Halloween and Dia de los Muertos festivities have become more elaborate here each year. But they’re also gaining traction on the other side of the pond. Visitors to London in the next few weeks will find pumpkin-carving sessions at Fortnum & Mason; a Trick or Treat Run through the Royal Park and creepy arachnoid displays at the London “Boo at the Zoo.” What’s more, Greenwich Market and The Pet Pavilion are both sponsoring pet costume parades.
At Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, visitors are invited to “Delve Into the Dark Arts” through November 1. The Great Hall's banquet tables will be laden with pumpkins and bubbling cauldrons as Dementors and other dark magic meddlers run amok.
Adults in the Halloween spirit may want to head to The Rosewood London near Covent Garden. “The Haunting of Scarfes Bar” on Halloween night transforms the elegant ground floor hotel bar into a haunted manor house.
The Milestone Hotel in Kensington is part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a member of The Leading Hotels of The World. Its lavish, wood-paneled Cheneston’s restaurant is serving a special dinner on Halloween night. On the menu: "Feast for the Beastly" Braised Belly of Pork, "Brutally Bloodied" Chestnut Velouté, and "Headless" Roasted Guinea Fowl.
Of course, London’s traditional haunts also appeal in the fall.
“Autumn is a great season for first time and return visitors to experience Historic Royal Palaces attractions as often they are not so crowded allowing more time to explore the stories and indulge in the history and treasures within. Travel agents can book online or through their chosen provider of land services ensuring clients have their tickets in hand, saving them time to see even more,” Ann Wilson, head of sales at Historic Royal Palaces, tells Travel Agent.
Outside of London, a ghost walk is but one of the activities at the annual Stratford Halloween Festival. In its tenth year, the event attracts thousands of visitors to haunted houses and scary performances in the center of town. A special café serves spiced pumpkin fizzy water and butter beer. A character called “The Pumpkin Father” leads nightly trick-or-treating. But the main focus of the festival is family fun and storytelling.
That seems fitting for the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
Next year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Special programs, exhibits and productions are in the works to commemorate the milestone.
“The Shakespeare 400 anniversary is a great opportunity for us to showcase this wonderful region and to celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy. We are looking forward to welcoming more visitors from all over the world to join with us in the celebrations,” Robin Tjolle, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England, tells Travel Agent.
Presumably, the Bard would be amused by the tag line for the Stratford Halloween Festival, which takes place throughout October. It borrows a bit from one of his most famous works: “By the pricking of my thumbs. A wicked festival this way comes.”