We follow Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione into the Forbidden Forest and test our nerve among the creatures who live there
Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience.
What is it?
A night-time trail through the ‘Forbidden Forest’, known from being in the grounds of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books and films.
You walk at your own pace around an illuminated route, seeing and hearing some of the iconic forest scenes as well as magical creatures from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts such as Hippogriffs, centaurs and spiders.
Hagrid and Fang
Where is it?
At the gorgeous Arley Hall & Gardens, in Northwich, Cheshire, England.
What did we think?
This is a magical trail as befits a magical world. The experience is carried out on an impressive scale – it was created by Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, in partnership with Thinkwell.
It is very atmospheric and spooky, with Harry Potter music, sound effects, characters talking and eyes watching you pass, which could be a bit too scary for some younger children.
It would make a great Halloween or pre-Christmas treat for fans of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.
The flying Ford Anglia
*Conjure a Patronus – choose your wand, point it and utter the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ to cast this spell, which sees off Dementors.
*Bow to a hippogriff and it will bow back.
*Try some Butterbeer (it’s alcohol-free), the wizarding drink loved by Harry Ron and Hermione.
Buy a butterbeer
*The food is delicious.
*Try out a deluminator – to put out the lights like Dumbledore.
*Hear Harry and Ron crashing in the flying Ford Anglia and see the car lights sweeping through the forest.
*Catch a glimpse of a white unicorn slinking through the trees.
*Spiders: Aragog and other big spiders lived in the Forbidden Forest and scare Ron in the Harry Potter books and films. They lurk in this forest too but those with arachnophobia don’t have to see them. You will walk through a section with ‘webs’ in the trees, then can choose to divert from the path if you DO want to see the spiders. Those who don’t, stay on the path. If you do divert, you will see large spiders drop down from overhead, stopping just above your heads.
*It is an outdoor trail in the dark so dress warmly with sensible shoes.
*You can buy Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise.
Access and restrictions
It is a woodland walk so can be uneven so is not the best terrain to push a wheelchair. Motorised wheelchairs can be hired.
All ages are welcome, younger children may be frightened in places.
Allow about an hour and a half to do the trail and eat at the end.
There are places to buy food along the way or you can stop at the magical village at the end where our highlights included big marshmallows on sticks you can toast and smother with chocolate sauce , fish and chips, Cornish pasties and a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding. My son also enjoyed an edible wand.
When is it on?
It runs from Mondays to Sundays, from October 16 to December 15, 2021.
Sessions start at 6.30pm (October 16 to 31), 5pm (November 1 to 9), 4.30pm (November 11 to 28) and 4pm (November 29 to December 15). All sessions finish at 10pm.
Ticket prices vary by date and time, starting from £19.
Children under five are free and from five to 15 are a reduced price.
We round-up some of the best half-term and Halloween 2019 events happening around the country
There is a lot happening at the Eden Project for half-term and Halloween between October 19 and November 3, including a puppet cabaret show, a spooky woodland, web-weaving workshops and the chance to create potions in the Eden Cottage.
There will also be ice-skating, pumpkin-carving, an Owl Sanctuary and spooky tales read by professional storytellers.
And there will be a Halloween Disco: Little Monsters’ Ball on October 26.
Blackpool is a popular destination at this time of year thanks to its famous illuminations.
This free nightly display along the entire length of the promenade – which runs until November 3 – attracts more than three million visitors to the area every year.
But there is plenty more going on as well over half-term including the town’s Lightpool Festival which offers more free entertainment between October 11 and 26.
Blackpool Carvinal of Lights
This features performance and light-based art installations, including a replica planet Earth in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the world premiere of a large-scale Sun in the Winter Gardens and a display of giant illuminated see-saws in the town centre.
Blackpool Tower Projections is also taking place – where Blackpool Tower is bathed in a sea of light, colour and sound as multi-media shows are projected on to the building (from now until November 3).
And there are other shows including Carnival Magic – a puppet and dance show featuring fire breathing robots and a 20-piece band, on October 25 and Pyronix – this Belgian performance group will do a music and fire show on October 26.
Dover Castle promises visitors they can descend into a tunnel of terror, and meet a ghost or two on spooky tours over half-term.
Visitors will also be able to have a go at making a menacing mask or witch’s cat to take home.
Events run from October 19 to 27 between 10am and 4pm, for more information click here.
Marwell Zoo in Winchester is putting on a monster trail around its large 140-acre site. Visitors must track down 12 hidden monsters around the zoo, including a panteater, spitopotamus and a scary scornbill.
There is also broomstick-flying with Marwell’s resident and wise old wizard Lowedolf, spooky story telling and optional extras such as wand decorating or monster making for £1 each. The special events are on from October 26 to November 3.
Paultons Park will have more than 4,000 pumpkins, ghostly scenes, spooky meet and greets, Freaky Fancy Dress competition and a Little Monsters Ball finale to finish each day.
And there is a new Legend of Paultons Manor theatrical show featuring spectacular illusions and slapstick comedy. Book online here.
Blenheim Palace has half-term Halloween events from October 26 to November 3. There are train rides through a terrifying tunnel, performances in the Great Court and spooky stories in the Cinema.
In addition, the palace has a scarecrow trail for small children and is bringing statues to life inside the Palace.
On November 1, there is a new laser and lighting show in the Great Courtyard, set to music from Star Wars ‘Deep Space and Beyond’. Limited tickets are available, see the website.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is hosting a Monster Madness Party on Wednesday, October 30, with music, dancing, activities, ghoulish games and prizes. The party runs from 1.45pm to 3.30pm.
Spooky Science Night at Thinktank
At Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, there is a Spooky Science Night on October 31 where you can visit the museum after-hours and try eerie experiments, a silent disco and take in the Science of Fright show.
Thinktank also has Halloween activities throughout the half term week. For more information see the website.