Fall for autumn: our pick of the best seasonal events
Golden leaves, the crisp morning air, roaring log fires, pumpkin trails and long walks bundled up in thick woolly jumpers are just a few of our favourite things about autumn. If you’re planning a seasonal or October half term getaway in our glorious corner of the world, then you can find all these things – plus many more exciting events to delight and entertain the family – in abundance. From spooky Halloween trails through spectacular castle grounds to Viking warrior schools where your young can hone their sword skills and accompanying battle cry, these exciting experiences are sure to get your imagination – and your child! – running wild.
If you’re looking for a more grown-up retreat, we’ve pulled together a selection of fantastic seasonal events to suit the more discerning mind. Whether you fancy taking in some culture at the Berwick Literary Festival, would prefer to immerse yourself in the beauty of autumnal nature or simply fancy sniffing out some of the best local cheese, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover the best autumn events across Northumberland, the Scottish Borders and Yorkshire.
Uhtred’s school of warriors at Bamburgh Castle | Northumberland
Fancy trying your hand at being a Viking Warrior? If this sounds like your idea of half term fun, then look no further than Bamburgh Castle’s brilliant Viking warrior school on 29th October and 1st and 5th November. Led by Ragnar, a real Viking warrior, your young will be given a foam sword, which they will think up a formidable name for, before being put through their paces learning to how to fight like a real Viking warrior!
Spookydorei at The Alnwick Garden | Northumberland
Immerse yourself in the magical kingdom of Lilidorei this Halloween, where the imaginations of both adults and children can run wild. Make sure to dress up and enjoy discovering spooky stories about the village’s elusive inhabitants with the help of the Story Keepers. From 27th October to 4th November, experience later sessions from 3:30-8:00pm when atmospheric soundscapes and dramatic lighting will heighten the magic as dusk creeps in.
Halloween Trail at Floors Castle | Scottish Borders
If your little monsters deserve a little treat, then a visit to Floors Castle is most definitely in order. From the 20th – 29th October the formal grounds and enchanting woodland at Floors Castle will be transformed into a frightfully fun Halloween trail for all ages. Follow the perilous path, if you dare, to find ingredients to the Witches Brew recipe before warming up with a delicious hot chocolate or a mulled wine.
Thorp Perrow Arboretum | Yorkshire
One of the best things about October is the magnificent autumn colours. Home to 100 acres of beautiful arboretum and woodland gardens, Thorp Perrow is the perfect place for a stomp through the trees to admire nature’s glorious display of glowing red, orange and yellow leaves. If you have any young ones in tow, part of the arboretum will also be transformed into a spooky Halloween trail from 7th October – 5th November. Complete with scary skeletons and eerie tombstones along the way, it promises to provide fun for all the family.
The Ford & Etal Scarycrow Trail | Northumberland
From 23rd to 31st October, embark on a trail to meet the weird and wonderful 'Scarycrows' made by local businesses and residents - a fun-filled event which has been running for over 15 years! Pick up a score sheet from one of the village shops or download a trail map from the Ford & Etal website from Friday 20th October and award the 'Scarycrows' a score as you discover them. All scores will be totted up at the end of the week to determine the winner! The perfect activity for a crisp autumn day, the whole family with dogs in tow can enjoy meeting these spooky characters.
Berwick Literary Festival | Northumberland
With a wealth of captivating events spanning the weekend of the 12th – 15th October, the Berwick Literary Festival is one for the avid readers. Giving a strong focus to writers based in the northeast of England and the south of Scotland, the programme offers everything from illuminating poetry readings and tours of local printing works to drawing and writing workshops. Several well-known wordsmiths will be delighting audiences with stories and readings during the festival, including Lemn Sissay, Rowan Williams and Mari Hannah.
Halloween Trail at Jackson's at Jedburgh | Scottish Borders
Get outside and close to nature on a visit to Jackson’s at Jedburgh. This family run farm is a great spot for little ones to get their wellies on and meet lambs, goats, Highland cows, and the rest of the farmyard animals. Throughout October, Jackson’s Halloween trail will get you in the seasonal spirit, with broomstick making, hay bale climbing and pumpkin carving (pumpkin carving is only available on the 20th – 22nd and 27th – 29th October), with one pumpkin free with every booking on the last two weekends of October.
Wondrous Woods and Fawkes Fest at Gosford House | East Lothian
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 27th October to 19th November, enter a magical illuminated woodland at Gosford House and follow a colourful trail through immersive soundscapes and sparkling light installations. Afterwards, event mascot Woody the Owl will be looking forward to welcoming you to the Hay Field at Woody's Nest for some tasty autumnal treats. Be sure to also visit on 5 November for Fawkes Fest, a showstopping Movie Magic firework display choreographed to music and combined with a mesmerising light show, sky trackers and dazzling lazers.
Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival | Yorkshire
Taking place in various locations throughout the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival (6th – 9th October) celebrates the very best of local produce, with cheese as the star of the show. Follow the wonderful cheese map to farm shops, cafes, creameries and pubs to sniff out the very best cheese while sampling everything from artisanal ice cream to Yorkshire pudding wraps along the way! If you’ve had your fill of local delicacies, there are plenty of fascinating ‘meet the maker’ events, which offer the opportunity to meet local artists and to learn about their work – all of which is inspired by the glorious Yorkshire Dales.
Seal spotting boat trip around the Farne islands | Northumberland
Just off the Northumberland coast, the dramatically beautiful Farne Islands are home to some of the most important colonies of seabirds and grey seal pupping sites in the UK. While visitors aren’t currently allowed on the islands themselves, boat trips in the area are a fantastic way to get up close to the islands and their wildlife. In the autumn grey seal pups are born on the island, making it one of the best times to visit and see the ever-growing colony. While there keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and shags, which also call the Farne Islands home.
Foraging at Dalkeith Country Park | Midlothian
If immersing yourself in nature and learning about the wonderful flora we have on our doorstep sounds like your cup of tea, why not try your hand at foraging this season? Held within the grounds of idyllic Dalkeith Country Park, these foraging courses (7th and 21st October) run by local experts ‘Coeur Sauvage’ make the perfect introduction to the world of edible and medicinal plants. Enjoy a leisurely two-to-three-hour stroll while learning how to recognise and identify plants and gather specimens.
Fountains Abbey by Floodlight | Yorkshire
For a magical evening spent among the glowing ruins of this spectacular historic site, the Fountains Abbey by floodlight experience is a true feast for the senses. On every Saturday throughout October (as well as Friday 27th October, Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th November), grab your torch and explore the ancient abbey as it lights up under the night sky. Enchanting choral music will ring through the abbey between 7pm – 8pm as choirs perform in its atmospheric cellarium, and you’ll be able to warm up afterwards with delicious hot food from local vendors.
Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival ©Stephen Garnett.