Activities to explore between October and December
Black History Month UK
If you can see the white mist of the oasis
The red, white, and blue that you defended
If you can see it all through the blackest pupil
The colours stretching the rainbow suspended
If you can see the breached blue dusk
And the caramel curls in swirls of tea
Why do you say you are colour blind when you see me?
- Lemn Sissay, Colour Blind
There’s still time to explore events and exhibitions marking Black History Month in the UK, in October and beyond.
Things to do:
- Watch Akala's Introduction to Black British History, a 7-minute documentary about black British history that you’ll have wished you knew before
- Explore which Black History Month UK events are local to you
- Read David Olusoga's Black and British: A Forgotten History
- Watch the BFI's best black British cinema
- Learn about the Bristol bus boycott and Frederick Douglass in the UK
- Visit 31 places connected to black British history, the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square, Brixton, and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool
Wi' tippenny we fear nae evil;
Wi' [whisky] we'll face the devil!
- Tam O'Shanter, Robert Burns, 1790
Before the Romans, the Celts and Druids of Britain celebrated Samhain - the transition from summer to winter. On the eve of Samhain, the worlds of the living and the dead were said to briefly intersect.
Today, Halloween is a celebration observed by many countries to remember the dead.
Popular Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, going to fancy-dress parties, carving pumpkins, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror or Halloween-themed films.
Things to do this Halloween:
- Go on a local ghost tour
- Explore the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall
- Discover Dracula's Whitby Abbey
- Visit York, purportedly England's most haunted city
- Celebrate the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh
- Indulge in classic British Horror - watch The Wicker Man (1973), A Field in England (2013), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Ghostwatch (1992), and the definitive 1958 Christopher Lee / Peter Cushing Dracula
- Read the quintessential M R James ghost story - Oh Whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I know no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
- Anon, nursery rhyme, 1700s
Many cultures around the world hold annual celebrations involving bonfires and fireworks.
Here in the UK, Bonfire Night celebrates the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up Westminster Palace on 5 November 1605. An anonymous letter tipped off the authorities, and Fawkes was found guarding 3600 lbs of gunpowder under the House of Lords.
So it was that James VI of Scotland and I of England (best known for the King James Bible, The Union of the Scottish and English crowns, and the witch hunts) narrowly escaped death along with all of Parliament just over 400 years ago.
Things to do on Bonfire Night:
- Find a fireworks display in your town - the most spectacular of bonfire nights is held annually in Lewes for those willing to travel
- Light a sparkler with friends – don’t forget your gloves!
- Read John Milton's 1626 poetic recounting
- Read Alan Moore's legendary 1980s V for Vendetta, or stream the 2005 version online via UK Netflix
“Every traveller has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
There are so many ways to celebrate the festive season. Here we list just a few!
Things to do over the festive season:
- Watch a Pantomime at your local theatre
- Attend a Christmas Carol Service at your local Chapel or Cathedral
- Engage unironically in discussions about which supermarket has the most heart-breaking Christmas advert
- Drink mulled wine at a German market
- Find a lucky tuppence in your figgy pudding
- Pull a Christmas cracker and wear a paper crown
- Watch Love Actually
- Tune in for the King's Speech on TV
- Read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - or watch its most faithful adaption - The Muppets Christmas Carol