Halloween Guide: A - F
A is for Arachnids
Eight-legged creatures are making another notorious appearance this Halloween, with Glasgow Science Centre including them as part of the many horrid things in their children’s Halloween event on Fri 30 Oct. The truth is kids love creepy crawlies. As a special treat you could also take the little ones to Butterfly and Insect World in Edinburgh (www.edinburgh-butterfly-world.co.uk) to marvel at the scorpions and tarantulas.
B is for Beyond the Grave
Whether you’re a Brownite (Derren that is) denier of the supernatural, or a firm believer that ghosts walk among us, there’s no denying the intrigue that spiritualism holds for most of the living. Crossing over this Halloween is psychic Nikki McKay who’ll be hosting an evening of mediumship punningly titled Dead Men Talking at Glasgow’s Oran Mor on Mon 2 Nov. In Edinburgh, there’s the chance to paranormally explore Leith’s old seaman’s mission (now thankfully an upmarket Malmaison hotel) with the North West Spirit Seekers on Fri 30 Oct. The experts will demonstrate their techniques of past life regression and even show you around some of their ghost hunting equipment. Booking required.
Dead Men Talking, Oran Mor, 731–735 Great Western Road, Glasgow, 357 6200, Mon 2 Nov, 7.30pm. £12; Ghost Hunt, Malmaison Hotel, 1 Tower Place, Edinburgh, 468 5000, Fri 30 Oct, 9pm, £59. www.hauntedghosttours.co.uk
C is for Costume
It’s all very well going to a costume hire store and kitting yourself out head-to-toe, but if you want to earn the respect of your fellow zombies, witches and devils, then you should make an individual effort with your costume. We recommend trying a mix of fancy dress shops, craft shops, vintage shops, charity shops, haberdashery stores and joke shops to piece together the perfect costume.
In Edinburgh a good place to start for the base of your outfit is Costume Ha Ha (88 Grassmarket, www.novelty.org), where you can pick up themed clothing and accessories. Also try vintage stores like Armstrong’s (83 Grassmarket and 64 Clerk Street, www.armstrongsvintage.co.uk) for good, cheap items that you can then transform into something Halloween themed. Or visit some of the many charity shops located in Newington, Morningside or Stockbridge for white shirts and old t-shirts that you can rip up or soak with fake blood. Lastly, for those little finishing touches, try craft shops that sell material by the metre and individual buttons, like Edinburgh Fabrics (12 St Patrick Square). Or seek out plastic bats, sequinned masks and gruesome fangs at the Finishing Touch (17 St Patrick Square, www.thefinishingtouchedinburgh.co.uk). Voila, outfit complete.
Glasgow has a similarly good collection of shops from which to piece together the perfect Halloween disguise. Your first port of call should probably be Tam Shepherd’s Trick Shop or Saratoga Trunk (61 Hydepark Street), which has such a wonderful collection that Hollywood has on occasion come a-calling to borrow clothing. Call in advance to make an appointment. Mr Ben (101 King Street, www.mrbenretroclothing.com) and the Glory Hole (41 Ruthven Lane) are good for vintage bargains and for spending a few hours trying on different outfits for inspiration. For fun novelty fabrics try Fabric Bazaar (171 London Road, www.fabric-baazar.com), which also does a range of faux fur by the metre - so if all else fails you can cover yourself top to, err, tail and be a shaggy werewolf or a sleek black cat. Job done.
D is for Drive-In
M&Ds Theme Park in Strathclyde Country Park is hosting a special Halloween drive-in, where you can snuggle under the stars and watch something spooky on the 18-metre screen. This year they’re showing all the Halloween classics: Friday the 13th, The Addams Family and, er, Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed
Halloween drive-in, Fri 30 Oct–Sun 1 Nov. Times and prices vary. M&Ds Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell, 01698 333 777.
E is for Eating
Too old for dressing up and chapping doors? Treat yourself with no tricks required. Pop into I Love Candy (38 Hanover St, Edinburgh, 0131 226 2623 and Byres Road, Glasgow, 0141 337 3399, www.ilovecandystore.com) for some good old-fashioned spine tingling sweets. There are creepy cups of spooky sweeties (£4.70), fangtastic fangs (£2.40), ghoulish chocolate ghosts (60p), and there’s even an intriguing mystery mix (£2). At Glasgow’s Top Tier (70 Bell Street, Merchant City, Glasgow. 0141 552 2195. www.cupcakeglasgow.com) there are blood curdling cupcakes (80p–£3, pictured) to bring out your wicked side this Halloween. Give into temptation, pull the blinds shut, turn the telly up and get the kettle on. Too good for those pesky kids anyway.
F is for Festivals
Yes, we are aware that Halloween is a festival in itself, but there are always a number of off-shoot celebrations that pay tribute to the bigger festivals; festivals that celebrate festivals, if you will. Maybe there’s even a festival that celebrates a festival that celebrates a festival – or perhaps we’re just getting carried away.
Anyway, during October there is a selection of Halloween festivals around Scotland. The Hairst: Halloween in Huntly festival (Sat 31 Oct–Sun 8 Nov, www.huntlyhairst.co.uk) is now in its seventh year and is jam-packed with things to do, kicking off with a torchlight parade on Sat 31 Oct – fully equipped with a masked pipe band and fire performers. The following day there is a mass ‘Thriller’ dance-off in the square.
Meanwhile the Spooks and Sacrifice: Celtic Samhain Festival (Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay, Sat 31 Oct, www.crannog.co.uk) takes its theme from the ancient Celtic traditions of Halloween, with a torch lit procession through the woods, storytelling and fire shows – as well as lantern carving and face painting for the kids. In a similar vein is the Samhain celebration at Blackness Castle, with pagan activities and a big blazing bonfire.
The Tweed Valley Forest Festival (Fri 23 Oct–Sun Nov 1, www.forest-festival.com) is a fun option for families to escape the city, offering ghost tours, a wizards and witches disco, puppet making and apple dooking. There’s even a conker championship; you can rely on the forest festival’s to keep things old school.