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Get into the spirit of Halloween in Britain

by Hannah Stuart-Leach
Thursday 01 January 1970

There are lots of ways to celebrate Halloween on 31 October, across the UK, from family-friendly pumpkin festivals to seriously scary dungeons and ghost tours... (Cue blood-curdling laughter).

Scare yourself silly in the city 

London at night

Aaaaaah! Beware of Britain's alarming attractions, they're bound to make you scream. The London Dungeon is a frightful place to start: travel back through London’s murky past, through dark, dank alleys, where some of the city’s most notorious criminals lurk. Or take to the Tower of London, the scene of many a gruesome execution, including that of poor young Lady Jane Grey, the doomed ‘9 day queen’. Or hop on the Ghost Bus for a devilishly different sightseeing tour with special effects and live actors - brace yourself for a mysterious passenger. 

Visit a haunted house 

With Britain’s historic houses dating back hundreds, even thousands of years, it’s no surprise some of them are haunted. One of Henry VIII’s more unfortunate wives, Anne Boleyn, who was eventually beheaded, was born at medieval Blickling Hall in Norfolk and is said to roam the grounds in the miserable form of the 'Grey Lady'. Elsewhere, former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is thought to linger at the bottom of the stairs near his favourite paintings in Hughenden, the Victorian manor house in Buckinghamshire where he used to live. If you’re feeling really brave, see how soundly you sleep at one of these haunted hotels.

Pick a pumpkin or 2

Girl playing with pumpkins at Halloween

Halloween would not be Halloween without carving a beastly face into a perfectly innocent pumpkin, and there are lots of farms across Britain where you can pick your own. From Farmer Copleys in West Yorkshire, which hosts the biggest pumpkin festival in the UK with thousands to choose from including red, green and black varieties, to Undley Farm in Suffolk, which each year grows an incredible maize maze with a different spooky theme each year.

Dabble in witchcraft

Witch of Wookey with her broomstick
The Witch of Wookey © Wookey Hole

Follow the tragic trail of the persecuted Pendle Witches through Lancashire: walking routes will take you to sites associated with the notorious 17th-century witch trials, from the heights of Pendle Hill to the dungeons below Lancaster Castle. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, holds a frightening array of other-worldly artefacts. But for something more light-hearted for the little ones or easily-spooked, head over to the caves at Wookey Hole in Somerset and say hello to the friendly Witch of Wookey.

Explore some ghoulish graveyards 

British graveyards and cemeteries are so evocative they attract wanderers from this life as well as the next. Here’s some of the best, including Highgate in North London with its ivy-draped Victorian gravestones and eerie Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, known for its ghastly grave-robberies. 

Turn mad scientist or creepy collector 

Dog collar collection at Leeds Castle
Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle

Bloody body parts, silver skeleton statues and a transparent women - you’ll find them all in Britain’s weirdest museums. The Wellcome Collection is dedicated to exploring the human mind and body, even if that means exhibiting a plastinated full body slice. Then there’s The Last Tuesday Society, a collection of curios that defies all definition - among the displays you’ll find a giant hairball from a cow’s stomach and some taxidermy squirrels playing cards. Other ideas include the barking-mad Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle and the Glasgow Hunterian Museum, known for its Egyptian mummies and peculiar pickled specimens.  


Hannah Stuart-Leach

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