Free days out | Halloween in London
Did you know Halloween came to the UK from America? And like all things American, we Brits have lapped it up, especially in the smoke. London loves Halloween and we love London (I do, anyway), and we also love free stuff (or a discount will do too). So why not enjoy Halloween in London this year?
Halloween in the UK exists, but it’s more churchy here, referred to as All Hallows Eve, falling on the 31st of October just like Halloween, a precursor to All Saints Day in the religious calendar (that’s the serious bit over).
All Hallows is a feast day with nothing to do with ghosts and ghouls (shame). All children consider Halloween an opportunity to feast on sweets, because at least Halloween and All Hallows have that in common.
Usually, we don’t have the weather for it. No one wants to trick or treat in the rain so most Halloween activities happen indoors.
And that’s where this list comes in – the top free things to do this Halloween in London. There’s something for everyone. From an outdoor cinema to pumpkin picking and cheap ideas for a Halloween party, so get your costumes ready and let’s get our scares on 😉
Outdoor Cinema that Doesn’t Break the Bank – Halloween in London
Outdoor Cinema: For a truly spine-tingling experience, why not try an outdoor cinema? The National Trust Osterley Park Outdoor Adventure Cinema is screening family-friendly favourites like Hocus Pocus and Beetlejuice and cult classics like The Lost Boys. With food and drink available, it’s the perfect way to spend a spooky evening.
For adults, there’s always a midnight showing of some horror classic. This year and since it’s on Netflix, it’s The Shining for me, closely followed by Halloween Ends.
Halloween Ends is the scariest Halloween film in 2022. For those who remember the first Halloween film way back in 1978 (even I’m too young to remember this), Halloween Ends does what it says on the poster – ends the trilogy, no more Mike Myers or Laurie Strode (some might say thank goodness).
Still, indoor or outdoor cinema isn’t free, so why not scare the kids senseless by setting up a den in your garden with your outdoor cinema?
You can make your own cinema from a sheet and your laptop. A projector is required. You can now purchase a projector powered by your phone or laptop from Amazon, even though I am aware you might think it will be pricey.
Naturally, there are more professional projectors on the market that are made for outdoor use. The expense can be worthwhile if you regularly plan to host outdoor movies on your patio.
You can link your laptop or DVD player to the projector via the HDMI port. The projector’s jack point or, even better, a wireless connection to and from your soundbar is where the sound is connected.
Think about investing in a pair of Bluetooth headphones to avoid upsetting your neighbours and to use at other events like a silent kids’ party or disco (did someone say quiet kids? Impossible)
Pick a Pickled Pumpkin or Go Pumpkin Picking at Halloween
Pumpkin Picking: What’s Halloween without pumpkins? Head to one of London’s many pick-your-own pumpkin patches and take your pick of the bunch.
Why not check out TimeOuts latest Pumpkin picking locations? Many are free to visit, and with plenty of photo opportunities, it’s great fun for all the family. Just don’t forget to take a carving kit.
You don’t need to leave London to pick a pumpkin; all the supermarkets are doing pumpkin carving – it’s a big deal. Look at the notice board at your local branch of Tesco, Sainsbury or Morrisons, and for up-market carving, don’t forget Waitrose.
Why visit Covent Garden’s pumpkin market if you’re around central London? It’s accessible and beautifully laid out by Covent Gardens’ horticulturalists. There will be pumpkins galore, pumpkin carving competitions, and even gords and squashes get a look in.
It’s not that scary, but it is a treat for the soul, and autumn fun at its finest. Look for me; I’m the witchy-looking woman apple bobbing.
Organised Indoor Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating: What’s Halloween without a bit of trick-or-treating? Head to one of London’s many shopping centres for a safe and controlled environment where the kids can let off some steam this Halloween in London.
Just remember to take along a few sweet treats to hand out to any little monsters you meet along the way. Bluewater shopping centre and Westfield, in both Stratford and Shepherds Bush, are participating in kids trick or treat events.
Let the security guards chase your little darling around the hallowed shopping halls. Not really! (hose poor security guards have enough to do) all shopping centres have supervised child-friendly events designed to wear the little ones out before bedtime.
Try your local council’s website for more location-specific events.
As a side note, it’s worth checking that your child’s school participates in any organised trick-or-treating events; many are now encouraging kids to enjoy different Halloween fun by fundraising for the PTA.
Discounted theatre tickets for Halloween productions
Theatre: For something a little more cultured, why not take advantage of London’s world-famous theatre scene? There are plenty of shows over Halloween, and many offers discounted tickets. Check out What’s On Stage for the latest deals.
The Lyric Cinema in Hammersmith hosts the West End’s famous Halloween musical. It’s an amalgamation of all things spooky, show tunes from The Phantom Of The Opera, Little Shop of Horrors and who could forget Carrie and Bat Boy ( I could and did) all rolled into one.
With its spectacular setting, the musical is a must-see for any theatre fan this Halloween in London. Tickets start at £15 but check for discounts because they always pop up.
Take a stroll through Hyde Park
Hyde Park: What better way to spend a crisp autumnal day than by taking a stroll through one of London’s many green spaces? Hyde Park is particularly stunning in the autumn months because of its fallen leaves and picturesque scenery.
And it’s not just Hyde Park that’s worth exploring; don’t forget about Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park. With so much open space to choose from, we’ve spoilt you for choice in London for free days out.
Check out the giraffes at London Zoo
Did you know you can see the giraffes from outside the perimeter fence? It’s true; just head to the southwest corner of the park, and you’ll be able to see them (and the rhinos) from the safety of the pavement.
Of course, if you want to get up close and personal with the animals, you’ll need to pay for admission. But it’s worth it! London Zoo is one of the best in the world, and there’s plenty to see and do. Check out the zoo’s website for deals and promotions.
If you can make it, Whipsnade Zoo they’re having a party – Boo in the Zoo is a Halloween event with a difference, as it’s all about the animals. With spooky storytelling, animal demonstrations and pumpkin carving, it’s sure to be a hit with the kids.
Tickets start at £15 for adults and £10 for children, but discounts are available if you book in advance. Check the website for more information.
Nearly everything I have told you about so far hasn’t been free but we are getting there. I promise.
Go ghost hunting for free
You must know the story of Jack the Ripper? If not, did you know you can visit the old haunts of one of London’s most infamous criminals? What’s more, it won’t cost you a penny, but just make sure you dress warmly; it can get chilly at night.
Jack prowled the London streets in the late 1800s, and many sites associated with his crimes are still there today. Start your self-guided tour at Aldgate East tube station, then head down Commercial Street to Dorset Street, where one of Jack’s victims, Mary Jane Kelly, lived.
From there, it’s a short walk to Miller’s Court, where another victim, Elizabeth Stride, was killed. You can see the site of her murder from the street; just look for the blue plaque on the wall.
Next on your list should be Hanbury Street in Spitalfields, where Annie Chapman was killed. Then it’s on to George Yard Buildings in Aldgate, the site of Martha Tabram’s murder, before finishing up at Bucks Row in Whitechapel, where Jack murdered Polly Nichols.
Plenty of books and tours are available if you want to get more gory details about the murders, but if you’re happy to explore on your own, this self-guided tour is the perfect way to do it. And best of all, if you DIY it, it’s completely free – free London right there.
Haunted Pubs this Halloween
If all this talk of murder makes you thirsty, stop and have a G&T at London’s most haunted pubs (and we’re not talking about the landlord after last orders)
London is full of Haunted pubs, from the White Hart in Hampstead to the Spaniards Inn in Highgate. But if you’re looking for a totally spooky experience, head to the George and Vulture in the City of London because it’s great!
The ale house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Dick Turpin, the 18th-century highwayman hanged at Tyburn. It’s also rumoured to inspire Dickens’ tavern in The Pickwick Papers.
Whether you believe in ghostly apparitions or not, it’s worth stopping for a drink at this historic pub. And if you’re feeling brave, try asking the landlord about Dick Turpin; he’s sure to have a story or two. Why not try out a Halloween tipple? Add this drink to your cheap Halloween party ideas.
Halloween Punch (not punch up)
If you’re staying in (and don’t blame you for avoiding it), can I offer a little solace (in time for the winter solstice) or at least an autumn cocktail?
Here’s my Halloween punch recipe: delicious, easy to make, and way too easy to drink.
– Bottle of red wine
-Cup of orange juice
-Cup of cranberry juice
-1/2 tablespoon of honey
-1/4 cup of lemon juice
-1 tablespoon of cinnamon
-1 teaspoon of nutmeg
-2 cloves and 1-star anise
How to make the punch:
1) Combine all the liquid in a large pan and heat until warm (don’t cook it, that burns off the alcohol).
2) Pour into heat-proof glasses (you can get these at John Lewis) and enjoy.
Add a slug of brandy or rum (no actual garden slugs, though) to make it a little tastier. And if you’re feeling wintery, garnish with a cinnamon stick or orange slice.
Happy Halloween, bargain hunters!