Do you turn into a witch at Halloween?

As a Mum of 2 girls aged 5 & 8, October half term can sometimes be a challenge as the weather is not always at it’s best. Being cooped up is no fun for any of us, and as my kids rightly say, mum tends to turn green and witchy if she’s kept inside too long!

We are BIG fans of Halloween and I’m also big on getting out with the girls, even if it’s just for a few hours, to break up the day. So, well ahead of schedule, I’ve had a quick peek into what Halloween activities are on in Sussex so that we can start planning our half term fun. Whilst I don’t mind treating the girls, I’m still keen to try to keep our activity budget in check, so I’ve also included some at home crafts and fun things to do, along with days out.

Here are my top 10 things to do…

1 – Pick your own pumpkin

Preparations for Halloween have to start with picking your own pumpkin. There are a couple of places local to Haywards Heath that give you the opportunity to go straight to the grower and often they make for fantastic photo opportunities. Get the kids dressed up in their halloween costumes and head out with your camera and have your own little mini photoshoot at the same time!

Great places to pick you own Pumpkins are Tulleys Farm, which you’ll also find further down the activity list, Townings Farm, which is located just off Chailey common and has a decorated barn full of Halloween spectacles and pumpkins galore. Finally, should you fancy something a little different, why not visit the Slindon Pumpkin Display? This family run business has been creating artistic displays of pumpkins for over 50 years, made up from over 100 varieties of Pumpkins. You can choose your own pumpkin too!

2 – Pumpkin Carving

It’s sticky, messy and lot’s of fun (I’m still trying to convince myself about the fun part!)

OK, so I am one of those mum’s that really struggles with lot’s of mess, but I also have amazingly fond memories of carving my own pumpkin every year. Just the smell of a candle lit in a pumpkin brings back nostalgic memories of my childhood and Halloween and Bonfire night. My top tip for minimising mess is to do this activity outside if the weather permits. Inside or outside, lot’s of newspaper, a spare bucket or bowl for the pumpkin seeds and gunk and a big roll of kitchen roll at hand for wiping slimy hands.

A carving kit is a must. As an older child, I remember my mum giving us her vegetable knife, back in the day when health and safety wasn’t a consideration and children losing fingertips was character building. I’ll save the blood and gore for Halloween itself and I’ll be opting for the fake stuff. Carving kits can be bought in most supermarkets, but good old amazon also stocks them. This is the one I bought the one pictured a few years ago and it’s still going strong. The case keeps them wrapped up and out of the way of little hands when not in use and makes them easy to store. Just click on the image to view in amazon.

There are loads of useful stencils that you can print off online. Simply print off your chosen template, cut out the pattern or face on the paper to make a stencil and then stick to your pumpkin and draw around it. Once you’re done, you can begin the fun part and get messy! Enjoy!

3 – Tulleys Spookfest

Pulleys halloween events are very popular, with visitors from across the UK. Not to be confused with the mightily scary Shocktober Fest, which is definitely a adult only event, this is a much more fun and spooky event aimed at children & families. Attractions include a Horrid Hay Ride, a Spooky Trail & Spook Hunt, Witch in the Forest, a Pumpkin Patch Show and Street Theatre. Recommended for children aged 6 – 13, this year will be my first visit with the girls to this event. There’s lot’s going on, so take a packed lunch and spend the day as activities are scheduled throughout the day.

Family tickets for midweek are £52 (2 ad / 2ch) and individual tickets are available to purchase. I would advise to book online and well ahead of your planned visit as this is very popular and books up fast.

 

4 – Half Term fun at Wakehurst Place & Nymans Gardens

Being a National Trust member, I always aim to get to at least one of the local parks during school holidays. Wakehurst, Nymans & Sheffield park are all so close and one of them always has kids activities going on. Plus, the Autumn colours will be in full force and I just can’t resist taking the girls out with my camera. A win win for everyone!

As well as the seed bank, children heritage garden and the wonderful grounds to explore, the Wakehurst are hosting a Cookery, Carving and Hairy Toes workshop. Cook up some delicious squash soup over an open-fire and make twister bread to dunk in. Afterwards you can carve a squash lantern and settle down to enjoy a Hairy Toes story.

It’s fantastic value at just £15, which includes a full day access to the park for 1 adult & 1 child, plus the workshop which runs from 11am – 2pm from 28 October – 1 November. This is a book in advance event.

Nymans have a couple of activities for kids going on. It’s advisable to arrive early to Nymans as the car park can get very busy during school holidays and I have had to deal with disappointed little ones in the past when we couldn’t get parked. Their events are:

Pop up Pumpkin Patch – Running 26 October – 3 November. Free with admission price

We will be creating our own little pop-up pumpkin patch in the garden where you can join a pumpkin rolling race or challenge your friends and family to a game of pumpkin skittles. See how many pumpkins you can find on a hunt around the garden. Come to the potting shed in the afternoons from 1.30pm to 4.30pm for more hand-on pumpkin inspired fun.

Autumn family trail – Running 26 October – 3 November. Free with admission price

 

5 – Amberley Museum

Great for a visit anytime, if you enjoy looking back at days gone by and how we coped without mobile phones, the internet and electricity! My kids were fascinated by the old rotary phones and just how long it took them to dial a number. There’s also a lovely miniature steam train ride and various craft workshops including weaving and wood turning where you can purchase items made on site.

We visited Amberley during half term last year. The girls had a great time and enjoyed having their faces painted too. The highlight for them was the purchase of miniature broom stocks from the weavers shop, which are still played with now, usually playing a key part in their many Worst Witch role-play games!

A fun halloween trail keeps their minds busy whilst they look for clues and in return the receive a sweetie for their efforts as you leave.

Halloween Trail runs 30 October – 1 November & is free with general admission. 

6 – Druisillas Park

Shriek Week at Drusillas runs 26 October – 3rd November, with an extra bonus of The Grufflalo making an appearance on 30th October. With various rides throughout the park being adapted to fit the Halloween them…Haunted Heights, Spooky Happenings & Mummy Mayhem all sound like great fun. Follow up with a visit to the Discovery Centre for some creepy crawley encounters and finish with some funky halloween tattoo’s and face painting (extra cost)

Family tickets (2ad 2ch) for Half Term week start at £74 with a slight increase for 30th & 31st. Book online to secure this cheaper rate.

7 – Go Conker Bonkers!

Kids love collecting conkers. Only tonight did my daughter grab a handful of conkers from across the road, which she brought into the house and played with for the next hour. Gone are the day of conker battles, soaking them in vinegar for days ahead of battle in the hope that your mighty conker would conquer all. Another fond pastime of my childhood which has fallen could of health & safety.

But the poor conker still has lots to give. Besides supposedly fending off spider if you leave them on your window sill, and apparently making a marvellous eco friendly washing detergent, conkers are great for art too.

The Muddy Days Blog has some fab ideas on conker art. You can try marble rolling with conkers & paint. Or make your very own monsters from conkers. Spiders, bats and pumpkins too.

All you need are some acrylic paints, pipe cleaners, glue and google eyes. What are you waiting for?!

8 – Monkey Bizness Halloween Spooktacular!

This soft play centre in Lewes is popular for rainy days and kids birthday party’s, but did you also know that they run special events at selected times of the year?

This runs on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th October from 5pm – 7pm and is aimed at kids aged 5 upwards. There is a toddler event running on Thursday 24th October from 0930-1130 for those aged 4 and under.

Fancy dress welcome, kids can enjoy a spooky disco, party games and arts & crafts. Included in the entry price is a children’s buffet too. Admission charges are £9 for 1 adult / 1 child or £8 for the toddler event. Tickets must be purchased in advance either by telephone or in person. More information

9 – Halloween at Borde Hill Gardens

A firm favourite with my girls, we have visited Borde Hill at halloween since they were little.

This Halloween half term join the Borde Hill Academy of Witches & Wizards and help Sapphire the Witch’s Cat regain her magical powers on a bewitching Garden trail* full of spells, potions and mystery.

From 26 Oct to 3 Nov, young visitors will receive a treat from the Magica de Spell, the Head Witch in her lair if they complete all the challenges to return Sapphire’s magical powers in time for the Borde Hill Crystal Ball. *£2 per trail plus admission, to include a spellbinding prize (FREE to Friends).

Activities on selected days between 11-3 include:
26 Oct & 2 Nov: Halloween Crafts* to make and take home
27 Oct: Pumpkin Carving* and Pumpkin Glow Competition
28 Oct: Professor Readalot’s Spellbinding Stories with Telling Tales StoryPlay
29 Oct: Wand Making* with Woods for Learning
30 Oct & 1 Nov: Snakes, reptiles and more… with RepTylers
31 Oct: Professor Hiccup’s School Magic*
3 Nov: Explosive Experiment Shows* & Slime Making* with FizzPopScience 

Small additional charge applies for some activities. 

10 – The Bluebell Railway

Calling all witches and wizards!

Bluebell Railway is inviting all witches and wizards, ghosts and ghouls, to a spooky gathering this October half term!

Head to Horsted Keynes Station for Halloween fun and games, including a fancy dress competition, crafty fun, and much more from Saturday 26th October – Sunday 3rd November.

Visitors on Halloween (31st October) will also enjoy extra spooky fun, including pumpkin lighting, a disco for small children, and an additional evening train.

I hope you have a fabulously spooktacular Half Term. In  between enjoying all of the fun, I will also be meeting lots of families for outdoor Autumnal photoshoots. If you would like a family photoshoot, please do get in touch

Just before I leave you to plan your own Halloween fun, I wanted to give you a little bit of something to think about. I know that most people reading this blog will be Mum’s, as usually we’re the big planners when it comes to school holidays. So whilst you’re out there having fun with your lttlies, please make sure you get some pictures of you with your babies enjoying yourselves. It’s so important that they have pictures including you to look back on. One of my fellow baby photographers Tianna, has written an amazing blog on just this. Do check it out as it really does bring home the importance of being in the pictures with your kids. Why Mothers Should be In Photographs

Much Love

Louise

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