October half term is one of our favourites, with lots of pumpkin fun, spooky goings-on and great activities to enjoy. Here’s our pick of the best things going on in and around York this half term. Do check the dates carefully as the York schools have different half term dates to the schools in Yorkshire.
Everyone’s invited to half term sketching sessions to create a huge floorplan of the Minster. The drawings will help build up each section of the Minster as part of a timelapse which you’ll be able to see online. The TagTool station will be back, too – animate your drawings on one of the iPads and see it projected live onto the walls of York Minster. This is all free within the admission price.
Monday 30th October to Friday 3rd November 2017, 10am to 4pm – York Minster – yorkminster.org
Wise owls will head to Beningbrough Hall this half term for visits from feathered friends, a mask trail, an exciting new owl sculpture exhibition around the gardens and, for hallowe’en, spooky stories, crafts and the annual costume parade. There’s a special chance to get up close and personal with owls from 25th to 27th October and 1st to 3rd November. On 31 October itself, join Stories Alive for magical tales, get creative in artrageous and dress-up in your scariest outfit for the annual costume parade.
Half-term activities run from Saturday 21st October to Sunday 5th November (closed Mondays) – Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, York YO30 1DD – nationaltrust.org.uk/beningbrough
Head to the brilliant new wildlife part at Askham Bryan to see creepy creatures and hunt for mythical beasts this Halloween. There’ll be a mythical beast sculpture trail, creepy crafts and if you’re feeling brave, you can meet lizards, snakes and bugs!
28th October to 5th November 2017 – Askham Bryan College, York YO23 3FR – abcwildlifepark.co.uk
Future Engineers returns to the National Railway Museum this October half term for a fortnight of free hands-on activities and interactive workshops guaranteed to ignite sparks. You’ll discover your hidden engineer and find out more about how the railways work through rap, dance, talks and much more. It’s engaging, innovative stuff that sounds fantastic.
National Railway Museum – 21st October to 5th November 2017 – 10am to 4pm – Free – nrm.org.uk
Feeling brave? Explore the ‘haunted’ East Wing of Castle Howard, which has been uninhabited and out of bounds to visitors for years. It’ll be ‘haunted’ by a cast of imaginary spooky characters and creatures. Not for the faint-hearted, it’ll thrill kids and give adults the chance to see part of Castle Howard that’s normally closed to the public. Little ones can enjoy storytelling, Halloween trails and a dressing up competition.
21st October to 5th November 2017 – Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA – castlehoward.co.uk
Grab a map and explore the forest, or head off on the interactive Gruffalo Spotter trail (visit forestry.gov/gruffalo). There’s a brilliant play area, lots of outdoor activities to choose from at the Dalby Activity Centre (dalbyactivitycentre.co.uk) and, during half term, there’ll be spooky goings on too. Watch out for a comedy play, stone carving and art workshops. Find full details at forestry.gov.uk/dalbyforest.
What better way to explore York’s spooky streets and secret snickleways this October half term than on The Great York Ghost Search? New for 2017, this free family-friendly walking trail seeks intrepid ghost-hunters to spot the 26 ghost lamps hidden in shop windows across the city. Find out much more about it here.
The Great York Ghost Search – 26th to 31st October 2017 – Across York – Free – Visit the Visit York website for more details
As if a free pumpkin – picked from the enormous pumpkin patch – wasn’t enough incentive, there’s also the mysterious maize maze, trick or treat tales and the Magic Hatter doing his legendary shows. That’s on top of all the great Piglets fun, from crazy golf to animals and tractor rides.
The Piglets Pumpkin Festival runs from 10am to 5.30pm every weekend in October, and every day from 21st October to 5th November 2017 – Piglets Adventure Farm, Towthorpe Grange, Towthorpe Moor Lane, York YO32 9ST – pigletsadventurefarm.com
It’s hard to think of a more fitting place to celebrate Halloween than the gothic surroundings of Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for Dracula author Bram Stoker. The abbey itself will be bathed in light, which promises to be a stunning sight. Costumed characters will introduce the darker side of the past with tales of grave-robbing and witch trials. You can even watch a live performance of Dracula!
Wednesday 25th to Tuesday 31st October 2017 – 6pm to 9.30pm – Whitby Abbey, Abbey Lane, Whitby – Family ticket £25 (book online and save 10%) – englisheritage.org.uk/whitbyabbey
Jump off some energy at Energi Trampoline Park, where there’ll be lots fang-tastic family sessions and blood tingling boost meal deals, too. Book your bounce online to save money and beat the crowds. Visit the Energi website for all the details
Go back in time to the Edwardian era with traditional Edwardian photographs to take home, a special trail and paper dolls. You can also find out about the traditions of Yorkshire Parkin in time for bonfire night – if you’re lucky, you might get to try some!
28th October to 5th November 2017 – Castle Museum, Eye of York, York YO1 9RY – yorkcastlemuseum.co.uk
There’s a host of Halloween fun at Stockeld Park near Wetherby this half term, from friendly, wise witches in the forest (23rd to 29th October), a spooky trail, eerie science (23rd to 29th October), creepy crafts and a Halloween catwalk. That’s on top of the magical Enchanted Forest with its brilliant adventure playgrounds, the ice rink and illuminated yew tree maze and a special ‘find the bat’ challenge.
20th October to 31st October – stockeldpark.co.uk
Meet ghoulish Count Fectionary on this brilliant walking tour of York. You’ll hear terrifying tales including the history of some of the ghastly giants of confectionary, such as ‘Kit Bat’, ‘Terrys All Ghould’ and ‘Rowntree’s Fright Pastilles’. We did it last year and it was great. Dress up in your best Halloween outfit and you might win a prize!
The tour runs from St Andrewgate, opposite York’s Chocolate Story, from 21st October to 5th November 2017 – Book online or at the attraction – yorkschocolatestory.com
Visit www.theballoontree.co.uk or call 01759 373023 for more info
There’s spooky half term fun at Brodsworth Hall & Gardens, a great English Heritage property near Doncaster, with creepy crafts and a spooky trail around the gardens.
21st October to 5th November 2017 – Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Home Farm, Doncaster DN5 7XJ – english-heritage.org.uk/brodsworth
Follow the haunted family trail at Nunnington Hall where special family ghost tours run across the weekend. No pre-booking required. For braver families, there’s also a ghoulish ghost tour to hear haunted tales of Nunnington’s past on Tuesday 31st October.
26th October to 29th October 2017 – Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, YO62 5UY – nationaltrust.org/nunnington
Don’t miss an incredible opportunity to see Tim Peake’s spacecraft, Soyuz TMA-19M, at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford from 27th September to 19th November 2017. The capsule, along with its equipped interior and char marks on its outer body from re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, will be displayed with its 25m parachute.
Little Horton Lane, Bradford BD1 1NQ. Visit scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk for more details
There are 16 days of fiendish family fun at Flamingo Land, and you can enjoy it for less with a 2-for-1 fancy dress offer. Book through the website using the code SPOOKY17, receive a special voucher and go in fancy dress. What can you look forward to? Hop aboard the spooky indoor train, show off your pumpkin carving skills, pick up a Halloween trail sheet or have a go on one of the scarier rides at twilight. For something gentler, why not visit the new Peter Rabbit adventure playground?
14th to 29th October 2017 – Flamingo Land, Kirby Misperton, Malton YO17 6UX – visit the website
There’s always a lovely atmosphere at York Maze’s daytime Halloween event. The giant maze has been harvested, but there’s plenty else to do including the Haunted Maze Treasure Hunt and over 20 other attractions, rides and shows. There’s a free pumpkin for every child, too, and you can carve it while you’re there.
21st October to 1st November 2017 – York Maze, Elvington Lane, York YO19 5LT – yorkmaze.com
The gardens at Harlow Carr near Harrogate are absolutely beautiful in the autumn. This half term (21st to 29th October), there’s a creepy creatures theme. See what bugs you can find, head out on the trail and maybe catch a spooky story or two.
Hear ghostly stories inspired by the museum and join ghost hunters to save the museum from the forces of darkness. Craft activities include pumpkin carving at The Big Draw animation workshops. Museum admission is free, but a charge applies for the activities.