39 things to do in York this half term holiday, October 2016

Two young explorers at Castle Howard. Photograph: Ash Nesbitt
20 Oct 2016 @ 8.27 am
| Entertainment

It may feel like they only just started back at school but here comes the half-term holiday again.

Fortunately there’s lots in York to keep all ages happy. So here are a few ideas in the city and close by.

Illuminating York

An artist impression of 'Lumen' by David Ogle, at  York St John University during Illuminating York
An artist impression of ‘Lumen’ by David Ogle, at York St John University during Illuminating York

York city centre

Wed Oct 26-Sat Oct 29 @ 6pm-10pm

Mostly free; Minster installation – adults £8, children £3.50

More details

See many of York’s buildings in a new light as Illuminating York brightens up the dark evenings.

While there is a small fee for entry into the York Minster and certain fringe events such as the NoHL Pockets of Lights, everything else is free. Look out for installations at York St John University, Royal York Hotel, Clifford’s Tower and the National Railway Museum.

Halloween

Terrifying tales at York Castle Museum. Photograph: Kippa Matthews
Terrifying tales at York Castle Museum. Photograph: Kippa Matthews

York Castle Museum

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30, 11am–1pm and 2pm-4pm

Included in admission price

More details

Enter York Castle Museum if you dare as the team look at past and present superstitions with spooky stories and terrifying tales.

Learn why it’s bad to break a mirror, spill salt but why it is lucky to touch wood, and, if that isn’t tempting enough then you can also have a go at making your own witch ball to catch evil spirits.

Isabella Billington is one of the York Dungeon Wicked Women
Isabella Billington is one of the York Dungeon Wicked Women

York Dungeon

Clifford Street

Mon Oct 17=-Mon Oct 31

From £10

More details

Specially for Halloween, the dungeon brings us the Wicked Women of York.

Come face-to-face with York’s Wicked Woman, the infamous witch Isabella Billington. She may seem innocent, but there’s more to her than meets the eye…

Barley Hall

Coffee Yard, York

Sun Oct 30 @ 5pm-7.30pm

£3-£6

More details

There’s something strange going on this Halloween at Barley Hall and we need intrepid visitors to help us solve some ghostly mysteries!

Sightings of former residents who lived and worked at the Hall over 500 years ago have been seen skulking round the rooms and passageways… Suitable for 5 to 12 year olds.

The reaction says it all… Hallowscream. Photograph:  Jonathan Pow/ jp@jonathanpow.com
The reaction says it all… Hallowscream. Photograph: Jonathan Pow/ [email protected]

Hallowscream

York Maze, Elvington

Various dates till Oct 31

£20-£35

More details

Hallowscream is ready to scare the pants off everyone, with five separate haunted attractions. Afterwards visit the zombie-themed exit bar, where you can get a drink after the event to calm your nerves…

Kaboom at Castle Howard

Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA

Sat Oct 29 from 4.30pm

Adults £15, children £10, family ticket £35, under-4s free

More details and book

A “celebration of the season combining the best of Halloween and Bonfire Night”, Kaboom has been named as one of the top five firework displays in England. This year it has a sci-fi theme, with lasers and pyrotechnics choreographed to the Star Wars music and other stirring theme tunes.

York Maze at Halloween

Elvington

Till Sun Oct 30

£12.50-£14.50

More details

York Maze is also putting on Halloween by day during October Half Term. Among the many events and family friendly activities are the Haunted Maze Treasure Hunt where every child gets a free pumpkin.

Look out for the pumpkin carving competition taking place on the Sunday October 23 as well as the £2,000 cash prize to the winner of the Giant Pumpkin Competition.

You've heard of shock jocks, how about shock chocs?
You’ve heard of shock jocks, how about shock chocs?

York’s Chocolate Story

King’s Square

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30; tours at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm

£5.99 per person or £19.99 for a family of four

More details

Courageous children can test their nerve as they are led on an eerie trick-or-treat tour of the city centre by the unearthly ‘Count Fectionery’.

Full of tasty treats, ghoulish games and spooky stories as well as the history of such concoctions as ‘Terry’s All Ghould, ‘Kit Bats’ and ‘Rowntree’s Fright Pastilles’. Little ones and their grown-ups are encouraged to come in Halloween fancy dress. There will be a competition for the best dressed throughout the week, with choccy hampers as prizes.

Web Adventure Park

Wigginton Road, York

Sat Oct 22-Mon Oct 31

£15-£17

More details

If you are brave enough the park is opening a haunted course along its wired high ropes, and even allowing dark climbs of terror… The course will be run by zombie instructors who may have a few tricks up their shredded sleeves.

Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough, York

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30, excluding Monday @ 10.30am-5pm

£6-£12

More details

Beningbrough’s halloween fun encompasses art, stories and walks. Join Ozzy the Owl on his search for Boris the Bat in a brand new bat themed family trail around the gardens.

On Saturday October 29, dress in your creepiest outfit and join in with the costume parade, showing off how scary you can be. Meet Eden from Stories Alive, a professional storyteller, who’ll be reciting some ghoulish tales…

Haxby Explore

Oaken Grove Community Centre, Haxby

Sat Oct 29 @ 2pm-4.30pm

£2

More details

They’ll be making ghosts and monsters, swatting spooks and telling creepy stories around the old pit lamp. Dress to distress, all the staff will be out to scare…

Castle Howard

Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30

Admission is £9-£17.50

More details

Brush up on your broom making skills, stir up trouble in our potion lessons and practise your scaring with trick or treat training at Castle Howard. Or tiptoe through the trees on its creepy critter trail – and visit in your best trick or treat costume on October 29 & 30 for a Halloween treat.

Nunnington Hall. Photograph: National Trust
Nunnington Hall. Photograph: National Trust

Nunnington Hall

Nunnington, north of York

Various dates

£4.15-£8.25

More details

Are you brave enough to follow the haunted trail and discover what really happened one night at Nunnington Hall? It’s £1 per trail. The hall also has ‘ghoulish ghost tours’ on the afternoons of October 29 and 30, as well as an autumn festival for those keener on food and gardening than ghosts.

Little Diggers

St Saviourgate, York

Sat Oct 29 @ 10am-11am

£3.50 per child

More details

DIG hosts a spooky Halloween session for 2 to 5 year olds. There will be creepy crafts, eerie activities and prizes for the scariest costumes…

Stories and art

Get creative at York Art Gallery. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Get creative at York Art Gallery. Photograph: Richard McDougall

York Art Gallery

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30, 11am–1pm and 2pm-4pm

Included in admission price

More details

What’s hiding in the shadows? At the Spooky Shadows and Layers of Light workshops, Use transparent materials to make shadow puppets and window pictures.

York Minster

Till Nov 12

Standard admission prices apply. Admission is free for York residents with a valid York Card

More details

Discover new stories and re-live beloved tales in the Minster’s storytelling sessions which take place in St Nicholas’ Chapel from 10.30am on Saturdays.

Then, at 11.30am – How many blue whales can fit inside the Minster? Why might the Archbishop of York wear a wet suit on Easter Saturday? The answers to these questions and many more will be revealed on these family friendly 45-minute tours of the Minster.

Meet Andy Seed

Waterstones, Coney Street

Sat Oct 22 @ 1pm

More details

Meet Blue Peter Book Award winner Andy Seed as he signs copies of his Anti-Boredom Christmas Book.

Horrible Halloween Crafts

Dringhouses Library, Tadcaster Road

Wed Oct 26

£2

More details

Come and have spooky fun at York Explore’s Halloween craft session. There will be spiders, ghosts and maybe even a witch or two.

A similar session takes place at Clifton Library on Friday, October 28.

Hands-on arty fun at Dig. Photograph © PublicDomainPictures
Hands-on arty fun at Dig. Photograph © PublicDomainPictures

Little Diggers Big Draw

St Saviourgate, York

Sat Oct 22 @ 10am

£3.50 per child

More details

Dig celebrates the National Big Draw so join them as they use their fingers to paint a prehistoric giant mural.

Bloodaxe Reading Challenge Launch

Acomb Explore

Sat Oct 22 @ 10.30am-12.30pm

Free

More details

Jorvik Viking Centre and Explore York Libraries challenge you to read four books on heroes and heroines between Saturday, October 22 2016 and Saturday, January 28 2017. There’s a sticker for each book you read and a certificate when you have read all four books. The challenge will launch with a Viking story teller and Viking activities at Acomb Explore.

Big City Read Family Afternoon

York Explore, Library Square

Mon Oct 24 @ 1pm-4pm

Free

More details

Drop in to craft poppies, learn about medals and design one of your own, and find out about the archive’s collection of Chocolate Letters.

At 2pm join author Hilary Robinson for Stories of the First World War at 2pm. This event is free but places are limited so booking is essential. Suitable for ages 6+.

Meet Christina Gabbitas

Waterstones, Coney Street

Thu Oct 27 @ 11am-3pm

More details

Children’s author Christina Gabbitas will be in store signing copies of her latest book, Triangular Trev and the Shape Idols. Triangular Trev meets up with Isosceles Irene, Perpendicular Peri, Equilateral Eric and more, who all play musical instruments, form a band and enter their song into a competition.

Big City Read Family Day

Acomb Explore

Thu Oct 27 @ 9am-4pm

Free

More details

Make a poppy, learn Morse Code, build a World War I bunker using Minecraft, or make your own trenches out of Lego.

History fun

Recreating history – the Barley Hall servants
Recreating history – the Barley Hall servants

Yorkshire Museum

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30, 11am–1pm and 2pm-4pm

Included in admission price

More details

The Bloody Battles of 1066 will come to life at the Yorkshire Museum. To mark the 950th anniversary of the battles near York that led up to the Battle of Hastings, daily shows and activities are to take place.

National Railway Museum

Leeman Road, York

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 30

Free

More details

During half term the National Railway Museum is putting on a hi tech, hands on family experience called Future Engineers.

Explore the challenge zones, collect fascinating facts and discover your potential to be a part of the next generation’s engineers.

Actor Chris Cade tells the story of Arthur Walker's Great War
Actor Chris Cade tells the story of Arthur Walker’s Great War

Yorkshire Museum of Farming

Murton, York, YO19 5UF

Mon Oct 24-Fri Oct 28

£4.50-£6.50

More details

The museum is running a series of hands-on historic activities on one of its living history sites on weekdays through the holidays. You can also see the York Printmakers exhibition Harvest until October 30.

Arthur Walker’s Great War

York libraries

Various

£2

More details

Actor Chris Cade will play real Yorkshire veteran Arthur Walker in this interactive tale of Arthur’s journey. Join him as Arthur is recruited, fights in the trenches and is taken prisoner.

Little cinema

Minster Yard, York

Sat Oct 22-Sun Dec 18

£4-£8

More details

Take a seat and enjoy a new short film created by the Yorkshire Film Archive showing footage of York’s historic past.

The film is a brand new addition to the popular Demolition and Restoration display at Treasurer’s House. Screened in a little cinema created on the first floor, the film shows the Lord Mayor of York from 1959 taking two children to several key places in York.

Barley Hall

Coffee Yard, York

Wed Oct 26 @ noon-4pm

£3-£6

More details

Barley Hall’s volunteer team take you back in time, showcasing the life of servants from the late-medieval period.

With opportunities to meet the characters and see demonstrations this is a rare glimpse of social history of the Middle Ages brought to life in a beautiful setting.

WWI Themed Tea Party

Acomb Explore, Front Street

Mon Oct 24 @ 10.30am-11.30am

£2

More details

Lots of games and activities for 5-11 year olds. Learn about World War I, ‘pack up your troubles’ and join in war songs, take part in games and craft activities at a Great British Tea Party.

Half term fun at Goddards

Tadcaster Road, York

Wed Oct 26-Sun Oct 30

£3-£6

More details

Curl up by the fireside and read the Terry Times or play games indoors and out and enjoy trails and fun for the family.

Films and shows

Drive-in cinema

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, York YO19 4TA

Fri Oct 21-Sun Oct 30

£25 per vehicle

More details

Launched at Monks Cross, the drive-in movie experience moves to York Designer Outlet this holiday. Family-friendly films on offer include Toy Story, Shrek, Frozen and Alice Through The Looking Glass.

Moby Dick at York Guildhall

Wed Oct 19-Thu Nov 3

From £22

More details

Herman Melville’s maritime masterpiece comes to life in an new production by Theatre Mill. Your voyage begins in a local fishing inn, an in-the-round interactive theatre set within the Guildhall where a group of old fisherman meet. Featuring spectacular live music and songs of the sea this promises to be “a bold, exhilarating sea-faring adventure like no other”.

Aha me hearties… Moby Dick at the Guildhall
Aha me hearties… Moby Dick at the Guildhall

American Wrestling

York Barbican

Sat Oct 22 @ 7.30pm

£13.44-£15.68

More details

Get ready for large gentlemen in skimpy Lycra grappling with one another for our entertainment. Boo the bad guys and cheer the victors, and let’s have a good clean fight. Well, cleanish…

Little Screen at Vue

Vue York, Clifton Moor

Sat Oct 22-Sun Oct 23 @ 10.30am

£2.99

More details

Little Screen is a brand new interactive cinema experience for families and young children at Vue York. Featuring two showings across one weekend each month, the first show will feature Hey Duggee, Masha and the Bear, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Paw Patrol.

For the duration of each 70-minute programme, children will be kept on their toes with the host – Marty (Darren Hart) – encouraging audience participation inspired by the content.

Underneath A Magical Moon

Underneath A Magical Moon by tutti frutti

York Theatre Royal

Till Sat Oct 22

£6-£12

More details

A reimagining of Peter Pan as told by Wendy Darling, aimed at children aged three and above. Through her open window Wendy Darling gazes out at the night sky dreaming of blue lagoons, magical moons and the stories that she can tell. But tonight, like no other, has magic in the air…

Further Afield

The Moors National Park Centre

Lodge Lane, Danby, Whitby

October 22-30

Various

More details

Lots of activities on offer including Help a Hedgehog and Fabulous Fungus (both 25 October), fangtastic Halloween Crafts (26 October) or enjoy a messy morning of mud-pie making in the woodland kitchen (28 October).

Stockeld Park

Off the A661 Wetherby Road

Wed Oct 19-Mon Oct 31

From £8

More details

Join Stockeld Park for their Halloween Adventure. Journey by Nordic Ski on the woodland trail, take a magical trip around the illuminated Enchanted Forest, travel through the Maze or enjoy their real Ice Rink.

Lightwater Valley

North Stainley, Ripon

Oct 22-Oct 30

£5-£20

More details

Lightwater Valley’s Halloween spooktacular adds a cloak of supernatural delight to the theme park over half term. All manner of creepy ghouls and beasties lurk within the valley, so tread scarefully as we celebrate shocktober in style.

Meanwhile the Lightwater fireworks take place on October 22 and 23.

Winging it at Byland Abbey
Winging it at Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey

Byland, Coxwold YO61 4BD

Sat Oct 22-Tues Oct 25 @ 11am-4pm

£3-£5

More details

Medieval falconers are at Byland Abbey for the first few days of the holiday. Witness spectacular aerial displays of birds of prey in flight and discover how these birds were used by the nobles of the medieval period for sport and for the table.