The Saint's Guide to Halloween in St Andrews
Hannah Shiblaq provides a run-down of what is to be expected this Halloweekend.
With its foggy mornings, cobblestone streets, and ghostly town folklore St Andrews has all the makings of a quintessential Halloween town. Aesthetic charm aside, the rich culture of events makes it the ideal place to be on 31 October. This year, St Andrews offers a plethora of on-theme outings ranging from classic club nights at the 601 to a rave in an abandoned silo.
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes… this is The Saint’s ultimate guide to this year’s Halloween festivities in St Andrews.
The celebrations begin on 27 October with new Middle Eastern events collective SAHRA’s inaugural event, Danse Macabre. Also known as the ‘Dance of Death,’ the Danse Macabre supposedly happens every Halloween when the dead rise to mingle with the living. Hosted at the Vic, the evening promises a lineup of four student DJs and all of the buzzing intimacy of a night of dancing. Moreover, the group will be donating a portion of the profits to IKWRO (the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Right’s organisation), a registered charity who aim to tackle discrimination and violence against Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls in the UK. Costumes are recommended and encouraged, as legend dictates that this is how the dead disguise themselves from their living dance partners. Look no further than Danse Macabre for a spooky kickstart to St Andrews’ Halloweekend.
The following evening brings FemSoc’s witch-themed party ‘Witch, Please!’ to Sandy's Bar. Guests are expected to adorn their witchiest attire to participate in a costume contest: so whether you come as Anya-Taylor Joy’s Thomasin or Bette Midler’s Winifred, you’re guaranteed to blend right in. Additionally, FemSoc promises a 'witch-themed' playlist, tarot card readings, and a variety of seemingly cauldron-brewed drinks to keep you dancing all night long.
On 29 October, the largest student-run Halloween event in Scotland returns with an imaginative twist. House of Horrors is back! This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland, and the group invites attendees to journey down the rabbit hole and into the whimsical curiosity of Alice’s world. If you’re hoping to escape the traditional club scene, House of Horrors offers the chance to celebrate at St Andrews’ voguest venue, Earlshall Castle. Celebrating Halloween in a sixteenth century courtyard castle has all of the makings of a Victorian-era gothic nightmare. With its ivy-covered facade and expansive hedge garden, Earlshall Castle is the perfect venue for the recreation of Lewis Carroll’s spectacular world.
If you’re hoping to get in touch with the town’s Gaelic roots, the University of St Andrews Celtic Society will be hosting a Halloween Ceilidh on 30 October. Compared to some of the other Halloween events, this one starts earlier and does not involve alcohol - ceilidh dancing alone is always guaranteed to put people in a festive mood - so if you’re in pursuit of a more relaxed and sociable event, look no further. Halloween costumes are encouraged, as there will be a judge-hosted contest to keep the healthy competitive spirit alive.
If you're tired of dancing by this point, I would like, if I may, to suggest that you take a strange journey… St Andrews's own Byre Theatre will host two showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on 29 and 30 October. Don’t be fooled by the supposed relaxation of sitting through an hour-and-a-half long movie: the 1975 Frankenstein-esque ‘cult classic’ promises as much singing and dancing as a night in the 601. The film follows the musically-induced story of a newly married couple and their introduction into the fantastical mania of Dr. Frank N. Furter and his living creation Rocky. Notorious for its audience involvement, fans are encouraged to lace up their corsets, slip on their fishnets, and get as immersed as possible into the film’s fictional universe.
For history nerds and ghost story junkies alike, from 29 October through to Halloween night, there will be guided St Andrews Dark Side Tours up and down the Scores. Parallel to the rocky crags and just a short walk from the castle ruins, it’s no surprise that St Andrews is chock-a-block with tales of unexplained supernatural activity. From the desolate cathedral graveyard to the ghostly face of Scottish martyr Patrick Hamilton, there’s lots to explore in St Andrews if you aren’t too keen on the party scene.
For those in pursuit of a standard rave with the added excitement of an eerie backdrop, St Andrews’ Behave Collective will host its allusive Siloween on 30 October. As the event’s title suggests, this event takes place in an abandoned silo (yes, you read that right - those agricultural structures typically used to store grains). Behave has certainly added to the event’s mysterious airs with a descriptive poem posted on their Facebook that personifies the silo, firmly declaring that “she needs new bodies to possess”: hopefully, St Andrews’ ravers will rise to the challenge. Siloween certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
Ending with a crescendo of typical St Andrews antics, the Union is hosting its annual Fright Night on Halloween night itself. The holiday’s unfortunate occurrence on a Monday night this year should be no deterrence for St Andrews students to sport their most creative costumes and get into the Halloween spirit. The evening stands out from other Union events with its festive myriad of cocktails and the chance to win a £100 prize for best costume. You’re sure to make the most of the final, fleeting moments of October in true 601 fashion (even if you may need to miss a lecture or two the next day).
Whether you’re looking to spend a night out or catch a show at the Byre, you’re sure to find something that will get you into the festive spirit. If St Andrews knows one thing, it’s how to get creative with events. Its being a small mediaeval seaside town helps to promote its status as the ideal spooky location for Halloween festivities. The Saint encourages you to dust off your witch hats and fasten your seatbelts for an undeniably St Andrews Halloween!
Illustration: Calum Mayor