Halloween in London: Where to trick or treat
My girls grew up in San Francisco and for them, Halloween is the biggest celebration of the year (with Thanksgiving). Trick or treating was always part of Halloween, as well as dressing up or making Halloween crafts, and to extend the fun into November, El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). In London where we now live, Halloween is less celebrated but a lot of streets partake in trick or treating and we are lucky to be within walking or tubing distance from a few ghoulish hot spots.
London Trick or Treating 101
Before you set out on a sweet rampage, it’s useful to know what makes trick or treating in London different (or not) from trick or treating in the US.
- Halloween is on October 31. Sunset in London on October 31 is around 4.30pm. Since most schools are on half-term break, kids usually have all day to get ready.
- In London, Halloween is scary. Funny, cute, geek or political costumes get you blank stares as if you totally missed the mark. Most kids are witches, ghosts, zombies, vampires and bloody gory serial killers. Very few adults do dress up but when they do, they do it well.
- To find a trick or treating house, look for a pumpkin with lights outside. In the US, the code is lights on for candy, lights off for “we’re out of sweets”. In London, there are fewer trick or treaters anyway so chances of scoring sweets are higher but if lights are off, they might have run out of candy.
- Trick or treating happens when its dark rather than at dusk, even with younger kids. Peak trick or treating is 5 to 7pm. Don’t forget a torch, it can be very dark in narrow alleys!
- The best way to trick or treat is to start on a major road and follow trick or treaters or pumpkins with lights.
- Some places/houses display “No trick or treat” posters. Leave them alone, no tricks please.
This was our first Halloween in London and I made the rookie mistake to dress up as Mr Puft from Ghostbusters. Fortunately, my girls wore scarier costumes as Dia de los Muertos bride and Mad Hatter. The trick or treating was amazing. Families enjoy trick or treating along Park Road, Chester Row & Chester Square, St. Michael’s Church and Stavely Road.
Kensington – The Boltons
With the many mews and cobbled alleyways, this is one of my favorite Halloween hangouts. Families with young and older kids can admire spooky decorations in the following streets and go trick or treating to their heart’s content: The Little Boltons, Tregunter Road, Phillimore Walk, Phillimore Gardens, Upper Phillimore Gardens, Campden Hill Rd, Argyll Road, Victoria Road and all the neighboring streets.
The neighborhood just behind Kensington High Street to the north around Holland Park is great for trick or treating. Abbotsbury Road is a known hot spot for spooky decorated mansions and Ilchester Place by Holland Park has some pretty snazzy decorated grand houses.
Fulham – Alphabet Streets
In Fulham, the so-called ‘Alphabet Streets’ are a hoot. Starting with B for Bishop Street (there is no A), these residential streets are named in alphabetical order until L for Langthorne behind the Fulham Football Club along the River Thames. Really, they should be called B to L streets but it’s less fun tan Alphabet Streets.
On Halloween night, off Fulham Palace Rd, take your kids trick or treating on Cloncurry St, Doneraille St and Ellerby St (C, D, and E – then) and see if the other letters of the alphabet follow suit.
A super cute neighborhood with colorful houses, Primrose Hill is big on fun around Halloween. Chalcot Square is where most people start and then walk down to Chalcot Road, Chalet Road, Fitzroy Road and the surrounding neighborhood streets.
St John’s Wood
Thanks to the proximity of the American school and US Ambassador’s residence, St John’s Wood is full of American families who celebrate Halloween in grand style. To trick or treat, go to Hamilton Terrace (look for the house number 200), Carlton Hill, Clifton Hills, Loudon Road and Springfield Road.