Halloween. The one day in 365 when we encourage our kids to dress creepily and behave like little horrors… And in the autumn half-term holidays there are lots of ways to have fun and prepare for Monday October 31’s witching hour.
At the National Maritime Museum, families can join free sessions making shipwrecked musical instruments and watch Madame Swashbuckle’s puppet-show tales (Monday October 24 to Saturday October 29). Then, on Sunday October 30 it’s the Halloween Bermuda Triangle alldayer – dress up, go on a ghost hunt and venture into an alien ocean immersive space, with crafts, games and competitions (£10, children £6).
At Hyde Park’s free Hair-raising Halloween session, little ones can explore the witches’ den and create potions using herbs and plants (Wednesday October 26). And for something different, launchingfilms.com is running sessions at the Cavendish Centre where children can create their own scary movie poster. It’s free, and there will be Halloween flick books, green-screen photos, free art materials and ghoulish prizes. (Thursday October 27 and Friday October 28).
The Horniman Museum takes inspiration from its weird and wonderful artefacts to host Curse of the Mummy, an interactive storytelling adventure (Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30, £5 per child). Over the same weekend, its free Halloween Fair is all about crafts, food, animal handling and fancy dress.
Kids love sleepovers. But on Halloween? Well, if your little bravehearts are up to it, there are some lively all-nighters around.
The Museum of London’s Night Owls Halloween Sleepover is for ages seven to 11, with dressing up, trick-or-treating around the galleries by torchlight, solving spooky crimes and an after-hours look at the ‘Fire! Fire!’ exhibition, with breakfast and a film in the morning (Friday October 28, £60 per person).
‘Pillows and Paintbrushes’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery (Saturday October 29, £50 per person) offers a chance for kids aged seven to 1! to have an arty overnight party, including visiting a sorceress in the gallery’s haunted house, workshops and prizes for the best fancy dress. Breakfast and a family film included.
If staying out all night seems a little ambitious, how about a Tudor Pyjama and Wellies Party? Get along to Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge at Epping Forest (Thursday October 27, 6pm-9pm, £15 per person) for spooky Tudor-themed games and a walk in the dark woods… If you dare!
Alternatively, how about some half-term week fun making a few good props to dress your front garden in serious style on Monday October 31? Greenwich Market’s Half-term Halloween Crafty Fun includes design collective Natty Peeps showing little visitors how to make creepy pom-pom spiders (Tuesday October 25) and big spider webs (Wednesday October 26). On Thursday October 27 there’ll be balloon fun and scary face painting, and on Friday October 28 you can give your scary costumes a dry run before the day itself and see if you win a prize!
Or why not be part of spooktacular crafts at Brixton Windmill? This free, bring-a-pumpkin Halloween storytelling session on Sunday October 30 (2pm-5pm) invites you to spend the afternoon carving, having your face painted, listening to spooky stories inside the windmill then lighting up the pumpkin lanterns to magical effect as dusk falls on the eve of All Hallows Eve. Pretty and eerie at the same time. Nice one.
Read our round-up of Halloween in London for kids for more spooky half-term inspiration.