It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark...
Ok, we have sort of adopted this celebration from our friends across the pond - where there used to be 'mischief night' we have now embraced the full on Halloween experience complete with trick or treating, glowing pumpkins, fancy dress and parties for old and young.
And why not? I for one will take any excuse for a party! As the celebration grows each year it is prudent to plan early.
If you have little ones they are going to want to dress up and knock on doors come October 31st.
First, plan ahead, particularly where costumes are concerned. Today's sophisticated youngsters will NOT be satisfied with a hastily cobbled together ensemble of bin liner and lipstick 'blood.' Give yourself a bit of time and you won't have to spend a fortune at a fancy dress store... charity shop buys can be adapted, ideas are all over the internet for something a bit different, and you can make a trip to the market before all that is left is an unconvincing, albeit still scary, Margaret Thatcher mask.
Speak to other mums in advance and go out as a group - the kids will have more fun and the neighbours will appreciate a visit 'en masse' rather than a constant stream of door knockers.
Young teens LOVE to be scared silly! Are you brave enough to face the sleepover? (No 'school night' excuses available, it falls on half term week!) If you can tolerate the squeals, giggles and falling outs these are the simplest Halloween nights to arrange. All you need is a large expanse of floor, sleeping bags, pizza, coke, chocolate, a handful of scary DVD's and Prozac (that's for you, not them.) If things sound like they're going a bit flat, or you simply have a sadistic streak, arrange for some scary tapping on the window, or an older brother hiding behind the sofa ready to pounce (check the disposition of your guests before you try this one!)
If you love to throw a good party yourself but find the traditional party season too full of...well, parties, then Halloween is a great excuse to get all your friends together before they're all partied out. You can make it cool and sophisticated, with a nod towards the scary but predominantly well dressed Morticia and family, or go full on Michael Jackson graveyard scene.
Customise your cocktails or create a 'bloody' punch - serve creepy canapes or a cauldren of witches stew! Of course you needn't go to any trouble at all - there is plenty going on locally to keep everybody entertained.
On Saturday the 20th and 27th October and 3rd November you can take a ride on the Children's Ghost Train at Southend Pier. Enjoy ghostly stories as darkness falls, dress yourself up in your fiendish finery as you prepare to scare - but look out behind you!
In conjunction with the Ghost Train on Southend Pier, 'The White Bus' presents their first ever Zombie Walk. An event for all ages, let your imagination run riot with your zombie costume and see if you can re-create that scene in the Thriller video!You can dance or stagger all the way back along the Pier, up Pier Hill and into the Park Inn Palace Hotel for a screening of the hilariously scary (but youngster friendly) 'Carry On Screaming'. Starting from the pier head at 3pm.
Free entry for anybody dressed as a Zombie.
Spooky Stories Under 7's - As part of the Children's Book Festival come along to Southend Library on 31st October. Bring your torch and prepare for ghostly ghouls and wicked witches and make your own spooky Halloween decorations. You'll need to book in advance and the cost is £2.50 per child including refreshments. Call 01702 534123 or visit the Welcome Desk at Southend Central Library for tickets only.
Adult Film Fright Nights - Over 18's can watch between their fingers as the Pier Cultural Centre screens 'Humanoids from the Deep' on Friday 26th October and 'Dawn of the Dead' on the 2nd November. You are invited to come in fancy dress and the £8 charge includes the Pier train ride (you know you want to!)
Details of these ghostly goings on can be found at www.southend.gov.uk
The Zombie Prom - At The Cliffs Pavilion the dead have risen and they are ready to party! Don your deadliest threads and join The Cliffs' Zombies at the Prom that never really ended! £50 in vouchers for the best costume! Tickets £5
For further information and to book tickets please visit the Cliffs Pavilion website or call the Box Office: 01702 351 135
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorise the neighborhood
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