Celebrating Halloween in Scotland

Halloween high jinks

Judging by the number of Halloween events that take place locally at this time of year, it’s fair to say that we’ve more than embraced this spooky annual celebration here in the Tweed Valley.

Observed on 31 October the world over, our now Americanised version of All Hallows’ Evening (to give Halloween its full name) is actually believed to have originated in Celtic Britain, with subsequent adaptations based on pagan and Christian beliefs.

Today, we carve pumpkins (a nod to the Gaels who carved turnips to ward off evil spirits), dress up in all sorts of scary costumes (a tradition linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain which marks the end of harvest time), children go guising (the first ‘trick or treat’ is said to date back to the US in the 1920s), and we play a range of crazy Halloween games (usually involving industrial quantities of sugar).

Locally, Halloween is a perfect opportunity for some of the area’s top historic attractions to reveal ghoulish tales from days gone by. This weekend, nearby Traquair – reputedly the oldest inhabited house in Scotland – reveals its sinister secrets on a range of ghostly guided tours that tell all about its past inhabitants. Younger visitors are also catered for when Traquair opens its doors for the always popular Halloween Family Fun Day. Expect magic shows, ghost stories in the woods, witch and wizard workshops, traditional Halloween games and more.

Elsewhere, at beautiful Bowhill near Selkirk, there are special guided Halloween ghost walks in the impressive grounds, plus a Halloween Zombie Jog – a 5k or one-mile Halloween-themed run around the estate. Great fun! And don’t forget the fantastical surroundings of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, which is hosting a Halloween dinner at its Ochiltrees Restaurant. The spooky dinner will highlight Scott’s fascination with the darker aspects of Scotland’s history.

Of course, visitors with a love of things that go bump in the night can also stay right here at the Tontine. Our soup may not have eyeballs floating in it, but we can assure you our food and hospitality is scarily good.

Have a wonderful Halloween wherever you choose to spend it!