10 October Half-Term Activities in Cornwall

Now autumn has rolled around, it's time to start thinking about family fun for October half term in Cornwall. With the pandemic putting us in lockdown for much of 2020, many annual celebrations have changed this year but there are still some events happening across the county, from a witch’s afternoon tea to pumpkin picking. October is also a great time to get outside and get leaf throwing, conker fighting, welly walking and den building. We’ve rounded up the best places for seasonal fun. As with everything this year, circumstances could change, so double check with the sites before heading off, and check their coronavirus guideline requirements, too.

1. Build dens at Antony, Torpoint

October half term is a fantastic time to see the garden at Antony. Rich colours steal the show at this time of year with the black walnut tree on the main lawn taking centre stage, resplendent in golden leaves. Keep a look out for the maidenhair and tulip trees too. Stroll through crisp leaves underfoot, and look out for conkers along the way. Lose yourself in the cork oak meadow labyrinth, build your own castle from sticks and be a nature detective: pick up a quiz on arrival.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/antony

2. Listen to spooky stories at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth

Set on a headland with stunning views out to sea, this picturesque castle has defended Cornwall since Tudor times and played a vital role during the two World Wars. With such a rich history, this mighty fortress has long had a reputation for ghostly happenings and is bursting with tales of creaking footsteps and menacing creatures. Your little monsters will love following the trail to solve creepy clues and listening to spooky stories. There’s a frighteningly fun fancy dress competition every day – just wear your scariest outfits to be in with a chance of winning.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/pendennis-castle

Pendennis Castle

3. Learn about the Monsters of the Deep at National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth

For all those who embrace the spooky side of October, take a deep breath and plunge down to the dark murky depths of the ocean and discover the monsters that lurk beneath. Monsters of the Deep at the NMMC combines legends, folklore and modern day science. See a killer whale skeleton up close and personal, try out the microscopes and understand what it felt like to be an explorer aboard a floating laboratory. Find out why stories of mermaids, krakens and giant sharks still capture our imagination, then progress to the modern day and discover how today’s scientists explore the seas aboard submersibles, going deeper and further into uncharted waters. Absolutely fascinating.

nmmc.co.uk/

4. Watch Horrible Histories at the Minack, Porthcurno

The nation’s most dramatic open-air theatre – the creation of the remarkable Rowena Cade and her gardener Billy Rawlings – is quite the experience even before the show starts. Hewn out of a cliff, the auditorium faces a stage whose backdrop is the Atlantic. From 25-28 October, the Minack is showing Horrible Histories – a very horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in. This gloriously irreverent, cheeky and entertaining show is full of poo jokes and stuffed with despicable historical characters, from Boudicca and Henry VIII to Dick Turpin and Queen Victoria. A truly barmy look at British history. Children and adults of all ages will love it.

www.minack.com/whats-on/horrible-histories

Minack Theatre

5. Bring in the harvest at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey

Welcome in autumn, season of abundance and transition, at the annual Heligan Harvest Event, which celebrates the estate’s produce and animals through displays, demonstrations and autumn-inspired menus. Head to the historic Kitchen Garden to watch the art of onion stringing or seed collecting, see Heligan’s traditional harvest display of produce and splash around in muddy puddles before toasting marshmallows around the firepit. Watch resident shire horse Courage display his skills on harvest Saturdays, see the piglets feeding on week days and enjoy popular working dog demonstrations. Don’t miss Sausage Saturday on 31 October, when Heligan’s award-winning Leek and Heritage Pork Sausage will be showcased.

www.heligan.com/events/heligan-harvest

6. Have tea with The Witches at the Headland Hotel, Newquay

The Headland Hotel on the north Cornish coast will forever be known as the stunning setting for Roald Dahl’s children’s classic, The Witches. It was the main setting of the 1987 film adaption, starring Angelica Huston as the Grand High Witch. Back by popular demand is The Witches special afternoon tea. This year expect to see a spooky top-tier with sumptuous ‘trick or treats’, mighty homemade Headland scones and bite-sized finger sandwiches. You’ll even be able to chat with the Grand High Witch herself (though sadly not Anjelica Huston) each afternoon.

www.headlandhotel.co.uk/events/halloween

Headland Hotel

7. Meet the monster minions at Camel Creek Adventure Park, Wadebridge

Minions fans will be thrilled with a day out at Camel Creek. This year, there is a meet-and-greet with the little yellow henchmen. Meanwhile a spell has been cast over the adventure park, unearthing some hair-raising attractions, from the Witch’s Grotto to tricks and treats. There will also be free pumpkins and daily competitions and, of course, all the usual rides for thrillseekers.

www.camelcreek.co.uk/meet-the-minions

 8. Pick your own pumpkins at Trevaskis Farm, Hayle

Pick your own is the perfect family day out. Head to Trevaskis Farm to enjoy picking your own pumpkin to take home and carve. Set amid 28 acres of rolling countryside, there is also a restaurant, market shop, fishmonger, butcher, deli and farm park. Farm entrance is free, so you only pay for what you pick. If the rain sets it, stay dry in the all-weather polytunnels or seek shelter under the trees. 

www.trevaskisfarm.co.uk/pick-your-own

pick your own pumpkin

9. Feast around a firepit at Lula, Hayle

Covid-19 restrictions mean eating al fresco is a trend that’s set to continue. For a fire-pit feast to remember, head to Lula, a beachside seafood and ribs shack in Hayle. Events will be held throughout the autumn and winter, with the firepit and outdoor eating area under cover so you stay toasty. Shrimp and crab claws in a cajun butter sauce with paprika sweet potato wedges and buttered corn are on the menu. Bring along some marshmallows for some cosy fireside treats after dinner – a hit with the kids!

lulashack.co.uk/

10. Brave a tour of Bodmin Jail, Bodmin

Billed as the most exciting new attraction in the south-west since the Eden Project after an £8.5m redevelopment, visit Bodmin Jail for some seriously spooky thrills. Get under the skin of the unique and atmospheric building with a family-friendly tour, enhanced by state-of-the-art technology and the latest theatrical effects. The Dark Walk will treat visitors to a truly immersive and interactive experience. Stories of Cornwall’s murky past will be retold, and visitors will be transported to life within the walls of the 18th-century prison where they will learn the gritty reality of smuggling, mining and the everyday hardships of the jail’s most infamous prisoners. 

www.bodminjail.org