Plan your family Halloween break
Do you love it when things go bump in the night?
It’s that spooky time of the year again and as Halloween gets closer, we want to take you on a tour of the darker side of some of the UK’s eeriest cities!
If you want to discover the strange, supernatural and downright peculiar, head to Edinburgh or York this Halloween where some truly frightening experiences await. There are many unnerving things to do in these cities, but, while on a Halloween break, you can also make the most of the usual tourist attractions.
Read on if you dare…
Take a break in eerie Edinburgh
Auld Reekie is one of the UK’s most haunted cities. Known for its winding streets and ghostly folklore, Edinburgh is the perfect place to visit this Halloween.
Ghost hunters, horror lovers, thrill seekers and fans of anything shrouded in mystery unite!
A Spooky History:
Edinburgh got its famous nickname after a spooky mist descended on the city, and, while the smoke has since dissipated, an eerie air was left in its wake in the form of its past residents. During this time, homelessness was illegal which meant those less fortunate were pushed to live underground.
Terrifying things to do in Edinburgh
- Take a walk on the haunted side – Ghostly tours beneath the city’s streets bring its disturbing history to life once again. The warren of cellars makes for the perfect setting for some fearful storytelling. If you are really hard to frighten, visit the Stone Circle Vault. Legend has it that anyone brave enough to step inside the vault will wake up the next day with scratches on their legs.
- Visit the dead at local graveyards – Like many cities, Edinburgh has its fair share of hauntingly beautiful graveyards. If you dare, visit some of the spookiest locations in the city such as Greyfriars Graveyard and Covenanters Prison. If you visit the Black Mausoleum, you may even catch a sight of the Mackenzie Poltergeist.
- Spend time in the Blair Street Vaults – Part of Edinburgh’s haunted underground network, this is a particularly haunted area, as it was a storage space for smugglers and a hideout for criminals. Scariest of all is The White Room – people who enter this haunted space come out scratched or bruised, and pictures taken here often reveal ghostly faces.
- Catch a play or maybe even a ghost – The Edinburgh Playhouse is one of the largest and oldest theatres in the UK. And one of the most haunted. On the sixth floor, you may feel a chill in the air before catching sight of Albert, an older man in a dusky great coat.
Haunted Places to Eat & Drink
Many of the pubs and restaurants in Edinburgh are said to be visited by the deceased. Why not visit one of these venues:
- The Banshee Labyrinth, Niddry Street, Old Town
- Tolbooth Tavern, Canongate
- The Last Drop, Grassmarket
- The Mitre Bar, High Street, Royal Mile
- Whistle Binkies, Niddry Street
Spend some time in uncanny York
Love all the chills and thrills of Halloween?
So do the residents of Spooktacular York. The city is known for its vibrant ghost tours filled with wild stories with a theatrical flair, including ghastly past residents such as Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes. York may only be a small city which seems innocuous enough during the daytime, but, at night, its true spookiness is revealed.
A Spooky History:
York’s 2,000-year-old history is a gruesome one, bursting at the seams with grizzly details. With so many past executions, blood-thirsty criminals, terrifying murderers and ferocious kings and queens who once ruled the city with their reign of terror, it’s no wonder it’s one of the UK’s most haunted cities.
Terrifying things to do in York
- Discover the York Dungeons – The perfect place to go if you enjoy laughing and screaming in equal measure. Learn about the city’s darkest history told through live shows, featuring menacing characters from York’s macabre past. Find out about legends and escape the aptly-named Labyrinth of the Lost.
- Go shopping in the most haunted house in the UK – From the outside this might look like a perfectly normal shop on a busy street filled with all your high street favourites. Beyond the comforting exterior, however, hides a frightening reality. Having stood for over 1,000 years, the site has collected a truly terrifying number of ghosts – 14 at last count!
- Be chilled in the Minster Catacombs – Despite being one of the most religious sites in the UK, the York Minster hasn’t escaped a slight haunting. There have been several spooky sightings near the Minster. However, the most frightening place of all are the catacombs underneath the Minster Here you will find an ancient burial ground and a museum encompassing the Minster’s long history.
- Travel in time at the Treasurers House – This beautifully restored building has an old-world atmosphere with period furnishings, paintings, textiles and ceramics. The site has a 2,000-year-long history, and, over the course of time, has acquired some ghostly residents, including a carthorse which has been seen walking through solid brick walls.
Haunted Places to Eat & Drink
- Many of the pubs and bars in York are thought to be haunted, and one, The Golden Fleece, is possibly the most haunted in the UK. The city’s most famous ghost, Guy Fawkes, has taken up residence in the pub with his name. Visit one of these haunted buildings, if you dare:
- Ye Olde Starr Inne
- Guy Fawkes Inn
- The Golden Fleece
- Snickleway Inn
- The Black Swan Hotel
Take a break in hair-raising Oxford
- Oxford might be known as a city of learning and science, but there’s no one clever enough to explain all the things that go bump in the night in this spine-tingling city. With ghosts and spectres on almost every corner, it’ll take some guts to go out and about in Oxford at night – especially around Halloween when the veil between the living and the dead is at its most permeable.
A Spooky History:
- During its long, storied and sometimes grisly history, Oxford has been home to kings and queens, the great and good, the rich and poor. During the English Civil War, King Charles also lived in the city, and his ghost is one of the many ghoulish apparitions you may happen across in the city.
Terrifying things to do in Oxford
- Borrow a book from the Bodleian – One of the country’s largest and most haunted libraries, this is thought to be haunted by the ghost of Charles I. Legend has it he was denied leave to borrow a book from the library, so now he haunts it –with or without his head – pulling books from shelves in the upper reading room at night.
- Visit Oxford Castle after dark – This ghastly castle is filled with petrifying history and haunted by a number of ghosts and spirits. Even during the day, many staff members won’t venture around alone because of the feeling of being watched. If you dare, you can stay overnight in the hotel. Find out more in our post about Oxford’s Castle Quarter.
- Take a walk around a college – Many of the ancient colleges are haunted by ghosts. Charles I has sometimes been known to visit Christ Church College, Queen’s College has a library ghost, Obadiah Walker is said to haunt Staircase VIII at University College, and Wadham College’s Chapel is visited by the spectre of one of their priests.
- Discover ghosts from around the world – The Ashmolean is old enough to have its own ghosts, but it also has imported some. An exhibition of traditional Japanese art shows a collection of ghosts and demons from the other side of the world. This art is truly terrifying but also beautiful in its colours and shapes.
Wherever you decide to visit this haunting season, book train tickets for your Halloween break with CrossCountry Trains in advance to save. If you’re brave enough to stay overnight, why not check out these haunted hotels on our network?
Written by Julia