For children who go to school in London, late October is a great time – it's half-term. However, if you're the person responsible for keeping them entertained all week it might not be such a thrilling prospect. Finding affordable and enjoyable ways to keep kids occupied can be difficult. Luckily, London has a whole load of things going on, from special events to destinations that are always fun for kids of all ages. We'll help the whole family enjoy a packed half-term – here's our guide to things to do for October half-term in London.
Things to do for October half-term in London
In this guide
October half-term activities
- Free October half-term dining – Affordable family meals
- The National Gallery – Learn about pictures
- Science Museum – Popular interactive museum
- Polka Theatre – Theatre just for kids
- Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – Spooky gifts and novelties
- London Transport Museum – Transport fun for families
- Go Ape – High ropes and zip wires
- Sea Life Centre – Discover life underwater
- Monopoly Lifesized – Life-sized board game
- London Zoo – Half-term zoo events
- All Star Lanes – Family day out
- Horniman Museum and Gardens – Exhibitions and activities
- ArcelorMittal Orbit – Exhilarating tunnel slide
- Dopamine Land – Unique interactive exhibit
- Tumbling Bay Playground – A playground for adventurers
- Hackney City Farm – Working farm in East London
- The Postal Museum – Interactive exhibits and sessions
- Champions Wharf Play Beach – Riverside play area
- Shakespeare's Globe – Shakespeare for kids
- Finsbury Park – Expansive North London park
- Bunker 51 – Activities for adrenaline junkies
- Flip Out – Hours of bouncy fun
- Artsdepot – Half-term entertainment
- KidZania – Explore the future
- Clay Time – Get creative with clay
- Golders Hill Park Zoo – Interesting animals in the park
- Kensington Gardens – Peter Pan-themed playground
- Pandemonium – Toy shop and play space
- Queens – Ice skating and more
- Crystal Palace Park – Lots of options for kids
- Bustronome London – Unique family city tour
- Coram's Fields – Seven-acre playground
- Biscuiteers – Ice your own biscuits
- Tootbus – Fun and family-friendly
- Chickenshed – Inclusive theatre in North London
- Rivoli Ballroom – Family-friendly scary films
- Islington Central Library – Families celebrating Black History Month
- Foundling Museum – Creative workshops for the whole family
October half-term activities
Affordable family meals
Taking the whole family out for a meal during the holidays might seem expensive but that doesn't have to be the case. A variety of restaurants all over the capital are running offers that let kids eat free during half-term. Whatever type of food your family enjoys, there's sure to be somewhere that takes your fancy. Read our guide to free half-term dining in London to decide where to go.
Learn about pictures
Located in Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is one of the most famous in the country. It houses works from the 13th to 20th centuries and has free activities during half-term. Let the gallery's team of educators guide you through the gallery as you learn to decode pictures, or join a drawing or storytelling session.
Popular interactive museum
With modern style and tons of interactive features, the Science Museum is popular with every age group. Kids can explore loads of exhibits covering different scientific topics, from the history of aircraft and space travel to the climate crisis. There's a gift shop too, full of novelties that'll entertain young people.
Theatre just for kids
Wimbledon's Polka Theatre has been putting on children's theatre since 1977. It's an inclusive, imaginative, and vibrant space designed especially for kids. During half-term there's a production suitable for ages three and up, as well as workshops for kids from 6 months to 12 years. The venue also has spaces for reading and playing.
Spooky gifts and novelties
One London shop that will definitely entertain kids is Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. This unique establishment sells all the spooky and surprising items you could possibly want, all in a traditional store. There are distinctive treats and gifts for both adults and children, including marshmallow brain food and chocolate toads.
Transport fun for families
London's transport network is a huge part of life in the city and you can discover more about it at the London Transport Museum. During half-term the museum is celebrating the fab art in its new Poster Gallery. Join trails, take part in an arty workshop or poster contest for kids, or watch a show for the under 7s at the puppet theatre.
High ropes and zip wires
Thrillseeking kids will love a visit to Go Ape. This active treetop and high ropes experience is available at several parks in London. There are courses to explore of various durations and levels of skill, including options designed for younger children. Everyone gets a thorough safety briefing and support from instructors.
Discover life underwater
Kids can get up close with aquatic creatures at Sea Life Centre London Aquarium. It’s a popular attraction for all ages and houses the largest coral reef in the UK. Species here range from penguins to sharks and rainforest creepy crawlies. You can learn more by going to a talk or feeding session.
Life-sized board game
Don’t stay at home playing board games – visit Monopoly Lifesized instead. This unique game involves moving around a life-sized board and letting your competitive side out. There are several different boards to choose from. It’s suitable for kids aged 9+ and there’s an on-site restaurant to relax in afterwards.
Half-term zoo events
London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world and a big hit with children. A huge range of animals live here from otters to lions. During half-term the zoo is celebrating Halloween with a variety of fun activities like decorating pumpkins, discovering extinct species, crafting, and face-painting.
Family day out
Enjoy a family day out at All Star Lanes. There are several locations around the city with a lively atmosphere that’ll keep everyone entertained. Come for bowling or karaoke and relax in the restaurant. There’s a varied children’s menu and special bundles on family dining. Kids’ parties are also available here.
Exhibitions and activities
South London's Horniman Museum and Gardens is a quirky destination with a huge variety of sites and exhibits to explore. There's a museum, aquarium, and lots of outside space. During half-term you can visit an exhibition of impressive dinosaurs made entirely from Lego, plus kids can join fun activities like making their own dinosaur bag.
Exhilarating tunnel slide
Take young thrillseekers to the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Designed by artist Anish Kapoor, it's the world's longest tunnel slide, measuring 178m long and including 12 twists and turns. The slide is suitable for those aged eight and over. You'll get to take fab photos of London from the viewing platform before hurtling down the slide. The opening hours are slightly extended for the school holidays too.
Unique interactive exhibit
Dopamine Land is a unique family-friendly attraction designed to boost happiness and unleash your inner child. Move through multiple rooms in this interactive multi-sensory experience that includes a digital forest and a pillow fight area. Lights, fragrances, and sound enhance the experience. The entire thing takes about 30-50 minutes to explore.
A playground for adventurers
Kids can work out pent-up energy at Tumbling Bay Playground, set in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The goal of this space is to let kids play in a natural environment. At this lively spot they'll discover treehouses, rock pools, bridges, and slides that work with the park's natural landscape.
Working farm in East London
Get back to nature in East London at Hackney City Farm. This working farm is open to visitors. Families can meet farmyard animals like pigs and donkeys, explore the garden and grounds, and visit the restaurant. Various activities take place, including weekly clubs for under and over 12s that include working with animals.
Interactive exhibits and sessions
At The Postal Museum you'll discover more about Britain's postal system and heritage. There's interesting stuff for all ages – kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits and the chance to ride on the below-ground Mail Rail train. As well as regular play sessions for under-fives, during half-term there are creative sessions themed on postal uniforms.
Riverside play area
Check out Champions Wharf Play Beach for outdoor play by the Thames. Opened in 2013, this is a fun park for all ages and offers great views of the river. It’s sandy underfoot, there’s a viking boat and a Victorian water taxi, and it’s enhanced with artwork and places to sit down.
Shakespeare for kids
Next to the Thames you'll find Shakespeare's Globe, a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre. Regular performances take place, including shows for children, and family-friendly tours of the building are available too. During half-term kids and families can join acting workshops, storytelling sessions, and tours suited to different age groups.
Expansive North London park
North London’s Finsbury Park is great for families who need some fresh air. There are spacious grounds to wander, a pond that’s a hotspot for birds and wildlife, sports facilities, a zip wire, a kids’ playground, and a café with child-friendly menus. A walk here is perfect for burning off some energy.
Activities for adrenaline junkies
Nuclear bunker-themed activity centre Bunker 51 offers a range of thrilling and challenging activities for kids who love an adrenaline rush. There are escape rooms, laser tag, and paintball experiences suited to children and teenagers. If you book a private session here, the event can be tailored to be age-appropriate.
Hours of bouncy fun
Kids will be entertained at Flip Out, a trampoline park and indoor playground with a few locations in London. Vibrant and full of colour, they're great for keeping children busy for a few hours. There are various zones to explore including trampolines, obstacle courses, and soft-play spaces for the youngest children. Hours are extended for school holidays too.
Opened in 2004, Artsdepot is a theatre and arts centre in North Finchley that's firmly rooted in the community. It's an award-winning and modern venue. There's loads happening during half-term, including music and theatre shows, a superhero-themed kids' camp, and workshops for children.
Explore the future
Children get a unique experience at KidZania. This scaled city lets children role-play their future, exploring different areas and trying jobs and activities from being a radio DJ to piloting a plane. At this award-winning destination, kids earn in-game money that they can then spend on treats and mementos of their visit.
Get creative with clay
Get creative with pottery at Clay Time, which welcomes children and adults. At this North London ceramics studio, there are sessions for kids to make their own clay pot or paint a pre-made ceramic tile with an original design. You can also hire out the venue for kids' birthday parties.
Interesting animals in the park
In North London there’s a zoo you can visit for free – Golders Hill Park Zoo. It’s been in situ for more than 100 years and lets you get close to various animals including lemurs, wallabies, kookaburras, and donkeys. Located in Golders Hill Park, there’s lots of space nearby to walk and play.
Peter Pan-themed playground
Take the kids to Kensington Gardens and visit the Diana Memorial Playground, themed on Peter Pan. This staffed playground is hugely popular, welcoming over a million kids every year. Explore the pirate ship, teepees and totem pole, and sensory trail. This magical spot was designed so kids of all abilities could play together.
Toy shop and play space
Shopping isn't usually a favourite activity for kids but they might feel differently if you take them to Pandemonium. They'll find thousands of toys and games to choose from at this timeless store, plus a playroom. Parents can relax with a coffee whilst the kids enjoy the toys and games in the room.
Ice skating and more
There's lively fun at Queens. This popular centre is vibrant and full of colour, offering a great time for adults and kids. Leisure ice skating is available, plus a spectators area if you don't want to get on the ice. There's also a bowling alley, arcade, and dining facilities.
Lots of options for kids
Get some fresh air when you explore Crystal Palace Park. This expansive green space in South London is home to the famous Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, historical dinosaur sculptures you can explore on foot or by pedalo. Kids can also have fun at the skatepark, playground, and one of the country’s largest mazes.
Unique family city tour
Families can enjoy a unique city tour with Bustronome. This roving double decker bus has a distinctive glass roof so you can clearly see all the great sights. Adults can enjoy a tasting menu during the two-hour trip, whilst younger foodies can sample a sophisticated three-course menu.
Since 1936, kids in London have been playing at Coram's Fields, a seven-acre playground in Bloomsbury. It's open to everyone aged under 16 and is a great place for some lively fun. There are multiple play areas, including a sensory zone and adventure playground with a zip wire, plus a paddling pool.
Ice your own biscuits
Biscuiteers in West London is a place for buying exquisitely-iced biscuits in fun and unique designs, learning how to ice your own, or stopping for a hot drink and a sweet treat. During half-term both locations are offering icing classes that include a big choice of biscuits to decorate, plus a box to take the treats home in.
Fun and family-friendly
Take the family on a tour of the city with Tootbus. This modern and fun company offers tours on an open-top double decker, including tours designed specifically with children in mind. You'll see all the major sights, learn some new facts, and enjoy lots of fun along the way.
Inclusive theatre in North London
Right at the tip of North London there's Chickenshed, an inclusive local theatre with lots on for all ages. Workshops, film screenings, live music, and theatre performances are on here regularly. This half-term, lively theatre shows aimed at children are on. They're made for kids from babies up to age six.
Family-friendly scary films
Rivoli Ballroom is notable for being one of the last remaining 1950s ballrooms in the city. Its interiors remain virtually untouched. To coincide with Halloween, it's turning into a pop-up cinema on 25th and 26th October, showcasing family-friendly scary films that all ages can enjoy, as well as later screenings for the adults.
Families celebrating Black History Month
On 24th October, Islington Central Library is hosting a free event for families with kids to celebrate Black History Month, working with the Go Africa community hub. There will be drumming, African chanting, painting, clay, crafts, and workshops for the whole family to get involved with. This fun event lasts for two hours.
Creative workshops for the whole family
Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury has a range of great activities going on during half-term. This museum explores London's history through the story of the UK's first first home for children at risk of abandonment. It has an impressive art collection too. During the holidays, families can get involved with a number of creative workshops inspired by the museum's current exhibition.