The Real Mary King’s Close opened as a visitor attraction in April 2003 and offers the year-round opportunity to discover Edinburgh’s hidden history.The Real Mary King’s Close is essentially a warren of narrow, underground streets, brought to life by costumed character guides that are based on former residents of the Close, who escort visitors around the lively site, whilst telling real stories of the people who lived, worked and died on the Close. The attraction is named after Mary King, a prominent businesswoman in the 1630s, who is brought to life in the interactive Gallery Room. 2015 sees The Real Mary King’s Close install doors on the Royal Mile, a new exhibition space and internal café, featuring the best locally sourced produce. Murder Mystery Evenings are available for private hire and transports up to 25 visitors back to the Edwardian Era.
Additionally, the Dark Truth Tour explores the darker side of Edinburgh’s underground history, from the 16th to the 20th century. The Dark Truth Tour is a late night event that approximates one hour, with 20 spaces available per tour. The Dark Truth Tour is available to book throughout the year. The Real Mary King’s Close offers perks for pre-booked groups of 15 or more people. Parties could also combine their visit with a meal at Hard Rock Café Edinburgh, which boasts exclusive discounted rates for groups of 15 plus. For more information visit www.realmarykingsclose.com
ACCOMMODATION – HOTEL DU VIN EDINBURGH
Hotel Du Vin & Bistro houses 47 luxury-style bedrooms and boasts a convenient location close to the Bedlam Theatre. Initially a poorhouse, Hotel Du Vin & Bistro later became known as Bedlam, the infamous lunatic asylum. Nowadays, the hotel is bursting with character, with most of the original brickwork exposed from this dramatic period of history. For private dining, Hotel Du Vin & Bistro offers the Burke & Hare, which has been named after the turbulent body snatchers. For smaller groups, Bedlam is available, which can fit up to 10 people to dine or meet. For more information visit www.hotelduvin.com
The York Dungeon sees visitors come close to sinister characters from York’s gruesome past, including traitorous plotter Guy Fawkes and highwayman Dick Turpin. The York Dungeon provides a 75-minute theatrical journey through almost 2,000 years of York’s horrible history. Special effects, stages and scenes create an exciting 4D walkthrough experience. Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570, with Guy Fawkes – The Gunpowder Plot one of the attractions’ top shows. Bonfire Night is celebrated annually on November 5 to commemorate the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ arrest beneath the Houses of Parliament and the failure of The Gunpowder Plot. For Halloween geared groups, further explore York Dungeon with Witches, where groups will come face to face with the Witch Pricker. A total cast of eight live actors perform across 11 shows. Groups of 10 people or more can experience York Dungeon at a reduced rate, saving up to £7 off the standard admission price. York Dungeon can also host hen and stag parties if desired.
For more information visit www.thedungeons.com/york
Group tours to the capital could sample something similar at The London Dungeon, with shows including the Tyrant Boat Ride starring Brian Blessed as Henry VIII, the tale of Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett with their famous pie shop on Fleet Street, and chilling ghost stories relating to Jack The Ripper. Groups of eight people or more can experience The London Dungeon at a reduced rate. For more information visit www.thedungeons.com/london
Drayton Manor Theme Park opened to the public in 1950 and is set to conclude its 65th anniversary season with one of the biggest fireworks displays in the Midlands. Set against music over the lake, the spectacular fireworks display will culminate a 25-minute show, commencing at 1900hrs with rides remaining open until 2100hrs. Shockwave and Apocalypse will be amongst those open until late. For younger visitors, Thomas Land is home to over 25 rides and attractions based on the popular Thomas & Friends series. Thomas Land is scheduled to host its annual Halloween event from October 17-30, 2015. Pumpkin carving will be available Monday to Friday for an additional charge of £2, valid on a first come first served basis. Reduced prices are available for tickets bought in advance. To book call 0844 472 1960 or visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk Drayton Manor Theme Park also has a selection of packages available at the four-star Drayton Manor Hotel over the Halloween and Fireworks period; visit www.draytonmanorhotel.com
Alton Towers Resort will host a spectacular fireworks event from November 6-8, 2015, which is set to be the biggest fireworks display held at the resort. Additionally, celebrate Halloween between October 17-November 1, 2015. For more information visit www.altontowers.com
Thorpe Park will showcase frequent Fright Nights, held on October 9-11, 16-18, 23-31 and November 1, 2015. Thorpe Park will remain open from 1000hrs to 2200hrs each evening, with horror mazes available to enter based on The Blair Witch Project, My Bloody Valentine, The Cabin in the Woods and SAW, amongst others. For more information visit www.thorpepark.com Chessington Howl’o’ween at Chessington World of Adventures will see wicked witches and naughty goblins take over from 1000hrs to 2000hrs.
For more information visit www.chessington.com
Entertainment runs in the family at Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, which has been entertaining visitors since 1898, currently housing one of the largest collections of magic memorabilia in the world. A live 30-minute magic show is included in the price of admission. Groups touring Davenport’s Magic Kingdom could visit the Witches to Wonder timeline exhibition, which features live magic demonstrations, children’s activities and showcases the first edition of Discoverie of Witchcraft, written in 1584.
Visitors to Davenport’s Magic Kingdom are recommended to allocate at least one hour to tour the entire exhibition space. Davenport’s Magic Kingdom can accommodate up to six coaches within its designated coach park, with coach drivers awarded a £5 voucher for lunch at the Ace To Eat Café. Groups between 10 and 40 visitors receive a 10% discount, with further reduced rates for parties of 40 plus. For more information visit www.davenportsmagickingdom.co.uk
This Halloween, the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area Ltd have organised a spectacular fireworks display, taking place on Great Yarmouth Central Beach on Wednesday, October 28, which will be free to enter for touring groups. Ideal viewing locations include the Esplanade, along Britannia or Wellington Pier. For more information visit www.great-yarmouth.co.uk
PETERBOROUGH FIREWORK FIESTA
Highly rated by www.thomson.co.uk within the UK and abroad, Peterborough Firework Fiesta will see its second year at the Peterborough Arena on Saturday, November 7, 2015. The city’s largest charity event, Peterborough Firework Fiesta showcases the biggest fireworks display in East Anglia and sits within the top 10 fireworks displays in the UK. Peterborough Firework Fiesta provides spectacular entertainment through a massive funfair, foods stalls and live bands. Seating will be provided via a covered grandstand that can accommodate 2,000 people plus. Parking shouldn’t be a problem, with Peterborough Arena housing adequate parking facilities for 22 coaches and an additional 2,000 cars, with extra space for 20,000 on turf. For more information visit www.fireworkfiesta.com
Feeling in a charitable mood? GTW travels annually to Emmaus, which works to eradicate homelessness and hosts a popular fireworks display within its green grounds. Visit www.emmaus.org.uk to search for your nearest site.
Year-round scares abound at The London Bridge Experience & Tombs, where groups are welcomed beneath the world’s most famous and haunted bridge, which was originally constructed around 53AD as a military style pontoon bridge.
Following a tour of the UK’s scariest attraction, groups are transported to the present day London Tombs. Phobophobia 2016: The Freaks is an exclusive adult only event, which takes place annually over the course of a week. For younger visitors, The London Bridge Experience & Tombs offers a tamed Guardian Angel tour. The London Bridge Experience & Tombs boasts free audio guides in five different languages. Group perks include fast track entry, reduced admission rates and the opportunity to nominate a member of the group to be involved in the show.
For more information visit www.thelondonbridgeexperience.com
Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations is the biggest celebrated November 5th event in the world, seeing around six or seven separate Lewes Bonfire Societies intermingle in various parts of the town, celebrating with different processions, traditions, costumes, fire sites and fireworks under supervision of the Lewes Bonfire Council.
In total, there are five different displays taking place. Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations evolve from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, where 17 martyrs were burnt at the stake in Lewes in the mid-1500s. To commemorate, 17 burning crosses are present to represent, which are carried through the town.
For more information visit www.lewesbonfirecelebrations.com
The Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast boasts a prominent exterior that dates back to 1845, closing its doors as a working prison in 1996 and more recently reopening as a visitor attraction and conference centre. The Crumlin Road Gaol is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Belfast, with both public (day) tours and paranormal (evening) tours available to book for touring groups. Sites include the condemned mans cell, before witnessing the execution cells, where the majority of the 17 men were hanged. Additional sites include the Governors Office, Centre Circle, C-Wing, Hospital and Graveyard. Special interest groups especially, could consider Crumlin Road Gaol as part of their event itinerary or venue hire. Both coaches and cars can pick up/drop off via the Summer Street entrance. Group rates are available upon request. For more information visit www.crumlinroadgaol.com
Banks Of The Foyle Halloween Festival October 27-November 2, 2015
Derry to Londonderry Armagh Gaol Halloween Tours October 17-31, 2015
Armagh City Hallowtides Festival October 31, 2015
Newcastle, County Down Metro Monster Mash October 31, 2015