Paid collaboration with St Fagans as part of Cardiff Mummy Says’ role as blogger ambassador for St Fagans
As soon as you enter the car park at St Fagans, it’s clear this isn’t going to be your usual visit. Arriving at just before 6pm, it’s already dark, and the outside of the entrance building is lit up with a purple glow, with the words Halloween Nights flickering above. Inside is full of families carving pumpkins and making wands from willow sticks and ribbons. Wandering into the grounds of the living history museum, we come across a scarecrow surrounded by smoke. He suddenly moves and changes position. Spooky characters walk around mysteriously and buildings are lit up with an eerie glow.
Everything seems so different at night… and especially when that night is just before Halloween.
This is Halloween at St Fagans National Museum of History, an outdoor museum that is home to more than 50 historical buildings from across Wales, and one of our favourite places to visit. Tickets cost £13 for adults, £10 for children under 16, with under 2s free. Almost all the activities are included in the price, as is parking for the evening.
While the more American traditions such as the aforementioned pumpkin carving are celebrated here, the real focus is on the old Celtic traditions. Nos Calan Gaeaf, the Welsh translation of Halloween or All Hallows Eve, once referred to the harvest and winter’s eve, when the major agricultural tasks had come to an end, signifying the beginning of winter. This was the night when strange and spooky things were said to occur, as spirits roamed freely.
Some of these costumed characters were wandering around St Fagans tonight, with a chart provided for families to tick the ones they’d seen. Elsewhere, we listened to spooky stories in the Oakdale Miners’ Institute, made herbal potions in the Maestir school, watched the burning of the wicker man on the main field, and listened to stories about the tradition in the cockpit.
We also visited the traditional fairground (around £2 extra per ride), which my children love at the best of times, but which is even more fun when it’s all lit up in the dark and the attractions accessorised for the occasion.
My children are age 9, 8 and 5 and loved the night –It’s our third time of visiting at Halloween and we find it’s got a slightly spooky edge but isn’t overly scary for them. I’d say it’s best suited for those aged 3-12.
Teenagers might not find it spooky enough… although St Fagans offers guided ghost story trails around the museum’s ground over Halloween.
The night does involve a lot of walking around, and it was a little muddy due to the rain when we visited, but we’d wrapped up warm for the evening so it wasn’t a problem.
Our advice would also be to arrive nice and early, as everyone arrives ready for the 6pm start, which causes queues in the car park and entrance area. Once you’re inside, it’s nicely busy but not so much that it feels overcrowded or that you can’t see anything.
Food and drink are available at various outlets around the museum, and there are toilets in the main entrance building and other locations around the grounds too. The grounds of St Fagans are buggy-friendly, although you can’t take them into the majority of the historic buildings.
For information on forthcoming events at St Fagans, visit the website.