We are just one day away now from one of the spookiest holidays of the year – Halloween. Although renowned as more of a children’s holiday – with fancy dress and “trick or treating” as the main events – there are plenty of ways for entire families to enjoy the occasion together, or even for grown-ups to have another excuse to party themselves.
Below we have listed our ‘Top 8’ suggestions to help you have a ‘spooktacular’ Halloween in London this year.
Top 8 Halloween Haunts
1. Hunterian Museum
Located at the Royal College of Surgeons in West London, this year is the Hunterian Museum‘s bicentenary, having been established in honour of the renowned anatomist, John Hunter. The usual display of thousands of anatomical specimens alongside surgical instruments is frightening enough in itself, but tonight (the 30th October 2013) the museum is playing host to a Halloween special.
An evening event, naturally, the doors creak open at 6pm and slam shut at 9. The subject of the special exhibition is ‘The Anatomy of Hanging’ and includes a special ‘pickle a part’ workshop. It is obviously aimed at adults more so than the little ones, but teenagers may be able to handle it. There will also be a bar available.
No booking is required for the Halloween special and only a £2 donation is suggested. If you can’t make it this Halloween, then the Hunterian Museum can be a great part of any horror-themed event.
2. Ten Bells Pub
If you are looking for a weird watering hole to kick-start or wind-down an eerie evening, then look no further than the Ten Bells Pub in Spitalfields. It has a horrific history and a spine-chilling archaic interior, which has been barely altered since the pub first opened in 1752.
On its walls hangs a picture listing Jack the Ripper’s six victims (although commonly thought to have only murdered five women, there is a black magic theory that requires a sixth victim – Elizabeth Stride). One of these women, Mary Kelly, is said to have been drinking at the pub in the early hours of the morning of her murder.
If you are interested in Jack the Ripper history, hoping for a haunting Halloween evening or simply wanting to frequent an old-fashioned bar with great food, then you should certainly pay a visit to the Ten Bells Pub.
3. Clink Prison
The notorious Clink is Britain’s oldest prison, having been established back in 1144. It has been connected to a wide range of historical events, including the Gunpowder Plot. Conditions were infamously harsh in the prison and some would have to beg through the bars in order to make money to buy food and other ‘luxuries’.
The prison was burnt down in 1450 during labourers riots and the prisoners released. It was rebuilt and became mainly used for Heretics, although it began to decline in 1649 when it was sold to a private property developer.
The Clink Prison Museum is based at the original site – in Southwark, South-East London – and attempts to recreate the conditions inside when it was active many centuries ago. It is possible to view torture devices and hear the true tales of torment of numerous past inmates. On Halloween, there will be a special overnight ghost tour, which will include a torture talk, vigils, séances and demonstrations. With many unusual activities reported over the years, it is sure to make for a spine-tingling night.
There was a time when a bin bag and some cotton wool would have been adequate for a fancy dress costume. Even today, some children are happy with the creative approach. When it comes to adults and fussy kids, however, there is often the need for something a little more special.
Escapades has long been the solution for people looking for a quality and unique fancy dress costumes in London. Whether it is for Halloween, Christmas, a kid’s party or something a little more risqué, with 14,000 outfits available online and within the 30-year-old shop in Camden, you are sure to find something perfect for your requirements.
5. Ghost Bus Tour
London’s Ghost Bus Tour is less of a tour and more of a mobile theatre, such are the measures they take to ensure you are suitably scared. Technical trickery and audacious acting accompany you as you tour around the city’s historic sites, which include the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Fleet Street.
The tour lasts for an hour and a quarter and there is an early evening option, at 7.30, or a slightly later one at 9pm. This gives you the opportunity to fit the tour around the rest of your eerie evening activities. The tour departs from Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square.
As well as taking you on a spooky journey, the Ghost Bus Tour can also be a great way to see the city, especially if you are visiting the capital from outside. The tours cost £20 for an adult, £14 for children and £55 for a family of four (NB these prices are slightly higher over halloween). If you are looking for some light-hearted Halloween fun, it’s not all just about being scared, there is a comedy element to the tours also and they are suitable for both adults and children.
6. Jack the Ripper Walk
One of the UK’s most infamous crimes, Jack the Ripper’s butchering of drunk, East London prostitutes has stuck in the memory of the nation for 125 years. Retracing his footsteps on a guided walk today can be an interesting, spine-tingling and entertaining experience. Whether you are an avid follower of history or simply looking for some Halloween shenanigans, the Jack the Ripper walk can kick off your evening in great fashion.
The tour is no amateur production either, with the head guide being Donald Rumbelow – a respected authority on the events of those bleak late nights in the East End of London. With the case one of the most infamous unsolved murder mysteries, the tour also gives those would-be detectives some food for thought.
Setting off from Tower Hill tube station at 7.30 pm each night, the tour can be a great ingredient on your Halloween evening. Finishing up at the before mentioned Ten Bells Pub, there is even time for a few jars of ale.
7. Woman in Black
Perhaps after a horrifying tour or a visit or two to some nerve-wracking sites across the city, it is time for something slightly more refined – a trip to the theatre. Woman in Black is no ordinary theatrical experience, however. Indeed, as boasted on the website, it is “the most terrifying live theatre experience in the world”. As it’s Halloween though, this can only be seen as a positive.
They have also recently teamed up with the Ghost Bus Tour to offer a spooktacular evening of frightening fun, so you can kill two birds with one stone. The show kicks off at 8pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, with matinees at 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays also. Prices vary from £18 up to just short of £50 and the show runs for approximately two hours.
Recently described by the Daily Mail as being “a truly nerve-shredding experience”, the Woman in Black will certainly be a great part of a horror Halloween evening.
8. House of Magic
Created by star of the Channel 4 programme ‘The Secret Cabaret’, Simon Drake, Drake’s House of Magic is a gothic haunted house, fully equipped with magicians, sword swallowers, contortionists and all sorts of weird and wonderful acts and illusions. It truly is a must for any spooky Halloween Hullaballoo.
On top of the spine-chilling entertainment, there is also great grub, with anything from creepy canapés to blood-thirsty buffets available. The house can also be hired for private functions, if you feel like organising a ghoulish gathering of your own.
There are two dates set aside for special Halloween events, on November 1st and 2nd, which includes many mystical performances, including a spectacle from Simon Drake himself. There is also food and drinks available and the night will wind down at around 1am with some zombie dancing. Located just a short distance from Southwark Tube, ticket prices range from £45-85.
Fear Throughout the Year
Although this list has been designed with the Halloween holiday in mind, they are also open throughout the rest of the year. There is nothing better than organising a unique night out, whether for the family or with friends, or both. The activities listed above are more than enough to have a fantastic and frightening night out in London.