Illustration by Brooke Costello (see below for more details).
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but Halloween seems to have crept up on us unsuspecting UK folk. Long celebrated in the US, it was never something I got particularly excited over as a child and I genuinely can’t remember there being quite such a build up to the 31st October as there is these days. Then again, I was dressed in a ‘Jesus loves me’ tshirt and bundled off to a light party at church every year so its probably no wonder…
Anyway, perhaps in an effort to make up for lost time, this year I’m really looking forward to Halloween. Oliver and I are planning on carving a pumpkin to display in the window of our sixth floor flat (so purely for our own childish enjoyment) and I might even splash out on some black nail varnish for the occasion.
If you’re not feeling dressing up à la Mean Girls and partying the night away with a ‘bloody’ mary cocktail – me neither – take a look at my favourite alternative ways to spend the night in the city (and by ‘alternative’ I mean there isn’t a zombie costume in sight).
1. Ghost Walks
Take a spooky walking tour with the guys at www.walks.com. Try the ‘Ghosts of the Old City’ walk leaving from St Paul’s station at 7:30pm, or the ‘Ghosts, Gaslights and Guinness’ tour leaving from Holborn tube at 7pm (I think this one might involve beer!). Walks cost £9 – particularly good value if you manage to spot an actual ghost.
2. Witches and Wicked Bodies at The British Museum
Free, and open late Fridays so you can go after dark. This exhibition examines the portrayal of witches and witchcraft in art from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century, featuring prints and drawings by artists including Dürer, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Great stuff if you’re fancying a particularly cultured All Hallows’ Eve.
3. The Ten Bells
Our friendly neighbourhood local has links to the one and only Jack the Ripper. For the less physically and culturally inclined (don’t fancy walking and not interested in visiting a museum/theatre) you could always just head to the pub. This particular pub is said to have served Annie Chapman her last pint before she met a gruesome end courtesy of Jack, which means its acceptable to drink here on the 31st and claim you’re celebrating Halloween.
4. East Cemetery candle-lighting late opening for All Saints’ Evening
And just in case you’re anything like my ten year old self and don’t wish to celebrate the night of the dead, why not head out on All Saints’ Day instead for a special candle lighting ceremony at Highgate Cemetery? I’ve wanted to visit the cemetery ever since reading ‘Her Frightful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger (author of Time Traveller’s Wife) so you might bump into me there.
The beautiful halloween illustration above was drawn by the lovely Brooke Costello. You can see more of her work on her website.