5 years, 26 days ago
All Hallows Eve, the very thought is delightfully sinister and shivery. Or at least it should be. Every year we live in hope of the odd spectral presence, something inexplicable and faintly disturbing, an sliver of icy moon in a windswept sky, shadowy Gothic streets, the whisper of ghostly silken cloaks in an empty alleyway. Instead we end up handing out monkey nuts to Captain America and his mates or going to parties where normally sane folks are sporting outfits that make Dita Von Teese look demure.
This year we’re taking a different approach and leaving nothing to chance in the pursuit of the dark and dramatic, tinged with just enough macabre and drenched in flawless myth and legend. And turns out it’s surprisingly easy to find. The world is filled with places predisposed to the true spirit of All Hallows Eve and prepared to chill us to our very core. So grab your garlic, buckle up your courage and let’s be off – something wicked this way comes …
Trip around Edinburgh’s charming cobbled streets by light of day and it’s all so very respectable and quaint and lovely. Turn on the misted street lamps at dusk, lift a gentle breeze across the higgledy-piggledy rooftops and a very different city emerges from the gloom. Back in the day, Edinburgh’s great and good were a disreputable lot. They bricked up plague victims, robbed graves, plotted, schemed, murdered and mayhemed their way around the city’s Old Town. Few silences couldn’t be bought or silenced permanently and nothing stood in the way of good ‘honest’ enterprise. From Greyfriar’s Kirkyard to Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh revels in its horrifying history and Halloween is a high old time to visit and take a genuinely disturbing city tour. They usually finish up in one of the city’s traditional pubs for a nerve-settling dram or two – you’ll need it.
Even if Prague was just its irresistible self it would still be one of the most atmospheric cities in the world at this time of year. The first breath of winter is whispering round the ancient streets, early morning frost makes the famous spires even more enchanting and lamplight on the broad Vlatava bridges as evening falls is eerie and mesmerising. But Prague is as haunted as it is haunting. The labyrinthine Old Town twists and winds with ghostly tales and terrible deeds. There’s barely a cobbled street or pretty painted house that doesn’t harbour a secret or hide a disgraceful past. This is the city of the legendary Golem of Prague and the poignant Jewish Cemetery, fevered alchemists and heroic Knights Templar, executioners and tragic lovers. Explore yourself by all means, but a haunted Halloween walk in the company of one of the city’s passionate historians is unforgettable. And if you’re strong of spirit on All Hallows this year, take the train from Prague to Sedlec (about an hour) and visit the world’s most famous ossuary – it has an astounding chandelier made entirely of human bones.
Barcelona likes Halloween almost as much as we do. There are concerts and club nights and gigs all over the city. Children are invited to get dressed up and go ghoulishly wild at Port Aventura’s massive Halloween party. And pumpkins make their presence felt on everything from costumes to traditional Catalan cakes – very cute and delicious. But nothing comes even close to Barri Gòtic for splendidly sinister Gothic atmosphere on All Hallows Eve. One of the city’s most famous quarters and home to the bustle of Las Ramblas and the iconic Boqueria Market, true Barri Gòtic is in the high Medieval walls and towers, tiny delicate bridges over alleys, ancient churches and endless cobblestones. We defy you to wander through the narrow streets after dark with little Catalan children flitting around dressed to shock, and not feel a shiver of something otherworldly run deliciously down your spine.
France doesn’t really do Halloween, it prefers to save the celebrations for All Saints Day. But Paris is bucking the trend unintentionally this year much to the delight of those of us who do like a bit of fear-filled tradition on October 31st. The Paris Catacombs, largest and most famous in the world, are now open after dark. Paris says it’s to cut down the queues, but whatever the reason we can’t think of a more chilling experience to fulfil all our expectations perfectly this Halloween.
There you have it, Halloween without a Wanton Witch outfit or Haribo induced frenzy in sight and HouseTrip have properties to rent in every city so you’re safe to come home whenever you want.