Scares & flares

Celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night in style by taking your group to some of the dedicated events happening up and down the country. Carrie Drage provides a selection.

From haunted houses to scary storytelling, there are plenty of events to liven up the spookiest day of the year. Then, if you are in the mood for gunpowder, treason and plot this Bonfire Night, why not head to one of the impressive fireworks displays set to light up the night sky.

Some of the gruesome characters you might encounter at Phobophobia at the London Bridge Experience.

Some of the gruesome characters you might encounter at Phobophobia at the London Bridge Experience.

Halloween hauntings

Give your group the fright of their lives with a visit to one of the following spooky events.

In Lancashire, tickets have now gone on sale for Farmageddon, an interactive haunted attraction aking place at Farmer Ted’s Farm Park from 7th to 31st October. With live actors, special effects and animatronics, your journey into each of the three haunted houses will have you teetering on the edge of terror and beyond. Each house contains smoke effects, strobe lighting, uneven surfaces, loud noises and areas of almost pitch blackness. Now in its fifth year, the event has sold out for the last three years so early booking is advised. Group rates are available.

From 15th to 31st October, Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire will host its annual Scarefest. During this period, visitors can join Scarefest character Skelvin for a haunted house adventure or brave the chilling Carnival of Screams. Group rates apply.

Get the fright of your life at this year’s Farmageddon.

Get the fright of your life at this year’s Farmageddon.

The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs will be bringing visitors face to face with the subject of common phobias (as well as a few more unusual ones!) in their Halloween show, Phobophobia. You will be invited to make your way past walls dripping in blood, squeeze through confined spaces and be met with spiders, snakes, cackling witches and creepy clowns, among other surprises. The family-friendly daytime shows will take place between 17th October and 1st November, while the more adult evening shows will be staged from 27th until 31st October. Groups receive a discount and every 11th ticket is free.

Returning to Chessington World of Adventures, in Surrey, for another year is Halloween Hocus Pocus, from 21st to 30th October. Brand new for 2011 is Twilight Zone, an eerie walk-through experience for the brave. Groups qualify for discounts.

Meanwhile, on selected dates between 22nd October and 5th November, LEGOLAND Windsor will present Halloween Brick or Treat featuring Scooby-Doo Fireworks. As well as a variety of Halloween-themed activities, groups will be able to help Scooby-Doo and the gang hunt for clues, master the monsters and solve a mystery, as well as take in a fireworks display. Special rates apply to groups of seven or more.

In the capital, the Original London Ghost Festival runs from 24th to 31st October at various locations throughout the city. The programme offers an assortment of ghostly themed events, walks, tours and talks all centred on the city’s walking dead, spectral myths and horrid histories.

Moving to Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor will be hosting a Halloween Half Term event between 26th and 30th October. Take your group along for a terrifying trail around the gardens, a scary film screening, face painting and fun craft activities. Groups of 15 or more receive a discount.

On 30th October, why not visit The National Trust’s Erddig in Wrexham, Wales, for Halloween Hootings. Join in the Halloween craft workshop, see the owls, follow the spooky trail, meet live spiders and scorpions, listen to scary stories and lots more. Groups of 15 or more receive a 15% discount.

Meanwhile, in Lancashire, The National Trust’s Rufford Old Hall will be operating Twilight Tours of Terror. These eerie tours of the house and grounds will take place on 31st October and it is advised to book well in advance.

A colourful display from the British Musical Fireworks Championships.

A colourful display from the British Musical Fireworks Championships.

Lastly, in Surrey, Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights will return for a 10th year from the end of October. Enjoy rides in the dark, brave the live horror mazes and experience a brand new horror attraction introduced for its 10th anniversary, described as its most extreme yet! Group rates start at seven or more people.

Bright sparks

Why not see in the autumn evenings with a bang by treating your group to a magnificent fireworks display.

Staged at Kings Gardens in Southport between 30th September and 2nd October, the British Musical Fireworks Championships presents seven competitors that battle it out to be crowned champion. Audiences can expect pyrotechnic displays synchronised to music. Groups of 10 plus receive discounted admission and every 11th ticket is free.

Taking place on 29th and 30th October, Drayton Manor Theme Park’s end of season Fireworks Spectacular will feature a 30-minute firework and laser display set to music on both days. Also during the weekend, selected rides at the Staffordshire attraction will be open until 9pm. Groups receive discounted admission and a free place for the organiser.

Also in Staffordshire, Alton Towers theme park will be holding a Fireworks event between 4th and 6th November, bringing its 2011 opening season to a spectacular finale. During this time, the rides will be open until 9pm with the fireworks launching from 7pm each evening. Savings are available for groups of 10 or more.

Last year’s Fireworks Spectacular at Drayton Manor Theme Park.

Last year’s Fireworks Spectacular at Drayton Manor Theme Park.

Opening its doors for a Fireworks Extravaganza on 5th November is Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shropshire, one of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums. During this event, the streets will be illuminated by gaslight as they would have been in the 19th century. Group rates apply.

Moving to Kent, Leeds Castle will be staging its Fireworks Spectacular on 5th and 6th November. Hailed as one of the finest fireworks displays in the south east, this year’s pyrotechnics will be set to music inspired by ‘space’. Groups of 15 or more are eligible for discounts.

Although there are no fireworks, with over one million light bulbs and six miles of displays, the Illuminations in Blackpool are also quite the spectacle! This year’s event launches on 2nd September with a mystery celebrity flicking the famous switch and will run until 6th November. Groups have the chance to hire their very own guide to board their coach and can also arrange talks at hotels for members that prefer to view the Illuminations on foot or by tram.