Halloween is one of the largest secular holidays celebrated in the U.S. Although officially celebrated on the 31st of October, most Americans are spellbound by the frightful festivities come October 1st–pumpkin patches begin to sprout in the parking lots of local grocery stores, spiderweb decorations begin to deck the hallways of homes and weekly television programs honor viewers with a Halloween special. This year the Memorial Library is also getting into the Halloween spirit so come trick or treating to the Memorial Library on Halloween and design your own pumpkin, listen to some spooky stories, and write your own ghostly poem.
For those looking for more frightful fun and folly in the city, here are some other ways to get involved in the bewitching season. Remember, it’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!
1. Enjoy Spooky City Halloween Fun at the Forum
In the run up to All Hallow’s Eve there’s plenty of half-term fun available for families at both The Forum and Millennium Library. Inside The Forum, children are invited to join free craft workshops and hear a traditional story teller tell spooky tales. Also watch our artist work wonders on some large pumpkins, grown here in Norwich by White House Farm. The Spooky City parade on All Hallow’s Eve is your chance to dress to impress – or to terrify! Enjoy the dancing, live music, street entertainers and the ghostly surprises lurking in the shop doorways! The parade starts at Norwich Castle at 6.30pm on Fri 31 Oct and makes its way to The Forum via Castle Green, Farmer’s Avenue, Timberhill, Red Lion Street, Gentleman’s Walk and Hey Hill. More information can be found on the website.
2. Take a Norwich Ghost Walk
The Norwich Ghost Walks take you to many famous places around the city noted for their strange events. Apart from experiencing first hand the amazing architectural elements and history of this fine city, you will be regaled with its more macabre side of tragic events & local stories. There is even a Halloween Special for those of the more brave-hearted nature. The Ghost Walks have been happening since 1998 and the Man in Black, the tour guide, is a true Norwich gem. All tours start from the Adam and Eve Pub. See the website for more details. http://www.ghostwalksnorwich.co.uk/first.html
3. Decorate a Pumpkin
Pumpkin carving or decorating is a staple part of the Halloween experience.The pumpkin, or Jack-O-Lantern—the name for a carved pumpkin—has become one of the more familiarized symbols of Halloween. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded as early as 1837. You can collect a pumpkin at your local shop or the Norwich Market and browse some of our craft books for some inspiration. Here’s one to get you started. You can reserve a copy on the online catalog here.
4. Eat, Drink & Be Scary with a Haunted Pub Crawl
Norwich boasts being one of the most haunted cities in England. Conveniently for the pint enthusiast, many of these spectral sightings have happened at many of the local pubs. Why not organize a pub crawl around the cities most famously haunted pubs. Here are a few to get you going:
- The Adam & Eve Pub. Located on Bishopbridge, the Adam and Eve is dated at 1249, making it “probably” the oldest pub in Norwich. The pub has been known for its ghosts, since 1549. The main ghost, nicknamed Sam, is thought to be Lord Sheffield. Sheffield died during Robert Ketts rebellion. Unaware of the ritual of surrender–of which Sheffield did–Ketts men fatally wounded Sheffield with a cleaver. He was immediately taken to the A&E, or the Adam and Eve Pub, where he died.
- The Maids Head Hotel. There have been numerous spooky sightings at the Maids Head Hotel, which has a history dating back to the 13th century. A woman dressed in grey, believed to be a former maid, has been seen roaming the hotel hallways followed by the smell of musty lavender, a scent often used to hide the smell of the plague or buried.
- The Gardener’s Arms/ Murderer’s Pub. Dating back to 1696, the Murderer’s Pub, also known as the Gardener’s Arms, boasts two tales of murder. Philip Cutter, the pub’s owner discovered that the pub earned its gruesome nick-name from a murder that was committed by an ex-cavalryman, Frank Miles, who killed his estranged wife, Mildred (Millie) in June 1895 upon seeing her enter the pub with another man. Frank was tried and convicted to hang for his crime. Contemporary newspaper articles from 1895 are available on the walls of the pub for further reading. Learn more by visiting the pub’s website. http://www.themurderers.co.uk/norwich-pub-history.html
- Lollards Pit Pub. Located on Riverside and built between 1620 and 1670, the pub was the site of execution for heretics and other offenders during the 15th and 16th Centuries. The pub’s cellar was a holding cell to hold prisoners (recently discovered) before they were burned at the stake. The bodies were put into the pit, which is located in the garden. Screams have been heard in the pub and are thought to be of the prisoners, witches and heretics.
5. Treat Yourself to Some Horrifying Tales!
There’s nothing quite like reading a great scary story. From Edgar Allan Poe to Bret Easton Ellis, the Memorial and Millennium Library has a spectacular selection of America’s greatest horrifying tales. Beware however, for it is not all concentrated in the fiction section. Come and explore the bizarre, the unexplained and dare we say supernatural side of American literature, film, crime and history. Here are just a few to get you started, all of which can be found and reserved on our online catalog:
If the horror genre is not quite right for you, you can still get into the Halloween spirit by reading about the masterminds behind some of America’s most famous fright fest films and novels.