AS the autumn nights lengthen and a chill creeps into the air, it is tradition to scare ourselves silly and indulge in some spine-tingling fun at this time of year.

With Halloween only around the corner, here we pick the best events across Scotland to enjoy this spooky season, from pumpkin patches and cosy fire-pits to ghost walks, terrifying forest encounters and horror screenings.

Embrace the darkness

The Scottish roots of Dracula will be celebrated with a new film event showcasing cult and classic celluloid favourites.

Running over a fortnight this month, the debut Festival of Darkness will draw upon some of the atmospheric settings and locations around Aberdeenshire – such as Cruden Bay – that helped to inspire Bram Stoker’s gothic horror. It marks 125 years since the publication of the novel.

Promising a “biting and diverse film programme”, screenings include the 100-year-old silent movie Nosferatu and a 1931 version of Dracula (the first “talkie” of the genre and starring Bela Lugosi), as well as Let Me In, Interview With The Vampire and The Lost Boys.

Runs until October 30. Visit

Head to a pumpkin patch

The humble turnip – a mainstay of Halloween for generations of Scots – is languishing in the doldrums these days as pumpkins become a top choice for carving jack-o’-lanterns.

Pick-your-own (PYO) pumpkin patches proffering an enjoyable day out include Arnprior Farm in Stirlingshire; Kilduff Farm, near North Berwick, in East Lothian; Cairnie Fruit Farm at Cupar, Fife; and Craigie’s Farm near South Queensferry.

Check out the Clyde Valley Family Park Pumpkin Festival, home to a PYO patch and carving station. Get into the spirit of things with a fancy dress competition and a puzzle-packed treasure hunt.

All events run until late October. Visit;;;;

An ode to Tam o’ Shanter

Many of us grew up enthralled by the epic poem Tam o’ Shanter – not least the hair-raising chase that unfolds when the eponymous character stumbles across a coven of witches dancing amid the ruins of Alloway Auld Kirk.

Created in tribute to one of Robert Burns’s most famous works, Tamfest in Ayrshire features a raft of fantastic events, including ghost-hunting and historic guided tours, as well as storytelling, film screenings and live music.

Explore Rozelle House, the home of Alexander Goudie’s magnificent Tam o’ Shanter-inspired painting series. As part of Tamfest, visitors to the 18th-century mansion – now a museum and gallery – can soak up “creepy and chilling tales of life, death, murder and myth”.

Runs until October 31. Visit

Calling all superheroes

Keep your eyes peeled for giant arachnids, a fire-breathing dragon and caped crusaders flying through the air as the Paisley Halloween Festival gets underway this week.

Choreographed by the aerial dance company, All or Nothing, the streets around Paisley Abbey will come alive as a jaw-dropping rooftop battle of good vs evil plays out.

Highlights of the three-day event include a capacious spider’s lair with luminous eggs, a laboratory run by a madcap inventor, ethereal floating faces, an extra-terrestrial invasion and a tarot card-inspired installation created by youngsters to honour their everyday heroes.

Runs October 27 to 29. Visit and

Wild and spooktacular beasts

Get yourself along to Hallowild at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling where a trick or treat trail, pumpkin picking, gargantuan haybale spiders and fire-pits for toasting marshmallows await, as well as a chance to meet the colourful animal residents who dwell here.

Edinburgh Zoo Spooktacular, meanwhile, is an illuminated night-time trail lined with weird and wonderful characters, from pirates and skeletons to creepy crawlies and ghosts. Zones include The Lost Graveyard, Spooky Sea, Creepy Campsite, Toxic Wasteland and Haunted Mansion.

Both run until October 31. Visit and

Eerie tunnels, towers and tombs

Mercat Tours in Edinburgh is running a series of Halloween-themed daunders based around shiver-inducing tales of body-snatchers, murderers, cannibals, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.

Pick from a choice of four itineraries which explore the labyrinth-like tunnels and caverns of the (allegedly) haunted Blair Street Vaults, as well as meandering through the Old Town’s shadowy closes and wynds and discovering the dark past and forbidding tombs of Canongate Kirkyard.

Meanwhile, author and paranormal historian Richard Falconer is leading guided walks through St Andrews that take in a clutch of fascinating sites, including the “haunted” tower at the cathedral where unexplained ghostly figures and lights have been reported.

Sightings and phenomena recorded on past tours are said to include an apparition of a nun, a white lady and the sound of horses’ hooves.

Note: Some tours are adults-only. Various dates throughout October. Visit and

Wholesome Halloween fun

Galoshans Festival in Inverclyde, running until October 30, offers an exciting programme of indoor and outdoor arts performances with a surrealist take on traditional folklore and myth, such as ghost caribou, selkies, sea creatures and strawboys.

Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston, West Lothian, is hosting Pumpkins, Tumshies and Tattiebogles this weekend and next, with After Dark With The Tattiebogles taking place on October 28 and 29. Among the highlights are a scarecrow trail, a ghost train and a haunted tractor.

Traquair at Innerleithen, Peeblesshire – Scotland’s oldest inhabited house – has a Halloween fun day on October 30 featuring ghost stories in the woods, a wizards and witches’ workshop, magic shows, face painting and a scavenger hunt.

Visit;; and

Woodland terrors

The descriptive blurb for Haunted Forest: Anarchy – billed as an “immersive horror experience” – at Kelburn Castle and Estate, Ayrshire, isn’t for the faint-hearted.

It reads: “The Ministry of Public Safety sanctions a four-hour period during which all criminal activity – including murder – is legal. You must face the ultimate test of survival and make your way across Kelburn Estate to deliver evidence that could bring down the Government. Trust no-one.”

Yikes. Are you brave enough to venture down to the woods today?

Note: This event is recommended as suitable for ages 14+ only. Runs this weekend and October 26 to 31. Visit

Light the fire

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, also known as Samhuinn, marked the end of the harvest season and the start of winter or the “darker half”. It is believed that this is where many traditions later associated with modern-day Halloween likely originated.

The Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh, which takes place beside Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park on October 31, is a bold and thrilling contemporary revival that is well-worth experiencing.

Organised by Beltane Fire Society, the spellbinding spectacle brings together neo-pagan theatre, wild drumming, fire-dancing, daring acrobatics and otherworldly creatures.

Visit and

Walk with dinosaurs

Do not adjust your reading glasses: that is correct. A world of erupting volcanoes and fearsome dinosaurs takes centre stage at GlasGLOW as the sound and light show returns to the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow for a fifth year.

Past themes have drawn inspiration from retro TV and film, superhero origin stories and the global climate crisis. The 2022 edition, dubbed The Land That Time Forgot, promises to transport visitors 170 million years back in time for an incredible adventure.

The event will also incorporate the much-loved elements of previous years, including Marshmallowland (described as the perfect spot for “mallows, s’mores and fairy-lit selfies”), a gourmet street food village and bar.

Runs October 26 until November 13. Visit