Stuck for half-term holiday ideas this month, or simply want to make the best of the weather before the frosts set in? Here’s our selection of events and activities which should give you that wrapped up snuggly feeling

Night Sky Live, Winchester Science Centre

After the success of Night Sky Live in February, Winchester Science Centre will be running the popular event every month between October and March. “There’s going to be so much to see in the night sky during the autumn and winter,” says Nikhil Mistry, Head of Curiosity. “Visitors will learn how to spot some of the most interesting stars, planets and constellations in the Planetarium before heading into the South Downs National Park to put those techniques into practice. In October they’ll be on the hunt for the Orionid meteors which can be seen with the naked eye. We’ll also be looking for Cetus the Sea Monster, a constellation which has the head of a dog, the body of a sea creature and tiny paws. And stargazers not able to make it to Night Sky Live won’t miss out. Keep a look out for this month’s full moon on October 28 known as the Hunter’s Moon because of its brightness and ability to help hunters stalk prey at night.”

Tickets: £15, under 18s free - one per paying adult

Fungi Forays with New Forest Wild and Exotic Mushrooms

This time of the year an explosion of wild mushrooms takes over the New Forest, with almost 3,000 different species known to grow here in Hampshire. From the fairy tale-like red and white-spotted toadstools to giant puffballs, the forest is one of the most important sites for mushrooms in Britain. Want to get a closer look? Join Ringwood based Richard Sawden, founder of New Forest Wild and Exotic Mushrooms, for a Fungi Foray.

Great British Life: Poppy Fields at Winchester Cathedral. Image: Winchester CathedralPoppy Fields at Winchester Cathedral. Image: Winchester Cathedral

Poppy Fields, Winchester Cathedral

Poppy Fields by Luxmuralis – an artistic collaboration, Peter Walker Sculptor and David Harper Composer – promises to be an emotional sound and light show which takes you an immersive journey of reflection and hope around Winchester Cathedral. The artworks reflect on the end of World War I and World War II, as well as looking ahead for peace in our world. Accompanying the projections is specially composed music by David Harper and poetry recorded by Oscar-winning actor, Eddie Redmayne.

Tuesday, October 31 – Saturday, November 4


According to Forestry England, pannage is an ancient practice that is still used today by New Forest Commoners, who turn out their pigs into the forest during the season so they can feast on fallen acorns, beechmast and chestnuts. Usually lasting around 60 days, the start and finish of the pannage season is decided by the Verderers of the New Forest and the Forestry Commission’s Deputy Surveyor; this year commenced on Monday, September 11 and will end on Friday, November 17. It’s always a joy to spot a drift of piggies mooching merrily around the forest.

Great British Life: Laura Fisher candle making workshop. Image: Laura FisherLaura Fisher candle making workshop. Image: Laura Fisher

Laura Fisher – Candle Making Masterclass

As the evenings start drawing in, candles are lit and the world becomes a cosier place to be. But how about making your own? Join Laura Fisher in the new studio in Basingstoke and immerse yourself in a luxury candle making experience. The workshop is designed to introduce you to the craftsmanship of candle making; you’ll discuss fragrance and materials before moving onto hand pouring and crafting a luxury candle set for you take enjoy at home. “This time of year we introduce seasonal scents, so the perfect idea to gift, too,” says Laura. “My personal favourites are gingerbread or cinnamon and apple!” To top it off, while your candle is setting, you get to feast on Cream Tea provided by the multi-award-winning Parlour Tearoom.

Saturday, October 28, £47


Impressive Dinner Party – Autumn, Chewton Glen Cookery School

Celebrate the season and enjoy the delicious produce that autumn brings at Chewton Glen Cookery School. Gerard Molloy, Cookery School Tutor/Kitchen Manager says: “The dinner party class is perfect for those who want to… impress! Not only will we teach guests how to create a fantastic meal to enjoy with their friends and family, but also share hints and tips about how to make everything seem totally stress-free. The menu is deceptively simple but one I find never fails to delight; who doesn’t love a Vanilla Crème Brûlée? Let’s get cooking!”

Saturday, October 21

Deer Rutting

The annual deer rut is one of Britain's most exciting autumn wildlife spectacles; watch testosterone-fuelled male deer - stags or bucks – fight over long-lashed doe. The rutting season usually takes place in October, lasting roughly seven to ten days. Five species of deer – fallow, roe, red deer and the lesser-spotted sika and muntjac - can be spotted in the New Forest. Listen out for the guttural, primal, sound as these great creatures lock antlers at renowned rutting grounds that date back as far as a century. The deer-viewing platform at Bolderwood is a good place to start and three good deer-spotting walks depart from here, varying in distance: Deer Watch Trail, the Jubilee Grove Trail and Radnor Trail.

Great British Life: Autumn Steam Gala on the Watercress Line. Image: Andy WoodroffeAutumn Steam Gala on the Watercress Line. Image: Andy Woodroffe

Autumn Steam Gala on the Watercress Line

The Autumn Steam Gala returns to the ten-mile Watercress Line – from New Alresford to Alton - for a weekend of all-things locomotives. Highlights include: behind-the-scenes tours at Ropley workshop and yard – check out locomotives under restoration; driver experiences with Kilmersdon' 1788 and unlimited rides on a miniature railway.

9am – 6pm, Friday, October 6 – Sunday, October 8

Herbs & Wild Supper Club

Gambledown Farm celebrates every change of season by hosting a Supper Club with Herbs & Wild. Each dish is specially-created using seasonal ingredients, often foraged, and paired with the farm’s hand-reared meat. “The autumn menu features Venison and damsons from Gambledown, cheese from Lyburn, just down the road, and plenty of fragrant herbs to bring the dishes to life”, says Herbs & Wild founder and chef, Hannah Tomas.

£39 per ticket

Pumpkin Festival at Sunnyfields

Wheelbarrows at the ready! Sunnyfields' incredible Pumpkin Festival returns to Totton this autumn with thousands of pumpkins, squash and other cucurbits, in all shapes, size and colours. Pick your favs to take home and carve or display them on windowsills, fireplace and dining tables for a little autumn styling. There’ll be plenty of Insta-ready backdrops with wow-displays of pumpkins and Halloween fun. Top tip: Go at sundown to see the twinkly lights at their best - guaranteed to get you in the mood for the spooky season.

Tickets must be booked in advance.

Saturday, October 7 – Sunday, October 29

OktoberFest Southampton

The Guildhall Square will once again be transformed into a wild Bavarian party for the sixth year running. Expect a whirlwind of Oompah bands, delicious beers served in giant jugs (aka steins or krugs) and a feast of bratwurst and sizzling currywurst (vegan options available). Because of its German origins it’s perfect acceptable to dig out your finest lederhosen to mark the occasion. Prost!

Friday, October 27 - Saturday, October 28

South Downs National Park

Soak in the autumn tones at one of England’s newest National Parks in the South Downs. Here you’ll find the highest point in Hampshire at Butser Hill. Take a flask (or pop into the perfectly-placed cafe) for when you reach the top; at 270 metres high you’ll have views for miles, across the surrounding hills, valleys and farmland. Kids will love ‘The dragon of Butser Hill’ short (0.75miles) interactive walk, while hardy folk can continue along the 100-mile South Downs Way stretching from Winchester, all the way to Eastbourne in East Sussex.

Great British Life: Lily & Bee Pumpkin Workshops. Image: Lily & BeeLily & Bee Pumpkin Workshops. Image: Lily & Bee

Pumpkin Workshop

Join Emma Gaylor from Lily & Bee on one of two Pumpkin Workshops with a twist. Here you’ll get to create a pumpkin centrepiece, adorned with seasonal flowers. Everything is provided and no experience is required, says Emma: “It’s the perfect way to spend a creative afternoon, using all the bounty that autumn has to offer to give you all the autumnal feels.”

Thursday, October 26, 6pm at Curtridge Reading Rooms, in collaboration with Cornflower Sky pop-up Coffee Shop - £55 with refreshments.

Saturday, October 28, 10.30am – 12.30pm at The Studio £45

Apple Day, Blackmoor Estate

Blackmoor Estate’s famous Apple Tasting Day has been running for over 50 years. This hugely popular free local event is in aid of local charities and is a rare opportunity for fruit enthusiasts to taste a wide variety of apple and pear varieties grown at Blackmoor – from traditional favourites like Cox’s Orange Pippin and Norfolk Royal Russet to exciting new varieties like Opal and Rubens. Apple experts will be on hand to identify mystery apples; fruit trees and plants will be available from our nursery and there will be a range of other attractions from a rural craft fair and horse and cart rides to cakes and Morris dancing. Not forgetting the cider.

10am – 4.30pm on Sunday, October 8 – Free