02 October 2023
Summer may be fading as fast as a suntan, but autumn is an awesome season to enjoy a Norfolk break at Searles . Nature puts on a spectacular show of colour, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep all ages entertained… plus Halloween is just ahead, so use our guide to plan a spook-tacular half-term with the kids.
Falling into harvest
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness… Autumn takes us straight back to school days and harvest festival. No need to bring any tins on your trip, Norfolk has plenty of local produce to enjoy, and we’re not even counting a delicious pumpkin spice latte from the coffee shop.
It’s apple season and from Searles you can head east to PYO at Drove Orchards. The Thornham site was planted in the 50s and grows more than 160 heritage varieties of apples and pears, 120 of which are native to East Anglia. Once they’re done discovering their favourite, treat the kids to a browse in onsite toy store Nippers of Norfolk, followed by a slice at Eric’s Pizza.
Further afield at Dereham, it’s Apple Day at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse on 15 October with a chance to quiz the region’s apple experts, try your hand at arts and crafts and sample a glass of apple juice or cider from Norwich producer, Norfolk Raider Cider.
And if you’re tempted to take a few bottles back, order a case of Sandringham Apple Juice which is made using apple varieties grown on the royal estate. Sold widely at local shops and eateries, try the eight varieties and then pick and mix your preferred selection for a taste of Norfolk when you get home!
October is also the moment to discover a prize pumpkin from the patch, so get ahead of the carve with a day in the field finding the perfect jack-o’-lantern. This year there’s a new PYO pumpkin field at Church Farm in Heacham, just off the A149 before Norfolk Lavender. With 12 different varieties grown, including giant, mini, pink and green, to choose from. The farm will be open 10am-4pm between 13-31 October with free entry – just pay for your squash by cash or card at the gate.
Of course, all great gourds trail us towards Halloween, and there are plenty of half-term activities to fill (hopefully) warm, sunny days. There’s no need to go far, as the Searles Halloween Weekend has plenty of surprises in store including our annual Halloween Production Show and Fancy Dress Competition on 26 and 28 October, along with haunted crafts, ghoulishly good twists on classic activities and pumpkin carving. With October Half Term Breaks at Searles starting at less than £20 per person, per night*, it’s a dead good deal (sorry, we couldn’t resist!). There are no tricks, just treats, so don’t miss out on the fright night fun.
Along the coast at Holkham, there are plenty of gentle scares and dares for little ones across the estate during its Not So Creepy Crawlies half term week, which runs from 21-29 October. With a Haunted Hunt, web weaving, spooky story-telling, bat baking in the kitchen and a chance to meet Bert’s Amazing Creatures in the Walled Garden, take a Deer and Wildlife Safari too – it’s rutting season and a great time to see the fallow deer in their prime. At £5 per day, with some additional activities charged, enjoy big squeals of delight at little prices!
Cosy up under a blanket with an autumn al fresco movie under the stars! Holkham is also showing a trio of spooky films for Halloween, with 80s classics Ghostbusters (24 October), Hocus Pocus (25 October) and The Lost Boys (26 October) airing, so grab the popcorn and make it a grand family night out.
It’s not quite panto season, but the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton is hoisting the main sail with The Golden Pearl Pirates, a fun family show for half term. Join Captain Betty Breakwater, first mate Silly Billy Bones and Pretty Polly Plank as the crew sets sail in search of the long-lost treasure of Skull Island, but watch out for evil Captain Crabby who has a few spooky tricks to thwart their adventure and steal the treasure for himself. Who will win the day? Find out and enjoy plenty of sing-a-long songs, dazzling dances and comic capers along the way.
For a real-life nautical adventure, October is the last month to enjoy a Searles Sea Tour or Seal Safari aboard the Wash Monster. Book a boat trip and learn about the legends and myths of the sea’s creatures, shipwrecks and smugglers of the past. Don’t be scared by the gaping jaws of the ‘killer shark’ coming along the water and onto the beach to collect you, the Wash Monster is an amphibious vessel, and Captain Willie and his team continue a long tradition of Searles Sea Tours which started in 1929.
Pull on your wellies and enjoy one of nature’s finest moments with an exhilarating walk on the beach or head to the Sandringham Estate and marvel at the woodland’s autumnal display of colour as you follow the waymarked nature trails. If little feet are dragging, tempt them with the Children’s Woodland Play Area which includes high-level walkways and a lofty tower, inspired by nearby Appleton Water Tower.
For a dark spectacular without a Halloween fright in sight, don’t miss a Biofluorescent Night Walk. On 23 October Reveal Nature is offering a guided night time walk at Sandringham to discover fungi, insects and plants which naturally emit light in the dark – children over 8 must be accompanied by an adult.
From simple pleasures to super spooky fun, with so much to see and do this month it’s time to book a half-term Norfolk escape, blow away the cobwebs and make magical memories!
*Prices based on 4 people sharing a Classic Rio 4 for 3 Nights arriving 27th October 2023.