In Haunt

From 9 October - 2 November 2019 Rochdale will be transformed – with an array of exciting themed activities and events to enjoy as part of Rochdale Town Centre Halloween Festival! This will include everything from spooky pie-making at the historic Pioneers Museum to a sugar skull Halloween Parade right inside the Exchange Shopping Centre, Day of the Dead celebrations at The Flying Horse Hotel and so much more. Access the full line-up of events here.

Rochdale Town Centre

Not only do Rochdale’s Halloween celebrations offer something for everyone, but they are particularly unique – making the most of the town’s historic buildings and iconic locations. Adventure inside the magnificent neo-gothic Town Hall for an early-evening experience with Haunt Manchester, explore Touchstones museum like never before and even indulge in some karaoke at the characterful Cask & Feather!

Haunt Manchester is certainly no stranger to exploring alternative offerings and entertainment in Rochdale, having previously enjoyed one of Colin Meredith’s fantastic Rochdale Ghost Walks (with an October edition available, more information below), taking in the eerie aspects of Rochdale’s history; tales of industry, mystery and more. We’ve also journeyed behind the scenes at Rochdale Town Hall (pictured below, read our full article here), the buried-away cultural gem of The Curtain Theatre (close to Rochdale Station) and even encountered unusual aspects of heritage along the Rochdale Canal; walking the stretch from the town right into Manchester city centre with Dr Jennie Bailey.

Rochdale Town HallPlaying a key part in the organisation of these exciting Halloween celebrations is Rochdale Town Centre BID – and the Halloween Festival Office is located within the Rochdale BID Offices, Unit 34 in The Wheatsheaf Centre. Updates are also available on their website (see their fantastic Halloween Festival video here), as well as social media via Facebook and Twitter.

Rochdale Town Centre’s Halloween offerings certainly don’t disappoint – with themed fun not just on the 31 October, but a selection of options throughout the month. Here are our highlights…

Creepy Creature Catchers at Touchstones

Come along to Rochdale’s historic Touchstones Museum & Art Gallery– and see the building transformed with the addition of an Enchanted Forest… and a hunt for creepy creatures on Thursday 24 October (10-11.30am and another session 2-3.30pm).  This is a family-friendly opportunity to learn about the folklore and fantastic beasts of Rochdale… including trolls and goblins! Get to grips with ‘Goblin Goggles’, craft a magic wand and explore. Admission is £4 per child, booking at link4life.org. During a previous visit to Touchstones, Haunt Manchester met Dr Oliver Bishop (of Yan Tan Tethera), who was able to tell the team about boggarts and even more creepy creatures in our interview with him here.

Day of the Dead at The Flying Horse Hotel

The Flying Horse

The wonderfully-named Flying Horse Hotel is one of the oldest pubs in Rochdale (read the full Haunt article on the venue here), right at the side of the beautiful Town Hall – and as well as being full of character, it is Greater Manchester's Pub of the Year (for the second year in a row!) according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).  On Friday 1 November they will be having a ‘Day of the Dead’ special, with the option of a Mexican-themed tapas menu earlier in the evening (see the Facebook page for more details and booking), and then Day of the Dead themed live music!  Live tunes will be coming from the exciting Mariachi band Juan Direction, performing energetic Mexican covers of favourite hits! 8pm until late.

Fancy Dress Mad Pop Up Shop at the Wheatsheaf Centre

Who says that shopping isn’t spooky? Find out more about the ultimate Halloween fancy dress… from experts in the field Fancy Dress Mad! This team of creative costume providers will be popping up in the Wheatsheaf Centre until Saturday 2 November, with plenty of outfits to try on for men, women and children.

‘Spooky Pies in ‘ere’ at the Pioneers Museum

A historic place for pie-making! Children are invited to come along to the Pioneers Museum – the place known as the birthplace of the Co-operative movement, where the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society started in 1844 – and get hands-on making and filling sweet pies on Wednesday 23 October. There will plenty of tasty and spooky toppings to help create a treat! Admission is £3 per child and for more information and booking email museum@co-op.ac.uk or call 01706 524920. We love the play-on-words!

Rochdale Halloween

Sugar Skull Halloween Parade at Exchange Shopping Centre

A creative carnival experience in Rochdale on the theme of Halloween! On Friday 25 October, come along to a free fun festival in Rochdale’s Exchange Shopping Centre as the place will be decorated in themed props, children can decorate a Giant Halloween Doodle Skull, have their faces painted… and even create their own Sugar Skull Keep Safe Box. And that’s not all! During the day, the shopping centre will see a whole new side… as a parade of spooky stilt walkers, dancers and skaters make their way through: every hour on the hour.

Halloween Fancy Dress and Karaoke Party at the Cask & Feather

A great one for the grown-ups… get on your glad rags and get involved a Halloween sing-song special with fancy dress and themed karaoke at city centre pub the Cask & Feather. An annual event, this is set to be popular… taking place on Saturday 26 October, 8pm until late.

Family Halloween Day at the Wheatsheaf Centre

On Saturday 26 October, 11am until 3pm there will be a free family-friendly Halloween event inside the Wheatsheaf Centre – with a visit from Ranger Rob, who will be bringing along some creepy creatures (like lizards and snakes!) and even some edible bugs. Dare you try one? There will also be a pop-up spooky sweet shop from Candy Kabin, arts and crafts opportunities, thrilling live performances from Footlights Theatre, pumpkin carving and spooky storytelling from the experts Can O’Worms.  Children can also get exploring with a Trick & Treat Trail around the shops… complete with spooky performances. Admission is free!

Spooky Board Game Night at The Baum

Dare you come along  to one of Rochdale’s most characterful pubs for an evening of creepy board games on the night of Halloween itself – Thursday 31 October? From 6pm until late, The Baum on Toad Lane –  next to the Pioneers Museum – will be the place to play some themed board games and enjoy fabulous drinks. Great for the grown-ups, this pub has been in the Good Beer Guide since 2007, won CAMRA pub of the year in 2012 and supports a range of microbreweries, with plenty to pick from! Sounds like more treats than tricks!

Haunt Manchester at Rochdale Town Hall

Great Hall Rochdale Town Hall

Haunt Manchester is delighted to be bringing a dark evening of exploratory fun to within the magnificent Rochdale Town Hall.  Enter the building with us and join ‘spooky researchers’ from Manchester Metropolitan University (including of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies) on Halloween itself - Thursday 31 October - for some spooky storytelling and talks 4pm-6pm and then a tour at 6-7pm. Dr Jennie Bailey will be telling spooky stories exploring folklore, myth and history, whilst Dr Emma Liggins (who is also organising a special Halloween dance spectacular at Manchester's The Dancehouse Theatre on 30 October, more information here) and Dr Matt Foley will give some fascinating Gothic-inspired talks. And if that wasn’t all, Dr Ken Drinkwater and Fabrizio Cocchiarella will be telling us more about paranormal encounters ... all part of The Gothic Manchester Festival 2019 too! Discover more, ask questions and of course... fancy dress is encouraged! Are you ready to be intrigued? Even better,  once the tour had finished…guests could even run along to join Colin Meredith’s great Rochdale Ghost Walk which will be working its way through the town from 8pm (starting at The Baum, full information below). The afternoon talks at the Haunt Manchester event are free, whilst the tour is 6pm-7pm and £7, bookable via Eventbrite.com.

Colin Meredith’s Ghost Walk

Colin Meredith

Haunt Manchester has already enjoyed one of Colin Meredith’s innovative and engaging Rochdale Ghost Walks... and therefore his Halloween night edition on 31 October is highly recommended. Meet at The Baum pub on Toad Lane at 8pm with local expert Colin who will take the group on an immersive walking tour of the town centre, its supernatural stories, hauntings and fascinating past. Highlights include the atmospheric Parish Church of Saint Mary in The Baum, hidden town centre passageways and tales of cells beneath Rochdale Town Hall itself. Admission is £5 – and although booking is not required, it is advised that people arrive at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start time.

Halloween Cult Film Night at the Pioneers Museum

The Pioneers Museum on Toad Lane makes an old, atmospheric location to watch screenings of some cult spooky film favourites, from 5.30pm until  8pm on Thursday  31 October. Ideal for horror film fans, this is an event suitable for those aged 15 and over – and it’s free! Reserve a seat by calling 01706 524920 or email museum@co-op.ac.uk

Spooky Cocktails at The Medicine Tap

Enjoy frightfully themed drinks within a historic setting, served on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 November at The Medicine Tap; the beautiful bar now located in Rochdale’s Grade II listed Old Post Office building. Located right by the town centre’s sunken gardens and the Sir Edwin Lutyen-designed Cenotaph, this an atmospheric location to enjoy a tipple or two – looking out onto The Town Hall!

Halloween Fancy Dress Party at The Empire

Creative costume and dressing up is all part of the Halloween fun... even for the grown-ups! The town’s biggest Halloween fancy dress party is coming to the Empire on Saturday 2 November (6pm-4am... dare you last the night?)- so extend those Halloween celebrations and enjoy a night of dancing, singing and selection of music. The Empire, a former music hall theatre, makes an ideal location. With tracks from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, guests are surely in for a treat, plus there are cash prizes for the three best fancy-dress costumes. Admission is free!

Spooky Halloween Scarecrow Competition

A scarily good crafty competition! This year Rochdale BID have teamed up with a range of local schools to create a trail of spooky scarecrows -  discover them in the town centre between 24 October and 4 November. Can you find them all? Brilliant for the young people who have been  involved, the BID team will pick their favourite design and prizes will be awarded to the winning school. For further information contact the BID team on 01706 926677.

Halloween Map

By Emily Oldfield

Images - provided thanks to Rochdale Town Centre BID and also previous Haunt Manchester articles on Rochdale

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