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What’s On Mon Oct 23 – Sun Oct 29


Picasso Pottery Painting for 7-16-year-olds, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry,  Mon Oct 23

Design your own abstract plate inspired by the Picasso exhibition and have it professionally fired in a special workshop for children aged 7-16 with Diana Fallowes from Crazy Kiln. Learn how to create colourful prints and patterns by hand on ceramic. Book online, £12.50, here, 10.30am-12noon. This half-term there’s also prints aplenty from stampers to blocks and vegetable printing, with a different craft every day. Picasso: Linocuts from the British Museum is on until Dec 3.

Book online, £12.50, here, 10.30am-12noon, theherbert

Stranger Things 2, Netflix, from Fri Oct 27

Spooky TV phenomenon Stranger Things returns this week just in time for Halloween…This nostalgic supernatural series went from word-of-mouth to must see TV almost overnight and resurrected the career of 80s ingenue Winona Ryder.

Your Toys, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues Oct 24 & Wed Oct 25

Slot Machine Theatre bring real toys to life on stage using puppetry, original live music and quirky humour. Children are welcome to bring their own teddy or favourite toy and join in the adventure, 11am & 2pm. A family show for ages 5-9 year olds and their grownups. Afterwards as part of Creative Week at Warwick Arts Centre bring your toy to meet Snow Mouse, the star of this year’s Christmas show; make an air balloon in the Mead Gallery or explore the Around the World in 80 Sculptures Trail around campus.  Running time: 1 hour. 

The Lost Words & Inside Stories, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 21- Dec 17

Two brilliantly family-friendly exhibitions celebrating the best of British illustration and literature with The Lost Words based on the new modern spell book by writer Robert Macfarlane, and Birmingham-born artist Jackie Morris (The White Fox, Tell Me a Dragon); alongside Quentin Blake’s Inside Stories – a very personal and insightful ‘behind the page’ look at Britain’s best-loved illustrator’s work including Roald Dahl’s The Twits, David Walliams recent The Boy in the Dress and Michael Rosen’s Sad book.  In The Lost Words Macfarlane has created a series of 20 spell-poems – one for each lost word from a junior children’s dictionary – while Morris, inspired by her lifelong passion for Britain’s landscapes and wildlife, has painted more than 50 beautiful watercolours – using gold leaf. Families can venture out on Spell Walks in the grounds of this stunning country mansion via two specifically commissioned digital trails that can be downloaded straight to your smart phone.

Moomin Day, Stratford Artshouse, Wed Oct 25

Join Stratford Literary Festival as they celebrate the much loved Moomin Family created by Swedish author Tove Janssen. There’s be a morning 9.30am-12.30pm and afternoon session (1.20pm-4.30pm) to choose from with Storytelling from Moominvalley; a Moomin Workshop with Escape Arts creating your Moomin characters and a Moominvalley Puppet Show. Refreshments available and pop-up Waterstones bookshop. Ideal for children aged 3 to 9.


Dido, Queen of Carthage, The Swan, Stratford, ends Sat Oct 28

Christopher Marlowe’s underrated first play about one of history’s great female leaders. Kimberley Sykes makes an impressively inventive and quirky RSC directorial debut and Ti Green’s stunning stage design featuring a sand covered stage and cascading waterfall. Chipo Chung gives a strong performance as Dido. A great cast also includes Nicholas Day as Jupiter, the very funny Ellie Beaven as Venus (A Mad World My Masters), Sandy Grierson, who plays Dido’s love interest, Aeneas, and Amber James as Dido’s loyal sister, Anna. You may need to do some research on the Greek gods and Virgil’s Aeneid, first to make sense of it all. Read the Muddy verdict here .

Pumpkin Week, Hatton Adventure World, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Enjoy some scary half-term fun at this Muddy award-winning family attraction. Pick your own free pumpkin from the fields, carve it in the spooky decorated Marquee and then enter the best carved pumpkin competition to win a host of prizes. Brand new for 2017 is the Mystifying Halloween Show with scary capers and ghostly antics with Zoobee, the resident entertainer. The 3-acre corn Mega Maize Maze has had a spooky facelift and transformed into a Terrifying Terror Maze with 6 new hidden spooky characters open at timed slots throughout Pumpkin Week.  Also new for this year is Haunted House and Laser Combat Game – Zombie Run for ages 8 +.

hattonworld, Tel: 01926 843411

Fright Nights, Kenilworth Castle, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Little horrors will be scared silly by terrifying Tudor tales and enjoy creepy crafts and spooky every day during half-term and from Thurs Oct 26 – Sat Oct 28 families with children aged 5-10 years can visit the castle after-hours, 6-7pm to meet spine-tingling storytellers and discover tales of ghostly apparitions, dastardly deeds, and ghoulish goings-on. From 7pm-10pm the event is suitable for over 10’s only and not for anyone with a nervous disposition!


Crafts of the Punjab, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, Sat Oct 20 – Jan 21 2018

A rare opportunity to view these stunning works from the V&A’s South Asian Collection outside London. Discover the skilful art of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain sculpture, Amritsar’s delicately carved ivories, Hoshiarpur’s elaborate musical instruments and Sialkot’s gold-inlaid steel artefacts. One of the most extraordinary pieces on show will be the Golden Throne made by a Muslim craftsman in Lahore for Ranjit Singh, the first Sikh Maharaja of the Punjab. There’ll be Prints of the Punjab inspired half-term activities all week. See what’s on here.

In-Light II and Museums at Night, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 28 – Sun Oct 29

The combination of dark autumnal skies and a rural location makes Compton Verney the ideal place to experience a spectacular and contemporary ‘son et lumière’. Celebrated light artist Luxmuralis will draw upon poetry and nature to create a series of stunning light projections. Wrap up warm and prepare to see the written word and a colourful palette projected onto the famous house’s Georgian façade. You can also join Antonia Harrison, the curator of Compton’s major autumn exhibition The Lost Words, writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris as they reveal the ideas and inspirations that led to the show.  The talk takes place in the recently restored Chapel, and is followed by a book signing.

Half-term Haunting at Tamworth Castle, Mon Oct 23-Fri Oct 27

Bring the family to enjoy the ghostly goings-on at the Castle. Encounter spooky characters and activities as you tour the medieval Castle. Complete the challenges set by the horrible hags, and try not to lose your body parts as you meet Master Slaughter! Have you got the courage to complete the tour? 11.30am-4pm,

Tamworth Castle, Holloway, Ladybank, Tamworth B79 7NA

A Midsummer Night’s Scream, Stratford ArtsHouse, Stratford, Thurs Oct 26

A celebration of the decadent, dark side of Burlesque and Cabaret ready for Halloween hosted by Miss Kiki DeVille, a contestant on The Voice. This show will feature  a fire-eating showgirl Talulah Blue, slapstick Miss Oopsie Oooh, Kimmy von Shimmy, Scarlet Butterfly aerial dance, Oxford’s finest Burlesque dance troupe Cream Tease, hula hooping, escapology, balloon popping, pole dancing and sword swallowing!

Age guidance 15+. , Tel 01789 207100

Halloween Fireworks Festival, Ragley Hall, Alcester, Sat Oct 28

Enjoy a night of action, frights and laser lights with Halloween themed firework displays from MLE Pyrotechnics. Activities include a fun fair, face painter, music and fancy dress competition.  Food and drink. Doors open at 5pm.


Around the World in 80 Days, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues Oct 24-Thurs Oct 26

A very talented cast of 8 play over 125 characters in this imaginative, high-spirited family-friendly escapade including 6 trains, 5 boats, 4 fights, 3 dances, 2 circus acts and an elephant for ages 8+ coming directly from the West End. Times vary.


Nativity! The Musical, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Fri Oct 20-Sat Nov 12 

The Christmas season as begun in earnest with the stage musical version of the hit film by Birmingham-born and Coventry based Debbie Isitt. Expect a whole lot of sparkle and shine – um, that’s 500 glittering stars, 50 kilograms of glitter, 40 oversized Christmas presents and 14 Christmas trees! Plus, 27 local children from across Birmingham and the West Mids  aged 8-11. Following its premiere in Birmingham Nativity the Musical is touring.

Box Office: 0121 236 4455,

Half-term with Mad Science and Halloween at Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, Mon Oct 23-Wed Oct 25 

Mad Science at Twycross Zoo Photo: Twycross Zoo

Head over to Twycross Zoo this month for some spooky goings-ons. Enter the Mad Science Lab for some hands-on science experiments from chemical reactions to bubbling potions run by a professional team of scientists, plus a drop-in Fire and Ice Show.

Twycross, Zoo, Atherstone CV9 3PX  or Tel 0844 474 1777

All Hallows Eve celebrations, Mary Arden’s FarmSat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Dress up in fancy dress and celebrate the feast of All Hallows and discover Tudor traditions at the home of Shakespeare’s mother – now a working Tudor farm while carving a pumpkin (small charge applies)! Watch the amazing Castle Small Theatre perform The Friendly Witch in the Great Barn on Mon Oct 23, 12pm & 2pm. On Wed Oct 25, meet and touch the animals that would have crossed Shakespeare’s paths at the ZooLab Tudor Storytelling Workshop.

Dinosaur World, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Oct 26-Sat Oct 28

Using incredible puppetry, Dinosaur World brings a range of remarkably life-like dinosaurs to the stage, including every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with a Giraffatitan, Segnosaurus and baby Triceratops. An engaging show for ages 3+. Afterwards there’s a post-show ‘meat and greet’ where braver children can meet the dinos in person. And if you happen to be in the city on Sat Oct 21 you may even catch a glimpse of a life-size Triceratops at Coventry’s Lower Precinct between 2– 2.15pm, 3–3.15pm and 4– 4.15pm ahead of the show., Tel: 024 7655 3055 

Halloween Fright Night, Ryton Pools, nr Princethorpe, Sat Oct 28

Bring the whole family to Ryton Pools for a spooky evening of Halloween fun and games with Old Warty and friends. Pick up your trick-or-treat fun bag as you enter the haunted courtyard. Attractions include rides on the Ghost Train, Spooky Photo Corner, Clumsy Ranger Trail, Tunnel-web Spider Lair and new this year The Big Bad Bat Cave, Old Warty’s Haunted Garden and the Horror Hospital. Don’t forget to bring your own carved, numbered pumpkin to put out in Old Warty’s Pumpkin Patch to be judged by the visitors. A prize will be awarded to the top pumpkin! Bring a torch! Suitable for ages 3 years + accompanied by an adult.

£10 per child and £2 per adult. Booking is essential on 024 7630 5592.

Bloodhound extravaganza & NewSTEMtastic workshops, Coventry Transport Museum, until Sat Oct 28

Make a robotic arm, electrify images, create a fast car out of recyclable material and much more this Half Term. Kids can discover the wonderful world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Join in with celebrations to mark the first ever drive of the Bloodhound SSC and make roaring racers in the family activity centre. There’s Thrust and the Bloodhound storytelling sessions for under-5s on Wed Oct 25 plus during half term enjoy a Landspeed record gallery story for free when you book on the 4D Bloodhound simulator.

Make your own Roman-style pot, Lunt Roman Fort, Bagington, Mon Oct 23-Fri Oct 27

October half term sees the last set of school holiday workshops at Lunt Roman Fort this year, so explore the fascinating historic site before entering the Granary to make your own Roman-style pot, 10am-3.30pm.

Kaleidoscope: Colour & Sequence in 1960s British Art, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Oct 5-Dec 9

I popped along to the private view last and this touring Arts Council Collection is definitely worth a visit. It features lots of fun brightly-coloured abstract New Generation sculpture, Op Art including paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley and Pop art. Among the 20 artists there’s also work by David Annesley, Anthony Carol, Robyn Denny, Tess Jaray, Philip King, Kim Lim, Mary Martin, Eduardo Polozzi, Tim Scott, Richard Smith, William Tucker and William Turnbull. Free.

The Haunted Castle, Warwick Castle, Sat Oct 21-Tues Oct 31

Fire jousting, dreadful dungeons, ghostly tales in Witches Tower, Horrible Histories maze and an Edinburgh Fringe sell-out  – Seance. It’s no wonder The Haunted Castle will remain open until 9pm with so much going on! Enjoy eerie escapades throughout the day and as darkness falls over the ancient towers and ramparts, the scare factor rises. New for 2017 is live entertainment on Dead Centre Stage, Dolls House and Glen Neath and David Rosenberg’s Séance, fresh from rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – an intense 15-minute sonic performance for an audience of 20 that will test just how susceptible you are to a visit from the other side. Not one for the claustrophobic!

Portrait of the Artist: Kathe Kollwitz, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Nov 26

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) – Woman with Dead Child, The British Museum

The Ikon’s new exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of Berlin artist and doctor’s wife Kathe Kollwitz’s birth, is already garnering 5* reviews. The emotional impact of her drawings of unemployment and suffering in particular, Woman With Dead Child (1903) is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant. The exhibition looks at her work through the exploration of three themes: social and political protest, self portraits and the role of an empathetic and suffering mother, resulting from the death of her youngest son Peter in 1914, shot in the First World War.

Noel Coward’s The Vortex, The Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa, Wed Oct 25-Sat Nov 4

Leamington’s Loft Theatre Company’s season continues with a story of Sex, Drugs and Rock-and-Roll in the Roaring Twenties.  Noel Coward wrote The Vortex at 24 and when it first performed in 1924 its tale of London High Society’s promiscuity shocked many. It proved a huge commercial success, making the author an overnight sensation. The play marries Coward’s trademark wit and one-liners within an emotional whirlpool – the vortex of the title.


Talk: Broadcast by Liam Brown, Warwick Books, Warwick, Thurs Oct 26 

Broadcast is in line with recent dystopian hits such as the TV adaption of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and relevant with its depiction of a fame hungry blogger agreeing to have a chip implanted to have his every living moment beamed to a worldwide audience, it has been described as Inception meets Black Mirror and the Truman Show for the YouTube generation, 7pm.

Tickets £5 including drinks and nibbles, warwickbooks

Fosse House Gallery: 1st Birthday Celebrations, Dunchurch, Sat Oct 28

Co-owners Shenac Rogerson and Jonny Daniels will host a birthday celebration for customers and artists. As part of the day’s celebrations, there’ll be artists demos. The morning sees Charlotte Auckland from Cawston, Rugby, demonstrating linocut printmaking;  after lunch Judy Haslam-Jones, a ceramicist from Rugby will be showing how she works in clay.  This charming and relaxed gallery located in the small Warwickshire historic village of Dunchurch showcases local artists as well as those from further afield, including contemporary craftwork, original art, handmade, carefully sourced homewares and an ever-changing display of beautiful gifts and greeting cards. There’s currently an exhibition of digital prints by Adrian Bradbury until Nov 4.

fossehousegallery, Tel: 01788 877007, Open: Tues-Sat 10am – 5.30pm.

Set Your Career Compass – a one-day  workshop for 15-18-year-olds, The Priory, Wolston nr Brandon, Warwickshire, Tues Oct 24

Looking to the future?

Do you have a son or daughter aged 15-18-years old who is wondering what their options are for the future; whether to go to uni or apply for an apprenticeship?; or what they’re good at? Teen Direct, a team of professional career coaches based in Warwickshire, is running a one-day workshop to help teenagers discover where they fit into ‘the world of work’ based on their strengths, personality and interests. They will discuss implementing a career action plan, create a professional personal profile and learn interview skills, 9.30am-3.30pm.

For further info go to, email: or call Eva on 07901 517012.


Launch of two public artworks by David Cotterrell and Bedwyr Williams, Chester Waterways & Storyhouse, Chester, opens Fri Oct 27

Chester’s impressive new state-of-the-art arts centre and cinema, Storyhouse

If you’re heading up north this weekend (as I am) there’s a public unveiling between 5pm and 8pm of two digital artworks in Chester – Bedwyr Williams’ Hypercaust which brings back to life Chester’s Roman Fortress Bathhouse recreated through historically accurate 3D renderings; and Maelstrom by installation artist David Cotterell, acknowledging Chester’s relationship with water as a whirlpool appears and disappears in the Shropshire Canal. David Cotterell went to Afghanistan in 2007, spending time with British forces and documenting the medical treatment of casualties and their journey away from the frontline to medical treatment back in the UK. His  work Gateway II is on display at London’s Imperial War Museum as part of Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 until May 28 2018.

Hypercaust  (2017) is launched at Storyhouse in Hunter Street, Chester,; while Maelstrom will be unveiled at King Charles Tower, Chester City Walls, Meet the artists 5 – 5.30pm at Storyhouse Cinema.

London Restaurant Festival, 1 – 31 Oct

Rack up the plates, here I come with my elasticated pants. The London Restaurant Festival takes place in 350 restaurants across the Smoke, from neighbourhood favourites to Michelin-starred fancy pants eateries, so it’s your perfect excuse to try somewhere new with chef-hosted lunches and tasting menus on offer all month.

London Literature Festival, Southbank, London, Fri 13 Oct – Weds 1 Nov

The big ticket here is Hillary Clinton, who’ll be talking about her new book, What Happened – and you probably don’t need me to spell out what that refers to. In equally exciting news, Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks (pictured) will close the festival with a reading from his book of short stories (if you’ve never listened to his Desert Island Discs, look it up – it’s a doozy). Philip Pullman and Annie Leibovitz are also in attendance at this twenty day marathon event at the Southbank Centre. Definitely worth a jaunt to the big smoke.

Half-term Halloween Hoot, Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, Sat Oct 21-Nov 5

From face-painting in the Broomstick Barn to fright flights into the deep dark woods on a trailer ride, a visit by author Caryl Hart, storytelling, an abandoned tunnel and creepy crafts there’s frighteningly good half-term fun at the Derbyshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire

Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP,

Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Sun 1 Oct–Sun Nov 12

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios are brilliant at ringing the changes with their events and for this one the Great Hall will be decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour london, Studio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden,

Canons Ashby – Spooky Stories: creative writing workshop, Thu Oct 26–Fri Oct 27

Spooky story writing at Canons ashby
Let your imagination run wild writing Spooky Stories with us this Halloween. This event will encourage your children’s creativity and help them come up tales to thrill everyone this October. Then they can display their scary stories for the public to read over Halloween weekend, or take them home to scare their siblings. Aimed at children aged 8-12 years old, this will take place in a couple of atmospheric locations at Canons Ashby, and use the buildings and stories as inspiration. Booking Essential. Phone: 03442491895.  10.30am – 12pm (times vary).

Canons Ashby, Canons Ashby House, Canons Ashby, Daventry, Northamptonshire NN11 3SD

Hunt for Pumpkins at Canons Ashby, nr Daventry and Rugby, Sat Oct 7–Tues Oct 31

Explore the grounds at Canons Ashby whilst seeking out pumpkins and solving the clues! Afterwards, pick up a spooky shortbread ghost or warm up with some soup in the tea room, 10am –  3pm.

Canons Ashby, near Daventry and Rugby, NN11 3SD

Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, Sat Oct 14–Mon Oct 30

I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! Over 55 ‘spooktacular’ rides, live shows and attractions, plus firework displays on 21, 22, 27 & 28 October. Don’t forget to read my tips on how to survive Legoland.

Find more ideas here

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