This is how horror lovers in England, Ireland and the United States ring in Halloween with events to die for
All over the world, people have been getting ready for the major celebration of Halloween, from putting together costumes to making festive candy, and carving the fanciest Jack-O’-lanterns from freshly harvested pumpkins. Although Halloween is a highly anticipated American tradition, most people wouldn’t know that the holiday is, in fact, deeply rooted in a 3,000-odd year-old Pagan practice known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), an ancient Celtic celebration of the end of harvest. It is also during this period when the Celts believed that the living and dead worlds overlapped, and to ward off ghosts, bonfires were lit and scary costumes were worn.
Besides trick-or-treating and fancy costume parties, here are just some activities in England, the United States and Ireland that will set the mood in no time.
The London Dungeons
Scares are available throughout the year, but it’s during Halloween when all hell (literally) breaks lose at this top London attraction. This Halloween, the dungeons take on a more supernatural form with Séance!, featuring Florence Cook, a celebrated medium from Victorian London, who’s notorious for making contact with spirits in ‘the other world’. Subject yourself to the spine tingling experiences once felt by her guests in a special showcase of real events that occurred in 1873.
Jack the Ripper Walk
There’s no better time to walk down Victorian London’s spookiest streets than with the Jack the Ripper Halloween Special, featuring a ghost walk hosted by Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson. The pair will take guests on a 45-minute ghost walk of East End’s creepiest spots, including the streets frequented by the Ripper himself, before moving on to a three-course dinner in the company of mediums, mesmerists and mystics, as well as a séance by Arthur Conan Doyle. Brace yourself for other surprises that might just keep you awake all night!
London Ghost Walk
Book yourself in for a thoroughly haunted excursion on the scariest night of the year with a special Halloween London Ghost Walk hosted by paranormal expert Richard Jones. The ghost-tale-punctured evening includes the highlights of a visit to the city’s most picturesque medieval palace, the most paranormally-active building, a garden still haunted by a distant murder and several hair-raising spots with gruesome tales. The night’s collection of ghastly tales is the best way to test every ghost-lovers’ threshold of all things gory and eerie.
Throughout October, visitors flock to Salem, the town famous for the 1692 Witch Trials commemorated with the Salem festival of the dead. Revellers soak in the atmosphere by visiting the Salem Witch Museum that presents life-size staging of the event based on actual trial documents, numerous carnivals, a Grand Parade, haunted open houses, and the highlight of the festival, the Salem Witches’ Ball, where guests attend in their fanciest getup, immerse in psychic rituals, dance to chilling beat and dabble in ‘magical’ activities.
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Long Beach
Your worst nightmare yet awaits aboard the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor ship, historically haunted by the restless spirit of Scary Mary. The extensively documented paranormal hotbed is open for the annual Halloween event, with activities to die for on board, including mazes stalked by monsters, pranks played by Scary Mary, face-to-face encounters with mummies and monsters in paintball adventures, tarot card readings, magic shows, and freak shows of talented circus freaks. If that doesn’t sound scary enough, why not extend your visit to an overnight stay on the Queen Mary?
The Great Jack-O’-Lantern Blaze
Should you prefer to turn down the horror factor a notch or two, take it easy at this annual Halloween tradition at the historic Van Cortlandt Manor several miles from the legendary Sleepy Hollow. The festival is famous for up to 7,000 individually hand-carved jack o’ lanterns, their grins illuminated as they watch you walk by. Look out for the flying pumpkin ghost, and keep an eye out for the iconic Headless Horseman. Visitors can also expect dinosaurs, snakes and fascinating creations, as well as a Circus Train carrying a cast of playful clowns and animals.
Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry City
There’s no better place to ring in Halloween than at the origins of the festival. Derry City devotes a nine-day spookfest, comprising a parade, fire dancing, fireworks and family-friendly programs. Give yourself a scare at the numerous choices of haunted houses, ghost tours, horror story-telling, scary movie screenings and much more. The cherry to top the cake though, would be the world-famous street carnival parade that concludes with a dramatic fireworks display, witnessed by partygoers decked out in their scariest costume!
Halloween Monster Mash
This mild yet entertaining bash includes children in the Halloween fun. Themed differently each year, little ‘monsters’ and ‘ghosts’ of all ages are encouraged to come in their scariest best. The event features a variety of street theatre and pit stops, dazzling fire shows and jugglers, face painting, thrill rides, live music, and a mouth-watering range of festive treats. The Monster Mash will culminate in a spectacular fireworks display.
Haunted Spooktacular Farm
Nightmares come alive at this horror central attraction. Featuring both indoor and outdoor areas, you’ll get lost in a mirror maze, onto the nerve-wrecking Asylum of an abandoned hospital, grope your way through a haunted school house massacre, navigate through a village of cannibals, and much more besides. We wish you all the luck in the world for an unscathed escape.