Top 10 Outdoor Halloween Ideas for families
This autumn, why not give your neighbours a rest and take the kids somewhere different for Halloween. You can do it the natural (and cheap) way by simply taking to the woods with a head torch as the witching hour descends, or hook onto an organised walk or spook-fest. In this top ten I’ve highlighted a few ways to scare the family silly in the UK, but there’s bound to be something similar near you.
Do It Yourself Witching
1 Go on a night hike
Attractions these days can be pretty sophisticated and some of the adult ones are downright scary. But there’s nothing quite as unsettling as the natural world in the dark. Why not tailor make your own DIY experience by taking the kids for a night hike on the 31st October? Even a swan on a canal can become a terrifying prospect when you’ve only a head torch for company. We know. We tried it. And it wasn’t even Halloween.
2 Have a woodland scarefest with a Blair Witch mission
Explore your local woodland together and make a scary movie. You don’t need a Hollywood crew, a mobile phone will do. One of the scariest Halloweens I ever had was when my brother-in- law took us into Ruislip woods armed with fire torches (don’t try this at home) to recreate Blair Witch. I was heavily pregnant at the time and nearly gave birth at one point! (Don’t try that at home either – unless you have a midwife and paddling pool lined up). Or go camping and let the owls spook you all night.
3 Halloween ambush – parents vs kids
Battlebox have some great kits for kids. One arrived at our door recently complete with stink bombs, marshmallows for the camp-fire, slingshots, camouflage suit and a whole array of other boys own materials. Have an outdoor ambush in the dark dressed as one of the undead and your night starts to become spooky. Adults against kids anyone? Or will it be too frightening for the grown ups? Check out our recent ambush experience.
Real life spooks
4 Find your local spooky historic sites
If you are in the UK you could make your way to Lancashire where locals are marking the 400th anniversary trial of the Lancashire Witches. You can go on a witching walk, follow the Lancashire Witches car trail or take a hike up Pendle Hill. You might find you have company though as interest in the witches is at a peak this year.
Alternatively, if you are anywhere near London on 28th October you can go on a Haunted Theatreland Walking Tour to discover the capital’s most haunted theatres and their ghastly secrets, as well as finding out the stories behind the superstitions. Watch out for the ghost clown and the beware of the phantom prompter. Unless you are learning lines as you go, in which case bring on those prompts!
Witching and walking
5 Go on a ghost walk.
These are popular all over the world. In Edinburgh you can join a ghost tour in some of the underground parts of the city. In York there’s a ghost hunt from The Shambles every night including Halloween itself or you can join a ghost walk at half term or any Saturday night leaving from the Roman Column at 7pm.
Alternatively you can join a Zombie walk or create your own walking community of lost souls. One of the best of the UK and now in its 6th year is the Zombie Parade in Brighton. It offers the chance to get undead by the seaside on the Beach of the Dead. All are welcome (but you have to either be or impersonate a zombie) on 20thOctober at 3pm at the West Pier. And you can dance with some horrible characters later at the Zombie Prom for the over 14′s.
The King of scares
6 Head to a castle or a keep
At Carlisle Castle, English Heritage is offering a ghosts and ghastly stories tour of the fortress between 29th October and 2nd November.
Meanwhile Warwick Castle’s Halloween Week returns with a scream and a moan and a spooky supper. Although if I asked our kids to try the deep fried cobwebs or the squashed fly cookies they might think it was a bit to much like home.
The Water Witch
7 Take to the water
The water is a dark and spooky place and there are plenty of options for scaring yourself while messing about on it. Find a place that has its own monster. Loch Ness or Windermere are both allegedly populated by ugly critters.
Windermere Cruises is running Ghost Ship cruises on Sunday 28 October, with live storytelling by the acclaimed Taffy Thomas, one of the country’s best traditional storytellers. A great way to see the Lake, learn a little history and maybe see a spook. Fancy dress welcome!
Staying in the North, Ullswater Steamers are offering a cruise on a Ghostly Galleon with two departures from Glenridding on October 31st. (12:30 and 3:00pm)
Further south, the famous Cutty Sark and Queen’s House has a Halloween Family Fun Day for little ones. You can discover the story of Nannie, Cutty Sark’s very own witch; create a fancy-dress accessory; take part in the Wicked Witches and Warlocks dance off and sing-a-long to witches’ songs. You can catch this X Factor for freaks on 28th October at 11am.
And on into the capital, London’s Canal Museum is offering a trip through Islington Tunnel on a narrowboat. The twist here is that a witch is driving the boat. On 27th and 28th October there will be all manner of surprises in the 192 year old tunnel as well as free sweets, the odd glowstick, and hopefully a fright. And if that doesn’t scare the wee ones, then try the ghost storyteller in the museum. You never know, they might be wanting to go to bed before dark!
Visit a big attraction for a high adrenaline thrill
8 Board a nightmare roller coaster or get lost in a deadly maze
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 in a big way. At Alton Towers Scarefest (on 13-14th October and again from 19th- 31st) you can board your favourite rides after dark. You can even stay in a Halloween themed room at the resort hotel. Even scarier is the Carnival of the Screams attraction with live actor. (If you like the live actor thing then you should also check out The London Dungeon where The Trickster will be hanging around).
On selected dates in October and November Thorpe Park will be offering not one but five horror mazes including a new one called The Passing. Now this sounds weird… apparently you will “experience the suffocating and claustrophobic terror of having your head confined and your sight removed by a hessian body bag as you face the unknown horrors of the after-life.” Huh? It’s not for the under 12′s but the teens might like it!
Buildings don’t often come as big as London’s O2. Half term week brings the chance to scale the dome. And if that isn’t terrifying enough on its own, you may find some trick or treats in the pockets of your jumpsuit.
9 Walk through the past
The London Bridge Experience offers to walk you through the streets of old London (without having to get out into the cold in real life) to meet such lovely characters as Jack The Ripper and Pumpkin Man. But for the little ones there’s also the chance to meet an angel.
Leave the kids at home
10 Get yourself seriously scared
For family members over 18, Newcastle’s Castle Keep is offering the chance to sleep on a prison floor, with escorted trips to the toilet during their HalloweenFest. It sounds more like scary boot camp than Halloween fun but if it floats your boat then send the kids to granny’s for the night and go with it.
Or you can run for your life across the fields at Heart Of England near Coventry where Birmingham Theatre School are helping to make the annual Spooktacular rather memorable. (26th and 27th October and 2nd and 3rd November).
And finally here’s a question for you…
Wellies… boots for wizards or wimps? Try out one of these outdoor ideas and let me know.