Ghosts and ghouls, or honouring ancestors? Your choice…

Whether you want to immerse yourself fancy-dress, pumpkin carving and other Halloween pastimes, or reconnect with ancient festivals and honour your ancestors in time-honoured tradition, there’s plenty of events on and around October 31st near Waitby School holiday cottage.

Halloween events near Waitby School holiday cottage

There’s plenty on near Waitby School around October 31

A rich, dark undercurrent of legend and mythology runs through Cumbria and the Lakes. The area has abundant tales of haunted castles and fells, elves, giants, fairies, boggles, dobbies and witches.

So it is perhaps no surprise that there is a plethora of spooky things to do during Halloween, which falls during half term this year. Here’s a round-up of some of the best events taking place near Waitby School.

For those of you who take the darker side of Halloween seriously, why not take a walk around Long Meg and her sisters, as recommended by the Guardian in its review of the top ten spooky places to scare yourself at Halloween? The article dates back to 2009, but Long Meg has been around much longer than that… Do you dare?

On a lighter and more child-friendly note, the Ghostly Galleon rises from the depths of Ullswater to make its annual appearance for Halloween, with a two-hour cruise featuring a magic show and balloon modelling. The organisers promise fun for all the family and there will be prizes for the best fancy dress, but they do warn that: “This is Halloween and the galleon must return to the deep before sundown.”

There are two departures from Glenridding at 12:30 and 15:00 on October 31st. The ghoulish cruise costs £11 per person and includes a spooky sweets goody bag.

Rheged has several events organised, such as making Halloween costumes with Ellie Chaney – much more fun and creative than simply buying a costume. The workshops, which are for age five upwards, take place on October 30, 2012 at 11:00; 13:00 and 15:00, though Rheged says they book up fast.

If you miss out on this, never fear – pumpkin carving master-classes with one of the Rheged chefs is scheduled for October 31st. The classes cost £5 and you get to take your pumpkin home.

Or you could opt to take part in a ghostly trail through the ruins of Lowther Castle, where you will also find Halloween activities and fancy dress prizes. The Courtyard Café will be serving Halloween savouries and monster treats. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of the ghost of Wicked Jimmy and his (presumably much decomposed) mistress! A family ticket costs £10.

Muncaster Castle’s famously chilling Halloween events feature a mile-long route through lit trees and shrubs, with a spooky sound and light show playing across the castle. There are twilight tours and a scary maze (not for the under 12s), and many other eerie attractions. And if you are seriously into ghost-hunting, the castle is also hosting overnight ghost vigils, which will be led by members of the scientific team investigating hauntings at Muncaster since 1992.

And on Saturday, October 27, the streets of Penrith will be filled the ghostly spectacle of spooks, spectres, zombies and witches for the annual Halloween Festival, which takes place between 10:00 and 16:00. There will be a ghost hunt around the shops, fancy dress competition for any age, photography competition, street entertainers, talks and tours.

But if all this talk of ghosts and ghouls isn’t really your thing, perhaps you might be interested in a magical walk carrying home-made lanterns along a twinkling path through the woods at Brantwood.

Formerly the home of John Ruskin, Brantwood has opted to: “Avoid the modern corruption and distortion of the traditional beliefs with commercialism, ‘trick or treating’ and ‘ghoulishness’,” which, it says: “Has distracted the real meaning behind the festival and alienates many people from the event.”

The organiser, Mel Gard, explains that ‘Samhain’ in the Celtic calendar was mid-way between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice and marked the beginning of the New Year. “It was an especially sacred and significant time. The Christian festivals of All Hallows and All Saints Day also mark this time with the same intention – to honour the dead.”

Guard continues: “My hope is to reconnect people to the true intentions manifest in the old folk traditions.”

The walk is a family event and children need to be accompanied by an adult. There is story telling for four to ten-year-olds and the organisers aim to emphasise the ‘magical’ aspects of Halloween, rather than the scary bits, so they are asking that people don’t dress in ghoulish clothes: “It would be appropriate if you wish to wear veils or cloaks or anything which honours your ancestors.” Or if the weather is bad, wellies, warm clothes and waterproofs will be the order of the day.

The walk costs £4.00 for children aged two to 16 and £6 for adults, including refreshments. Pre-booking with payment is required.

And after all that, we’ve got Guy Fawkes night – roaring bonfires, spectacular fireworks and warming drinks! Watch this space – we’ll be writing about the best ones to visit soon…

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