Frightmare Halloween Festival: behind the scenes

Halloween pumpkins

The long, hot summer is starting to fade; the air is cooler and the nights are growing shorter already… and that means that Halloween is fast approaching.

Halloween is turning into a big event in our house.  For the last couple of years my daughter has really got into Halloween – I honestly think she loves it more than Christmas and birthdays.  She gets so excited about dressing up, anything spooky (the scarier the better) and the thought of going Trick or Treating.

So I’ve vowed to look out for some really special spooky things to do with the kids this October half term, and I think I’ve found the perfect activity, for adults as well as kids…

Frightmare Halloween Festival

Spooky trees at Halloween

Frightmare Halloween Festival is South-West England’s biggest Halloween scare festival and it’s been running for over a decade now.  You’ll find Frightmare at Over Farm, just a mile outside Gloucester.  The event is held over 13 nights (of course) in October.  In 2018 the dates are: a preview on the 6th; 12th and 13th; 19th and 20th; and 24th – 31st.  You can buy your tickets on the Frightmare website.  Buy in advance as they will sell out!

Frightmare has a dedicated team who plan each event carefully to ensure that every year is scarier, spookier and crazier than the last.  Earlier this month I went along to Over Farm to meet some of the team behind Frightmare and to learn how the event comes together.  Let’s just say that it didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait to go along to the real thing!

Behind the scenes at Frightmare

An acting masterclass

Along with several other bloggers, I met Frightmare team member Rebecca, who explained how the event is organised at Over Farm.  The team start planning Frightmare pretty much a year in advance and they begin by brainstorming storylines for each attraction.  They’re careful to avoid cliches and obvious characters so don’t expect anything too traditional when you visit Frightmare.

This year Frightmare is going to have five live scare attractions: a haunted hayride which will take guests around the farm; a dark twist on Alice’s Wonderland; a seance; genetically mutated horrors and a sacrifice.  All come with backstories to draw you fully into the nightmarish experience.  Each attraction will be filled with actors doing their best to scare you witless.

Rebecca is also an actor and she gave us a brilliant scare acting masterclass.  I haven’t done drama since I was about 13, and everyone was a bit nervous to start with, but Rebecca quickly put us at ease with some warm-up games before we started to create our characters.

First, we learned how to jump out at guests to scare without touching them (and how to get out of the way quickly!) and how best to use our voices.  We then explored different ways of moving by using varying speeds, purposeful and directionless movement, and leading with different parts of our bodies.  Rebecca got us to think about what sort of creature might move in these ways.  Finally, we got to put everything into practise to create our own character and think of some scary dialogue to go along with it!

Transformation into a ghoul

After we’d learned how to become a creepy creature, it was time for us to look the part, too.  Special effects artists SynysterFX were on hand to transform us!

SynysterFX team turning us into zombies

James and the SynysterFX team created our horrific looks by dabbing a latex goop over our faces to create texture.  This is basically a thick glue – and it smelled incredibly strong!

The second stage involved using more traditional makeup to create shadows and bruises, and to give our eyes that really sickly, possibly-infected-with-some-terrible-disease look. Some of the other bloggers got accompanying pustules to add to their deathly appearance (I didn’t as they were made of gelatine – the team were great at ensuring ingredients were suitable for veggies and any allergies).

Finally, James used wax to mould a gash on my forehead which he filled with fake blood.  The blood is mainly a sugary syrup and food colouring.  It was super sticky and kept its glistening, wet look which made it suitably disgusting!

Frightmare Halloween Festival makeup

Here’s the result! I thought it was fantastic, and much more gory than I initially expected.  I had to get the husband to warn the kids that mummy wasn’t hurt and that it was just makeup.  Luckily they weren’t traumatised – the girl was fascinated, although the boy did ask me to take it all off as soon as I got home!

The bloggers transformed into Frightmare Halloween Festival zombies

I also got to take a quick look around the set for some of the attractions.  Even in broad daylight and without the sets being decorated properly I could still get a good idea of how creepy walking through them is going to be.  Think narrow, dark corridors guaranteed to disorient you, with plenty of alcoves that a ghoul (or worse) could fit into… and no horror attraction would be complete without a sinister dolls’ house.

The babysitters are booked and I can’t wait to experience the full horror of Frightmare!

Frightmare Halloween Festival set

Join the Frightmare team as a scare actor

If Frightmare sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to get involved in, then you could become a scare actor!  The team are recruiting for actors and you don’t need to be a professional – you’ll get all the training you need.

You need to be over 16, local to Gloucester (or willing and able to travel) and available on the dates for Frightmare.  Details and application forms are on the Frightmare website, here.

Spookyard at Over Farm

Halloween pumpkins

But hang on a minute – isn’t that all too scary for little kids?  Well, yes it is.  Frightmare is rated 12A and kids under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

However, throughout October half term Over Farm hosts the more gentle daytime Spookyard – a kid-friendly Hallowe’en day out.  It’s this attraction that we’ll be taking our kids to, so check back to read our review after we’ve attended!

Spookyard promises a tractor ride though the farm; a kid-friendly visit to Wonderland; a maze and games; pumpkin carving and more.  There are shows on throughout the day which involve meeting some friendly characters and a fancy dress parade, so make sure the kids dress up!  My daughter can’t wait – hopefully it will be the highlight of her favourite season.

Spookyard is open from Saturday 20th – Sunday 28th October 2018. Book your tickets here.

Are you enticed enough to visit Frightmare, or have you been before?  Let us know in the comments, and check back late October/early November for our review!

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Frightmare Halloween Festival is South-West England's biggest scare attraction. I went behind the scenes to see how the festival is put together (and got a horror makeover in the process). Read on to find out more about what to expect at Frightmare. #halloween #halloweenmakeup

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