With more ghosts and ghouls per square foot than any other city in the world (possibly), where better to celebrate the spookiest season of the year than York? There’s are more Halloween events coming up around York this October half term than you could shake a broomstick at, from pumpkin trails to pumpkin carving, ghost trails to ghost hunts (take a look at guide to October half term in York here).
As York’s goriest destination, it’s no surprise that the York Dungeon is going all-out, with a seriously scary and silly offering inside the attraction itself for brave older kids and adults. Younger children don’t miss out though, as there’s also a Trick and Treat walking tour taking place during weekends in the run-up to October half term, and then every day of half term itself. We went along with two of our children for a walk around the dark side of York.
About the Trick and Treat Walking Tour – The tour is York Dungeon’s family offering for Halloween, created with younger children in mind. While older children (at least 8 years old) in search of a frightening adrenaline rush will love the Dungeon’s live-action Halloween shows, the walking tour is more suitable for younger children. There’s no age rating, just a brave rating. Every child’s different, so it’s hard to give an exact age recommendation. Fans of Horrible Histories won’t blink an eye at details of old torture techniques, but younger children might be more freaked out if they’re listening carefully (but that’s a big ‘if’!).
This hour-long tour sets off from outside the Dungeon and is presided over by two of the Dungeon’s costumed inmates who’ve been let out for the occasion: the dark-hearted Jester and dim-witted Smedley. Funny rather than frightening, they’re an entertaining pair who also happen to know a lot about York’s hideous history. From vicious Vikings to ghostly Romans, Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin, it’s a canter through the city’s nasty past.
The route – We followed the dubious duo from the Dungeon to Clifford’s Tower, up to the Shambles and across to York Minster. It ended outside St Michael le Belfry Church, next to the Minster. It was long enough to feel as though we’d done some exploring but not so long as to be too challenging for younger children. It’s entirely outdoors, so dress for the changeable Yorkshire weather or regret it!
Fun and games – There are mercifully few tricks on the tour, but there are a few treats, which our kids were predictably very excited about. We played a couple of short games along the way – ‘pass the pumpkin’ was our favourite – and there were prizes! While they’d have been happy with sweets, our children were delighted with what they picked out of the prize pumpkin, especially the little bottle of fake blood. Warning: they did spend the rest of the weekend wailing that they’d cut themselves, only to reveal that they’d actually just created a convincing fake injury to their hand/foot/cheek, so check before you run for the first aid kit…
The verdict – Amusing actors, a sharp script, horrifying true (ish) stories and a prize or two: the York Dungeon Trick and Treat Tour is a fangtastic Halloween activity for families with children who enjoy terrible tales spooky stories.