Sorry for the delay in the newsletter going out, hope no-one minds it being a day late! It should be worth the wait though, with lots of great activities and a special guide to some of the best spooky Halloween evens in Essex this month!
For those of you who have children starting school next year, you'll now be thinking of filling in applications and choosing a school. It can be a daunting task - what is your local school like, will they like it, does it fit in with the other things we have to do and places we need to be? If you're looking for some advice, whether it's to do with getting feedback about local schools or asking if it's worth deploying tactics when filling out application forms, come and ask on the forum in our Education section. It can be a daunting time for your kids but also for you to be starting something completely new and it can definitely help to speak to people who have been there too, or are going through the same thing.
Sure Start Centres
Do you know where your local Sure Start Centre is? If you're a parent to a child under five, or even over that age, it's certainly worth finding out where it is. Most areas have at least one nearby and you will be amazed by the number of fantastic activities they have going on: from parent and toddler groups, classes and things to keep you active, to advice and support groups tailored to parents in your area. We are currently in the process of trying to update as many of the centres' activities as possible: check out the Map to see where your nearest centre is, and the Things to Do section to find out what activities are running in your area.
Christmas Shopping Guide
I know it's early, so I will keep it brief, but if you're thinking of starting your Christmas shopping, make sure you take a look at the Alternative Shopping Guide and the Product Guide for some ideas for unique and unusual presents for the whole family. If you have your own shop and would like to be featured, please get in touch - listings start at just a pound!
There are some very entertaining-sounding events going on this month, especially those for Halloween, so I thought that as well as the normal event listing (and instead of the Focus on... section), I would give a bit of a run-down of some of the best spooky spectaculars across the county! If you have anything you would like to recommend, make sure you come and tell us on the forum!
Children's Ghost Train at Southend Pier
20th & 27th October & 3rd November, after dark
This Halloween, enjoy ghostly tales after dark when the special Pier train will take you to the Pier head for some ghostly stories. Watch out behind you! You are invited to come in fancy dress!
Nevendon Manor Scary Halloween Trail
23rd – 31st October, 7pm – 9,30pm, until 10pm on Halloween
A 16th century spooky trail set within 7 acres of themed grounds and not for the faint hearted. If you dare you can also take a trail through an area of the manor – lots of spooky special effects for families looking for a safe place to take the kids, or even for people without children who just fancy being spooked!
Cursed! Cressing Temple
26th – 31st October, from 6.30pm
The ultimate scare experience! Journey through a series of themed mazes encountering various characters lurking in the dark. A mixture of special effects and live performers will ensure that visitors are scared witless. By day, Cressing Temple is set within peaceful surroundings and gardens that make the perfect escape, but after dark the site comes alive and the haunting begins.
Shriek Week, Colchester Zoo
26th October – 4th November, all day and after dark
Enjoy daytime halloween themed events, spooky feeds and displays taking place throughout half-term, and for those brave enough, visit the Halloween Shriek Week events after dark and enjoy even spookier displays!
A Grimm Hallowe'en special at Valence House
27th October, 10am – 4pm.
A free fun day inspired by the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm at Valence House, Dagenham. Enjoy traditional Hallowe'en activities and meet the Creepy-Crawly man. Suitable for children aged six and over.
Children’s Pumpkin Carving Day, RHS Hyde Hall
27th October 10am – 3pm
Have fun carving pumpkins, making witch-shaped candles and listening to spooky stories. Come in fancy dress and receive a treat. Pumpkins available for sale at the garden (while stocks last). Normal garden admission applies. Booking not required.
Chilming's Halloween Monster Bash, Markwell Woods
27th October, 4pm – 9pm
Fill the woods with fabulous monsters -come dressed as your favourite monster or make one up! Lots of Halloween fun - a laugh-o-meter to judge the best jokes, Trick or Treat in the Woods, Door Roulette, prizes to be won, a Monster Feast from Healthy Yummies, and then at sunset, kick back, snuggle up and watch this fabulously funny monster film..... Mikey, Sulley & Boo await you!!!
Spooky Secret Island, Royal Gunpowder Mills
27th October – 4th November, all day
Every day is Halloween for Autumn half term week. Dr Gore takes over in the Mad Lab to conduct gruesome experiments while the rest of the site is haunted by ghosts and witches. The weekend of 27-28 October also features an evening Ghost Walk, featuring gruesome tales from the dark and dangerous history of the site with spooky effects to scare you to out of your wits
Fright Fantastic Half Term of Horror, Adventure Island
27th October – 4th November, all day
Adventure Island will be taken over by zombies and other gruesome creatures over the October half term. See the famous trick or treat door, spooky scare zone for the brave and whispers of a brand new Scare attraction coming in 2012!
Haunted Hedingham, Hedingham Castle
29th – 31st October
How brave are you? Do you dare to attempt Hedingham's haunted walk? Can you make it round without waking the resident ghosts and ghouls? Will the scares be too much? Not for the faint hearted. Meet up with other survivors in the Keep for our true ghost stories.. Price includes a glass of Mulled Wine or soft drink.
Larry Hotter 2012, Thorndon Country Park
30th October, 10.30am
Follow the marauders’ map to find the secret location of the officer’s bones. Suitable for all the family. Pre-booking essential. Come in costume....
Spooky Night at Barleylands
31st October, 6.30pm - 9pm
Tread carefully down the Spooky Walk, dance the night away at the Ghosts Disco, Trick or Treat your way around the Craft Village, and join in Ghastly Games and ride the Train of Terror. Barleylands’s biggest evening event of the year!
Fright Night, Hylands House and Gardens
31 October, 5.30pm – 8.30pm
Fright Night is back for Halloween with new twists and turns. Marvel at fire dancers, giant animatronic skeletons, special, interactive effects through the gardens, a visit from outer space, magical fairy garden, listen to spooky stories, free Candy Floss and Popcorn for everyone, and a spectacular 3D projected Halloween show on the front of the House
Halloween Spooky Walk, Hainault Forest
31st October, from 5pm
A woodland walk with spooky stories, a blood trail, monsters and hopefully a few marauding zombies all whilst the sun hides in fear behind the trees and eventually vanishes over the horizon.
Scaresville, Kentwell Hall
12th October – 3rd November, all day
Finally, this isn’t in Essex but is close enough and well worth a mention. Scaresville is a haunted village that mysteriously appears in the grounds of Kentwell Hall in Suffolk every autumn. Visit Scaresville at your peril! This is over an hour of pure adrenaline, as you journey through dark rooms, forests and open farmland. There is no let up: no stewards giving instructions; no 'safe' zones in which to recover; no trailer-laden parties. By the time you leave you will be exhausted from screaming (and laughing) so much.
Lots more going on this month too! You can find full listings on the Things to Do section but hopefully this will give you a few ideas about what's on near you and across the county.
Barking and Dagenham
6th: Pirate Day (Elizabethan Style), Eastbury Manor House
7th: Steam Open Day at Ilford & West Essex Model Railway Club
27th: A Grimm Hallowe'en special at Valence House
5th – 15th: Basildon Art Trail
9th: Hatchlings Club, Hanningfield Reservoir
23rd – 31st : Nevendon Manor Scary Halloween Trail
24th: Swan Lake, Towngate Theatre
26th: Howling Halloween, Hanningfield Reservoir
27th: Magical Drop-in Craft and Trail, Langdon Visitor Centre
29th – 2nd: Animal Antics, Barleylands
29th – 2nd: Tumbletown Tricks and Treats Week
31st: Partyman World of Play VIP Halloween Party
31st: Family Halloween Night at Festival Leisure Park
6th: Day out with Thomas, Colne Valley Railway
9th: NCT First Aid Course, Marks Farm Community Centre
20th: Great Notley Stargazing Event
26th – 31st: Cursed! Cressing Temple
27th: Wizards Evening, Colne Valley Railway
28th: Andy and Mike’s... Tick Tock Time Machine, Empire Theatre
29th -31st: Haunted Hedingham, Hedingham Castle
30th & 31st: The Trick and Treat Halloween Childrens Show, Bocking Arts Complex
7th: The Essex Indoor Family Festival, The Brentwood Centre
20th: Chicken and Frog Opening Day Celebrations!
27th – 31st: Halloween Festival, Old MacDonalds Farm
27th: Fright Night at Weald Country Park
28th & 29th: Pumpkin Carving at Weald Country Park
29th: Go Bonkers! Inflatable Fun, The Brentwood Centre
30th: Larry Hotter 2012, Thorndon Country Park
31st: Halloween Poetry Workshop, Chicken and Frog
6th – 12th: Hadleigh Art Trail
13th: Baby and Children's Market, Canvey
14th: Iron Age Roundhouse Open Afternoon, Hadleigh Country Park
18th: Understanding Children’s Behaviour Workshop, Little Acorns CC
29th: Halloween Arts and Crafts, Hadleigh Country Park
30th: Messy Madness Art & Craft sessions for 5-11 year olds, Farmer Fred’s Playbarn
31st: Halloween Parties, Farmer Fred’s Playbarn
3rd: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive, Just Imagine Story Centre
4th: World Animal Day, Tropical Wings
6th: NCT Nearly New Sale, St John Payne School
7th: Horse and Carriage Rides, Hylands House
9TH: Dizzy Ducks Coffee Morning
13th: The Borrowers, Just Imagine Story Centre
16th: Busy Fingers Goes Wild! Galleywood Heritage Centre
16th – 20th: Make a Rosette Workshop, High Chelmer Shopping Centre
20th: Fairy School Workshops, Chelmsford
23rd – 25th: Horrible Histories, Civic and Cramphorn
24th: Which Witch? Essex Police Museum
26th: Howling Halloween, Hanningfield Reservoir
27th: Howloween, Tropical Wings
27th – 31st: Witches and Wizards, Marsh Farm
29th: BMX Skills, Baddow Pump Hall
30th: Funnybones, Just Imagine Story Centre
31st: Fright Night, Hylands House and Gardens
6th: Art Trolley, Art Exchange
13th: Free Family Saturday: Drawing Centre Stage at firstsite
19th: Wivenhoe Farmers Market
20th: Teddy’s Sports Day, Colchester Arts Centre
21st: Little Bo Peep, Lakeside Theatre
26th – 31st: Shriek Week, Colchester Zoo
27th: Halloween Super Sleuthing, High Woods Country Park
27th & 28th : Theme Tour: Bloodcurdling Colchester
29th – 2nd: Holiday Fun at Colchester Leisure World
29th: Penguin, Mercury Theatre
30th: Dark, Damp Discovery Day, High Woods Country Park
31st: Hootingly Haunted Halloween, Abberton Reservoir
31st: Ghostly Goings On at Bourne Mill at Bourne Mill
6th: Harvest Festival Activity Day, High Beach
13th: Suntrap Open Day, Epping Forest
20th: Apple Day, The Warren
27th – 31st: Spooky Secret Island, Royal Gunpowder Mills
29th: Travel: Legs, Fins or Wings? Epping Forest Visitor Centre
29th: Farm Spooktacular, Lee Valley Farms
30th: Holiday Activities for Children: Safaris at Epping Forest
7th: I’d Rather Be In The Garden, Museum of Harlow
20th: The Wheels on the Bus, Harlow Playhouse
27th: Chilming's Halloween Monster Bash, Markwell Woods
27th – 21st: Holiday Activities at Harlow Leisurezone
29th: Mad Science: Super Sticky Stuff, Summercroft School
29th – 31st: Time Machine Gallery, Science Alive
All month: Haunted Havering, Havering Museum
6th: Mr Popcorn’s Funtime Magic Show, Queens Theatre
13th: Children’s Ghost Stories, Havering Museum
14th: Autumn Apple Fair, Bedfords Park
16th & 17th: The Sleeping Beauty, Queens Theatre
21st: Apple Day Weekend, Thames Chase
23rd: Scary Fairy Cakes, Harold Wood Library
26th & 27th: Coalhouse Fort Halloween
29th – 31st: Stubbers Adventure Centre Activity Week
30th: Halloween in the Park, Bedfords Park
31st: Indoor Star Gazing, Havering Museum
1st – 6th: Maldon Art Trail
6th: Blackwater Wild Food festival
7th: Lilleshall Steam Day, Museum of Power
20th: Junior Rangers Orienteering
4th: Fussy Eaters Workshop, Gearies CC
6th – 14th: Woodford Festival
13th: Autumn Fete, Newbridge School
16th: Under 5's Explore, Make, and Do - Autumn Colours, Valentine’s Mansion
27th: Toddle Sense Spooky Wooky Halloween Party, South Woodford
28th: The Selfish Crocodile, Kenneth More Theatre
30th: Go Bonkers! Inflatable Fun, The Redbridge Leisure Centre
30th: Marvellous Masks, Redbridge Museum
31st: Creatures of the Night, James Leal Centre
6th: Wild Woods Day - The Giants Are Coming! Hockley Woods
17th: Special Needs Fun House (10-11yrs), The Megacentre
27th – 31st: Rochford Tiny Art Trail
27th – 31st: Rochford Leisure Centres Half Term Activities
29th: Creepy Creatures Clay Workshops, The Clay Cottage
31st: Spooky Family Wacky Woods, Hockley Woods
Every Saturday: Big Saturday Nights Out, Adventure Island
Every Saturday: Firework Spectacular, Southend Seafront
2nd – 12th: Southend on Sea Tales at Southend Pier Cultural Centre
6th: Winnie the Witch Party, Southend Library
13th: Multi-Sensory Storytelling, Southend Library
13th – 31st: Space! Southend Museum
20th & 27th: Children's Ghost Train at Southend Pier
26th: Dragon Kids Club Halloween Fancy Dress Disco
27th: Spooky Craft and Stories, Southechurch Hall
27th – 31st: Fright Fantastic Half Term of Horror, Adventure Island
30th: Mad Science: Dinosaur Adventure, Blenheim School
31st: Hallowe’en Family Disco, The Kursaal
Every weekend: Go Bounce, Clacton Factory Outlet
20th: Smuggling Stories, Fingringhoe Wick
27th: Creepy Crawly Roadshow, Clacton Factory Outlet
27th: Harwich Guy Carnival
28th: Manningtree Mother, Baby & Kids Fair, The Venture Centre
30th: Fantastic Fungi Wildlife Discovery Day, Fingringhoe Wick
31st: Robbie Rascals Halloween Party
4th: Lil Blossoms Free Taster Morning, East Tilbury Village Hall
13th: Family Activity Day: Time Travel Through History
27th: Scary Masks! Family Learning workshop, Grays Adult Education Centre
27th: Family Halloween Fun, Chaffords Gorge
29th & 30th: Small Monsters Halloween Parties
29th – 31st: Monster Mania - Half Term Fun at Lakeside Shopping Centre
31st Chris and Pui Roadshow, Thameside Theatre
All month: Castle and Community, Saffron Walden Museum
6th: The Big Draw, Saffron Walden Museum
10th: Little Howard's Magic Pencil at Felsted School's Hunt Theatre
21st: Best ever Nearly New Sale - Stansted branch
26th – 31st: Children’s Halloween Evenings at Mountfitchet Castle
27th: Half Term Geocache Challenge, Hatfield Forest
28th: Halloween Specials, Audley End Miniature Railway
30th: Half-term Play in a Day, Rhodes
31st: Batty Halloween at Hatfield Forest
Things to win! Check out the great competitions we currently have running. If you would like to run a competition yourself please let me know - it's a great way to advertise for free and also give something lovely to parents in Essex!
New in the Alternative Shopping Guide
Take a look at the lovely new shops that have joined us this last month!
Personalised gifts, keepsakes and trinkets from Clover Cottage Gifts
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing how people use the site and ways I can improve it.
Here's a list of what's been added this month! You can see a bit about each of our reviewers here, or can go straight to the reviews here.
I hope you have a lovely month and that I'll get to see you at a meet-up soon.