We know how hard it can be trying to keep restless children occupied during half term. Fortunately, the forecast looks good - AND we've rounded up 55 things to do across the county.

We can't pretend this is an exhaustive list, so if there's anything you think we need to add, email digital@bournemouthecho.co.uk to let us know.


1. Join the BIC’s Big Adventure

Not for the faint-hearted this one – the BIC is being transformed to feature a host of indoor activities, from climbing walls to pop-up pirate ships. Zorbing, skating, soft play, technology that turns you into Spiderman and the chance to leap from the roof of the Windsor Hall will all feature. You may want ear plugs, but your kids will probably love it. Tickets are £8.50 and it’s open from 11am Saturday and 10am Sunday. bic.co.uk/whats-on/the-big-bournemouth-adventure-weekend-2014/

2. Mini BSO’s Ghosts and Ghouls

A different kind of cacophony at Lighthouse Poole as the Mini BSO puts on its Ghosts and Ghouls event. Musical mystery, magic and mayhem are promised - enjoy spooky sounds, ghostly goings on and ghoulish noises, as well as Scary Bones and the Wacky Witches of Wareham. Starts at 11.15am Details from lighthousepoole.co.uk or call 0844 406 8666.

3. Make a broomstick

Hengistbury Head visitor centre is holding a Halloween-themed event to make a broom or magic wand, or both! Suitable for children aged 6+ (must be accompanied by an adult). Booking essential on 01202 420909. £3 per broom and £1 per wand. For more information or to book places, please phone 01202 420909.

4. Go batty for bats

Swanage and Wareham Voice: halloween bat

Dorset Bat Group is hosting an evening of Halloween family fun at Upton House from 5pm today. Follow a batty trail to test your knowledge with a walk in the dark woods looking for bats using bat detectors. Wear a Halloween costume if you dare – a torch is a must. £1 for adults, 50p for children. Meet at the kiosk at the rear of Upton House. Details from 01202 262753 or uptoncountrypark.com.

5. Pick a pumpkin at twilight...

Pumpkins are being sold in the farm shop or farm stand at Bailey Ridge Plants, near Leigh, Sherborne, throughout October, or you can choose your own from the pumpkin patch in the field, after having your face painted as something suitably spooky. Or, join in a twilight pumpkin pick tonight, Tuesday or Wednesday from 5.30pm to 7pm. To find out more, call 01963 210999.

6. .... then decorate it

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Pumpkin Day

It doesn’t have to be carving – even the youngest children can have a go at pumpkin decorating. We’ve got a pinterest board full of easy ideas here.

7. Teach them bush crafts at RSPB Arne

Now in its 5th year, the Arne Forage festival is a collection of local traders, local food producers and craft stalls including hands on bush craft with the Ancient Technology Centre, knife skills courses, forage walks and hands on crafts. Try your hand at a range of activities in the great outdoors. 11 am-4 pm, Free.

8. Introduce them to Pinocchio

The penultimate event of this year's Purbeck Film Festival is Disney classic Pinocchio, at the Rex Cinema, Wareham at 6pm. One of the great classic Disney cartoon features about an old carpenter who fashions 
a marionette, and wishes he was a real child. His wish is granted by a fairy, and so his adventures begin. That's what happens when you wish upon a star. Tickets £6.50

9. Help them make collage at Russell-Cotes Museum 

Children can follow the drawing trail between 11am and 4pm and make their own ‘Map of Me’ collage! Artists, David Brooke, and, Caroline Ireland, will be on hand to provide drawing tips and to share their own sketches. £2.50 per person.


10. Join the circus

Lighthouse Poole opens its doors at 10am for its popular Family Circus Fun Day. Activities, workshops and performances for all ages and on a range of themes, including plastic bag ballerinas. Most are free, but some activities and performances will be ticketed on a donation basis.

All week

11. Children’s Red Squirrel Trail on Brownsea Island

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Brownsea Island

Young wildlife enthusiasts will be able to undertake an unusual quest when visiting Brownsea Island during the half term holiday this autumn. One toy red squirrel will be hidden around the 500-acre island each day during the week. And whoever finds it gets to keep it and take it home.

Also on Brownsea, if you’re brave enough, join the Spooky Island Adventure trail (11).

Or if that’s not your bag, you can join a NT instructor for archery, low rope courses or den building (12) on the original island of adventure. Details and prices for all on the National Trust’s website.

12. Bovington Tank Museum

If tanks and the army are your thing (or your children’s) you can get them in for free this week by downloading and completing a challenge from the museum’s website. There’s a modern day soldier to design for young children or a paper tank for the older ones to build. Our Tanks in Action arena displays will take place every weekday, where you'll have the chance to see the evolution of modern warfare, from the beginnings of the tank to the present day. And of course, there’s the Fury exhibition.

13. Follow the Gruffalo trail at Moors Valley

Pack a picnic and take your children to hunt for the big bad mouse at Moors Valley. The trail, which costs £1, features a range of activities and a quiz to follow. Parking charges will apply.

14. Face Your Fears at Weymouth Sea Life Centre

Are you brave enough to enter the Face your Fears zone at Weymouth’s Sea Life Adventure Park? The event, running from 10am today until 5pm on November 2, is bigger and better than previous years, say organisers. Harriet the Mexican Red Knee Tarantula, Sally the Salmon Pink Bird Eater from Brazil and Big Bertha the Giant African Millipede will either delight or terrify your little ones.

Find out more from 0871 423 2110 or sealifeweymouth.com. Tickets start from £15.50

15. Have a spooky time at Beaulieu

From Saturday, October 25 until Sunday, November 2 head to Beaulieu for their Half-Term Hauntings event. There will be a Halloween quiz trail, spooky stories from costumed guides in Palace House and the monk in the Abbey, plus face painting. There's half-price entry for all children in Halloween costume. Open from 10am until 5pm. 

16. Halloween Trail

Knoll Visitor Centre at Studland is hosting a Halloween Trail – follow the creepy clues left by the creatures of the night to claim your prize and drop into the Discovery Centre for free seasonal crafts for children from Monday to Friday. Booking not required, trail £2 per child, call 01929 450500 for details.

17. Get spooked at Kingston Lacy

Scary half term fun is to be had at Kingston Lacy House in Wimborne from today until November 2. Follow the Hallowe’en trail, discover spooky tales from the Kingston Lacy collection and get creative with some scary crafts. Come in fancy dress and see who can be the scariest. Call 01202 883402 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/Kingston-lacy for more. Admission charges apply.

18. Trek through the Haunted Hollow at Lemur Landings

Visit Tower Park’s soft-play centre for a visit to the hollow - tiptoe through the clearing by lantern light, around the table of horrors, dodging the graves of the gigglish ghouls and help Lewey find the 5 gold spiders before they escape the hollow. This event is aimed for the younger visitor but will feature some scary Halloween displays and sounds. For details call 01202 740500 or visit www.lemurlandings.co.uk. There’s also a trick or treat party on Friday. Admission charges apply.

19. Have a wizard time at Wimborne Model Town.

There’s a range of Halloween activities this half term at Wimborne’s model town, including a daily Halloween Quiz around the miniature buildings. There’s cake decorating on Saturday followed by Magic and Puppet shows on Tuesday and Thursday, and crafts on Wednesday where youngsters will have a chance to make ghosts and creepy crawlies – remember to book early to avoid disappointment. On Friday the Halloween Costume Parade takes place at 3pm followed by story time and the Dusk Dash – a last chance to see the illuminated model town and gardens before it closes for winter.

20. Explore the Castle of Adventure

Swanage and Wareham Voice: SPOOKED OUT: On the Halloween trail at Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle’s setting is perfect for sparking children’s imaginations – take the family trail and hunt for ghosts and pumpkins or take a leaf out of Enid Blyton’s book and make up a tale of smugglers, villains and hidden treasure. Call 01929 481294 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle.

21. Follow Poole’s spooky spider trail

Visitors to Poole Museum can enjoy a spooky spider trail from Saturday until November 2, and a free bat mask making workshop on Tuesday. Find out more from boroughofpoole.com/museums or 01202 262600.

22. Fang-tastic fun at Farmer Palmer’s

Daily “spook-tacular” activities, including fancy dress, pumpkin carving, face painting and a mini monster hunt are taking place at Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park in Organford, Poole, from tomorrow until Friday. Call 01202 622022 or visit farmerpalmers.co.uk for more.

23. Halloween Fun Evenings

Children are encouraged to don fancy dress for the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens event, when there will be a spectacular laser rave, a scary scars workshop, a creepy crawly tent, scary characters and free fearsome face painting. Visit abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/gardens or call 01305 871387 for more

24. Hunt for dinosaurs in Dorchester

The Great Dinosaur Hunt is on at the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester. The event involves the whole museum and lets children explore and search out the answers to the clues of the dinosaur mystery. All children who correctly crack the code and solve the dinosaur mystery win a special certificate. 10am to 4pm, from Saturday to Sunday. Museum Admission prices apply (£6.50 adults, £5.50 children)

25. Get crafty in Southbourne

Create it All in Southbourne are holding a week of workshops featuring candle making, ceramics, creating halloween decorations and making your own fairy garden. £10 per session, from 10-12 and 2-4, Tuesday-Friday


26. Discover the colours of autumn

The forecast for the week looks good – so take advantage of the sunshine and check out the best of the county’s autumn colour. Try Knoll Gardens, Monkton Wyld, the Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacey, or Cadman's Pool in the New Forest - or just wander round Bournemouth's Upper Gardens. And if you feel like collecting leaves, we’ve got some great ideas for what you can do with them here.

27. Halloween activities with the RSPB at Bournemouth Stour Valley Nature Reserve

Come along to the Stour Valley Nature Reserve and see what spooky activities the RSPB have on offer. Will you complete the trail and become a deadly detective? Or make something spooky?               Meet at the barn by Granby road car park - off Muscliff Lane. From 11am -3pm.

28. Make a mandala for #mandalamonday

Nature Mandala, using acorns, catsear, bitch leaves and oregano. My first ever attempt. It was so relaxing to gather and arrange things! #mandala #nature #meditation

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle, and Mandala art is essentially a design made up of circles. All you need is a flat space, indoors or outdoors, and a selection of groups of objects. You could use lego, organised by size or colour; you can use leaves, sticks and stones for an outdoor design; shells and seaweed for a beach mandala, or the last of the flowers from the garden. Start with one larger object for the centre, then choose a group of objects and build a circle around it. Keep going until you have five-ish circles. More instructions here and for inspiration, see the #mandalamonday tag on Instagram



29. Get handy with Hedwig

From 10:00 - 13:00, take them to Owl Day at Portesham Village Hall in Dorset. Meet Beau the Barn Owl and learn about how to encourage wildlife into your local area. FREE, in partnership with the Hawk and Owl Trust and the South Dorset Ridgeway.

30. Autumn Scavenger Hunt with Dorset Wildlife Trust

Join a colourful Autumnal scavenger hunt at the Kingcombe Centre, near Dorchester. Collect all the items listed that are indicative of Autumn, & win a special Autumnal prize! Call 01300 321409 to book your place on the scavenger hunt. £3 per child.

31. Tell stories by the light of your own handmade willow lantern

Join the lantern-making and storytelling event at Hengistbury Head. Make a willow lantern, then head out into the garden to hear stories by the light of the lanterns. Suitable for children aged 5+, accompanied by an adult. £5 per child

32. Pumpkin party

The Red House Museum in Christchurch is holding a family Pumpkin Festival from 10.30am to 3.30pm on Tuesday, suitable for children aged six plus. For more details visit the What’s On section at hants.gov.uk/redhouse. Free

33. Nocturnal masks with the RSPB at Poole Museum

A special half term event - pop in to Poole Museum between 11am and 3pm and meet RSPB’s Sarah-Jane to make an amazing nocturnal animal mask to take home. Free

34. Spooky stories at the Russell-Cotes Museum

Scare yourself silly at the Russell Cotes Museum with spooky storytelling of ogres and fire-breathing demons, and decorate your own devilishly devious demon mask. Turn up in Halloween costume on Tuesday and Thursday at 11am-12pm or 2pm-3pm. Places are limited, please pre-book on 01202 451820. 


35. Tell them a story at Lighthouse Poole

Join Lighthouse’s popular story and play sessions, based on a well-loved children’s book. The hour-long session will feature play, exploring story settings, sing and dance to music all aimed at developing your child’s language and confidence. 18 months - 4 years, £5 per child.

36. Halloween at Nothe Fort

Ghost walks, children’s crafts, a fancy dress competition, face painting, apple dunking and spell writing are just some of the activities taking place at Nothe Fort in Weymouth from 11am to 3.30pm on Wednesday. Call 01305 766626 or visit nothefort.co.uk for details. Adults £5, Children £3

37. Victorian Customs

Find out more about Victorian Halloween customs and crafts at Dorchester Museum from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesday. Information from 01305 756832.

38. Transform a cereal box into a trick or treat bag

Upton Country Park will get your youngsters creating Wildlife Trick or Treat Bags today from 10.30am-12noon and 1pm-2.30pm. Make a spooky bat or maybe even a spider to celebrate Halloween. Take a large empty cereal box. Cost: £3 each or £2 for RSPB members. Booking essential. Call 01929 556651 to book a space

39. Take them on a bug hunt

Join the DWT for their Caterpillar Kids morning at Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre, Upwey & explore the wild woods, looking for slugs, bugs & beetles. Then get crafty & make spider badges, plus games & more with the Community Conservation Officer. £2 per child. From 10.30-12.30. No unaccompanied children. Booking essential: please contact the Community Conservation Officer on 01305 816546.


40. Take them for a stomp round the park

Did you know there are 28 parks in Bournemouth? Find one you've never visited before at ht.ly/Dd4AL

41. Spoky Scaplen’s

Meet the Scaplen’s Court Witch and have a go at some horrible Halloween activities at Scaplen’s Court in Poole on Thursday from 11am to 3pm. Details from 01202 262600 or boroughofpoole.com/museums.

42. Get decorating for Halloween

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Recipe: Halloween black widow spider chocolate cup cakes

Take inspiration from the American Halloween tradition and get your kids making spooky decorations – we’ve got ideas for everything from glowing eyes to scare you neighbours to spooky snacks and how to turn your fridge into a giant ghost. See them all here


43. A scary experience

RockReef on Bournemouth Pier is hosting a family Halloween SpookTacular, urging climbers to try Clip'n Climb, The HighLine and The Ghostly Pier Cave, followed by a frightening Halloween menu from 11am to 8pm Friday and Saturday, November 1. There will also be face painting and a fancy dress competition. Tickets are £21, including meal for ages 6 -15, £29 including meal for 16+. RockReef is also launching a witch or ghost selfie competition. Post your witch or ghost selfie on RockReef’s Facebook page facebook.comrockreefuk and the winner will receive a free flight on the Zip Wire.

44.  Monkey around in fancy dress

The is free entry on offer to all visitors to Monkey World, Wareham, in full Halloween fancy dress, on Friday, with prizes for the best adult and child costumes. Visit monkeyworld.org/events or call 01929 462537 for details.

45. Pumpkin Parade at Upton Country Park

Bring your finest carved pumpkin and see how it fares in the Best Pumpkin Competition, being held in the Walled Garden at Upton House from on Friday, with categories and prizes for both children and adults.

A range of themed activities are being held after the competition, which is being judged at 11.30am, including making a willow witch’s wand and creating your own bat or cat mask.

£2.50 per pumpkin. Details from 01202 262753 or uptoncountrypark.com.

46. Skulls, skins and gory things at Avon Heath

Avon Heath Country Park is hosting a Halloween day on Friday, when visitors can join rangers from 11.30am to 12.30pm to delve into a box of gruesome things collected on the park. Booking essential – call 01425 478470 or visit dorsetforyou.com/avonheath.

47. Party time at Poole park

Scary fun for all the family is promised at a Halloween Party at The Ark, Poole Park on Friday. To find out more, call 01202 717197 or visit theartpoolepark.co.uk.

48. Introduce them to a wicked witch

A witchy figure will be flying through the skies over Bournemouth Pier at around 4pm on Friday as Rosie Wallace, general manager of the Days Hotel Marsham Court, takes flight to raise money for children’s mobility charity STEPS.

49. Hubble and bubble with Southbourne witches

Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Chris Mayne will arrive at Southbourne Green at 5pm on Friday, before chaperoning fancy dressed visitors to Fisherman’s Walk at 5.30pm for a storytelling session by the Witches of Southbourne.Halloween-esque hair dos and craft activities will also be offered at the volunteer-organised event, hosted by Friends of Fishermans Walk and Southbourne on Sea Business Association, supported by the Coastal BID.

50. Hear a haunted Violin

Jack Maguire, previous Musician in Residence at the Arts Festival by the Sea, returns to Shelley Theatre in Boscombe at 7.30pm on Friday to introduce and perform music inspired by the mysterious and the mischievous, including Saint-Saens Danse Macabre, Tartini Devils Trill, Corigliani Red Violin, Black Swan, Young Frankenstein and Paganini.For more details call 01202 413600.

51. Cider and Sausages on the beach

A family Halloween evening, with cider and sausages, is being held on the beach at Studland from 6pm to 8pm on Friday. If you’re feeling brave, why not try a spooky night time walk along the beach.£10 per adult, £7 for under 18s, booking essential by calling 01929 450500. Details from studlandbeach@nationaltrust.org.

52. Tuck into Twisted Intestines and Hellfire Chicken

It’s the annual Halloween Bistro on Swanage Railway. Get all steamed up on the spooky Halloween Special Bistro dining train, with a menu including gory delights such as Twisted Intestines and Hellfire Chicken. Train travel only £4. Advanced booking is essential. For details go to swanagerailway.co.uk or call 01929 425800

53. Take them to the fireworks

Swanage and Wareham Voice: We came for the fireworks -- but nothing happened

Fireworks, food and fairground rides are on offer at Wareham’s Bonfire & Firework Bonanza. The event, at Swanage and Wareham RFC, kicks off at 6pm and tickets can be purchased in advance at £5 for adults, with free entry for children. Visit warehamwednesdays.org

54. Help them tackle zombies at Laser Quest

'Fright Night' returns to Laser Quest in Bournemouth. The zombies are back and it's your turn to take them on, with live actors, special effects, zombie themed site and four special themed games. More info at www.laserquestbournemouth.co.uk.

55. Teddy Bears' Picnic 

Head to Poole Library for a picnic with your favourite teddy. There will be sandwiches and stories for all the family. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Booking is required at the library or on 01202 262449.

56. Make your own cave painting

Paint a tile to take home, using Palaeolithic techniques to create decorative images. Drop in to Hengistbury Head visitor centre anytime between 10am and 4pm. Suitable for families with children aged 3+. £5 per child.

57. Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day a little early

Today’s the start of the fireworks events with displays in Corfe Castle, Bovington, Bere Regis, Lymington and Christchurch – you can see all the details here.