There's a chill in the air and the nights are drawing in. Soon ghosts, ghouls, zombies and monsters will fill towns, villages, suburbs and city centres all over the country. Some will be looking for sweets and others will be heading towards a different kind of night out, but their aim is similar: to have a frighteningly good time.
You might, however, want to do something different - like get out and explore the creepy corners of this country. Here's a pick of the spookiest places and events in the UK this Halloween, suitable for budgets of all kinds.
Fiendishly free and chillingly cheap
The inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula - it doesn't get much spookier than that! There are plenty of sights to get your teeth into in Whitby, without drawing blood from your wallet.
Walk along the cobbled streets after dark while the waves crash against the cliffs, then make your way up to Whitby Abbey. You might even see some bats flapping around the spires… Almost all of the pubs and shops in Whitby claim some sort of link to Dracula: even if you don't want to spend anything, you can still enjoy the creepy atmosphere.
There's a film festival inspired by Bram Stoker himself in Whitby from 25th-28th October. It shows about 30 independent horror, thriller and sci-fi films. Tickets start from about £8 for some events, but ticket prices vary.
If strange glowing bulbs, crackling sparks and Frankenstein's laboratory are more your thing, the Museum of Victorian Science in Whitby is well worth a visit. The museum features live demonstrations and it's best to book in advance to avoid a shock.
Good walks gone bad
You could also seek out ghosts and ghouls in National Trust properties all over the country. These events will be great for kids who want to explore and look for the things that go 'bump' in the night. Normal admission prices apply, and there might be a small extra cost on top.
In Sheringham Park, there are ghostly stories dotted around the garden for you to read - and you could even win a 'spooky prize'. Or there's a twilight trail around West Wycombe Village and Hill - finishing with a torchlight tour to the Hellfire Caves. Who knows whether bats - or other creatures of the night - could be in there? There are spooky stories and a walk in the dark in Wild Ennerdale too - you'll need a torch with fresh batteries to get you through the night!
Agonisingly average prices
Warwick Castle after dark
Warwick Castle is opening its doors after 5pm this Halloween for a haunted castle and dungeon tour. This historic landmark takes on a more sinister edge after night falls, and you never know what lies ahead in the dark corridors… It could be the last £15 you ever spend (but you'll probably be fine).
The Haunted Village
If you happen to stumble upon a mysterious village in the grounds of Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, between 12th October and 3rd November, you might just be in trouble. This village features open farmland, dark rooms, creepy forests - and no 'safe zones'. Just an hour of screaming adrenaline, not knowing what is hiding in the dark. Prices vary depending on the date, but it'll cost you around £20 for this pleasure.
Infection has taken hold, and it's spreading. Soon the streets of the UK will be abandoned and there'll be a zombie round every corner. So it will probably be useful to get yourself prepared!
If you want to do a bit of 'zombie research', you might want to visit the UK Festival of Zombie Culture in Leicester. It's £25 for a ticket for a day ticket (17th November), and that'll give you access to zombie films, gaming, book signings, guest stars and makeup artists (so you can disguise yourself as one of the horde). The information you learn about your lumbering, snarling enemies could save your life one day (maybe).
When night falls, there are organised ghost walks in almost every city in the country - from Brighton to York. At Halloween, you can be sure these walks will be stepped up to the next level. See your city in a different light as you creep through alleys and stumble upon little-known graveyards. Use a search engine to see if there are any ghost walks going on near you, e.g. "Manchester ghost walks". As these walks are all in different places and run by different companies, affordability can vary. Some walks will be very affordable and others will be…less so (evil laugh).
History comes alive in the most twisted way possible in the Dungeons. They are situated in London, York, Blackpool, Edinburgh and Warwick Castle. Depending on which dungeon you visit, you could meet the Pendle Witches, Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, Dick Turpin or Guy Fawkes. Many have new characters this Halloween - and they're just dying to meet you.
Eerily expensive events
These events may cost a little more than those above - but for hardened Halloween hellions it could be well worth it.
Over Halloween, both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park will be open later than usual - and a host of mysterious characters will swarm in. Ride your favourite rollercoasters in the dark or make your way through scary mazes. Thorpe Park's mazes have some very unnerving names, such as The Passing, Saw Alive (based on the films), Experiment 10, The Asylum and The Curse. You may have to pay for park admission as well as your 'after dark' ticket, which could make the events a little bit more costly - around £40 if you book online.
Zed Events run a number of zombie survival events. They operate all year round - but Halloween is a perfect time to book. The events take place either in an abandoned shopping mall (£139) or in a manor house (£119). The prices are pretty spine-chilling, but you'll be given zombie survival training before being pitted against the horde. Who knows when, or where, that kind of training could come in handy? There are obviously many people who are keen to brush up on their zombie survival skills, because dates and availability are limited.
Even more zombies!
The horde has already descended onto Manchester and Birmingham - and now it's heading to London and Nottingham. 2.8 hours later is a zombie survival situation set up in real cities. You'll have to make it to different checkpoints while constantly looking over your shoulder for the zombies that will be stalking you through the darkened streets. If you see one, you'd better run for your life.
If you do become one of the infected, don't worry. You'll be able to forget about it at the zombie disco afterwards. Tickets are £40 for London (8th-10th November) and £24-£28 for Nottingham (20th-23rd March 2013).