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The Muddy Guide – What’s On This Weekend?


The Lost Words & Spell Walks, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 21-Dec 17

A survey of British primary school children found 8-11 year-olds were “substantially better” able to identify types of Pokemon character that species of common UK wildlife.

Already The Lost Words  – an illustrated spell book for children – has shot to the top of the indy book charts and sold 30,000 copies in the last two weeks since it was published. This weekend sees the opening of an absolutely delightful family-friendly exhibition featuring the paintings and poems of best-selling author Robert Macfarlane, an English Professor at Cambridge University and Birmingham-born artist Jackie Morris: featured in the book. It’s a response to Macfarlane and Morris’s belief that nature is no longer a big part of children’s stories and imaginations. 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.

National Apple Day  Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens,  Sat Oct 21 & Sun Oct 22 

Bring the entire family and celebrate the quintessential English fruit. Make apple-y crafts, enjoy apple juice using the press and take home some recipes. Apples will be for sale from the heritage orchards, all proceeds go towards the conservation of the cottage.  Throughout half-term children should head to the spook-tacular activity tent and make a spooky spider natural bird feeder by utilising the apples in the stunning orchard. Join historical food caterer Pario Gallico on Mon Oct and watch the maestro at work.  Create your very own Pomander bags, filled with spices and herbs to protect you from “bad air” and Tudor diseases. Plus, Georgia Jeffries and the Zoolab critters will be stopping by the Cottage on Tue Oct 24.

Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 21-Sun Dec 17

A rare insight into some of Quentin Blake’s best known and popular creations. Blake himself introduces illustrations for his own books and collaborations with other writers, bringing together rough drawings and finished artwork to demonstrate how his ideas evolved into unforgettable illustrations and bestselling books. Featuring a huge range of his witty illustrated characters, including Roald Dahl’s The TwitsThe BFG and Matilda to The Boy in the Dress and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book. This is one of two family-friendly exhibitions this autumn at Compton Verney and includes more than 140 original works, many never seen before outside Blake’s studio, as well as some of his artist tools. Blake’s candid personal commentary and extensive selection of works make this his most intimate and revealing exhibition to date.


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

Godiva Rocks, Main Stage, Belgrade Theatre, Sat Oct 7 – Sat 21 Oct. 

Hamish Glen directs the first musical written about a UK city’s musical heritage, spanning many generations. It features 20 songs from Coventry artists such as Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Hazel O’Connor, The Specials, Terry Hall, King, The Primitives and The Enemy. With the result of Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 soon to be announced, Godiva Rocks revels in the city’s rich heritage and talent.

belgrade, Tel: 024 7655 3055 

National Apple Day Celebration & The Big Draw, Cotesbach Educational Trust, Cotesbach nr Lutterworth, Sat Oct 21

Come and try printing with vegetable dyes, drawing with vegetable inks, make a crumble or press different apple varieties and taste the juice. Take a tour of the orchard and identify different heritage apple varieties, or go on a foraging walk and discover nature’s free food. Free, 10am-4pm.


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!


Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues Oct 17-Sat Oct 21

Rita, Sue and Bob Too Production Photos
Photo Credit : The Other Richard

Out of Joint’s revival of Andrea Dunbar’s semi-autobiographical play and cult 80s film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too set in a Bradford council estate is brought to the stage by the play’s original director, Max Stafford-Clark. It stars Taj Atwal, James Atherton and Gemma Dobson in the title roles as the teenage babysitters groomed by seedy Bob.

Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, various venues, Sat Oct 21 & Sun Oct 22

International prize-winning artists and emerging artists have been showcasing visual art through solo and group exhibitions across the city this month. This final weekend you can catch Are Dreams Electronic? (The Box, FarGo Village, 11am-6pm) – part-installation, part-screening & part-performance.  There’s also curator-led tours along with family-friendly Contemporary Drawing and Painting in a Day sessions and a Piper Plaster Ceiling Rose Workshop at The CET Building, 11.30am – 3.30pm. Family Sunday (The CET Building, 11am-1pm) is a hands on workshop responding to biennial artworks.


National Trust Halloween Trails – Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Chalecote Park, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

The gardeners at Packwood have also been growing an abundance of bright orange pumpkins in the Kitchen Garden ready for October half-term. So, crunch through the fallen leaves, admire the autumnal colours in the trees and don’t forget to sample a warm bowl of pumpkin soup or hot chocolate in the Garden Kitchen Cafe after you’ve finished your trail. At Baddesley Clinton there’ll also be ghost stories to share in the house – ask volunteers about a lady in grey who wanders the house at night, a ghostly portrait that appears on the wall and a dog who begs to an empty chair. Enjoy the fresh air and deer park at Charlecote Park in your wellies for the annual spooky Hallowe’en trail.;

Nocturnal Nature Trail, Upton House, nr Banbury, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Get the kids running out-and-about following a trail through the woods where they’ll discover logs to jump over, screens to hide behind, and if they’re quiet they might even hear the rooks in the trees above. Use the trail to identify animals that come out at night and learn all about how they live and appear during the night hours. Finish in the squash court and take home a prize. Upton’s gardens cover 32 acres of woodlands, water, lawns, terraced borders and a kitchen garden. End up with afternoon tea in The Pavilion1 or Iris Team Room, 11am-5pm.


What Do I Need to Do to Make it OK? Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, until Nov 4

Detail of “First One’s the Best”by Celia Pym. Photo by Douglas Atfield.

This touring exhibition curated by Liz Cooper features five international artists investigating damage and repair including work by Celia Pym, finalist in Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize 2017.

Pink Sari Revolution, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Oct 21

A team of award-wining British Asian artists have brought the true story of women’s rights campaigner Sampat Pal and India’s famous pink sari wearing Gulabi gang to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre. It stars Syreeta Kumar, known for her frequent work with the RSC as well as TV roles in Apple Tree Yard and the film Notes on a Scandal. Suba Das is the critically-acclaimed director of the show., 024 7655 3055

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.

Splat Anatomy, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Sat Oct 21

Photo – Lukasz Puczko.

Kinetic artist and sculptor Jim Bond has created a life-size operation game, Splat Anatomy, and for Halloween is bringing it to the gallery between 1.30pm-5pm. Wearing a mask and apron you have to remove the organs and bones from a life-sized anatomical model without touching the sensitive copper nerves. Like a flight simulator for surgeons this game requires a steady hand and a cool head. So far, the game has tested the squeamishness, humour and skill of children and adults and even the odd GP and surgeon at festivals such as Latitude and Green Man.  Drop-in (£2 per person). Open to all – families, children aged 7+, teenagers and adults.

Meet an animatronic T-Rex and dino babies, Twycross Zoo, Sat Oct 21 & Sun Oct 22 

Have a ‘ROARsome’ time! Photo: Hire a Dinosaur

Tywcross Zoo is playing host to Rex, an 8-foot-tall and 17-foot-long animatronic T-Rex and some newly-hatched dino babies. Get up close and personal with Rex, a life-size baby T Rex, and as authentic as they come. He is the first dinosaur of his kind in the UK, with real legs. But there is no need for young ones to be afraid, as Rex might look ferocious, but he is funny and friendly. There will be T-Rex Shows and baby dinos ‘meet and greet’ opportunities at different times throughout the day.

twycrosszoo, Tel 0844 474 1777

Sofia Hulten, Here’s the Answer, What’s the Question? Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until Nov 26

Sofia Hulten. Speculative Fiction 2016. Courtesy the…VG Bildkunst.

The most comprehensive exhibition to date by 45-year-old Berlin-based artist Sofia Hulten: scultpures, installations and films preoccupied with the material world and the way we navigate time. She uses discarded objects found on the streets encouraging the idea of looking twice at what is all-too-often taken for granted – as in Speculative Fiction (2016) where she recycles bicycle parts – locks, wheel-like hoops and frame.

Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon

Live’n History – The Renaissance Surgeon

On Sat Oct 21, discover what it was like to be a Jacobean Barber Surgeon with the Live’n History team. See and touch the tools the surgeon would have used and hear the grizzly tales of the procedures they would have carried out. The brilliant Zoolab UK  return on Oct 26, giving visitors the chance to meet the Tudor street urchin and her cute yet creepy creatures.


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

Wharf Distillery ’Apple Day’ Artisan Market, Sat 21 Oct

Apple harvest Wharf distillery
Come and join team Wharf Distillery at their regular artisan market at Wakefield Country Courtyard. Local businesses will be showcasing their food, drink and crafts – some new and some familiar. Hot street food will be available alongside a real ale and cider bar to keep your energy up!  10am – 4pm. FREE Entry, FREE Parking

Wharf Distillery, Wakefield Country Courtyard, Potterspury, Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 7QX

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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