It’s that time of year again when, for one night only, the doors between the realms swing open and dressing as revoltingly (or revealingly) as possible is totally accepted, nay, encouraged. Based on the pagan holiday of Samhain, it is our transatlantic cousins who have been the Hallowtide heroes in more modern times but no more… as you’ll see from our top tips for this freakiest of festivities, it looks like somebody wants it back. Whether you’re looking for a rave in a grave, a frightfully fun family day out or you’ve just a torturous and terrible thirst to quench, our guide to Halloween events in London is here to help this year be the best yet.
1. Pumpkin Carving Competition
Friday October 31st
Carving Jack O’ Lanterns has always been a Halloween tradition but nowadays, it’s become quite the art form too. If your little devils have the skills, the Queen’s favourite grocery store Fortnum and Mason will be throwing open it’s gilded doors for them to come and pit their pumpkins against the best. The kid’s competition will be from 3-5pm and there’s a truckload of terrifying treats to be won. To reserve your place, call: 02077348040 and it’s ghoulish game on.
The Proud Archivist in Haggerston is well known for putting on a whole host of unusual events and why would this time of year be any different? Don your most hideous papier-mache mask, pair with a bewitching vintage costume and get yourself over to N1 for an evening of diabolical literary and dining fun straight from the 1800s. If dramatic readings of Penny Dreadful classics, creepy murder balladeers and a disgracefully delicious three courses of Victorian fare don’t make you raise a glass to the city’s darker side, we’re not sure what will.
October 25th – November 1st
Forget it’s more widely known brethren; the London Bridge Experience has not been voted ‘Best Year Around Scare Attraction in the UK’ for six years running because it’s a rainbow funhouse of kittens and candy. This kitsch historical attraction with its horrifying accompaniment of the London Tombs (built in a plague pit don’t ya know?) is the ideal place if you want to turn the fear gauge up to 11.
Keeping its usual frights and frolics during the day; as night hits, the whole place will transform like a Frankenstein creation into Phobophobia- this year themed as a Hillbilly nightmare. Having been described as ‘the ultimate night out for the sickest of souls’… we’ll be over here waiting for you when you get back ok?
4. Halloween RaveYard
October 30th – November 1st @ 8pm
In 19th century London, a mixture of overcrowding, pollution, disease, terrible diets and even worse sanitation made burying our dead within the city’s confines virtually impossible. Enter the Necropolis railway, a handy way to quickly transport the mounting corpses out to the suburbs after a brief, chilly rest in the temporary morgue under Waterloo station. Do you fancy one last trip? Attend your own funeral, dance the stiffness from your bones at the Zombie Disco Hall, become part of Dr Maynard’s grizzly experiments but be warned- this night of beats and bodies is not for the fainted hearted.
5. Nightmare Festival
Saturday November 1st
Perhaps you’d rather your spirits stayed where they belong… in shot glasses. Nightmare Festival will be taking over various iconic Camden venues such as Electric Ballroom, The Underworld, Dingwalls and Barfly for one day of hard partying, head banging, hair raisingly good guitar groups such as Blood Red Shoes, Howling Bells, Inme and the ‘I can’t believe they haven’t just named themselves for Halloween’ rock’n’roll band Release The Bats. Fancy dress is encouraged and 10% discounts are available at Escapade costume shop for those who truly dare to scare.
6. Blood and Tears Walk
Friday October 31st
Now, no Halloween list in our fair city would be complete without the obligatory ghost walk but oh, what a horrifying, spine tingling, stomach churning tour is on offer this October 31st. Join Declan McHugh, author of the book ‘Bloody London’ as he takes you on a journey through 2000 years of grave robbers, rippers, executions, crime, punishment and murder. With that many rave reviews, there’s no better guide to help you feel the fear.
7. The Haunted Forest
Friday October 31st
When your whole modus operandi is to dress up and then get as silly as possible all year round, you’d imagine that Halloween would be a simple walk in the proverbial park; so it is for prodigal party kids ‘Regression Sessions’ who bring their own brand of beat-based chills and thrills to Studio 338 in Greenwich this October for a night of zombie flashmobs, face painting, fortune telling and partying on a heated terrace disguised as a haunted forest as freakishly good DJs terrorise the dance floor until dawn. Remember fancy dress is obligatory so if you bottle it, you’re not getting in.
8. Halloween at the Grant Museum
Friday October 31st
Totally having the bats, cat and rats end of the Halloween spectrum covered, the Grant Museum of Zoology is creaking open its doors for a very special late-night ‘spook’tacular involving devilish drinks, creatures of the night, rooms full of skulls and skeletons, costume prizes and some very special themed specimen labels. If you’re expecting cute and fluffy, you may just have come to the wrong place.
9. 2.8 Hours Later- Survival
The zombie apocalypse has started, safety is paramount but rations are low. To keep the survivors alive, somebody’s going to have to brave the undead hordes and find supplies… that someone is you. Get off the sofa and onto the streets for this cross-city mission as, guided by an app, you help to bring humanity back from the brink.
10. Boo at The Zoo
October 25th– November 2nd
It’s scaly, furry, creepy, crawly fun for all the family as things go Boo at the Zoo this autumn. Do you dare brave the feely-box challenge or create creepy creatures of your own in the Bat Cave? Will you enter the secret lair of the Owls to see what they really get up to after dark? It is a packed schedule of activities for all ages that’s sure to leave your little ones spellbound (but make sure not to leave the zoo’s other more cuddly creatures out of the fun).