Contrary to what many may think, Halloween is not only an American import that has gained traction in the UK. It’s celebrated across the world with people of all ages donning their spookiest outfits on one night of the year.
Halloween can be traced back thousands of years ago to the Celtic festival of Samhain, in which the Celts would mark the end of summer, bringing in the last of their crops and officially announcing the start of winter. It became a symbol of the boundary between life and death.
With this spooky tale in mind, UK cities have plenty to offer to make this Halloween the more garish and ghostly of them all.
The epicentre of the UK’s rich history, there’s no shortage of ancient buildings guarded by gruesome gargoyles. Ghost sightings have been documented all over the city. From Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London, it seems that the ghost and ghouls love this corner of the country.
For a seriously spooky Halloween in the capital, make sure to check out the abandoned railway tracks in the Parkland Walk, which run between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. Alternatively, visit a haunted monument like the Bruce Castle Museum, the Old Operating Theatre Museum or The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities. Get around easily from London Kings Cross Station and go to further flung places like the Greenwich Foot Tunnel or Epping Forest for a real fright on the 31st!
With its own dungeon and some of the oldest buildings in the UK, it’s no wonder York has been voted the spookiest city in the country – even Europe! Visit the York Dungeon, where you will be led through 2,000 years of the city’s intriguing history, packed with a few frights along the way. Then take a walk through the Shambles at night before sinking a pint at the Ye Olde Starre Inne, which has had spooky tales to tell since 1644.
Scotland’s capital has a grim past just waiting to be uncovered for Halloween. It was the site of unforgiving witch trials and deathly plagues and the playground of dozens of serial killers. In effect, it’s perfect for the last night of October!
Take a (suitably dark) underground city tour where you’ll learn all about the terrifying spread of the bubonic plague before heading to Maru King’s Close. Other spooky destinations include the haunted cemeteries, the Edinburgh Dungeon, Holyrood Palace and the creepy coffin dolls on Arthur’s Seat. As for a wee drink, you couldn’t do better than The Banshee Labyrinth, which is every bit as eerie as it sounds.