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Exciting events and activities this October Half Term at National Trust properties

Chirk Castle - a family playing with autumn leaves ©National Trust Images John Millar

From exciting family trails and harvest celebrations to Halloween crafts and natural play areas; there are a whole host of family adventures to be had at the places cared for by National Trust Cymru this October half term.

In North Wales, discover more about Nos Galan Gaeaf or ‘winter’s eve’ as you help to protect Chirk Castle from the ghosts and ghouls who lurk on this night, step into the world of folklore as you take part in some magical local traditions at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, hunt for acorns on the Red Squirrel trail at Plas Newydd House and Garden, or join in with the annual Apple Harvest Celebration at Erddig.

In Mid Wales, meet Llanerchaeron’s Llanwenog sheep and Seren and Tomos the 19 year old Welsh cobs or hunt high and low to see how many pumpkins you can find on the ever-popular Pumpkin Trail at Powis Castle and Garden.

In South Wales, summon your courage and try Dyffryn Garden’s ‘Do you Dare?’ Halloween trail, set your imagination alight as you step onto the stage of Dinefwr’s Woodland Theatre, or follow the antics of Rhubi, the mischievous Welsh pixie at Tredegar House.

Most offers begin on 21 October unless otherwise stated. Normal admission applies (National Trust members for free).

North Wales

Chirk Castle – exploring the medieval Adam Tower ©National Trust Images Annapurna Mellor

Chirk Castle and Garden, Wrexham

Marked on 31 October, Nos Galan Gaeaf or ‘winter’s eve’, was considered the last of three annual Ysprydnos, or ‘spirit nights’. On this night the veil between us and the spirit world was believed to be at its thinnest, and from 21 October to 5 November Chirk Castle needs your help to protect it from evil spirits that were thought to thrive at this time. Find the secret doors and complete the tasks to discover which ingredients you’ll need to cast a protection spell from the dungeon.

Afterwards, explore Chirk’s medieval history in the Adam Tower, complete with dungeons, medieval toilets and murder holes, soak up the spectacular autumn colour and hunt for fantastical fungi on the 480-acre estate, tick off some ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ activities, or let off steam in the natural play area at Home Farm.

Erddig, Wrexham

There’s plenty of family fun to be had at Erddig this October half term. From 14 October, find the clues that will help you discover where the witch has hidden her poison apple or, on selected days join an art workshop and have a go at spooky sketching and finger painting.

On 14, 15, 21 and 22 October, Erddig’s annual Apple Harvest Celebration will be making its return, celebrating the formal garden’s rich orchards and espaliered fruit trees that hang heavy with over 180 different varieties of apple. Explore the huge display of apples, compete in the longest peel competition, join a craft session, and of course, take part in a tasting session.

Then let off steam as you spot colourful historic trees on the 1200-acre estate or visit Wolf’s Den, the natural play area, where you can fly on the rope swing, climb over obstacles, balance across beams, and enjoy hours of family fun.

Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Bangor

Set on the Menai Straits with dramatic views of Eryri (Snowdonia) and the Great Orme, Penrhyn is the perfect place to make family memories. This October half term they’re inviting you to celebrate the autumn harvest and step into the world of folklore as you take part in some magical local traditions.

Discover the harvest feast in the Walled Garden, mark Nos Galan Gaeaf or ‘winter’s eve’ by finding the bonfire and placing your name in it for good luck, hunt for the witches hidden amongst the ivy, and find out how different animals prepare for winter.

Before letting loose in the two play areas, don’t miss taking a quite moment to soak up everything autumn has to offer too, from the vibrant red Virginia Creeper covering the dramatic castle walls to the peaceful paths that wind beneath a canopy of golden trees.

Plas Newydd House and Garden, Anglesey

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year to explore Plas Newydd’s 150-acres of garden, woodland, and parkland, and with stunning views across the Menai Strait to the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia), its location is impossible to beat.

In October 2008, six red squirrels were released into the woodland here and now over 100 of them call this place home. Celebrate these adorable creatures this half term by following the Red Squirrel Trail from 23 October and seeing how many acorns you can find. Will you spot a real red squirrel preparing for winter along the way?

If you still have time to spare, run wild in the outdoor play area, visit the tree house, or go head to head with family and friends in a game of Frisbee Golf.

Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Bodnant’s collection of native and exotic trees are at their very finest at this time of year and with 80 acres to explore, there’s plenty of space for your little explorers run wild.

Take in a spectacular kaleidoscope of autumn colour in the Acer Glade as you spot local artist Jess Wheeler’s display of bronze and copper autumn leaves. Set into Welsh stone and glistening amongst the fallen leaves, how many will you find?

If you still have energy to burn, visit the Play with its zig-zag walkways, or enjoy a family adventure as you head through the Old Park Meadow and down to The Dell to jump over steppingstones, visit the living Willow Maze and build dens at Far End, and stop off at the scenic waterfall for a family photo.

Mid Wales

Powis Castle and Garden – autumn ©National Trust Images Paul Harris

Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool

Let the striking gold, orange and yellow acers that spread across the Italianate Terraces and the scent of ripening apples in the Formal Garden provide the perfect backdrop to your autumn adventure at Powis Castle and Garden this half term.

28 October to 5 November sees the return of the ever-popular family pumpkin trail so hunt high and low in both the castle and the garden to see how many you can spot. Don’t miss the decorated arbour in the Formal Garden – it’s the perfect spot for an autumnal family photo.

If one trail just isn’t enough, from 30 September to 30 November you’ll also be able to learn more about why leaves change colour as you adventure through the garden on the Colour and Compost Trail. Spot the colours around you and pick up some fallen leaves to add to the collection that will be turned into compost and help the garden thrive in the spring.

Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion

There’s plenty of family fun to be had this October half term at this traditional Welsh estate nested in the heart of Ceredigion.

Let the little ones explore nature, spot local wildlife preparing for winter, and of course meet the traditional farmyard animals that call this place home, including pigs, bird fowl, Llanwenog sheep, and Seren and Tomos the 19 year old Welsh cobs.

Elsewhere, from 1-5 November, follow the spooky Halloween fairy door trail, cook up a potion in the mud kitchen, dress up scarecrows, or go head-to-head with family and friends in the Old Billiard Room as you play Ping Pong, table football or dominos.

South Wales

Dyffryn Gardens – letting off steam in the Log Stack, the wild play area ©National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra

Dyffryn Gardens, Cardiff

As summer comes to an end, a rich rainbow of yellows, oranges ambers and gold sweep over the gardens at Dyffryn, making them the perfect place to escape into nature and enjoy a family half term adventure.

From 28 October to 5 November, gather your friends and family, as well as your courage, and take part in the ‘Do you dare?’ family trail. Learn all about the creepy crawlies and wildlife that call Dyffryn home as you discover what’s hiding in that cauldron? What’s that smell? What’s making that noise? And finally, do you really dare?

Then before letting off steam in the Log Stack Play Areas, the two natural playgrounds, why not pick up an explorer backpack to take a closer look at Dyffryn’s wildlife? They’re sure to help you tick off some of your ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ activities.

Tredegar House, Newport

Admire the vibrant red Boston ivy adorning Home Farm, spot fantastical fungi popping up in the garden, and enjoy the crunch of leaves beneath your feet in the parkland – Tredegar is the perfect place to embrace autumn this October half term.

From the 10 October to 6 November in the garden, follow the antics of Rhubi, a mischievous Welsh pixie, on the Pwca Trail. Rhubi loves to play tricks but whilst hiding all the gardeners’ spades, he lost his beloved hat. Follow the clues and complete the different challenges and activities to help him find it.

If it’s Halloween activities you’re looking for, Tredegar has plenty of those planned too. Follow the spotter trail around the house to find all the spooky hidden objects, see how many pumpkins you can spot on the trail around the parkland, or from 28-31 October embrace your creativity as you join a pumpkin carving workshop (pumpkin carving workshops £4 per person, plus normal admission prices).

Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire

Colby Woodland Garden is perfect for exploring nature this autumn and with a woodland garden, 4-acres of meadow, a formal walled garden, and a 900-acre estate with tranquil footpaths and trails, there’s plenty to explore with family and friends.

Discover the sky gazing glade at the top of the woods or have fun building a den under the trees. Enjoy jumping on the giant stepping-stones or explore the vast array of flora and fauna. Don’t forget to pick up a “50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ leaflet from the visitor welcome centre to see how many different activities you can tick off.

Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire

Dinefwr is perhaps at it’s very best in autumn as the historic oaks and other veteran trees are crowned with an impressive display of of gold, red and orange leaves, stags can be heard calling during the rut, and the ponds begin to come alive with overwintering migrant birds.

This is the time of year to pull on your wellies and go on a nature walk to spot different woodland creatures preparing for winter, see how many ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ activities you can tick off, and visit the ancient and rare White Park Cattle that have grazed on this estate for more than 1000 years.

On a rainy day, head into Newton House in the heart of the estate and set your imagination alight as you join a storytelling session, dress up as different characters, create your own stories, and step onto the stage of the Woodland Theatre in the Dining Room.