One of the UK’s biggest Halloween events, Shocktober Fest at Tulley’s farm in West Sussex was a big hit with my teenagers and their cousins last weekend. There’s still time to try it as it’s on until 4th November. I’d say this is one for ages 12 or 13 and up – those any younger might be a little freaked out.
Different themed ‘Haunts’ use live actors to bring the horror to life. Favourites voted for by my gang included The Chop Shop. As with most of the attractions, it’s in an indoor, maze-like setting, with small groups let in at any one time. This one involves flashing lights, lots of blood…and several mad looking people wandering around with noisy chain saws! Master Gallivant told me that the kid behind him (who he didn’t know) was so terrified that he hung onto his jumper the whole way round.
In Colony, we wandered through the dark, occasionally encountering zombies who popped out to make us scream (we did a lot of that) and made weird noises at us – Zombie language we presumed. Miss Gallivant tried speaking it back to them – don’t think they were expecting that!
The Cellar is located in an ‘old farm house’, long abandoned and now inhabited by not quite human creatures, also ready to pounce when you’re least suspecting it.
Coven of 13 is a witch based haunt. Smoke and lasers create a creepy, misty atmosphere and we saw witches being ducked before having to enter a coven by crawling through the fireplace.
The Twisted Clowns 3D involves putting on 3D specs and wandering along distorted corridors. You have to push your way through coloured flaps, but walls are painted the same colour so we banged our way around it. Gruesome clowns with sharp teeth popped out to greet us along the way. Miss Gallivant found this one pretty scary as she has a childhood fear of clowns.
Less scary but great fun was the Horrorwood Haunted Hayride, the only outdoor haunt, where we sat on a trailer and were driven through a series of abandoned, and supposedly haunted, film sets. Actors (like an evil nun and a mummy) jump onto the trailer and try to scare the bejesus out of you.
Least favourite haunts? Creepy Cottage – just not creepy enough, we reckoned. And VIXI. The idea is interesting. We had our heads covered with hoods (ready to be hung) and then had to feel our way around, grabbing onto a rope as we went. Actors whispered and blew into our ears, we could hear all sorts of sounds and at one stage there was definitely the heat of a fire near us. But I found it all too claustrophobic. The kids thought it dull because they couldn’t see anything. And it is the visual aspect of these haunts that makes them so exciting. Tulley’s Farm have done a great job here – the sets and the special effects are imaginative and the actors are fantastic and enthusiastic.
When you’ve had your fill of the haunts there is more to entertain. Food stalls sell candy floss, burgers, hog roasts and more – while you sit down to eat, you might encounter characters who will come to entertain you. There are a couple of theme park style rides, too, which my lot loved (although, rather irritatingly you have to pay extra for them on what is already an expensive night out). There is also street theatre and some excellent live music, with fire pits and tables and chairs if you want to sit. All of us had a dance.
All in all, it’s a great, and well organised, night out. We screamed, we laughed – and I know it was a hit because Master and Miss Gallivant are already talking about a repeat visit next year.
Shocktober Fest is near Turner’s Hill (between Crawley and East Grinstead) in West Sussex . It’s on now and until 4th November – every evening from 5pm or 6pm until midnight. Ticket prices start from £32-£40 for an XScream Pass, which includes entry to each haunt once. Xcream Pass + FastTrack costs £47-£55 and means you can queue jump once per haunt. VIP XScream Unlimited Pass costs £62-£70 and lets you visit each haunt as many times as you want. I would recommend the Xcream Pass + FastTrack if you can stretch to it as queues can be long and it ensures you get to do everything. Allow at least three or four hours for your visit. For more details visit www.halloweenattractions.co.uk/haunts/shocktoberfest