Samhuinn in Edinburgh – Unique Halloween Events

Events, off the beaten path — By Christina Maria Paschyn on October 27, 2010 at 7:00 am

So I have more Halloween goodies for you! Just a friendly reminder, visit my blog post and guide for info on scary things you can do in the city. But here are some special events only occurring this weekend to celebrate the ghouls and goblins of Scotland (by the way, can’t you tell that Halloween is my favorite holiday?!). First some history:

Samhuinn is the original Halloween celebrated by the Celts of ancient days. According to Wikipedia:

It marked the end of the Harvest. It has some elements of a festival of the dead. The Gaels believed that the border between this world and the other world became thin on Samhain; because some animals and plants were dying, it thus allowed the dead to reach back through the veil that separated them from the living. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.

The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the spirits or placate them. In Scotland the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white. Samhnagturnips which were hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns — were also used to ward off harmful spirits.

The Gaelic festival became associated with the Christian All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and has hugely influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween, a name first attested in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller All-Hallows-Even. Samhain continues to be celebrated as a religious festival by some Neopagans.

You can celebrate Samhuinn like the ancients by joining the Beltane Fire Society, which will take to the streets on Halloween night, from Castle Esplanade down the Royal Mile to Parliament Square, where the summer court, led by the Green Man, is banished to the magical realm for winter. Info from Time Out Edinburgh.

Beltane festival bringing a spooky air to Edinburgh

If you’re interested in more modern events, check out the below:

Usher Hall: Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The dramatic sounds of the Usher Hall organ will accompany a screening of the original silent horror film, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, starring John Barrymore. In true traditional 1920’s style, haunting and creepy music will be performed as the story unfolds. For extra fun, the audience is invited to get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up in 1920’s fashion! Live music and dancing in the bar before and after the performance.

Saturday, October 30th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets £10. Concessions available.

Vintage Halloween Party – Oxjam Music Festival

Get ready for some freaky music!

A night of live music, vintage fun, party games & blood-chilling tales at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms this Halloween. Whether you’re a Hammer Horror fanatic, Videodrome fiend, Hitchcock buff, Joan Crawford devotee, or if Zombies are more your thing, come dressed to impress and help raise money as part of the Oxjam Music Festival 2010.

Sunday, October 31st, 7.30pm in The Ballroom. Admission £7.50. £5 early-bird tickets available now! Book soon as tickets are limited! Over 18 only.

Night of the Circle: All Hallows Eve

Scottish Storyteller

At the Scottish Storytelling Centre: On this night the veil between seen and unseen, past and present is at its thinest. Experience the coming together of Scottish, Swedish, Indian, Malaysian, Thai and Japanese traditions on All Hallows Eve and step over the threshold into the Celtic New Year. Hosted by Jess Smith with Jeeva Raghunath, Kamini Ramachandran, Wajuppa Tossa, Mio Shapley, Karin Ferry and George MacPherson.

Sunday, October 31st, 7:00 p.m., Admission: £10; £8 concession.

City of the Dead Halloween Festival

History and horror mix on a special Halloween graveyard tour investigating the world’s best documented supernatural case – the Mackenzie poltergeist. Info from

Sunday, Oct 31st, departs 8.30pm, Parliament Square, High Street, Edinburgh., Admission: £8.50 (Concession £6.50).

Roxy Art House: Death Weekend and Boo Station

A celebration of death on Halloween weekend, for which the entire art house will be turned over to the presentation of the macabre including brutal visual art and nightmarish sounds. Visit the event calendar for exact times.

Zombie Walk

Run for your lives!

Join a pack of assorted freaks, ghouls and under-employed art school students to shuffle through the streets of the city infecting passers-by and walking in a mildly disconcerting manner. Meet at Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street for the start of the walk. It finishes up at the Roxy Art House for some sort of undead shindig. Info from

[Photo Credits: Pumpkin by Miala; Beltane Fire Festival by Andrewyuill; Freaky music courtesy of the Voodoo Rooms;  Scottish Storyteller courtesy of the Scottish Storytelling Centre; Zombie by Mark Marek]

Tags: "Beltane Fire Festival", "Celtic Halloween", "Edinburgh Zombie March", "Halloween in Edinburgh", "Mackenzie Poltergeist", "Roxy Art House Edinburgh", "Samhuinn", "Scottish Storytelling Centre", "Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh"