With October half term fast approaching, our round up of activities in Chelmsford will help you plan a great week for the family. From Spontaneous Potter at Chelmsford Theatre to a pumpkin festival at Lathcoats Farm, there’s fun to be had for all ages!
Combine science and fun at the Chelmsford Science Festival
From 18–24 October, Anglia Ruskin University hosts the second annual Chelmsford Science Festival! This groundbreaking free event aims to educate people of all ages about the power of science through various talks, interactive activities and exhibitions.
The festival features three keynote speakers: science author Adam Rutherford exploring the invention of race, an evening of discovery with space scientist Dr Maggie Aderine-Pocock, and art activist and alumna Katherine Hasegawa’s talk on her ‘No to Venezuelan Blood Gold’ awareness campaign.
The festival will also host two hugely popular Family Science Days on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October, 10am–4pm, on the Chelmsford campus (with a SEN session from 9–10am each morning). Expect two action-packed days of fun and interactive science activities the whole family can get stuck into!
To find out more about the incredible events on offer and book your free tickets, visit here.
An ‘Out Of This World’ event by Chelmsford For You
Venture into Chelmsford city centre between Monday 23 and Sunday 29 October to experience an ‘Out Of This World’ trail. Walk down the high street to see giant inflatables replicating the eight planets of our Solar System, which can be found in local businesses. Once you’ve found all eight planets, head over to the special mission control locations to receive your official Chelmsford For You Astronaut sticker!
There’s further free activities to enjoy all week. Expect face painting, theatre workshops, and arts and crafts. Plus, on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 October, Chelmsford For You are bringing a VR space station to Shire Hall and a space-themed simulator to Tindal Square. This is in partnership with Chelmsford Science Festival.
If this sounds like your thing, register your interest here, where you can keep up to date with the latest news on the event.
Action-packed shows at Chelmsford Theatre
The smash hit Spontaneous Potter is an unofficial improvised parody, based on an audience suggestion of a fanfiction title. Madness ensues as a brand new Potter adventure magically unravels before your eyes alongside live music. Previous hilarious performances include ‘Harry Potter and the Rise of the Planet of the Snapes’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce’.
Harry Potter fans should book now to avoid disappointment! There are two performances available: Spontaneous Potter (recommended for 16+) on Wednesday 25 October, 7.30pm, and Spontaneous Potter Kidz on Wednesday 25 October, 2.30pm.
Fireman Sam Live
Become a firefighter cadet and discover the magic of the circus this half term with Fireman Sam Live! Join Sam, Penny, Elvis, Station Officer Steele and Norman in an all-singing, all-dancing and action-packed show. How will Fireman Sam save the day when a circus suddenly finds itself with a tiger on the loose?!
Book your tickets via the Chelmsford Theatre website. There are two performances being held on Monday 23 October, one at 12pm and another at 3.30pm.
LEGO fun at Chelmsford Cathedral
If you’re looking for free activities this half term, come along to a relaxed Stay and Play LEGO session at Chelmsford Cathedral on Wednesday 25 October. The event runs from 10am–12pm and is completely free. Just bring your imagination and the cathedral team will provide the LEGO!
Please note: children must be accompanied by adults.
Autumnal activities at Lathcoats Farm
Lathcoats Farm is celebrating the spooky season in a variety of ways this October!
Family-friendly pumpkin festival
The farm is hosting a family-friendly pumpkin festival, where you can pick your own pumpkin from a wide selection. The festival kicks off from Saturday 14 October and runs till the end of the month. There will also be a Halloween Hunt and outdoor games to play along an exclusive trail near the animal area.
What’s more, receive 50% off your entry fee if you visit the pumpkin patch before half term (from 16–20 October). Simply enter PUMPKINFEST2023 into the discount code box at checkout. Book now via their website.
National Apple Day celebrations!
Be a part of a joyful celebration of apples on Saturday 21 October from 10am–4pm, which is National Apple Day! There will be lots of activities for the family to enjoy, including apple tasting, competitions and meeting alpacas. Read more about the event here.
Unleash your competitive side with the Lathcoats Farm scarecrow competition! To enter, you will need to make your own scarecrow and bring it to the farm between 16 and 20 October. Judging takes place on Saturday 21 October. The winner will be given the choice between an animal experience with All Things Alpaca or Lathcoats vouchers.
To find out more about Lathcoats Farm October events and book tickets, visit the official booking page.
Family Halloween Festival at Marsh Farm
Marsh Farm in South Woodham Ferrers offers one of the most comprehensive days out around with their famous Family Halloween Festival, which runs on the weekend of 14 and 15 October and then from 21-29 October. Along with special themed entertainment like the ‘Witches Wiggle & Boogie Show’ and a ‘Trick or Treat Hunt’, the site will be given a spooktacular makeover with walkabout entertainment each day. Marsh Farm’s usual wide range of activities are all included in the price of a ticket and every paying child will also get a free pumpkin to take home worth around £3.
Land of the Dead festival
There’s another Halloween festival in town this year in the form of the new ‘Land of the Dead‘ at King’s Farm in Writtle, which is open from 10am to 10pm every day between 21 and 29 October. A Halloween circus show, pumpkin picking and a ‘Fun Fair Fiesta’ are promised as part of the daily line up.
Halloween activities at Hyde Hall
RHS Hyde Hall has plenty of fun activities planned this October half term – many with Halloween in mind!
Join a spookily interactive storytelling walk around the garden with Mike Dodsworth on Tuesday 24 October. It’s suitable for all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult. Create your own creepy creatures with art and craft workshops, and enjoy Halloween face painting Wednesday 25 October. Tickets are £5 per child on a first come, first served basis.
Less spooky (but just as exciting!) activities at Hyde Hall include theraputic animal petting with Zoolab on Monday 23 October. Recommended for ages 5+, it’s £6 per child and an accompanying adult must be present. There’s also a delightful autumnal trail families can follow, running from Saturday 21 – Sunday 29 October.
Learn about witchcraft through puppetry at Chelmsford Museum
Partake in some witchy magic this half term with spooktacular puppet making at Chelmsford Museum!
All ages are welcome to join Chelmsford Museum’s craft making workshops, with dress up opportunities too. What to expect from the sessions:
- Colouring in paper finger puppets (suitable for ages 2+)
- Creating shadow puppets (suitable for ages 4+)
- Making cardboard tube puppets inspired by witches’ familiars – toads, dogs, insects, and of course black cats! (suitable for ages 6+)
Workshops are running from Monday 23 October to Friday 27 October at various times. Tickets are free but you’ll need to book your place. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
To fuel your half term crafting energies, why not visit the Hive café for a spot of brunch/lunch? They have a varied selection of food and drink – see the menu here.
The Children and Authors’ Literary Fanfare Event
Calling all bookworms! The Children & Authors’ Literary Fanfare Event at Chelmsford Museum is happening on Saturday 28 October. Founded by local author Sade Fadipe, this wonderful event brings children’s authors, storytellers, and artists together to inspire children aged 3–11.
Sade and her team’s mission is to celebrate cultural heritage through children’s literature and encourage children to read books. The events will be held in the Wells Suite from 10.30am–3.30pm, featuring readings by Sade and other authors.
All sessions are free to attend, however booking is recommended. More information on how to book will be available soon.
Call of the Wild Zoo gets spooky
Call of the Wild Zoo in South Woodham Ferrers is getting spooky! Visit the zoo from Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 October for some fang-tastic fun, including:
- A spooktacular BBQ
- Creepy colouring competition
- Pumpkin patch
- Costume contest
- Halloween themed face painting
Book your tickets here. All tickets allow you entrance to the zoo at any time during the day so you can still see the animals – lemurs, meerkats and plenty more!
Challenge yourself at Go Ape Chelmsford
Go Ape Chelmsford at Hylands Estate offers three exciting high ropes activities, designed to push you physically and mentally – whatever your age. With a mixture of fast ziplines, tarzan swings, and tricky tree-to-tree crossings, you’re set for an adrenaline packed adventure – with the added bonus of beautiful views of Hylands’ grounds!
Also, if you want to try something different, why not give Go Ape Sundown Sessions a go? For a limited time only (between Friday 13 October and Saturday 4 November) you can climb, zip and swing as the sun goes down and thereafter! Once the sun disappears, experience Go Ape in a whole new way – with colourful illuminations surrounding the course. Interested? Look out for the Sundown Session slots when booking, which are highlighted in purple.
Let off steam at Ninja Warrior UK and Jump Street
If you’re looking for other excellent options for kids (and adults) to let off steam this half term then we’re spoilt for choice in Chelmsford. Ninja Warrior UK has just opened a brand-new adventure park in the city centre, with obstacles and inflatables that over-5s and their families can enjoy.
As most parents of school-age children will already know, there are many hours of entertainment to be had at Jump Street Chelmsford, Essex’s biggest trampoline park with a climbing centre and soft play also on site. Did you know that they’re now also home to the county’s first Home Run AR baseball cages? The cages use ball-tracking technology and AR game software to simulate a real baseball game. The facilities are just like the ones used by professional players, so you can brush up on your perfect swing like a pro!
Get in! City Camps – giving children an energy outlet
Half day and full day City Camps are back this half term. Suitable for children aged between 4 and 16, they are a great way for kids to blow off steam, learn new skills and make new friends!
There are a range of activities each day, from ice skating to parkour, with sessions tailored to different age groups. Centres running these this half term are: Riverside Leisure Centre, Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre and South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre. There is even a 15% sibling discount on many of the courses.
Visit the Chelmsford City Sports website for more information and to book your space/s.
Want something the whole family can enjoy? Why not try Chelmsford City Sports’ family fun swim sessions, running every holiday at Riverside and South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre. Alternatively, come along to their holiday ice skating at Riverside ice rink.