‘It’s become a real monster!’ How Britain fell for Halloween

It used to be a very American tradition, but love it or loathe it, fright night is bigger than ever in the UK – and consumers are spending a scary amount

‘It started with the Coffin of Doom,” says Jeremy Hayward, of the year he first decided to create an experience for children ringing his bell on Halloween. Just beyond his threshold was a coffin, with a dressed-up Hayward daring brave trick-or-treaters to open the lid. “And inside there were treats, but there was also a baby on a cross. No one complained.”

In fact, the Coffin of Doom was a success. “It was a bit gruesome,” says Hayward, “and slightly irreligious, I guess, but then that’s Halloween for you.” There were additions and improvements over the next few years – spooky music, lights, the front door rigged to open automatically – but it wasn’t enough for him. “You have to keep reinventing. It’s great for the little ones, but as soon as they’ve done it a couple times, it’s: ‘Ah, it’s the Coffin of Doom; there’s just a baby inside.’”

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