Halloween comes from the ancient Celtic festival Samhuinn. That alone should get you to Scotland to celebrate the holiday. Factor in the datum that Edinburgh is the most haunted city in the world and you’ve got the perfect location for your spooky night.
The city of Edinburgh has a nearly unlimited number of ghost attractions and haunted location. Some places, like Mary King’s Close, are not even billed as haunted attractions. Yet Mary King’s Close had a child ghost that was seen by dozens of people before she finally moved on. To this day, the practice of leaving gifts and dolls for the apparition continues.
Across the street from the Close is a place which is most definitely haunted. The South Bridge vaults were constructed beneath the bridge when it was built in 1788 with 120 rooms of various sizes. Due to lack of waterproofing material, the vendors shortly moved out of the rooms and were replaced with more nefarious trades – smugglers, prostitutes and the like. These eventually vacated the vaults too, and the rooms were sealed for over 100 years until finally discovered by the owner of the Tron Pub when he was clearing out his basement.
Mercat Tours offer daily and nightly visits into the vaults. It was these very vaults which underwent the largest paranormal investigation in history to confirm the existence of the numerous entities which inhabit the dark rooms. More than one tour guide has been scared off from giving the tours. Are you brave enough to try one?
Plenty of other ghost tours exist around Edinburgh, walking through the numerous graveyards and digging into the city’s sad and sordid history. The Great Plague of 1645 decimated the city’s population, nearly wiping it out entirely. This is best learned about in Mary King’s Close, and at the National Museum.
Since the plague, other characters have brought death to the city in small doses. You’ll just have to take one of the ghost tours to learn all the stories, and draw your own conclusions between fact and fiction.
And then there’s Samhuinn. On Halloween night, the Samhuinn fire festival takes place in the heart of the city. The procession makes its way from the Edinburgh Castle down to the steps of St. Giles Cathedral, where the Winter King overcomes the King of Summer. Samhuinn is the counterpart to the Beltane Fire Festival on April 30, which welcomes in the summer months.
Of course, you don’t have to leave Edinburgh after Halloween. The Edinburgh Christmas Market opens up on November 17th. And Hogmanay just might be the best New Year’s Eve party in the world. Where will you be for the holidays?