From Jack the Ripper to the Tower of London, the city along the Thames has a long, sordid, haunted past. In October, museums in London, England celebrate their ghostly heritage by opening after hours. The 2017 Museums at Night events are filled with spooky activities like mummy unwrappings and canal rides by torchlight.
Twice a year the United Kingdom’s museums, historical sites, and galleries participate in after-hours events for the “culturally curious.” The 2017 fall Museums at Night takes place October 26-29. There are 33 events in London. Here are five spine-tingling activities, workshops, sleepovers, and mysteries not to be missed.
The Amazing Halloween Experience-London Canal Museum
Located near King’s Cross, the London Canal Museum hosts a frightening trip in a narrowboat. During the Amazing Halloween Experience, a witch tells spine-chilling tales on the 50-minute ride through the Islington Tunnel. In the museum, explore the Corridor of Fear, listen to ghost stories, and enjoy special kids’ activities. This family-friendly event costs £11 for an adult and £8 for a child, including the boat trip and the museum. Advanced booking for the boat trip is recommended.
Dickens After Dark: A Halloween Special-Charles Dickens Museum
For one night only, on October 26, you can visit the townhouse of renowned storyteller, Charles Dickens, for Dicken’s After Dark: A Halloween Special. To celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, a night dedicated to telling stories of the dearly departed, explore where Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby were written. In this classic Victorian home, a housemaid will read your fortune, a magician will entertain you in the parlor, and adults can “ward off the chills of this dark and mysterious night” at a candlelit bar. This all-ages event costs £16.
London’s Night Owls Halloween Sleepover-Museum of London
Spend the night in one of London’s most popular museums featuring the city’s history from Roman to modern times. On October 27, the Museum of London asks, “Are you brave enough?” to join in London’s Night Owls Sleepover? This family-friendly, costume-wearing sleepover includes trick-or-treating. Children answer historical questions as they wander by candlelight through the galleries. Infamous, frightful London tales, like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “The Barber of Fleet Street,” are told. Gothic masks are made before bedtime. After breakfast, enjoy a screening of Hocus Pocus. Advanced booking is required. The fee is £60 for children and adults.
The Case of the Missing Monsters-Dorich House Museum
What happens when monsters jump out of their stories? Running all three nights of London’s Museums at Night Festival, the Dorich House Museum hosts The Case of the Missing Monsters, a combined theater and monster hunt. The museum was the home of Russian sculptor, Dora Gordine. It currently promotes and supports women’s creativity, including spooky stories. This Halloween family adventure begins with the telling of haunted tales, but there is a hitch. The monsters escape from the books! Search all over this unique museum to recapture them. Children are encouraged to come in costume. Advanced booking is required. Discounts are given for families.
Archives at Night: Cabinet of Curiosities-The National Archives
On October 27, the National Archives will open their Edwardian Cabinet of Curiosities as part of Archives at Night. Inside the cabinet, you will find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s letters on mediums, as well as learn about witch trials and sorcery history. The Cemetary Club will provide talks on the Three Curses of Tutankhamun, Witchcraft and the King in Medieval England, and the Second Pendle Witch Scare. Perhaps the most exciting event at the Archives at Night is the unwrapping of a mummy! During this re-enactment of a mummy unwrapping party (no mummies will be harmed), Egyptologist John J. Johnston will perform the operation and instruct viewers on how mummies were procured for such events in the 19th century. Additionally, you will learn about which guests would attend the unwrapping, what they saw, and what happened to the remains afterward. This event costs between £17.60 to £22, advanced booking is required, and is for adults only (18+).
5 Must See London Museums at Night Dates
- Dickens After Dark: A Halloween Special-Charles Dickens Museum; Oct. 26
- The Case of the Missing Monsters-Dorich House Museum; Oct.26-28
- Archives at Night: Cabinet of Curiosities-The National Archives; Oct. 27
- London’s Night Owls Halloween Sleepover-Museum of London; Oct. 27-28
- The Amazing Halloween Experience-London Canal Museum; Oct. 28-29