The COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a stop to many Pagan happenings across the British Isles, but as the year moves on and the autumn equinox falls further behind us, many people’s thoughts are starting to turn towards Samhain.
A number of the usual rites and rituals may be off the menu still, but there are nonetheless some socially distanced possibilities for celebrating the dark time of the year. Some of these are Samhain-related, whilst others are Hallowe’en themed family events.
In Hampshire, New Forest Activities are advertising a Hallowe’en tour of the Beaulieu River after dark, by canoe. You’re invited to come along in fancy dress. Tickets for adults are £29 per head, £22 for children, and the tours last 2 hours. The company is also advertising Hallowe’en pumpkin shooting if you’d like to practice your archery skills.
Down in Cornwall, Bodmin Jail is running tours of the allegedly haunted prison after dark from £20 (18+), 26 October-1 November. The jail has a paranormal manager, who can give you scientific and not-so-scientific explanations for the happenings on these premises.
Keep an eye on English Heritage-run sites, too, as several of these are offering Hallowe’en tours, including Whitby Abbey, along with storytelling.
The Georgian House Hotel in Victoria in London is offering witchy afternoon teas (along with ‘sandwitches’ and ‘magic potion’ cocktail making sessions) throughout October.
In Bristol, you can check out the Haus of Horrors party at Lakota Gardens in Bristol, on 29 October (6 pm-10 pm): this includes disco, house and tech DJs.
In Glastonbury, the Chalice Well gardens are open from 10 a.m. – 4.30 p.m daily (credit/debit cards only) but due to new pandemic regulations, the Chalice Well has had to cancel its usual seasonal events: so there will be no Earth Festival at Samhain this year.
Similarly, if you are in Eire, Dublin has moved a number of events online – but the Bram Stoker Festival will be going ahead later this month with several physical as well as virtual events. A number of Irish libraries are also hosting online activities for children. However, the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown annual Samhain walk on 25th October has been canceled, again due to the pandemic.
Muncaster Castle in West Cumbria will also be running a Hallowe’en event. The venue says that “this year the Seriously Spooky event will be running for a full week. Daily activities include the “Sledgehammer House of Horrors” themed show running each day, every hour, from 4 pm. You will need an additional ticket for this. But included in your ticket you’ll find plague medicine workshops, lantern and drumming workshops, and fire shows. There will be Witch Warbler trails around the gardens, a Terrifying Terrace and Maze, and a Juggling Jester. The gardens will be Halloween themed gardens and there will be an Enchanted Trail. The Castle opens from 10.30 am with Halloween activities each day from lunchtime where you can get stuck into Creeping Kate’s Café and the Owl Garden Tea Room. Twilight Owls events will also be running each evening.”
Muncaster is not the only castle in the UK running a Hallowe’en event: Warwick, Carlisle, and Newcastle Castle will also be running family-friendly ghostly fun, so check out individual venues’ websites for more information.
Ghost walks are always popular at this time of year and you can find a number of these happening on the physical plane in 2020. Ghost bus tours are organized in London, York and Edinburgh.
Blackpool Towers Dungeon is also running events based on the Pendle Witches (again, you will need to book).
In the capital, the Old Operating Theatre offers an exploration of old medical and surgical practices. They often have a series of graphic gory talks on during October and November, such as 19th-century matricide. There are also films. They’re running on limited timed group entries, and credit card payment only.
Also in London, in Greenwich, you may want to check out the Royal Maritime Greenwich Ghost Tours, which run on Saturdays from 3rd October 2020 from outside the entrance to the Cutty Sark. These last for 90 minutes and cost from £9 – 14. “Learn about the drunken sailors sent to “Shanghai”, hear about the Cutty Sark Curse, explore hidden lanes, the creepiest tunnel in the UK and visit Charles Dickens’ favourite haunted pub.” Check with them to see if you need to book.
If there is something that you attend regularly at this time of year, obviously check to see if it’s still running in order to avoid disappointment. Do remember, given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, that lockdown restrictions are changing and ongoing across the UK, with Wales having recently been placed under a full ‘circuit-breaker.’ If you are in the North of England, especially, do keep an eye on the changing Covid regs. Events, if they run, will legally require social distancing measures and some events may be having to insist on smaller group numbers, so make sure you book early. The York Ghost Hunt, for example, is still running with social distancing measures throughout the winter, but you will need to book rather than simply turning up as before.
Practitioners such as Felicity Weston are offering net-based, events, such as (in Weston’s case) an online Full Moon Samhain Ceremony, Sunday 1st November 2020 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm BST UK (VIA ZOOM). If you can’t make that time, the ceremony is being recorded, so you can catch up later but must still book via Eventbrite.
Costs range from £11 – 33 depending on income. The ceremony will include Ancestor Reverence: Remembering and Honouring The Ancestors, Welcoming Our Descent, and Inviting The Celtic New Year. “We will be journeying with the sacred plant medicine Cacao to invite and deepen our connection to the ancestors and unseen beings of light. We will work with intention-setting, breathwork, movement medicine, cosmic sound, and a beautiful guided journey to connect to our ancestors and receive a light code of activation!”
It is well worth doing some Googling to check on other online events that local groups might be organizing this Samhain.