7 Spooky Attractions for Halloween in London
PHOTO: Kensal Green is one of the Magnificent Seven spooky cemeteries in London. (Photo by Adam Moriarty)
London has history at every turn, but it also has plenty of spooky scenes also. October sees plenty of events to get the heart racing during Halloween at some of its well-known sights—and some lesser-known venues also.
More than 300 women were murdered in witch trials between 1644 and 1646. They were tortured until they “confessed,” or tied to a chair and thrown in deep water. If they floated they were deemed to be a witch, and if they drowned they were not. At The London Dungeons (Oct. 1-31) you’ll be lured into a witch-finders den to take part in a chilling witch-hunt, with tales of sorcery and witchcraft. You can also meet a coven of witches, plus plenty of edge-of-the-seat surprises.
The Ragged School Museum
On a Haunted Happenings ghost hunt (Oct. 29), once the doors are locked and the lights are out, there’s no going back. Noted for its apparitions and poltergeist activity, staff here is convinced it has “a sinister presence,” with recorded tormented cries, laughing and bangs.
On the night, you’ll take part in workshops to learn how to use the ghost-hunting equipment, including a ouija board, dowsing rods, glass divination and table tipping. The brave can then try seances and lone vigils where you can ask questions to spirits using a sensitive recorder. You might not hear their answer until you play it back. Sounds scary? It’s nothing compared to the lone vigil you can opt for in the basement or upstairs cupboard.
The Magnificent Seven London Cemeteries
As the resting place of Karl Marx, Highgate is the best known of these, where you can see his grave in its east side. On a guided tour of its west side, you’ll also see catacombs.
Abney Park in Stoke Newington is now a nature reserve that leads to a derelict Gothic chapel—which you’ll probably have to yourself.
If that’s not spooky enough, then visit Kensal Green, an eerie resting place inspired by Paris’s Pere Lachaise cemetery. You can tour its 130 listed tombs, memorials and mausoleums every Sunday.
The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs
The chances of bumping into a tortured spirit here at the London Bridge Experience are pretty high, when you realize that it’s built on an old plague pit. It’s even more scary when you visit in the dead of night. Over-16s can join the after-hours Phobophobia. During Halloween week (Oct. 22-31), enter into the Nightmare of the Ventriloquist, where puppets are out to play and want you to join in on their games. But beware, they don’t have strings to hold them back and they might catch you. As you delve deeper through the vaults, discarded marionettes may be lurking in the shadows—and they’re dying to meet you.
The palace has events to suit all ages, from spooky-themed crafts and a pumpkin parade in next-door Bishop’s Park for little ones (30 Oct.), while those ages 8-to-12 can taste all things ghoulish in the palace’s "Bones, Bats and Bumps in the Night" workshop (Oct. 25). As well as learning about the nocturnal world of owls, they’ll discover how bats hunt for insects using a high-frequency system humans can’t hear, before examining skeletons. Once night falls, the fear factor ramps up and older teenagers will yelp with terror on an after-hours ghost tour (Oct. 30), or an after-hours tour (Oct. 31), with footsteps in an empty hallway and more spooky events.
PHOTO: Have a terrifyingly Transylvanian night with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Photo courtesy BFI)
Get spooked at BFI Southbank, celebrating the 35th anniversary of “Shock Treatment,” the 1981 follow-up to the 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Oct. 29). During the day you can meet the cast of the films and have a Transylvanian makeover in time for the film screenings. An international cast of Rocky Horror performers from the UK, U.S. and Europe perform numbers from both films live onstage while the films screen in the background. Later on you can join the cast and crew in the Benugo Bar and Kitchen for the Time Warp Ball, complete with Transylvanian cocktails and spooky tunes.
Tower of London
We often wish walls could talk, but in the case of the Tower of London you might be glad they don’t. Over the past 1,000 years it’s seen the execution of 11 spies and is the resting place of tortured souls from its former prison in the long-gone chapel graveyard. Immerse yourself in its past in Blood and Jewels (Oct. 11), an after-hours illustration class. As you listen to myths and legends, such as the attempted theft by Colonel Blood, you’ll sketch contemporary crowns made by the designer Hysteria Machine and costumed characters including Kika von Macabre and a skull-faced catacomb saint dressed in gold and pearls.
This story by Sarah Riches first appeared on WhereTraveler.com.
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