Things To Do In London In Half Term: October 2021

October half term 2021 runs Saturday 23 October-Sunday 31 October for most London schools. Here are some family-friendly events happening in London during half term week. As always, check with the venues directly for the latest information and restrictions.

All week

Yep, that time of year is fast approaching

ICE SKATING: It's time to get your skates on, as London's seasonal ice rinks commence business. The Natural History Museum ice rink is open (for the last time ever) from 16 October, while Ice Rink Canary Wharf follows suit on 23 October — plenty of time to perfect your moves on the ice before they get busy for the festive period.

GRUFFALO'S CHILD: Fox, Owl, Snake, Gruffalo and Gruffalo's Child are some of the characters you might encounter if you go down to the woods this week — the woods being Kew Gardens. Follow the special trail through the autumnal landscape and look out for Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's beloved children's book characters as you go. 16-31 October

Hunt down The Gruffalo at Kew Gardens

FAMILY FILM WEEK: If the weather's naff, Barbican Cinema's got you covered with a Family Film Week, focusing specifically on the natural world. Documentaries, animations and live action films are on the programme, including The Secret Garden and Earthflight, a documentary about birds. 23-30 October

ALIENS, ZOMBIES AND MONSTERS: North Finchley's artsdepot hosts an interactive exhibition looking at how the characters in children's books are created. It's an excellent choice for little Londoners with big imaginations, as there's a chance to create stories and characters of your own too. 24-30 October

STORY SLEUTHS: Both Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands host Story Sleuths, a self-guided, family-friendly trail telling the stories of Black Londoners. Digital technology brings people from the past to life, allowing visitors to see their faces and hear their stories. Aimed at age 7+. 23-31 October

Discover Fantastic Beasts at Natural History Museum

INVERTEBRATE ROADSHOW: Head to Brompton Cemetery for Mission: Invertebrate, a programme of free, drop-in activities by Royal Parks, with a Halloween twist. Expect spooky storytelling, creepy crafts and bug hunting — all in one of London's most beautiful cemeteries. 25-29 October

BING AND FLOP: Children's TV characters Bing and Flop are dropping by to lend a hand at ZSL London Zoo. Follow a self-guided trail, helping Bing to care for the animals, then join Bing and Flop themselves for story time in the amphitheatre. Until 31 October

How about a trip to the real-life Hundred Acre Wood?

MONKEY BUSINESS: Horniman Museum's latest exhibition, Monkey Business, takes a family-friendly look at the life of primates, complete with taxidermy specimens. Find out about primates, how they live and how they've evolved, from the tiny mouse lemur to the familiar gorilla. Until January 2022

FANTASTIC BEASTS: Science meets Harry Potter in Natural History Museum's Fantastic Beasts exhibition, ideal for older kids, teenagers, and adult Potterheads. Fantastical beasts, both mythical and real, come under the microscope — find out where the myth of fire-breathing dragons originated, and how a fossil came to be named after Hogwarts. Until January 2022

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 avisit 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.

Saturday 23 October

Welcome Wishes at Southbank Centre

OUR BLUE PLANET: Barbican Cinema's Family Film Week (above) kicks off with a screening of family-friendly BBC Earth documentary, Our Blue Planet. Kate Winslet narrates, as viewers are introduced to marine animals from around the world, including dolphins and rays, with an introduction by Will McCallum from Greenpeace. 1.30pm

WELCOME WISHES: Aimed at children aged 5+ and their families, Welcome Wishes is an interactive storytelling experience recounting the tale of Blessing, who discovers a bag of paper birds bearing wishes written by refugee children from around the world. Giant travelling puppet Little Amal makes an appearance at Southbank Centre as part of the event. 2pm

Sunday 24 October

Learn about Olaudah Equiano at Museum of London

OLAUDAH EQUIANO: As part of its Black History Month events, Museum of London gives Londoners a chance to step back in time and hear the story of Olaudah Equiano, the famous BAME abolitionist. Aimed at age 5+, the storytelling event offers an insight into the injustices he faced. 11am/1pm/2.30pm

WINNIE THE POOH: Discover Story Centre in Stratford celebrates Winnie the Pooh's 95th birthday with a reading by author Jane Riordan from her new book, Once There Was A Bear. Written in AA Milne's own style, the book tells Pooh's story before he reached the One Hundred Acre Wood, when he was purchased for baby Christopher Robin. 1pm-1.45pm

Monday 25 October

THE BIG DRAW: Creative kids of all ages are invited to take part in The Big Draw at artsdepot. All manner of art and drawing related activities take place throughout the building all day, centred around this year's 'Make The Change' theme. 11am

INDIAN FOLKLORE: Author Chitra Soundar hosts a storytelling and songwriting session based on her book of Indian folklore, A Sliver Of Moon And A Shard Of Truth. Head to Discover Story Centre Stratford to hear her reading from the book, then help to compose a travel song for the royal baby. 1pm-1.45pm

Tuesday 26 October

It's Hedgehog Day at Battersea Park Zoo

HEDGEHOG DAY: Battersea Park Zoo holds a day of activities dedicated to some of nature's spikiest critters. As well as a chance to meet a real hedgehog, the programme includes hedgehog themed arts, crafts and storytelling, and a chance to meet people from the Hedgehog Street Campaign and learn how you can help the species survive. 11am

BROOMSTICK WORKSHOP: Kids getting excited about Halloween? Take them along to Chelsea Physic Garden for a broomstick workshop, where they can decorate their own broomstick from materials found in the garden. Transport sorted, they can then join in a broomstick ride around the garden, learning about some of the plants as they go. 11am/1pm/3pm

Wednesday 27 October

A day of kids' activities at Southbank Centre

NOCTURNAL ANIMAL DAY: A juxtaposition if ever we heard one, but today's activities at Battersea Park Zoo focus on animals which normally only come out at night. Hedgehogs and owls are the focus, but there's also a chance to find out whether a scorpion glows in the dark. 11am

MAGNIFICENT MONSTERS: Difference is the theme at Southbank Centre today, where craft activities focus on children's literature collection 10 Stories To Make A Difference. As well as a chance to make some monsters at the craft table, the day also consists of storytelling, dance, song, readings and workshops. 11am

Thursday 28 October

RSS Sir David Attenborough comes to Greenwich

ICE WORLDS: Remember Boaty McBoatFace? Well, the vessel involved is coming to Greenwich, albeit under the more dignified title of RSS Sir David Attenborough. The polar research shop moors up as part of the Ice Worlds Festival, focusing on what it's like to live and work in the Arctic and Antarctic. 28-30 October

CHOCOLATE THURSDAY: Calling all cocoa lovers — head to Chelsea Physic Garden to learn about the history, geography and science of the bean we love so much. Take a tour of the garden, taste some of the good stuff, and take your own chocolatey mixture home with you. Age 6-11. 10.30am-2.30pm

AUTUMN LEAVES: Make the most of the autumn hues at Gunnersbury Park Museum's crafty afternoon. Use autumn leaves to create a stained glass style piece of art to take home with you. 12pm-4pm

Friday 29 October

Try your hand at pumpkin carving

PUMPKIN CARVING: Head to Gunnersbury Park Museum for a go at pumpkin carving. The event is open to children aged 4+ and their adults, and pumpkins are included in the ticket price, as well as guidance from experts. 10.30am

WIFI WARS: Pick from the matinee or evening show as WiFi Wars returns to the Royal Institution. Make sure you have a fully charged phone or tablet with you to play along as the comedy quiz and game show returns to where it all began in 2015. 2pm (families)/7pm (adults and older teenagers)

Saturday 30 October

MONSTER CROWNS: Get ready for Halloween at Gunnersbury Park Museum's craft afternoon, where all materials are provided for children to create a monster crown, complete with fangs, to top off their fancy dress outfit. 12pm-4pm

HERO HUNT: Pakiki Theatre takes over Discover Story Centre Stratford for two performances of The Knowing Newham Hero Hunt. The interactive family show has been created for Newham Heritage Month and takes the audience on a hunt for Newham's hidden heroes. 1pm/4pm

Sunday 31 October

Battersea Park Zoo hosts a pumpkin quiz

HALLOWEEN: Looking for spooky activities to keep your little ghouls and goblins busy today? Our guide to Halloween events in London has it covered, from pumpkin carving to broomstick workshops.