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Hemel Hempstead’s top 10 October half-term days out

School's out

You may feel you’ve only just packed the little darlings back following the lengthy summer break but believe it or not the next school holiday is on the horizon. For those not jetting off to sunny climes we’ve compiled a list of places to visit whilst staycationing in Hemel Hempstead during October half-term;

Warner Bothers Studio Tour – the making of Harry Potter, Leavesden – Fans of the young wizard Harry Potter will love this amazing day out where they will be able to see and experience the sets, props and costumes used in the filming of the iconic films. Highlights include walking through the Great Hall; strolling along the cobbled street of Diagon Alley; exploring the studio backlot where fans can visit no. 4 Privet Drive, board the Knight bus and take a photo on Hagrid’s motorbike; enjoying a Butterbeer and riding a broomstick with the help of green screen technology. For further details visit www.wbstudiotour.co.uk

London – this entry warrants an entire blog, if not guide book of its own, but some of our October half-term highlights in the capital include: the Museum of London’s after-hours events for seven to 11 year olds culminating in a sleepover in the museum; The Moscow State Circus performing at the O2; the London Wetland Centre’s Giant Brick Animal Trail; the wonderful (and free) V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green; Kidzania at Westfield White City where children dress up and role play in a city specifically designed and built for the purpose. For further inspiration visit www.timeout.com

The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead – Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities and ages will love taking to the slopes in the heart of Hemel Hempstead! The Snow Centre boasts a 160 metre main slope as well as the largest indoor ski lesson slope in the UK – both coated in pristine real snow. A variety of lessons are available for juniors and during the half term holiday the centre is also laying on two-day courses. Four to six year olds can take part in two one-hour ski lessons over two days and older children (7 – 16) can enjoy two two-hour sessions on the slopes either skiing or snowboarding. For the real youngsters (2 to 5 year olds)  there is a Snow Garden with real snow and a mini snow slide which is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Having worked up an appetite the whole family can enjoy food and drink in the alpine-themed The Lodge which overlooks the slopes.  To find out more ring 0844 770 7227 or visit www.thesnowcentre.com

Butterfly World, St Albans – Though this is very much still a work in progress with ambitious plans for a stunning Biome housing up to 10,000 tropical butterflies, hummingbirds and other creatures, Butterfly World is still worth a visit. A number of activities are taking place over the half term break including making hedgehog homes, birdfeeders and pumpkin lanterns. For further details visit www.butterflyworldproject.com

Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable – If the weather is good you can’t beat a half-term trip to the zoo. Whipsnade boasts over 2,500 animals on a beautiful 600 acre site and in addition to all the regular activities it is hosting a Boo at the Zoo half-term week filled with fun and games. Among the activities on offer are pumpkin carving, the Jumbo Express ghost hunt, spooky storytelling and terrifying talks. There are also Ghoul School and Pumpkin Party events to enjoy. To find out more visit www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo

Ashridge Estate, Berkhamstead – This estate, managed by the National Trust, is beautiful at any time of year but is particularly spectacular in the autumn when the leaves change colour. The 5,000 acre site features beech and oak woodlands, common land and chalk downlands which are best explored on foot or bicycle. The visitor centre has routes and trails and if you fancy a real treat you could book on to one of the early morning walks to catch a glimpse of the fallow deer rutting. Throughout October there is also an Autumn Trail for children at a cost of £1 per child. For further information visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate

Foxholes Farm, Hertford – this award-winning farm is hosting a number of activities during the half-term break including pumpkin bowling! There will be a variety of fun and games and spooky foodie delights for the children who can also visit the farm animals and enjoy the play area. The farm shop stocks an extensive range of locally sourced foods and there is also an on-site butchery and Granny Smith’s tea room. http://www.foxholesfarm.com/

St Albans Cathedral – this stunning cathedral dominates the St Albans’ skyline and is worth a visit all year round. However if you have a budding artist in the family you may wish to drop in on Thursday 29th October and take part in this year’s Big Draw campaign. The Cathedral is one of the venues for Big Draw which is the world’s biggest drawing festival and encourages people of all ages and abilities to try their hand at drawing. This year’s theme is Every Drawing Tells a Story. The Cathedral is hosting the free event from 10.30 to 3pm and will provide all the equipment for participants to create their very own masterpiece.  www.stalbanscathedral.org

The XC, Hemel Hempstead  – this extreme sports facility boasts an impressive skate park, a 14 metre climbing wall, one of the world’s largest organic indoor caving systems, bouldering and a challenging high ropes course. www.thexc.co.uk/

The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead – Billed as a treat for everyone from 5 to 105 the theatre is hosting Little Frankenstein on Saturday 24th October at 2.30pm. The show tells the story of semi-famous puppeteer Frank Stein who is busy rehearsing his new show “George the Dragon Slayer” but is finding it really difficult with his badly made puppets which keep falling apart. Taking inspiration from the scientist Dr Frankenstein, and with the help of the audience he creates a new real life puppet that is destined to change his life forever. //toth.dacorum.gov.uk