Ahh half-term, that magical time of year when you get to spend more time with your little monkeys (it's a terrifying thought isn't it?). Well, if you're loosing sleep wondering how to keep your kids entertained this October half-term, then look no further. We've got some great child-friendly holiday ideas, both in the UK and abroad. Whisk them away on an adventure, escape for a last blast of sunshine, or explore part of the UK you've never seen before. We've got lots of suggestions to keep the little ones happy, no matter their age. The only question is: do you choose home or away?
HomeStay in a castle in Cumbria
How often do you get to stay in a real life castle? Let your children live out their fairytale fantasies in Augill Castle in Cumbria. Sat within 20 acres of gardens, this castle is extremely family friendly. The owners themselves are parents and their home is “a family home that welcomes other families”. Inside, there are beautiful rooms packed full of games and excitement. Outside there are huge grounds, a tennis court, a play area and a tree house to explore. The castle has a full range of half term activities for children (and even one or two for adults too).
Top tip: Augill Castle is perfectly situated for exploring the beautiful areas of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, both of which offer limitless outdoor entertainment for all the family.
Find out more: stayinacastle.com
Walk with giants in Northern IrelandCross the Irish sea to take in the majesty of the Giant's Causeway. Flanked by the wild North Atlantic ocean, this is an area of crashing waves and dramatic cliffs top views. It's a magical place surrounded in folklore. Learn the legends of the giants as you walk across the huge octagonal basalt columns that make up Northern Island's only UNESCO World Heritage site.
Top tip: Belfast is the perfect place to stay in order to visit the Giant's Causeway. Don't miss the Titanic Museum; perfect as a rainy day plan B.
Find out more: discovernorthernireland.com
Go nature hunting in Wales
During the autumn the colder weather brings all sorts of wildlife to the coast and countryside of Wales. Marvel at the mighty Red Kites as they come in to feed, or watch 50,000 starlings move as one, while coming into roost. There are nature walking trails where dramatic coastal scenery is dotted with ponies and horses, or glance down for a chance to see porpoises swimming in the ocean. October is also the perfect time to catch a glimpse of female grey seals laying out on the beach with their fluffy white pups.
Top tip: Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire is one of the best places in Britain so see grey seals. Daily boat trips run from the 1st April to the 31st October.
For more information: visitwales.com
Discover ghosts in Edinburgh
Edinburgh certainly has its fair share of spooky tales. Make this Halloween the scariest yet by taking your kids on a real life ghost walk. Discover what really happened in St Mary's Close, discover the poltergeist living in Greyfriars Kirk or go underground into the series of crypts that lay underneath the city. If things get a bit too scary for your little ones, there's always the Harry Potter tour instead, where young fans can visit the very places where J.K. Rowling penned her wildly successful fantasy books.
Top tip: Thanks to its year-round desirability, accommodation is easy to find in Edinburgh. Try Airbandb to find some amazing flats to rent right in the heart of the city, with room enough for the whole family.
For more information: cityofthedeadtours.com
AwayGet some last minute sun in Egypt
If you're looking for a beach destination, Egypt is it. October is the perfect time of year to visit this exciting north African county. It's only a couple of hours by plane to the tourist hot spot Sharm El Sheikh. Gorgeous sandy beaches, all-inclusive hotels with swimming pools, tons of activities for the children. Outside of the hotels, are craft markets, outdoor bars and restaurants and water sports aplenty. Learn to dive with your children (as long as they're 10 or over), or take them quad biking in the Sinai desert. Visit a traditional bedouin camp and gaze up at a clear night sky, covered in stars. You can even look through a telescope to see the rings of saturn themselves.
Top tip: Take a boat trip out to the Strait of Tiran for some of the best snorkelling in the area.
Go island-hopping in Croatia
October is one of the best times of year to visit Croatia: it's bright and breezy and the turquoise Adriatic Sea is still warm enough to swim in. Island-hopping is one of the easiest ways to explore some of the 400 islands scattered along Croatia's coastline. Fly into Rijeka airport on Krk, the largest and most accessible of Croatia's islands. It's an ideal place to start your holiday. With a 2km long sandy beach and a historical medieval walled city, there's lots to entertain the whole family, especially if you have younger children.
When it's time to move on, it's only a short catamaran ride to Rab, one of Croatia's greenest islands full of mountain biking trails, dense woodland and great windsurfing potential. Or, if you have teenagers, head to the island of Pag. With laid-back nightlife and beautiful beaches, they'll be too busy having fun to do any complaining.
Top tip: Jadrolinija is the main ferry operator in Croatia and they have a simple to use English-language website where you can pre-book tickets.
Find out more: jadrolinija.hr
Grab a city break in Brussels
Brussels may be known as the decision making centre of Europe, but it's also got a lot to offer families looking for an exciting city break. Plus, it's cheaper to get to on the Eurostar than say Paris. Visit the dinosaur skeletons at the museum of Natural Science, get up close with Nemo at the Aquarium of Brussels, or get lost in the maze in the garden of the Van Buuren Museum. Throw into the mix excellent flea markets and delicious food, and you've got an exciting city break for all the family. After all, what child wouldn't want to visit the home of chocolate?
Top tip: Grab a combined ticket for Atonium and Mini Europe. Get a bird's eye view across the whole of Brussels before heading on a tour of Europe in miniature, and all for less.
Become the ultimate tourist in New York
What child wouldn't want to go to New York (or adult for that matter)? It's a place that already feels familiar, as it's the backdrop for so many TV shows and films. October is a wonderful time to visit because it's not hot and stuffy and the leaves in Central Park will slowly be changing colour. Climb the Rock for views across the city, see the naked cowboy in Times Square or simply hang out in the village. You might even get swept up in a little Halloween fever, that gets the whole city ready for a frightfully good party.
Top tip: Take the ferry out to Staten island, as this gives you uninterrupted views of the Statue of Liberty. It's a lot cheaper than climbing the monument itself and you won't waste precious holiday time queuing.
So what's your opinion: home or away? Wherever you chose to spend half-term, we hope you have a wonderful time. But before you go, share these ideas with your friends and their families on facebook and Google+.
You may also be interested in the following article:
Britain's Best National Parks