FROM Hungry Ghosts to the Night of Witches, variations of Halloween are celebrated across the globe.
And, whilst in many countries All Hallows’ Eve (Holy Eve) is still rooted in religious tradition, commercialism is fast overtaking where the western world is concerned. Millennial spending in the UK is estimated at over £300 million this year; with hair-raising attractions like Derren Brown’s Ghost Train and themed holidays - think Airbnb’s trip to Bram Stoker’s Castle, where guests bed down in coffins - taking our bloodthirsty desires to the next level.
Unsurprising then that Manchester is also going all out for 2016, with its first ever citywide festival. Spanning over ten terrifying days, Halloween in the City will see over 4000 pumpkin lanterns stand guard in the trees, a giant animatronic spider stalk the streets and over 50 events haunt the centre and beyond. But that’s not all you can get your fangs into, with a horde of happenings every witch way. Here’s our pick of the best...
HALLOWEEN IN THE CITY | City centre | 21-31 October
The brainchild of the city’s Business Improvement District, Heart of Manchester BID, Halloween in the City has plenty of bark - and even more bite. From cemetery gates towering over Market Street to a nightmare emporium in The Printworks and a ghost hunt in Ordsall Hall (supposedly Salford’s most haunted building), there’s nowhere you can hide. Horror soundtrack virtuoso John Carpenter will ‘release the bats’ at Victoria Warehouse, while The Lowry is set for a serious case of the damp and The Font tranforms into a zombie discotheque - complete with free shots for the undead.
Other highlights include MMU’s Gothic Manchester Festival, Pen & Pencil’s Charlie & the Cocktail Factory, tours of the city’s haunted underworld and Forever Manchester’s Mirror Ball.
Full listings here.
BAD FUN: A NIGHTMARE ON B.EAT STREET | B.Eat Street, Great Northern, Friday 28 October
'When BAD meets BEAT there'll be dancing on the street', so says Manchester's debauched disco dandies Bad Fun. The new electric collective, consisting of DJ duo Kit Muir and Jonjo Williams, will be bringing 'deadly disco drinks' and 'bubonic babes with glitter from the grave' to Great Northern's boozy street food back-alley on Friday 28 October, alongside Brighton-based producer Jona Sul - who recently released third EP Milkboy on Fat Boy Slim's Southern Fried Records.
Beat Street, Deansgate Mews, Great Northern, M3 4EN (9pm to 3am; tickets £7 at skiddle.com)
DAY OF THE DEAD | Bowlers Exhibition Centre | Saturday 29 October
Mexicans may have a bone (ahem) to pick with their North American neighbours’ take on Halloween but we westerners have no qualms about doing things a la Mexicana. Day of the Dead is a popular theme this year; with Dive NQ, Be At One and Islington Mill also getting in on the action. And little wonder: its colourful sugar skulls and pre-Columbian customs are even recognised by UNESCO for their intangible cultural heritage. Whilst the focus in its native country is commemorating the departed, Bowlers’ Day of the Dead is more graffiti, fun fairs and - much like fellow club nights Sankeys, Antwerp Mansion and FAC 251 - a thundering musical line-up. Brace yourself.
Bowlers, Longbridge Road, M17 1SN (8pm-5am; tickets at skiddle.com).
DEAD OR ALIVE | The Oast House | 29-30 October
Spinningfields’ favourite hop house celebrates its fifth birthday this month with a Hallo-weekend extravaganza. Both The Oast House and ‘Curious Teepees’ will be transformed into a nightmarish dollhouse; while, on Sunday, two physic mediums will be offering a glimpse into your future at £10 for a twenty-minute session. While you’re in the area, make sure to check out NeighBOOhood’s Halloween special and Tattu’s classic film screamings.
The Oast House, The Avenue Courtyard, M3 3AY (Sat from 7pm, Sun 3-7pm; free entry).
CARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY | Richmond Tearooms | Saturday 29 October
It’s renowned for its monthly Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties but Richmond Tea Rooms will be more murderous than mad this Halloween as someone meets a sticky end... Expect a darker spin on Roald Dahl’s popular tale, along with flamboyant characters and lots of humour, as Carlie’s (not a spelling error) golden ticket to an eccentric chocolate factory doesn’t quite go to plan. The tea rooms will be putting on a themed buffet for this immersive event: time to indulge your inner Augustus Gloop.
Richmond Tearooms, 15 Richmond Street, M1 3HZ (7.30pm; tickets £35 at manchestermurdermysteries.co.uk).
PSYCHO LIVE | Albert Hall | Sunday 30 October
Bernard Herrmann’s nerve-shredding original score is as much the hero of Alfred Hitchcock’s genre-defining horror movie as Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates – and not just in the notorious shower scene. Appreciate its atmospheric role all the more 56 years on at two Halloween screenings at the Albert Hall, accompanied live by the Manchester Camerata. If that’s not enough of a gore-fest, gorge on Albert’s Schloss’ Psycho-themed food and drink specials and check out 'spooktacular' features dotted around the Hall.
Albert Hall, 27 Peter Street, M2 5QR, (4pm and 8pm; tickets from £33 at alberthall.seetickets.com).
GHOSTWATCH | Islington Mill | Sunday 30 October
Fancy being spooked for a good cause? Islington Mill will ‘be exorcising the terrifying mockumentary of nineties childhoods everywhere and bringing it oozing and clawing out into the fifth floor’. Introduced by filmmaking lecturer, Chris Paul Daniels - who was traumatised watching the infamous hoax broadcast in 1992 - the evening costs just £5 on the door, with all proceeds going to the mill’s hefty roof appeal. For more Halloween philanthropy, don’t miss World’s Vision’s Carve a Heart campaign at The Monastery and Oxjam Rocktober on Friday 28.
Islington Mill, James Street, Salford, M3 5HW (7-11pm; £5 donation on the door).
Ghostwatch - what's Trump doing here?