Fifth of UK consumers prefer Halloween to Christmas

31 October 2023 3 min. read
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New research has found a fifth of UK consumers now count Halloween as their favourite annual holiday. Belfast, Cardiff and Norwich are the UK’s Halloween capitals, with more residents celebrating the night there than in London.

Some commentators might say that in a world seemingly edging closer to collapse, it is unsurprising that a growing number of people are drawn to horror – a realm in which impossible threats present the only way reality could conceivably be worse. Possibly reflecting this, while the happy, loving holiday of Christmas sees its status as a spending priority wane, Halloween’s stock is very much on the rise in the UK.

Taking place at the onset of the ‘dark half of the year’, Halloween celebrations originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, and pagan equivalents across Europe. As harvest season – a time of life and abundance – ended, the last evening of October was supposedly the time when the wall between their realm and the Otherworld was easier to cross – so people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off malignant spirits and entities.

Fifth of UK consumers prefer Halloween to Christmas

Those are all traditions that live on today, it just exists in a world where like everything else, it has been monetised by the pervasive forces of capital. As such, a new study from The Dungeons – the owner of immersive attractions in London, Edinburgh, Blackpool, York, and Warwick Dungeons – has found the most popular of modern Halloween celebrations are a long way from the festival’s origins.

Halloween capitals

Around 47% of British consumers said that they planned to celebrate Halloween this year, while 20% said it was now their favourite annual celebration. When asked what they loved most about Halloween, the largest number of 27% said they enjoyed observing the costumes of other revellers on social media – ahead of the sweet treats most associated with the festival, at 24%.

Fifth of UK consumers prefer Halloween to Christmas

Oddly enough for a night celebrating some of the grimmest and unnerving aspects of the human imagination, just 14% said their favourite part of Halloween was getting a good fright. With that said, on the big evening itself, the most popular activity was settling down to watch a horror film, while 13% also said they loved heading to a scary event or attraction.

When it comes to the places which find the season the most exciting, the Censuswide poll of 1,001 consumers also found that the most popular hives of Halloween activity might not be where people would expect. While the diverse metropolis of London was a high-scorer, with 52% of its population engaging in Halloween celebrations, it was far behind Northern Ireland’s capital. Around 76% of people in Belfast said they would be celebrating the night in some way. Cardiff and Norwich were also ahead of London, with 55% and 53% of people respectively saying they had plans for the night.

A Dungeons spokesperson said of the study, “For our Dungeons across the UK, every day is Halloween – and it looks like a lot of the country has now caught up with our thinking and agree that spooky season truly is the best. Sorry Santa! But it’s not only Halloween that we see huge interest… Increasingly people are looking year-round for spooky, scary and jump-filled fun.”