Paul Forster has invited Josh and Gareth from Dead Northern to experience Harrogate’s first Ghost walk! And given that Harrogate is the spiritual home (pun intended) to the Dead Northern Horror Film Festival we thought it would be rude not to take him up on that offer.
First things first, it’s Winter, in North Yorkshire! At the best of times, that would mean some pretty brutal weather but on this particular night, Mother Nature decided to put on a real show for us! With weather warnings across the United Kingdom, and especially harsh for the North of England, right where we are.
Whilst most folk would look out the window and opt to stay in the warm and stick on a movie, we put on our big boy pants (and took some spares), coats & scarves, and set out into the dark, cold, windy Harrogate evening. Telling ourselves that nature’s special effects of howling winds, freezing rain, and creaking trees are just going to add to the atmosphere.
The Ghost tour starts at 20:15 outside the Royal Pump Room Museum, and it doesn’t take long before Paul has us engaged in stories both paranormal, historical, and comical. Now, we don’t want to include any spoilers as we 100% recommend that you experience the Ghost Walk for yourselves. So we won’t include any more of the specific locations but the Ghost tour stays in Harrogate town Centre.
Like it says on the tin, this is a WALK and the tour is a decent track around town. Harrogate does have a few hills so we recommend a decent pair of shoes and wrap up warm if you’re joining in the winter months.
If you’re a visitor the walk doubles up as a fantastic tour of Harrogate as well as a spooky adventure. If you’re a local, the Ghost Walk contains a great deal of history about the town! Do you know where the jail was?
This isn’t just a walk around town with a guide yelling anecdotal yarns about otherworldly experiences though. The tour contains as much lesser know history of Harrogate as it does the supernatural. It’s obvious that Paul has done his research and this is a tour with purpose and direction, so if your find yourself wondering why you have stopped outside a building, you can be certain that it is because it’s haunted.
The Ghost stories themselves are interesting, engaging, and unique to Harrogate. This is a refreshing change, given that we’re so close to York, a city that is known globally for Ghosts and the paranormal and tends to steal the limelight.
It’s also worth noting that if you’ve got any ghost stories of your own do let Paul know, he loves to listen to the audience as much as talk, and if your story is from Harrogate who knows your story may become part of the tour!
Whilst we didn’t see any Ghost this time. We’ll definitely be back, this is one of Harrogate’s best and most unique events and we thoroughly recommend it.
For more information:
We’ve even got an interview with Paul Forster which you can read here.
We love Ghost here at Dead Northern and when we found out that our hometown of Harrogate now had its very own Ghost tour we had to find out more. So we tracked down the guide of the Harrogate Ghost walk Paul Forster, and took him out for a pint, because, who doesn’t like a local beer and a good old chinwag about the paranormal.
Q. You’re an entertainer by trade and the Harrogate Ghost walk isn’t your only performance can you give our readers some more details on who you are and what you do?
P. I trained as an actor and worked professionally as one on stage and for the radio for years. I also dabbled in close-up magic but I always found it to feel like a bunch of ‘tricks’. Then I found out about mind-reading which I believe is more personal and engaging as a performance. I started working as a mind reader out of my pure love of entertaining others. I have been making people smile and laugh at weddings, parties, and corporate events all across the UK. It’s always a thrill for me to leave people knowing I gave them a unique and entertaining experience at an event.
On a darker note, I also perform Victorian seances at some of the most haunted places around the UK. This recreation of a traditional parlour show aims to educate, entertain and scare the hell out of you in equal measure. My shows are all heavily researched, well-written, and rehearsed. I always attempt to take a real moment from history, something tragic, sinister, or simply interesting and use the story and characters to create a truly unique dark piece of theatre.
So creating a ghost walk felt like a natural progression. Combining my training as an actor, my research and writing skills along with my love for the paranormal.
Q. Harrogate is more known for afternoon Tea and Spa water rather than Ghosts and the otherworldly, what inspired you to produce a Ghost walk?
P. I grew up in a haunted house, strange things often happened and I couldn’t explain them away. I would always seek out a rational explanation but when I often couldn’t I assumed something else was going on. When I visit another town, city, or country, I always seek out a ghost walk. I find it is a fascinating way of getting to know the area as well as the history, plus they’re mostly always a bit of fun and very engaging.
When I moved to Harrogate I found there to be no ghost walk. I thought that perhaps Harrogate wasn’t that haunted, but I was very wrong. It has taken me 6 years to get myself into a position whereby I could launch my ghost walk. I wasn’t working on it the whole time, other projects got in the way and the COVID hit me just as I was about to launch it.
Q. The ghost walk takes you on a fantastic tour of Harrogate, and provides as much historical insight into the town as it does the paranormal, where did you find all of your information?
P. I have worked in the museum sector for a number of years and as such, I have a love for history and am a skilled researcher. I bought and read a lot of local history books, this allowed me to seek out some of the oldest buildings, or discover the former usage of some of them. I found a lot of the hotels were requisitioned by the army during World War II to be used as field hospitals, so naturally one can assume that these places could potentially be haunted. I spoke to staff and the locals and found that I was right. I started digging and interviewing people to find a wealth of spooky tales.
I put an advert out on Facebook and the local paper ran an article asking for people to come forward with their own ghost stories and I was inundated with a lot of haunted happenings. I have the local people of Harrogate to thank for a lot of my stories.
Q. What sort of reactions do you get when conducting research about a location?
P. I mainly get two reactions, the first is that businesses do not want to be associated with ghosts. This could be for a number of reasons like personal views on the subject matter, or that they don’t want to scare customers away. Secondly and mostly I get a lot of people sharing some wonderful tales of creepy stories and hauntings.
Q. The tour is entirely outdoors, have you spoken to any owners of the locations about doing an indoor event?
P. The original intention was to finish the walk inside a haunted location but due to the pandemic, I decided against this. I don’t think you need to be inside a building to fully immerse yourself in the story. The aim of my ghost walk is to provide a great story and some history in an entertaining fashion whilst encouraging people to visit the places in question in their own time. I get. A lot of local people exclaim that they’ve not been in half of the pubs, bars, or hotels we discuss on the walk. So I would hope that these people not only learn something new about their town but also visit some of the new locations we discover on the walk.
Q. Have you or any of your audience experienced anything paranormal whilst on the Ghost Walk?
P. This is an interesting question, as I believe that only the individual can answer that. What is paranormal to you may have a rational explanation to someone else. However… there was a photograph taken by a guest on one walk whereby it looks as though the light cast from a street lamp creates a face in some sort of mist which is hanging in the air. I assume the mist is caused by someone’s breath as it was a cold night but I cannot explain the face.
There was a young lady and her mum who were staying in the incredibly beautiful and incredibly haunted Crown Hotel who posted a review of the walk the next day. Along with some kind words about the walk, she went on to say that during the night, their suitcases were knocked over in the dead of night, with no explanation of how it could have happened.
Finally, at the end of every walk, we conducted a spirit bell session. This is an old Victorian method of communing with the dead. You ask a spirit a question and hope to receive one ring for a ‘YES’ answer and two rings for a ‘NO’. We carry out this experiment outside of the famously haunted Harrogate Theatre and we have had mixed reactions. On some occasions, the bell has rung and provided answers for every question, on some nights nothing at all happens and although this is disappointing it does demonstrate that the spirits are in control.
Q. When Dead Northern joined you on the Ghost walk, we also experienced storm Arwen, and the joys of ice-cold torrential rain, wind, and sleet. We think that just added to the atmosphere, but it’s obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. When is your favourite time to do the tour?
P. Having only run the Harrogate ghost walk since October 2020, I haven’t had much experience of performing it at other times of the year. However, I would say that a cold, dark evening (with no rain) would be the best time for any ghost walk. I am looking forward to hosting the walk during the summer months as the weather will be much improved but I do wonder if the lighter nights may affect the spooky atmosphere, we shall have to wait and see.
Q. Harrogate’s a big town are there any places that you would have liked to get on the walk but had to leave out?
P. There are loads of stories from further afield. I include three of my favourite on the tour which includes the former Granby hotel, The Cedar Court Hotel, and Ripley Castle, the latter of the three having the most ghost stories. But there are some great tales which have taken place on the moors, such as a couple of farmers who were working late one night on the tops at Blubber houses. It was a dark night and a low mist descended without warning. Their field of view went down to a mere few feet. They decided to stay put where they were rather than risk injury walking in the dense fog. A few minutes passed when they heard what sounded like footsteps marching. Then from out of the mist came an army, a literal army of men dressed in old-fashioned clothing and armor marching over the moors. The two men stood on and watched as the soldiers marched along paying them no heed, their legs below the knee were beneath the ground. The army along with horse-mounted soldiers disappeared into the dark night air. I don’t include this story in the walk but I intend on changing the stories on the walk so that people who have already experienced the walk can come back again for some new tales.
Q. You’ve mentioned some of your other performances, what have you got coming up in the future?
P. I have a few Victorian séance evenings planned throughout next year which utilise real hauntiques, or haunted antiques. An object which has a spirit attached to them and a spooky tale to tell. I am really looking forward to an event with you guys, ‘My Bloody Valentine, The Seance.’ I have something really special lined up for this, a tale of true love lasting beyond the grave! I have tracked down a couple of incredibly haunted pieces and can’t wait to see what happens on the night. With the event taking place at The Crown Hotel, I am sure that we will experience some unexplainable events. The hotel is very haunted and the room we are hosting the event is known to have some ghostly activity from time to time.
Dead Northern has been on the Harrogate ghost walk, and we can confirm it is awesome.
For our full take on the ghost, walk click here
We recommend experiencing the Harrogate Ghost Walk for yourselves.
For more information about the Harrogate Ghost Walk go to https://www.harrogateghostwalk.com/
Get Tickets for Haunted Harrogate’s Ghost Walk at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/harrogate-ghost-walk
Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre Bromley
Thursday 30th September – Saturday 4th December 2021
Full casting has been announced for the thrilling new touring production of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Taking on the role of Ichabod Crane is Sam Jackson (Skins, E4; Beautiful Thing, National Tour) alongside Rose Quentin (York Witches Society, MSR Media), Lewis Cope (Vera, ITV; Witness for the Prosecution, London County Hall) and Tommy Sim’aan (As You Like It, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; Doctors, BBC). They will join the previously announced Wendi Peters and Bill Ward.
Adapted by acclaimed playwright Philip Meeks (Murder, Margaret and Me; Harpy), and under the direction of by Jake Smith (The Hound of the Baskervilles; A Christmas Carol; I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard), the premiere production seeks to unleash terror on the stage. The ghoulish and edge-of-the-seat experience will tour theatres across the UK from September.
An exciting creative team will resurrect the Headless Horseman and bring the Hollow to life, with jaw-dropping illusions by Filipe J. Carvalho (Back To The Future The Musical; Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things), design by Amy Watts, choreography by Chris Cuming, lighting by Jason Addison and sound design by Sam Glossop. Transforming the American Dream into the American Gothic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a heart-pounding visual masterpiece revitalising the classic text for new audiences.
With Hallowmas fast approaching, Sleepy Hollow simmers with anticipation. Arriving as the new teacher, Ichabod Crane finds himself embroiled in the secrets and unsettling traditions of the locals. However, all is not as it seems. When disturbing events overwhelm the small town, he finds himself swept up in a dangerous mystery which leaves him doubting his own sanity.
Producer Katherine Senior of Tilted Wig Productions comments, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is set to be an epic piece of theatre, combining a stellar cast with a fantastic script and theatrical illusions that will blow your mind! It’s incredibly exciting to be creating new work once again for the regions, as we’ve been planning this production for some time. We are thrilled to be heading back on the road and cannot wait to visit local theatres with this show.
Notes to Editors Show The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Running time 2 hours, approx.
Age guidance 12+
Original concept Washington Irving
Adapted by Philip Meeks
Director Jake Smith
Cast Wendi Peters, Bill Ward, Sam Jackson, Rose Quentin, Lewis Cope and Tommy Sim’aan
Designer Amy Watts
Lighting Designer Jason Addison
Sound Designer Sam Glossop
Movement Chris Cuming
Illusions Director Filipe J. Carvalho
Producers Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre Bromley
30th September – 2ndOctober Churchill Theatre Bromley
Harrogate, the pretty spa town nestled between York and Leeds in North Yorkshire isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about horror, or horror film festivals for that matter. Whilst the town may be better known for tea, flowers and the happy folk that live here it’s not all about quintessentially English pastimes. A quote from Charles Dickens illustrates Harrogate best.
‘Harrogate is the queerest place with the strangest people in it, leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining.’
It’s his observation of Harrogate’s extraordinary explains why the town is the perfect place to host a horror film festival like Dead Northern.
Perhaps it’s the spring water but the town was full of oddities o long before Charles Dickens made these observations. Back in the 1600’s Mother Shipton was predicting the future. The 1700’s Blind Jack was building roads and in the 1800’s Samson Fox was lighting the town from his hidden laboratory.
When Agatha Christie disappeared from her home back in 1926 she was found at the Crown hotel, the same Crown Hotel that Dead Northern held our 2020 Horror Film Festival (one of the few live horror film festivals on the planet in 2020)
Strange folk and oddities aside, Harrogate towns history is one of eating, drinking and entertainment. For hundreds of years, the town has been attracting tourists from all over the world. Visitors came to indulge in spa water, fresh air, beautiful hotels, fine dining and cosy pubs. Moving into modern times the convention centre has been hosting concerts, events and exhibitions since the early 1980’s. Harrogate also hosts a plethora of smaller, unique venues, surrounded by fantastic places to eat, drink and sleep, and make ideal venues for Dead Northern to host our unique brand of popup events, both large and small.
Harrogate and the surrounding area also have a long history of film. With TV soaps such as Emmerdale filmed just outside of the Town. The music video for the Sex Pistols hit Madame Butterfly was filmed in the Turkish Baths. All the way to Hollywood blockbusters such a Hunters Prayer and Paddington 2. Even the critically acclaimed horror movie Ghost Stories had scenes filmed in the town.
The combination for an affinity of the strange, well-established facilities and rich history of film & entertainment is why Harrogate is the perfect location for Dead Northern to host our horror film festival and other pop up events. Remember Dead Northern is about more than the films, our USP is putting the festival in the film festival, And we’ve already hosted a banquette in a Church, had Valentine’s day in a Brewery and held a Film Festival in a haunted hotel. Going forward we don’t just plan on hosting unique events, like the odd townsfolk before us we plan on leaving our own strange mark on the town.
At the end of the day, if Harrogate can host the Eurovision song contest then a Horror Film festival should feel right at home!
We are currently accepting submissions for the Dead Northern Horror Film Festival in Harrogate, North Yorkshire October 2020 via Film Freeway
The deadline for features and shorts is the 7th of September 2020. We are open to short films, feature and documentary, fantasy, thriller, and horror films of all production techniques, forms, and budgets.
We look forward to seeing your submissions –
The Dead Northern Team
Submit Your film to Dead Northern 2022
Do you have a short or Feature Horror or Fantasy Film? Dead Northern is now open film Submissions for our 2022 Festival
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