Liverpool seems to be a city that’s particularly apt to celebrate Halloween – and we’re not talking about Mischief Night.
Look anywhere in late October and you’ll see evidence of the city’s relationship with All Hallow’s Eve. Clubs, pubs, shops, museums, stately homes and even our cathedrals recognise this festival of the dead.
So we’ve counted down seven things you might want to do this Halloween in Liverpool. We’ve tried to bring you a few things that may not be on your radar, so we’ve looked beyond the city’s boundaries; and gone a bit eclectic.
There’s a crazy musical performance courtesy of one of horror’s enuring classics, the annual lantern parade, our stately homes opening up their grounds to ghostly performances, discos, films and something quite intriguing at Liverpool Cathedral. It certainly shows how versatile many of Liverpool’s public buildings are that they’re so readily adaptable to Halloween themes.
So why not head out this Halloween to enjoy these once-a-year knees-ups – if only to avoid the trick-or-treaters? At this point we’re legally obliged to add ‘if you dare’.
Croxteth Hall gets in on the act with a horror tour around the grounds, courtesy of Lovehistory, who promise a terrifying tour of the Victorian Walled Garden of Croxteth Hall.
You should know the form by now – ghoulish stories from the past and scares when one of them jumps out at you. The setting really does appeal, however, and it’s great to see the city’s historical buildings capitalising on their strengths.
Tickets are £15 a head or a tenner for kids, which ain’t cheap, but if that sounds too rich for your blood there are daily activities for the little ‘uns on 29 and 30 October though, oddly, nothing on the 31st.
The Garden of Lost Souls
28th, 29th and 30th October (6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm (approx 1 Hour long) Special 11pm to midnight tour available on the 30th only)
The Lantern Parade is unquestionably one of the city’s best annual events; a funny, macabre and often rather beautiful celebration of life and death, with some awesome puppets along the way.
The parade passes around Sefton Park’s boating lake and heads to a wide open space for the grand finale, which have included a giant firebird and Charon crossing the Styx in the past.
If that all sounds a tad sinister, don’t worry. The parade has something of a carnival atmosphere and there’s fun for all the family (there’s an earlier show for younger paraders); a reflection of the work from the city’s communities that go into making and repairing lanterns every year.
French surrealists Delirium Lumens help out this year in creating the parade’s grand spectacle and there’s The Baghdaddies, while a firework display promises to dazzle the senses.
Our favourite thing in Liverpool? We couldn’t possibly say, but we recommend this most heartily.
Halloween Lantern Carnival
5.30pm – 9.00, 28 October, 2012 (parades start at 5.30pm and 7.30pm at the Boating Lake; main shows are at around 6.15pm and 8.15pm respectively)
It seems fitting that such as gothic edifice as the Anglican Cathedral should be used to explore our fascination with the spirit world.
Canon Richard White will lead the event, called Night of the Living Dead, which will feature atmospheric lighting, smoke and sound to create an event described as being “creative [and] fun with Christ at its centre”.
We’re not sure what John Sentamu would make of it, and we’re not sure either, but we’re pleased to see the cathedral displaying some typically forward thinking on what looks like an intriguing night.
Night of the Living Dead
8pm, 31st October
As we’ve highlighted, Liverpool’s cinemas are doing their bit to mark the season of the witch, but FACT is really getting into the spirit of the season.
There’ll be readings from The Shining and Dracula on 31 October along with pumpkin carving and hot caramel punch.
Plus, Jack Nicholson will be going bonkers for your pleasure in the cinemas to boot. Freddie Krueger, Count Orlock, Leatherface and, er, Jaroth the Goblin King will also be putting in an appearance in the run up to Halloween.
Various dates; check website for details
Head over the water to Port Sunlight – a place that has a touch of the Wicker Man to it at the best of times – for a ghoulash (sorry) night of food and scares within Port Sunlight Museum Tea Rooms.
The event is part-theatre and part three-course meal so be prepared to be entertained as you chow down – think of it as a TV dinner with a difference. This ghast-ronomical (sorry) costs £27.50 per head and features a distinctly autumnal menu, assuming you can concentrate on your food.
Dine if you dare, it says here. Which is exactly what we had to say about <name redacted by SevenStreets lawyers>.
Supper and Spooks
Port Sunlight Museum Tea Rooms
7.00pm, 27 October
Not a deliberately Halloween-y thing, perhaps, but we’re fairly convinced the Epstein has noted the date for this performance of HK Gruber’s bonkers musical-opera-cabaret.
If that’s sounds baffling that’s because it is. Expect the sort of narrative that includes warped versions of popular cult figures; the sort of music that sees the orchestra swap strings and wind for swanee whistles and toy saxophones.
There’s a nice circularity too – the first full orchestral version of Frankenstein!! was premiered in Liverpool when Simon Rattle was conducting the Philharmonic over 30 years ago.
For one night only Camp and Furnace goes totally horrible, with a little help from Santa Chupitos mixologists, Shiverpool and DJs.
Expect a theatre of the macabre, screenings of cult horror films and a Hell of a lot of fancy dress – the theme is vamp so we’re imagining lots of rubber, rouge and cleavage. Maybe that’s just us. Vamp and Furnace promises a gothic-inspired Halloween party, drawing on notions of sin, carnival and sensuality.
Just a typical night out in Liverpool, you might think, if it weren’t for the “visually stunning, disorientating projections” that will complement the live performances and music in addition to the horror films and cocktail bar.
Vamp and Furnace
Camp and Furnace
10pm, 27 October
Top image of Liverpool Lantern Parade by UrbanSoup via Flickr