Spooky Halloween adventures

Spooky season has arrived and winter is on its way, so why not embrace the chill and have a go at some of our fun Halloween activities? From classic pumpkin carving and ghost stories, to some more unconventional activities like after hours ghost tours, you can feel spooked in any way you please.

Discover our Halloween events for 2019.

British folklore and the history of Halloween

Halloween – traditionally written as Hallowe’en – marks a time to welcome the darker evenings as we approach winter. In Tudor times, this was an opportunity to pray for the souls of the departed, and people would ring bells to help trapped souls in purgatory move on to their final resting places. To remember those who have moved on to the other side, offerings of flowers and lighted candles are traditionally left on All Hallows’ Eve (or All Soul’s Night). The Halloween festival is thought to have its origins in an older Celtic festival, Samhain, which marks the end of the harvest season.

Other rituals are embedded into the history of Halloween, like one from 19th century Buckinghamshire. Light a candle and insert two pins through the wick as it burns, while reciting: ‘It’s not this candle alone I stick, but [name]’s heart I mean to prick, whether they be asleep or awake, I’d have them come to me and speak’.

Read more about Halloween – and other folklore - in 'A Treasury of British Folklore' by Dee Dee Chainey.

Spooky Halloween adventures for kids

Spooky ghosts at Penrhyn Castle

Ghost stories

For Halloween 2019, why not give the kids a frighteningly memorable treat and take them to our ghost story sessions? Knightshayes in Devon is hosting storytelling sessions this Halloween, and the looming Gothic mansion is the perfect backdrop. Try your hand at crafting some stories yourself at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, where there will be Halloween-themed creative writing sessions.

Kids sit surrounded by Halloween objects

Creepy crafts

Looking for some fun crafts to do with kids this Halloween? You can create Halloween crafts like willow lanterns at Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses in Staffordshire, then go on a magical lantern procession through the woods as you look out for twinkling pumpkins dotted about. At Colby Woodland Green in Pembrokeshire you can craft your own mini wicker man out of willow, leaves, nuts and seeds to take home.

Pumpkins at Halloween at Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property in Buckinghamshire

Pumpkin carving

Get the kids really into the Halloween spirit and take them to a pumpkin carving event. Join the pumpkin carving fest at Morden Hall Park in London where you can pick your own pumpkin at the stables to carve and take home. Carve along with some experts at Winchester City Mill in Hampshire and make some amazing creations, or practise your carving skills at Devils Dyke in West Sussex where you can make scary masks.

Spooky Halloween fun for adults

Stowe's Gothic Temple sits at the top of a hill surrounded by leafless trees under a full moon

After hours

As the nights draw in faster, why not embark on a torchlit tour like the one at Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire? Or explore one of the most haunted houses in Wales at Newton House – after hours you never know what's around the corner. You can also investigate a murder at Sunnycroft, Shropshire in full Victorian costume if you want to feel part of the drama.

'Osorio', a play by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in the Reading Room at Coleridge Cottage

Literary tricks and treats

Gothic readings are underway at Coleridge Cottage in Somerset, the place where Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, once lived with his family. Listen to tales of hauntings, curses and monsters by the fireside. Check out spooky storytelling at Dinefwr in Wales, with Dr Nicholas Grimorie, dramatic storyteller, who will be sure to send shivers down your spine with tales of illusion.

Family carving pumpkins at Sizergh, Cumbria

Pumpkin carving

Don’t leave the pumpkin fun to the kids. At Nostell, West Yorkshire, you can get artsy and carve some intricate faces and spectacular seasonal scenes. For a more ‘flower friendly’ alternative to carving, why not go for a floral creation using foliage, berries and flowers at the Buscot and Coleshill Estates in Oxfordshire.

Find a Halloween event near you

Take a look at what Halloween events are happening at our places near you.

Video

How to carve a pumpkin lantern

Watch our easy-to-follow video on how to create a scary Halloween pumpkin lantern.

A mandrake sculpture from the folklore trail at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

Share your superstitions and local folklore 

Do you have a local superstition? A family tradition that's been passed down through the generations? A folk story from a place near you? We'd love to hear your story.