Halloween Highlights

Handily falling on a Friday night, this year we’ve got an entire weekend to revel in the gore and the gorging on E-numbers and luminously coloured cocktails.

From pop-up films and club nights to immersive art and walking tours, we resurrect some Halloween favourites and dig up some more alternative options for All Hallow’s Eve.

Here are some of the most horrifying highlights, whatever your fear threshold may be.

A slice of pumpkin pie…
A gentle start to your Halloween celebrations with Pumpkins at KX (Thu 30 Oct-  Sat 1 Nov) as 3,000 candle-lit pumpkins cover the Canalside Steps at Kings Cross and light up the Regent’s Canal. You can even take a pumpkin home at the end of the installation.

Take a ride through London’s spook-soaked past with a Ghost Bus Tour, showing you the darker side of London, from the Houses of Parliament to the Tower of London in this theatrical sightseeing tour onboard a 1960s Routemaster bus. Painted black, obviously. Prefer to keep on foot ready for a quick escape? Join a Haunted Theatreland Walking Tour throughout November to hear wicked tales from the wings of London’s theatres, spooky superstitions and stories of the eerie Man in Grey and friends as you wander the cobbled streets of Covent Garden and St James’s.

Over in Hackney, London Horror Festival transforms The Rose Lipman Building into the Aztec Underworld in Las Maravillas: The Lost Souls of Mictlan, (until Sat 1 Nov, 6pm-10.30pm) with nine levels of site specific art following the trials of life after death as indigenous and Mexican cultures unite for the Day of the Dead.

Never mind zombies and vampires, this Halloween Camden is fixing up and looking sharp for Soundtrack’s Ghoulfellas: Zombies & Gangsters at The Monarch (Sat 1 Nov). Prepare for a dapper evening of undead dance off’s, Murdered Mobster Mug shot booths and confessions box to get those sins off the chest before sleeping with the fishes, all accompanied by top movie soundtracks.

Maybe just keep the light on…
Embrace the history and literature that started it all in the British Library’s new exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (until Tue 15 Jan). From Mary Shelley to Bram Stoker, Stanley Kubrick to Alexander McQueen, this fascinating exhibition unites every aspect of the Gothic imagination from film, art, music, fashion and architecture that continues to inspire our darkest fascinations.

Ever the perfect location for Halloween, Leake Street’s The Vaults comes into its own with The Vaults of Terror (until Sat 1 Nov), a group show celebrating the schlocky world of television horror. From screen printing and sculpture to tattoos, street art and lo brow artists, 21 horror-obsessed artists reanimate their love of the small screen fright show.

Taking over Notting Hill’s 20th Century Theatre, Pop Up Screens present their Halloween Fright Fest (Thu 30 Oct – Sun 2 Nov) with their usual catalogue of cult films including The Dark Crystal, Candyman, Ghostbusters, Nightmare on Elm Street and Poltergeist.

Brave enough to risk a surprise film? Peckham’s arcade bar, Four Quarters invites you into Butcher’s Basement (Thu 30 Oct – Sun 2 Nov), once an actual butchers shop – for a double bill amongst the band-saws and butcher tables. Stick around for the Four Quarters Halloween Weekender (Fri 31 Oct & Sat 1 Nov) with cult horror on the projector and horror-themed video games to play upstairs plus the addition of zombie classic light-gun game, House of the Dead 2, added to their arcade list on freeplay all Friday night.

Clean up on row three…
They say there’s comedy here, but there also appears to be circus performers and therefore, we are in true horror territory in another offering from the London Horror Festival, The Twins Macabre present Small Mediums at Large at Etcetera Theatre (Thu 30 & Fri 31 Oct). Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe, expect dark character comedy like no other from this freakish duo as these two psychic siblings conjure the souls of the damned in their twisted sketches, comedy songs and vaudeville in the Playroom Prison.

Back at The Vaults, their Halloween Raveyard reminds us of the original purpose of this already atmospheric location – the capital’s morgue where bodies were stored ready to board the Necropolis Line transporting bodies to Surrey’s more spacious graveyards. Limited tickets are still available for Thursday for some Zombie Disco Dance Hall, eerie cabaret in the Abandoned Hall and help planning your own funeral with the Dank Parish.

Need more thrills with your cinema viewing? Backyard Cinema take over a secret East London location for an 8-night Zombie Apocalypse (Fri 31 Oct – Fri 7 Nov) with top undead films including Evil Dead, Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead and Planet Terror. But they’re going to make you work for it – before the screening, embark on a 4-hour journey of terror through quarantine, survival zone and science labs. Survive the night? Celebrate with an End of the World Party til late.

See you on the other side…

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