October 3, 2011
Here in the UK, we may not indulge in the month-long build up to Halloween with quite the same fervour and devotion as our American friends across the pond, but we are seeing a greater number of haunted happenings every year. Here’s five (mostly) family-oriented picks for a selection of spooky tours, ghost hunts, and pumpkin-themed fun…
There can’t be many finer settings in England for a fun-filled Halloween Hoot extravaganza. For just over a week (22nd – 30th October) Chatsworth House in Derbyshire’s Peak District will play host to some spooky goings-on including zombie dance workshops and face-painting in the farmyard, a super-scary secret tunnel in the garden and a Fright Flight into the woods. If you’re extra brave, pre-book a torchlit tour of the house itself for an eerie exploration of all its darkened nooks and crannies, followed by a feast of Halloween treats.
Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Last year saw the inaugural pumpkin-carving competition at posh London department store and world famous food hall Fortnum & Mason. This year it’s back, with a children’s and an adult’s competition and the winners will see their carefully crafted creations adorning these most famous of Piccadilly windows. Prospective entrants need to book a competition place in advance and the event takes place on Friday 28th October. Fortnum’s is also home to some ghoulishly inventive sweets and confectionery, so don’t forget to stock up on bloody eyeballs and exploding toads for the ultimate trick or treat (though we dare you to resist eating them all before you leave the house).
Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London
Learn about the ‘Oxford Castle Curse’ and the castle’s haunted happenings and unexplained activity on a ghost hunt tour with exclusive access to the dark recesses of the church and prison, where even the staff insist on being accompanied as they go about their duties. Part of Oxford Castle’s Ghost Fest, you’ll visit the 900 year old crypt and the haunted tower and have the opportunity to go up onto the castle mound, where the ghost of Mary Blandy, hanged outside the castle in 1752 for poisoning her father with arsenic, is said to frequently make an appearance. The tour takes place on Friday 28th October.
Oxford Castle – Unlocked, Oxford
For an urban slice of family Halloween fun, book a place in the witch’s capsule on the London Eye for a storytelling session with added bedknobs and broomsticks. She’s apparently had too much time off and has forgotten her witchy ways, so the Wicked Witch of the London Sky needs some serious help to regain her powers, and will be relying on the capital’s children and visitors to help her rekindle her sorcery skills. A costumed character will be leading the way, so expect lots of chanting of magic spells.
London Eye, South Bank, London
At Holkham Hall, a famous stately home on the extensive 25,000 acre Holkham estate in north Norfolk, four freaky days of horrifying happenings will be taking place to keep your little monsters amused (or terrified) over half-term. Choose a trip into the creepy cellars with a Victorian ghost hunter on a Halloween Horror basement tour, take a bat detector in search of the creatures long associated with black magic and witchcraft on a Dusk Bat Walk, or search for gigantic spiders in the magical museum. Events take place from 27th – 30th October.