Spark creative energy this half-term

The school holiday coincides with Halloween... spooky! Here are some fun ideas to keep the young ones entertained, from ghost tours, teddy tales, adventure trails and ideas that will suit to a tee

Friday, 20th October 2017

Half term_King's Cross_photo Nicole Guarino

Expect the unexpected on the Halloween Parade at King’s Cross. PHOTO: Nicole Guarino

Halloween Parade and Party + free events all week

Though the nights are drawing-in, October half-term can be a great time to get out and about and explore. This holiday, King’s Cross will be a place of magic and mayhem, with special performances, cookery classes and workshops. What’s more, activities are open to all. Top picks include a Halloween Parade and Party. King’s Cross will be visited by witches, wizards and giant spiders! Enrol at Wizard School at the Skip Garden. Canopy Market will have food workshops and amazing half-term theatre performances from Buildy Uppy. Jon Hicks will dazzle with lightning-speed painting, and you can even bake your own Halloween cookies!
• The Halloween parade starts at 6pm on Tuesday October 31 at the Birdcage, Battle Bridge Place, just outside the stations.
The party continues 6.30- 8pm pm at Granary Square. Visit for more details of all events


Boo at the Zoo
October 21-31
London Zoo, Regent’s Park, NW1

Emperor Tamarin celebrating Halloween. PHOTO: © ZSL

A “spooktacular week of events” is on offer at ZSL London Zoo this Halloween half term. Boo at the Zoo promises a week of “frightful fun”, with an array of “fang-tastic activities”. New for 2017, visitors can embark on an Extinction Trail, with avid explorers tasked with finding six extinct species hidden around the zoo, to be in with a chance of winning a prize, or join a Ghost Tour of ZSL London Zoo, which will have the whole family howling with delight. Creative critters can head to the Bat Cave to make mysterious masks or carve out creepy pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch. Brave souls can attend Halloween Story Telling to listen to terrifying tales told by spooky storytellers and find out how nature bites back at Halloween-themed animal talks. Youngsters can enrol in the zoo’s Ghoul School, and can dress up as their favourite Halloween character, learn how to “cast a spell”, try their hand at mummy-wrapping, before showing off their devilish disco moves at the Pumpkin Party. Those with a flair for creepy creativity can take part in Spooky Arts and Crafts as well as put on an extra brave face for truly hairy encounters with some of the animals famous for haunting Halloween, including rats and owls.
The Halloween week runs from Saturday October 21 to Tuesday October 31 with Boo at the Zoo activities taking place from 11am-3.30pm. Book online at Normal entry charges to ZSL London Zoo apply (online family offers available at


Memories of Teddy Bears
Saturday October 21-Friday October 27
All ages, drop-in activities and ticketed workshops

The museum is stuffed with bears this half-term!

CARE Bears, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh and more…the museum is stuffed with teddies! Discover bears with amazing stories in the collection, create your own soft toys, share memories of favourite cuddly toys, learn about the history of teddy bears and enjoy lots of free crafts, including Care Bear origami.
Meet Cheer Bear! (October 24 and 26, 11am-2.30pm). Cheer Bear will be making special visits to the museum this half term. Stop by to say hello!
Make a Teddy Bear Workshop (October 21 and 22, 2-4pm, 120 minutes). A step-by-step workshop to create your very own teddy bear. Work with maker Emma Skinmore to complete a bespoke teddy bear to take home. £15 per child, age 8+.
Care Bears’ Colourful Picnic Workshop (October 23-27, 10.30am, 12noon, 12pm, 3.30 (60 minutes). Where would you take your favourite cuddly toys for a picnic? Create a colourful, miniature teddy bears’ picnic scene with illustrator Amy Brown. £5 per child, Age 4+.
Your Critter Friend Workshop (October 23 and 24, 10.40am, 12.30pm, 2.40pm (80 minutes). Get inspiration from our cuddly toy collection to create your own upcycled toy. Maker Cherene Hamilton will help you design and create your new critter friend. £7 per child, age 6+.
Toy Memories: Photography Workshop (October 25-27 October. 10.40am, 12.30pm, 2.40pm (80 minutes). Do you have special memories of your favourite toy? Explore the memories the toys in the museum hold with artist photographer Marysa Dowling, a mixture of making and photography workshop. £7 per child, Age 6+.
Children must be accompanied by adults during the workshop. At least 1 adult per 4 children, but no more than 1 adult per 1 child. Please note that younger children cannot be accommodated in the workshop room without tickets.
• V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA. Open daily 10am-5.45pm. Admission free. To book: 020 8983 5200,


Half term with Paddington
October 21-29, 11am-4pm

Paddington 2 inspires events during half term

To coincide with the release of Paddington 2, the Museum of London is holding daily events and a small display celebrating the well-mannered bear, including original costumes and props from the new film.
Paddington trail (October 21-29, 10am). Everyday over half term, take part in a free trail and experience Paddington’s adventure. Follow in his footsteps and explore the museum through his eyes. Suggested ages: 5+ Trail, free, drop in.
Storybook London with Katherine Woodfine (October 23) Children’s author Katherine Woodfine celebrates the rich history of children’s stories inspired by London in this engaging talk for families. From classics like Paddington and One Hundred and One Dalmatians to fantasy re-imaginings of the city, she’ll take you on a journey through the London of children’s literature. What are your favourite books about London? Tell Katherine and her listeners, as she records this talk for children’s books radio show and podcast Down The Rabbit Hole. Suggested age: 5+. Free, drop-in.
Karen Bond storytelling (October 25) Karen Bond will be sharing her memories and stories about growing up with Paddington and some fun facts about the new film. She will also host a book reading of her favourite Paddington story. Suggested age: 5+. Free, drop-in.
Night Owls Halloween sleepover (Friday October 27, 6pm) What happens in the museum once the doors close for the night? Trick-or-treat your way around the galleries, solve a spooky crime by torchlight with the help of a mysterious character and help us tell some ghostly tales from Victorian London. Bed down in the museum galleries, before a bright and early light breakfast and a family friendly film in the morning. Suggested ages: 7-11. Family, late, £60 per person
• Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN. Free. Open daily 10am-6pm.


Home Thoughts
Free autumn half-term activities for children aged 2-16 (Tuesday October 25-Friday October 27, 10.30am-4pm)

Homes workshop at the Geffrye Museum

Explore how we make, keep and spend our time at home. Make luminous light sculptures, bedroom name signs, tote bags, board games and more – or use digital magic to make objects come alive! See the website for full details of the daily programme of work­shops and timings. Holiday activities are for children aged 2-16 and are free for individuals and their families. Work­shop places allocated on a first-come first-served basis 30 minutes in advance. Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, E2 8EA. Nearest station Hoxton Overground (directly behind museum).


University of London

Tales from Papyri – Family-friendly reading (Thursday October 26, 2-4pm. Pre-book.) The ancient Egyptian tale of The Shipwrecked Sailor is filled with adventure, magic, and a monstrous serpent. A reading for a family audience.
 Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology UCL Culture, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT, open Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5pm, 020 7679 4138,


Family workshops

Getting messy making clay angels

The Foundling Museum is offering several free workshops suitable for children aged 5+ over half-term. Create Majestic Georgian Angel Wings (October 24, three 90-minute sessions, free for children and up to two accompanying adults) with feathers and collage, inspired by a painting in the collection; Make Life-Size Dolls’ Clothes (October 25, three 90-minute sessions, free for children and up to two adults) in 18-th century style; join a workshop to make Glorious Clay Angels (Octo­ber 26); and in Token Messages (October 27) discover the stories behind the tokens left with babies brought to the Foundling Hospital, and create a token for a loved one. All workshops are suitable for the 5+ age, and are free for children and up to two accompanying adults).
• Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ, open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 11am-5pm, 020 7841 3600,


Festival of Film

Enjoy classic moments from Walt Disney’s original 1940 Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 on the big screen, accompanied by live music from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (October 23, 1.30pm and 6.30pm). Comedy fantasy The Addams Family (1991) is given a world premiere screening with a live orchestra on October 26 (7pm). On October 25 young visitors are invited to sail away with a full symphony orchestra, navigating stormy seas and surviving a shipwreck in My Great Orchestral Adventure (1pm and 4pm).
• Full details of events presented by the Royal Albert Hall at:


Royal Albert Hall
Symphonic Star Wars
October 29, 3pm

This Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert is packed full of favourite Star Wars themes, amid a dazzling light show.


Celebrating Bernstein
Saturday November 4 , 2.30-3.30pm, Barbican Hall

The London Symphony Orchestra presents its first Family Concert of the season, celebrating 100 years since the birth of West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein. The concert is hosted by American conductor Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein was president of the LSO from 1987-90 and was well-known for his Young People’s concerts with the New York Philharmonic (1958-72). The concert features excerpts from the composer’s best loved scores West Side Story and On the Town, and ticket-holders are able to join in free pre-concert musical activities in the Barbican foyers.
• Suitable for families with children aged 7+. Tickets £5 under-18s; £10-£15 adults. Full details at


PARASOL unit foundation for contemporary art
The Spaces In Between

Creative printmaking at Parasol unit

Youth workshop with artist educator Sarah Pimenta from Social Fabric. Monday October 23 and Tuesday October 24, 10am-2pm, £45.
Are you a budding young artist eager to experiment with exciting materials? If so, why not try Parasol unit’s two-day workshop inspired by the works of American artist Martin Puryear. Learn how to work with print blocks and the special print­making technique Chine-collé, as used by the artist. At the end, create an imaginative group sculpture using inventive household objects. Suitable for ages 10-14.
• Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, 14 Wharf Road, N1 7RW,


The Gruffalo
October 24-29. Ages 3+

Half-term events at the Arts Depot include Tall Stories’ magical adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book The Gruffalo, with songs, laughs and scary fun. Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the party mad Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there? See the website for details of other half-term events.
•Arts Depot, 5 Nether Street, North Finchley, N12 0GA, 020 8396 5454,


Kids Go Free!

Fab news for Arsenal fans: until October 31, kids go free on all Self-Guided Audio Tours of the Emirates Stadium. Explore behind-the-scenes the famous club using audio visual guide handsets. The offer is valid for 1 free child when accompanied by 1 full paying adult. No need to book online, just quote “kids go free” when purchasing tickets at the Stadium Tours desk (excludes Matchday and Legends Tours).


Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin
October 31-November 2.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin, coming to Sadler’s Wells

Book now for this family treat of a magic carpet ride into a spectacular world of stunning special effects and beautiful choreography in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Aladdin – coming to Sadler’s Wells, with live music from Bafta award-winning composer Carl Davis.
• Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN, 020 7863 8000,


Coronet Print Room
December 6-10
In Winter’s Tales, famous names will take to the stage, with a different performer each evening reading a story of their choosing.  Includes Mel Giedroyc, Emeli Sandé, Penelope Wilton, Ben Okri and Toby Stephens.
• www.the-print-room.orgtheatre/autumn-winter-2017-season/winters-tales/


ACTIVE children make for happy children 

Here are a few activities you can bet your little ones will be so engrossed by they hardly notice they are getting some exercise…

A hole lot of fun at Alexandra Palace

• It has the best views of any tee-off surely in London – and the Pitch & putt course at Alexandra Palace offers a great way to spend a happy few hours outdoors (depending on your skill, of course). A nine iron and putter are provided from the club house to hep you get round this great 10-hole course. Pitch & Putt, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Open Monday-Friday 10am until dusk; Saturday and Sunday 9am until dusk, 01245 257682,


It’s crazy, it’s footgolf. PHOTO: FIFG

• If your children are more interested in football than golf, you can combine the two at the Tudor Park “Footgolf” course. Based in Barnet, it’s an 18 hole course where you use a football and your feet instead of a golfball and a club to tackle the course. It’s a brilliant test of strength and skill and suitable for all ages. The Tudor Park Footgolf Course, Clifford Road, Barnet EN5 5NY. Open Monday-Friday 10.30am until 1 hour before dusk; Saturday and Sunday 10am until 1 hour before dusk,


There’s a buzz about urban bees at the Skip Garden
• The Skip Garden in King’s Cross is an amazing oasis in the heart of Camden. Created on land being redeveloped as part of Argent’s masterplan for the neighbourhood, it is an urban farm with fantastic food and incredible courses run by charity, Global Generation. On Thursday (October 26, 11.30am), you can join the team for an Urban Bees tour to visit their secret apiary and learn all about bees and bee keeping – and taste a range of delicious London produced honey, and hear how the wider King’s Cross development has planted a range of special plants that these extraordinary creatures love. The Skip Garden and Skip Garden Kitchen are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am-4pm, with lunch service from 12-2pm. See full details at

Get inspired by urban art
• Arm yourselves with a bag of spray paints and head down to Leake Street, beneath Waterloo Station. It’s a huge space where some of the city’s best artists let their imaginations run riot. Go and be inspired – and find a little space at the southern end of the tunnel which is a little bit of a free for all and let your children create something for themselves. Just make sure you don’t spray over any works in progress by established artists – it is pretty obvious where you can let your own arty instincts let loose.


A sense of adventure

Walking shoes on, stride out and make discoveries!

THE words “put your shoes on, we are going for a walk” may strike terror in to the heart of youngsters, and lead to face-pulling and groans. But fear not, getting your young couch potatoes out and about this half term may be easier than you may think – especially if you tell them to get their shoes on because they are going out on an adventure…

Take a walk along the canal towpath, starting at Camden Town and head west towards Little Venice. This will allow you to tell tales of times past, get some fresh air and talk of London’s incredible industrial heritage.

• At Camden Lock, peer into the gloom of Dead Dogs Basin and ruminate on why it got its horrible name… Legend has it that a furrier based in Camden Lock would use this secluded quay under a Victorian warehouse to drown kidnapped animals before skinning them of their pelts. But in fact the canal has a gentle flow from west to east – and Dead Dogs Basin has acted as a catch pit for anything that falls in the canal from Uxbridge to Camden. Over the years, a mot­ley assort­ment of creatures and items has been recovered.

• Find the pumping station by the Pirate Castle, and tell your group of its unique job. It works round the clock to take cold canal water to cool down the high tension electricity cables that lie beneath the towpath. If it broke down, who knows what chaos would ensue?

• Hunt the lost river: you can find the River Tyburn on your walk if you know where to look – and still hear millions of gallons gushing down from its source to the sea, flowing down from Hampstead and crossing the canal at the Chalbert footbridge in pipes, just off Prince Albert Road in Regent’s Park. The Tyburn flows into the ornamental lakes in the park before heading south to join the Thames.

• As you reach Primrose Hill, find the Macclesfield Bridge and recount the day disaster struck. It earned notoriety in 1874 when a barge laden with gunpowder and petrol blew up at this spot. Three crew died and homes along the canal were reduced to rubble. The bang was so big the keel of the unfortunate barge was found in the basement of a house more than 250 yards away.

• Peer through the eerie Maida Vale tunnel. With no towpath, horses would be unhitched and barge­men would lie on their backs and put their feet on the brick vault ceiling. They would then “walk” the boats along, which was known as “legging it” – explaining the phrase that refers to leaving somewhere at speed.

• “Dambuster” Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC lived at 32 Aberdeen Place – which you have to walk past to get past the Maida Vale tunnel. Tell your charges the story of the Dambusters and how Barnes Wallis designed the bouncing bomb to strike the industrial power generators in the Ruhr valley during the Second World War – and then find a stone or two to skim across the canal in his honour.


Related Articles