Halloween in London: Scream! It’s fright night

·5-min read
Party on: Celebrations at Coya include a forbidden forest (Coya)
Party on: Celebrations at Coya include a forbidden forest (Coya)

Tonight, London gets a serious case of the chills as Halloween festivities begin. After Covid put a dampener on celebrations last year, the capital is rallying to bring Londoners the freakiest Halloween yet. Here’s how to bring fright night back with a bang (or was it a bump?).

Devilish discos

Get your costumes on, crawl out into the night and prepare to dance your carefully-crafted face paint off. Tonight, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (vauxhalltavern.com) is hosting Abbaween — voulez-boo. Dressing up is encouraged: will you be Furnando the werewolf or simply Cher from Mamma Mia 2. Tomorrow, DJ Jordss is playing the Halloween Party at Peckham Levels (peckhamlevels.org) (there are whispers this is one not to miss). UK Black Pride is throwing a Halloqueen bash at Village Underground (villageunderground.co.uk), while Number 90 Bar (number90bar.co.uk) is home to a Future Disco. Build up your stamina, it’s an all-night Halloween dance special.

Vampire bites

Chinatown favourite Bun House (bun.house) is serving limited-edition spiced pumpkin buns, while Bao Yum (baoyum.com) in Westminster has gone Gothic and turned its white buns black. For a truly chilling Halloween feast, have a brr-ger. Tommi’s Burger Joint (tommis.is) is donating £1 to the Help Musicians charity every time it sells one of its spooky Death Metal Burgers (think charcoal-black buns and scarily hot sauce) while Byron’s sizzling Hot Trick burger features smoky chorizo and deep fried jalapenos (byron.co.uk). Turn up to any of its restaurants in fancy dress this weekend and you’ll receive a free side. Ottolenghi’s (ottolenghi.co.uk) offerings are rather more wholesome, with ghost-shaped vanilla shortbreads among the selection at each of its London locations.

Shock-tails

Tonight and tomorrow, Greene King (greeneking.co.uk) is giving a free drink to anyone who comes into one of their London pubs dressed as the sign outside, whether that’s the Sherlock Holmes near Embankment or the Coach and Horses in Soho. Tomorrow, Islington brewery Two Tribes (twotribes.co.uk) is hosting Shocktoberfest at its Campfire venue, with steins and hell-raising heavy metal.

It’s likely to be a more refined affair at COYA (coyarestaurant.com), which will be serving cocktails at its Mayfair and Angel Court locations inspired by the mythical Tunche creature from its Peruvian homeland. Shepherd’s Bush hangout The Hawk’s Nest (the-hawks-nest.co.uk) is doing themed cocktails at its Day of the Dead fiesta, and Holloway spot Le Cocktail Shop (lecocktailshop.com) will host an outdoor Halloween party, warmed by fire pits.

 (La Bodega Negra)
(La Bodega Negra)

Dance of the dead

Pick your party venue wisely. Tonight and tomorrow, Treehouse London (treehousehotels.com) has been transformed into a deathly doll-house, while Pergola Lates (pergolacanarywharf.co.uk)is throwing a spooky special: free entry, live sax and tropical beats from Dos Tiempos.

The Ned (thened.com) is now full of pumpkins. Head there for 10pm to watch Norman Jay perform. And both COYA’s (coyarestaurant.com) outposts now have forbidden forests. Head to either for a haunting Saturday evening, or pop to Percy’s (percyslondon.co.uk) in Kensington for a fearful set by DJ Fat Tony.

Feel more like spooky Soho? La Bodega Negra (labodeganegra.com), the experiential Mexican restaurant, is throwing a Dia de los Muertos party on Tuesday. And for those scared of heights, head to the penthouses. SUSHISAMBA’s (sushisamba.com) Heron Tower spot is holding a True Hallucinations bash on floors 38 and 39 today and tomorrow. Expect a psychedelic haze sound-tracked by devilish DJs The Kimono Bros and Disco Blouse.

Scary screenings

If you can’t hack a Sunday knees-up, settle in for a fright night film. The Standard (standardhotels.com) is inviting Londoners to its Hotel of Horror in Kings Cross. With free entry from 6pm, watch Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr, critic Alan Jones’ lecture on the films of Dario Argento and dance to live music until late.

Rivoli Ballroom (rivoliballroom.com) has a pop-up cinema and stellar line-up of films across the weekend, including Hocus Pocus, The Shining and The Rocky Horror Picture Show today. The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square is hosting two all-nighters from tomorrow — opt for five iconic horrors or teen classics in a row if you’re feeling really brave. It’s £35 and costumes are encouraged.

The show must go on

At Park Chinois (parkchinois.com), Mayfair’s luxe Asian restaurant, the lower-ground restaurant will be decked out with cobwebs and candles for scary shows through to Sunday. Meanwhile at Hackney Bridge, Dolly Trolley (hackneybridge.org) is entertaining from 7.30pm tomorrow.

On fright night itself, Fitz’s (fitzs.co.uk) in Russell Square will be putting on a night of Spooky Drag Bingo. Or make your way down to Freedom Bar (freedombarsoho.com) in Soho for the show everyone is talking about, Heavenly Bodies, held by demonic drag duo Flesh and Bones. It’s their favourite night.

 (London Dungeon)
(London Dungeon)

Family frightmares

Scared of heights? Face your fears at Go Ape (goape.co.uk) in Ally Pally or Battersea Park, both of which are running night-time Sundown Sessions over the Halloween weekend. Nearby in Battersea Park, the Children’s Zoo (batterseaparkzoo.co.uk) is hosting pumpkin quiz trails, spooky craft sessions and (mildly) scary story times. In Greenwich, inquisitive young minds (aged six and over) can get immersed in tales of ill-fated Arctic expeditions at the Old Royal Naval College’s (ornc.org) Ice Mystery events, while parents and kids can put their pumpkin-carving skills to the test at the Wizard Exploratorium’s Manette Street (wizardexploratorium.io) pop-up in Soho, with pre-scooped pumpkins, tools and templates. A mug of “hallowcream” (a warm, spiced cider, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, topped with cream) is included.

Down on the South Bank, the Shrek’s Adventure (shreksadventure.com) attraction is running a new Halloween experience, Scared Shrekless, and the Sea Life aquarium next door will be telling terrifying tales of deep-sea doom as part of its Spooky Stories events. Older kids and teenagers might be up for braving the London Dungeon (thedungeons.com), whose new show The Surgeon — a grizzly exploration of Victorian operations — is running up until Halloween itself.

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