by Dan Shone
Come to the West Country this half-term to do the monster mash. Bake your bogey buns to treat the little ones, let your artistic side go grisly with a pumpkin and don’t forget to pack those creepy costumes for a haunting holiday. Many attractions are bringing their Halloween events forward to coincide with the school holiday and there’s a whole lot of spine-chilling fun and frightening going on. Here are a few we’re flying off to with knee-trembling trepidation, but wherever you rattle your bones this half-term there will be something spooky afoot to curdle your blood.
19th to 27th October
It’s all go-at the Pennywell farm goat show. Vote for your favourite breed, see their skills on the agility course and take your own Pennywell goat for a walk. It’s all treats and no tricks at the much loved family attraction. There are farm rides, a show every half hour and very happy children.
A fairly tough four mile route starting from Kingswear and following the South West Coast Path around Coleton Fishacre and Froward Point, this is a brilliant event for adults, teenagers and dogs on leads. Carry your own flaming torch and hope for panoramic moonlit views of Torbay, South Devon and Dartmoor. Don’t forget to sign up for the Challenge.
19th October – 3rd November
These eerie underground caves come into their own at Halloween, with cave tours, the Witch’s Hat joke trail, Spooky Dig and the Underground Pumpkin Hunt. Follow the storyteller as they unearth local folklore about ghostly experiences in South Devon by dim lighting and candles, but beware… you never know who may appear from the dark.
20th October – 1st November
Experience a ghoulish Halloween at this historic castle. Take a guided tour of the castle and unearth its spooky and hidden tales of the past. From the 20th – 25th October join in with pumpkin carving classes.
19th – 27th October
This is a lovely place to stop off if you’re travelling through Devon to Cornwall, within easy reach of the A30 and serving great home cooked food (with a pumpkin themed menu). This Halloween you can pick your own pumpkins, carve them and take a mysterious ride on the pumpkin trailer. There is also a grand draw for Children in Need with tickets to be drawn on 27th October.
For something a little more serene, why not take a bat detector and head out on a clear night for some conversation with our winged friends. Children are thrilled to hear the high frequency clicks and spot a shadow flitting overhead. Until the end of October the Bat Project is lending detectors and they simply ask that you share your encounters for their survey helping the Greater Horseshoe Bats to survive.
For inspiration on where to stay view our Devon holiday cottages.
Chances are you’ve never seen creepy crawlies like these! At the cryptid petting zoo get up close with some extremely rare and highly unusual animals. Cool down afterwards with a spin on the ice skating rink or refresh with your own made pumpkin juice potion.
The family theme park is always full of thrills, but this half-term it gets even better with spine-tingling rides and a spooky pumpkin trail in the creepy Victorian Village. The evening culminates with an amazing fireworks display and a George Michael tribute show.
It’s very much a case of trick for treat. Using a UV torch, search this 600 year old farmhouse to uncover scary symbols hidden in the dark. Solve the clues to win yourself a bag of goodies. Runs from 11am – 3pm.
25th and 26th October
Another fascinating English Heritage site, but beware the spirit of Henry VIII within his coastal fortress. Take the eerie evening tour for an after-hours journey back into the castle’s creepy past and relive tales of ghostly apparitions and dastardly deeds. Not suitable for the faint-hearted!
Take a look at our Cornwall cottages for ideas on where to stay.
26th October – 3rd November
With their claim to be the ‘home of Halloween’, the caves are sure to make your heart miss a beat. You can ride a broomstick, meet the witch in her cobwebby grotto, watch the Halloween circus show and be in with a chance of winning the spooky costume competition. Just make sure you can find your way out…
The National Trust hilltop castle at Dunster is always atmospheric, but this Halloween there is the added bonus of magic and wizardry. Follow the trail around the grounds to discover hidden mythical beasts. It all gets a bit spookier at dusk when a guide will regale you with tales of castle ghosts through the candlelit rooms. Ghost tours take place on the 19th, 26th and 30th October.
24th and 31st October
Trot along to the Exmoor Pony Centre between 12pm and 3pm to meet the beautiful Exmoor ponies and follow the Halloween trail. Complete the trail and win a prize. You can also groom the ponies, take a ride, make crafts and enjoy some fine refreshments.
Enjoy a half-term to remember in one of our Somerset holiday cottages.
23rd October – 3rd November
There’s a spine-tingling week of Halloween fun in the grounds of the 900 year old Abbey, with a haunted trail, pumpkin rolling and family activities to get your pulse racing. It’s a beautiful time of year to explore the gardens and enjoy a delicious selection of cakes and light lunches in the undercroft tearoom.
31st October – 2nd November
These gardens are beautiful in the daytime, but they are truly magical, and a little mysterious, when illuminated at dusk. The family fright nights bring you a special laser show, close encounters with bugs and snakes and a meeting with Twitch the Witch – if you are brave enough.
Bring your teddy to the ancient ruins for a bit of comfort, but squeeze him tight or he may be whisked away down the scary zip wire challenge. Dodge the lurking pumpkins and witness the mighty Warwolf II, the castle trebuchet, flinging medieval terror at 11.30am and 3pm.
12th October – 3rd November
Dive into the deep to follow the trail throughout the aquarium and find the missing potion ingredients. Deliver your findings to the sea witch who will reward you with a prize. Get involved in a game of trick or treat, learn about all of the sea creatures and enjoy lots of other activities.
For somewhere special to stay view our holiday cottages in Dorset.
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