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Top spook-tacular things to do in the Stroud district this half- term

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Half-term is almost here, so take a look at 15 seasonal low-cost activities for families to enjoy during this period.

  1. Join a friendly canal ghost hunt

For a spooky start to half term, step back in time to join the family-friendly interactive Ghost Hunters event along the Stroudwater Canal. You’ll set off with a map, discovering the stories of people who lived nearby. Storytellers and actors will bring the event to life, but we promise it’s suitable for primary school children!

Choose a time to suit you on Sunday 29 October. Tickets are £1 each and must be booked in advance. The event is suitable for people with accessibility issues, please see the separate booking section on the website. Find out more and book your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ghost-hunters-tickets-721164641857?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

  1. Museum in the Park

Pick up an i-spy quiz sheet throughout half term and hunt for items relating to Stroud’s woollen history throughout the museum galleries.

Enjoy an afternoon of Autumn Adventures with the Museum in the Park and Stroud Valleys Project. Try Hallowe’en crafts, listen to storytelling, follow a pumpkin trail and take part in a carved pumpkin competition. Sunday 29 October from 1pm-6pm.

Entry to the museum, the I-spy quiz and Autumn Adventures are all free-of-charge and there is plenty of free-of-charge parking and an accessible route for visitors. More information can be found here: https://museuminthepark.org.uk/about-your-visit

  1. Selsley Common

If there is an autumnal breeze blowing then why not fly a kite on Selsley Common? It boasts panoramic views out towards the River Severn; just make sure you hold onto your kite tightly. Look out for The Toots long barrow – a scheduled ancient monument that dates back to the Bronze Age. The soil on the common is very special being formed 180 million years ago and contains fossils of coral, shellfish and snails.

Please keep dogs on a short lead to protect wildlife and grazing livestock and remember to take any rubbish home with you. To find out more about the district’s commons, please visit: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/sport-leisure-parks/parks-and-green-spaces/commons-in-the-stroud-district

  1. See the changing colours at Stratford Park in Stroud

Explore the spectacular colours at Stratford Park’s arboretum. Don’t forget to visit Stroud Valleys Project Sensory Garden too. Admission and parking are free of-charge. If you’re visiting by bus, there is a bus stop near the park. There are accessible routes around the site and there are also some buggy-friendly paths. Bicycle parking is available too.   

  1. Hallowe’en activities in Dursley

Get your Hallowe’en groove on and join in the fun with a Hallowe’en Dance Workshop. Make new friends, have a ‘wicked’ time, and learn a new, spooky dance routine. Parents and guardians will be invited to come along and see the final performance before the children go home. A fun-packed, 90-minute dance workshop with a Halloween twist from 10:45am-12.45pm on 30 October. £8.50 per child.

The Pulse Hallowe’en Activity Days are jam-packed with sports challenges and Hallowe’en-themed activities and crafts. £20 per child. Suitable for children aged 5-11. 

The swimming pool at The Pulse will be closed during half-term for the installation of a new renewable heating system so all activities will take place at the nearby Chantry Centre. The pool at Stratford Park will be open during half term (see no 8 below).

  1. Woodchester Mansion

The unfinished, Gothic Woodchester Mansion in a wooded valley is open from 11am-5pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and also bank holidays, until 5th November. £9 per adult ticket and children go free-of-charge.

Join some scary spectres of all shapes and sizes in the Spooky Cellars. Find out who is watching the spookily glowing pumpkins, witness some rattly skeletons, find the Mummy, and what will you see floating in the swamp this year? Don’t forget to view The Golden Pumpkin Trail which takes you around the Mansion.

And if that isn’t scary enough, then this is your last chance to see one of the largest colonies of rare horseshoe bats – they’ll go off to hibernate from late autumn until spring. State-of-the-art bat cams in The Roger Ransome Bat Observatory allow visitors to take a peek at the nocturnal creatures.

The Scary Spectre trail will take place from 11am-4pm on Friday 27 October, Saturday 28 October and from 10.30am-3:30pm on Sunday 29 October to Sunday 5 November. There will be a separate charge for the Scary Spectre trail; £5 for children under 16 and normal adult admission prices. Parking is free-of-charge for National Trust members or £3 for non-members. The walk down and back up from the mansion is steep so please wear appropriate footwear.

  1. Woodchester Park

With lakes and dazzling Autumn colours, Woodchester Park is a gem. There is a nature play trail, the remains of an 18 and 19-century “lost landscape” and a boat house. The car park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Parking is free-of-charge for National Trust members or £3 for non-members. Paths are steep and undulating in places so please bring suitable footwear. Remember to check out Tinkley Gate; a new countryside car park, café and trail at Woodchester Park (and has baby changing facilities). Please remember that swimming is strictly prohibited in the lakes. To find out more visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/gloucestershire-cotswolds/woodchester-park

  1. Stratford Park Leisure Centre

Get your goggles at the ready, brush down those roller skates, and get yourselves to Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud. There is a roller disco every Saturday from 2-3.30pm, family swimming sessions, adult and child swimming lessons for 19-36 month olds, and supervised gym sessions for 11-15 year olds. There is plenty of free-of-charge parking and bicycle parking, and a bus route that stops nearby. There is accessible access from the car park to the leisure centre. To find out more information and to book visit everyoneactive.com

or download the Everyone Active app.

  1. Kingshill House

Bring your creative flare and join in the spooks at a Homemade Magic Workshop at Kingshill House in Dursley. Create broomsticks, googly eyes and wands, and let the magic commence. The workshop will be held from 11.30am – 1pm on Friday 3 November. £10 per person. Pre-booking essential. Book here: https://www.kingshillhouse.org.uk/store/p230/HomemadeMagicWorkshop.html

  1. Festive Dursley’s Halloween Hunts

Can you find all the spooky items in Twinberrow Woods? How many broomsticks and pumpkins will you find around the town? Join in the spooky fun at Dursley Sculpture & Play Trail and town. From October 23. Pick up a free-of-charge hunt at Dursley library, Jacob’s House or at www.dursleytowncouncil.gov.uk

  1. Costume swap at Dursley Library

Find your perfect, scary Halloween costume at Dursley library. Swap costume clothes and turn into a mysterious black cat, a spooky ghost, or an orange pumpkin. 

Visit Dursley Library from the 9 October – 1 November.

  1. Hallowe’en Fun in Dursley Market Place

Bring your decorated pumpkins and enter the competition to see if your creative, scary delight will be a winner. Watch Amy Addle’s dancers and listen to some super spooky stories. Head to Dursley Market Place from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, October 28 and join the fun with Festive Dursley. 

  1. Pick your own pumpkin

There’s only one thing better than buying your own pumpkin; picking your own pumpkin! From carving your finest scary creation, to creating a delicious pie, there are so many ways that families can enjoy these homegrown delights.

Cattle Country is hosting an annual pumpkin bonanza and reports a bumper crop for 2023. There’ll be plenty of family photo opportunities on the farm and there is also a ‘find the hats’ trail to keep everyone busy along the way. Pick your own, starting at £1 including free pumpkin carving and decorating. Book you tickets here: https://www.cattlecountry.co.uk/tickets

Priory Farm, in Leonard Stanley, has a pumpkin patch open from 28-31 October. No booking is required, cash and card payments will be accepted and well-behaved dogs are welcome. There will be free-of-charge parking onsite. For more information, please visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PrioryFarmPYO/

  1. Nature Detectives Trail

Get your (woolly) thinking caps on, your winter boots ready, and head to Stroud Old Cemetery to discover the Nature Detectives audio trail. You’ll be able to find out all about the headstones, become a lichen detective and listen to some super spooky sounds. All you’ll need is an inquisitive mind and a smart phone that can scan the 10 QR codes dotted around the site. To find out more about the free-of-charge trail, please visit Stroud Town Council’s website here: https://www.stroudtown.gov.uk/nature-detectives-trail

  1. Local Libraries

Join in the Halloween activities at your local library. In a fun outdoor session, you’ll learn how to light a campfire at Quedgeley Library and make a cute, spikey hedgehog friend using clay and other natural materials at Dursley Library. Suitable for ages 3 and above. To find out more visit the Gloucestershire Libraries Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GloucestershireLibraries/?locale=en_GB

Stroud District Council Leader, Catherine Braun said: “Many of the activities listed are low-cost or free-of-charge and it’s great to see such a wide range of exciting things to do in the Stroud district.”

Deputy Council Leader, Natalie Bennett added: “The local area has some wonderful places to visit over autumn, from a spooky canal trail to picking your own Hallowe’en pumpkin; there’s plenty to get involved with during October.”

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