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45 fun half term activities and most of them are free-of-charge

Published: Wednesday, 19 October, 2022

Half term is nearly here for most schools. There’s no shortage of activities to entertain children in the Stroud district and most of the activities we’ve compiled are either free-of-charge or very low cost.

Community Resilience and Wellbeing - strengthening and supporting our communities so people feel included and connected and Economy, Recovery and Regeneration – supporting a thriving and resilient local economy are two of the priorities in our Council Plan.

“We know that this is a difficult time financially for many families in the Stroud district, and with half term approaching, this is a really helpful list of activities, many of which are free-of-charge,” said Stroud District Council Leader Catherine Braun.

Deputy SDC Leader Natalie Bennett added: “The council is doing all it can to help residents with the rising costs of living – find out more at our dedicated webpage, which is updated regularly.”

The activities below are free-of-charge

 

Activities at the Museum in the Park:

Supertato 'I Spy' Trail (indoor children's trail)

See how many veggies you can spot hiding around the Museum in the Park, while watching out for the Evil Pea! Saturday, 22 October - 6 November, 11am-4pm.

Hedgehog 'I Spy' Trail (outdoor children's trail)

Known as ‘the gardener’s friend’, the hedgehog is sadly a rare sight now. The team at the Museum in the Park are always pleased to see them and leave a wild, overgrown corner in the walled garden for hedgehogs (and other wild creatures) to live in. This ‘I Spy’ hunt involves an outdoor stroll to spot some hidden hedgehog sculptures and work out the secret word they spell. All ages welcome but aimed at pre-school children and their parents/grandparents. 22 October – 5 November 11am-4pm.

Sketchbook Drop in Day

Children and their parents and grandparents are invited to drop in today to draw their favourite museum objects inside, or the majestic trees of Stratford Park outside. Collect your free-of-charge mini sketchbook and take yourself on a sketching adventure. For ages 4+, children must be supervised by a parent or guardian. Borrow a pencil from us or bring your own outdoor art kit. Tuesday, 25 October, 10am – 4pm.

Drop in Family Activity - Fossil & Dino Tile Wax Rubbings

Thursday 27 October – Saturday 29 October, 11am - 4pm

Drop in and enjoy making a piece of art to take home with our fun fossil tiles. Create a super simple wax rubbing with just one crayon or get creative by using different colours and overlaying different details … have fun experimenting! All ages welcome but children must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

For full details, see the Museum in the Park website.

 

Family fun along the canal

There are miles of accessible, flat canal towpath ideal for a walk or bike ride, with plenty of wildlife to spot along the route. You’ll find picnic spots and canalside cafes along the way.

Find out how to make a boat go uphill with Cotswold Canals Connected Flight of Locks

Wednesday 26th October 10am - 4pm 

Follow the canal-side trail from Newtown Lock to Westfield Bridge at Eastington, near Stonehouse. Pick up a map when you’re there that highlights the heritage locks and local history. Canal volunteers will be on hand to explain how the locks enable boats to go up hill, and there will be stalls from the CCC team and partners. Drop in from 10am - 4pm.  

Then take a peek into Western Depot where objects for the canal are made and repaired by Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers. See paddle gear, lawn mowers and everything in between. Tours will take place of the busy depot with mini activity workshops for children. Advance bookings only, book your tour here.

Free fossil family fun with TV dinosaur detectives

TV dinosaur detectives will be on hand to help hunt for fossils at a half term family fun day. Stroud District Council’s Museum in the Park is hosting the event at the 183-million-year-old site where an incredible fossil collection was discovered at Court Farm in King’s Stanley, in July. The finds included rare 3D fish, ichthyosaur bones and more which visitors will be able to see on the day. Sally and Neville Hollingworth who discovered the site will be there, and people can try fossil-themed craft activities, meet the team from the Museum in the Park and view fossils from their collection, and bring their own fossils along to be identified.

Fossil Fishing at the Farm will take place from 12pm – 4pm on 22 October at Court Farm, Kings Stanley, GL10 3PN. There’s no need to book.

Feed the ducks

There are plenty of places to find ducks to feed in the district, including along the canal and at Stratford Park Lake in Stroud. But please, don’t feed them bread which isn’t healthy for either the birds or the water quality. Bird seed, oats, peas, lettuce, and sweetcorn are all tasty and healthy alternatives, and many water-side attractions will sell bags of seed. Download the Canal & River Trust’s free duck activity guide

Hallowe'en fun in Dursley Market Place

Bring a carved or decorated pumpkin to enter into a competition, listen to stories and watch Amy Addle Dancers perform a spooky dance at 3pm. 29 October from 2pm.

Autumn Adventures Day

Join Stroud Valleys Project and the Museum in the Park for an afternoon of Autumn Adventures on Sunday 30 October 2pm-6pm.

2pm to 4.30pm - Drop off your spooktacular carved pumpkins to enter them into our competition and pumpkin trail. There will be prizes for the best Primary, 11+ and Family entrants, and our judges this year are renowned authors Katie Fforde and Claire Barker.

2pm; 2.50pm; 3.50pm - Join Claire Barker, author of Picklewitch & Jack and Knitbone Pepper: Ghost Dog, in the Museum in the Park where she will be telling stories and helping you to write some spells, as well as signing her books.

4.30pm to 5.30pm - SVP’s very own Tamsin Bent will be running autumn-leaf related activities, including leaf garland making, leaf rubbing, and leaf picture making.

5.30pm to 6pm - View all the pumpkins in our spooky pumpkin trail. We will also announce our competition winners!

Hot berry cordial from Bottlegreen will be available between 4.30pm and 5.30pm, while the Museum’s teas and coffees are available to purchase during their opening hours.

Play outdoors with Play Gloucestershire

Play Rangers will be bringing their active and creative play equipment to families who live in Bussage during half term. They operate outdoors whatever the weather, and all activities are free. Typical sessions might involve informal sports, tag, den building, face painting and giant bubbles. Whole families join in the play and children with disabilities are welcome. Thursday 27 October 10am-4pm, The Old Common Ground, Bussage, Stroud, GL6 8GZ. Find out more here.

Go Outside and learn about your local area

Go Outside maps are fun, child-friendly, interactive maps that help you discover more about the place you live. There are seven to choose from, each filled with puzzles and facts. Choose to start in in Berkeley, Chalford, Dursley, Stonehouse, Ebley or Wotton-under-Edge. 

Discover a new town in the district (or more about your own)

The newly launched Discover Stroud Trails app will take you on a journey of discovery around Stroud district. Featuring circular trails that tour Stroud, Stonehouse, Dursley, Wotton-under-Edge, Nailsworth and Berkeley, and a Tour of Britain route, each map gives information about significant buildings along the route. It’s free-of-charge to download on the Apple and Google Play stores. 

Go wild in Stratford Park

There’s plenty of outdoor space at the award-winning SDC-owned and managed Stratford Park including two play areas, large grassy lawns, a small skate park, a lake, woodland, and a table tennis table (bring your own bats). If you feed the resident ducks, please don’t brig bread which isn’t healthy for either the birds or the water quality; try bird seed, oats, peas, lettuce or sweetcorn as healthy alternatives. There’s a large free car park and you’ll find the Museum in the Park and Stratford Park leisure centre there. It hosts a weekly parkrun on Saturdays too.

Take part in a parkrun

Walk, jog, run or watch a parkrun – the friendly volunteer-run community events take place on Saturday mornings across the district and are a great excuse to start the day with some fresh air and exercise. Children and runners pushing buggies are welcome (under 11’s must be accompanied by a parent). Find your nearest parkrun and register here.

Take to the commons

The wide-open spaces on the district’s many commons are fabulous spots to run around and let off steam. And if it’s windy, why not make a kite and fly it? There are several commons near Stroud, including SDC-managed Selsley Common where you can often see colourful paragliders taking off from the steep slopes. There are lots of online kite making instructions, including one here.

Browse the stalls at a market

There are bustling markets taking place every weekend around the district including the weekly award-winning farmers’ market in Stroud to a seasonal pop up market at Saxon Barn in Leonard Stanley, where you can pick your own pumpkin, have your face painted and enter a costume competition

Here are 10 markets to visit (please check in advance as some may not be running during half term).  

Discover the nature themed mosaic on a sculpture trail

The artwork at Dursley Sculpture and Play Trail in Twinberrow Woods has been created by local community groups and includes a newly installed nature themed mosaic. There is open access to visit any time.   

Find your local community hub

Some community hubs offer activities for children as well as being a point of contact and support for adults. Some provide food supplies and community cafes for people who are struggling financially. If you have time, why not volunteer? It’s a great way to get to know people in your community. Find your closest hub here

Wander around Wotton

The Cotswold Way runs right through the centre of Wotton-under-Edge, a bustling town in the south of the district. Walk to Wotton Hill which has spectacular views across the River Severn, or to the striking 111-foot Tyndale Monument in nearby North Nibley which was built to commemorate local hero William Tyndale, the martyred 16th century Bible translator. The monument is open every day with views of the Berkeley Vale and the River Severn to the Black Mountains. Find seven circular walks that start in Wotton here.   

Love your library

Borrow some new books for half term reading at your local library or book a half term event:

25 October 3.45-4.30pm Storytime & Crafts, Durley Library

26 October 10.30am-11am Storytime, Nailsworth Library

26 October 10.30am-11am Baby Bounce & Rhyme, Stonehouse Library

27 October 10.30am-11am Baby Bounce & Rhyme, Dursley Library

28 October 11.30am-12pm Baby Bounce & Rhyme, Stroud Library

31 October 11-11.30am Baby Bounce & Rhyme, Stroud Library

31 October 11.30am-12.pm Baby Bounce & Rhyme, Nailsworth Library

Take part in a costume swap at Dursley Library

Drop into Dursley library and pick up a new dressing up costume until 31 October.

Find out more about what’s on at your local library here.

Go on a Hallowe'en Hunt around Dursley & Twinberrow Woods

Pick up a form at Dursley Library or Dursley Town Council or download it from the Dursley Town Council website.  

Make sweets with The Door Youth Project

The youthwork teams at the Door youth project have put together a full programme of half term activities for young people aged 11-17. Try Sweet making, games, smores & hot chocolate and more. See the Facebook page for more details.

 

There is a charge for the following activities

 

Drop in Family Workshop - Mourning Peg Dolls with Corinne Hockley

Have you spotted the haunting ‘Mourning Doll’ upstairs in the Museum in the Park? Perhaps you’ve heard about our fundraising appeal to purchase the ‘Painswick Mourning Ring’? Across different cultures, times and places, people have commemorated the dead in many different ways. In this friendly drop in workshop you are invited to make your own ‘peg doll’ in memory of a lost loved one, perhaps a relative or friend, or a favourite family pet. If you like, bring some fabric scraps/ribbon/lace/ a photograph with you. For ages 5+, designed for children and their parents/grandparents to enjoy together.

Wednesday, October 26, 11am – 4pm. The Museum in the Park, Stroud

Cost: £1 per child, donations also welcome towards the Painswick Mourning Ring appeal.

 

Parkland Fungi Treasure Hunt

Join Stroud Valleys Project for a park-based autumn fungi treasure hunt at Stratford Park in Stroud. Autumn is a great time to spot some of the weird and wonderful fungi that lurk amongst the leaves on the woodland floor. Don your wellies and walking boots, get outside and enjoy some time seeking out these fascinating treasures. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Sunday 30 October, 11am – 1pm

Cost: adults £7, children £3 - book tickets here.

You might want to make a whole day of it, and follow your treasure hunt with more Autumn Adventures from SVP and the Museum in the Park (see above).

 

Halloween Dance Workshop

A fun-packed, 90-minute dance workshop in the Pulse studio in Dursley with a spooky Halloween twist. A wickedly fun dance workshop where you will have the opportunity to learn a spooky Halloween dance routine. Parents will be invited to come and see the final performance before the children go home.

Tuesday 25 October, Mini Zombies, aged 3–5 years: 2.15pm–3.45pm. £7.50

Junior Zombies, aged 6–9 years: 4pm–5.30pm, £7.50

October Activity Days at the Pulse

25–27 October, 9am–3pm, £20.00 per child. Suitable for children aged 5–11 years

The team at the Pulse will provide a day that’s jam-packed with sports challenges, activities and crafts, plus an inflatable fun session in the pool.

Hallowe’en Pool Party

Enjoy a 55-minute spooktacular inflatable fun session, complete with party games and scary sing-along tunes. Three sessions will run on Saturday 29 October:

4.45 – 5.40pm (for under 7’s and parents), 5.45 – 6.40pm and 6.45 – 7.40pm. £5 per child, £6 per adult.

There are also daily family swim and inflatable fun sessions at The Pulse throughout half term.

Learn to swim

Boost your child’s confidence and ability in the water with a week-long courses of Stage 2 lessons at The Pulse. Monday 24 October–Friday 28 October, 8.00am–8.30am or 8.30am–9.00am. £32 per child.

Full details of all events at The Pulse are here

 

Pick your pumpkin from a farm shop

Farm shops are great places to show children where seasonal fresh food comes from, so what better place to buy your Hallowe’en pumpkin than the place it was grown? Some farm shops have pick-your-own pumpkin patches for even more fun.

Try Pound Farm Shop in Whaddon, Eastington Farm Shop (pick your own pumpkin patch and Hallowe’en crafts), Wotton Farm Shop, Leaf and Ground near Dursley, or Frocester Fayre. Pick your own pumpkin from Eastington Farm Shop (and take part in Hallowe’en crafts), Elm Farm in Elmore, GL2 3NT or Priory Farm in Leonard Stanley (29 & 30 October.) More farm shop details are on the Visitstroud.uk website 

 

Tour the spooky cellars at Woodchester Mansion

Tuesday 25 – Sunday 30 October, 11am – 4pm (closed at 3pm on Sunday 30 Oct)

Cost: £5 for children under 16; £7 adults, suitable for all ages from 4.

Dress up if you wish - the scarier the better! Admission to the spooky cellars allows you to see the whole mansion. Woodchester Mansion is a unique Grade I listed building, famous for being unfinished and exposing the secrets of its construction. See spectacular stone carvings, the restored Chapel east window, and watch the resident bat colony on CCTV. And afterwards enjoy seasonal refreshments by the Nelson Trust in the Mansion tearoom. More details are here.  

 

King’s Stanley Playgroup Hallowe'en Trail

Sunday 29 October 10am-4pm

Follow the trail around The Stanleys plus face painting, glitter tattoos, a colouring competition and pumpkin decorating at Boho Bakery (take your own or pick one from the pumpkin patch at nearby Priory Farm). Download a map for £3 or buy from the Boho Bakery in Kings Stanley. There's a Facebook link here.

 

Take part in Hallowe’en family yoga and craft

A special half term family yoga class which includes mindful craft, creepy yoga poses and games. 25 October, 10am – 11.30pm at Stroud Brewery. Cost £20 for one adult and one child, extra child £10, family of four £39. Book here

Whiteshill Scarecrow Hunt

Hunt the scarecrows on a trail around Whiteshill from 24-30 October. Each one represents a children's book - can you guess them all? Maps cost £3 from Whiteshill Village Shop.

Carve a pumpkin at Stroud Brewery

28 October, 10am-4pm, cost £1. More details here.

 

Spooky Hallowe’en fun at Kingshill House

Tuesday 25th October & Thursday 27th October, 2-4pm

This year Kingshill House wants to lead by example by lessening their environmental impact so all the activities either use natural materials or repurposed/recycled objects. Visitors are encouraged to to come in home-made or second hand costumes. Halloween Trail on both days between 2-4pm and includes ten different activity stations to explore from face painting, Halloween sensory boxes to our spider web challenge.

Join storyteller Bill for Spooky Stories (on Tuesday only) who will be running storytelling sessions.

Three special Make and Take activities on both days; make a paper wand, jam jar mummys and Halloween style egg box bird feeder. And of course, lots of Halloween treats.

Cost: 'pay what you decide.' Book for either Tuesday 25th or Thursday 27th here

 

Celebrate Diwali in Dursley

Join a Lantern making workshop, try Indian street food, and have a go at Bhangra dancing at Kingshill House. Tickets cost £8 in advance, £10 on the door, under 16s go free. Friday 28 October, 7pm – late. Book online here

 

Roald Dahl and the Imagination Seekers at the Sub Rooms

A family show inspired by the works of Roald Dahl. It's a thrilling story delivered through performance, games and creative play that explores Roald Dahl's extraordinary stories, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and The Twits along the way. Tue 25 Oct. Doors open at 1pm, show starts at 2pm.

Cost: children from £9.50; adults from £11.50. Special offer - buy 2 adult and 2 child tickets for just £40. Book tickets here.

 

Attend Ghoul School at Berkeley Castle

Ghoul School is an interactive, self-led audio extravaganza that will teach young thrill seekers all they need to know to become perfect little monsters. Along the way, they will encounter a spooky array of teachers who’ll impart their delights, frights and vampire bites. Tickets cost £1 per child, in addition to the admission ticket (Adults £14, Children 3-16 £7, family ticket £39). Sunday 23rd - Wednesday 26th & Sunday 30th October (the castle is closed every Thursday - Saturday). See the Berkeley Castle website for more details.

Playful Worlds at Prema Arts

If you could create a playful world, what would it look like? And what characters might inhabit it? Would it be upside down, multi-coloured or monochrome? Maybe the trees in your imaginary world could be made from chocolate or ice-cream? What’s the name of the magical world you’ve conjured up from your wildest imagination? Stroud illustrator Tracy Spiers helps you through the creative process of designing and creating a 3D playful world. All materials are provided. Thursday 27 October, 10am-3pm. Age 7+ Cost: £26. See Prema Arts website.

 

Enjoy a traditional firework display

There are a number of organised fireworks displays to enjoy across the district, the best known being Stroud Valley Fireworks which has been lighting up the skies for over 50 years, and has donated almost £250,000 to charities in that time. It’s on Monday 24 October, Marling School Playing Field (note, no onsite parking). Tickets bought in advance are discounted (child £5, adult £10), or available on the door (child £6, adult £12) Book here

There are other fireworks displays across the district, most of them with proceeds going to a local charity or school. Cotswold Gliding Club will feature an airborne pyrotechnic display on 29 October. Thomas Keble PTA fireworks night is on 3 November.  Take your pick of events on 5 November at Croft School in Painswick, Dursley, Frampton on Severn, Wotton under Edge and Miserden. Cattle Country’s Firework Display on 6 November allows entry from 2pm, giving you all afternoon to explore the park before the event at 7pm.

Pet owners should take extra precautions at this time of year – there’s advice from our Animal Welfare Officers on our website.

 

Eeek! Week at WWT Slimbridge

Discover an eek!citing and mysterious world of wetland nature from 22-31 October. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked and engage all your senses as you make your way around our wetlands for a truly eek!citing experience. It’s a weirdly wild day out for the whole family.

Eek! week activities are all included in admission ticket to Slimbridge (£15 adults, £8.63 children 4-16, children under 4 free-of-charge) or free to WWT members (from £4.75 a month). Full details are here.

 

Make a Halloween Winnie the Witch Chocolate Workshop

Monday 24 October, 10:30 – 12:30

Make a Hallowe'en Winnie the Witch from a chocolate orange!

All equipment and ingredients is supplied, just bring yourselves and your creative fingers. Suitable for ages 14 upwards. Cost £35. Book here.

 

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