Mackays Hotel

Halloween in the Highlands

Posted: October 27th, 2019 | Posted in: General News

carved pumpkinHalloween might make you think of carved pumpkins, creepy outfits and lots of sugar, but did you know that the 31st October is rooted in Scottish tradition?

Dating back to the 16th Century, Halloween takes inspiration from the Gaelic festival of Samhain. The spooky Autumn event has evolved into something a lot more fun and sweets-filled now, but it’s not too far from what happened hundreds of years ago!


Neep Carving

They might not be as easy to carve as pumpkins, but a quintessentially Scottish tradition is to make lanterns out of turnips (neeps)! Originally made to scare spirits away



There were tricks and treats back in the 16th Century too, with children dressing up in spooky costumes to cause some trouble. They had to work harder than modern day trick-or-treaters though, being rewarded after a night of warding off evil spirits.


Apple dunking

Another Halloween classic still around today – apple dunking! A game of skill… and strong bites, you’ll have to find a way to grab an apple out of the water without using your hands. Your spooky face paint might look even scarier after a dunk!


carbisdale castle

Scary stories

A bonfire was a tradition on All Hallows’ Eve and is the perfect place to tell ghost stories. Ghosts in flowing dresses and dusty outfits are still talked about today, but the stories originate from centuries ago.

Have you heard about Carbisdale Castle? If sightings are anything to go by, the building and grounds are full of ghosts! There’s a woman dressed in white called Betty, the Duchess who never got to see her castle completed, fallen soldiers from battles and even a “Hooded Gardener” avenging a daughter’s death. Spooky!


Autumn evenings in the Highlands

However you’re spending Halloween, it’s always a perfect time to warm yourself up with some traditional Scottish comfort food at Mackays Hotel and No 1 Bistro. We don’t have any apples to dunk, but we do have apple crumble!

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