ROLL UP. ROLL UP, ladies and gentleman! Do not be afraid, not yet… at least.
Welcome to this strange and unusual, creepy and kooky, the utterly spooky, Travels with my Belly guide to Halloween in London. Let me guide you around some of the best creepy hidden gems to be found in London. I will be your guide to the strange and unusual for I myself am… strange and unusual.
I’ve avoided many of the typical Halloween things to do such as the London Dungeon and Tower of London. Not for us! NO! We tread carefully and cautiously into the unknown lesser travelled creepy corners of London. The very best hidden gems in London that will delight your fight and unnerve you.
Our journey is not for the faint of heart for we shall see many strange things… So grab your wolfsbane, bunch of garlic, and whatever holy symbols you can and let us journey into the best 7 unusual Halloween things to do in London. I hope you’ll enjoy the macabre guide. Since this is Travels with my Belly it includes places to eat for each attraction, some are even Halloween themed!
So as the light fades, an ill-omened wind rises in the east, and somewhere there is a sound of howling. Is it beast or… something else? Read on…
1) Halloween Things to do in London – The Monster Shop
What is a monster’s favorite song? SCARE way to heaven.
Probably my favorite thing on the list so let’s start with it. Hoxton Monster Supplies describes itself:
It gladdens my heart to know that, in this world, such a wonderful heartwarming imaginative thing can exist in a world that often takes itself far too seriously and has no time nor place for wonder and magic.
It’s a small shop where you monsters ( and humans ) can buy supplies. Such exotic tasty treats such as the thickest human snot, organ marmalade, werewolf biscuits, and a favourite of mine that I brought last time, purely because of the description on the tin, a can of the Heebie Jeebies.
The discerning Halloween monster may also purchase many goods such as a jar of moonlight, a raven’s skull, a death certificate, various cups for coffee or… other liquids, and much more!
The shop is small but wonderful and staffed by volunteers that are quite happy to play along. The shop is actually a part of the wonderfully named Ministry of Stories which is a charity that helping young people in East London using writing and creativity.
The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Shop is utterly charming and wonderful. I think it’s one of the very best hidden gems in London and is well worth a visit, especially around Halloween. You are sure to get some fantastic treats you’ll not find anywhere else. The shop can be found, unsurprisingly, in Hoxton: a hip and trendy part of London.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: The nearest Tube Station to the Monster Shop in Hoxton, is just 5 minutes away. If you’re thirsty but want to carry on the Halloween theme, there is a pub close by called Howl at the Moon! It’s not a themed pub but the name is appropriate.
2) Halloween Things to do in London – The Magnificent Seven
What do you call an undead bee? a ZOMbee.
One of the more obvious strange and unusual Halloween things to do in London is to visit a graveyard! How else should we spend Halloween?! You have certainly got your pick. You might have heard of the famous Highgate Cemetery but did you know it’s part of what is known as The Magnificent Seven? No, not the cowboys.
In the early 1800s, London had a dead people problem. As London grew, fueled by industrialisation, they began to run out of graves. The old parish churches were never designed nor meant for such numbers of dead. They soon began to literally overflow with corpses. Seeing grannie again in such a state was a bit on the upsetting side and worse still the rivers became befouled with corpse juices and disease spread rapidly. Something had to be done.
An urgent act of parliament called for the creation of seven large cemeteries that would form a ring outside the bounds of London and thus the magnificent seven came into being. The Seven graveyards are Highgate cemetery, Abney Park cemetery, Brompton Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Tower Hamlets cemetery, Kensal Green cemetery, and West Norwood cemetery.
These are no ordinary graveyards. The Victorians built grand gothic garden cemeteries that were to be pleasant to spend time in and also impress and inspire awe. Strange as it may seem to us now, The Victorians viewed them and designed them to be as much parks as they were graveyards.
Expect to find grand tombs, impressive ornate mausoleums, catacombs, and statues worn by time and dressed in lichen and moss. It’s like something dug from the depths of Tim Burton’s gothic twisted imagination. You’ll also find the stories of the famous and infamous etched in time and commemorated in stone.
Each cemetery has its own feel. Nunhead, for example, is a wild place overrun and reclaimed by nature, full of twisting branches and ivy that embracing crumbling edifices. It’s a particularly gothic place. Brompton Cemetery is one of the most orderly and landscaped,
Highgate is the most famous and has its share of the famous and infamous interned, Karl Marx is buried here. It also has it’s share of stories including duelling magicians and a vampire!
From there things become more sinister and the blood curdling mystery deepens…
It ends all ends in the desecration of a grave, a stake driven straight through the heart… It’s an interesting story. You read more, in the Vice article, about the Highgate Vampire. Mysterious sightings and visions around highgate continue to be reported to this day. Some say that the highgate vampire walks still… v–v
Highgate cemetery is definitely a strange and unusual place and rightfully deserves a place on these things to do on Halloween list! The graveyard is divided in two. The East side is free to enter but the West side needs to be booked and paid for and is only viewable by tour.
The East side is probably the most gothic place in London. Vast vaunted halls of the dead rise like decaying teeth from the tangle and ruin. Stone angels stand guard, Egyptian monoliths and pyramids, inscribed with hieroglyphics jut from the earth.
This is a place you can well believe in the stories of ghosts and vampires. The guides are great, full of dark stories. What a perfect place to spend Halloween in London? Just be sure to eat some garlic bread before you visit and remember to bring your crucifix. Just in case.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: Various locations easily accessible by train, tube, and bus, or dropping dead. Last one not very recommended but in keeping with the Halloween theme! As for food, if you are visiting Highgate Cemetery then I recommend The Flask Pub! It even has a dark Halloween appropriate past because it was the haunt of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin.
3) Halloween Things to do in London – The Old operating theatre
What is a Halloween monster’s favourite saying? It will be alright on the fright!
What’s that, Sir? You have a bad leg? No problem. Just lay down here and I’ll get my saw!
This is how operations used to be done and all without the use of anaesthetics or pain killers. While they hacked your leg off with an unsanitary saw you would be watched by a baying jeering crowd sat around in a raised semi-circle. Surgery back in Victorian times was very much the spectator sport! I don’t know about you but if somebody saws my leg off while people watch in the peanut gallery, I would be… wait for it… HOPPING MAD.
Obviously, if you were having your leg literally sawn off then you would want it done with speed. Many surgeons prided themselves on how fast they could have a limb off. Possibly the best of them all was Robert Liston, nicknamed “the fastest blade in the west.”
Once your leg was off, unfortunately, your ordeal was far from over because there were no antiseptics or antibacterials. Hospitals at the time were filthy stinking highly unsanitary places. Mortality rates were extremely high and you would most likely die from subsequent infection.
You can learn about this and much more at London’s Old Operating Theatre! Unfortunately, unless you are in a group this could be a bit expensive. The entrance fee is £20 for up to six people so not something you want to do just by yourself!
GETTING THERE AND EATS: Visiting the Old Operating theatre is easy. It’s a short walk from London Bridge Station. Borough Market is close by if you fancy something delicious. It’s not particularly scary but the market has existed in some form on the site for over 1000 years so there are probably some ghosts there. Probably.
4) Halloween Things to do in London – Sir John Sloane’s Museum
What is a monster’s favourite food? GOUL-lash.
Sir John Soane’s museum isn’t really a spooky thing, although they do run the occasional tour by candlelight from time to time which could be creepy! It is, however, strange and unusual and most certainly one of the hidden gems in London. I personally think it’s a perfect way to spend Halloween in London. This city does this kind of museum really well: small and eccentric. Did you know London had the most museums of any city in the world?! Many of them are small and eccentric.
So what is it? The museum about page sums it up pretty well!
Sir John Soane was an explorer and I think it’s fair to say he was also a something of a packrat. What makes this museum wonderful is that he brought back many amazing and strange curiosities from around the world and stuffed them in this house without any real thought to placement.
So what you get is this fantastic eccentric hodgepodge of wonderment stuffed higgledy-piggledy. You might turn the corner and see a painting by Hogarth and then turn another to see a stuffed pigmy head. Because the house has been left the way it was up until he died you get a real feel for him. You get the feeling that Sir John, might at any time, walk in through the door. They have an Instagram if you would like to get some idea of what’s inside.
This is a very different experience than most museums and it’s well worth your time to come and see it. The house isn’t that big so it won’t take very long to explore. You could easily fit this and another thing into a single day.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: The nearest tube station is Chancery Lane and is about 6 minutes walk away depending on the length of your legs.
If you are feeling hungry, because gore always makes me hungry! Just me? There is the fancy pants Holborn Dining Room ( famous for its pies ) but there’s also a pie hatch to sample some of their amazing creations to go! I also recommend Bar Polski which as you may guess is a Polish bar. They have more types of vodkas than you ever dared imagine possible in your drunkest dreams! They also do some seriously good authentic Polish food. The prices here are another plus point!
5) Halloween Things to do in London – Grant Museum of Zoology
Why did the Vampire go to the Doctor? Because of his terrible coffin…
Next on our list of unusual Halloween things to do in London is a bizarre and macabre museum. I can think of few better places to celebrate the strange and unusual than the Grant Museum. This is the perfect place to visit for your Halloween in London celebrations! This is one of the few places that I’m genuinely going to warn you about. Read on… if you dare!
This is the last university museum in London. It’s part of the UCL: University College of London. You’ll see students and academics going about their day when you visit. The museum is open to the public but still used for study.
So here is the warning: being a historic zoological museum it contains a lot of skeletons, skulls, preserved dead things, fetuses, stuffed animals, sliced up brains, and the highlight for me, a large glass jar stuffed with moles. Another highlight is a stuffed dodo although sad it’s now the only way to see them.
If you want strange and unusual and macabre on Halloween this is the place for you! If you don’t want to see that sort of thing then it’s certainly not the place for you. Personally, I love it and been on three occasions but I’ve seen and read about people being freaked out.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: You’re spoiled for tube stations with this one. you have Goodge Street, Great Portland and Euston Underground all being within easy walking distance but your closest is Euston Underground. Another option would be Euston Railway Station. As for eats, I recommend the excellent Malaysian restaurant, Roti King. No prizes for guessing what they specialise in. The only scary things about this place is how low the prices are.
6) Halloween Things to do in London – The Clink
How does a Halloween monster look good? He visits the SCARE dresser and visits a BOOtique.
In British slang, to be thrown in the “the clink” means to go to Prison. This phrase dates all the way back to the original prison that gave its name to all others, The Clink Prison Museum is located in Southwark. This is another of my hidden gems in London and again absolutely perfect if you are looking for things to do on Halloween!
This is a great place and fantastic value for money at only £8 per person. Compare this to the similar themed but bigger and more famous brother The London Dungeon at a whopping £40 per person! For two people to get into the London Dungeon you are talking almost £100! This is crazy prices. Personally, I’m not a fan of the London Dungeon. I think it’s a bit of a tourist trap. It’s not that it isn’t fun -it is! But it’s far too expensive and over very quickly.
Of the two things, I would rather visit this lesser known hidden gem. It’s not as flashy but just as fun, in my opinion. It rides the line between revelling in gruesome and macabre entertainment and education just perfectly. You’ll come out entertained and educated too! If you are looking for some macabre ghoulish fun then you can’t go wrong with this. Plus you could combine it with the nearby Old Operating theatre and eat at Borough Market.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: London Bridge Station is a short walk away. Eat at Borough Market or maybe have a drink by the river Thames at one of the open air riverside tables at The Old Thameside Inn or Anchor bankside which also has tables by the water. They are perfect places to be in case there is an outbreak of zombies. You can jump in the river to avoid the zombies.
7) Halloween Things to do in London – The Viktor Wynd Museum
What is the most scary part of the body? Terror wrists.
We are almost done with our grim and ghastly Halloween tour of the strange and unusual. I have left the strangest of them all till last. The web site sums things up nicely:
This is part bar and part museum. The upstairs is also packed with strangeness and the perfect place for a Halloween tipple. They serve hot drinks such as tea and coffee also. They have some pretty interesting cocktails.
Downstairs is the museum. It’s actually very small but packed. This is the last place to come with a warning. There are some very disturbing things to be found in the museum. This isn’t a place for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History ( to give it its full name ) is more of a Cabinet of curiosities than an actual museum. It’s meant to inspire wonderment and curiosity, amuse and unsettle. It’s stuffed with the bizarre and macabre with little explanation. It’s certainly not for everybody nor the easily offended or religious but if you want to experience something different and dark on Halloween in London then this is the place for you.
GETTING THERE AND EATS: The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green. It’s a short walk to the museum from there. As for eats, if you visit on a weekend then you can enjoy some tasty street food in Victoria Park’s market.
What do you call a haunted chicken? A poultry-giest!
So I hope you’ve enjoyed these 7 strange and usual Halloween things to do in London. I do love Halloween. Years ago when I started, Halloween wasn’t really much of a thing here in the UK but due to the influence of American movies, it has grown in popularity and continues to do so.
Every year I have fun decorating the flat. Each year I try to find something new to put up. Although this year I’ll probably only put up my inflatable ghost and light some candles. I normally spend the day watching Halloween themed movies. How do you celebrate Halloween?
Before I finish up, a note of the photos. I strive to produce all the photography for the site but occasionally it’s just not possible so a few of the photos are not mine but I’ve credited the original authors. I’ve been to all the places I’ve listed but just can’t find photos for some of them! Hugely frustrating! I lack the time to revisit so had to make do.
As ever, if you did enjoy this then please share this post as it really helps the site to grow. Consider subscribing and never miss a new article. If you’ve got any thoughts ( or awful Halloween jokes ) I would love to hear from you down in the comments section!
Brilliant article and some real hidden gems. I am really intrigued by the Magnificant Seven cemetarys. I never knew that and Highgate cemetary does look quite enchanting. Thanks for taking the time to research and present this wonderfully interesting information.
It is an interesting list. Though the old way of surgery with a saw gave me the creeps!! I don’t even want to picture it in my mind! I hope one day I get to enjoy Halloween in London. Btw I think your comments are automatically closed after a few weeks. Did you set it that way? Because I mostly leave a comment after reading something and I’ve already been through your Thailand post and a couple of others. Anyway good to find your blog.
Hi Martin! Really enjoyed this post about Halloween! I do not like all the American fuzz about it, but reading your post gives me a real Halloween feeling…
The first thing that popped into my mind was a painting from Rembrandt, “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp”, when I read about the old operating theatre. I would love to see it! Three of my other favourites are the Hoxton monster shop, the magnificient 7 cemetary ( I love cemetaries!!), and the Grant museum ( I would have not enough with just my 2 eyes!)
The way you write, makes Halloween even attractive! It gives me an image of old English, dark castles, stuffed with gosts. Loved it! Grtz Natacha
Oh dear, never realized that London is such a strange place, lol. Wonderful article Martin, written with love, I can tell.
So, what’s the monsters favorite drink? Monstrositea
We might have missed the boat for Halloween this year, but this is such an interesting post regardless. London really is blessed with so many fascinating places to discover and museums to visit. The Victorian cemeteries in particular look beautiful in their own way – I’m sure it makes for a unique explore! Thanks for sharing 🙂