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Covid in Scotland: Celebrating Halloween 2020 style

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Just when you thought 2020 could not get any scarier, along came October to add a new challenge to our lives.

It's Halloween, but not as we know it. The Scottish government has slapped restrictions on celebrating to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Guising is out, trick or treating is banned, and parties are outlawed, so people have to use their imaginations to keep the tradition alive for children this year.

Focus has moved to small family celebrations, virtual pumpkin carving competitions and spooky home decor.

Here is how Scotland is getting ghostly in the year of the pandemic.

'Halloween is everything we do, this is just a bit different'

image copyrightMercat Tours

Outside of the festivals, Halloween is usually the biggest time of the year for Mercat Tours in Edinburgh.

Managing director Kat Brogan says this year will be smaller and quieter but they have sold out several ghost walks.

She said: "We have reduced the size of our groups from 30 to 12 with social distancing and masks and we have re-routed our tours. There are plenty of spots around Edinburgh where we can share stories about what happened there making sure those spaces are large enough to keep everyone at a safe distance."

She says there is still plenty of scope to give that little edge to Halloween.

"Halloween really is everything we do. It is about story telling, bringing ancestors and generations together to remember stories from century to century," she said. "In a year like this we can rely on what has happened in the past because that is not going to change."

Windows of wonder

Guising and telling jokes in exchange for sweets around the neighbourhood is a big part of Halloween for most children, but the risk of little mobile monsters spreading coronavirus has put paid to that.

It hasn't stopped communities creating safe and socially distant ways to get their fright fix.

image copyrightKayleigh Harvey
image captionThis house in Glasgow, has gone full-out on its window creations

Several areas have created window walks - where households have decorated their houses in a suitably spooky style.

Families can then walk around the streets choosing their favourites.

Battlefield in Glasgow has been displaying some spectacular scenes in its Window Wanderland.

image captionClaire used Julia Donaldson books as her inspiration for her window

Claire used inspiration from children's author Julia Donaldson to create her window, with characters from the Gruffalo and Stick Man.

She spent three days decorating and said it was nice to feel part of the community.

She said: "It's important to get everyone involved. People are anxious and overwhelmed with everything that is happening. Halloween is not totally cancelled. At least people can get out and have a wander around and look at all the windows.

"People are finding alternative ways of doing things."

image captionKeeping an eye on the social distancing

In East Renfrewshire, the Great Clarkston Pumpkin Trail has brought local businesses into the fun, inviting them to display carved pumpkins.

Andy Dunlop from the local business group I love Clarkston is behind the idea: "We were looking to bring a bit of colour and happiness back to the town after a bleak six or seven months. "

image copyrightAlly Crawford
image captionAlly Crawford's scarecrow was a family effort.

More than 100 pumpkins have been registered and an interactive map shows pumpkin seekers where to find them.

A public vote will decide the winner of some local shopping vouchers.

Ally Crawford's scarecrow entry was a family effort.

"My sons helped, spending a total of £3 for a hat and the rest was made from things in our garage. Our three year-old is a big fan of spiders so that [pumpkin] is his, mum's is the disco ball and our six year-old carved the one with the big eyes as he claims he is a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas."

image copyrightLisa Dorrian
image captionHeidless Henry is welcoming neighbours in Clarkston

Running with the pumpkin trail is Witchy Windows, organised by Clarkston Community Council.

Council member Julie Flaherty said it was an extension of the community spirit shown during lockdown earlier in the year.

"That resilience was something we wanted to build on," she said. "We wanted to teach the kids that we can take the positives from the situation."

The area is filled with witches in all kinds of scenes from haunted houses to spiderwebs and in cauldrons.

image captionOne of the window witches

With parties on the banned list, one of the few outings still allowed is the cinema.

Drive in movies have become popular all over the country and households can remain in a socially distanced bubble inside their car while watching a big screen.

Events are taking place in multiple locations including Craigie Park in Ayr, Prestwick Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Strathclyde Park and Falkirk Stadium.

image captionFocus has moved to pumpkin carving competitions this year

What will you be doing to celebrate Halloween in 2020? Send us your pictures of your pandemic pumpkins, costume creations and deadly decorations.

Email your pictures to and put "Halloween pictures" in the subject line.

Read all our terms and conditions on sending us your pictures, including rules for sending photographs of children.

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  • Scotland's Halloween 'not cancelled' during Covid