So, Liberty’s Christmas shop is now open.
But before you get baubles deep in fake snow, animatronic reindeer and luxury artisanal tinsel (aka artinsel) may we humbly remind you of one of the many festivals still to take place in the intervening three and a half months: hallowe’en.
And yes, it might also seem slightly premature to be talking about that when it’s still six weeks away, were it not for the news that London Month of the Dead has been… revived.
The annual series returns in October with a line-up of nearly fifty mysterious and macabre events to choose from, most of which take place within the city’s seven Victorian cemeteries themselves (and none of which involve knocking on strangers’ doors and demanding sweets). It’s all put together by Antique Beat, who host regular salons on strange and eclectic topics, and A Curious Invitation, founded by ethical taxidermist Suzette Field. Tickets are going extremely fast – Londoners are clearly a morbid bunch – but there’s still a chance to book into:
FASCINATING TALKS on a range of mysterious and unusual topics, from the 19th century Scandinavian practice of drinking blood at beheadings, to the forensics of Agatha Christie novels, the forgotten history of sin-eaters, and a couple of whistle-stop tours through literary and mythical underworlds;
WORKSHOPS, in which you can craft your own memento mori, be lulled into a hypnagogic reverie or learn to scry with a crystal ball;
TWILIGHT STROLLS around each of London’s ‘magnificent seven’ cemeteries, where you’ll learn about their grand architecture, famous residents and – for the truly steely of nerve – join a descent into the catacombs; and
ETHEREAL PERFORMANCES, including candlelit retellings of classic ghost stories in a cemetery chapel, a supernatural hand shadow show (accompanied by a glass of Victorian punch) and a rare concert featuring excerpts from the controversial and rarely performed opera, The Bloody Nun.
Aside from giving you a few spine-tingling thrills, the festival’s always been staged with the intention of allowing Londoners to discuss and interact with what is essentially a very scary thing, and find ways to approach the concept of death without fear. In fact, one of the more serious events is an evening with ‘progressive funeral director’ Louise Winter, who’ll share her experiences and insights into what makes a meaningful send-off.
NOTE: London Month of the Dead holds its first event on 23rd September, then starts in earnest in October. You can take a look at the full programme HERE, then get the best overview of which events still have tickets, and book, HERE.
After something a little less spooky? See what’s on in London this week.