We know they only went back to school three minutes ago but it really is already half term. Blink again and it’ll be Christmas. So, with that thought – and its endless related costs – in mind we’ve scoured the country for the best free (or nearly free) half term holiday activities.
Monster Madness Museum Party
Get stuck in to some seriously spooky fun at this free Halloween-themed party in the Waterhall. Dressing up is encouraged, dancing is essential and a portrait booth of fear is on hand to capture the madness for £1 a pop.
25 October; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; birminghammuseums.org.uk
Harbour Steam Train Rides
If you’re heading to the brilliant (and free entry) M Shed this half term then why not take the opportunity to ride the harbour train which is running both weekends during half term. Under 6s go free, otherwise it’s £2 single, £3 return.
21–22 & 28–29 October; M Shed; bristolmuseums.org.uk
Pollok Country Park
There are free activities aplenty at this beautiful country park this half term. Children can make bird feeders, pine cone hedgehogs, leaf prints and wreaths to take home at events running throughout half term week (already underway in Scotland!).
14–22 October; Pollok Country Park; whatsonglasgow.co.uk
Picking your own pumpkins and squashes is a great way to get in the Halloween spirit. Head to Pumpkin Moon for Story Sock story-telling sessions and a go in the maize maze before you venture to the fields to find your perfect pick. Entry is free and most of the pumpkins come in at around £2/£3.
20–29 October (for Story Sock); Pumpkin Moon; pumpkinmoon.uk
Blood, Guts & Ghosts
There’s always plenty to see at Britain’s national museum of arms and armour but the Royal Armouries is pulling out the stops for half term with activities galore for children. Learn about gruesome medical history or (for a small fee) join a ghost walk or try your hand at pumpkin carving.
24 October–1 November; Royal Armouries; royalarmouries.org
Paddington at Museum of London
There are nine free galleries to explore at the Museum of London but the big draw this half term is Paddington. In town to promote his latest film (Paddington 2; out 10 November) the bear from darkest Peru will be doing meet and greets on 24 and 26 October. There’s also a free Paddington Trail running all week.
21–29 October; Museum of London; museumoflondon.org.uk
Manchester Science Festival
There are loads of brilliant free events at this annual festival including ‘Tape’ an immersive spider’s web installation you can climb through (pictured), Scribble Bots sessions and a robot playground.
19–29 October; Museum of Science & Industry; manchestersciencefestival.com
Spooks in the City
Creepy characters, freaky face-painting, circus skills, games and fancy dress, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Castle Square this half term at this free Halloween-themed event.
28 October; Castle Square; enjoyswanseabay.com
Note: Plans, dates and times can change and some free activities require pre-booking so do double check with the venue to avoid disappointment.