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Family-friendly October break ideas

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Face painting at the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre © Forestry Commission

Face painting at the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre © Forestry Commission

For all you doting parents out there on the lookout for ways to keep the kids entertained during the October break, take a look at the great attractions, events and activities we’ve compiled from across Scotland to help you start planning some fabulous family days out.

If their imaginations are sparked by fascinating tales from Scotland’s history, why not take the opportunity to explore inside fairytale castles and ancient monuments? Or let them get active outdoors at treetop playgrounds and on woodland trails awash in vibrant autumnal colours. Take them to meet all kinds of native and exotic wildlife, journey aboard the Hogwarts Express, listen to spellbinding stories, and enjoy plenty of hand-on activities including art workshops, treasure hunts, games and much more.


Tyrebagger Wood, near Aberdeen City – enjoy leisurely strolls along the two circular walks while keeping a lookout for unique sculptures located throughout this lush forest

HM Frigate Unicorn, Dundee – for the whole of October children under 16 can step aboard the last intact warship from the days of sail for free

Autumn Adventures at the National Wallace Monument, near Stirling – from 14 – 25 October there will be live re-enactments, games, quizzes and the chance the to win a souvenir prize if you can find where Wallace the Bear is hiding

Go Ape! Aberfoyle, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park – enjoy an aerial adventure in the gorgeous setting of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and spend hours in the treetops tackling zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders, challenging obstacles and crossings. Children must be aged 10 or older. Located at the heart of the park is the recently refurbished Lodge Forest Visitor Centre which offers a café, natural play area and a great programme of events and activities to suit all ages. Check the Forestry Commission’s Facebook page for more details

Culzean Castle & Country Park, near Maybole, Ayrshire – choose from a whole host of family-friendly events throughout October including tours of the castle, ranger guided walks, activities and games held in the grounds, apple pressing and juicing demonstrations, and the Acorn Craft Fair

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow – bring along your teddy bear to the Teddy Bear Tea Party in the tearooms from 12 – 17 October and celebrate the Creative Mackintosh Festival by making art and crafts in the Glasgow Style from 19 – 20 October

Cruachan The Hollow Mountain Power Station, near Oban – take a guided tour into the heart of Ben Cruachan and discover one of Scotland’s greatest engineering achievements. Play games using the touch screen panels in the visitor centre and learn how electricity is generated and how to use it safely

The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh – From 2 – 12 October you can view an exhibiton of fairy paintings by artist and storyteller Fiona Mather. On 12 October you can take part in Nature Stories in the garden (weather permitting) and enjoy stories and crafts with Jane Mather

The Tomb of the Eagles, South Ronalday, Orkney – enter this ancient Neolithic chambered carin by sliding along face down on a skateboard and come face to face with 5,000 years of history. At the visitor centre you can see and touch original artefacts discovered inside the tomb

Europie Dunes Park, Isle of Lewis – spread across 4 acres of natural machair (grassland) and sand dunes on the edge of the village of Eoropie, and just a few short yards from the beautiful sandy beach of Traigh Shanndaigh, this unique playground is both a haven for wildlife and fantastic place to play outdoors

The Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William to Mallaig – what better way to travel through the awe-inspiring beauty of the Highlands this autumn than aboard the steam train which appeared in the Harry Potter movies?

The Gardens at Abbotsford, near Melrose – follow the new play trail set within woodland close to the recently opened visitor centre which takes inspiration from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. Explore the woodcutter’s village, play on the balancing logs and climb the castle!

Deep Sea World, North Queensferry – Pirates and Princesses Week takes place from 12 – 20 October and offers a fantastic programme of storytelling sessions where you can learn about historical swashbuckling characters as well as pirate-themed games including a treasure hunt around the aquarium with prizes. Children arriving in fancy dress will be granted free entry when accompanied by a fee-paying adult

The Enchanted Forest, Faskally Wood near Pitlochry – experience the dazzling visual and aural spectacle of this award-winning light and sound show which takes place until 27 October. Advance booking is essential

Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, Galloway Forest Park – located on the tranquil shore of Clatteringshaws Loch, this recently opened visitor centre is the ideal starting point for exploring this stunning wilderness. Enjoy some light refreshment in the tearoom and take in the interactive wildlife exhibition which showcases the various species which inhabit the park before setting off on a short walk to a reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse and the Galloway Red Kite Trail

The Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick – this fantastic museum offers a great range of educational hands-on activities throughout October. Children can have a go at creating their own exploding volcano, fossils and even a 3D dinosaur skull. There will also be the chance to meet Mootie Moose who will be telling stories, singing songs and making crafts, and a Dino Disco where kids can dress up as their favourite prehistoric creature

This is just a small snapshot of the fantastic variety of things to see and do in Scotland this October break. For more ideas take a look at our family days out in Scotland and find other great events taking place across the country. Have you got something special planned for your little ones this October or any good suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.


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