It seems like we have only just finished with the long summer holidays and now the October half term is suddenly at our doors! Where has the time gone?  It’s hard to believe that it is school holiday time again.  It’ll be Christmas break before we know it.

School holidays are always a busy time for the Learning team, what with the planning, coordinating and, finally, running those events, workshops and other activities. And then there’s the clean-up, which usually isn’t too bad unless you make the mistake of using glitter.

Sometimes it can be tempting to just to continue to offer a trail for family visitors during the holidays, but offering a bit more than that during the school break can be a great way to encourage family visits.

If you have a good relationship with your local schools, it would be an idea to let them know what you’re doing so they can circulate the information to parents and carers. They’ll be looking for something to keep their little ones occupied.

October’s half term is a particularly good holiday time. Not only is autumn really kicking in, but the half term usually falls near Hallowe’en, which is always a fun topic to explore. Personally I am in favour of strongly tying activities to one’s collection rather than a big general theme, but Hallowe’en is one of those versatile concepts that can be applied to almost anything. It just takes a little imagination for anything to become spooky. A little darkness can go a long way in setting the right kind of mood.

Following on quite nicely from Hallowe’en, is Museums at Night. Usually this after-hours cultural festival takes places in May, but this year the team behind the night-time high-jinks are coordinating another one for the autumn during the evenings of October 30 and 31. It’s getting darker earlier now, so the events don’t have to go on quite so late, and if you need a bit of help with the planning, their blog has lots of tips and resources which are useful no matter what time of year you’re programming events for.

It seems to be the time for festivals, with the Family Arts Festival taking place from 9 October until 1 November and the Big Draw happening throughout October too.

Taking part in festivals like these is usually a good way to tap in to some extra exposure for an event. All of the festivals I’ve mentioned have good search functionality to help potential visitors find you. They also offer help and advice if you’re not too sure where to get started and plenty of ideas if the creative juices aren’t flowing.

The festivals are also open to all sorts of activities, which means that if your museum, gallery or heritage site is already planning something -maybe some activities to tie in with a big exhibition for instance – it is likely to be eligible for listing on their sites, but it’s best to check.

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