Halloween is one of my all time favourite holidays. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that Halloween is my favourite day of the year. It sounds strange, but there’s no obligations involved in celebrating Halloween aside from dressing up, eating sweets and going to parties – and if you don’t love dressing up or eating sweets or going to parties, then YOU ARE BORING.
As many of you have probably already gathered, I moved to Amsterdam around a year and a half ago. Last year, with little to no knowledge of Halloween festivities in the Netherlands’ capital city, I invited my younger sister out to celebrate her 18th birthday with a big Halloween blowout. Faces were painted, clothes were ripped, fake blood was poured. Then we headed out to celebrate Halloween Amsterdam style.
But no one told us that celebrating Halloween Amsterdam style meant erm… well… not celebrating it at all. Unless you wanted to pay an extortionate amount for a big club, which we didn’t. What ensued was entering a trail of bars to mixed reactions from the people inside, 99.9% of them who were not in fancy dress. So we did what British people do who feel awkward and embarrassed, and we drank until we didn’t care anymore and then went to the fun house at the fair in the middle of Dam Square. A fun night, but not the crazy, fun and fancy dress themed night I had expected.
Unable to deal with any more Halloween disappointment, I thought I’d give it a miss this year… until the Amsterdam Dungeons (http://www.thedungeons.com/amsterdam/en/) gave me a shout and invited me to take a tour over there! I literally could not have been happier at that invite. The Dungeons are a huge tourist attraction, and along with Madame Tussaud’s, make up the less historical and maybe more child friendly museums that Amsterdam has to offer. I’ve passed there a million times and have always wondered about it, but as it goes, when you’re no longer a tourist in a city you kind of fail at anything touristic, no matter how fun they may be.
Anyway, Halloween came around and off I went to the Dungeons. After an agony inducing wait (this is not a lame attempt at integrating Halloween terminology – it took an hour of queuing and waiting before the tour actually got started) listening to an irritating prisoner hologram shouting Dungeon facts at me, we were FINALLY picked up by an Amsterdam wench, who made it her mission to be scary from the word go. Now, the wait had somewhat ruined my anticipation of the scares because, well, waiting is boring. That soon changed when we were lead into the first room. After separating every couple into separate elevators for the pure reason of scaring everyone into anticipating some kind of solo horror nightmare, I’d almost forgotten about the long wait we’d experienced previously.
After the fear of being separated from my Dungeon partner had subsided and the elevators had done nothing but transport us a few floors down, the show began. Our group were passed from room to room over the next hour or so, with enthusiastic actors putting on a good show, explaining everything from the brutal methods of torture endured by many prisoners, to the use of executed criminals bodies for medical science. The cherry on the proverbial cake, though, was the last room. A frightening story about somebodies dead mother who, of course, died in this very spot (
SHOCK HORROR GASP!) was followed by a sudden black out. After a few seconds a horrifying zombie like figure appeared close to the audience in a sudden flash of light. I was scared. It reminded me of The Grudge… and that is not a fun situation to be in.
I loved my experience of the Amsterdam Dungeons, partly because it made me temporarily forget that the Dutch absolutely suck at Halloween, but it was also a lot of fun – as these things often tend to be. Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought it was quite as much fun if I’d paid the €22 entrance fee, but if you’ve got kids… or you’re just on holiday with a budget to fit in as many museums and expensive attractions as you like, then it’s worth it.