A new Halloween tour of the chilling Newhailes House near Edinburgh; a new journey discovering ghosts and graverobbers in Dumfries & Galloway; and a chance to join a ‘Feast of the Dead’ at a traditional Celtic Samhain Festival in Perthshire: these are just a few of the many reasons to spend Halloween in Scotland this year.
Scotland is the home to many spooky stories, myths and legends, including notorious Edinburgh criminals Burke and Hare; the Loch Ness Monster, not to mention providing inspiration for the ghosts and witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth (currently seen on the big screen starring Michael Fassbender, sharing the limelight with some of Scotland’s iconic locations).
Anyone brave enough to be in one of the most haunted countries in the world this Halloween will be in for many tours, tricks and treats ….
I’d turn back if I were you……
For the more faint-hearted, perhaps a visit to one of Scotland’s very own Pick Your Own pumpkin farms would be just the trick, to get a taste of Scotland’s larder during the Year of Food & Drink 2015. Foodies can get into the spirit by carving a lantern or trying a warming bowl of pumpkin soup at one of Scotland’s food & drink destinations.
Halloween events in Scotland 2015….
A Newhailes Halloween
Musselburgh, near Edinburgh
A perennial Halloween tour favourite, Mercat Tours, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, has launched a new Halloween tour for 2015: a tour of the beautiful Newhailes House, located less than half an hour’s drive from Edinburgh’s city centre. Guides will share sinister tales of curses, witches, massacre and death around the spooky grounds. This is an opportunity to hear about the Dalrymple Family and chilling legacy they have cast upon Newhailes and the surrounding area.
Details: Priced from £9 per person (not suitable for those under 8 years of age). Mercat Tours runs other tours in Edinburgh around Halloween and all-year round. Further details are available at www.mercattours.com and www.nts.org.uk
Samhain Festival, Scottish Crannog Centre
Near Kenmore, Aberfeldy, Perthshire
7pm, 31 October
Join a traditional Samhain festival (known as the ‘Feast of the Dead’ in the Pagan calendar) for storytelling around a fire, fire shows, a wicker ram sacrifice, refreshments and much more, suitable for all ages. Spook the night away with lantern-carving competitions as well as one or two surprises!
Details: Ticket prices are £9 for adults and £5 for children and pre-booking is essential. For details on how to book, please visit www.crannog.co.uk
Ghosts & Graverobbers tour, Dumfries
Mostly Ghostly Investigations, Dumfries & Galloway
7pm, 30 October
Something wicked this way comes… Mostly Ghostly Investigations, Dumfries & Galloway’s first paranormal team and the award-winning creators of a range of ghost and local history tours, presents Ghosts & Graverobbers. This new storytelling walk will cover a host of intriguing material designed to provoke thought, discussion and maybe just a hint of fear. Join the team as they reveal the drama of a famous court trial, ghostly goings-on in an historic hotel and dark insights into the infamous ‘Killing Times’. Woven between these tales the walk will also explore the role of the ‘Resurrection Men’ (or graverobbers as they were often known) in Dumfries and the impact they had on the town. Guests will discover a tragic and scandalous case of bodysnatching and learn the story behind a grisly execution on what is now hallowed ground.
Details: For price information please visit: www.mostlyghostly.org. Tickets are priced £8/£6 and £22 for a family (2 adults and 2 children) and will be available to buy at www.ticketweb.co.uk . The tour is suitable for those over the age of 12 and lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes. The meeting place for the tour is Dumfries Midsteeple.
Dark Truth Tour
The Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh
From 9pm, 28 – 31 October
As the nights draw in and the streets go dark, a chill hits the city of Edinburgh as it gears up for Halloween. However, it’s not just the streets open to the sky that are preparing for this most frightful of evenings, but the ones below whose pathways have not been trodden for centuries. Step beneath the Royal Mile for the Real Mary King’s Close’s Dark Truth experience and uncover the real stories of Edinburgh’s murky past. These tales, which span over 500 years of Edinburgh’s history, will be brought together for this special late night performance at The Real Mary King’s Close. Journey through time and get up close to some of Edinburgh’s most notorious characters, from the imposing figure of Kincaid the Witch Pricker to the infamous William Burke…
Details: The hour long Dark Truth Experience, suitable for those aged 16 and over. Tickets are priced at £14.95 with pre-booking highly recommended. Bookings can be made by calling 0131 225 0672 or online at www.realmarykingsclose.com . The Real Mary King’s Close offers daytime tours all year round.
Get a taste for the autumn….
Halloween Witches and Warlocks
Whitmuir the Organic Place, Lamancha, Scottish Borders
Whitmuir, the Organic Place in the Scottish Borders is a small organic farm just 16 miles south of Edinburgh. Visitors can enjoy a meal in the farm’s restaurant where all the food and drink is organic and much of it is grown on the farm. Especially for Halloween, there will be an early evening scary story session, followed by a turnip lanterns procession and then a bonfire and a burger truck for a tasty supper.
Details: For more information, please call 01968 661 147 or visit www.whitmuirtheorganicplace.co.uk
Halloween Brewery Tour
Tennent’s Brewery Visitor Centre
Wellpark Brewery, 161 Duke Street, Glasgow
From 6pm, 30 & 31 October
Join the team for a ghostly edition of one of Glasgow's most loved tours, guided by no other than a special guest...the ghost of Hugh Tennent! See how Hugh's "mad man's dream" came into fruition from the man himself. Ghostly Hugh will lead you through the history of the Tennent's Brewery from his own family history to the present day. Unlock the mysteries of the iconic venue and listen in as the eerie myths and legends of Scotland's oldest running brewery he helped to make world famous come to life.
Details: Tickets are priced at £20 each (refreshments included). For more information, please visit www.tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk/leisure
Halloween Pumpkin Festival, Cairnie Fruit Farm
30 – 31 October
The farm offers different varieties of pumpkins with picked pumpkins are available in the shop during the month of October. The Pumpkin Festival features the Torch Light Maze Nights, pumpkin-carving demonstrations and a fancy dressing competition… prepare to be scared!
Details: Tickets are priced at £8.75 each and full details are available from www.cairniefruitfarm.co.uk
Explore Scotland’s darker history….
Chill-seekers can extend their travels by making their own way around some of Scotland’s spookiest locations….
Glamis Castle, Forfar - Glamis Castle, just outside the village of Glamis, is reputed to be one of the most haunted castles in Scotland. King Malcolm II was murdered here leaving a bloodstain on the floor, which defied all efforts to be removed, and eventually the floor was boarded over. The castle is also said to contain secret rooms, one of which is believed to house a monster which roamed at night. This monster was believed to have been the son of a Laird of Glamis who was horribly deformed and was kept in one of the secret rooms. A ghost named the ‘Grey Lady’ is also said to haunt the Chapel.
St Andrews, Fife - the historic seaside town is steeped in legend, with stories of ghosts of murdered archbishops, John Knox and even the Devil himself wandering the streets! The Cathedral ruins are said to be haunted by an unidentified lady in a long white dress with a veil, holding a book in her clasped hands.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - Culzean has a ghostly piper, who is reputed to have been searching caves beneath the castle when he disappeared. The pipes are said to herald the announcement of a marriage, and also to be heard on stormy nights. His apparition is also said to have been seen in the grounds of the castle, both on Piper's Brae and near the ruinous collegiate church.
The Isle of Skye - In the past, scores of kilted soldiers have been reputedly sighted here. They are often seen near Harta Corrie which is celebrated in local history for the Bloody Stone that marks the scene of a bitter battle between the MacDonalds and the MacLeods some 300 years ago. Also, often seen is a driver-less 1934 Austin phantom car hurtling along roads at breakneck speed.
Dornoch saw the scene of the last judicial execution for witchcraft in 1772. Some claim that the old woman is still seen on occasions, struggling and cursing against the rising flames and smothering smoke on autumn evenings, when the moon is on the wane.
GlenDronach Distillery, Aberdeenshire
The buildings at GlenDronach Distillery are said to be haunted by a woman who arrived from Spain in a sherry cask!
For more information, images or spooky stories, please contact:
Erin Hickey, VisitScotland firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: (0131) 472 2030
Pictured: St Michael's Church, Dumfries, part of the Mostly Ghostly Ghosts & Graverobbers tour. Image courtesy of Mostly Ghostly
Notes to Editors
Year of Food and Drink 2015
- 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
- Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
- A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
- For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/tastescotland