23 UK Halloween Events for Families
Tired of trick or treat? Fancy getting yourself and the family a little spooked at Halloween? Looking for Halloween events for families? In this 2017 Halloween Roundup Post we pick out 23 events around the UK we think have potential to get you and the kids spooked in ways little or absolutely terrifyingly large, depending on your preference. From spooky castle capers to witching walks, ghostly galleons and scare mazes here’s our pick of what we’ve noticed going on around the UK this Halloween.
Spooky Castle Capers
Castles are a great place for spooky capers. Whether you take a guided tour or explore by yourself you know there’s bound to be some dark secrets down in the dungeons.
1 Monsters at Muncaster
Muncaster Castle in West Cumbria rates Halloween as one of its annual highlights and this year Halloween week runs from 26th-31st October. There’ll be more freshly scripted evening Halloween Ghost Tours of the Castle (booking essential) and the Twilight Spooky Owl Show is back too (tickets required as numbers are limited). Kids can mix potions and learn spells with the Black Monk, before getting lost in the Scary Maze, recommended for under 12’s. There’s also Halloween entertainment from the Muncaster Monster Cabaret. Book early if you want to do the castle ghost tours as they tend to sell out. And don’t forget your fancy dress and torch. Here’s a taste of this ‘most haunted’ castle in its Halloween glory.
2 Carlisle by Torchlight
If you want something a bit more low key, try Carlisle Castle where English Heritage is offering torchlight tours of the castle after dark, between 23rd – 27th October. The tour (recommended minimum age 14) runs 6.30-8.30pm and takes you around the dark creepy corridors and dank dungeons of the most besieged castle in the country. Remember to bring a torch though or you won’t see much. And watch out for the lonely ghost said to wander the grounds. If you don’t fancy the evening tour, the castle’s gruesome history is open to all 21st – 29th October from 11am-5pm for general spooky storytelling and creepy castle trails.
3 Warwick’s Most Haunted
Meanwhile Warwick Castle’s Halloween Week returns from 21st-31st October. ‘The Haunted Castle’ welcomes visitors to experience wanton witches, scary tales and fire jousting. There are fearful fun activities during the day (rated suitable for Scaredy Squires) with the scare factor being cranked up for Daring Dukes who choose to visit the creepy Dolls House or watch the fire jousting. At night Brave Nights can terrify themselves as there is special extended opening until 9pm. If you book early and online you can save up to 20% off some admission tickets. This year’s scariest experience is likely to be Outbreak 1349 in which you stand a good chance of catching the plague. Either that or the seance. Here’s a taste of a previous year’s Haunted Castle encounters.
4 Historical Horror Tours at Newcastle Castle
Newcastle Castle has a selection of ghostly events on this year including Historical Horror Tours on 20th and 21st October. These walking theatrical performances are designed to both inform and terrify you! Tours last 45 minutes and take place regular intervals between 5pm and 10pm. You will visit passageways and chambers accompanied by a costumed guide, meeting some ‘interesting’ characters from the building’s past. Minimum age is 15. Tickets are £10. People of nervous disposition should not apply!
If that sounds like too much there are some Halloween themed talks on. Aspiring ghost spotters might like “Visible Ghosts: What does a ghost look like?” and Halloween history buffs might enjoy “Halloween: the changing traditions” – tickets are £4.50, bookable in advance.
If it doesn’t sound terrifying enough then try the live theatre which returns to the castle with a new production, ‘Don’t Go Outside’ running from 23rd October – 5th November, nightly at 7.30 (except 28th). Set in Newcastle’s ancient fortress, this is a site specific, terrifyingly immersive play, exploring human nature, and what we will do to stay alive when the end of the world is very near. The faint hearted are not welcome and there is an age restriction of sixteen, so that gives you some idea of the fright level you can expect.
Ghost Walks and Tours
Ghost tours are popular all over the world and you’ll find them all around the UK. They range from the simple, family friendly walks with a guide telling spooky stories to full on live action role play events that aim to scare the living daylights out of you. Do check what you’re in for before you take the little ones! If walking is too much for you, you could always try a Ghost Bus Tour in either London, York or Edinburgh.
5 Buried under Edinburgh
In Edinburgh there are many different ghost tours to choose from. City of The Dead Tours were named Britain’s Best Ghost Walk by Scare.com and offer several different tours including a tour of The Underground City of the Dead and a Haunted Graveyard tour. There are lots of extra tours scheduled for Halloween week. Or you could organise your own using the Haunted Edinburgh app.
Edinburgh’s Mercat Tours also have a wide selection of Halloween tours available with something to suit all ages and interests. There are special Gory Story tours suitable for families with young kids and older teens will probably enjoy the special late night midnight ghost walks and tours of the Blair Street Underground Vaults. Here’s a taste of what we experienced when we visited the Blair Street Vaults.
6 Meet the Ghosts of York
In York the Ghost Hunt of York runs all year round, departing every night (except Christmas) from The Shambles at 7.30pm. No need to book, not even for Halloween but do turn up early as it will be busy. Reductions are available for boils and ghouls.
7 Medical Gore in London
If you are closer to London why not visit the Old Operating Theatre for a disturbing look into old medical and surgical practices. They have a series of graphic gory talks on during October and November on diverse themes like Trauma in the 19th Century, Tales from the Dark Side – The Night of the Bodysnatcher, and Music Inspired by Illness in the Pre-Anaesthetic Era. There’s also a Dracula film night. Suitable for over 7s apparently but you may wish to check that! Booking recommended as capacity is limited. And be aware the museum is only accessible by a 52-spiral staircase.
8 Ghostly Theatreland
Staying in London, if medical gore isn’t your thing and you want something more cultured, what about a Haunted Theatreland Walking Tour. A great way to discover some of the capital’s haunted theatres. Tours are on demand and will introduce you (hopefully not literally) to the ghost clown, the phantom prompter and other characters from the theatre’s dark side. If culture’s not your thing, check out these other London Ghost tour ideas,
9 In the Dark in Newcastle
In Newcastle and Durham Alone In The Dark Entertainment run ghost tours and events all year round. There are lots of different walks, guides and haunted locations and there’s a special programme of events for Halloween week. In Newcastle their number one ghost walk “Till Death Do Us Part” is very popular and booking is recommended, especially since it is 10 years old this year.
In Durham, strange events take place at the very Haunted Finchale Farm with scary stories, ghost sightings and paranormal activity expected in a haunted woodland with ruins and barns dating back to the 1100’s. All tours feature free Halloween candy so that should calm nerves, shouldn’t it?
10 Zombie apocalypse
If ghosts are not your thing and you like a walk with a theme, you might enjoy a zombie walk or run. At many of these events you can take part as either a runner or a zombie, assuming you have a zombie costume?
On Saturday 28th October there is a Zombie Survival Run in Newbury. This includes a 5km inflatable obstacle course to get around, obviously while being chased by live zombies. How hard can that be? The video below gives an idea of what to expect. There will also be zombies on the loose in the North East on Sunday 29th October when ZombieRunUK will be organising an outbreak of plague at Witton Castle, Bishop Auckland.
If the Zombies are putting you off there’s an easy family friendly 5km Halloween Fun Run in Manchester on 29th October, part of the Manchester Halloween Festival (see below). The event starts and finishes outside the Grade 1 listed Heaton Hall, where lots of activity will be there to entertain you including a ‘spooky sound system’ and some ‘revolting refreshments’. You can walk, jog or run the route, but do watch out for the spooky residents of Heaton Park that will be around the course looking out for you!
Ghosts on the Water
Ghost ships, sea monsters, creatures from the deep; what could be scarier than being out on the water? If you’re a water baby you might like these ideas for a Halloween boat trip. And if you’re scared of the water, then maybe you should do them anyway.
11 Ghostly Galleon
Up in the North, Ullswater Steamers are offering a cruise on a Ghostly Galleon with two departures from Glenridding on Saturday 28th October They’ll be magic, monsters and magical mayhem onboard. The cruises depart at 12.30pm and 2.30pm and last 90 minutes. Tickets are £13 per spook, under 3s free which includes cruise, monster balloon, sweeties and tea/coffee or pumpkin squash. Dogs not permitted.
13 Catching a chill on the canal
Back in London, the Canal Museum is offering Halloween themed narrowboat trips through the dark dank Islington Tunnel. The boat will be specially decorated for trips running on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October, driven by a supernatural being with witches for crew. Let’s hope they’ve passed their test! Places are limited on each trip. There are also some Halloween activities in the museum itself including a ghost storyteller and a spooky treasure hunt. After all that you never know your little ones might be wanting to go to bed before dark!
13 Royal Maritime Greenwich Ghost Tour
If you like the idea of a watery grave then why not head to Greenwich to discover the darker side of this maritime obsessed part of London. Learn about the drunken sailors sent to “Shanghai”, hear about the Cutty Sark Curse, explore hidden lanes, the creepiest tunnel in the UK and visit Charles Dickens’ favourite haunted pub. Royal Maritime Greenwich Ghost Tours run every Saturday, start at 7.30 and last 90 minutes. Tickets are £14.
14 Halloween Mini Cruise
If you want to go further afield, DFDS will be offering a 2 night Halloween mini cruise to Amsterdam, complete with Halloween themed fancy dress, prizes, games and live entertainment. You also get five hours to explore the horrors of Amsterdam.
Dungeons, Fright Nights & Scarefests
If you want to take the family somewhere more action packed, then a few of the UK’s big attractions are getting in on the Halloween act. And I mean they are trying to outdo each other in a scarily big way. Bigger and scarier each year it seems.
15 Scarefest at Alton Towers
Alton Towers Scarefest is spooking people on 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th & 20th – 31st October. There’s a range of Halloween themed activities during the day and you can board your favourite rides after dark in two Scare Zones. For an additional ticket over 15’s can get lost in three terrifying Scare Mazes.
16 Fright Nights at Thorpe Park
Not to be ‘overshadowed’, Thorpe Park is offering its Fright Nights again this year on 6th – 8th, 13th – 15th, 20th – 31st October. There’s new live action experiences for 2017 with Living Nightmare and Sanctum and plenty of old favourites return. Platform 15 is back, a one way ticket down an overgrown railway line inhabited by restless souls. Will it be the end of the line for you? Other live action movie themed Scare Mazes return including Saw Alive, Big Top and Containment, an experience in which groups of ten get locked in four haunt rooms tasked with breaking the codes to get out.
If you’re a screamer and you’d rather not be heard you can also book a special VIP ticket to visit a maze alone when no one will hear you scream. The fright night attractions are described as intense and not recommended for anyone under 13. All that and the usual thrilling rides in the dark including the Swarm, the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, SAW – The Ride’s 100ft ‘beyond vertical’ drop and Stealth, one of Europe’s fastest and tallest rollercoasters.
17 Walk into London’s dark past
The London Bridge Experience and Tombs claims to be the UK’s scariest all year round attraction. Inside you take a journey around the dark streets of London exploring the secrets and smells that lie beneath the world’s most famous and haunted bridge. Beyond the bridge you visit the Tombs where humans and animatronics will help you laugh, scream and cry as you come face to face with dark characters from London’s past. If you are visiting with little ones (or are a bit of a scaredy cat yourself) you can ask for a Guardian Angel tour to avoid the scariest encounters.
18 Into the Dungeon with You
If you think the Halloween season just gets longer and longer you may be right. The London Dungeon, ‘the home of Halloween’ is marking it for a whole month with all sorts of putrid goings on. While the Dungeon is scary all year round, the scares are ramped up for Halloween month with Full Steam Ahead in which you are invited to take a one way ticket for the scariest journey of the 19th Century on board the Death Express, an old London railway that transported the deceased. Under 16’s must be accompanied. Scottish families might prefer The Edinburgh Dungeon. It’s not more comfortable but perhaps a little more convenient.
19 Get Drawn at The Tower
This Halloween, the Tower of London is offering a special activity in which you can experience the the eerie atmosphere of the Tower at night in an unusual immersive drawing event run by Art Macabre. In Drawn at the Tower guest artist Matt Valentine will help you explore the dark arts drawing on inspiration from 16th Century woodcut illustrations depicting witch rituals. Be prepared to be put under a spell as Art Macabre have a reputation for injecting a lethal dose of theatricality into drawing using elements of story telling, performance, music and theatre.
20 A Right Royal Spooking
At Hampton Court Palace there are three special Halloween Ghost Tours taking place Halloween night, 31st October. The Family Ghost Tour starts at 6.30pm, (min age 8). On this evening walk you will hear stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity at the palace. An adult ghost tour starts at 7.15pm (min age 15). And then there’s a late night special (over 18s only) starting at 10.20pm that will take you further into the deepest and darkest secrets of the palace, from the place where two bodies were discovered in shallow graves in the 1870s to the haunted realm of former Grace and Favour apartments, taking in parts of the palace normally closed to visitors. Tickets are selling fast so book early. Tours also run on selected evenings throughout the year so if you can’t make Halloween, check the website for alternatives.
21 Scale the Dome
If you’re in London and like being out in the dark then you could go looking for ghosts up over London. Down at the Greenwich Peninsular you won’t need a broomstick to fly over the Thames; you can take a twilight cable car on the Emirates Airline Cable Car. While you’re there visit the 02 Arena and you can climb up and scale the dome, climbing over the roof on a special walkway. Book onto a sunset or twilight tour with a few ghoulish sweets in your pocket for that special Halloween feeling.
22 Spooktacular Party
If you want to leave the kids at home and party yourself then Heart Of England near Coventry are hosting their annual Spooktacular party, this year called Boo. There are events on 27th and 28th October and entry includes cocktails, three course carvery and an evening of spooktacular interactive entertainment. It’s compulsory fancy dress with hearses at 1am for any survivors. This year they’ve teamed up with Masters of Horror AREA 51, to bring you a truly terrifying encounter with a twist.
23 Halloween in the City
Manchester has a Halloween festival with plenty of tricks and treats. Come nightfall some of the city centre’s most iconic buildings will be lit up in a gory green for Halloween including Manchester Town Hall, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. There’s a special Halloween pop up cinema at the Victoria Baths with screenings of Hocus Pocus, Beetle Juice and The Addams Family. There’s a trick or treat trail around the city, a haunted maze, spooky stage acts, a goth catwalk show and a Day of the Dead-style parade. Head to Market Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, Deansgate and King Street for two days of Halloweekend family friendly fun.
More Ideas for Outdoor Halloween Activities
For more Halloween Ideas check out this post on 13 cheap and free things you can do outdoors for spooky Halloween fun.