The October half-term holiday is one of the best times of the year for finding fun family days out. There might be a chill in the air, but the sun is often shining, and coats and gloves will keep you cosy. Heritage sites and museums are brought to life with special seasonal trails, and nature activities are elevated by the beautiful autumn colour and chance for pre-winter wildlife sightings.

London is no exception. World-class exhibitions take on a spooky slant, and the picturesque parks are transformed into kaleidoscopic patterns of red, orange, and gold. For an extra-special half-term holiday experience, look no further than spending a few days in England’s capital city. If you plan ahead, it is easy to find cheap trains to London in October – and from there, the possibilities are endless. Plan the ultimate itinerary with these top five things to do in London this October half-term.

Wander a haunted house

London’s primary historic houses become ‘haunted’ during October half-term in homage to Hallowe’en. The biggest and best is Hampton Court Palace, royal residence of Henry VIII whose notorious reputation for beheading his wives only serves to up the spook factor! Other notable houses to visit include Eltham Palace and Gardens and the 18th-century manor house at Chiswick.

Tour the spooky Tower of London

The Tower of London is the city’s year-round spooky venue, site of many grisly medieval tortures, imprisonments, and beheadings. Thrilling immersive experiences bring the history of this iconic heritage building to life and make learning fun for children of all ages. This year, there is a special coronation trail in honour of King Charles, as well as the usual Hallowe’en family-friendly tour.

Watch a family theatre show

There are plenty of theatre shows suited to children that are guaranteed to delight the whole family. Most are world-class productions running in London’s iconic West End: musicals are a particular highlight, with child-friendly options including Matilda, Frozen, and The Lion King. You can also experiment with something more lowkey but just as engaging such as the unique Shakespeare puppet play at Polka Wimbledon.  

Explore Kew Botanical Gardens

We all know how important it is for children to run around outside and blow off some steam! There is no better setting for this than the mesmerising Kew Botanical Gardens which is filled with over 68,000 plants. Enjoy the spectacular autumn colour, take a ride on the miniature train, immerse yourselves in exceptional exhibitions, and play on the broad swathes of grass by the large ponds.

Pick your own pumpkins

What October half-term holiday would be complete without an expedition to pick your own pumpkins? Head to a farm and enjoy a breath of fresh air as you search out the perfect produce. Crockford Bridge Farm is one of the closest to the city centre and has plenty of fun activities for children. You could follow this with the pumpkin carving activity at the Chelsea Physic Garden – this is running between 24th – 26th October 2023.