As the witching hour approaches, it’s time to saddle your broomsticks and get into Halloween mode. And I’m not talking about trick-or-treating for sickly sweets or chasing after your little ghouls and vampires. Nay, this grisly post is for grown-ups only with some hair-raising Halloween London events into which you can really sink your teeth. Here are 15 creepy crawly things to do on Halloween for adults in London.
“Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.” (Arthur Conan Doyle)
London Month of the Dead
Throughout October Antique Beat and A Curious Invitation host The London Month of the Dead, a series of 42 different events investigating the capital’s relationship with its deceased residents. Each talk will feature an authority in a field such as osteology, forensic pathology and the paranormal, who will offer their own perspectives and insights on mortality in the city. After hours performances in cemeteries include storytelling, a vampire opera and a Frankenstein themed magic lantern slide show. Book here.
The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre
Leave your nerves at home for this one. Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 Gothic horror story has been haunting the London stage for 30 years, and it’s just as popular as it ever was. Lawyer Arthur Kripps (Stuart Fox) believes his family is cursed by the spectre of an Alice Drablow. He employs a young actor (Matthew Spencer) to narrate his story in the hopes that this will exorcise the shadowy apparition that continues to haunt him. As the story unfolds, expect clever lighting effects with ghostly apparitions, creaking furniture, things that go bump in the stalls and quickening of heartbeats. Book here.
Sutton House Ghost Tour
Hackney’s oldest house is reputed to be one of the most haunted buildings in London. Learn about the ancient tunnel alleged to run beneath the streets of Hackney, the wailing woman in white, the angry Victorian with a horsewhip and the Georgian neighbours from hell. Mid-way through the tour, enjoy another glass of prosecco in the lavish Tudor Great Chamber. Once the tour is over, there will be an opportunity to explore the house at your own pace… if you dare. Book here.
Gothic Stories for Grown-ups at Strawberry Hill
Explore Horace Walpole’s Gothic masterpiece this Halloween. On arrival you will be greeted at the castle gates by Walpole’s valet for a pre-tour glass of fizz. One of the guides will then collect you for a 60-minute tour of the house where you will be able to explore all that is gothic and gloomth. 31 October and 1 November. Book here.
Hampton Court Ghost Tours
Enjoy a spooky evening walking tour with stories of ghosts and paranormal activity at Hampton Court Palace. From 31 October. Book here.
The Langham Hotel
The Langham Hotel boasts London’s largest congregation of ghosts – from a man in Victorian dress who haunts Room 333 during October to the ghost of Napoleon III who was once a guest here and likes to wander around the basement. I like to head down to the Artesian Bar for a restorative drink and for one of my favourite tipples in London – a blood-red Negroni.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” (William Shakespeare)
Old Operating Theatre Museum
It’s Europe’s oldest surviving surgical theatre, and that’s before anaesthetics existed which is enough to make you shudder. The museum of surgical history is accessed by a steep spiral staircase which leads up to the roof of St Thomas’s Church. The museum holds Victorian surgery demonstrations during weekends (eek) and there’s a host of autumnal events guaranteed to make you squirm. More here.
Tower of London at Halloween
Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London lead exclusive tours, taking in some of its gruesome sights and extraordinary stories. You will have unique after-hours access to the UK’s most visited historic attraction. Take in world famous sights such as Traitors’ Gate, the Scaffold Site and the Bloody Tower, and be appalled and amazed by tales of prisoners and past residents, of royal gossip and of the secrets kept within these ancient walls. Book here.
Halloween at Handel and Hendix
Head over to Handel and Hendrix where there will be live operatic performances and Baroque music throughout the evening. A variety of Georgian characters from Handel’s London will be brought to life in the great composer’s Music & Composition Rooms. Over in Jimi Hendrix’s flat, there will be film projections, life-drawing and even more live music with some psychedelic tunes. Enjoy some tarot reading and a glass or two from the pop-up bar. More information here.
Grab a wig at the Victoria Palace
You might get more than you bargained for when you catch a performance of ‘Hamilton’ at the Victoria Palace. The VP may be one of London’s hottest theatres but it’s also one of London’s most haunted. I used to spend a fair bit of time working on a project here back in the early 90s and I can confirm it most certainly has a hair-raising vibe, especially when you wander around after-hours. It’s said that one of the dressing room doors locks and unlocks itself at will, and that wigs sometimes fly around of their own accord. Boo!
Emery Walker House Twilight Tour
Experience Emery Walker’s exquisite Arts and Crafts home by candlelight on a guided tour. Drinks will be served in the garden (subject to weather) beforehand.
Murder Ahoy at the Cutty Sark
Someone has been killed aboard Cutty Sark on the darkest night of the year. It’s up to you to find out who. Immerse yourself in this thrilling mystery and do your best to catch the cold-blooded killer before time runs out. Use your powers of detection, interrogation and sleuthing prowess to succeed. Dress code: 1920s dinner party chic. Book here.
Carnivale The Dark and the DamnedThis Halloween, London will see Carnivale: The Dark and the Damned take place over a three-night period. It’s a hedonistic, immersive club night featuring over 20 theatre performances, carnival games such as target practice and fortune teller challenges, club DJs performing until 3am and two frightful scare mazes packed with nasty surprises. Tickets start at just £5. Book here.
Halloween tea with Hemsley and Hemsley at Selfridges
The queens of gluten-free have given their traditional afternoon tea spread a seasonal twist, so expect some surprisingly delicious sandwich fillings, autumnal cakes, quinoa scones with homemade blood-red chia jam and organic clotted cream. The evening will begin at 4:30pm with a welcome glass of our zero-dosage champagne (mocktails available too). Tickets £50 each. Book here.
Dickens After Dark at the Charles Dickens Museum
Experience what it was like to be in a Victorian home after dark as you delve into the unseen mysteries of the future with tarot card readings. Work your way through the eerie depths of the historic house for some beloved Dickensian storytelling. Actor Dominic Gerrard will be performing dramatic extracts in the dark, cut from many a frightening tale. Book here.
Ghost Hunt at the Garden Museum
Join the Garden Museum experts to explore the museum, discover its secrets and try to make contact with actual ghosts. Adventurers will use the latest ghost-detecting technology to investigate the hidden nooks and forgotten corners of the museum, including the iconic (and very haunted) 14th Century tower. Book here.
I was a guest of ‘The Woman in Black’ and Official London Theatre. As always, opinions are my own.