Ilaria Freccia reviews the annual Halloween staple.
Despite its historically American roots, there can be no denying the significance of Halloweekend in St. Andrews. From mid-September onwards, I overheard people discussing their costumes and even before reading week some of my friends had planned out five days’ worth of Halloween-themed events. Not a massive Halloween fan myself, I simply went along with their plans, clicking the FIXR links that I was sent and dutifully buying the tickets. One such event was House of Horror 2022: Alice in Wonderland, hosted by the House of Horror Charity Gala at Earlshall Castle in Leuchars. Music was provided by Szentek and tickets started at a fairly steep £32 for a bring-your-own booze event.
Logistically, I had a few disappointments right off the bat. Firstly, the buses left between 7:15 and 8:15 and, as far as I could tell, didn’t return until 1am (there was unfortunately no clear communication on this). This seemed like a very long time to expect people to stay - especially since Szentek, the headlining act, wasn’t due to come on until 10pm. Regardless, I caught the last bus, headed over, and was dropped at the foot of a long dark road that we had to walk up in order to get to the castle. It ended up working out alright, because of the large group of people headed in the same direction: however, it was a long, dark, unpaved walk that could have been dangerous had someone tried to walk down it on their own or been intoxicated. At the end of the road, the location was obvious: a big marquee lit up with lots of lights.
Despite the treacherous road to the castle, I was impressed by the decorations and attention to detail on arrival. I’m not completely sure what happened to the Alice in Wonderland theme, but the marquee was decorated appropriately for the Halloween festivities, with lots of spiderwebs, real candles, and coffins. Furthermore, although the event was bring-your-own-booze, strawberry-guava juice mixers that had been adorably disguised as bags of blood were on sale.
Despite the high cost of the event, I actually didn’t end up minding the bring-your-own booze policy. Generally speaking, everyone seemed to be more present because they hadn’t felt the need to pregame as hard as possible to avoid paying for alcohol. Instead, everyone just brought their own and was able to enjoy it throughout the course of the night.
Outside, there was an area to buy crepes for those who were hungry. Another perk was the racks for coats which was a good alternative to both paying for a coat check as well as throwing your coat in some pile in a corner. In the back of the tent, there was a nice lounge area with couches, rugs, and a fun chandelier that was a nice place to sit down or take a break.The bathrooms were also well-organized and accessible, out of the way, but very easy to find.
Although not the most crowded, the music and atmosphere were enjoyable with everyone happy to celebrate and plenty of space to move on the dance floors. The full talent line up was Kiki, Amen Djamie, and then Szentek (Alex, B26, Mac, Cába, and Sleuth).
Overall, they did an excellent job maintaining the energy levels of the night. Many students also chose to go outdoors, which was well-lit and spacious, and chat with friends rather than hang out on the dance floor inside. Though no apparent fault of House of Horrors, the turnout was also low, so the tent was partially-empty. Personally, I didn’t mind this as I had more space to move around, dance, and take photos, but it did undoubtedly impact upon the extent of the energy of the night. So there were several opportunities to tailor the event to your own wishes.
Eventually, when my friends and I decided that we were ready to go home, there were taxis readily-available and offered to us by the security at the event. I found this to be incredibly refreshing compared to other events that I have been at where I have had to call for taxis that have frequently never shown up.
Overall, despite a few flaws, it was an enjoyable night, organized smoothly and efficiently with plenty of Halloween fun for all to experience however they pleased!
Photo: Ilaria Freccia