Whether you’re looking for somewhere to keep the kids happy this Hallowe’en or a haunt for adults to get into the spooky frame of mind, London has something for you. So come out from behind the sofa and get down to some of these gruesome events.
RAM Training’s Zombie bootcamp
If the idea of being assaulted by hordes of the undead sounds like your idea of fun then RAM Training’s Zombie Bootcamp is for you. This is the most high-contact spin on the “apocalypse survival game” genre. You will receive training from real military personnel, who teach you how to use police riot gear (including those big plastic shields), be taught how to effectively lock down buildings occupied by hostiles using two-man fire-teams and get tuition in how to fire a gun, albeit one that’s filled with paint. Then you’re sent out into the field to tackle zombies. And these aren’t your shuffling, limping variety of zombies – these are your 28 Days Later, sprinting, spitting variety. Expect to be knocked to the ground, clawed and generally terrified. When the paintballs run out, you’re left with a baton to smash the undead back into the afterlife – and beating 14 stone’s worth of rotting flesh to the ground is very hard work. Great fun.
Two night packages including hotel from £164pp; book through events specialists maximise.co.uk
Hallowe’en @ Invisible Dot Comedy Club
When it opened last year it was the first custom built comedy venue to open in London for two decades. True to its name, the Invisible Dot is as small a venue as you could hope to find. It punches above its weight though, with the likes of Simon Amstell, Stewart Lee and Adam Buxton all using the venue to road test new material. Every year in late October, the tiny venue puts on a series of Halloween-themed nights called That Scary Halloween Show. Impressively, it regularly draws established names alongside some of the best up and coming talent. Last night, TV and radio's Mark Watson (pictured) headlined.
Tonight you can catch Cariad Lloyd from BBC Three's The Cariad Show, while on Hallowe'en itself Shooting Stars' Angleos Epithemiou tops the bill. Visit theinvisibledot.com, call 020 7424 8918 tickets cost £10.
Shriek Week @ Alexandra Palace Ice Rink
With unrivalled views over london, plenty of history and austere architecture, there can be no better place to spend Hallowe'en than Alexandra Palace. It was the place from which the world's first regular high definition television service was broadcast and in the 80s was used as Victory Square in Michael Radford's adaptation of 1984. This year it's the setting of a half-term Hallowe'en extravaganza. If your kids are getting fidgety on their holidays, take them along to Shriek Week at Ally Pally ice rink. Every day until 3 November, from 10.30am to 4.30pm, there’s face painting and creepy arts and crafts. For younger children there is an inflatable soft play area, and for teenagers there is a spooktacular Dance Macabre ice disco on the Friday night. No Hallowe’en event would be complete without the appearance of a pumpkin, and Alexandra Palace has this base covered with carving sessions.
Pumpkin Carving from £5, Soft play area £4 per hour, Ice Disco £9.80, visit alexandrapalace.com
How do you dress up like a werewolf victim? Fake blood, rip your shirt open with a rake, have a bit of wig sticking out? Well, you’ll have to work it out if you want to go to the Warehouse Werewolves night hosted by alternative venue Ginglik. The Lupine Parvovirus is spreading rapidly around Hackney Wick, apparently, and you’ve got to escape a pack of feral beasts stalking the industrial landscape in the shadow of the Olympic Park. If you haven’t been mauled to death by the end of it, you’re invited to a massive rave in the Wolf’s Den warehouse featuring a haunting floating opera, aerial acrobatics, werewolves on stilts and a beatbox orchestra.
The location is kept top secret until you book; meet between 7pm and 8pm on Saturday.
Tickets are £25/£35, available from ginglik.co.uk
Pop-up Screens Hallowe’en Programme
This night may sound like an ill-advised film module you took at university but it’s actually a fright flick festival stretching from tomorrow until the end of the week. Pop Up Screens sprouts outdoor cinemas all over London throughout the year like some kind of unstoppable, guerrilla cinephile.
But its Halloween soirees are being held at St James Church in West Hampstead. The night itself is reserved for Clive Barker's 1987 British horror classic Hellraiser, full-on gore-out Saw is showing on Friday, followed by 90s satirical classic Scream on Saturday, and black comedy Beetlejuice on Sunday.
Pop Up Screens Halloween Programme starts at 8pm at St James Church, 2 Sherriff Road, NW6 2AP. Tickets are available for £14 from popupscreens.co.uk.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum
If you watched the Human Centipede and thought, “Hmmm, that’s an interesting way to extend the oesophagus. I wonder if that leads to quicker digestion?” then Britain’s oldest surviving operating theatre is probably for you. Built in 1812, the theatre has been restored with its original 19th century operating table and surgical instruments and it sits in the herb garret of the roof of St Thomas Church near London Bridge. If that isn’t creepy enough, Professor Ian Conrich and Justin D Edwards will present Surgical Horrors: The Operated Body in Horror Films and Literature on Halloween night using a number of film clips and excerpts from literature to slice into the heart of the matter.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum can be found at St Thomas Church, 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY.
Surgical Horrors: The Operated Body in Horror Films and Literature starts at 6pm on Thursday 31 October. Tickets £10 including refreshments, available from thegarret.org.uk.
Hunterian Hallowe’en Late View
For the more grown-up Hallowe’en thrill seeker, there is a special late view of the Huntarian museum’s already eerie exhibits. This will encompass the “anatomy of a hanging”, where you can learn all the gory details of how public executions were carried out – and how they sometimes went wrong. There is also a segment dedicated to how the supposedly dead did sometimes rise from the grave, sparking many of the zombie myths that still endure today. Best of all, in tribute to the Huntarian museum’s exquisitely gruesome collection of pickled body parts, you will be invited to create your very own floating exhibit – all you need to bring is a jam jar, all other materials will be provided on the day. Exactly what they may be is unclear. If making your own formaldehyde phallus isn’t for you, you can simply stroll through the excellent collection of anatomical curiosities.
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3PE; no booking required; £2 suggested donation
Night Safari @ The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum continues its incredibly popular run of night events with this Myths and Monsters special, exploring real life creatures of the night that plagued sailors in days past (including a “close encounter with an octopus and a sea shell that can kill with a single dose of venom”), the truth behind the stories that gave us creatures from Greek mythology such as the fearsome, towering cyclops and the obligatory real-life zombie stories, with an insect spin. And, if that wasn’t enough, you can also sit back with a drink and discuss the museum’s attractions with its very own scientists. Just being in the museum at night is worth the price of entry alone – it’s astonishing how different the place looks when eerie shadows stretch across the exhibits and the halls aren’t filled with the shrieks of young children. And you never know – you might end up spotting a dinosaur ghost.
The event takes place on 31 October, tickets are £28, or £25 for members; book online at nhm.ac.uk; doors open 18.30