Autumn is a brilliant season in Wales with the woodlands changing colour, Halloween and half term to celebrate, and the high prices and crowds of summer well behind us! Yes, the rain does fall, and the nights draw in, but we also get lovely crisp, dry days that are just perfect for hiking, biking and exploring. Plus, we’ve got festivals, spooky celebrations, wildlife spotting opportunities, and adrenaline activities. So pack a raincoat and some welly-boots and head to Wales, where we never let the rain stop us from enjoying ourselves!
Here are our top ten things to do in Wales in October.
Pick a pumpkin
In August, it was all about wandering through fields of sunflowers, but now the farms are filled with pumpkins instead!
Throughout October, farms all over Wales are open to the public for pumpkin picking, and since the month contains both Halloween and Half Term, there is often a lot of festive family fun to be had too. Many farms add tractor rides, playgrounds, hay mazes, or spooky games to their fields, and they serve seasonal treats such as toasted marshmallows, popcorn and toffee apples! Delicious. Plus, there are so many Instagram-worthy photo opportunities amongst the pumpkins!
Fancy a festival?
It seems like every month we tell you it’s festival season in Wales, but that’s because it’s true! This little country has a big events calendar, and there is always something going on. So here are some of our favourite October Festivals:
- Sŵn: An independent, city-wide festival that takes over Cardiff for a four-day celebration of new music and emerging artists.
- Brecon Baroque Festival: This celebration has been running for over 20 years and includes grand performances, intimate workshops, youth sessions and talks.
- The Iris Prize: An LGBTQ+ Film Festival that draws filmmakers and fans from all over the world and includes the biggest short film prize in the world – £30,000!
- Llais: Five days of music celebrating the human voice! Taking place in the iconic Wales Millenium Center, this genre-defying festival is full of inventive acts and intriguing performances.
- The Welsh Museums Festival: Offers a variety of exciting, educational and eye-opening events in museums across Wales during the October half term.
On your bike
Autumn is for mountain biking in Wales. The trails empty out, the temperature is not too hot for uphill pedalling, and the autumn scenery is stunning. Plus, exchanging the dust of dry summer trails for some good old Welsh mud puddles is always fun!
If you fancy hitting the trails, you’ve got no shortage of choices all over the country. Check out Snowdonia’s Antur Stiniog or Coed y Brenin for fully equipped bike parks, equipment hire shops, and trails for all abilities. An extensive network of trails also criss-crosses the stunning landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park. So check which Brecon Beacons mountain biking routes suit your abilities.
If uphill pedalling is not for you, head to Revolutions Bike Park, an uplift-assisted park in Llangynog where the drivers do the hard work while you just enjoy the freedom of the downhills! Or try The Elan Valley for a more mellow ride along scenic trails against a backdrop of Victorian dams, reservoirs and railway embankments.
Get in the garden
Many people think of spring, with its riotous blooms, as the garden season, but there’s definitely something magical about the gardens and woodlands of Wales in autumn. What could be better than crunching over a carpet of fallen leaves beneath trees of rich russet and gold, enjoying late flowering shrubs, bulbs, and the new growth that erupts after summer’s end?
Here are a few of our favourite Welsh gardens to explore:
- Bodnant Gardens: For award-winning gardens overlooking the Conwy Valley in North Wales.
- Colby Woodland Garden: For horticulture and heritage in a hidden valley in Pembrokeshire.
- The National Botanic Garden of Wales: Beauty, science, conservation and education go hand in hand in this 400-acre landscape.
- Aberglasney: 20 different styles of gardens from formal to woodland in Carmarthenshire.
- Powis Castle Gardens: A riot of colour awaits in the autumn in these 300-year-old, impressively maintained castle grounds.
Cheer on the Devils
Ice Hockey might not be the first sport that springs to mind when you think of Wales, but once you’ve seen the Cardiff Devils in action, you won’t forget it any time soon.
This high-energy sport is electrifying to watch, and the enthusiasm of the crowd – especially the Welsh fans – is contagious! Games come with a whole heap of pageantry, loud, pumping tunes, flashing disco lights, raucous commentary, cheeky mascots and give-away games that make it a fun night out for the whole family. The rules are easy to follow even when the pace is frantic, and the atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive. Plus, eating hot dogs and drinking beer – or hot chocolate – while watching is expected. What’s not to love?
Face your fears
Obviously, we can’t talk about October without mentioning Halloween! And if you’re in Wales for the scariest of all holidays, you won’t find yourself short of a spooky event or two. Whether you’re after family-friendly fun or an absolute horror fest, there’s something to suit you.
- For kids and families: Many adventure parks have Halloween events for the whole half-term week. Check out Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire or Greenwood in Gwynedd for spooktacular events that won’t give your little ones nightmares.
- For adrenaline seekers: Visit Oakwood or Zip World for the twin thrills of after-dark rides and Halloween frights.
- For history lovers: What better place to celebrate Halloween than in an ancient castle? Check out Beaumaris Castle on Anglesey, Castell Coch in Cardiff and Caerphilly Castle for three beautiful spots that go big at Halloween.
- For a taste of the paranormal: Why not take a ghost walk in Tenby, South Wales, tour the famously haunted Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Caerphilly, or head underground for a chilling experience in the Dan y Ogof Caves?
- For horror fans: Want to scare the actual pants off yourself? Hit up Terror Mountain near Aberystwyth for a live-action horror fest you won’t forget in a hurry.
Spot a squirrel
There was a time when it seemed that the red squirrel would become extinct in Wales, driven out by its larger and more adaptable cousin, the grey squirrel. But thanks to successful conservation efforts, red squirrel numbers are now rising in Wales!
Red squirrels don’t hibernate, so you stand a chance of seeing them all year round, but autumn is an especially good time because the leaves are thinner on the trees, making them easier to spot, and the squirrels are more active as they gather food for winter.
There are small populations of these beautiful creatures in Snowdonia National Park, the Tywi Forest in Mid Wales, and the Clocaenog Forest in the northeast. But your best chance of spotting them is on Anglesey. Thanks to successful reintroduction efforts, the extensive grounds of Plas Newydd have the largest population of red squirrels in the country.
Hike Offa’s Dyke
Autumn is wonderful for hiking in Wales. The woodlands are beautiful and colourful, and when the sun does shine, we’re treated to crisp, clear days just designed for exploring nature. So why not make the most of the season by tackling one of Wales’s longest hikes, the Offa’s Dyke Path?
This spectacular 177-mile (285 kilometres) trail stretches the length of the England-Wales border. It starts on the banks of the River Severn in Chepstow and winds through a whopping eight counties to reach Prestatyn in the north. The trail weaves past castles and bridges alongside rivers and valleys and through three separate Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the Wye Valley and the Brecon Beacons, which are especially stunning in autumn.
The walk takes roughly two weeks to complete, although you can take as long as you like lingering in the towns and villages you pass or camping in beauty spots. Or, if you’re short on time – and stamina – just pick one section to walk and enjoy.
Feed your inner foodie
October makes the most of the harvest season in Wales, with food festivals happening up and down the country. Here are some of the tastiest:
- Neath Food and Drink Festival: With around 60 stalls, this fest promises three days of authentic Welsh fare, local produce and entertainment.
- The Denbigh Plum Festival: It’s the only species of plum native to Wales, and a holder of the coveted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, so you better believe this little fruit gets a whole festival dedicated to it!
- Newport Food Festival: This one might not last long, but they pack plenty into one day. Over 75 stalls of Welsh and international fare plus cookery demonstrations, performers and family-friendly entertainment.
- Llangollen Food Festival: Expect plenty of locally produced food, delicious drinks, chef demos and hotly contested competitions in this north wales town that knows how to throw a party.
- Gweldd Conwy Feast: This one is well known for serving up delicious local seafood, including the famous hand-collected Conwy mussels. You’ll also find demo kitchens, wine tastings, cookery classes, and plenty for kids to get involved in.
Take to the rivers
October might be one of the wettest months of the year, but, believe it or not, that can be a good thing! All that rain swells the rivers, making them a veritable playground for white water rafting, canyoning, gorge walking and kayaking.
You can ride roller coaster rapids in the Snowdonia National Park, go gorge walking in the Brecon Beacons, raft the River Dee in Llangollen or try white water tubing in West Wales. And if you can’t get out to the countryside, there’s even a purpose-built river rafting course in Cardiff Bay. So even when it’s not raining, there’s no reason not to get wet in Wales!
So what are you waiting for?
What do you think, do you fancy cheering on the Devils, going river rafting, squirrel spotting, or sprinting around a late-night theme park away from ghosts and ghouls? Whatever your autumn vibe is, make sure you book your holiday accommodation early to avoid missing out on all the October fun in Wales!
What about next month? Here’s our guide to the top 10 things to do in Wales in November.