THE National Memorial Arboretum is offering a host of activities for families this half term (24 October–1 November).

young visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, can discover Halloween’s origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

Thousands of years ago, this annual festival at the end of October was a spiritual time of reflection and Remembrance.

A free activity trail targeted at KS2 (7–10-year-olds) will take visitors on a journey across the 150-acre garden and woodland site to uncover hidden symbols. They will learn about some of the ancient traditions that have become part of Halloween and can collect a treat for completing the trail.

For older families, a pair of outdoor escape challenges offer and engaging way of learning about the conflict in the Far East during the Second World War. OPERATION LOCATE (£12 per team) has been designed to test the skills of even the most ardent escape room enthusiast (recommended age 11+) during a two to three-hour puzzle adventure to locate a missing British Army Unit as they try to escape pursuing forces. Meanwhile, OPERATION UNCOVER (£10 per team) is a two-hour family-friendly (recommended age 8+) mission to help a Special Operations Executive agent uncover the identity of a spy.

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An interactive learning experience for three to seven-year-olds will see them follow Stick Man on his journey back to the family tree. This free activity trail has been designed to help children go on their own adventure as they learn the story of Stick Man while wandering through the Arboretum’s autumnal landscape.

In addition, the Arboretum is home to two outdoor play areas. The Sensory Play Garden uses sensory exploration and discovery to introduce younger visitors to the concept of Remembrance, in addition to providing traditional play. It features tunnels, climbing globe, bannister slides and a time circle, and the sympathetically designed area sits naturally within the grounds of the Arboretum, blending into the landscape. The second children's play area in the Children's Wood offers wooden play equipment with picnic benches located nearby.

Chris Ansell, head of participation and learning, said: “There is plenty for families to do at the Arboretum this half term and our activities are a fantastic way of encouraging young people to embrace the great outdoors. Whether you’re visiting to see Stick Man, learn about the roots of Halloween or solve intricate Second World War themed puzzles, there is something for everyone to enjoy.”

Due to COVID-19, the Arboretum remains open to only pre-booked visitors for the foreseeable future. Tickets can be booked on the Arboretum’s website, where slots are released two weeks in advance.

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