At Halloween in Cornwall, we celebrate Calan Gwaf. It was linked to St Allan, one of Cornwall’s many obscure saints, so was also sometimes called “Allantide”.
1 November was seen as the first day of winter, so the eve of the 31 October had a festive, almost New Year feel to it. As in many other cultures, this was thought to be the night when the veil between this world and the next was at its thinnest. It was the night when you could divine the future, particularly potential partners… “Allan Apples” were given as gifts to bring good luck. Fires were lit to keep away evil spirits, and ancestors were remembered and celebrated.
These days, Halloween seems to be mainly about plastic pumpkins and supermarket fancy dress costumes – imagine the face of a trick-or-treater presented with a traditional Allan Apple instead of sweets! However, here in Cornwall there are plenty of more traditional events going on, which make the most of their mysterious surroundings and capture the eerie atmosphere of Allantide…
Here’s our pick of the treats…
Just down the road from The Cornwall, The Lost Gardens of Heligan’s woods provide the perfect location for a scary adventure. There are creepy trails across the garden; and we liked the idea of the Halloween Yurt, where there’ll be spine-tingling story sessions around the campfire.
Our neighbours at The Eden Project are holding their Halloweden events again over half term, including the popular “Little Monsters Ball” on Halloween. Follow their make-a-potion trail through the biomes, meet some owls, have a spooky makeover, and dare to enter the “Wishcraft Tent”.
Pendennis Castle in Falmouth has two spooky after-hours tours running – one for families, and a second, later tour for adults only. Hot drinks included (you’ll need them – it’s a bit breezy up at the castle…).
As ever, the National Trust has plenty going on at Halloween. Beautiful Cotehele House near Saltash is hosting “Freak Week” (26 October – 1 November). There’ll be a spooky trail of the house (the website advises that “you may wish to bring a torch” – exciting!) and haunted goings on down at the Mill. On Halloween itself, “Fright Night” will be held in the house after dark (website: “It is ESSENTIAL that everyone in your party brings a torch” – even better!). Halloween themes aside, Cotehele, which is situated in a wooded valley, is absolutely stunning at this time of year.
Other Cornish National Trust properties are also hosting Halloween events – try Godolphin House or Trerice for atmospheric Calan Gwaf festivities.
We hope that’s given you some scary suggestions for Halloween in Cornwall. Whatever spooky shenanigans you get up to, don’t forget to join us in The Parkland Terrace afterwards, for a glass of something warming next to a comforting fire. After all, you don’t know what may be lurking outside in The Cornwall’s woodland…