“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…” Make your own Ode to Autumn with the kids this season with these brilliant ideas from the Amsterdam Mamas.
1. Do a Scavenger Hunt in the Woods.
Make a list of 10 things your kids have to find (red leaf, acorn, pine cone etc.) and explore your local park or woods to seek them out. You can also print an online version.
2. Go Apple Picking.
3. Find Toadstools.
Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen is a short drive west of Amsterdam. The sand dunes and woodland offer 15 different walking trails and plenty of opportunities to kick up leaves and jump muddy puddles. There are also workshops for kids, guided walks to spot and identify toadstools, and horse and cart rides (including wheelchair-friendly options). Check the agenda.
4. Terrify your Teens.
Get your teenager in the mood for Halloween by taking them to the Amsterdam Dungeon, near Dam Square. Teach them a bit of history and give them a jolly good scare. You can pre-purchase tickets to reduce queuing time.
5. Celebrate Sint Maarten (11th November).
In memory of a Roman soldier who, according to the legend, gave his cloak and money to help a beggar, this annual celebration is a charming and unmissable part of Dutch culture. Children make a lantern, use a lampionstokje to light it, and go out at dusk to sing to their neighbours and get sweets and biscuits in return. There is also a lantern procession in the Vondelpark.
6. Pick a Pumpkin.
7. Go in Search of Gnomes.
Follow the kabouterpad (gnome trail) from the visitors centre in the Amsterdamse Bos. You can even buy a special gnome-hunting kit which includes a jaunty red hat and a magnifying glass.
8. Get some Creepy Culture.
The annual family halloween concert at the Concertgebouw takes place at the end of October and features pieces that are macabre, magical, or morbid. Sells out fast.
9. Join the Spooktacular Parade (last Sunday in October).
Halloween Amsterdam Mamas style. Babies in buggies, mums, dads and kids all get dressed up for some ghoulish fun at this popular event. Check the Amsterdam Mamas Facebook page in October for details.
Deborah Nicholls-Lee is a British national who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. A former French and English teacher, she now works as a freelance writer and editor while raising her two children. See her website to find out more about her work.