Halloween events for families in UK with a literary twist

whitby abbey sunsetThere are so many haunted castles and places to visit in Britain but why not choose one of the Halloween events for families with a literary twist?

Half term holidays in most schools in UK take place in the two weeks leading up to Halloween night so there’s lots of spooky things to do. When I was looking at family friendly events for Halloween, I discovered some places which are a good excuse for parents to open a book or get their literary kick out of the visit.

Here are some Halloween events that are in locations set in or inspired by a British fiction novel.

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

“Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.” ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker (1897).

This former Benedictine abbey on a headland cliff in North Yorkshire inspired Bram Stoker when he was writing Dracula. Children can make creepy crafts and hear spooky tales from the Victorian undertaker during the day (October 26 – November 3) at Whitby Abbey. On Halloween night meet Victorian characters such as Jack the Ripper as you wander around the floodlit ruins of the 13th century church. But don’t mistake this spooky cast with expected visitors from the nearby Whitby Goth Festival taking place at the same time.

dracula bram stoker

Featured top image is Whitby Abbey with photo courtesy of Ackers 72 

Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Jamaica Inn early editionThere are a lot of children’s Halloween events in Cornwall during the half term holiday period to give kids the creeps. But if you’re hoping to see a ‘real’ ghost then consider heading to the middle of Bodmin Moor and staying at the old tavern called Jamaica Inn. Smuggling and murderous schemes were plotted at this 1750 coaching inn in Daphne Du Maurier’s 1936 novel Jamaica Inn. The Halloween ghost hunts are already booked at the tavern but you can still stay in one of the rooms. Don’t be surprised if you hear ghostly horses’ hooves clip clapping on the cobblestones outside or unexplained footsteps inside. Avoid bedroom 4 unless you want a Halloween event for families that you’ll never forget.

The image is a 1944 copy of Jamaica Inn available on US Amazon.

Harry Potter Studio Tour, London

Pretend that Hogwarts is a real place by visiting film sets and going behind the scenes at the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. Be a wizard student in one of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books and learn how to make slimy troll snot or silvery unicorn blood. Beware of Lord Voldemort’s henchmen in a darkened Diagon Alley. Take a peak at a Halloween feast. The Halloween events for adults and kids who love Harry Potter take place  at the Warner Bros Studio in London from October 19 to November 3. You’ll want to reread J K Rowling’s books after you leave as well as watch all the Harry Potter films.

Harry Potter book set

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle Halloween events for families

So many novels have been written about Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife who lost her head in 1536.  A backdrop for many of these books is Hever Castle in Kent where the Boleyn family plotted their rise to power and Anne grew up. The castle also features in another fiction novel about Anne’s sister Mary called The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. From October 26 to November 4 at Hever Castle kids can make bat masks, decorate Halloween cupcakes, wear costumes while listening to spooky stories and go on pumpkin and bat trails in the gardens. Grown-ups can go on a ghost tour, have a feast and stay overnight with or without the kids.

Other Boleyn Girl

Photo credit Hever Castle: Graham S Dean Photography via photopin cc

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Kenilworth Castle

The Elizabethean ruins became popular with the Victorians after Sir Walter Scott wrote the novel Kenilworth in 1821. Kenilworth Castle was the home of Robert Dudley who was considered the great love of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 -1605). He even held a festival for her during her stay in 1575. Families with children over 8 can bring their pillows and sleeping bags and stay in campbeds on Halloween night. The spooky overnight stay in this former romantic location will include a tour of the castle, dinner, ghost stories and a twilight walk.

Kenilworth Sir Walter Scott

Photo credit Kenilworth Castle: Damek via photopin cc

DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Northampshire

Young kids are unlikely to have read any of D. H. Lawrence’s novels such as Sons and Lovers or Lady Chatterley’s Lover but they can still have fun during Halloween at the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum dedicated to the writer. Costume competitions, creepy crafts, snakes, spiders, and a terrifying trail will keep young children amused and slightly scared from October 19 to November 3. There’s even an interactive spook walk in the local nature reserve for 5 to 9 year olds. You can also learn how the superstitions and customs of Halloween grew during the Victorian period in this home where D. H. Lawrence was born in 1885.

lady chatterleys lover

Castle Howard, North Yorkshire

Castle Howard family friendly Halloween spectacular

Parents should first read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and then watch the 1981 TV adaptation of the book which was filmed at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire before planning a visit. Even the 2008 film was shot at this estate originally built between 1699 and 1712. Then take the kids to the first Halloween event for families which will be held at Castle Howard, one of the grandest stately homes in Britain. The ‘Chills and Thrills’ spectacular aimed at both adults and children will feature torch lit paths, a headless horseman, fire eaters and stilt walkers in the misty grounds. Kids will be thrilled with face painters, story tellers and magic mirrors. According to the Castle Howard website:  “The ‘Horses of Halloween’ grand finale will see Yorkshire based Atkinson Action Horses…perform death defying stunts and breathtaking displays with fire and explosions.”

Brideshead Revisited

Photo credit Castle Howard: HJSP82 via photopin cc

I’m looking forward to taking my kids to one of these amazing British locations for a future Halloween. In the meanwhile I’ve decided it’s time for me to get out some of these British classic novels and enjoy them again whether its All Hallow’s Eve or not.

Did you know many British didn’t celebrate Halloween as children? Read my post Halloween in UK – import or export?

Note: I have included  UK and US Amazon links in this post about Halloween events for families. As an affiliate I earn a little commission if you decide to click through but this at no extra cost for you. Big thanks if you do click!



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  1. I’ve been wanting to visit all the places you’ve mentioned above! Yep, they are all in my bucket-list, especially Hever Castle. Yes, I admit I have read some of Philippa Gregory’s books (I blame my mother-in-law for introducing me to her books). Hahaha. But please don’t tell her I said that, she is a lovely woman =)

  2. Giving Halloween spooks & thrills a literary twist is such a fun idea!

  3. Love the theme for this post. Kenilworth Castle looks great, I’m very tempted by the Halloween sleepover! #pocolo

  4. Its fab to see whitby in there, we eloped and married there :-)

  5. Great post! Some really interesting ideas – for when we’re in the UK for Halloween next :) #PoCoLo

  6. I keep meaning to go to the Jamaica Inn. It looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing :-)

  7. Whitby is a favourite of mine, it always looks so spectacular at night! Definitely want to visit Kenilworth Castle next! :-)

  8. Lovely collection of castles and history for Halloween :-)

  9. There are so many great places here :) I would love to get to Hever Castle one day and may try the Jamica Inn at some point – although I don’t know if Grace is quite ready for that yet!! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  10. I think I’ve only ever visited the Hever Castle, many years ago, such a stunning setting. A fab idea for a Hallowe’en trip. I’m sure there are plenty of literary-based locations in the States as well, where you could take children.

  11. Brilliant – I’m a huge fan of castles – atmospheric anytime of year especially Halloween!

  12. A fabulous way of celebrating Halloween!
    Last year we did something different too with Second Daughter, we were in the Chalice Gardens in Glastonbury… http://funkywelliesrandomthoughts.com/samhain-in-the-chalice-gardens/. A great experience. xx