Spooks & Sparklers 2022

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

Too old for trick or treating? Local fireworks display cancelled? You could stay in and binge-watch a Netflix boxset, or plan a scary movie marathon – or you could try something a bit different.

I’ve pulled together a few suggestions that should tick a few boxes. Some of these I’ve either seen or already booked for, but the rest just sound fun! It’s mostly Hallowe’en-based events (perhaps unsurprisingly there aren’t very many Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night-themed shows), but most run on several days so you could actually do more than one…

1797: The Mariner’s Revenge
This brand new immersive, site-specific production isn’t about that infamous mariner, but Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic tale does loom large in 1797: The Mariner’s Revenge. Set in the attic rooms of the Admiral’s House, in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the audience follows the fortunes of a bed-ridden sailor who has returned from the Battle of Tenerife feeling worse for wear. But there aren’t just physical injuries for him to worry about, as he is also being plagued by a stuffed albatross that sits above his bed…
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Photo credit: Hannah Anketell
Photo credit: National Trust

The Haunting of Sutton House
Tea Break Theatre return with a brand new show, inspired by the ghostly history of Hackney’s oldest house. Tour guide Layla is on hand to take you around the house before it closes for the night, but the phantoms have other ideas… The performance runs for just over an hour (including an interval), and there will be a small bar on site.
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Pecs: Kings of Darkness
Join London’s best Drag Kings at Shoreditch Town Hall for their first Hallowe’en special, which will include performances from Lusty Lovelace & Crusty the Drag Clown, plus there will be an appearance from DJ Drag Me To Elle. The main cabaret show runs for approximately 90 minutes, and then the night will close with a DJ set. Costumes encouraged!
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Photo credit: Charles Flint

The Canterville Ghost
Fear and laughter often go hand-in-hand (you only have to look at work from the likes of Steve Pemberton & Reece Shearsmith to see that), so Tall Stories’ approach to the Oscar Wilde novella The Canterville Ghost is not as bizarre as it may first seem. Their vaudeville stage adaptation is currently playing at Southwark Playhouse, before heading to Bristol and Newcastle.
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Edinburgh Horror Festival
This festival incorporates a variety of different events, from theatre to improv, spoken word to movies. Most of the programme will take place at the Banshee Labyrinth in the Old Town, with shows usually beginning at 5pm and the final show of the night starting at 10.30pm – certain shows can be live-streamed. Walking tours will also operate in & around the Old Town.
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Shakespeare’s True Crimes Walking Tour
Spend a couple of hours walking around Bankside with one of the guides from Shakespeare’s Globe, learning the criminal history of the area – including stories about Shakespeare himself. This tour starts at 6pm and has a few different dates available. There will also be a more family-friendly tour of the Globe itself, if you don’t want to delve into grisly Early Modern history.
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HistFest: Hallowe’en Fright Night
An online event that combines fact and fiction, featuring a range of guest speakers. First the audience will be treated to a reading of MR James’ The Ash Tree, with performances from the likes of Janina Ramirez, Richard Herring, Suzannah Lipscomb, Matthew Sweet & Catherine Johnson. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the history of ghosts and witches, drawing upon the expertise of Dr Amara Thornton (historian of archaeology), Marc Hartzmann (historian of the occult) & Dr Mai Musié (classicist & Greek mythology expert).
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Photo credit: British Library

Viva Mexico: Day of the Dead workshop
This bilingual workshop will take place at the British Library, and is appropriate for families & people of all ages. Here you’ll have the chance to hear about the myths & history of Day of the Dead, as well as make paper flowers and learn all about Mexican altars which honour the dead. This event is completely free, and in-person only.
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The Gunpowder Plot
An immersive experience that combines digital tech with live theatre and physical sensations; taking place just across from Tower Hill, it feels like you’re stepping back into history. The experience lasts around 100 minutes (including an interval), and you have the chance to enjoy food & drink from their themed bars before and after. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes & clothes, as it takes place over three floors – and parental guidance is required for children aged 12-15 years.
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But if none of that takes your fancy, you still have a few West End regulars (old and new) to hand:

  • The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre – 8pm performances Tuesday-Saturday, with 3pm matinées on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays during half term week.
  • Wicked, Apollo Victoria – 7.30pm performances Tuesday-Saturday, with 2.30pm matinées on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays during half term week.
  • 2:22: A Ghost Story, Criterion Theatre – 7.30pm performances Tuesday-Saturday (6pm on Sunday), with 2.30pm matinées on Saturdays (2pm on Sundays).

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