Pumpkins and punts: How to celebrate Halloween in Cambridge this year

As if 2020 hasn’t been spooky enough already

Halloween 2020 is set to be one of the most uncertain yet. After months of living in an unpredictable and dystopian-like world the supposed scariest night of the year could easily be overlooked as just another night. Across the board, COVID restrictions make celebrating Halloween in traditional style near impossible – from the “discouraged” trick-or-treating to the limited sit-down club evenings.

Despite all this though, there is a strong argument that our annual escapism into supernatural costumes, decorations and big nights is more important now than ever. Those few nights a year when we can all take the time to dress up as something silly or scary with friends could provide a well needed break from the real fear and anxiety of 2020. Its lucky then that Halloween 2020 is by no means cancelled in Cambridge. Whether you fancy a night out or a night in there are plenty of options this year to allow everyone to celebrate the 31st with as much fun as any other year.

These Caius girls have Halloween covered (Photo credit: Emma Bryan)

Going Out

Petrifying punting  tours

One great option for an evening out of the house is a tour through the college backs on the River Cam designed to reveal Cambridge’s dark and spooky secrets. The tour is set up as a cruise along the river Stix with your very own guide taking you and your friends down the river, while regaling you with chilling tales in a classic Halloween style. Tours have to be booked in advance and set off from Jesus Green Moorings to take a 45-minute route down the river. More information can be found here.

Walking (dead) ghost tour

If a more active tour is your preference ‘The Cambridge Tour Company’ is one of the only companies still running ghost tours in the pandemic. Their tour guides can provide a chilling hour of entertainment covering ghosts, spooky events and sinister historic tales of Cambridge. Go with friends to get in the Halloween spirit and experience another side of the city.

Freaky theatre

On Friday 30th and Saturday 31st the Town and Gown Pub & Theatre is hosting a comedic but spooky play ‘Dracula! One Bloody Fang After Another’. With one actor playing no less that 18 different roles in a fun and interesting take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the play offers an enjoyable and relaxed evening out. Multiple time slots are available on both days and prices range from £12 to £15.95, so buy a ticket online or put out a call on Ticketbridge if you’re interested!

If you’re looking for something to watch from the comfort of your own home, then look no further than Macbeth and Dragtime! Presents: #squadghouls, which both close on Halloween. Streaming tickets are available on the ADC website here (for your Dragtime! fix) and here if you’re looking for some electrifying, spooky Shakespeare.

Creepy club nights

Clubbing in Covid times may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it’s something you’re comfortable with and the thought of shots at 7pm, the odd ‘club quiz’ and singing in the streets by 10pm is for you is your idea of a Halloween well-spent, Cindies and Life have you covered. Why not dress up for the Halloween themed nights of the week and have a fun evening with your household along with themed pres and afters.

Staying In 

Jinxed Jack-o’-lanterns

The Mortimer Road pumpkins are taking no chances this year

Pumpkin carving is one Halloween classic we can all still do. A perfect way to celebrate this year is to gather your household together, grab a few pumpkins and see who can come up with the funniest, scariest or even most topical design. You can even do this in the park with members of other households (at a distance of course) and use your creations to decorate the house for the big night of the 31st. You could even display your prize pumpkins on your windowsills and turn it into a college competition to make sure we can all celebrate together this year (even if your pooled household test comes back positive.)

Mysterious  movie night

Another great way to celebrate indoors is to hold a movie night with your household. The top option is naturally a couple of classic horror films to introduce some fright into the night. However, for those of us who inevitably end up hiding behind the nearest available object five minutes in, there are a host of comic and cheesy Halloween films like Hocus Pocus or Adam Sandler’s new slapstick Hubie Halloween to lighten the mood while staying true to the spirit of the night. Pair your choices with some themed chocolates or sweets for a fun (or scary) group night in!

Haunted household raves

Halloween parties by no means have to be big to be fun. To have the perfect night with your household you might start with a house dinner (bonus points for the incorporation of pumpkin or even a Devil’s Food Cake) and of course, compete for the most creative costume! Put on some tunes, make some Halloween-themed cocktails, and try not to get portered for your Covid-safe, household-only rave.

The instant winners of most creative costumes 2020 (Photo credit: Stan Macmurray)

Virtual college- or year-wide costume contests are also a great option to bring people together outside of the household and keep everyone entertained by the range of basic, scary and niche options the group can come up with. The options for Halloween games that some might remember from years gone by are endless and can be easily spruced up to university level with the addition of fines, dares and prizes to keep things competitive, exciting or even a bit spicy.

The options for celebration this year might seem more subdued on the surface than previous years in Cambridge but this is by no means the whole story. If you feel like a night of frightening stories and entertainment Cambridge still has you covered. On the other hand, an evening in this year could provide an even better night of competition, bonding and maybe the odd fright.

Whether you stay in or go out, make Halloween 2020 a night to remember!

All image credits to author unless otherwise specified.