Half Term at Home: Five Things to Watch & Do in Halloween Week

After a half term of relative normality, many households are gearing up for another week cooped up with the kids. Thankfully there’s still plenty of great stuff available online to entertain people of all ages. Whether you’re trapped in Tier 3, stuck inside in isolation or facing a firebreak lockdown, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to watch and do at home with Halloween on the horizon.

1. Watch spooky stories and twisted tales from The Unicorn Theatre

The Unicorn Theatre may not be open right now but they have several great online options available to watch for free. If you missed Anansi the Spider Re-Spun (ages 3-8) earlier this year, you have another chance to watch it as it’s been brought back until the end of October to celebrate Black History Month. You can also gross yourself out with a theatrical reading of Roal Dahl’s The Twits Online (ages 6-12) or get gruesome with Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales Online (ages 8-12).

2. Zoom into the action in an interactive show

For a more interactive theatrical experience, there are plenty of live shows online via videoconferencing software, Zoom. Here are our top tips!

The Great Big (Online) Story Mix UP – The show that YOU make up! (Roustabout Theatre Company via the Oxford Playhouse): Suitable for ages 3-8

The hit improvised play for families has gone online – and you’re in charge! You choose the characters. You choose the costumes. And, by sending in your drawings, you even design the set! Watch as your wild and wonderful ideas are brought to life by our troupe of storytellers and more than a little computer wizardry. An hour of never-before-seen fairy tales, all from the comfort of your own home from Saturday October 24th to Wednesday October 28th. Get tickets from the Oxford Playhouse website.

The University of Wonder and Imagination (Cahoots NI): Suitable for ages 7+

Northern Ireland-based children’s theatre company Cahoots NI has launched an immersive digital theatre experience with the aim of bringing the magic and joy of theatre to young audiences at home. The University of Wonder and Imagination is an hour-long interactive digital theatre production that allows audiences to effectively direct the performance, based on their interaction with the performers. In this ambitious and innovative undertaking, Cahoots NI broadcast from an extensive, purpose-built set in Belfast, where magic and illusion have no boundaries. The show is premiering as as part of this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival from October 22nd – 25th and 29th to November 1st.. We absolutely loved this show, which is the slickest and most innovative piece of digital theatre we have seen to date. Read our review here and get tickets from Belfast Internationals Arts Festival.

Macbeth (Big Telly Theatre Company): Suitable for ages 14+

Big TellyTheatre Company are back with another immersive Zoom production, this time bringing the Scottish Play to Zoom from 21 to 31 October. It’s a very different production of Macbeth, that uses green screen technology to bring together 5 actors who have never even met! There’s even a spooky midnight Halloween performance on 30 October. Check out our review here then head to the Creation Theatre website to book tickets.

3. Make your own musical

After watching all these shows, you might feel inspired to create your own. Head to Make Your Own Musicals where you can buy a downloadable children’s activity pack that has everything they need to put together their own performance (including a writing guide, backing track and sound effects). There are several themes to choose from,including a newly released Halloween inspired show. Suitable for ages 6-14 (but with help suggested for under 8s) the activity packs can be ordered for either solo performers or groups. Perfect for keeping stagey kids occupied at home this Halloween. And, as a bonus, you’ll have another show to watch at the end too!

4. Choose your own adventure with Select a Quest

From Oliver-nominated Pins and Needles Productions and award-winning writer Bea Roberts, comes a new, interactive online adventure, Select A Quest. A stimulating and entertaining mission for ages 6+. Expect a vibrant mix of mystery, silliness and fun as families get together to explore the 27 scenes set across six levels, leading to one winner, one curse and a whole lot o’violent deaths. Select a Quest offers audiences an eclectic and innovative theatrical experience in the comfort of your own home. With multiple paths to choose from, once you start it will be hard to leave. Read our review here.

5. Play an escape room while trapped in your house

Although some physical escape rooms are now back up and running, local restrictions currently prevent many of us from going in a group with friends. And given the amount of time we have all spent at home this year the idea of getting locked in a room with just your family may not sound like everyone’s idea of fun! Thankfully, lots of online alternatives have sprung up which allow you to play from the comfort of your own home (many of which can be played alongside friends via Zoom or similar). We played quite a few over lockdown and by far our favourite is a print at home game from Cluequest. (No real surprises there, as they have been running awesome real life rooms for years now too.) There are several episodes of Print + Cut + Escape available, including a children’s game (aimed at ages 8-13 ). They have also just released a Halloween Edition, which we are very excited about! Games cost £15 for a print at home version or £25 for a postal version that is printed and assembled.