With events and celebrations back with a bang all across the UK, there's no reason to be bored this October half term. With Halloween looming, there are even more spooky and magical family events than last year.


Older children may enjoy the thrill of the annual deer rut, or may want to try their hand at landscape photography at a shoot-worthy beauty spot. You'll find plenty more ideas in our guide to how to make the most of the October half term.

Spook-tacular days out

Family events have surpassed their former glory this year, and you won't have to travel far to find something impressive to put in the diary for half term. Here are some highlights:

English Heritage venues

The Beano trails: What could be more appropriate at Halloween than the king of mischief himself, Dennis the Menace? This year, 20 English Heritage properties – including Stonehenge, Whitby Abbey and Bolsover Castle – will get the Beano treatment with a family Halloween trail. Solve the creepy clues and complete the quest, and listen to some masterful tales of the supernatural, the strange and the ‘downright silly’.

Dennis the Menace Beano character as a Dracula with Gnasher and other characters as witches and mummies
Watch out for the Beano trails characters!/Credit: English Heritage

Spooky Woodland Walks: Ghost-hunting storytellers will take you on a spooky early-evening walk, recounting tales of strange goings-on and unsolved mysteries. Suitable for ages 5-12, this is at a number of venues including Audley End, Walmer Castle and Belsay Hall.

Two children and a man in a top hat make scary faces in a low-lit woodland
Join a spooky walk at several English Heritage sites in the UK./Credit: English Heritage.

Ghost tours: For ages 16+ who are brave enough, there are Ghost Tours after dark in a number of venues across the UK. Torches compulsory.

Ghost tour/Credit: English Heritage

Illuminated Whitby Abbey: See Bram Stoker's most famous character in a new light as the gothic ruins are lit up in spooky splendour.

Chatsworth Estate, Derbyshire

This year, Chatsworth is offering visitors the chance to combine pumpkin picking and carving with a full day of activities. There's spooky face-painting, Halloween crafts and a special tractor-trailer tour alongside the animal feeding and milking demonstrations. Why not stay locally and combine it with a Peak District walk the next day?

Young girls dressed as witches at Chatsworth House

Fairytale Farm, Oxfordshire

The Fairytale Farm park has taken a different spin on the Halloween tradition by creating a story around a 'sea witch'. Visit her in an enchanted lair, where she leads a 'mer-singalong' session, and try to spot her spying eels on the trail. Pick a pumpkin from the patch and carve it in the creepy crafts marquee, where you'll find lots more messy crafty fun that someone else can tidy up after you've gone. Look out for Mother Goose and her friends, trick or treating in the Haunted Wood!

The animatronic Sugar Cane Cottage has had a revamp for 2022

Fonmon Castle, Barry

This 13th-century castle is a brilliant day out for the family at any time of year, with sculpture trails, interactive story trail, medieval re-enactors and even a resident wizard. This Halloween, they've gone all out: offering a 'scare run', 'dino haunted woods’, a ‘horror farm’ where you can have your fortune told, even hiring The Ghostbusters to greet guests.

Illuminated spider in Fonmon Castle
Fonmon Castle Scare Trail 2022/Credit: Fonmon Castle

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace rarely does things by halves, and so this October half term has filled its garden with fire displays, grinning pumpkins and daring fire artists to dazzle you. Pick your way through the neon cobwebs, giant spiders and bats in the illuminated haunted woods, and discover the secret garden. Hot chocolate and marshmallow toasting is available, and hot toddies in case the temperatures drop.

Neon spiders in garden of Blenheim Palace
Halloween at Blenheim Palace./Credit: Richard Haughton/Sony Music

Go ghost-hunting at a ‘haunted’ building

Wire mesh ghost of an Edwardian man in grounds of The Treasurers House in Yorkshire
One of the new additions to this year's Ghosts in the Garden at the Treasurer's House, Yorkshire./Credit: Jo Parker/National Trust

Older teenagers may not be into dressing up any more, but they’ll love the chance to spook themselves at a ‘haunted’ location. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Treasurer's House, Yorkshire: Head to the Treasurer's House in Yorkshire where legions of marching Roman Soldiers are said to haunt the building. Until 7th November, you can also catch the free Ghosts in the Garden installation, where almost transparent characters, including an Edwardian gentleman and a Roman ghost.
  • Springhill House, Londonderry: At Springhill House, there's a kindly spirit called Olivia Lenox-Conyngham who is said to stand at the top of the stairs. She was very fond of children, and her ghost apparently often appears to the youngest visitors.
  • Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire: Take a torch-lit ghost tour at Newton House (Dinefwr) where, in 1720, Lady Elinor Cavendish was strangled to death by her angry husband. Staff report lights being switched on and off, unexplained muffled voices, pockets of cigar smoke and mysterious ‘cold spots’ throughout the house.
  • Blickling Hall, Norfolk: If you like your ‘ghosts’ with a bit of celebrity, it's worth visiting Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Not only could you catch a glimpse of Anne Boleyn – beheaded by King Henry VIII – but you could also see her father Thomas, frantically trying to cross 12 bridges before the cock crows. Sir John Falstofe, inspiration for Shakespeare's Falstaff, is also said to hang around.

Discover more of the National Trust's haunted venues at nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/our-most-haunted-places

Cast your net wider exploring Britain's most haunted places, Britain's most haunted castles and Britain's most haunted pubs.

Pick your own pumpkin, UK-wide

Sisters at a pumpkin picking at a farm in Autumn dressed in warm clothes getting ready for halloween. They are holding up pumpkins in front of their faces.
Picking your own pumpkin is a great non-commercial way to engage with the seasons at Halloween. /© SolStock/Getty Images.

Many farms have diversified into providing pumpkin patches, and you'll find hundreds throughout the UK. What you get really depends how far you want to travel: local patches may just be a simple PYO, perhaps with the chance to buy a cup of tea while the kids do a mini trail or some craft activities. Larger farms can offer pumpkin picking alongside tractor tours, kids’ rides, face-painting and more. There are too many now to list here, but a quick Google search will bring up your nearest.

Listen out for rutting deers

Deer stag in the park in autumn with turning leaves behind, green grass and looking in the camera
Listen out for the bellows of stags this autumn./©Alexander W Helin/Getty Images.

Red, sika and fallow deer begin rutting in October, when the stags fight over females by locking antlers or by rubbing them against trees. This is when you’ll hear the eerie bellowing of the males calling to the female does. The season usually lasts between 7 and 10 days but, if you’re lucky, you can catch this great wildlife spectacle at one of these deer spotting destinations. Just remember to stand well back, and keep dogs under control.

Find out more in our guide to the British deer rut.

Get your teens into photography

A teenage girl with a camera and floppy hat surveys a woodland scene
Expand your teenager's picture-taking skills./Credit:cihatatceken/Getty Images.

Autumn has merits aplenty for the photographer. Thick clouds and grey skies soften the light and the grey allows the brightness of the reds, golds and russets the perfect frame. What better time to inspire the next generation of photographers by heading out with them into the countryside to be creative with a camera that doesn't have an automatic meme generator?

See our guide to Britain's best locations for landscape photography

Go beachcombing

Woman collecting sea glass
Try collecting seaglass to make decorations and jewellery with!/Credit: Getty

With crashing waves and a chill in the air, the UK's beaches are often beautifully moody in autumn. Take a flask of hot tea and your sturdiest wellies for a spot of beachcombing. Look for polished sea glass, driftwood, mermaid's purses or unusual shells. You may even find the odd fossil.

Read our guide to the best beachcombing spots in the UK

Rainy day plans

Make a retro kite

Father and daughter playing with kite on beach
Kites were invented for windy weather. /© Peter Cade/Getty Images

Make the most of blustery weather by making and flying your own retro kite. You’ll need newspaper, sticks, glue and string. This could be a fun rainy day project and, when the sun appears, you can launch your kite and it will be extra satisfying when it eventually does take flight.

Here's how to make a retro kite

Make conker creatures

Conkers and acorns turned into little creatures using matchsticks and sticl-on eyes with pumpkins in background
Use horse chestnuts and oak acorns to make fun little creatures.

If you’re looking for a less aggressive use for your conkers than bashing them into each other, try making these little animals. All you need is a bag of stick-on eyes, some matchsticks, a screwdriver (to make holes for the legs), some wood glue and a bit of patience. You may wish to soak the conkers in water first to soften them up before ‘drilling’ them with the screwdriver, but it’s not essential.

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Alternatively, soak them in vinegar for two minutes, drill a hole all the way through, attach a string and get smashing.

Wreath on front door

Try leaf printing

Autumn leaves printed onto canvas in red yellow and white
The fragility of autumn leaves make them fun to try printing with./©oxygen/Getty Images.

Make the most of all the fallen leaves around and capture their beauty with a spot of leaf printing. Collect some of the most striking ones you can find and then cover one side of the leaf in your choice of paint before pressing onto paper or fabric. Place a sheet of paper or paper towel over the leaf, then run a roller or rolling pin over the leaf to bring out the finer details of the veins.

Here's how to make a festive leaf print card.


Main image: Children will love the English Heritage Halloween activities in 2022./Credit: English Heritage


Tanya Jackson in red checked shirt and rucksack standing by a wall with a big smile
Tanya JacksonDigital editor

Tanya Jackson is a digital editor and writer for countryfile.com. She lives in Wiltshire and loves campfire cooking, swimming in the sea, rural folklore, barn owls and walking her Welsh collie in the misty hills. Tanya also has a passion for English food and drink – although nothing tastes as good as tomato soup out of a thermos on a crisp woodland walk.