October is the perfect month to get out and about in Britain, and with half term looming there's plenty to keep the kids entertained. There's an array of festivals, events and experiences you won't want to miss this month, as well as outdoor movies to seeing the UK's spectacular scenery.
Drive In Cinema, London
With outdoor movies a huge hit this summer, you'll be excited to know that the trend continues into autumn with Drive In Cinema arriving at Brent Cross Shopping Centre and transporting film buffs to a classic American-style drive-in cinema to watch classics and hot new releases on a giant screen from the comfort of their own car. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the month you can watch films like World War Z, Django Unchained and Back to the Future, while Sunday screenings are for families to cosy up and enjoy the likes of Toy Story, Hocus Pocus and Grease under the stars. To complete the Drive In experience, Californian-style street food from Route 66 and classic cinema snacks are delivered direct to your car by roller skating staff before the movie starts.
Illuminating York, North Yorkshire
As the clocks go back on 27 October marking the start of darker evenings, an array of night-time events across the country will light up England after dark. This year, Illuminating York promises to shine brighter than ever before in York, from 30 October to 2 November. Visitors to the city will see it in a new light as cutting-edge technology creates a colourful celebration of York's unique heritage, with Cliffords Tower and the Yorkshire Museum brought to life with light. Don't miss the Fire Garden installation by the river and the trees illuminated in a trail starting outside The Treasurer's House.
Snowdonia Walking Festival, Conwy
Is there a better time to go walking than in autumn? Wales offers a wealth of walking opportunities for lovers of the great outdoors and one of the most spectacular and iconic spots is Snowdonia. The Snowdonia Walking Festival (26 and 27 October) is a weekend to experience the majestic rugged beauty surrounding the village of Betws y Coed on foot. The unforgettable walks take in emerald forests, fast-flowing rivers and mountains encircling the village. The walks are guided by local experts who know the forests and lakes like the back of their hand, and you can choose from a three-mile beginner's stroll to an all-day trek, ideal for experienced mountain walkers.
The Blair Witch Experience, Surrey
Want a Halloween to remember? Head for Thorpe Park this month for the new and terrifying experience added to its annual Fright Nights programme. Based on the cult Blair Witch Project, the bravest of visitors are invited to stay overnight at The Crash Pad and face the theme park in the dead of the night for a fully, immersive outdoor horror experience (over 18s only; various dates). Visitors will experience the eerie silence of the locked-up theme park as some of the long-forgotten pathways are opened up and they enter a live-action maze based on the most iconic horror films, plus there's the chance to ride the exhilarating rollercoasters in the dark. Spooky!
Enchanted Forest, Perthshire
Don't miss a trip to the forest this autumn. Running every evening from 4 to 27 October, the Enchanted Forest in Perthshire is an outdoor experience that will set your imagination alight. Lighting and sound designers have created dazzling visuals against original music, allowing visitors to explore the stunning autumn woodland setting of Faskally Wood near Pitlochry with a twist. Using the forest as a natural backdrop, you're invited to wrap up warm and enjoy the wonderful lighting show that promises to be a treat for all the senses. Don't miss the storytelling yurt, where you can snuggle up and listen to enchanting stories.
Fancy a trip to a haunted castle to celebrate Halloween? Browse England's spookiest below:
Haunted castles for Halloween
Take five: Brilliant things to do in Britain this October
With an extensive past of past residents, including royal visitors and prisoners, Carisbrooke has its fair share of haunting tales. Amon its ethereal inhabitants are a ghostly figure accompanied by four tiny lap dogs, who is often spotted in the courtyard of the castle, and the disembodied face of a tragic drowning victim reputedly visible in the well water.
Halloween happenings: Let the kids scare themselves silly this half term with creepy crafts, spooky activities and ghost hunting galore.
Built on the site of a bloody battlefield, paranormal activity and Battle Abbey have long gone hand in hand. Many visitors claim to have seen the figure of a monk gliding through the abbey, and shadowy figures have often been spotted within the undercroft and cloisters. When it rains, the battlefield appears to be awash with blood due to iron oxide in the soil mixing with rainwater...
Halloween happenings: Head to the Haunted Abbey event every day during half term for activity trails, ghost hunting and creepy crafts.
A turbulent history stretching back over 2,000 years has produced plenty of spooky goings-on at one of England’s most haunted castles. Look out for a mysterious lady in red and the tragic figure of a Napoleonic drummer boy - just two of the spirits who roam within the walls of Dover Castle, while the labyrinth of underground tunnels provides numerous strange sightings and sounds.
Halloween happenings: The castle is running a Haunted Castle event every day during half term.
This magnificent building is the former home of Sir Charles Cavendish, and some say that ghost of the owner still likes to wander the halls of his restored fantasy mansion. Visitors and staff at Bolsover Castle have also reported the distinct aroma of horses in the empty former riding school, and experienced mysterious pinches or slaps from unseen hands.
Halloween happenings: Bolsover is giving visitors the chance to explore the castle at night on Fridays and Saturdays during half term, with the chance to wander the castle by torchlight and look for signs of previous residents…
A long history of military residence, siege and assault has left its mark on Carlisle Castle, where gruesome discoveries await and unexplained happenings often occur. A Grey Lady and the ghostly apparitions of various soldiers who have inhabited the castle through the centuries are among the spirits who appear to those who brave this fortress.
Halloween happenings: Join torchlight tours that
bring to life some of the creepy, gruesome and surprising tales during half term.
They say that the sound of horses' hooves can regularly be heard at this coastal castle, allegedly a legacy from when occupants were forced to slaughter their horses for food during Civil War siege. The sound of furniture being moved in an upstairs room has also been reported, and workmen once spotted a woman walking across Pendennis Castle when it was closed, only to find that she had then disappeared.
Halloween happenings: Spooky trails and ghost hunting adventures are taking place throughout the week of half term, as well as spooky tours.
As the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it's no surprise that these evocative gothic ruins contain their fair share of ghost stories. A coach pulled by headless horses has been seen travelling through Whitby Abbey before plunging off a nearby clifftop, and rumour has it that the abbey’s founder, St Hild, can sometimes be seen appearing in the upper windows of the ruins.
Halloween happenings: The abbey will be illuminated with coloured floodlighting from Wednesday 26 October until Saturday 29 October. You'll also get the chance to meet costumed characters and hear their gruesome tales.
This spectacular ruin once played host to many extravagant parties – and no-one is entirely sure that all the guests have gone home. Visitors at Witley Court have commented to staff about a gentleman peering out of an upstairs window, despite there being no floors, and the empty ballroom often echoes with the haunting music of a string quartet.
Halloween happenings: During half term, families can discover the rare and wonderful world of bats and take part in a fancy dress competition.
If you take a tour at Eltham Palace, be sure to check that your guide is among the living… it is said the spirit of a former guide sometimes takes groups for a walk around the grounds. Watch out for a royal encounter too – the Art Deco palace was built around Henry VIII’s boyhood home and regular visitors believe his presence still lingers.
Halloween happenings: Half term horrors include creepy crafts, a costume competition and pumpkin carving sessions.