From underground raves and a haunted quarry, to spooky castles and a cabin in the woods
With acres of dense forest, ancient caves, illusive beasts and a mysterious history packed full of folklore and myth, the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley is the perfect location for Half Term Halloween scares. This year is no exception, expect a rave 100ft underground in Clearwell Caves, an interactive scare maze in a flooded quarry and a range of spooky craft experiences to get the little ones involved in the fun and autumnal activities to keep them busy over the half term. What’s more, there is a wide range of accommodation available throughout the region from a glampsite hosting a private bonfire party, to a log cabin holiday site with pumpkin carving and trick or treating.
Check out the Halloween and half term highlights below or to view the full line up of events taking place in the region head to www.wyedeantourism.co.uk
Plus, don’t forget to go Leaf Peeping over half term – the area has launched the UK’s first Leaf Peeping Drive, a 50-mile circuit that can be picked up at any point and includes 10 Hotspots where the best autumnal foliage can be experience. Download the Drive Guide here: www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/leafpeeperswelcome
Fearfest-Evil at the National Diving and Activity Centre
Chepstow, Monmouthshire, 11-31 October
Set around an abandoned railway line, a disused quarry and forgotten woodland at the National Diving and Activity Centre near Chepstow, FearFest-Evil is an immersive horror experience that runs throughout October. Across the site there will be scare zones with live performers and purpose-built sets: stumble through a haunted forest, try not to get lost in the scare maze and brave the house of horrors with its hidden chambers, cages and gruesome scenes. There will be live music and refreshments in the Water View Marquee throughout the night to relieve the nightmares of the scare zones.
Not suitable for those with a nervous disposition or under 16s, experiences will run on Friday and Saturday Evenings between 11-26 October, as well as a special Halloween experience on 31 October. Tickets are available from £29.99. Daytime ‘scare-free’ tours will be running 20 and 27 October, and include a guided walk around the set, without the performers. Find out more at www.ndac.co.uk or call 01291 630 046
Rave in the Cave at Clearwell Caves
Clearwell, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: 26 October
Clearwell Caves, which has served as a location for Dr Who, Arthur and Merlin, will host its infamous Halloween party for the 51st year. The normally peaceful ancient iron ore caves will be transformed for one night only. Halloween revellers will descend 100ft to a candle-lit underground cavern where they enjoy an evening of live music, DJ sets, a pop-up bar and street-food.
The party is on 26 October 2019 with tickets available from £38pp. Over 18s only, fancy dress is compulsory. Find out more at clearwellcaves.com or call 01594 832535.
Family Forest Bathing Experience with Forest Bathe
Nagshead Nature Reserve, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: 29 October 2019
Carina Greenwood, a qualified Forest Therapy guide will host a special autumnal forest bathing experience at the Nagshead RSPB Nature Reserve on 29 October. This experience is a great way for the whole family to get in touch with nature, through a series of ‘invitations’ that will open up the senses to the protected woodland of the reserve. Activities include making an autumn mandala from fallen leaves and a foraged tea ceremony.
The experience runs on 29 October between 10:30am and 3:30pm. It includes a foraged tea ceremony, light snacks and is priced at £26 per adult or £10 per child (aged 8-16). To book and find out more visit forestbathe.co.uk
Creepy Crafts and Spooky Quests at Goodrich Castle
Goodrich, Herefordshire: 26 October to 3 November
Get hands-on with creepy crafts and a wicked witch-themed quest around the grounds of Goodrich Castle. Don’t forget to dress up as each day there will be a competition for the best dressed witches and wizards. Goodrich is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the country and its battlements offer a stunning view across the River Wye of autumnal trees changing colour. The activities are suitable for all ages and run every day between 26 October and 3 November from 11am to 4pm. Entry to the castle is £8.40 for adults and £5 per child (five to 17-year olds). Find out more at www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/goodrich-castle
Spooktacular Half Term Activities at the Dean Heritage Centre
Soudley, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: 26 October to 3 November
Head to the Forest of Dean’s history and craft museum, Dean Heritage Centre, to enjoy a search for monsters along scary woodland trails, spooky crafting sessions and creepy pumpkin carving. Explore an ancient ghoulish cottage where the resident witches may invite you in for a cup of witches brew. The activities are suitable for all ages and run every day between 26 October to 3 November from 10am to 4pm. Entry to the centre costs £8 per adult and £6 per child (three to 16-year olds). Find out more at www.deanheritagecentre.com or call 01594 822170.
Get Crafty with Autumnal Workshops at Nature in Art
Sandhurst, Gloucestershire: 29 October to 1 November
Nature in Art is a museum packed full of work inspired by the natural world, and during October half term it will host a series of workshops inspired by the changing colours of the autumn landscape. Children aged three to 18 are invited to make leaf prints, paint splattered trees, wire models and a enjoy a special Halloween craft session. Workshops run between 29 October and 1 November, with three sessions each day tailored to a different age group. Find out more at natureinart.org.uk or call 01452 731422.
Pumpkins and Pottery Painting at Hot Pot Pottery
Christchurch, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: 26 and 27 October
Enjoy getting creative with special Halloween-themed pottery painting workshops at Hot Pot Pottery. Choose from skull mugs, mummy mugs, ghost plates or clay pumpkins, as well as the usual range of pots and bowls. Then decorate in an array of spooky colours before enjoying a warming bowl of ghoul-ash or pumpkin soup.
The workshops will run between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October. They cost £6 per person to paint, plus the price of the piece chosen. Find out more at hotpotpottery.co.uk and booking is advised via 01594 837943.
Scale a Tower of Leaves at Forest of Dean Adventure
Coleford, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: now until 3 November
The 40-foot climbing tower at Forest of Dean Adventure has been given an autumnal makeover and will be adorned with 1000s of leaves, allowing climbers to reach the top passing the changing colours of the season. Archery sessions are available throughout half term with special leaf-shaped targets to add an autumnal twist. Scale the tower from £5.50 or combine climbing with archery in a one-hour session for £12 per person. Find out more at www.forestofdeanadventure.co.uk
New Shaun the Sheep Activity Glow Trails at Beechenhurst
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: from 18 October
Head to Beechenhust in the heart of the Forest of Dean to enjoy an exciting new activity glow trail featuring Shaun the Sheep, which celebrates his new film A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. An alien spaceship has crashed into Mossingham Forest and Shaun is on a mission to help the inhabitant – a lovable alien called Lu-La. Lu-La needs your help to charge her communicator so she can call home for rescue. Hurry, she’s being chased by the sinister Agent Red and her hapless helpers the Hazmats.
Go to www.forestryengland.uk/shaunthesheep to download the free app and pick up an activity pack at the café, priced at £3.50.
Half term Family Friendly Breaks
Private Bonfire Glamping Party at Penhein
Llanvair Discoed, Chepstow, Monmouthshire: 1 to 4 November
Penhein consists of six luxury Persian Alachigh tents tucked away in the hills of the Wye Valley. Guests are welcome to explore the 450-acres of Penhein farm with its adventure playground, and on Saturday 2 November guests are invited to a private Bonfire Party in the farm’s wildflower meadow. Enjoy a night of fireworks and sparklers after a bonfire and a Guy-making competition. Enjoy spiced mulled wine or hot chocolate accompanied by barbequed sausages and toasted marshmallows.
Book now to save £100 on a three-night stay between Friday 1 and Monday 4 November and enjoy the private Bonfire Party. A three-night stay between 1 and 4 November is available from £395 (was £495, saving £100) for up to five people. To find out more and book visit www.penhein.co.uk or call 01633 400581.
A Cabin in the Woods at Forest Holidays
Coleford, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: 18 to 31 October
Deep within the Forest of Dean, these 120 cabins are kitted out with hot tubs, wood burners and barbeques. This half term every cabin will also feature a free pumpkin and carving kit. The resident Forest Ranger will run special Halloween guided walks complete with marshmallows and spooky stories. There will also be a Halloween party with a pumpkin and fancy-dress competition, plus slime juice and trick or treating.
The Halloween parties will take place on 18, 21, 25 and 28 October. A four-night midweek break over half term between 28 October and 1 November is available from £895 based on four people sharing a Silver Birch Cabin. Find out more at www.forestholidays.co.uk/locations/gloucestershire/forest-of-dean or call 03330 110 495.
Country Hotel Break at St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club
St Pierre is a 14th century manor house set within 400 acres of parkland on the outskirts of the Wye Valley with easy access from both Severn Bridges. Enjoy exploring the gardens and parkland, go for a round of golf on the Championship course that has been designed around an 11-acre lake or have a soothing massage in the spa. Kids will enjoy the heated indoor pool or playing a few games of tennis at the courts. With the Forest of Dean a short drive away there are also a wide variety of outdoor activities nearby.
There is some availability for families to stay over half term with a Junior Suite sleeping up to four people from £89 per night on an accommodation-only basis. Find out more at www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cwlgs-st-pierre-marriott-hotel-and-country-club or call 01291 625261.
Adventure and Relaxation at Whitemead Forest Park
Parkend, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Whitemead Forest Park lies on the outskirts of the small village of Parkend and is a community within itself. Surrounded by woodland, with a range of log cabins, glamping pods, apartments and camping pitches, Whitemead makes for a great place to enjoy an autumn adventure. With a swimming pool and spa on site, and plenty of activities outside it will be hard to leave the park. However, Dean Forest Cycles is just around the corner hiring out bikes for those looking to explore the forest on two wheels.
The site is filling up fast for half term with three-night stays on the weekends either side still available from £270 based on a family of four sharing a Mega Pod. For those families with the earlier half term date enjoy a five-night stay between 23 and 28 October from £287 based on a family of four sharing a Mega Pod. Find out more at www.whitemead.co.uk or call 03301 230374.
For more information on events and accommodation across the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, please visit: www.wyedeantourism.co.uk.