Wondering how to keep the kids occupied this half term? If you’re in the Northeast, you’re in luck — Northumberland has plenty of exciting things to do, come rain or shine. So whether you’re looking to explore autumnal landscapes or you’re in need of indoor attractions on a drizzly day, here’s why you should consider spending your October half-term in Northumberland.
What’s on in Northumberland this October half term?
As any Northumbrian local will tell you, Northumberland is packed with variety. Boasting incredible scenery and a stunning coastline, it’s also home to museums, castles, historical sites, and so much more. With plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to entertain children of all ages, it’s the ideal destination for families.
Read on to discover some of the best things to do with kids across Northumberland this autumn.
The best family activities in Northumberland
Northumberland is a great place for families — there’s always something to see and do.
Experience magic at Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle is a destination we highly recommend. There’s no question that it’s one of the best castles in Northumberland to explore over half term. The castle has an impressive history but is perhaps most famous for its on-screen role in Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons and other hit films and TV shows.
As any ‘Potterhead’ will appreciate, Alnwick Castle stood proud as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. This October, walk in the footsteps of wizards and witches and even learn to fly a broomstick. Whether you marvel at the magic or simply take in the striking medieval architecture, there’s plenty to see at Alnwick Castle.
Discover animals at Northumberland College Zoo
Are you a family of animal lovers? Northumberland College Zoo near Ponteland, is a great place to discover critters of all shapes and sizes. There are also plenty of activities for children to take part in — they can meet the zookeepers, burn off some energy in the playpark, and tuck into a homemade family picnic.
Free things to do in Northumberland this half-term
Family holidays can add up, but Northumberland has a whole host of free activities for everyone to enjoy.
Explore the Northumberland coast
What better way to embrace the fresh autumn air than a coastal excursion? And while it’s vital to always check the weather and tide times for your safety, you’re sure to enjoy incredible Northumberland views all year round.
This area of outstanding natural beauty is perfect for everything from a casual stroll to a lengthy hike.
Steeped in history, Northumberland’s coast is home to a plethora of animals, making it an ideal place to spot wildlife.
It’s particularly great for birdwatching, earning the title of "a birder's paradise", according to the Daily Telegraph. Look out for rare breeds during the autumn migration period.
October half-term might not be the season for sunbathing, but it’s a beautiful time to appreciate the sun setting over a Northumberland beach. Why not head to Bamburgh and admire the scenic views of the village’s famous castle from the shore?
Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre
For something a little different, there’s always the Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre. This volunteer-led reserve is a haven for wildlife — and it’s free to visit.
Little ones will love following the discovery trails all year round. Even if the weather is grey this October half-term, you’re sure to spot some of Northumberland’s best-loved wildlife — including red squirrels and otters. There’s also a cafe and a range of workshops and activities for all the family to enjoy.
Keep cosy with rainy day activities
There’s no denying that October weather can be less than desirable but Northumberland has indoor activities to keep the whole family entertained over half term.
Get cultural with the region’s fantastic museums and art galleries. We highly recommend the Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery if you’re keen to learn about local history. The Heatherslaw Corn Mill in the Ford and Etal Estate also makes a lovely day out. Here, you can see how Northumbrians have been grinding wheat, barley and oats for over 700 years.
Alternatively, why not get snug and snack on some popcorn at the Forum Cinema in Hexham? Enjoy the nostalgia of red velvet seats and art deco interiors as you get immersed in a movie. The Forum screens the latest blockbusters alongside independent films, world cinema, and live theatre screenings. There are also regular parent and baby screenings, perfect for those with very young children.
Spooky season — Halloween activities and events
October half term in Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without some Halloween activities.
‘Scarycrow’ trail at Ford & Etal Estates
The Scarycrow trail takes place at the Ford & Etal Estates near Berwick-upon-Tweed. Here, grown-ups and little ones alike will love spotting the weird and wonderful scarecrow characters dotted around the quaint village houses.
Halloween ‘Spooktacular’ at Whitehouse Farm Centre
Whitehouse Farm Centre in Morpeth is an all-weather attraction with adorable animals, a soft play area, and outdoor spaces. During the October holiday, a Halloween ‘spooktacular’ takes over. Expect pumpkin carving, a fancy dress competition, magic shows, and all manner of scarily fun activities.
This year’s spooktacular begins on the 28th of October and runs through the 5th of November, making it a great addition to your Northumberland half-term.
Top Northumberland destinations
Northumberland is packed with amazing destinations — perhaps too many to squeeze into one half-term holiday!
If you’re eager to peruse historical houses and estates, there are some impressive National Trust and English Heritage sites to choose from.
Cragside House & Gardens — This Victorian country mansion is renowned for being the first residence in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power. Explore the site’s stunning gardens and woodlands while you’re here.
Wallington House, Gardens and Estate — Wallington offers 13,500 acres of land to enjoy. With woodlands, a range of fun play parks, a walled garden, and a property filled with paintings and books, it’s a jam-packed day out.
The Farne Islands — October is the ideal time to hop on a boat and spot fluffy seals off the coast of the Farne Islands. Wrap up warm and enjoy wildlife spotting at one of the most iconic spots in Northumberland.
Housesteads Roman Fort — Discover Northumberland’s history at this iconic Roman fort, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas and browse an interactive museum.
Belsay Hall, Castle, and Gardens — Did you know that the quarry garden at Belsay Hall has its own microclimate? As such, its gardens are home to incredible tropical plants all year round, as well as an impressive castle with spectacular countryside views.
Dunstanburgh Castle — Remote and majestic, Dunstanburgh is a sight to behold. Close to the Scottish Borders, it looks out across the rugged Northumberland coastline.
Visit Northumberland this half term
This October, let Northumberland be your half-term haven. Whatever the weather, there are activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Start planning your trip today.