From Alton Towers to the Tower of London, where can you scare yourself silly this Shocktober? The darker half of the year is upon us, and with that, the veil between our world and that of the undead is at its thinnest. It’s a time for remembering loved ones who have crossed over, celebrating the end of summer, and – of course – checking out some spine-tingling Halloween events.
The Old Operating Theatre
Gore is best served with a side of truth. At The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, you can get a confronting glimpse of questionable Victorian-era surgical and medical practices. Located in the attic of St. Thomas Church, this is Britain’s oldest surviving operating theatre, and inside, not much has changed since 1822.
See the timeworn wooden table which patients were operated upon, unanesthetized. A seated viewing area allowed for live-viewing of dissections and surgeries. So much blood was spilled on these floors that the ground was covered in sawdust to soak it up. However, despite the sawdust, recent chemical analyses show a lot of blood still present in the floorboards.
There’s a list of events at the Old Operating Theatre leading up to Halloween. Pop in for a screening of Vampyr (1932) or a theatrical Halloween event, complete with eerie poetry and a costume contest.
Know before you go: You can only access the attic via a narrow 52-step spiral staircase. Book your visit in advance to secure a spot.
Scarefest at Alton Towers
The park has a range of spooky activities that run day and night. From a flashmob of the undead to pumpkin patches, and themed Scaremazes full of jump-scares, Alton Towers transforms itself into Halloween’s unequivocal home this October.
Know before you go: Scarefest is a limited-time event. You can buy tickets for this separately or as an add-on.
The London Dungeon
It may feel like Halloween all year-round in The London Dungeon, but actual Halloween in the Dungeon ups the mark with 19 live shows, 20 actors, and two rides.
Come face to face with classic terrors like Jack the Ripper, and discover new fears in The Plague Doctor. October is the scariest month to find yourself in the Dungeon, and the spooks that haunt this place are out in larger numbers and heavier FX makeup than ever.
Know before you go: Pre-book your ticket as they are guaranteed to sell out.
The Real Mary King’s Close
Edinburgh is the perfect setting for Halloween. Hell, you don’t even need a special day of the year to soak up the spookiness that emanates from the city’s winding spires, lamplit alleys, narrow cobbled streets, and squares littered with centuries-old pubs.
Speaking of centuries-old, you can see 17th-century Edinburgh frozen in time at The Real Mary King’s Close. This perfectly preserved close is one of Edinburgh’s oldest streets. See things as they were in the 1600s with a costumed guide and hear the horror stories that plagued the city in a time when occult occurrences and misty apparitions were a part of life.
Know before you go: The venue only accepts online bookings made 24 hours in advance.
The London Bridge Experience & London Tombs
In 2007, builders working on the excavation site of the London Tombs discovered a Plague Pit that contained skeletons dating back to the 11th century.
The London Bridge Experience is recognized as the UK’s scariest and most haunted attraction. Paranormal sightings are reported regularly in this attraction, which is located in the Vaults of London Bridge.
Visitors will journey from the time of the Roman Londinium up to more recent history, and meet some icons of terror along the way. Fancy drinking a pint in the Star Inn pub while Jack the Ripper prowls outside?
Know before you go: Last-minute tickets available, so go whenever you’re feeling brave!
Haunted walking / pub tours
There’s no better way to get to know a place than on foot, and a walking tour may acquaint you with a ghoul or two, if you’re lucky!
London is rife with haunted walks, from private tours covering the capital’s most haunted pubs to free boozy pub crawls with some eerie pitstops.
Outside the Big Smoke, you’ll find that eerie Edinburgh is home to some of the UK’s most haunted streets. Venture into the Blair Street Underground Vaults to see actual killing grounds, or join a free ghost tour in Edinburgh to learn about the real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the witch trials, and body snatching.
Belfast has its own share of grim tales and tragedy – some of which stem from the truth and don’t need a paranormal edge to give you the creeps. With many places drenched in tragic history, opt for a night walk with the Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association to explore the Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House. You could also pop into Titanic Belfast during the day, if prowling around the historic docks under cover of darkness with an EMF detector is all just too weird.
Know before you go: Many haunted walks don’t accommodate children, so do your research before booking one! Also, bring warm clothing for tours that take place underground. It gets chilly down there thanks to all the undead lurking around.