Drayton Manor Theme Park_Fireworks Spectacular(2)Credit Ashley Gardner

Drayton Manor Theme Park Fireworks Spectacular

When summer is over and those long, sunny day trips are at an end, late autumn offers many opportunities for special trips for Halloween and Bonfi re Night, as Naomi Mackay discovers.

THORPE PARK FRIGHT NIGHTS Live action horror mazes are hugely popular with the teenage/young adult crowd in particular. At Thorpe Park in October they bring some of the scariest horror films to life, such as Saw and Cabin in the Woods. If being stalked by creepy characters is not scary enough for your group, there’s always the frightening rides in the dark to get the adrenaline pumping – such as The Swarm, the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, Saw – The Ride, with its 100ft ‘beyond vertical’ drop, and Stealth, one of Europe’s fastest and tallest rollercoasters. The folk at Thorpe Park also have something new to add the mix this year – so keep an eye on the website for more details. The park is open from 10am to 10pm, with Fright Nights attractions starting at 3pm. www.thorpepark.com/events/ fright-nights

ASCOT RACECOURSE HALLOWEEN AND FIREWORK SPECTACULAR Saturday, October 29 For those who’d rather someone else did the fast rides, how about the first meet of the Jumps Season at Ascot? Racegoers can dress up to celebrate Halloween and enjoy a range of seasonal treats and magic tricks. Throughout the day, the Plaza Lawns will feature a selection of rides which are free until 4pm, after which they are chargeable, with all profits going to local charities. The feature race is the £100,000 Sodexo
Gold Cup Steeple Chase, over three miles. Gates open at 10.45am. Racing starts at 2pm. One of the South East’s largest Firework Spectaculars starts from 6pm. Admission to the Queen Anne Enclosure is £17 per person for groups of 10 or more. Call 01344 878 536, email groups@ ascot.co.uk www.ascot.co.uk

GHOSTLY GASLIGHT HALLOWEEN NIGHT, BLISTS HILL VICTORIAN TOWN Saturday, October 29 There are more opportunities to dress up in scary outfits at the Ghostly Gaslight Halloween event at Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge Museums. The streets, shops and houses will be transformed into eerie places filled with ghosts, ghouls and monsters. The buildings will be illuminated and there will be fireworks and pyrotechnic effects too. Who will you meet next? The wicked wizard casting spells, the local carpenter seeking victims to nail in his coffin, ghostly apparitions in the cottages’ windows or zombies looking for brains? Light and sound effects will add to the spooky atmosphere. Tickets are £9.95 adults; £6.75 children – groups of 15 save 10 percent. Coaches can drop visitors at Blists Hill before driving to the nearby coach park. Call Ben Walker on 01952 435 900, email visits@ironbridge.org.uk www.ironbridge.org.uk

UK FESTIVE OF FIREWORKS, CATTON HALL, SOUTH DERBYSHIRE Saturday, September 3 Why wait until bonfire night for fireworks, when you can see them on a hopefully more balmy night in early September? See not one, not two but four world-class fireworks displays by multi-award winning companies at this Festival of Fireworks. Previously held at Shugborough Hall, this is the 18th year that this event has taken place, and all displays will be set to music. Visitors can either bring a picnic or take advantage of on-site catering on this country hall estate in South Derbyshire. Call 01384 402 266 for more details. www.festivaloffireworks.co.uk

WEST MIDLAND SAFARI PARK, HALLOWEEN AND FIREWORKS October 1-31, November 5-6 West Midland Safari Park takes advantage of both autumn festivals, with its Spooky Spectacular during October, followed by a Firework Festival Weekend. Family fun is the name of the game for Halloween, with more than 100 scarecrows and almost 2,000 pumpkins, an interactive trail to follow, arts and crafts and all kinds of spooky encounters. If you’re feeling very brave, go and see the dinosaurs after dark! Group discounts are available. The Fireworks Festival runs for two days, and the theme for the 20-minute long display will be decided via a competition on the Park’s Facebook page. There will also be a huge bonfire, family disco and the Park’s Discovery Trail and Adventure Theme Park are open till late. The VIP event includes a premium hog roast and private bar facilities. Cost of entry on the night is £14/£13 with group discounts available. Email groups@wmsp. co.uk www.wmsp.co.uk

The York DungeonTHE YORK DUNGEON The York Dungeon is rather scary all year round, but at Halloween the scares become even bigger and bolder! Expect darker and more twisted behaviour from a cast of history’s most notorious characters. As you journey through darkest history expect some special Halloween tricks and treats along the way, as The York Dungeon fills with mischief, mayhem, pumpkins, terrible tricks and dastardly dares. Book early as the Halloween period does sell out – exact dates yet to be confirmed, keep an eye on the website. Group discounts for 10 or more people – suggested age 10 and above. www.thedungeons.com/york/en/

SEVERN VALLEY RAILWAY GHOST TRAIN Thursday, October 27 to Saturday, October 29 If you dare, take an evening Ghost Train for a thrilling ride into the countryside from Kidderminster. A wicked magician will entertain your group before the train departs. Keep watch as you travel – some stations are rumoured to be haunted – and don’t forget the long dark tunnel. Staff will be giving out spooky goody bags to children and face painters will give spooky makeovers. Tickets £10 – available soon, and advance booking is essential. www.svr.co.uk

Halloweden 2015 BF 1HALLOWEDEN, THE EDEN PROJECT, CORNWALL Saturday, October 22 to Sunday, October 30 Children can enjoy crafts, workshops and storytelling at The Eden Project in October. Final details are yet to be decided but last year, younger visitors created potions in the Rainforest Biome, brewed bubbles in the Mediterranean Biome, and met some amazing owls. They watched a spooky shadow puppet play and travelled through the tunnel of terrors. On October 29, the kids can don fancy dress and enjoy an evening of family fun at the Little Monsters’ Ball Halloween disco, including creepy activities, tasty treats and disco. The ice rink will also be open. There are packages and discounts for groups of 10 or more arriving by coach or minibus. Prices £14.35 adults, £6 children. Call 01726 811 903 or email the Groups co-ordinator cbarret@edenproject.com www.edenproject.com

THE LONDON BRIDGE EXPERIENCE, LONDON Laugh, scream and cheer your way through 2,000 years of history as you uncover dark secrets beneath London Bridge, the world’s most famous and haunted bridge. Visitors at this year-round attraction see, hear and even smell what the bridge was like throughout the ages. Join Queen Boudica’s Iceni tribe as they take on the Roman army, then hear tales of terror at The Star Inn on Fish Lane as Jack The Ripper and Ben Crouch lurk in the lanes searching for the next victim and meet The Keeper of The Heads as he takes his latest victim to task before despatching the body parts to the four corners of the country. After taking all of this in and more, you’ll enter the vortex and be taken back to the multi award winning present day hell, more commonly known as The London Tombs. Groups are treated to fast-track entry, special rates and free places. Meal deals are available too. Call 0207 403 6333. www.thelondonbridgeexperience.com