The October half-term school holidays are nearly here! There are a lot of fun activities taking place this half term for the whole family to enjoy from a Mexican fiesta at Kew Gardens and Halloween at the Tower of London to gruesome stories at the Cutty Sark and the secrets of Henry VIII’s haunted palace at Hampton Court Palace – and more!
Don’t miss this post sharing details of events taking place throughout the month of October. If it’s half-term fun that you’re after, however, then read on because this post is for you!
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.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy for more details.
You might enjoy these London posts:
- 30 brilliant things to do in London in June
- 38 fun things to do in London for the May half term
- Mamma Mia! The Party: How to have the time of your life
- We’ve found the 21 best breakfasts in London for you
- The 17 best beaches near London by train 2023 (+ map)
Shows at the Polka Theatre
There are a handful of fun shows taking place at the Polka Theatre this half term including Tutankhamen’s Shoes, Little Manfred and Oldilocks and the 3 Bears.
When: Various dates over the October half term, check the website for details
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: 28-30 October
Where: ExCel London, nearest tube
The King of Nothing at the Little Angel Theatre
This puppet musical is a re-telling of the story by Hans Christian Andersen of the Emperor’s New Clothes and involves songs, puppetry, slapstick and plenty of laughter.
For younger children (aged 3-6) the Little Angel Theatre’s Miniature Travelling Circus is taking to the stage until 13 November with beautiful puppetry, nostalgic magic tricks and much more.
When: The King of Nothing runs 7 October – 20 November; The Miniature Travelling Circus runs from 7 October – 13 November.
Where: Little Angel Theatre, Islington; nearest tube Angel and Highbury and Islington
Science Fiction: Voyage to the edge of imagination at the Science Museum
Blast off into space on a spaceship in a unique story-led exhibition that examines visions of the future through science and science fiction, encountering authentic items from science fiction films, TV series and literature as well as scientific objects that have shaped modern life.
When: Opens 6 October – 4 May 2023
Where: The Science Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Peppa Pig Halloween Bus Tour
The Peppa Pig afternoon tea on board Brigit’s double-decker bus is always a hit and this October half term you can enjoy a Halloween themed ride. Enjoy the best views of Central London as you watch a Peppa Pig guided animation of the London tour on a tablet at your table. Singalong to songs, enjoy yummy treats and take an activity book home with you.
When: 20 – 23 October and 28-31 October 2022
Where: Departs from Somerset House
Escape to Mexico at Kew Gardens
Bringing a big dash of colour to Kew Gardens this month is the new Mexico installation taking place across the Temperate House. Artist’s and horticultural installations by renowned Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero, designer Fernando Laposse and UK award winning garden designer Jon Wheatley have been designed to reflect the beauty and colour of Mexico.
Make sure to take a look at the Mexico Family Fiesta taking place over the October half term too.
When: 1 – 31 October
Where: Kew Gardens; nearest tube Kew Gardens
Halloween At The Tower of London
Time to coincide with the October half-term holiday and Halloween in London is the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the Tower’s most infamous prisoners.
Listen very carefully and you’ll hear the whispers and mutterings of Walter Raleigh brewing deadly elixirs, or the menacing tales of George, Duke of Clarence and Everard Digby who spent their final days within these ancient walls.
When: 22 – 31 October
Where: The Tower of London; nearest tube Tower Hill; included in admission price
Cutty Sark Gruesome Stories
Taking place over the half-term holidays is a fun Halloween-themed storytelling adventure on board what was once the world’s fastest tea clipper. Uncover the creepy elements of the ship’s history, sing a revolting sea shanty and hear the spooky tale of Nanny the witch – and more!
When: 25 – 27 October
Where: The Cutty Sark; nearest transport Greenwich station, Cutty Sark DLR, Maze Hill station; included in admission price
Horrible Histories The Terrible Thames
The good news is that the Terrible Thames is sailing into October with more fun along the River Thames. This guided tour along the river is a wonderful way to see some of the city’s major attractions including the London Eye and Tower Bridge, learn fun London facts and laugh…a lot! The boat tour takes 45 minutes. Read more about the Terrible Thames tour here.
When: Daily sailings through October half term
Where: Departs from Tower Bridge Quay; nearest station Tower Hill
Tree Treasure Hunt workshop at Morden Hall Park
Go on an autumn treasure hunt in the park for natural materials to make an autumn story kit at Morden Hall Park this half-term. A great way to get kids outside and connected with nature this autumn.
Modern Hall Park are running some other activities this half term including an Autumn Tale Trail and a family wander.
When: 24 and 25 October
Where: Morden Hall Road, Morden, London, SM4 5JD; the easiest way to get here is by car.
Top Trumps Trail at London Zoo
Take on ZSL London Zoo’s Halloween-themed Top Trumps trail this October half term break. All you have to do is pick up a card at the zoo entrance and then head off in search of zoo residents and giant Halloween Top Trumps cards.
When: 22 – 31 October; included in admission price
Where: ZSL London Zoo; nearest tube
ELMER and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee
Opening in time for the October half term at the Horniman Museum is the first ever major retrospective of David McKee and his colourful patchwork elephant, Elmer.
The Elmer books have sold over 10 million copies worldwide since they were first published in 1989. This exhibition celebrates the much-loved elephant with illustrations, original artwork, a dressing up area a giant magnetic Elmer game and more.
When: 21 October – 16 April 2023
Where: Horniman Museum; nearest train station Forest Hill
Halloween at Hampton Court Palace
Tiptop through the dark winding corridors and courtyards, see eerie portraits come to life and hear voices from beyond the grave when you visit Henry VIII’s haunted palace this half term. Don’t worry though, this Halloween event is definitely family-friendly.
When: 22 – 30 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.
Plus, the much-loved Pumpkin Market is back and will take place on the West Piazza from 29 – 31 October. It’s not quite a pumpkin patch but it does have over 200 pumpkins, squash and gourds on display!
When: 29 – 31 October
Where: Covent Garen West Piazza; nearest tube Covent Garden and Leicester Square
Family Events at the V&A Museum
The V&A Museum has a number of themed activities on offer this half term to tie in with its new exhibition Re:Imagining Musicals. Build a prop, create a digital character for the stage and design and create 3D garment and accessories.
When: Various dates over the half-term holiday; some are drop-in events and others are paid for events. Check the website for details.
Where: V&A Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Secrets of the City at the London Transport Museum
Discover a hidden side to the city this half term at the London Transport Museum with a fun range of family-friendly events. Discover London’a nocturnal wildlife and some of the weird and wonderful jobs on the transport network through a series of activities and workshops.
When: 22 – 30 October, all day; included in admission
Where: The London Transport Museum; nearest tube Leicester Square and Covent Garden
A pirate party on Go Boat
Arr, me hearties! This half term set sail on the high seas – or rather Regent’s Canal – with GoBoat. Dress up in your best pirate gear and test your knowledge on the water as you attempt to solve 8 riddles. Answer them correctly and you will find the treasure!
When: 15 – 31 October
Where: Go Boat departing from Merchant Square; nearest tube Edgware Road and Paddington.
Room on the Broom at the ArtsDepot
Taking place at the ArtsDepot in North Finchley this half term holiday is Room on the Broom. This much loved tale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s is brought to life in this live show guaranteed to please children of all ages.
When: 22 – 27 October
Where: The Arts Depot, North Finchley: nearest tube
Halloween at Harry Potter World
The Dark Arts is back at the 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; follow the dark mark throughout the studio; and learn wand combat before practicing your spells on the Death Eaters.
When: Until Sunday 6 November
Where: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London; nearest train station Watford Junction
Hair-Raising Halloween in Hyde Park
Join in some fun Halloween-themed activities in Hyde Park this half-term at the LookOut Centre. Guess the gruesome contents of the park’s feely boxes, explore the eerie nature trail, listen to a spooky story and learn all about the brilliant bats that call the park home.
When: 25 October, 11am – 3pm; free
Where: The LookOut Centre Hyde Park; nearest tube Marble Arch
Half-Term Workshops at the Foundling Museum
Design a museum for the future, create a Halloween lantern or take a trip to the future and create your very own animated time machine at one of the workshops taking place at Bloomsbury’s Foundling Museum.
When: 24 – 28 October; booking is essential. Tickets include free entry to the Museum.
Where: The Foundling Museum; nearest tube Kings Cross St Pancras
Activities at the National Maritime Museum
There are lots of activities taking place this half term at the National Maritime Museum, all inspired by light. Celebrate Diwali on 22 October, make shadow creations inspired by shadow puppetry from across Asia, create colourful rangoli and more.
When: 22 – 30 October; book free museum tickets in advance
Where: National Maritime Museum; nearest rail stations are Greenwich and Maze Hill.
London Literature Festival
Now in its 15th 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 Voices in Action, which explores how young voices really can change things, and a fun doodling session with author and illustrator Liz Pichon. And more! Check the website for details.
When: 20 – 30 October
Where: The Southbank Centre
Halloween events at the Chelsea Physic Garden
There are lots of fun Halloween events and family activities taking place at London’s very own secret garden, The Chelsea Physic Garden. From Halloween pumpkin carving and a broomstick workshop to a Wild Immersive Theatre event, ‘Hunt for the Lost Dragon Egg.’
When: Various dates over the October half term, check website for details. Advance booking necessary.
Where: Chelsea Physic Garden; nearest tube Sloane Square
Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum
One of my favourite exhibitions of the year opens this month at the Natural History Museum. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year opens on 14 October in a 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 14 October
Where: The Natural History Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Halloween Half Term at Eltham Palace and Gardens
Little monsters (and big ones) will have a spooktacular day at Eltham Place this half0term. Follow, Dennis, Gnasher and friends to solve creepy clues on this treasure hunt around the gardens. Look out for the costumed performers as they share tall tales and fun stories.
When: 22 – 30 October
Where: Eltham Palace and Gardens; nearest train station Mottingham railway station.
Photo Credits: Depositphotos.com