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Half term and Halloween fun

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Looking for fun things to do this October half term and Halloween week? Well, the search stops here! Sink your teeth in to these top tips and fangs us later!

Listen up!

Did you know the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 could be heard over 3,000 miles away? For more epic sound facts like this one, take a seat for Winchester Science Centre’s brand-new show, Acoustic Explorers – which is one not to be missed! Your children will love learning about supersonic sounds and watching the demos to match. There’s plenty of audience participation and a mind-blowing, light-bending laser harp too. The show can be seen (and heard) at various times each day, until Sunday 21 November. There is also a giant ear they can climb in to explore how we hear – as part of the Sound, Hearing and Vibration Interactive Exhibition.

Children dressed up as wizards

Calling all witches and wizards

Enjoy magic and mischief with the Watercress Line‘s jam packed programme of children’s events running from Friday 29 – Sunday 31 October. Travel on the Wizard Express steam train; follow in Harry Potter’s actual footsteps and explore one of the real carriages used in the film too; and get up close to hairy creatures and scary characters. There’s also face-painting and other arts and craft activities going on. Plus, dress up as a ‘brand new wizard’, ’emerging wand talent’, or ‘potion master’ for your chance to win a prize. Visit the website for more information about this super wizarding weekend.

Rediscover the classic movie, Hocus Pocus – about the three witch Sanderson sisters – in the spooky setting of Dyers Barn at Chawton House, on Halloween night, at 6pm or 9pm.

Pumpkins with candles inside

Historical Halloween

Step inside the spooky Westgate Museum to find out how the Tudors celebrated All Hallows’ Eve. Look for the markings left behind by those held captive when the gate was a prison. Judge for yourself if the Westgate is indeed haunted! Follow the witch trail too. These scary goings-on are included in the museum’s admission price and run from Sunday 24 – Sunday 31 October.

Join a storytelling session at the Victorian Fort Nelson from Monday 25 – Friday 29 October and learn all about mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths and ghosts – told by costumed characters. Tickets for this event do not include entry to the fort so please be sure to book your free visit to the museum packed with national treasures, and underground tunnels and secret chambers terrifying at this time of year.

Photo of statue and Guildhall at dusk

Walk on the wicked side

Discover Winchester’s most Horrid History that is sure to delight you and your children aged 7+. But make sure to wear proper coats and good shoes because the tour will take place come rain or shine! This ticketed tour takes place on Thursday 28 October at 2.30pm and starts from Visitor Information Centre.

Or adults head out after dark with Walsh Tours’ Alfred the Great Ghost Trail. Walk in the former king’s footsteps as your guide leads you down shadowed pathways to the site of the nation’s last public execution, the eerie ruins of Hyde Abbey, and to Alfred’s resting place. See haunted city spots and hear grisly tales, with tours Wednesdays – Sundays throughout October, from 7pm – 9pm. Book your place!

Puppet boy

Catch a half term show

Theatre Royal Winchester has two children’s shows to enjoy: The Dong with a Luminous Nose (a puppet show about a shy and troubled boy called Edward whose life is turned upside down by ‘the Jumblies’, runs Tuesday 26 – Wednesday 27 October) and Freckle Productions’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man (Stick Man’s morning jog is interrupted and he fears he may never get home, runs Thursday 28 October). Get a sneak peak of these shows with photos and videos on the theatre’s What’s On page.

Or children and young people can take part in one of Playmakers’ Lets Explore workshops, on Monday 25 October – to learn how to write plays, perform, or design sets and costume.

Photo of spiders web

Get close to nature

Spider lovers are invited to go on a ‘spider safari’ at Gilbert White’s House; to use microscopes to get up close to some of the UK’s familiar species; and learn where they live and what they eat, on Thursday 28 October; teenagers and adults can spend the day with author Dawn Nelson, to learn how to create a nature journal – on Wednesday 27 October; and younger children will enjoy the Timothy Tortoise Story Walk – following in the footsteps of the naturalist’s beloved tortoise, on Tuesday 26 October.

Plus, wrap up warm and take in the beautiful changing colours of Marwell Zoo’s 140-acre picturesque safari park, while spotting your favourite animals. Or if you’d rather escape the cold, visit the zoo’s Energy for Life: Tropical House and experience a summer climate in the height of autumn, while coming face-to-face with diverse wildlife (from frogs to sloths) and exotic plants.

Freebie!

Get dressed up in your favourite Halloween costume and wander the cobbled streets of Winchester, scouring the windows of local shops and businesses, as you and your family take part in the Spooky Winch Word Hunt (any time or day from Saturday 16 – Sunday 31 October). Pick up a trail sheet from the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) or Winchester Discovery Centre (WDC); search for the nine Halloween-themed words scattered across the city in coloured pumpkin signs to complete the sheet; finally return it to the VIC or WDC to collect your Halloween-themed goody bag AND be entered in to a prize draw to win a spooky hamper, filled with gifts donated by local businesses. The trail has been organised by Winchester BID and they ask that you tag @WinchesterBID and use #Spookywinch on social media so they can enjoy your spooky selfies and ghostly adventures. You can also download a Spooky Winch activity sheet from the BID website, or the VIC or WDC from Saturday 16 October.

Runners

And finally…

If running scares you, stand and cheer instead, all those taking part in the Winchester 10K, on Halloween (Sunday 31 October). Leaving from the Broadway/Guildhall, around 8.30am, spot the runners brave enough to wear fancy dress too!

And if these ideas weren’t enough, search our What’s on pages for even more!