With Autumn now very much upon us and with Halloween just around the corner, the half term bells will soon be ringing which heralds a fantastic time to have a break away. Now, at this time of year, whilst England does get much colder, it also comes alive with an array of vibrant colours making an autumnal break in the countryside a good idea for many families.
Indeed, for families on a budget, the infamously popular “Sun Holidays” where families can get away for a few nights in the shoulder season of Spring and Autumn for just £9.50 or £15 each is a very popular option.
Admittedly, this time of year isn’t just about getting away, in fact, this time of year is the perfect time to cosy down and squirrel yourself away inside your house from the wind and rain.. with a family favourite film and a roaring fire. There’s also potential, of course, for you to be stuck indoors, consumed with craft activities; surrounded by variety of fabrics and glue sticks in order to make the much coveted Halloween costume.
If you have your sights set on getting away this autumn, whether for a spooky getaway or to catch the last of the summer sun this list should offer some inspiration:
You can always trust Americans to put on a good show for Halloween, and if you’re looking for the most interesting and atmospheric happenings then you want to head to Salem where the original Salem witch trials took place.
If you’re looking for a similar atmosphere that is closer to home then you could head up to Lancaster, where the notoriously haunted Lancaster Castle is a natural host to all sorts of ancestral spirits. Indeed, just a stone’s throw from the castle you have the museum of enchanted childhood, housed in the basement of the Judges lodgings – where the person responsible for the capture and death of the Pendle witches once lived.
Nearby, you’ll find the child friendly funfair of Blackpool pleasure beach that whilst it might not the classiest place on Earth, it is certainly suitable for a fun filled family adventure if your kids are of a certain age. Here, you’ll find old fashioned penny arcades, tacky piers, even tackier shops and a plethora of fun activities for children to engage in.
Of specific interest, at this time of year, is the walk through horror maze just outside the Pleasure Beach and the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, of the same brand as the London and York Dungeon.
If you’re looking for something more intense, and your children are of a teenage age, or you fancy a more intense evening just for the adults you could visit nearby Farmageddon that is pitched as a “fear farm” that turns an entire farm into a collection of scare attractions; where you’ll find an elaborate set up of haunted houses with live actors that genuinely terrify you.
If you’re looking for something a little warmer and are hoping to catch the last of the summer sun then heading to the Canary Islands is a safe bet. Whilst the Canary Islands are not famed for their Halloween activities, they are famed for fun and sun, even in the winter months. With temperatures in the range of 25 – 30 degrees and a welcome breeze present at most times making it one of the most wonderful climates on the planet, along with fantastic food, incredible wine and warm gregarious people.
Back in the UK, and straight to the North of England, the small city of York is one of the most haunted cities in England. Here, you can find cobbled streets with a scattering of independent shops, live street performers and some of the most beautiful cityscapes in the UK. Whilst York can be somewhat of a tourist trap, particularly with coach tours pumping tourists into the city on a daily basis – there’s a reason it’s so popular.
This chocolate box city is somewhere between the vibe of Bruges and Covent Garden, in that it is affluent and scenic, yet it’s a definitely Northern town in that the residents retain their fundamentally down to earth personality associated with the North.
Of particular interest, at this time of year are the York Minster Ghost Walks (that are mostly family friendly) and some of the most haunted hotels in the UK, namely, the Golden Fleece in the heart of the city centre.
If you’re wanting a short hop away from the UK whilst still succumbing to the autumnal charm found within the landscape of our region, you could take a short flight to Ireland. In addition to the beautiful scenery and the warm friendly people, you might be questioning, why Ireland for Halloween?
Well, Halloween was actually invented in Ireland, and was recently voted in a poll conducted by USA Today that it is the best place to celebrate Halloween in the world; of course, that’s not the whole of Ireland – it’s limited to the Foyle Halloween Carnival in Derry.
The other reason to visit Ireland at this time of the year, is that there’s nothing better than being caught in a storm whilst having a cost meal in a friendly pub – to find the doors locked shut with the men (and women – though traditionally men) picking up their instruments whereby almost all the locals start jigging, clapping and singing as the pub turns into an intimate local concert of warmth hospitality.
Whilst some onlookers might not consider this a particularly child friendly scene, the warmth and gentleness of such events are perfect for families and it’s likely your kids will be the stars of the show… which is a great way to build confidence and self-esteem.
Just be aware, that often these intimate gatherings extend into the wee hours of the night, beyond closing time, and the locals have a tenacious hospitality that can make it difficult to get away… that said, with a blazing open fire to keep you cosy, why would you want to leave anyway?