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Top 9 things to do this Halloween

16 October 2017
Posted By:
Jamie Bellinger
Things To Do

Halloween is almost here, and our historic places across the country are preparing for some spooktacular spectacles and fearsome nights of frights. From terrifying ghost tours to crafts and activities for the kids, here’s a few of the ways in which you can get involved with English Heritage this Halloween, wherever you are.

1. Visit a creepy castle

What could be more fitting at Halloween than the soaring towers and dark tunnels of a creepy castle? From Carlisle Castle with its gruesome past of war and imprisonment to Dover Castle where a headless drummer boy is said to walk at night, we’ve highlighted some of England’s creepiest castles for you to explore this Halloween, if you dare.

Dover Castle in Kent and Framlingham Castle in Suffolk

Dover Castle in Kent and Framlingham Castle in Suffolk

2. Visit our historic buildings after dark 

New for 2017, our after dark events are an opportunity to step inside our castles, abbeys and historic houses after the sun goes down. But beware: this is not for the faint-hearted. Will you keep your cool as we mess with your head in the dark? Can you keep it together as the gruesome stories of days gone by come to life before your eyes? Expect the unexpected when you book for our after dark events this year.

3. Curl up with eight exclusive historical ghost stories

This Halloween, eight award-winning contemporary authors have contributed to our first ever published book of fiction. Writers including Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent) and Max Porter (Grief is the Thing with Feathers) have contributed exclusive ghost stories inspired by English Heritage sites. All eight stories feature in the Eight Ghosts hardback book, available to buy at our historic places or in our online shop.

4. …and meet the authors of Eight Ghosts 

To experience the haunting historic places that inspired our eight ghost stories, head to one of the sites and meet the author. From Max Porter at Eltham Palace to Kamila Shamsie at Kenilworth Castle, these exclusive events are an opportunity to hear readings from the authors themselves, in the very settings that inspired their spooky stories.

Mark Haddon at York Cold War Bunker, the location that inspired his story ‘The Bunker’

5. Hear haunting tales from Dover and Audley End

In two brand new episodes of the English Heritage podcast, join us to explore some strange happenings at two of England’s most spectacular historical buildings. In episode 1, join Historic Property Steward Gavin Wright for an after-hours tour of Dover Castle, where horrifying tales from the past are said to come to life. Then in episode 2, join Property Supervisor Katy Blows at Audley End House to explore some unexplained sights and sounds that she and other members staff have experienced first-hand.

Listen online or download to take both episodes with you on the go.

6. Find your medieval mythical beast

Gruesome griffin or monstrous manticore? Wicked wyvern or blood-curdling baselisk? Fearsome beasts were a key part of heraldic symbolism in medieval England, but which of these mythical monsters would you be? Take our beastly quiz this Halloween to find out. Just answer a few questions, give your beast a fearsome name, and we’ll do the rest. Then share the quiz with your friends to see how you compare.

7. Make your own beastly Halloween mask

If you’ve been inspired by discovering your monstrous medieval alter ego with our quiz, have a go at making a beastly mask for Halloween. Our historical mask kit has all the parts for creatures from lions and dogs to dragons and even the manticore. Just mix and match your favourite features to create your own unique creature.

8. See Dracula‘s inspiration in a new light

Experience the atmosphere that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula this Halloween, as Whitby Abbey is illuminated in a breathtaking show of colour. See The Count himself as the story of Dracula is brought to life, and wonder through the spectacular gothic ruins to see them like never before. Our Illuminated Abbey event takes place at Whitby Abbey from Wed 25 – Tue 31 October, and you can save 10% when you book online.

Whitby Abbey lit for the Illuminated Abbey event in October

Whitby Abbey lit for the Illuminated Abbey event in October

9. Explore our full events programme

For more events, activities and historical things to do this Halloween, visit our Halloween page where there’s plenty of inspiration for all ages. From a night of terror at Bolsover Castle’s Fright Fest to pumpkin carving and activities at Pendennis Castle or Belsay Hall, there’s something for everyone this Halloween – whether you’re timid, curious or truly fearless.

Find more events and things to do this Halloween 👻 

  • About the Author

    Jamie Bellinger
    Jamie is a writer and editor at English Heritage.


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