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  • Writer's pictureJohn Murray

Spectacular Spooktacular

Halloween really comes to the fore in the USA with ‘trick or treat’, pumpkins and decorating houses with big budgets. Here in Scotland, we had guisers and carved out neeps – that’s turnips to the ill-informed.

Well things just got scary as Edinburgh Zoo launched their Spooktacular season this week and the biggest Scotland has ever seen. This innovative promotion involves no animals for they are all asleep come sunset but that is when the shadowy world wakes up.

Essentially a trail through the zoo with lanterns, uplighters, screens, lighting effects and real live characters this becomes an evening to remember for all ages. Highlight for me was the projections on the rocks all synchronized to a Halloween soundtrack. Constantly moving with spiders and witches I could watch the cycle again and again – and did.

Speaking to CEO David Field he explained that coming out of lockdown was the time for families and special times to return with several winter events at the zoo. He said that this premiere event, the first of its kind for the zoo and reassuring Covid-19 safe as they have all the experience of thousands of visitors and of course are in the open air. He credited the Wizarding School as a ‘must see’ as well as the transforming lighting from safe campfires to the projections as supplied by NL Productions from Leith.

I did like meeting the characters with an 8-year-old beside me. Here was a world away from TV and phone screens where interactions from Count Dracula, the Wizard, and my favourite, the scary wicked Witch of the West complete with her broom. All keeping to character and all telling their stories as we pass through.

I asked my 8-year-old Ayla what her favourite part was, and she said she loved toasting the marshmallows over a real fire as this was a new experience for her (and me). Price of admission means you can stay as long as you like, and VIP ticket holders can come along early before the show in daylight to see the animals then return for the spooky trail as darkness falls.

Our visit was on an unusually dry and mild 18C evening and not too late for next day’s school. Exceeding expectations this was indeed a spectacularly spooky but starry starry night. As young Ayla said ‘good, great, fantastic’!

Selected dates until October 31st , tickets HERE

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