The Witching Hour is almost upon us – and so is half term. If the trick or treating just isn’t cutting it with the kids anymore, don’t get the heebie jeebies: there are plenty more ghoulish ways to keep your little monsters entertained in London this Halloween. From spooky nights at the museum to terrifying afternoon teas, take a look at the family friendly frights the capital has to offer this October Half Term and beyond.
Eltham Palace: Half Term Horrors & Eight Ghosts: Meet the author - Max Porter
This October, the gothic grandeur of Eltham Palace will play host to some half term hijinks with a Halloween theme (see above). Keep your little pumpkins entertained with activities running throughout the school break at Half Term Horrors, with witch/wizard hat making, pumpkin carving and a fancy dress competition. For adults, take a tour of the eerie medieval palace, or even meet ghost story writer Max Porter, who will be reading from Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories on Friday night.
SE9, Kids from £8.60 & adults from £14.40 at Half Term Horrors, from £36 at Eight Ghosts: english-heritage.org.uk
London Zoo: Boo At The Zoo
From creepy crawlies to kings of the jungle, London Zoo is home to its fair share of phobias. This Halloween, fearless young adventurers can pepper their wildlife spotting with a range of spooktacular activities. They can learn mummy-wrapping classes at the Ghoul School, mask-making in the Bat Cave, Jack O’Lantern carving in the Pumpkin Patch and even get into a ghoulish groove at the Pumpkin Party. Prepare for Halloween to get wild.
NW1, Free with admission, supplement for pumpkin carving: zsl.org
Hampton Court Palace: Luna Cinema
Where better to get your frightening flick fix than at one of the most haunted buildings in the country? Legend has it that Hampton Court Palace is home to more than one ghostly resident, including the spirits of two of Henry VIII’s six wives. Over Halloween, the Palace’s grounds will also play host to Luna Cinema, who will be screening Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban for all the family, as well as grown-up scares courtesy of Beetlejuice and Silence of the Lambs.
KT8, Kids from £13.50, Adults from £17.50: thelunacinema.com
Carnaby Street: Newburgh Quarter of Curiosity
Are you a Dead-icated Follower of Fashion? Then get down to Carnaby Street where a selection of stylish workshops will be on hand to get your Halloween en trend. Classes include ‘Pimp Your Pumpkin’ for the kids, but also more than enough for the grown ups. Potion Cocktail Making, a Day of the Dead inspired headdress workshop with a Carnaby Street florist, and a make-up and prosthetics session with the students of London College of Fashion make for a scarily stylish series of events.
W1, Free workshops with balloted ticket: carnaby.co.uk
Charles Dickens Museum: Dickens After Dark
Charles Dickens loved a ghost story so much, he even managed to make Christmas spooky. As night falls, celebrate a messr of literary gloom at the writer’s Victorian home, now a museum dedicated to his life and work. Ponder poltergeists over Victorian parlour tricks, from fortune telling to magic, or grab a drink at the candlelit bar. Was that a noise? Could be a clink of Jacob Marley’s chains, or just “an undigested bit of beef”.
WC1, From £16: dickensmuseum.com
Museum of London: Night Owls Halloween Sleepover
From ghoulish goings on to creepy characters, London’s historical storybook is littered with things that go bump in the night, from the exploits of Mr Hyde to a close shave in Fleet Street. The Museum of London is opening its doors to children (and accompanying adults) for a night at the museum, where they will explore a Victorian street and help the baker’s wife solve a crime, make gothic masks, enjoy a sleepover in the galleries and wake up to a screening of Disney classic Hocus Pocus.
EC2, From £60: museumoflondon.org.uk
Electric Cinema Portobello: Kids Club Addams Family Screening & Party
Halloween’s first family are making a seasonal appearance at the Electric Cinema in Portobello, with a special Kids Club screening of The Addams Family. The Wednesday and Pugsley of your clan can look forward to a scariest costume competition, Mummy Madness games and a Haunted House orchestra before your they settle down for the 1991 film starring Anjelica Huston and Christina Ricci. Better get practicing those plaits…
W11, From £10: electriccinema.co.uk
The London Dungeon: The Death Express
If you thought your morning commute was horrific, a trip on The Death Express at the London Dungeon should provide some perilous perspective. Resurrecting a relic from a dark period of London history, visitors the Dungeon can ride a recreated London Necropolis Railway, which originally ran between 1854 and 1941 to transport corpses out of the city – yes, really. Expect to go “full scream ahead” with a surprise or two on your journey.
SE1, Free with admission: thedungeons.com
Royal Lancaster: Cult Horror Movies Afternoon Tea
From Hitchcock to Hammer, lovers of vintage Hollywood horror can tickle their tastebuds with the Royal Lancaster’s homage to cinema’s scream queens and most enduring monsters. The monochrome menu at their special Afternoon Tea features a Pitch Black Pudding Scotch Egg, Axe-carved Beef with Horseradish, Psycho Marbled Lollipops and a Black Sunday Battenberg among many other ghoulish treats, all set to an ominously flickering backdrop of projected Hitchcock films. You’ll be cowering behind the sofas before you know it.
W2, From £35: royallancaster.com
GAIL’s Bakery: Halloween Workshops
The costume is under construction and you’re already dreading clearing up all that fake cobweb spray – but what about feeding your little monsters this Halloween? GAIL’s bakery is on hand to school the kids in cooking up their very own tricks and treats with Halloween baking workshops across London. Learn how to decorate gingerbread skeletons, or get your hands dirty making bitesize severed fingers – chewy and soft macaroons, finished off with creepily realistic blanched almond fingernails.
NW11, W1, SW1 and N6, Free: gailsbread.co.uk
Royal Albert Hall: The Addams Family in Concert
A classic TV show theme is always bettered by audience participation. Fire up your fingertips and cultivate your clicking skills for a mysterious, spooky and altogether ooky evening with The Addams Family at the Royal Albert Hall. A celebration of both music and film, the screening of the 1991 film will be accompanied by a live orchestra performing composer Marc Shaiman’s much-loved score.
SW7, From £25: royalalberthall.com
Sparks: Half Term Halloween Movie Making
Watching scary movies is all very well, but how about making them? If you’ve got a budding Hitchcock in your charge this half term, sign them up to Sparks’ Movie Making courses with a Halloween twist. Children aged 7-14 year olds can join the Day of the Dead workshop inspired by the new Pixar movie Coco, while 4-7 year olds can learn formative camera work skills in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice class.
SW12, SE21, N6, NW3, W14 and KT15 (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice available at only SW12 and N6 locations), Kids from £150: sparks-ignite.com
London Canal Museum: The Amazing Halloween Experience Tunnel Trip
Climb aboard a narrowboat at the London Canal Museum for a night-time trip into the shadows of London’s waterways. Drift into the darkness of the 198 year old Islington tunnel with a witch by your side on a ghoulishly decorated vessel, and return to the museum for face painting and ghost stories. Daylight trips are also available for those with a dislike for the dark, while sweets and a glowstick for each child will keep the young crewmembers content.
N1, From £8.50: canalmuseum.org.uk
Ham House: Terrible Terror Tours
Who you gonna call? If you’re looking for ghosts to bust this Halloween, Ham House is putting on extra special family ghost tours (with goody bags for little ghost hunters), where an after-dark prowl through this famously haunted 17th century house will reveal the spooky secrets of its history, from ghoulish apparitions to rumours of witchcraft. If you’re making a day of it at Ham House, there are various Halloween activities running throughout the week, including storytelling and pumpkin biscuit decorating, and even a Witch Hunt.
TW10, From £10: nationaltrust.org.uk
Science Museum: Little Lab of Horrors
For inquisitive little witches and warlocks who are always asking “why?”, satisfy their curiosity with an educational take on All Hallow’s Eve. The Science Museum is welcoming budding scientists to their Little Lab of Horrors, where children can take a look at some of the museum’s spookiest objects and witness some scary science.
SW7, Free, sciencemuseum.org.uk