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Half Term in Herts COVERED!

Half term - aaaaaargh! - so what to do with the little monsters? Fear not, Muddy to the rescue with the lowdown on things to do, terrifyingly ghoulish or super-cute.

Pick your own pumpkin, Pop Up Farm, near Harpenden, 20-31 October

P-p-p-pick up a Pumpkin! Or if you’re feeling ambitious, load up a whole wheelbarrow of them to take home. The kids will enjoy learning about the 15 different types of pumpkin and squash produced – and they’re not all smooth and orange (who knew?) – from the knobbly and aptly named Goosebumps pumpkin, to the intriguing white Polar Bear variety. Let them loose in the straw maze while you refuel at The Pitstop café – that caffeine fix will come in handy when you get round to carving those bad boys later on.


Sapphire Gymnastics Holiday Camps, Hemel Hempstead, 29 October – 2 November

If you’ve got a mini Max Whitlock in the making (did you know that the Olympic medal winning gymnast hails from our very own Hemel Hempstead?), sign them up to one of the half term holiday camps at Sapphire Gymnastics. Choose from cartwheel and handstand workshops, backflips and frontflips workshops or gymnastics camps, with optional arts and crafts activities, too. The sessions (from one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours) are long enough for the kids to burn off some excited holiday energy and will buy you a morning of leisurely ‘me’ time to boot. Suitable for ages 4+.


Cheer to Oz Cheerleading Camp, Ware, 29 October – 2 November

Cast those images of cringe-worthy American teen movies aside for a moment and stay with us here… This week-long cheerleading course will not only teach kids how to dance, jump, chant and tumble, but also how to work together as a team, keep fit, develop coordination and perseverance, and ultimately create a production – this one will be based on The Wizard of Oz. It’s not cheap at £120, but for a five-day course, it’s a snip of the cost of childcare and could introduce your child to a fab new team-based hobby.


Fab Science Holiday Club, various locations, 29 Oct-4 Nov

You’ve got to love holiday clubs, right? Pack the kids off for a day of fun and educational activities and pick them up buzzing and enthused about what they’ve learned. (Plus, there’s no denying that us parents appreciate a bit of a breather during the school holidays, too). This one sounds great, with three locations to choose from, and a Horrible Science theme, with lots of gruesome and smelly stuff to discover, including how to make fake snot and blood and investigating poo… lovely!


Tring Festival of Light, Tring Park, Tring, 29 October

Well trodden by ramblers and dog walkers by day, Tring Park’s lime tree avenue will be illuminated for one magical evening, giving families the chance to experience it in a whole new light. An addition to this year’s event is A Secret Symphony – like a silent disco, but with sounds of the woods rather than beats from the DJ decks. There will also be food and craft activities for the kids and you can channel your inner Girl Guide and huddle around the campfire with a hot choccy afterwards. Now, who’s bringing the marshmallows…? |


Snow White and the Seven Ghouls, Radlett Centre, 30 October

It might seem a bit early for panto season, but this Halloween-themed one promises to be just the ticket. The residents of Boney Bottom are preparing for ‘Humansween’ – the time of year when all the terrifying humans come out and scare the monsters. Snow White will be joined by Polly-Geist, Vernon the Vampire and Griselda the witch in a spooky re-telling of this fairytale favourite. Humans are advised to arrive in disguise to avoid being spotted and ending up in the Boney Bottom High Security Zoo. Better dig out that fancy dress box then…


Freaky Funfest, Mead Open Farm, 30-31 October


A year-round favourite haunt (ahem…) for families, Mead Open Farm, near Leighton Buzzard, promises something for all ages at this year’s spook-tacular Halloween event. There will be six different haunted attractions rated on their fear factor, from ‘little boos’ for toddlers to ‘bigger thrills’ for older children. New to explore this year are the Haunted Hotel and ‘Scary Tales’ fairytale fun, plus there’ll be pumpkin carving (at an extra cost) and all the usual farmyard activities, such as visiting the resident animals, tractor rides and entry to PlayWorld to enjoy.


The Big Draw, St Albans, 30-31 October

If your heart slightly sinks as your kids reach for the art box at home, (the mess!), let us draw (sorry…) your attention to The annual Big Draw, which gives budding Banksys a contained outlet for their creativity. This year’s theme is ‘play’ and encourages children to have fun and embrace accidents, so they can let loose with the pens and pencils at various venues for specially organised events to (hopefully) leave your home graffiti-free – hurrah! Big Draw events are happening all over the world, but for some closer to home, check out those at The Verulamium Museum and St Alban’s Museum and Gallery.;


An afternoon with Lauren Child and Mary Poppins, Chorleywood Bookshop, 3 November

It’s been 53 years since the ‘practically perfect’ nanny first appeared on the big screen and there’s not long to wait until the hotly anticipated follow-up, Mary Poppins Returns, arrives at a cinema near you. In the meantime, children’s laureate Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame) is rekindling the magic with her beautifully illustrated reimagining of P L Travers’ classic book. The warm and engaging author and illustrator will be sharing her stories and anecdotes about depicting this beloved character, as well as her new Hubert Horatio story, at this special event for all the family. Tickets include a signed copy of Mary Poppins to take home, too. Bookworms get in line.


Day of the Dead: Big Fish, Little Fish Family Rave, The Spotlight, Hoddesdon, 3 November

Dust off your dancing shoes, grab the glowsticks and re-live your raving days, but this time with your mini-mes in tow. The award-winning team behind Big Fish, Little Fish Family Rave invites you to don your Halloween threads, paint your face, and rave on to a banging set of house, techno and drum and bass tunes from DJ Nookie. Meanwhile there will be arts and crafts for the kids, giant balloons, club lighting and a licensed bar for the grown-ups (you’re welcome).


Halloween Half Term Forest School, Oxhey Woods, 29 Oct

Get top parenting marks for getting them in the fresh air messing about in the woods.Bring your  4- 11 year old to Oxhey Woods this half term to make a magic wand, create smelly potions and design a broomstick, then relax with a hot chocolate and toast some s’mores on the fire.


Further Afield:

Legoland’s Brick or Treat has been going for years but new for 2018 are the Brick or Treat Halloween Trail (find the missing potion ingredients round the park to win a treat), the Spooky Hill Train plus a Halloween themed Lego Mosaic. There’s also a monster disco, rides, shows and fireworks displays with exploding lego bricks (or so it seems when you wear the special specs) on 20, 21, 26, 27 Oct and 2 Nov. Take my top tip and start at the back of the park and make your way forward – you’ll miss the most monstrous queues, trust me. 18 Oct – 2 Nov.

My favourite zoo hands down, if you can ignore the howling winds that whip through on inclement days. Whipsinade Zoo just over the border in Beds is putting on its Boo at the Zoo this half term so as well as the usual animal viewing, feeding, demos and talks, there are Halloween-themed activities. You can carve pumpkins, have a spooky face painting, get up close to invertebrates and hear monster mythbusting animal talks. The setting of this zoo in open countryside makes for a more natural feel compared to some others and my kids go mad for the train, sea lion and exotic bird displays plus one of the biggest playgrounds in the area. 20 – 31 Oct.


Words: Katrina Harper-Lewis

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