What is Halloween in London like? From the very beginning, I imagined streets flooded with children dressed in costumes, accompanied by parents wielding lanterns, and swarming from house to house chanting “trick or treat”. They would explore dark neighbourhoods covered in decorations ranging from Jack-o’-lanterns to spider webs. The air would be filled with the laughter of children as they walk past haunting music and automated ghoulish sounds. Every once in a while you would see a house party with costume figures bobbing for apples or socializing around flashlights. At least that is what I imagined when I first came to this country over 10 years ago.
The reality is that the vision of Halloween that I have is primarily the American secular/commercialized holiday. Growing up in America my Octobers would begin with television stations adjusting their programming to show horror films every night. Commercials would synchronize to advertise Halloween costumes, candy and decorations. Slowly, houses in America would begin their transformation into haunted neighbourhoods. But in England that does not really happen. Ireland and Scotland may celebrate Halloween differently but in England and specifically in London the story is different.
Halloween in London, what it’s really like
Halloween in London feels like a hidden holiday. People do celebrate it, but not with the fervour you find in America. In London, shopping centres and grocery stores display costumes, candy and decorations. There are tons of pumpkins up for sale and yet neighbourhoods do not show any signs of the season. Some people hold Halloween parties where they dress up and some people do make it out and go “trick or treating”, but it is very sparse.
Look for it and you will find it
Halloween in London is not celebrated in the same way as it is in America, but if you really want to find haunted houses or party events with Halloween themes, they can be found all over the city.
A quick search online brings up websites such as TimeOut and VisitLondon with many events around the holiday. You can find theatres showing horror films, pubs and clubs with costume themes, haunted tours around London and the River Thames. These are mostly for adults but there are also events for children. Perhaps some of the more interesting tours to consider are the “Jack the Ripper” tours near the Tower of London.
It may not be the same as it is in America, but Halloween in London can be just as fun. If you have your own experiences you would like to share, feel free to share and comment below.