You could hardly be somewhere more atmospheric for this holidaytwitter/varsity_hotel

During a Halloween party in elementary school, when I was five or six, I saw the costume one of the older kids was wearing, and was horrified for the first time in my life. In reality, the costume was tame, and so fake-looking that the teachers probably thought no one could be scared by it. It consisted of a plastic axe stuck in the neck of the wearer, with fake blood running down his neck and splattered on his white t-shirt. I spent the rest of the party walking fast in the opposite direction whenever I saw the axe-man approaching.

Still, Halloween is my favorite holiday. It may have inspired one of my first adult thoughts, but now I associate it with childhood. When I think of it, I think of candy and cartoons, and being allowed to stay up past my bedtime.

In that spirit, I’ve put together a short list of Halloween recommendations that tries to capture both sides of the holiday, that will let you both ponder your own mortality while also reconnecting you with your youth.

Some of these might remind you of your childhood. Some will definitely not.

Indulge in film masterpieces like Scooby Doo!

There are Halloween-themed films for all tastes, which makes watching one the perfect activity for both the excited child and the spooked adult. Do you like old things? Are you into creepiness with a side of social commentary? The movies Carnival of Souls (1962) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) are both free on YouTube.

“Embrace the dual nature of Halloween”

Do you just want to watch the most perfect movies, regardless of genre, of all time? The late-nineties masterpieces Scooby-Doo! And the Witch’s Ghost (1999) and Scooby-Doo! On Zombie Island (1998) are available online too.

Or maybe you feel like you’ve been cooped up in your room a little too long? The Cambridge Arts Picturehouse is showing The Shining on 28th October. See this classic and be grateful we’re in a bustling town rather than on an isolated mountaintop. Or go the other way, and fantasize about spending the winter in an empty hotel, where you will be sure not to run into any tourists at all.

Make your morning walk extra atmospheric

This is a two-in-one recommendation. Take a walk to the outskirts of Cambridge, either in the direction of Grantchester or Waterbeach. Wait for a misty morning or evening, and enjoy the autumn air, while listening to some scary stories.

I found a particularly good Spotify playlist for this. It includes a great variety of public-domain scary stories narrated by people like Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Lee, and Orson Welles. One of them, The Mezzotint, about a cursed painting, is heavily implied to take place in Oxbridge.

Season of mists and mellow spookinesstwitter/magdalenealumni

It will be easy to picture yourself as the protagonist of a Gothic novel while you wander the quiet, chill fields outside of Cambridge, making this the ideal Halloween activity, melding fiction and reality.

The Skeleton Dance is back with a vengeance

It may not be fair to recommend this, because I have not actually experienced it – it’s one of many events I’ve seen in the past few weeks while scrolling through Facebook. The Neon Moon Club Cirque is a Halloween themed circus and cabaret. I love a good costume party, and this one seems as strange as it is fun, which is exactly what you need on Halloween.

Get your Hogwarts on at Halloween Formal Hall (hopefully minus the troll in the dungeon)


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Mountain View

Finding the horror in my home town

As an MPhil student with only one year here, this is high on my list of things to do over Halloween. One of my favorite things about the holiday as a kid was going about a normal day, but with a Halloween-themed tint. An ordinary lunch in the school cafeteria, but everyone was dressed like a ghost or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. An ordinary night in hall, but everyone is wearing devil ears or a Harry Potter costume.

These last two recommendations have both involved costumes. That’s fitting for a holiday with the dual nature of Halloween. Childhood and adulthood. Horror and silliness. Halloween is one of the few holidays which can be fairly equally balanced between social fun and spooky solo activities. Make the most of it!

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