Love it, loathe it, look forward or fear it with a passion, Halloween has become an increasingly prominent festival to celebrate in Bournemouth and across the UK. From pick-your-own pumpkins to cheeky pumpkin spiced lattes, trick or treat, parties, treasure hunts and themed nights out, Bournemouth has well and truly stated to embrace this spooky seasonal celebration.
Pick your own pumpkin
First thing’s first, you’re going to need a pumpkin – whether you want to carve it into a lantern with the kids, leave it outside to show the neighbourhood’s boys and, err, ghouls, that you’re ready for trick or treaters or even make some seasonal soup, cakes and snacks.
Check out your local supermarket, greengrocer or corner store, some garden centres, markets or farm shops to buy a freshly-picked pumpkin or head to one of several Pick Your Owns in the area, grab a sledge or a wheelbarrow and pile it high with these iconic autumnal vegetables.
Dan Tanners – one at the Cat and Fiddle and another at Sopley Farm – always gets into the Halloween spirit with row upon row of pumpkins waiting to be chosen as the canvas for your lantern design. Pumpkins are available right now if you want to get some practise in!
The Cat and Fiddle Pick Your Own is also throwing a Pumpkin Party on Sat 28 and Sun 29 October to celebrate the spooky season with pumpkin picking and carving, music, food, drink, stalls, games and a bouncy castle, it’s £5 per adult and £2.50 per child and the admission price includes one pumpkin per person.
If you’re looking for a way to spook-up Halloween day itself (Tuesday 31st October), throw on your fright-rags and head for the Lower Gardens, where you’ll find tons of activities taking place from 1-5:30pm including an arts and crafts marquee, face painting, circus workshops, fancy dress and more. The perfect way to spend this terrifying Tuesday.
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is always quick to celebrate an occasion and Halloween is no exception. During half term (Tuesday 24 – Friday 27 October 2017) in the run-up to Halloween they’re throwing several terrifying-themed ‘make and take’ craft sessions with pre-booking advisable. Why not pair this with a trip around the historic house and hope nothing goes bump in the night.
If you’re feeling brave and want to tackle the creepy corridors of the Russell-Cotes after dark, drop by on Saturday 28 October (shall we call it Fright Night?!) to explore the secrets that lurk in the shadows. This is a rare opportunity to explore the museum as witching hour draws near and if you come in costume you’ll get a free drink from Annie’s Unearthly Apothecary. Doors creak open 7-10pm.
If you’re not content to sit at home and wait for the trick or treaters and you’ve already bled the neighbourhood dry (of SWEETS!) head on down to Southbourne Green from 5pm on Halloween night to take part in a spooky family walk with games, fun and prizes. Just remember to tip up in your most ghostly garb so you really look the part!
Hengistbury Head and Christchurch
Hengistbury Halloween trail
Head to Hengistbury over the weekend of 28 and 29 October to carve and decorate some pumpkins with help from artist John House £6 per pumpkin. If you’re ready to brave the great outdoors you can follow the Halloween Trail from 10:30am to 3pm, collecting the clues to find the answer to the puzzle and win a prize at the end £3 per child.
Fireworks at Waterman’s Park
There are some spooky goings-on in Somerford this Hallow’s Eve, with a Halloween firework display, pumpkin carving competition, fancy dress contest, fire performer and children’s rides. Head on down for a scarily fun evening between 6 and 8pm.
Spooky soft play
Even the tiniest of tots can get in on the act this Halloween with some of the area’s soft play centres getting into character and holding their own celebrations. Lemur Landings in Tower Park is hosting a Halloween disco, balloon animals and children’s buffet on Saturday 28 October.
Granny Cousins Ghost Walk
If you fancy a thorough frightening in Halloween week why not enjoy the company of Granny Cousins as she guides you around Poole on a ghoulish ghost walk on Monday 30th October? The well-loved Victorian character and her sidekick ‘Red’ have been guiding brave ghost hunters around the spooky streets of the ancient fishing port for 20 years now and knows all the tricks to summon up the scary!
Make sure you’re dressed your spookiest and armed with a torch then gather at Scaplen’s Court Museum for 8pm (adult tickets £8, children £5) for a chilling 90-minute evening walk learning about some of the people who have lived, worked and haunted the old town of Poole.
If you go down to the woods today… make sure you’re the scariest of them all! Several woodland and country parks in the Bournemouth area are getting into the Halloween spirit with a range of activities in events to go bump in the woods!
Avon Heath Country Park
Avon Heath Country Park is hosting a Halloween treasure trail between Saturday 21 and Sunday 29 October. Just grab a trailsheet for £3 uncover the gory clues and solve the reeking riddles for a prize daily between 11am and 3pm. If you’re feeling (witch)crafty there’s a Pop-up Pottery on Wednesday 25th and Fright night walks on the 27th. There are tons of terrifying activities taking place on Sunday 29th including batty activities and mini Hallowe’en explorers, meet the Hallowe’en wildlife, witches broom making, phantom face painting and more.
Upton Country Park
Upton Country Park is transforming its activity area for the whole of half term into a Pumpkin Patch with scarecrows and a spooky maze with a giant, hidden spider. This activity is free and pumpkin carving is also available for a small charge.
Moors Valley Country Park
Moors Valley Country Park is going all-out for Halloween this year. On Tuesday 27th you can join the spookacular family night ride while the following evening it’s a Halloween trundle where smaller children can explore the woods as darkness starts to fall. Listen to some spooky stories on Thursday 29th before getting the chance to make your own mini broomstick.
Children’s farms and theme parks
Monkey World is again throwing open its doors to offer free entry to all under 16s dressed in full Halloween costume who turn up on the 31st looking suitably scary. Apparently, the monkeys like it! Remember to congregate outside the Wateringhole (opposite the main entrance) around 3pm for the fancy dress competition. All half term week from Monday 23 to Saturday 28 October the Activity Centre will be running suitably scary activities for your little ghouls and boys between 10am and 4pm.
Boo Crew at Farmer Palmer’s
Get ready for some ‘spooktacular’ fun for the whole of Half Term at Farmer Palmer’s. Their ‘boo crew’ will be throwing on lots of ‘fangtastic’ activities including a tractor ride with Dracula’s friends, a witch’s race, mini monster hunt in the maize maze, spider slinging and dance party in the animal barn and a team of face painters ready to transform even the most angelic cherubs into little devils!
Scary maze at Adventure Wonderland
Adventure Wonderland is throwing open its doors to embrace the Halloween holiday all half term long (22-30 October) with cauldrons-full of fiendish fun every day. There are spooky shows in the theatre at midday and 3pm and the spooky themed gang will be around the park entertaining and spooking the masses. Dare you brave the scary maze, packed with giant spiders, creepy cobwebs and lots of hidden spooks (10:30-11:15, 1:30-2:15, 4-4:20pm)
Castles and stately homes
Terrifying tales at Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle is a popular venue for Halloween fun-seekers as it’s a ready-made spooky setting! You can follow the spooky trail, bring along your bravest teddy to tackle the zipwire challenge and watch the castle’s Warwolf II Trebuchet in action every day from 21-29 October. And do you dare sit through Granny Cousins’ ghostly stories while she leads you around the creepy castle ruins?
Adventures at Kingston Lacy
Kingston Lacy is an elegant country mansion providing the ideal venue for some hallowe’en high-jinks! The Halloween spooktacular runs from 24 October to 1 November 10:30am to 6pm and offers craft activities in the laundry, a spooky trail around the gardens and theatre walk guaranteed to get your knees knocking!
Spooky skittles at Highcliff Castle
Highcliff Castle is hosting a Halloween Extravaganza on 28 November, this ancient building the perfect venue for a spooky shindig. Tickets are available (£3.50 per person) for half hourly arrival slots between 2 and 7pm with activities including ghoulish skittles and a ghostly tin can alley as you weave through the property bound for its real-life owls and a fun craft activity.
Gardens and garden centres
Bring your little monsters down to Stewarts Garden Centre in Christchurch or Broomhill (Wimborne) on Wednesday 25-Thursday 26 October and see if you can brave the spooky walkway. It cost just £1 each and all proceeds will go to Julia’s House children’s charity. Wednesday 25th is also pumpkin evening at both centres, with fancy dress competitions, haunted games, scary storytelling, pumpkin carving competitions and a trip through the spooky walkway. Tickets available to book from 1 October online or on the website. £3.50 for each person attending over the age of 3, £1.50 from each ticket goes to Julia’s House.
Clubs and theatres
Halloween’s not just for the kids. Once you’ve promised one final trick or treat trip or apple bobbing session why not head to the Shelley Theatre for their Halloween Cider Festival on Thursday 27 October. It’s an apt venue seeing as it was the house that spawned Frankenstein, laying on craft ciders, food and live music
The O2 Academy
If you want to celebrate Halloween well past the witching hour the O2 Academy is throwing a Cirque du Soul event on 28 October, a circus of freaks and monsters with spooky immersive theatre production, performers and decoration to really get you in the spirit. The line-up is scarily good, including DJ sets from SHY FX and Flava D to keep those bones shaking until 5am!
Disabilities clubbing night at Cameo Club
Over 18s with disabilities are welcome to enjoy a Halloween club night at Cameo on Thursday 26 October. Fancy dress is optional and tickets are £6 for adults and £2 concessions / carers. Come and get your spook on from 7-11pm with DJ entertainment and bar. All proceeds raised go to local charity Diverse Abilities.
Ritual at Plates & Co
Set in a former church in the heart of historic Westbourne it will come as no surprise that upmarket restaurant Plates & Co has become quite the venue for Halloween gatherings, a ritual no less. The dress code is ‘wear to scare’ or masquerade, so throw together your most devilish look and head down on October 28 9pm – 2am to enjoy this VIP Halloween festival complete with canapes, walk around performers and various live Halloween acts, stage performers and top DJs hosted by a ring master. Limited tickets available in advance. Over 21s only.
Halloween takeover at Eden bar and club
Get your spooky started at Eden for the Enter and Drumfunk Get Hype Records Halloween takeover on 27 October from 10pm to 3am. Expect a banging line-up with a 90-minute set by The Prototypes with special guest Crissy Cross plus Glitch City, Intraspekt B2B Whitey, Dysko and MCs Skydro, Felon and Kerizma.
Whether you’re trying to fill half term week with seasonal, child-friendly activities or you’re looking for a unique occasion to celebrate a night out on the tiles Bournemouth is a great place to celebrate Halloween. Have a frighteningly fun time!