For a day-dreaming experience, visitors can enjoy an October odyssey of enchanting events and attractions throughout Ryedale (many of them are open for much longer than the half-term holidays) – including:
- The Northwood Trail – England’s Fairy Sanctuary – is celebrating Halloween with the fairies! Enjoy a magical evening lantern walk through the fairy woods, hearing true tales from the otherworld with the mystical, cloaked guide. Then visit Northwood’s grotto and Professor Howland’s unique Fairy Museum, packed with faerie relics and treasures (Northwood is open all year; the fairy lantern walks take place on selected evenings during October half-term holidays).
- Explore Skelf Island, Castle Howard’s legendary adventure playground, to encounter the secretive skelves, faerie-like creatures that love to play in the treetops. Find their ingenious nests connected by rope bridges, slides, and nets, for an unforgettably fun playtime (lopen all year with a garden ticket). Older visitors can daydream too, reliving fantasy worlds from Bridgerton to Brideshead in a TV-inspired special exhibition (ends 30 October).
- Take an awe-inspiring trip on the Light Spectacular Express at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, an interactive journey where the world-famous vintage trains are adorned with thousands of lights and passengers don’t just move to the music, they shape the show! Event runs on dates between 22 – 30 October; the railway operates all year round).
- By the magic of candlelight, spy winter owls dancing through the moonlit woods at the National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley, on the evenings of 22, 28 & 29 October. With the largest collection of birds-of-prey in the North, the centre is open all year with daily flight displays, and close encounters with some of the world’s smallest, largest and rarest raptors.
- Take a walk around Fairy Dale to discover a lost medieval village, Wharram Percy with a past shrouded in mystery (and where, in its abandoned graveyard, the first-ever archaeological evidence of vampires has been unearthed). Open all year.
- For an out-of-this-world experience, join Adventures for the Soul on a magical moonlit walk or day sky meander amongst Britain’s starriest skies, with super-natural views to the Milky Way on a cloud-free night. Or be astrally-amazed at the Dark Skies Fringe Festival during October half-term holidays with stargazing, night walks, family fun and scientific challenges throughout the North York Moors.
- “Everywhere peace, everywhere serenity, and a marvellous freedom from the tumult of the world…” You don’t need to climb a Himalayan mountain to find true peace – these words were written by one of the greatest spiritual writers of the Middles Ages, Saint Aelred, about his own retreat, Rievaulx Abbey. 900 years later they still hold true. Once one of Europe’s greatest monasteries, the abbey ruins seem a million miles away from the real world in their wooded valley.
- You can’t beat tree-hugging and bird song to relieve stress, proven by boffins to release oxytocin and make you happy! And you can’t get more tree-hugging than at the Yorkshire Arboretum, a giant garden of over 6,000 trees from around the world. There are even experts on hand to help you ‘meet a tree’ and explore ancient woodland crafts. The arboretum’s also home to the UK’s first purpose-built Tree Health Centre, and a huge range of fascinating biodiversity projects that mean you’ll spot wildlife here that is rare elsewhere in Britain, including red squirrels – thanks to their new tree-top sanctuary.
- It’s easy to imagine chivalric knights and ladies from medieval romance in the dramatic ringwork ruins of Helmsley Castle. Explore the eerily-empty state apartments, once resounding with masques and music, with its views over the pleasure parkland and tournament field; or the impressive ramparts, as if scooped out of the stone by a giant’s hand. The shop also has (toy) swords and bows and arrows for knights-in-training… Open all year.
- Helmsley Walled Garden has been designed as a place of peace and tranquillity, in balance with nature and the natural world with its ‘green’ gardening practices and spaces designed for mindfulness, like the White Garden and Garden of Contemplation. New for 2022, the award-winning visitor attraction is celebrating this relationship in a series of events exploring the ancient healing power of herbal remedies. Find out more at www.helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk
If you’re tempted to find out more, or to book a fairytale retreat in Ryedale this year – whether for a day or longer, visit www.visitryedale.co.uk.