Hair-raising half term activities

by Katie Rowe

Category: History & heritage
May 6 2014

We’re all going on an eerie holiday

It’s a universal fact that children love to be scared. You only have to look at their little faces alight with joy while being told a gruesome story on a ghost tour as we adults wince and look over our shoulders. What better way then, to spend the half term than on an eerie holiday. Explore history’s darkest deeds and lingering ghosts as we recommend spooky half term ideas, including some of England's most haunted spots and best ghost walks. Brace yourself for witches, singing nuns and screaming children...

Find more things to do at half term

Have a dark encounter in Portsmouth

Discover Portsmouth’s spine-tingling past on a ghost walk around some of its most haunted spots. The seaside city is thought to be one of the most haunted places on the south coast with a murky history splattered with murder and mayhem. Make sure you stick close to each other as you're led through 900 years of macabre maritime history in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard or uncover the dark streets of Spice Island, where your guide will transport you back to a sinister time of drunken sailors, prostitutes, cut-throats and murderers.

Fear factor: 9/10
Recommended age: 16+

Cast a spell at the Creaky Cauldron in Stratford-upon-Avon

At the Creaky Cauldron, a family adventure experience in Stratford-upon-Avon, you can request a letter by Owl Post, gaze into a magical mirror, and shop for wands and spells on Magic Alley. Stop by the Golden Broomstick Ice Cream Parlour or the Butter Beer Bar for scrumptious treats such as the Rhubarb Crumble and Custard milkshake, while mum and dad can try coffee with a shot of pumpkin or gingerbread. Round off the day with a wander along the spooky corridors of the Enchanted Manor where you can take a glimpse at the fascinating life of the world's greatest time-travelling wizard, Dr Thaddeus Bombay.  

Fear factor: 5/10
Recommended age: suitable for all

Get spooked in Derby

Witches and heretics, a hooded monk and a skull dating back to Viking times; there are so many spooky hotspots in this East Midlands city that there’s a choice of two walks from Derby Ghost Walks, one around the city centre, the other around Friar Gate, both full of gory anecdotes (and including a nerve-strengthening drink at a pub with its own share of dark deeds). Walks include a meal either at the historic, crime-filled Derby Gaol or the Tiger Bar in Lock-up Yard, where PC Moss, murdered while on duty in 1879, is forever on his rounds.

Fear factor: 7/10
Recommended age: at parents' discretion.

Take a Top Hat Tour in Lancashire

Do you want to feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise? Wearing his trademark black hat, Simon Entwistle of Top Hat Tours recounts Lancashire’s most gruesome history, including tales of the Pendle Witches, the 10 men and women hanged in 1612, as well as the towns of Settle, Blackburn and Clitheroe - a town haunted by 600 years-worth of ghosts lurking everywhere from Old Hall Boggart to the Swan and Royal Hotel where the walk begins.

Fear factor: 7/10

Recommended age: at parents' discretion

Join an Original Ghost Walk in York

No tricks, no gimmicks – just an evening of spine-tingling tales, starting with the multiple murders of yesteryear that have taken place along the River Ouse. Then it’s off to York Castle Museum where ghostly children have said to have been heard screaming for centuries. Another stop is the Golden Fleece, where a Canadian airman fell to his death in 1945 and is thought to haunt his former room, waking sleepers with an icy touch.

Fear factor: 8/10
Recommended age: at parents' discretion

Katie Rowe

Instagram updates


Customer survey …

VisitEngland would like to invite you to take part in a short survey about our website.

It should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Please click here to be taken to the survey


To add items to favourites …

… you need to be logged in.

If you already have an account, log in.

Or register a

Access your account

Enter your e-mail address or username.
Enter the password that accompanies your e-mail.
Forgot your password? Recover your account
Don't have an account? Register an account