What is not to love about October? It is the perfect time to cozy up in your favorite sweater and sip on a cup of, well, pumpkin flavored anything while cracking open a new novel. October is a time for walks in the changing leaves, brisk morning runs, and of course Halloween. A classic holiday in North America, I was prepared for jack-o-lanterns adorning every doorstep, cheesy gravestones on lawns, and human-sized bags of candy being sold in shops. Alas, this is not the reality over here in fair old England. Halloween, although gaining steam, is just not as big or built-up as it is back home. Pumpkins do fill giant tubs in the entrances of grocery stores, and you may find a shop window or two covered in fake spider webs, but the overall extravagance of Halloween is sadly lost. Despite the lack of decoration, there is still plenty to do on the scariest night of the year!
Firstly, bars and clubs take the opportunity to host dress-up nights where you can show off your best costume and mingle with fellow ghosts and vampires. A quick warning for you though, costume shops are not as common in the UK, so expect to embark on a DIY costume if you’re thinking of dressing up. Anyway, homemade outfits are the best kind and it can be a great way to bond with friends by doing a partner or group costume! Many sites give epic Halloween ideas, so make sure to first check out Pinterest and Buzzfeed for inspiration! Movie nights are also popular, so if you are a scary movie buff grab your friends and a bag of popcorn and join your fellow students at one of the many Halloween movie-a-thons hosted by the student union or local movie theatres.
There will also be no lack of house parties to choose from as what student doesn’t love an excuse to have fancy dress party (that’s what the English call a costume party!). The Saturday night preceding Halloween is usually the best night to go out, you’ll find plenty to do and parties to attend.
Sadly, there are a few things missing from the UK Halloween scene, but if you brace yourself you can prepare! Firstly, pumpkin patches are not a seasonal necessity here, so you’ll have to take your fall pics elsewhere. Secondly, I have recently discovered that pumpkin puree is not a shelf staple here, making the process of baking pumpkin pie a slight pain. And lastly, most folks don’t dress up to go to school or work on Halloween day. Going to class on the 31st you wouldn’t even know it was Halloween save for the snap-chat filters, they don’t even play monster mash in the cafeteria!
Overall, my suggestion for anyone who is a big Halloween fan is to start planning early, that way you can build excitement within your friend group and ensure that you have a Spooktacular Halloween across the pond! If you are interested in discovering for yourself how Halloween is celebrated in the UK and thinking about coming here to study, please contact of the ATP advisors.