Things To Do In London In Half Term: October 2022

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Things To Do In London In Half Term: October 2022
A person dressed in a newspaper print suit, with a black and white Day of the Dead style skull mask. People in the background hold colourful umbrellas, as if at a festival.
Kew celebrates all things Mexican. Photo: Jon Lee

October half term 2022 runs Saturday 22 October-Sunday 30 October for most London schools. We've selected some family-friendly events and things to do in London — however old your kids are and whatever your budget.

October half term events in London

PIRATE TREASURE: Dress up in your finest pirate garb, and sail the seven seas (well, London's beautiful canals) on a GoBoat. You'll be given a list of riddles which'll lead you and your crew to eight points of interest. Snap a picture of them all to claim your pirate-themed booty. Set sail on this family-friendly GoBoat adventure from Canary Wharf, Paddington or Kingston. Yargh! 15-31 October (sponsor)

ROOM ON THE BROOM: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's bestselling children's book, Room on the Broom, is brought to life on stage at ArtsDepot in North Finchley. Watch as the witch and the cat pick up a number of hitchhikers on their broomstick... until disaster strikes. Age 3+. 22-27 October

FAMILY FILM WEEK: Barbican's Family Film Week 2022 is a week of screenings, workshops and events, celebrating some of the best new films from around the world. Highlights include a selection of short animated films, and a preview of My Father's Dragon, before it's released on Netflix. 22-29 October

SECRETS OF THE CITY: If you find yourself in the excellent London Transport Museum this half term, get stuck into all manner of activities with a Secrets of the City theme. Find out about nocturnal animals and weird jobs on the transport network through craft workshops, a family trail and other events. 22-30 October

MEXICO FAMILY FIESTA: Throughout October, Kew Gardens hosts a Mexican-themed festival, and there are family-friendly events throughout half term. The Mexico Family Fiesta includes dance workshops, a chance to dress up, and parades, ahead of Day of the Dead. 22-31 October

FAMILY CONCERT: Introduce the kids to classical music at this LSO Family Concert at Barbican. The London Symphony Orchestra performs pieces of music with an Alice in Wonderland theme. There are singing and music workshops at the venue before the concert too. Suitable for 7-12 year olds. 23 October

FOUNDLING MUSEUM WORKSHOPS: Bloomsbury's Foundling Museum — which tells the story of Thomas Coram's hospital for foundlings — has family-friendly workshops going on throughout half term. Make your own animated time machine, or create a Halloween lantern to light up you room — among other activities. Different workshops are suitable for different ages, so check before you go. 24-28 October

A young boy holds up two puppets he's made from paper
Creative workshops at Foundling Museum

RADIO NONSENSE LIVE: Part of London Literature Festival, Southbank Centre hosts Radio Nonsense Live, a live edition of the Comedy Club 4 Kids podcast. Joz Norris and Athena Kugblenu host, with children encouraged to ask them their most burning questions. Aimed at age 6+. 26 October

HOCUS POCUS: It's spooky season, and for one night only, you can catch Hocus Pocus in concert. The classic Disney film, about three witches in Salem on Halloween, is screened, accompanied by a live soundtrack. Age 3+. 26 October

TONGUE FU: Usually a spoken word night for adults, London Literature Festival hosts a special edition Tongue Fu For Kids. Expect songs, poems and stories, hopping through a variety of topics, all accompanied by the Tongue Fu Band. Age 7-11. 28 October

Four people dressed an Mutant Ninja turtle characters pose with a young boy dressed in a Spiderman costume
MCM Comic Con is back in town — a chance for kids to meet their heroes!

MCM COMIC CON: Dust off your cape and check your superhero outfit still fits — MCM Comic Con is back at ExCeL London. Immerse yourself in three days of all things pop culture, including a chance to meet TV and film stars, take part in games, and show off your cosplay costume. Not all events are suitable for kids, but head for the Treehouse for the family-friendly experience. 28-30 October

COMEDY CLUB 4 KIDS: Pretty much what you'd expect, Comedy Club 4 Kids at ArtsDepot is a comedy club... for kids. Same format as a normal comedy show, but with jokes suitable for younger ears — without being patronising. 30 October

Family-friendly exhibitions in October half term

Woman and young girl sitting in front of an Elmer artwork on a museum wall, with other Elmer artworks on display in the next room
Elmer the Elephant is in Forest Hill. Image: Seven Stories

ELMER: Children's book character Elmer the Elephant stars in a colourful new exhibition at Forest Hill's Horniman Museum. Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee offers visitors a chance to step into the world of the the beloved children's books, with Not Now, Bernard; Mr Benn; and King Rollo also featuring. Aimed at under-7s and their families 21 October-16 April

CATS AND DOGS: If you're at Horniman Museum for Elmer (above), it's also your last chance to see Cats and Dogs. The family-friendly exhibition offers an insight into the creatures we share our homes with, looking at the scientific, social and cultural role that cats and dogs play in our world, and offering a chance to experience what it's like to be a canine or feline. Until 30 October

DIPPY RETURNS: Roll out the red carpet — one of London's most famous residents is back. Natural History Museum's diplodocus skeleton replica — known as Dippy to most — is back at the South Ken institution after a lengthy UK tour. It's only here for a couple more months, and you'll have to book (free) tickets to the Dippy Returns exhibition if you want in on the action. Until 2 January

BEATRIX POTTER: The V&A Museum continues its foray into children's literature with an exhibition about writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter. The writer-artist who brought us Peter Rabbit and co. took her inspiration from her work as a conservationist. Find out more and see her drawings and sketches in this exhibition that's best for older kids and teenagers. Until 8 January 2023

Free things to do in October half term

A young boy aged about 3 sitting inside a wooden, boat-shaped climbing frame, in a playground at Embankment Gardens
Many playgrounds have been tried and tested by the youngest members of Team Londonist

PLAYGROUNDS: If the weather's playing nice, few things bring a smile to children's faces like a playground — and they're usually free, so it's a win for parents and carers too. Check out our map of playgrounds in central London — there are more than you might think, and many are located handily near tourist attractions so you can burn off some excess energy on a day out.

FRIEZE SCULPTURE PARK: For younger family members who love a treasure hunt, or older kids and teenagers with an interest in art, Frieze Sculpture Park is a great idea for a free walk in the great outdoors. Head to Regent's Park and keep an eye out for the 29 large artworks dotted around. The park looks pretty good in autumn too. Until 13 November

DIWALI IN GREENWICH: Celebrate Diwali at National Maritime Museum's Finding Diwali event in Greenwich. The family-friendly event includes live music and performances, and art displays, all curated by  South Asian arts collective CommonGround&. 22 October (though Diwali falls on 24 October)

GUIDING LIGHTS: Light is the theme of National Maritime Museum's free October half term activities, loosely inspired by Diwali. Create your own shadow puppets, learn about the importance of lighthouses, and find out what people used before sunglasses were invented. 22-30 October

VOICES IN ACTION: Another London Literature Festival event, Voices in Action is a day of storytelling, workshops and performances, designed to show young people how their voice and words can be used to make a difference in the world. Aimed at age 5+. 23 October

OCEAN EXPLORERS: Livat Hammersmith shopping centre opens an Ocean Explorers Hub for half term week, to teach children about the ocean. Games, crafts, and a trail around the centre all feature, as well as sensory sessions involving shells and sand. 24-30 October

LAST CHANCE MUSEUM: This is the last school holiday to enjoy the Museum of London in its current location, before it closes for a few years to relocate to Smithfield. Current free exhibitions cover topics from footballer Harry Kane to the history of Grime music, alongside the museum's top-notch permanent collection. Until December

Family-friendly activities in London in October half term

A white sign with black writing 'Pooh Corner Gifts - Sweets - Books'. There's an illustration of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin in the centre of the sign, and it's mounted onto the white weatherboard exterior of a traditional country cottage.
It's a real place - and you can visit!

SWIMMING: A kiddie favourite, London has plenty of options for swimming, whatever the weather. From an Olympic venue to local leisure centres, these are some of London's best indoor pools. If the weather's on your side, try one of London's outdoor pools and lidos.

ICE SKATING: One of London's seasonal ice rinks — Canary Wharf — opens in time for half term (22 October). But London has year-round ice rinks too, including one slap bang in the middle of the Central line.

DAY TRIPS: Fancy getting out of London for a day or two? Take a look at our map of day trips from London for inspiration. Particularly child-friendly is a visit to the real-life Hundred Acre Wood, as featured in AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh books, which celebrate their 95th anniversary this month. Wellington Country Park is also an excellent bet for energetic kids (open until 2 November 2022).

PUMPKIN PICKING: Pumpkin picking, a somewhat American concept, has really taken off in the UK for Halloween, with patches and pick your own farms springing up all over the place. Here's our, ahem, pick of PYO farms and pumpkin patches near London that are opening their gates to pumpkin pluckers this year.

Last Updated 26 October 2022

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