“ Annual Halloween Party in Sheffield / City Guide Type: Attractions „
Armed with two young kids excitedly waving around their pumpkin lanterns I headed off to Sheffield city centre for Fright Night, which has become a bit of a ritual. It always takes place on the Sunday before Halloween bit since last year Sunday fell on Halloween (31st October 2010) so it was actually held on the right day.
The first Fright Night took place in 2000 so this was its 10th anniversary and we were promised something special. The main event takes place between Fargate and the Millennium Gardens, adjacent to the Town Hall but it is so huge that it spills out onto Pinstone Street and Leopold Street and beyond. Between 3.30pm and 8.30pm when Fright Night takes place all of the roads surrounding the city centre are closed off.
This event now attracts over 40,000 people making it the largest event of its kind in Britain. Preparations always begin the week before when strange things like haunted houses start appear in the city centre, shrouded beneath tarpaulin.
Coinciding with Fright Night is an event called "Fright Night's Little Brother", which is aimed specifically at younger children. The two boys with us, aged 5 and 7 wanted to do both but in my opinion even the 5 year old was a little old for the junior event. The junior event takes place between Midday and 3pm on The Moor but within an hour they were a little bored so we disappeared for something to eat and waited for the main event to get underway.
Fright Night itself did not disappoint either the kids or the adults. The streets were full of entertainers, with people on stilts and unicycles dressed in ghoulish outfits and sometimes it was hard to work out whether some of the figures stood inside the shop windows were real or fake until they jumped out on you or tapped you on the shoulder. As you can imagine there were plenty of screams and giggles and even a few excited tears too.
The pedestrianised area of Fargate, where the biggest of the city's department stores are to be found was full of food and craft stalls but it was also a significant day for Sheffield in that its "Big Wheel" at the top of Fargate that had been there for the past couple of years was about to be dismantled and this was its very last day of operating.
Fright Night is organised by the Yellow Bus Events Company (formerly known as the Sheffield Events Company) and admission to both Fright Night and its Little Brother are completely free although separate charges apply for most of the fairground rides.
Overall it's great fun and always very well organised with paramedics on hand at first aid posts and several official meeting points for lost children (and adults).