Halloween 1: Light

There are too many Halloween events to fit manageably into a single post. So this is Part 1. The distinction between Light and Dark is rather arbitrary; when a festival is supposed to be blood-curdling, is it possible to talk about family events?

Ghost Halloween preview family events

When you go to watch your team play away, you often think there’s a ghost of a chance. This time of year brings a chance of a ghost.

There are ghost-related events throughout the year in many towns, but some of those have a tired, routine, commercial feel. The approach of Halloween provides a shot in the supernatural arm.

Like Christmas, Halloween starts earlier every year. (Easter, in obedience to calculations* of obscure origin, starts earlier in 2024 and 2027.)

On 21 Sep, then, visitors to Cardiff (among others the supporters of Middlesbrough) can enjoy St Fagans Museum Ghost Tours where “no nonsense, no gimmicks” are promised, and where you will learn “why Wales could be the world’s most haunted country!”

The following weekend, on 27 Sep, Blackpool’s Ghost Tram will clank along the Prom, illuminated. The Illuminations were switched on in 1959 by buxom bombshell Jayne Mansfield, a devotee of the man who later (1966) founded the Church of Satan in the USA. Or you could take in the Blackpool Tower Dungeon for a brush with the Pendle Witches. Lincoln City – known as the Imps, notoriously unpredictable creatures of legend – are the visitors.

On 5 Oct, when Sheffield United visit Watford, Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Industry offers Dark Arts for “fans of Death Eaters, daring duels and Hallowe’en feasts”. Just think: 100 hand-carved pumpkins, no two alike. It will be like the average residential street, but not as cheap.

Lincoln Castle Prison Bolton Wanderers Lincoln City
Lincoln Castle incorporates a prison, a Spooky Prison for the visit of Bolton Wanderers on 26 Oct

Castles are among the oldest buildings in the realm and hence the most likely to be haunted. Spooky Carlisle Castle will coincide with the visit of Northampton Town to Brunton Park on 22 Oct. How spooky? Well, the castle closes at 4pm; it will have to be seriously overcast for darkness to have fallen. At Rochester it’s the Pumpkin Trail that is Spooky, so if your 5-12yr-olds support Peterborough, take them on the way to the Gillingham game on 19 Oct. Lincoln Castle incorporates a prison, which becomes a Spooky Prison for the visit of Bolton Wanderers on 26 Oct.

26 Oct marks the last day of Bicton Park’s Halloween activities as well as Exeter City’s derby with Plymouth.

Derby Museum Japanese Ghosts and Demons Trail Middlesbrough
Derby Museum’s Japanese Ghosts and Demons Trail – apparently there are more than 90 ways to say ‘ghost’ in Japanese

Middlesbrough will again be the visitors (to Derby on 2 Nov) when Derby Museum holds its Japanese Ghosts and Demons Trail. If you’re taking the family to the match, the museum says this is suitable for 5-15yr-olds.

Portsmouth is the place for post-Halloween warming-down. ‘Haunted Histories from the View’ spans Halloween, running from 26 Oct-3 Nov. It’s a presentation of ghost stories told 100 metres above the city, plus virtual reality, and on 2 Nov Oxford United fans might take a look.

* The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox, aka 21 March.

Egypt around every corner

Bolton is the place to be for Egyptologists this autumn. On 22 September the Egyptology gallery of Bolton Museum will re-open with a full-size reproduction of the burial chamber of Thutmose III.
The first away fans to be able to treat themselves to this reconstruction of a site in the Valley of the Kings will be Derby County’s on 29 September. Blackburn Rovers are there on 6 October, followed by Nottingham Forest on 24 October and Hull City on 27 October.
But Bolton isn’t the only destination on the football league itinerary for Egyptian collections:
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has two Egyptian galleries through the city’s association with noted Egyptologist Francis Llewellyn Griffith.
Derby Museum has two mummies (one partially unwrapped) and a number of grave objects.
Leicester New Walk Museum has a two refurbished Egyptian galleries re-opening on 20 October, when there will be family activities and three times as many artefacts as previously displayed.
Liverpool had an Egyptian Museum as long ago as 1852. Now its World Museum claims to have the “largest Ancient Egypt gallery outside the British Museum”.
Macclesfield’s West Park Museum houses the collection of Victorian thrill-seeker Marianne Brocklehurst, a voracious shopper as well as a skilled artist and engaging diary-keeper.
Manchester Museum’s collection includes objects that found their way up to Lancashire through the funding of Sir Flinders Petrie’s expeditions by industrialist Jesse Haworth
Norwich Castle has an Egyptian gallery stocked with artefacts donated by local mustard magnate Jeremiah Colman and author Henry Rider Haggard.
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has about 50,000 objects from Egypt and Sudan.
Rochdale’s Touchstones has a Heritage Gallery with plenty of Egyptian interest, much of it supplied indirectly by Sir Flinders Petrie, a pioneer of archaeology and Egyptology.
Swansea’s Egypt Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The Museum of Wigan Life has an Egyptian section in which pride of place goes to a mask 3,500 years old.

All this information and more is in Towns of Two Halves. Order your copy from info@townsof2halves.co.uk