Transylvania might have Count Dracula and Salem might have its witches; but Scotland is arguably the home of Halloween – or Samhain as it was originally known. It will also play host to many thrills, chills and scary events this 31 October.
Halloween originates from the ancient Celts' celebrations and is based on their 'Feast of Samhain'. The eve became known as All Saints' Eve, All Hallows' Eve, or Hallowe'en. All Saints' Day, 1 November, is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth.
Gory Stories with Mercat Tours, Edinburgh
From ghost tours and history walks, to magic schools, light shows and zombie jogs (yes, really), as well as a month-long celebration of Halloween at the Edinburgh Dungeon, there is something for everyone this October in Scotland… Even those who don’t want to be scared (but might like to be told an interesting story instead).
Serious chill-seekers can also extend their trip with a visit to one of Scotland’s spookiest locations. The country is home to ‘true’ myths, legends and superstitions, the likes of which horror fiction cannot compete: the Loch Ness Monster; Burke & Hare; the ghosts of Culloden; Edinburgh, one of the most haunted cities in the world* and Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, which inspired Bram Stoker when writing Dracula (and was voted the most haunted castle in Scotland!.)
Read on if you dare…..
‘Séance – Is Anybody There?’ ***New for 2018
6 October – 4 November 2018
On 31 October, 1828 Burke and Hare, the notorious Edinburgh anatomy murderers killed their last victim, Madgy Docherty. Eight years later a collection of miniature coffins containing wooden dolls were found on Arthur's Seat, now housed in the National Museum of Scotland. SÉANCE will tell visitors of the theory that these coffins represent the Burke & Hare victims and that their existence was an attempt to provide the murdered with a symbolic final resting place. But.... are their souls really at rest?
In addition to a new show, Edinburgh Dungeon is also offering an exclusive Coffin Sleepover night on 27 October, to be launched on social media towards the end of September. Also expect Halloween make-up sessions and much more gruesome fun.
GlasGLOW, Halloween Light Show ***New for 2018
Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
27 October – 11 November, various times
After selling 30,000 tickets for this event already, seven more nights have been added to what has been described as a "world-class" Halloween light show coming to Glasgow's Botanic Gardens this October. The brand-new outdoor experience (which lasts around 90 minutes) has also been called "Spielberg-esque with a nod to 80s nostalgia" and will take visitors through an immersive landscape of light and sound, weaving together installations that will "surprise and delight".
Tickets are prices £11.50 for children (3+) and £18 for adults. For more information see: www.itison.com/glasglow
‘Alloween & Halloween Tea Party
Burns Cottage, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, Ayrshire
‘Alloween: Saturday, 27 October 2018, 6.30-8.30pm (recommended for ages 8+)
Halloween Tea Party: Sunday, 28 October 2018, 12.30-1.30pm & 3-4.30pm (all ages welcome).
Fans of Robert Burns can head to his birthplace this October for a darker insight into his life with ‘Alloween. “Ghostly guides” will provide a tour of the bard’s birthplace and Alloway’s Auld Haunted Kirk. Guests will wander the streets of the town discovering tales of hauntings, suspicious deaths and maybe even the devil who “might have business on his hand!”
In addition there will be a spooky Halloween afternoon tea, which is ideal for families, with scary treats on offer, including green ghoul jelly shots and ghost cupcakes.
Booking is essential. Please see website for more details and ticket prices:
Gory Stories – Halloween for Kids ***New for 2018
Mercat Tours, Edinburgh
28 & 29 October 2018, various times
Halloween is the time for reliving Edinburgh’s creepier past. Brand-new for 2018 is this family tour that will show spook-lovers some horrible haunts including the famous Blair Street Underground Vaults.
Recommended for ages 5+. Ticket prices: Adults - £12; Children - £9; Concession - £12; Family ticket (Two adults, two children age 5-15 years) - £37; www.mercattours.com
Paisley Halloween Festival
26 – 27 October 2018
Expect some ghoulishly good fun for all the family with a full weekend of activities. On Saturday, 27 October the town will be transformed as more than 500 costumed young people and specialist outdoor performers parade through the streets which will include floats designed by young people. Following the parade a 50-strong cast of young people will perform “The Flying Witches” – a daring, breath-taking aerial performance in the town. Throughout the eerie weekend enjoy a Horror Festival of frightening films, workshops, trick or treat booths, pumpkin carving, family-friendly activities and monster balls for all ages.
Free event. Please see https://paisley.is for more information.
Halloween Magic School ***New for 2018
Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh
20 October 2018, 10.30am-12pm
Learn, create and perform magic at a spooky, magic workshop this Halloween. Learn to perform incredible magic and make new wizard friends. No previous magic experience necessary. Just bring a costume and a magic wand and let the magic experts do the rest.
Recommended for ages ages 7-11. Tickets cost £7.00. See www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/halloween-magic-school for more information.
Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling
13-28 October 2018, 10am – 5pm
Home to over 350 animals - including lions, giraffes, bison and chimpanzees - HalloWild will see added thrills with an Alice in Wonderland-themed fright room, a monster hunt and pumpkin picking.
Prices: £16.25 for adults and £13.25 for concessions. Price includes a full day admission and all activities. See www.blairdrummond.com for full details.
Halloween Zombie Jog
Bowhill, Selkirk, Scottish Borders
27 October, 2pm
Any visitors to the Scottish Borders in the mood to get chased by zombies (or dress up as one themselves) can take part in this zombie jog, for one mile or five kilometres. Dressing up to look ghoulish is encouraged. Please note all children must be accompanied by an adult.
Prices: from £5.50 for an adult and £5 for children. See https://thelittleboxoffice.com/borderevents/event/view/78945 for full details
Scotland’s Most Haunted….
Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire is famous for providing inspiration for author Bram Stoker who visited the castle prior to beginning work on the immortal classic Dracula. It is a large imposing ruin fronting directly onto south facing cliffs about a kilometre east of Cruden Bay. There are, confusingly, two Slains Castles on this stretch of coast. The original lay a mile north east of Collieston and about six miles south west of its successor. This was built in the 1200s as a fortress, but not much remains of it today. Witnessed ghosts at Slains Castle have included marching Second World War soldiers going past the Castle and a horse and carriage.
Glamis Castle in Angus has a long reputation as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland. King Malcolm II was murdered here leaving a bloodstain on the floor, which defied all efforts to be removed, and eventually the floor was boarded over. The castle is also said to contain secret rooms, one of which is believed to house a monster which roamed at night. A ghost named the ‘Grey Lady’ is also said to haunt the Chapel.
St Andrews is a historic seaside town in Fife steeped in legend, with stories of ghosts of murdered archbishops, John Knox and even the Devil himself wandering the streets! The Cathedral ruins are said to be haunted by an unidentified lady in a long white dress with a veil, holding a book in her clasped hands.
Stirling has its fair share of ghostly tales. The ‘Pink Lady’ is said to have been a noblewoman engaged to a brave knight who starved to death inside Stirling Castle during the Wars of Independence. She in turn died, not from malnourishment but from the pain of a broken heart. Her spirit roams the castle awaiting the day their souls will be entwined once more. The Stirling Ghost Walk tour offers drama and comedy on the city’s dark past. See www.stirlingghostwalk.com for more information.
Culzean Castle in Ayrshirehas a ghostly piper, who is reputed to have been searching caves beneath the castle when he disappeared. The pipes are said to herald the announcement of a marriage, and also to be heard on stormy nights. His apparition is also said to have been seen in the grounds of the castle, both on Piper's Brae and near the ruinous collegiate church.
Culloden Moor in Inverness-shire is the site of the tragic end to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Bonnie Prince Charlie and 5000 Highlanders were defeated by The Duke of Cumberland and over 9000 Government troops just outside Inverness in the Highlands. Here, by the memorial cairn, there has often been seen the dim form of a battle-worn Highlander. Some years ago, a woman who was visiting Culloden chanced to look into the Well of the Dead and as she did so she saw the reflection of a Highlanderlooking back at her. This is only one of many reported sightings on the moor.
For more information on Halloween in Scotland, please go to: www.visitscotland.com/halloween