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.

A chance of a ghost

Halloween steam in Preston (pic by Gary Severn)

Halloween is on the horizon and this weekend’s fixtures (27/28 Oct) may take you somewhere with paranormal possibilities:

Barnsley (for Bristol Rovers) has a Pumpkin Festival at Cannon Hall Farm.

In Birmingham (for Sheffield Wednesday at Blues, Blackburn at West Bromwich, Wycombe at Walsall) the options are at Visit Birmingham.

Brighton (for Wolves) calls itself “one of the spookiest cities in the country”.

For Bristol (Stoke at Bristol City) go to Visit Bristol.

Burton (where the visitors are Peterborough): the National Forest Adventure Farm has Screamfest.

Cambridge (for Macclesfield Town) has Halloween Tours.

Colchester (for Lincoln City fans) has a genuine oddity: in The Cells, there’s the American Horror Lobster dinner.

Exeter (for Forest Green Rovers) has Witches & Wizards Tours.

For Leeds (where Forest play) family supporters should look at Yorkshire Tots.

Liverpool (for Cardiff, and Crawley at Tranmere) pushes the boat out at Visit Liverpool.

In London (for Bournemouth at Fulham, Ipswich at Millwall, Villa at QPR on Friday, Luton at AFC Wimbledon) there’s a Halloween Bus Tour among other events.

Nottingham (for Swindon at County) has a Mini-fest on the Old Market Square.

Preston (for Rotherham United fans and steam railway enthusiasts) offers Halloween Spooky Trains on Ribble Steam Railway.

Stoke (for Bury at Port Vale) has various things going on at Trentham.

Swansea (for Reading fans) has Spooks in the City.