Retail Therapy: Hallowe'en is back

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The Independent Online
HALLOWE'EN falls on a Saturday (31 October) this year, which should further boost its burgeoning popularity. The Americans have long indulged in Hallowe'en festivities. New York even has a Hallowe'en street parade. Now, a monster selection of Hallowe'en accessories is available to help you enter into the spirit.

For the scaredy-cats, how about Hallowe'en confectionery, a chocolate Dracula lolly (45p), Wicked Witch lolly with broomstick (39p) and jelly bats and spiders (16p) at branches of Thorntons now.

For the fearless, try vampire bats that fly up to 75 feet, pounds 3.99 from the Kite Shop, 48 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. Marching clockwork Grim Reapers and Draculas are 50p, black plastic rats 25p, 'Coffin Sets' pounds 2.15 (includes cape, fangs, horns, ears, luminous fingers, skull necklace and spooky spectacles) monster mask pounds 5.99, and werewolf hair for hands pounds 1.75, from the Covent Garden General Store, (071-836 5051).

A giant helium-filled Frankenstein balloon with crepe legs which walks around, pounds 19.95, from the Non Stop Party Shop, 694 Fulham Road, London SW6 (071-384 1491) or 214/216 Kensington High Street, London W8 (071-937 7200).

Traditional fancy-dress shops can supply anything from headless-ghost costumes to an 18th- century jacket with a stake through the heart and lots of blood, of course. Or put something together yourself: a stylish long Victorian mourning dress in black lace, crimpoline lining, mourning cape and big plumed hat (costume hire charges from pounds 25). From the Costume Studio, 6 Penton Grove, London N1 (071-388 4481).

Here are some out-of-town fancy-dress hire shops:

Leeds - Fancy Pants: sparkly witches, Dracula and all manner of accessories. From pounds 13. Chapel Lane, Garforth, Leeds (0532-868136).

Cambridge - Wardrobe: all the usual: Dracula, Dracula's bride, devils, mummies, etc, and all the make-up. Wardrobe, 27 Cromwell Road, Cambridge (0223 213303).

Birmingham - Masquerade: Bad witch, good witch, witch's cat. Accessories include squashed mice at around 95p and glow-in-the-dark make-up. Hire from pounds 10 plus VAT. 554a Hagley Rd, West Quinton, Birmingham (021 421 3710).

Glasgow - Theatrical Hires: All the usual from pounds 9. 152/154 Park Road, Glasgow G4 9HB (041 334 4900).

Bognor Regis - Annie's Theatrical Costumier: Good-quality ex-theatre costumes include black velvet high-collared costume covered in crow's feathers - can be used as costume for Demon King ( pounds 20). From pounds 12.50. 66-70 Hawthorne Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex (0243 866661).

All dressed up with nowhere to go? London Transport is offering a spooky bus trip to the lower depths of the Fort Amherst dungeons in Chatham on the evening of the 31st. Guaranteed to scare adults and older children alike as they dodge the local operatic society who will creep about in fancy dress. St John's Ambulance will be on hand, in case anyone gets too excited. Pick-up points around South London (Peckham, Camberwell, New Cross, Lewisham and Lee Green). Enquiries to New Cross Bus Garage, 071-639 7668 (ask for Pam). Tickets pounds 8 (adults and children) and must be picked up from the garage.

Don't forget to get that most essential of Hallowe'en essentials, the pumpkin. Branches of Sainsbury are selling giant ones for pounds 2.95.

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