Haunted castles, eerie woodland walks, hair-raising ghost rides and spooky activities for all the family in our round-up of Halloween events around the UK.
24 Oct 2012:
Bat Hunting, Gloucestershire
Kids will be able to roam through the grounds of Puzzlewood, hunt for bats and discover Halloween sculptures in the trees between until 31 October. This ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean is a perfect setting for an eerie game of hide and seek – the trees drip with moss and lichen and twist above spooky caves and strange rock formations. If the weather’s bad there are two indoor mazes and a new push-and-pedal bike racing track for under 5s.
• puzzlewood.net, 01594 833187; adults £6.00, children £4.50, family £20, open 10am-4.30pm (last entry 3.30pm)
Grisly Gore Tour, Nottingham
Nottingham’s City of Caves attraction is adding an extra fright factor to its actor-led tours of the city’s atmospheric underground network of sandstone caves. You’ll encounter stinky smells and freaky feeling boxes – and maybe even a ghost or two – as well as the usual historic sights that include a medieval well and tannery and the slums of Drury Hill. There will also be free daily activities for children.
• cityofcaves.com, 0115 988 1955, until 28 October, 10.30am – 4pm, adults £6.50, children £5.50, family £17.50, booking recommended
Frightwater Valley Halloween Festival, Ripon, North Yorkshire
If you’re looking for a more hair-raising experience, head for Lightwater Valley Theme Park near Ripon. The park’s thrill rides and roller coasters will take on a Halloween theme, with highlights including the Haunting of Skeleton’s Cove (the pirate-themed area of the park), getting lost at the Horror Maze and a live Raptor Attack dark ride set in an abandoned mineshaft. They’ll also be magic shows and some rides will be operating in the dark – and the promotional trailer is pretty scary too!
• Advance booking recommended. lightwatervalley.co.uk, 31 October to 4 November, 10am-7pm, online booking £16pp, standard day ticket £19 (under 1.3m in height) or £23 (over 1.3m in height)
The Ghost’s Touch, Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
Catch this heart-thumping new play by John Goodrum at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield on 1 November. Adapted from a short story by Wilkie Collins – the author of the Woman in White – it follows widower Stephen Rayburn’s encounter with a ghostly woman whose tangled past with the dead threatens to spill out from beyond the grave.
• Advance booking required. windingwheel.co.uk, 1 November, 7.30pm, adults £14, children £8.50
Meet the Owls and More, Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
It’s reputedly one of Britain’s most haunted castles and ghost spotting aside, there’s plenty of Halloween activities for all the family to try. Meet Foppletwig the Genie Hunter and his baby dragon Ozric, enjoy creepy crafts and face painting, take part in the fancy dress competition or older children can brave the maze (over 12s). There will also be a new Creepy Owl Crypt this year, where you can come face to face with feathery members from the World Owl Trust. After dusk, the gardens will be transformed into a mile-long route of spooky lights and sounds, and there’ll be evening ghost tours.
• Advance booking recommended, and required for ghost tour. muncaster.co.uk, 01229 717614, 27 October to 3 November; general entry to castle, gardens, maze and owl centre, adults £13, children £7.50, under fives free; ghost tour (includes general entry), adults £19.50, children £9.50, under fives free, 15% off all prices if booked online
A haunted “village” comes to life in the grounds of Kentwell Hall in Suffolk every autumn, and daring souls are invited to follow a dimly lit trail through dark rooms, forests and farmlands while ghosts and other creatures of the night may appear at any moment. The award-winning experience will last about an hour, and is not recommended for the faint hearted or young children.
• Advance booking required. scaresville.co.uk, 01787 310207; £14.95-£24.95 on selected days until 3 November
The Insect Circus, Jacksons Lane, London
Join a circus of bugs, beasts and creepy crawlies as they take to the stage for a family extravaganza. The insect-attired actors perform a range of circus feats and tricks, with lots of silliness in between. For Halloween the audience is invited to come dressed in their best bug outfits.
• Suitable for anyone over the age of two. Advance booking required.jacksonslane.org.uk, 020 8341 4421, 29 October to 2 November; £12.95/£10.95, family £40 for four people
Ghost Trail, Castle Fraser, Inverurie, and Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland
Scotland’s castles provide the perfect setting for ghostly-goings on. Spooks will come alive at Castle Fraser where kids can explore the building’s colourful and haunted past as they complete the Halloween quiz. Alternatively, they can have their faces painted in a ghostly style, get a gory scar in the great hall, try their hands at creating some scary crafts, or listen to some haunted tales in the library. At Glamis Castle in Angus there’ll be a ghostly guided tour and storytelling. Dress up for the chance to win a prize. And visitors to Scone Palace in Perthshire, once the crowning place of the Kings of Scots, can listen to storytelling around the ancient graveyard and take part in spooky witches, goblins and Dracula puppet making workshops, then watch a puppet show.
• nts.org.uk/Property/Castle-Fraser-Garden-Estate, 0844 4932167, 13-27 October, 12pm-4pm; adults £9.50, children £3, family £23, no booking required. Glamis Castle: Halloween at Glamis 6, 7, and 8pm, 27 & 28 October, adults £9.25, child £6.75, family (two adults, two children) £27.50. Scone Palace: 27 & 28 October. Puppet workshop: £10 including access to the grounds and puppet show. Storytelling: £12.50 adults, £5 children.
Welsh Witches and Wizards, Chepstow Castle, Wales
This impressive cliff-top castle dates back to Norman times, so it’s sure to harbour some gory stories within its walls. But on 27 and 28 October the tales will be of Welsh witches and wizards, from ancient myths and legends to spells and potions to cast away gloomy weather.
• cadw.wales.gov.uk, 01291 624065, open 9.30am-5pm (until 31 Oct then 10am-4pm from 1 Nov); adults £4, children £3.60, family £11.60 (2 adults and children)
Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire
Prepare to be spooked as you join the castle’s paranormal team for a six-hour night-time investigation into areas of the castle usually off limits to visitors. In a slightly less scary tour, hear real life paranormal accounts on a ghost walk of the castle after dark, followed by a trip into the cellars. For little ones there’ll be horrible stories about the castle’s ghosts and ghouls – come in your best scary outfit.
• Paranormal tour: 9-3pm, 26 October, £60 per person. After dark ghost walk (12 years old and over): 27 & 31 October, adults £8, children £4. Scary stories (five and over): 5.30-7.30pm, 27 & 31 October, adults £8, children £4. bodelwyddan-castle.co.uk, 01745 584060