by Kate Grin
Now that the much anticipated festivities of Halloween are slowly coming to an end, it is almost officially time to hang up your wigs and fangs after a week of dark events and parties hosted by the city of smog and fog: London! However, the birthplace of gothic music, dark literature and dramatic architecture does have plenty to offer to the international Goth, curious visitor or the alternative adventurer looking for unusual things to do and local activities for a spine chilling unique experience all year round. The mere sight of some corners of the British capital on a misty evening is enough to give you goosebumps, but if you consider yourself brave enough, the following suggestions will have you checking over your shoulder and wondering why you ever left home and ventured into the unknown!
#1 Highgate Cemetery Walking Tour
The most famous resting place in London town and an unusual local attraction, this 19th Century cemetery is an architectural haven, demonstrating Victorian attitudes towards death and the changing trends of the time. The most famous ‘resident,’ Karl Marx, is found in the east cemetery which is open to everyone, though the west side of the cemetery is only open to guided groups. For photography lovers the west side is well worth visiting, as amazing snaps can be taken of the Circle of Lebanon and Egyptian Avenue. Many vaults, tombs and mausoleums of different styles can be found inside, reflecting the deceased’s profession and sometimes comical life anecdotes. We are major fans of city tours on foot, so a walking tour of the grounds is definitely a must, to learn more and in many cases to help understand the eccentricity and wealthy Victorians’ obsession with impressing, even in the afterlife.
Highgate Cemetery hosts plenty of events in the evenings throughout the year, such as ‘death talks’, candlelight late openings and magic evenings.
When: Open Daily (Except Christmas & Boxing Day) East Cemetery: Weekdays 10am-5pm, Weekends 11am-5pm; West Cemetery: check availability for tours online
Where: Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, London N6 6PJ | Tube: Archway
Cost: East C. £4, West C. £12
#2 Taxidermy in Sebastian Horsley’s Soho Home
Tried and tested, this activity is not for the faint-hearted, as neither the skull-infested flat modelled on a 19th century brothel, nor the workshop itself, presents much tranquillity for the inquisitive mind. The living space, untouched since the death of the artist and flamboyant dandy, now offers the opportunity for anyone to satisfy their artistic tendencies by preparing, stuffing and mounting various animals from a small house mouse to a crow - talking about quirky things to do here!. The workshop provides you the guidance, the animal, the chemicals and props to set your work of art; all you need to bring is your inspiration, your group of friends and a seriously strong stomach! (PS: All rodents, insects and birds used in the workshops are ethically sourced!)
#3 Zombie Experiences London
Described as the epic thrill of a lifetime, this unique experience takes place in different venues each time, where the scenario is always the same: destroy the zombies before they destroy you - one of the most adventurous things to do with friends! However sceptical you may be, this high class production with Hollywood makeup and special effects, and professional horror actors, is sure to provide enough realism to bring you face to face with your fears. You can take part in this mass destruction of flesh eating walking corpses either in a group or if you feel confident enough in your own survival tactics, alone. Either way, you are considered a hero in the making with the help of combat training and as much ammo needed to secure the future of this world! (PS: Coming next week, you'll be able to help scare tourists visiting the London Bridge, as if you just came out of The Walking Dead!)
When: Early evenings. For timetables and availability check here.
Where: The London Bunker: 3 Herringham Road, North Greenwich, SE7 8NJ | Tube: North Greenwich
#4 Jack the Ripper Guided London Tours
The most famous serial killer ever to have walked the dark alleys of Shoreditch and Whitechapel is the reason thousands of people join this night walk each year. This unusual sightseeing tour transports you back to 1888, investigating each of the notorious murders with the help of expert tour guides. In the times where DNA testing, cameras and forensic science were nowhere on the radar, Jack terrorized Shoreditch & Whitechapel and subsequently the whole of Victorian society, as week after week his crimes became more and more ferocious. The cobbled passageways of East London after sunset still have an eerie Victorian feel to them even though nowadays Shoreditch is mostly known for being Hipster central - this is one of the more unique things to do to get a feel for the area.
When: Every evening at 7pm
Where: Outside exit 4 of Aldgate East tube station
Cost: £10. Read here more info.
#5 The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History in London
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities is precisely what you would imagine! The best way to describe it is as a collection of internationally mysterious, dark objects either with a hint of humour or hint of madness. The collection includes hundreds of modern and historical oddities ranging from fairies, mermaids, obscure taxidermy, shrunken heads, doodles, and hairballs, just to name a few. The museum also hosts events such as dinners around a sarcophagus, talks, sorcery, you name it - the calendar can be found on the website. This is a shocking yet interesting place to visit with friends (and family?!) on a lazy Sunday, and if the collection is too much for you to handle, you can simply have a coffee sitting next to a lioness wearing a hat, and enjoy one of the quirkiest local attractions in London.
When: Wed- Sun 12pm-10:30pm
Where: 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP | Tube: Bethnal Green
Price: Admission £5 including a cup of tea & a guide book £3 concessions.
So, what's the creepiest thing you've ever done in London?
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PS: All suggestions you read above are 100% personal, genuine, and not meant to promote anyone and in any way.
PS2: Cover pic by Kate Grin