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Family ideas for the autumn half term

Days Out

Family ideas for the autumn half term

Even if rainy days limit the chances of getting to the park to kick leaves and collect conkers, there’s plenty of fun to be had at London’s museums, arts venues and theatres this half term.

Big Draw, Oct 22, 23

The national festival of children’s art is the inspiration for a number of great half term activities, including a series of FREE events on Friday Oct 22 and Saturday Oct 23 along the south side of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Explore architecture, design and stained glass, frame the city skyline, or get close to Quentin Blake’s mural and create your own character… 11am-5pm.


Half term at Museum of London Docklands, Oct 25-31

There is a range of events throughout the week, and entry to the museum is free for adults as well as children. Special activities for under-5s include Big Draw events (Mon 25), and storytelling ‘Tricks and Tales’ (Thur 28). On Tuesday 26 there is a storytelling session for over-5s, and craft workshops based on Black History Month and the museum’s London, Sugar & Slavery exhibition on Wednesday 27, and over the weekend.


Half Term Bompas & Parr's chewing gum factory



Bompas & Parr Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory, Oct 25-31

This wonderful duo have created all manner of food and drink related ‘art installations’ in recent years, including flooding an office block with punch… At Whiteleys this half term they have set up a clandestine workshop where children can learn how to create their own secret-recipe gum. Sessions cost £2.50 per person and are due to run 10am-6pm. There are bookable on the day, but it’s worth calling ahead (0207 229 8844) to check how they’re running.


The Insect Circus, Oct 27-31

A charming and colourful alternative to the holiday season show, The Insect Circus comes to Jacksons Lane theatre in Highgate, with a range of wonderful old-fashion human circus acts played out by mayflies, mantids and mites, along with the odd ladybird. (All humans in beautiful costumes of course, before you call Rentokil.) 12noon and 3.30pm shows Wed, Thur and Sun; 3.30pm and 7.30pm shows Fri and Sat.


Light Up Your Life, Oct 26-29

At the Geffrye Museum the way we have lived and what our homes have looked like over centuries is at the centre of what can be explored. This half term all kinds of lighting – candles to lamps, gas-lighting included – are the inspiration for marking the festive season from Halloween to Hanukkah, fireworks to Christmas. Workshops are free but booked on a first come first served basis.


Half Term - The Rpyal Albert Hall close encounters



Close Encounters at Royal Albert Hall, Oct 25-31

There are all kinds of events including many family-friendly activities across two weeks, devoted to science and our understanding of the Universe. These include a free exhibition, From Earth to the Universe (Oct 20-Nov 4), Family Ignite music sessions (Oct 25), and 
a Make a Crater workshop for 9- to 14-year-olds (Oct 26).




Half term in Holland Park, Oct 25-29

There are lots of inspiring ecological and wildlife activities and crafts with an outdoor focus at this west London park.


Carters Steam Fair, Oct 23-31

If you missed this lovely old-fashioned and rather gentle travelling funfair when it toured London during the summer months, this is your chance for retro thrills on the merry go round and the helter skelter. It’s not cheap, but it’s perfect for smaller children and looks beautiful. Located at Battersea Park SW11, open daily 11am-6pm.

half term Horrible Histories Terrible Trenches



Horrible Histories: Terrible Trenches, until Oct 31

If you have a child who is fascinated by history or has been charmed by Terry Deary’s excellent books and the television series they inspired, get along to the Imperial War Museum. A thoughtful space, this is one of London’s best museums for all ages, and the evocative but family-friendly Terrible Trenches exhibition ends Sunday Oct 31.


Cartooning and Animation Workshops, Oct 23-30

A busy programme of activities and workshops for children (8+) who want to hone their drawing skills. Highlights include a chance to meet Axel Scheffler (whose work includes illustrating ‘The Gruffalo’) on Oct 23.

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