Ten great family half-term activities in the Stroud area
By David Wood
Whether you're interested in apple pressing, pumpkin carving, roller skating or watching fireworks, here is Punchline's guide to some of the best activities available in the Stroud district over half-term.
1. Try your hand at apple pressing
Watch apples being pressed for juice, have a go yourself and enter the carved pumpkin competition at the annual Apple & Pumpkin Day on Sunday, October 27, at the Museum in the Park, Stroud. If you have an apple tree, bring along a carrier bag of apples and some clean empty bottles if you'd like to take the juice home. Bring a carved pumpkin for the competition. This event is being run in conjunction with Stroud Valleys Project. Free (donations welcome). The museum and garden will be open from 11am until 5.30pm then enjoy at glass of mulled apple juice in the courtyard from 5.30-6.30pm and see the pumpkins lit up.
2. Join a parkrun
The 5k parkruns in Stroud and Wotton are open to all ages, and take place every Saturday at 9am. Younger runners may want to try a gentler 2k course - the Stonehouse junior parkrun is just for 4-14 year olds, and held every Sunday at 9am at Oldends Lane Playing Fields. Parkruns are free, but you'll need to register before your first visit and take a printed copy of your barcode. Visit www.parkrun.org.uk for details of all events.
3. Learn a Halloween dance
The fun-packed 90-minute dance workshop at the Chantry Centre, Dursley, will teach a Halloween themed dance with a final performance for parents and carers on Thursday, October 31. Mini Zombies (aged 4-7 years) 2.15pm - 3.45pm; Junior Zombies (aged 8-12 years) 4pm - 5.30pm. £6 per child. For more details and to book visit the Pulse, Dursley, website.
4. Get your skates on at a Halloween roller disco
There's a Halloween themed roller disco at Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud with optional fancy dress on Saturday, October 26, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Or join the regular roller skating sessions on Saturdays, 1.30pm-3.30pm. Skate hire is available for all sessions.
5. Ride a miniature ghost train
The miniature train runs through a haunted tunnel in Stratford Park, Stroud, on Saturday, October 26, from 2pm till dusk. It costs 50p per person; just turn up. See the Stratford Park Miniature Railway Facebook page for more details.
6. Listen to ghost stories & songs for Halloween
At the Museum in the Park, Stroud, on Thursday, October, 31, at 8pm. In Celtic tradition, Halloween - or Samhain - is a time when the veil between this world and the invisible world becomes thin, and there's a traffic of beings between the two worlds. Anthony Nanson and Chantelle Smith of Fire Springs present stories and songs about the faeries, ghosts and uncanny creatures that may slip through the veil at this liminal time. For adults and children aged 12+. £7.50 (£5 concs) To book call 01453 763394.
7. Follow a sculpture trail
The artwork at Dursley Sculpture and Play Trail in Twinberrow Woods has been created by local community groups. It's free, and open access to visit any time.
8. Explore the creepy cellars at Woodchester Mansion
Explore the unique Grade I listed `unfinished' Woodchester Mansion complete with decorated cellars and a resident bat colony, and enjoy a spooky treat in the café. Open from 11am - 5pm throughout half term (except Monday). Visit the website for more details and prices.
9. Gaze at a ships graveyard
The Purton Hulks is the largest collection of boat wrecks in maritime Britain. The boats were intentionally beached in an attempt to protect the banks of the River Severn from erosion. Each barge has a plaque indicating its name, build date and the date it was abandoned; one is even said to be haunted. There is parking just off the mini roundabout in Purton.
10. Watch a firework display
There are a number of organised fireworks displays to enjoy across the Stroud district, the best known being Stroud Valley Fireworks which has been lighting up the skies for over 50 years, and has donated almost £250,000 to charities in that time. Monday, October 28, Marling School Playing Field (note, no onsite parking). Tickets bought in advance are discounted, or available on the door.
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