Mr Sightseer’s Review Of The Edinburgh Fright Bus:
The Edinburgh Fright Bus offers an unforgettable glimpse into dark, grisly, and gruesome tales spanning several centuries. If you’re visiting Edinburgh this Halloween the tour should act as an ideal starting point for your visit. The family-friendly journey is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes long and departs from Waverley Bridge at 19:00 each day. A second service operates at 21:00 on weekends. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
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Climbing aboard a black 1960s Routemaster bus in the dark evening hours, you’ll be greeted by a theatrical guide who will be with you throughout your journey. After taking your seat near one of the vintage lamps that casts an eerie glow, the spooky fun begins.
One of the first stops you’ll arrive at on the ghost bus is Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, where your bus conductor will usher you out for a ‘short walk’. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard surrounds Greyfriar’s Kirk and has been a burial site since the 16th century. It is considered by many to be the most haunted graveyard in the world. It is also the site of an old prison, where more than a thousand supporters of the Presbyterian cause were held outdoors. Hundreds died, and the remaining supporters were later defeated by government forces.
After this chilling encounter, the Edinburgh Fright Bus will stop at other Old Town locations including the Royal Mile, the epicentre of Edinburgh’s haunted tales. Journeying along the mile, you’ll pass by Queensberry House. Queensberry is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy who was killed there while working in the kitchen. You’ll also pass by the Canongate, said to be haunted by the ghost of a “burning woman” who was killed in a house fire centuries ago. Look out for the death coach, a ghostly horse-drawn coach that travels the Royal Mile collecting departed souls.
Proceeding towards Edinburgh Castle, your guide will crack open another casket of sinister stories. This hilltop fortress is believed to be haunted by at least seven ghosts. People have reported seeing the spectres of pipers and drummers. There is even a pet cemetery within Edinburgh Castle, where the apparition of a black hound has occasionally been seen.
Trundling across to the opposite end of the Royal Mile, your ghost bus will arrive at the gates of Holyrood Palace. Holyrood is regarded as one of the UK’s most haunted royal residences. Its ghostly residents are said to be Mary Queen of Scots herself and a witch. It may also be haunted by Lord Darnley, who murdered Mary Queen of Scot’s private secretary, David Rizzio, at the palace in 1566.
Ghosts abound in Edinburgh, and your fright bus conductor will tell you many more dark tales before the night’s end. You’ll hear of Burke and Hare, the Irish body snatchers of West Port who killed 17 people and then sold their bodies for use as medical science cadavers.
You’ll also hear grim accounts of the 16th-17th century Scottish witch trials. Edinburgh was home to one of the country’s major witchcraft courts, and an estimated 4,000-6,000 people were tried as witches from 1567 until the early 18th century. Around 1,500 of them were executed by strangulation and burning at the stake. Even as the journey winds down and your fright bus returns to Waverley Bridge, memories of the evening’s chilling tales will likely remain with you long after.
Other Things To Do In Edinburgh This Halloween:
If you’re staying in Edinburgh for Halloween, you’ll have plenty more entertaining Halloween-themed options to peruse. Let’s check out some of the best.
‘Condemned’ at The Real Mary King’s Close:
This special tour takes place from 27-30 October at 21:00 each night. While the regular tours of Mary King’s Close are frightening enough – it’s said to be haunted by the spirits of plague victims – this tour is even spookier. Walking through the underground warrens, which were sealed off for centuries, your guides will recount some of the closes’ grizzliest stories. In the spirit of Halloween, you’ll learn about the witchcraft trails that blighted the city from the 16th-18th centuries. This late-night adventure is not to be missed!
‘Up Close with Burke and Hare’ by Mercat Tours:
With the Edinburgh Fright Bus still fresh in your mind, why not learn even more about Burke and Hare? This one-off walking tour traces the actual places and events involved in the duo’s campaign of terror. Be sure to get your bookings in quick, as the experience only takes place on Halloween night at 17:00.
Together with your guides, you’ll walk from St. Cuthbert’s Graveyard, where the trouble first started. Then, you’ll journey up to the Grassmarket area, where shady characters lurk. Along the way, you’ll meet Dr. Knox, Burke and Hare’s neighbour, and Burke and Hare themselves. After learning of their fate, you can steady your nerves with refreshments at Megget’s cellar.
Samhuinn Fire Festival:
In celebration of the Celtic New Year (the beginning of Celtic winter), the Beltane Fire Society is holding this popular annual event at the Grassmarket on Halloween. Come and be enchanted by the ancient tale of the Celtic summer and winter kings. Elaborate costumes and music bring the story to life, and of course, there is plenty of fire!
The Edinburgh Dungeons:
Billed as ‘the home of Halloween’, the Edinburgh Dungeon is hosting a special ‘Jekyll and Hyde‘ show for Halloween 2016. It runs from 7th-31st October. During your time at the dungeon, you’ll meet a grisly cast of characters.
First, you’ll encounter Deacon Brodie. By day, he was a cabinet maker, by night, he was part of a gang of thieves. Eventually, he was caught and executed in 1788. After meeting several other sinister faces from the past, this special tour will reveal whether you’re Jekyll or a Hyde. Head along to find out how! Top-off the experience with a spin on the Dungeon’s two exciting rides. This is a truly fun outing for the entire family!
Ceilidh at The Counting House:
Halloween revellers can dance the night away at this special Halloween ceilidh. To join in, meet at The Counting House on Friday, 28th October at 20:00. There, you’ll be serenaded by the Annasach Ceilidh Band. Don’t forget to wear your best Halloween or fancy dress costume! All dances will be called, and the fun lasts until 23:00; last entry is at 22:00. This event is suitable for ages 13 and up.
Enjoy your Halloween in Edinburgh, truly one of the most enjoyable places for Halloween celebrations anywhere in the world!