Was Halloween cancelled this year?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media

Image courtesy of HBO

Halloween is a highlight of a Kent student's autumn term. With the first deadlines looming or just passed, an ever-present desire for catharsis and excitement hangs over campus. Throughout October, students notice the typical orange and black decorations, pumpkin-themed merchandise, and advertisements for ‘spooky’ events crop up both on and off-campus. For many incoming students, this is one of their first festive events at university, marking an important point alongside Fresher’s Week and Christmas, in their timeline of fond memories.

“Halloween in my second year was one of my best memories from uni’, I was told by former Kent student Claudia Parker. “My friends and I all dressed up” (herself as Britney Spears) “and went on a pub crawl. There were loads of costumed students in big groups having a good time”.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the same level of festivities did not take place this year. Local event organisers and Kent Union tried their best to salvage All Hallow’s Eve, but their Venue-based socially distanced ‘Scare Maze’, which was essentially a one-way sanitised group walk with an occasional jump scare, proved to be rather dry. More large-scale events like Margate’s ‘Screamland’ still took place, but they noticeably did not advertise students’ discounts on campus like in previous years. Canterbury’s nightclubs like Chemistry and Tokyo Tea Rooms still arranged some Halloween events, but they could do little to ‘spook’ up the night whilst adhering to current regulations.

With the additional blow that trick-or-treating, although not usually a student activity, was also prohibited, the only semblance of a Halloween experience students got this year was in small groups and likely at home. This year may have been the drink-fuelled jamboree it normally is, but Kent students did not go without.

Having experienced Halloween at Kent since 2017, I can truly say that the best experiences come not from the events, but from the effort put in. As exciting as going out and partying in a horror-themed masquerade seems, what makes the evening more memorable is what you make out of it. I remember more fondly than anything else the hilarity of seeing friends arrive in garish matching outfits, or when my girlfriend and I were cheap and went as characters from The Office US, signified only by clipped on post-it notes. The rest of the evening was just a busier and more decorated club-night, with the occasional Halloween song or drink, with some ‘spooky’ activities like apple-bobbing thrown in for effect.

Instead of lamenting what you missed, instead, think about how you made your Halloween unique. Hosting a themed party where all your five guests must come as characters from a certain franchise, with rewards and punishments for the best and worst is a great alternative to going out clubbing. Or arranging a socially distanced trick-or-treat with your student neighbours. Families in Thanet made similar arrangements with their ‘Thanet Pumpkin Trail’, which features a pumpkin system that makes clear who does and does not want to participate. Failing all that, just picking up pumpkins from a local farm and watching a scary movie steeped in the darkness of your kitchen is as good a Halloween plan as any other.

We had to make the best of Halloween this year and only we could have made it great, doing everything within our control to make up for an unusual twist to the festivities. When you look back on Halloween 2020, it will not be the drinks or music that stand out, it will be the people and the effort you all put in to make it special for each other.

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