Halloween, half term and all that …

Image above: Halloween; photograph by Ljubima Woods

Ghouls and ghosts, pumpkins and the paranormal

If you are looking for Halloween things to do with the kids, there are activities at Syon Park and Osterley Park. If you are prepared to travel a bit further, Hobbledown Heath in Surrey is going all out, as is Hampton Court and the Wetland Centre in Barnes, with ‘eek week’. You can also pick your own pumpkins.

Sadly, Chiswick House does not have a repeat of the magnificent event it held last year, where a large part of the gardens was given over to ghosts and ghouls, pumpkins and the paranormal, but there are plenty of other places with Halloween activities for children.

Image above: Zoolab’s ‘Creepy Critters’

Syon House

Syon House in Isleworth offers ‘Creepy Critters’ and a spooky Halloween family trail. Zoolab are back with their animal handling sessions, but this time they promise creatures which are ‘hairier and scarier!’

In the house itself, meet costumed characters in the ‘rotten underbelly of the house ‘ and hear tales of ‘gory guts, disgusting gravy and a sinister tale of gunpowder and plot.

Wednesday 25 / Thursday 26 / Friday 27 October.

Creepy Critters, Syon Park

Image above: Osterley Park Halloween trail

Osterley Park

Osterley Park offers a Family Halloween trail through the park from 14 – 29 October. The King wants the Monster Hunter to capture the monsters in the woods. As you follow the tale of the Monster Hunter you will find a number of activities along the way.

Pumpkin carving  27 – 29 October takes place in the Stables Walled Garden between 11am and 3pm.

Halloween trail, Osterley Park

Image above: Halloween at Hobbledown Heath 

Hobbledown Heath

Hobbledown Heath, at Staines Road, Hounslow, TW14 0HH, describes itself as ‘London’s largest adventure playground’. There is a pumpkin trail where you look for hidden letters to make a secret word. Work it out and you can pick up a sweet treat at the end. There is a fancy dress monster ball, spooky science workshops, Halloween shows and storytelling sessions.


Images above: Halloween at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court

Explore Henry VIII’s notoriously haunted palace at Hampton Court. ‘As you tiptoe through the dark winding corridors and courtyards, you’ll feel the chilling presence of our infamous ghosts hiding around every corner. Some may even be closer than you expect, but keep your distance – these ghosts are best kept to the past.’

Watch as portraits come to life in the Gallery of the Damned and enter the Council Chamber to take part in a spine-tingling séance.


Image above: Drawing by Quentin Blake to publicise autumn at the London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a great day out at any time of the year but they always put on a special effort in school holidays. For ‘eek-week’ (21 – 29 October) they have put together an interactive trail. They ask: ‘Will you dare to put your hand in an eel box, grab a photo op with a bat, or listen out for the croak of a toad?’ It’s a ‘weirdly wild day out’ for the whole family. Activities include pond dipping and potion making, as well as the usual daily otter feeding.


Image above: Children exploring the London Museum of Water and Steam

London Museum of Water and Steam

Not a Halloween event as such, but the London Museum of water and Steam has recast its educational sessions about the kinds of bugs which live in water as ‘mini monsters’ to get in on the act. They have a ‘Soggy Science Show’ for October half term, as well as their usual storytelling and craft sessions.


Image above: Pumpkins growing at Crockford Bridge Farm

Pick your own pumpkins

There are a few places in Surrey where you can go to pick your own pumpkins.

Crockford Bridge Farm

Crockford Bridge Farm at New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU offers pumpkin picking and a ‘sausage fest’ from 30 September to 15 October (closed Mondays). You do need to book.

When the picking is over, the Pumpkin Festival begins, involving jugglers, mime, dancers, stilt walkers and an aerialist. Throughout half term week (20 – 29 October) there are vintage fairground games and rides to try, pumpkin displays and arty installations, pumpkin carving sessions and fancy dress, with a prize for the best costume.


Image above: Garson Farm

Garson Farm

Garson Farm at Winterdown Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS offers pick your own fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Book online for a pumpkin pass to pick your own any day between 7 and 31 October.


Image above: Secretts Farm pumpkin season

Secretts of Milford

Secretts of Milford at Hurst Farm, Chapel Lane, Milford, Surrey GU8 5HU is also offering pumpkin picking during half term week. They offer activity sheets for children to take part in a scavenger hunt, hot drinks and snacks throughout half term week, 21 – 29 October, including pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and spicy pumpkin cake.


Image above: The lake at Chiswick House, Halloween 2022; photograph Ljubima Woods

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