An autumn pick-me-up can tide you over till Chrimbo: HolidayCheck is more than pleased to pass on 5 tips bound to spice up your 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'.

Exeter Autumn Festival (31st October - 15th November)

This eclectic festival comprises theatre, music, comedy and spoken word performances. The event is organised along the lines of the Edinburgh Fringe (without the attendant hype) , with ticketed performances dotted around the town. Exeter is family friendly and a number of shows are specially for kids. A recital of Kipling's Just-So stories is on offer for younger children and the Barnfield Theatre is putting on a rip-roaring adaption of the Arthur legend, Pendragon. The city of Exeter is also a beautiful place to visit in its own right. The fourteenth century nave of the impressive cathedral is the longest unsupported gothic structure in the world.

The Islington Wine Show (22nd October - 25th October)

This get-together for aficionados of the vine features celebrity oenophiles including Oz Clarke. Oz not only holds forth on his favourite tipples; he also does a tasting and leads a 'wine walk' (hopefully in a straight line). Of course, it's not all theory. There are plenty of opportunities to go on the (grape)lash as well as stock up that wine cellar.

A Taste of Autumn (24th October 1st November)

In the week leading up to Hallowe'en, Harrogate is definitely the place to pick up a pumpkin.This traditional craft fair offers all sorts of events that promote local produce. There are tasting sessions, workshops on preserving and storing your home-grown produce and lots more. Harrogate is also the doorway to the Dales and so the base for all sorts of excursions.

Aintree Racing Weekend (24th October - 25th October)

How about a flutter on the gee-gees? Only six miles North of Liverpool city centre, Aintree is famous for hosting the Grand National. Less well known are the autumn race days. For the visitor this means less hassle with parking and a better view of the action. Traditionally, Saturday race days at the National involve a sojourn into town; Liverpool has an unbeatable night life. This year the Sunday is Freaky Family Fun Day and has a Hallowe'en theme. One great plus: all autumn race days are free for kids.

Enter the Twilight Zone! (14th November)

Chester Zoo's Twilight Zone exhibit is the country's largest free flying bat house. This guided tour offers visitors a pleasantly jittery evening in the company of said bats as well as giant hissing cockroaches and spiny mice.

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