Halloween Guide: G - L
G is for Ghost Vigil
Ghost hunting is a serious business – Derek Acorah has proved that. If you fancy busting some ghosts, then this all night Ghost Vigil aboard the Tall Ship in Glasgow is a good place to hone your skills. Conducted by experienced paranormal investigators, the event allows you to participate in EVP recording, spirit communication and motion sensor experiments. You’ll be the fifth member of Ghostbusters before you know it.
Ghost Vigil, The Tall Ship, Glasgow Harbour, 100 Stobcross Road, Sat 14 Nov, 9pm-3am. £55. To book call Ghost Events Scotland on 01236 615 300.
H is for Halloween
What else were we going to list under ‘H’ if it wasn’t Halloween itself? The festival stems from the Celtic celebration of Samhain (see ‘S’) and the Christian holy celebration, All Saints Day – which is also known as All Hallows’ Eve and is where the term Halloween comes from. It was originally spelt Hallowe’en as a shortened version of All Hallows’ Even (‘even’ being an old word for evening).
It is from Samhain that the dressing up ritual originates, as individuals would wear masks to disguise themselves from evil spirits. The jack o’ lantern idea comes from All Saints Day, where carved turnips were placed in windows to represent the departed and ward off superstitions.
Modern practices such as the telling of ghost stories and trick or treating also stem from bygone days and play on themes of superstition, with the latter basically amounting to ‘give me sugar or I will perform mischief’. Trick or treating, or guising as we call it in Scotland, mirrors the late medieval practice of ‘souling’, where poor children would chant prayers for the dead in return for cake.
I is for (Staying) In
If (though we don’t condone it) you’re planning to get nicely couch-potatoed over Halloween, we would recommend you start the sloth with BBC Four’s Ghosts In The Machine (Tue 27 Oct, 9pm). It’s a tongue in cheek look at how ghosts have been portrayed on the small screen over the years, and a good chance to revisit some classic Beeb output including their versions of ghost stories Whistle and I’ll Come To You and The Stone Tape.
For the less discerning digital TV viewer, on 31 October there’s enough Ghost Hunt and Most Haunted on Zone Reality and Living TV respectively to satisfy your gullibility several times over. A better bet would be to make the most of the Sky Movie channels’ prodigious selection of scary movies showing on Halloween night including the worthwhile 2007 Stephen King adaptation The Mist (Sky Screen 1, 12.05am), the 2006 remake of The Omen (Sky Screen 2, 10.40pm) and the 2009 franchise-busting edition of Friday the 13th, (Sky Movies Horror, 10pm). The real gems though are on Sky Arts 2 where you can watch two seminally important early vampire films, Nosferatu and Vampyr, back to back (8pm & 9.35pm).
J is for Jack O’Lantern
The jack o’lantern is the quintessential Halloween character. Carved from a turnip, pumpkin or butternut squash (if you’re into that sort of thing), producing a beautifully ornate jack o’lantern is one of life’s true tests of a human being. To make sure you don’t fail in this, The List have got some top tips on how to make your pumpkin the belle of the Halloween ball.
First off, choose your pumpkin wisely. Consider the personality of your jack o’lantern. Is he/she a lofty ghoul or squat warlock? Only attempt an intricate design on a significantly-sized pumpkin, otherwise you’ll find yourself whittling away your orange buddy to nothing.
As you cut out the top hole, angle the knife down so that the lid and hole will be slightly cone-shaped. This will help prevent the top on your lantern falling off. Pre-mark your design onto your pumpkin by using a crayon, or use a stencil as a template and use a nail to punch through to mark the design. Make sure that you have scraped the bottom of the pumpkin flat, so that the candle will sit level in the pumpkin.
To help preserve your pumpkin and stop it shrivelling and drying out, coat the edges with Vaseline. Use a paper towel with the jelly on it to coat the inside. It’s less messy that way. If you can’t do the whole inside, at least try to coat the design you’ve cut. Should your pumpkin start to dry out and shrivel, it can be resurrected from the dead by simply soaking it in water overnight.
K is for Kids
Whereas throwing an old white sheet over your kid and sending them off to gather sweeties from strangers was once the norm, today’s Halloween jollities are rather more sophisticated. None more so than Magic and Monsters, with Owen and Olly – the dynamic duo who have taken charge of the fun at Children’s Classic Concerts. Their Halloween specials, in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, will find the normally serious Royal Scottish National Orchestra musicians decked out in witch’s hats and warty noses. Joined by James MacKenzie, of hugely popular Raven fame, they’ll whiz through a stack of spooky tunes well worth dressing up for.
If you’re not afraid of the cold (or the dark) then head for Hopetoun’s Halloween Walk at Hopetoun House in South Queensferry, where you can take an early evening tour of the woods (bring a torch!) and take part in a fancy dress parade. Or brave The Wicked Walk through the dark Newhailes country estate in Musselburgh.
It’s easy to get crafty at Halloween, in more ways than one. The Great Halloween Puppet Making Workshop at the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre in Glasgow should see a few bedroom windows adorned with puppet monsters and ghosts. Or you can decorate a pumpkin and make lanterns at the Spooky Halloween Workshop run by Edinburgh’s Imagination Workshop.
And it would seem there’s more to Halloween animals than the proverbial witch’s cat. Spooky Happenings at Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston will find the barn animals sharing their home with some rather more ghoulish figures. While Boo at the Zoo at Calderglen Country Park in East Kilbride will teach you all about the creatures of the night, and
Halloween Weekend at Deep Sea World, North Queensferry features a ‘Ghost Trail’ and ‘Rock Pool of Doom’.
New Lanark Visitor Centre is worth a visit anytime of the year, but especially when they wheel out their old fashioned toys and put on some spooky antics for Halloween Capers. So too the beautiful Traquair House in Innerleithen, where their Halloween Family Fun Day will have games, living history and a workshop for all budding witches and wizards.
L is for Life Drawing
Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School originated in America a few years back and quickly became an underground movement. Instead of sketching average Joes, the models are burlesque divas, tattooed hunks and sideshow freaks – and you can drink and dance, as well as draw. It’s what happens when art school collides with the travelling circus and this month is a Halloween special, so expect an extra helping of circus freaks.
Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, the Arches, 253 Argyle Street, 0141 565 1000, Sun 25 Oct, 4pm, £7 (£5).