting wildlife.
When: 21 – 29 October
Where: Kew Gardens; nearest tube Kew Gardens
Japan: Myths & Manga at the Young V&A
Taking place in the brand new shining Young V&A (the former Museum of Childhood) is this new exhibition, Japan: Myths & Manga. The exhibition explores how landscape and folklore in Japanese history have influenced Japan’s culture, technology and design and includes memorabilia from the Studio Ghibli favourite My Neighbour Totoro, Heel-less Shoes by Noritaka Tatehana and a woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige dating back to 1860.
The museum is also running a series of free Japanese-inspired events over the half term week.
When: Japan: Myths & Manga opens on 14 October
Where: Young V&A, nearest tube Bethnal Green
Halloween At The Tower of London
Enjoy the spookiest time of the year at the Tower of London and discover the thousands of years of history housed within the fortress walls.
Look closely and you may see the trail of a Tudor gown swish past or a medieval queen upon a crooked throne. Other ghosts from the tower’s past may reveal themselves too: the Wizard Earl can often be spied in his apothecary concocting potions and a Roman solider has been seen near the remnants of the London Wall.
This event is spooky but not scary and all ages are welcome.
When: 21 – 29 October
Where: The Tower of London; nearest tube Tower Hill; included in admission price
Guiding Lights at the National Maritime Museum
Celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Light, lots of family-friendly events taking place at the National Maritime Museum. Enjoy free live music, workshops, art displays, light shows and more. The day culminates in the early evening with a lantern parade through Greenwich. 22 October.
The museum is hosting a series of other events around the theme of light including Shadow Creations (23 October), inspired by shadow puppetry from across Asia; Rangoli-making on 24 October, Glowing Ships (25 October), and others. See the website for details.
When: 22 – 30 October
Where: National Maritime Museum; nearest station Cutty Sark
Diwali workshop at Morden Hall Park
Two Diwali-themed workshops are taking place this October half term at Morden Hall Park aimed at children aged 3 – 6 and 7 – 10 years. Join the Merton Asian Women’s Association to learn more about the Festival of Light.
When: 26 October 10am – 10.45am for ages 3 – 6 and 2pm – 2.45pm for children aged 7 – 10.
Where: Morden Hall Road, Morden, London, SM4 5JD; the easiest way to get here is by car.
Boo at the London Zoo
For hairy – but not too scary – Halloween fun head to ZSL London Zoo this October half term where you can learn hair-raising animal facts, enjoy traditional Halloween crafts and head to Ghoul School to learn some special spells. Spooky activities include pumpkin decorating, the extinct species graveyard, the bubble boogie and much more.
When: 21 – 31 October; included in admission price
Where: ZSL London Zoo; nearest tube Camden Town
Halloween at Hampton Court Palace
Double, double, toil and trouble, who dares to explore Henry VIII’s notoriously haunted palace? Head to Hampton Court Palace this October half term and discover the palace transformed by magical spells. Tiptoe through the dark winding corridors and courtyards, see eerie portraits come to life in the Gallery of the Damned, or take part in a spine-tingling séance in the Council Chamber.
When: 21 – 29 October
Where: Hampton Court Palace; nearest train station Hampton Court train station
Trick or Treat Trail at Covent Garden
Covent Garden is always fun with kids and this half-term it’s even better with a Trick or Treat trail taking place. Learn fun facts, explore the neighbourhood and pick up a treat or three! Simply download the trail and head to Covent Garden on 28, 29 or 30 October.
When: 27 October, 12pm – 5pm. Register in advance.
Where: Covent Garden
Family Events at the V&A Museum
The V&A Museum has a number of themed activities on offer this half term including Drop-in Design: Diva Style to tie in with their current exhibition, Diva. This drop-in session invites families to try on pieces from the Diva Families Collection and to explore the materials, shapes and colours that make you feel great.
The museum is also running the School of Confidence, a fun and family-friendly performance workshop on three days over the October half-term. Find confidence through movement, props, performance and fun.
On Saturday 28 October the museum is hosting a family workshop where kids can experiment with textile art and banner making.
When: 25 – 28 October, check website for the dates of each workshop. Booking is essential
Where: V&A Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Brick Dinos at the Horniman Museum
This is the last month you have to catch Brick Dinos at the Horniman Museum. Some of the largest beasts to ever walk the earth have been created in miniature form by artist Warren Elsmore and his team.
The exhibition also features rarely seen specimens from the Horniman’s stores, and a range of hands-on activities for children to enjoy including build your own dinosaur and digging for fossils. It’s the perfect place for a fun family day out.
When: Until 29 October, 2023. Advanced booking recommended.
Where: Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ; nearest station Forest Hill
The Puddle at the end of the World at the Royal Albert Hall
Aimed at children aged 6 – 12, the Puddle at the end of the World explores climate change for kids with weird weather, extraordinary extinctions and freaky flooding. The story is told through the eyes of Jamie and her Nanna whose home has disappeared under rising sea levels.
When: 24 October at 11am and 1.30pm. Book tickets in advance.
Where: The Elgar Room in the Royal Albert Hall; nearest tubes South Kensington and High Street Kensington
Track down Billy Brown of London Town
The London Transport Museum needs you this October half-term holiday!
Head to the museum in Covent Garden or the Museum Depot in Acton Town and see if you can track down Billy Brown of London Town among the historic buses and trails on display. Along the way you will discover who Billy was and how he used playful rhymes to encourage passengers to be on their best behaviour when travelling on public transport.
When: 17 October – 1 November; book tickets in advance to guarantee entry
Where: London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and the Museum Depot in Acton Town
Half Term events at the Arts Depot
There are loads of fun things taking place over the autumn half term at the Arts Depot in north London. Among the many events to enjoy is a Make Your Own Superhero! camp, a performance of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic ‘Tales from Acorn Wood’, a Pop School workshop, a comedy show by comedian and children’s author Olaf Falafel and much more.
When: Over the half-term week, take a look at the website for details.
Where: Arts Depot in North London; nearest tube Woodside Park
Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the NHM
One of my favourite exhibitions of the year opens this month at the Natural History Museum. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year opens on 13 October in its newly redesigned exhibition space that includes short videos, quotes from jury members and photographers as well as insights from museum scientists alongside the photos.
When: Opens 13 October
Where: The Natural History Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Halloween Pumpkin Trail in Belgravia
Discover spooky pumpkins among the spine-tingling Halloween displays this October half-term when you follow this family-friendly pumpkin trail among the upmarket streets of Belgravia.
When: 23 – 31 October
Where: Belgravia; more details about the trail will be revealed in October
London Literature Festival
Now in its 16th edition, the London Literature Festival is back this month at the Southbank Centre to celebrate the written and spoken word.
There are a number of family events taking place including an inspiring talk by Stuart Lawrence, brother of Steven Lawrence titled “Growing up Black in Britain”.
Other events worth marking your diary for include Rug Rhymes for songs and rhymes for under-5s, Telling Your Story that celebrates diverse children’s writers and stories, and The Best Sleepover in the World with bestselling author Jaqueline Wilson. See the website for details on these events and other family-friendly sessions taking place.
When: 18 – 29 October
Where: The Southbank Centre on the South Bank
Disney100: The Exhibition
Wave your magic wand and Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo your way to London’s ExCel Centre for Disney100: The Exhibition. Opening on 13 October, just before the half-term holidays, this is the largest exhibition of the Walt Disney Archives ever held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company.
Ten themed galleries house props, memorabilia and costumes from Disney classics such as Cinderella and Snow White as well as interactive installations involving the latest members of the Disney family. At one station for example, you can press a button and hear Moana sing.
This is a great exhibition for Disney fans (some are known to even turn up in fancy dress) although better suited to older kids as there is a lot of text and information to absorb.
When: Opens October 13 and runs into 2024
Where: London’s ExCel Centre; nearest tube station Custom House
Discover the Dark Arts at Harry Potter World
The Dark Arts is back at the Harry Potter Studio Tour inviting guests to step into the iconic sets from the film series decorated for Halloween. See if you can count all 100 pumpkins floating above a spooky feast in the Great Hall; discover the secrets behind the Riddikulus spell; join the hunt for the Dark Mark; and learn wand combat before practicing your spells on the Death Eaters.
When: 15 September – 5 November
Where: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London; nearest train station Watford Junction
Spooky Season in Hyde Park
Join in some fun Halloween-themed activities this October half term in Hyde Park, one of London’s Royal Parks. Held at the LookOut Centre, the park will be running spook-tacular Nature Roadshows and Discovery Days with a host of free themed activities.
Try bug hunting, learn about bats, take part in Halloween crafts and listen to a spooky story or two. And, if you’re brave enough, you can guess the contents of the park’s feely boxes!
When: 24 – 26 October, between 11am – 3.30pm. Free but register in advance
Where: The LookOut Centre Hyde Park; nearest tube Marble Arch
Half-Term Workshops at the Foundling Museum
Make spooky spiders, create a woven vessel, learn about playful printing or design a soft sculpture of someone who is important to you at one of the workshops taking place at Bloomsbury’s Foundling Museum.
When: 24 – 27 October; booking is essential. Tickets include free entry to the Museum.
Where: The Foundling Museum; nearest tube Kings Cross St Pancras
Pumpkin carving at the Chelsea Physic Garden
Get ready for Halloween with a pumpkin carving session at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Learn about pumpkin plants, explore the garden through autumn and then create your very own jack-o-lantern masterpiece.
When: 24 and 26 October, 1pm – 3pm. You must register to attend.
Where: Chelsea Physic Garden; nearest tube Sloane Square
Halloween Half Term at Eltham Palace and Gardens
Grab your broomsticks and get ready for a spooktacular day at Eltham Place this half term. Listen to spooky tales, solve creepy clues and be prepared for some surprises along the way!
When: 21 – 29 October
Where: Eltham Palace and Gardens; nearest train station Kingsground
Photo Credits: Depositphotos.com