These events have now passed – follow the link to the Local Events Listings for current ideas for Half Term here
For the updated 2019 post for half term and Halloween click here
What’s On Guide to Autumn Half Term Events and Activities 2017
The West Country starts to hibernate in the autumn, but half term brings the last burst of energy as our local tourist attractions pull out the stops to keep the visitors happy. There’s plenty for locals as well who don’t want to spend too much on keeping children entertained. So read on for my round up of things to do in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
All the large tourist attractions have activities on which I have summarised at the end. First though here are some of the less well known events. Have fun planning!
Honiton – A Night at the Museum
The Thelma Hulbert Gallery organises some lovely activities for children.
Head along after hours for a spooky Halloween party to celebrate the national Museums at Night festival.
Get up close to lizards, snakes and spiders. Enjoy spooky art activities and facepainting.
Hot Chocolate for Little Trick-or-Treaters, wood-fired pizzas & caribbean food, music and bar.
5 – 9pm (art activities till 8pm). Free admission and art activities, pay bar and food. Directions and more here.
East Devon Countryside Events
Mud Walk – Wrap up warm go exploring with the Education Ranger. Dig for Esturine worms, fish for shrimp and discover what is living in the mud of the Exe estuary!
Tree Trail: 7th – 30th October. Follow the trail around the Wetlands to discover and learn about trees on the nature reserve. £2 per map. Suitable for buggies except for some small sections
Halloween Crafts: Thursday 26th October. 10am – 12 noon. Join the rangers for Halloween Crafts using natural materials. No need to book. £3 per child. More details click here Check out my previous blog post on Seaton Wetlands so learn more.
Halloween Crafts: Wednesday 25th October. 2pm – 4pm. Join the rangers for Halloween Crafts using natural materials. No need to book. £3 per child.
Halloween fun, crafts and activities all over half term. Also take a look at the after school and weekend activities held at the centre. Find out all about what’s on Seaton Jurassic here.
Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens
For a different view on the gardens you can explore the subtropical gardens at Abbotsbury at night where sections will be beautifully lit up. Open from Thursday 12th October until Weds 25th October from dusk until 8.30pm
Halloween Fright Nights
Free face painting (scary faces). . Meet the Bugs and stay for the Bug show and do not miss scary wounds surgery. Join the fun by dressing up and prepare to be both ‘tricked and treated!’ Thursday 26th October – Saturday 28th October 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Check on the Abbotsbury website for entrance and advance ticket details. A standard garden ticket allows access during the day and also covers the Enchanted Illuminations event if visited on the same day. Normal admission applies, except to the 3 Halloween family fright nights when a different charge applies.
Ferne Animal Sanctuary near Chard
This is a great local place to support. The theme this half term at Ferne Animal Sanctuary will be “Black Cats & Bats” as they try to dispel the myth that black cats are unlucky and highlight bats amazing abilities and value.
There will be craft activities on offer, including decorating your own cat bowl to take home, making natural cat toys and making bat finger puppets.
There will also be a trail around the Sanctuary – ‘The Tale of the Black Cat that Lost its Tail’, with clues along the way that will help you to complete the tale and find the cat’s tail.
Take your own carved pumpkins to the Sanctuary and enter the competition for the best carving.
Afterward, our resident animals will be able to enjoy the pumpkins as part of their enrichment. 23 Oct – 29 Oct 10am – 5pm Entrance £4.95 Adult £2.00 Child (age 3–16) £12.00 for a family of two adults and up to three children or purchase the very reasonable annual pass to help fund the upkeep of the Santuary Ferne is suitable for buggys and wheelchairs with a cafe on site, making it a great family place to visit More details click here.
Yeovil Country Park
Wonderful Woodlands in Yeovil
Saturday, October 21 11am – 3:00 PM
Explore the wonderful woodlands of Yeovil Country Park. There will be free activities for all ages. A woodland trail, arts and crafts activities, identification sessions, forest school fun and a ranger of other activities and information to help you discover woodlands and their wildlife, and have an enjoyable day out.
Free event – no need to book just turn up. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Friday, October 27th
Experience blood curdling Ninesprings Halloween trail this horrifying half term! Follow the pumpkin markers through the haunting woods and collect the missing letters from the witches spell. Help her complete the wicked spell to conjure up a prize.
This is a self- led trail and there is an adventurous pushchair/short trail available. Turn up anytime between 11.00am – 2.00pm. Last entry at 2.00pm. The trail takes approx. 1 hour to complete. No need to book just turn up. Cost £2.00 per child.
More details on both these events and directions at the South Somerset Countryside website.
Pick Your Own Pumpkins
I really like this idea but have to admit there are not many places that offer it. I guess it requires a lot of land and time to grow the pumpkins just for one week of the year. Here are the ones I know of in the South West plus a helpful link to the rest of the UK
Pick Your Own Party near Christchurch in Dorset
The Cat & Fiddle Farm is near Christchurch on the edge of The New Forest. Over half term there’s a pumpkin patch to explore, fun pumpkin picking & carving, music, food & drink, stalls & games and a bouncy castle.
Tickets are £5 per adult, £2.50 per child (up to 16yrs) or £10 for 2 adults & 2 children. Entry includes one pumpkin per person. For more details click onto Dan Tanner’s website
Pumpkin Fest at Lifton Farm Shop (West Devon just off the A30)
With PYO pumpkin fields. All homegrown from seed there are over 15,000 pumpkins to choose from – all different sizes, shapes and colours! With easy access from the farm shop you can take a wheelbarrow to help you along the way. Once you have chosen your very own pumpkin head back to a Creation Time session. Complete with your very own pumpkin carving kit to keep and plenty of craft supplies you can leave the mess with us but go home with your decorated pumpkin ready for the 31st!
Bailey Ridge Garden Centre nr Sherborne
This one I don’t know much about but worth a look if you are nearby or call to check what’s left –Facebook link. There’s a Twilight Pumpkin Pick on Thursday 26th & Friday 27th October from 5pm until 7pm in the evening. Refreshments will be available in the cafe during pumpkin picking. Dress up in costume if you wish.
Half Term Events at Many Other Local Attractions
Click on the links in orange to open their half term activity pages. These places have an admission fee and some charge extra for the activities so please check first.
Seaton Tramway – Halloween Tram of Terror with spooky entertainment and games
Crealy Adventure Park – spooky rides, Scooby Do (24th & 28th Oct) and free pumpkins. Also firework displays on 28th & 29th October. We went last year and it was great.
Powderham Castle – Festival of Frights – games, crafts and potion making show in the Old Stable.
World of Country Life – Halloween treasure trail, arts and crafts plus Angus and the Witch theatre show.
Axe Valley Wildlife Park – meet Willemena the Witch and try ghoulish guinea pig fishing!
Forde Abbey – take part in the haunted trail and have a go at pumpkin rolling
Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary – great value day out (free entry) Halloween Trail and pumpkin carving £3 each
Wildwood Escot – see if you can spot the wolves and join in the fun activities in the Saxon Village
National Trust – most of our wonderful National Trust locations have something on for Halloween. If you are already a member this makes for a great value day out. It would be another whole post to list them all so please follow the link to find out more in your area.
– I’m exhausted just thinking about all this. Of course there’s plenty of fun to be had walking on the beach or in the woods to find conkers and kick leaves. Take a look at my ideas for walks in the East Devon and Dorset Area.
Remember kids don’t really need expensive days out to have fun. We always used to have a little Halloween party – get the kids involved in planning ghoulish food and drinks for friends and make your own Halloween trail around the garden hiding treats. Apple bobbing and doughnuts hanging off a string is still lots of fun!
Have a great half term and please leave some feedback in the comments below if you would like to. Look out soon for my guide to all the local Fireworks displays!