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October half-term guide to Suffolk & Cambs

Yep, half-term has crept up on us, too. But rather than climb the four walls (again), here's your ultimate guide to beating boredom and surviving the school holidays this month.

It might feel like you’ve only just conquered Clarks’ back-to-school queue, but fear not: Muddy has the inside line on how to keep you and your crew entertained this October. Anything amazing that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comments box below.

Get outdoors 

Wrap up warm for an Autumn Adventurers afternoon at Melford Hall, where kids get to follow a trail around the gardens to find out what happens to plants and animals as they prepare for winter – fun learning in the fresh air, this is peak half-term parenting. Hit the lovely tea room afterwards for hot chocs and cake. 

Autumn Animals at Cambridge University Botanic Garden is another great way to get little ones al fresco. Simply collect six animal cards filled with facts, games and activities on arrival then make your way to the gorgeous gardens to put them into action – there’s no prize, but they will have something fun to colour in back home. 

Want to get the perfect ‘kids in a pumpkin patch’ pic for your Instagram? Then visit Skylark Maize Maze and Funyard in Wimblington, where you’ll find acres of the orange orbs to pick (£2 each) during its half-term Week of Wickedness, which includes pumpkin carving, scarecrow smash, den building, pig racing and a family fancy dress competition. 

Half-term earlier at your kids’ school? Then enrol them in a Nature of Learning workshop (19 Oct; 9.30am-2pm) in the grounds of Stoke Colldge in beautiful Stoke-by-Clare. There’s stuff for all ages (10-16), like fire-lighting, bushcraft, foraging and cooking over a camp fire.

Fright sites

Singalongs with a wicked witch, monster mash party, pumpkin comedy show, marshmallows by the fire, spooktacular props, holograms and projections…Halloween On The Hills by Seckford Hall near Woodbridge sounds great for adults let alone kids! Word on the street is that it’s designed by a couple of movie makers from Netflix, so prepare to be wowed (tickets from £6.50; runs 13-31 Oct). 

Halloweenies (from £11.95pp) is taking place at Kentwell Hall throughout halt-term; think spooky songs, challenges, craft and more witches outfits that you can shake a broom at. 

Children can also get their fright on at Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely (5-7pm; 28 Oct) where Halloween fun (£8pp) will include dressing up, story-telling, activities, treats and prizes. 

Not so into the pumpkin/witches vibe? For something different, try Spooky Sounds at The Red House in Aldeburgh (28-29 Oct), where kids can listen to scary Suffolk tales complete with spooky sounds, then have a go at creating a sound effect kit to take home, all for free.

It’s all going off at Jimmy’s Farm this half-term – apparently naughty meerkat Steve McQueen has stolen Jimmy’s pumpkins so your little darlings will need to follow clues to find them all and get a prize. They can also meet spooky bugs and there’s a Halloween fancy dress competition on 31 Oct.

Framlingham Castle’s getting involved with Halloween too, with The Wizards of Once Halloween Quest (23-31 Oct; from £7.50). It’s an adventure trail inspired by Cressida Cowell’s best-selling Wizards of Once series, where children have to collect the ingredients for a spell to get rid of witches and uncover the location of the Cup of Second Chances plus a fancy dress competition too. 

Active minds

We love a pun at Muddy, so It’s a Hard Rock Life! at Cambridge Science Centre was always going to make it into the what’s on guide. It’s also in here because it’s a great way to keep little minds active in the hols; think mini wax fossil making, crayon rubbing ancient creatures and seeing the centre’s fossil collection up close. Alternatively, book Recycle for Life, which encourages kids to upcycle everyday items, teaches them how the planet recycles water and there’s also a mini greenhouse activity to take home. 

Theatre, darling 

Puns a plenty with Harry Panto: Return to Frogwarts taking place at Felixstowe’s The Spa Pavilion (26 Oct). This wizard play is bound to appeal to youngsters keen to fight the dark lord through magic, pop songs and spellbinding acting that will leave them wanting Volde-more (sorry not sorry). 

Meanwhile, Pinocchio’s showing at Ipswich’s Wolsey Theatre (29-30 Oct), so take the whole family along for puppetry and giggles. 

In need of a sure-fire way to tempt the whole family to the theatre no matter what age? Then head over the border to Colchester’s Mercury Theatre to see The Three Musketeers: A Comedy Adventure (29-31 Oct). Award-winning funny men Le Navet Bete manage to condense Dumas’ 700-page classic into two hours of non-stop comedy gold. Expect hilarious heroics, raucous romances and some bonkers fun with BMX bikes at the Muddy Award Winning Mercury Theatre (even teens can’t fail to be impressed).

Holiday camps 

Fed up with them bouncing on the sofa? Save your settee springs and send them to The Little Gym in Cambridge, which has half or full-day, half-term camps for 3-10 year olds full of games and gymnastics. .

Tire them out at The Leys School in Cambridge which has plenty of space (like, 50 acres) for half-term camps for 3-14 year olds. Every day is different, from swimming and art to footie and obstacle courses (£45 per day; 8.15am-5pm). 

Always a holiday winner, School’s Out Activities runs half-term camps at Ipswich High School, South Lee School in Bury St Edmunds, Colchester Royal Grammar School and Woodbridge School, with activities for four through to 16 year olds. There’s arts and crafts, cooking, stories, music and drama for the Early Explorers (4-6 years), while 7-12 years olds can choose whether they want to be in the creative crew or adrenalin adventure (think archery, team sports, uni-hockey). My kids have done these in the summer holidays before and loved them. From £35 per day. 

Teen scene 

Teens going through the vampire/supernatural/horror stage might appreciate the chance to chill(er) on a supernatural tour at Kentwell Hall (8.30-10.30pm; £15pp), which includes a haunted tree, the crazed student, severed head and face at the window plus the chance to win an all-night vigil in one of the hall’s haunted Victorian bedrooms with up to six friends. Sounds, erm, lovely.

Stress, physical changes, emotional rollercoasters, sleep issues, anxiety – no, not the perimenopause, it’s the teenage years! If any of that sounds familiar then half-term might be a good time to book in some sessions with Cambridge Teen Yoga, run by Carolina George, a fab teacher specialising in these tricky years. Who knows, they might come out of their sessions with a new sense of purpose, fulfilment and joy, or they might just moan. Either way, they’re off a screen and out of the house.

Photo: Christian Barker

Got a wannabe rock star on your hands? Book them a free intro guitar lesson for teens (12-17 years) at Ipswich Guitar School. If your teen’s more into dancing, Stagecoach Cambridge has an intensive week-long course for advanced students (9-16 years) covering different dance styles and techniques daily, from Jazz to musical theatre (£150). 

Young GBBO lovers will be all over the Halloween Cooking & Baking for Teenagers workshop (£60) in Ilia’s Kitchen at Suffolk Foodhall. Teens (13-17) learn how to make Halloween-themed party dishes, including four savoury spooky treats and two sweet centrepieces. At the end they get to sit down together to eat and take home a recipe book too. 

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