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You’d better not cry Kirstin Innes investigates the sound of slay-bells in a new underground Christmas ghost experience

Christmas time. Misteltoe and wine. Spiders and gore and murder most foul. No, I’ve not got my national holidays in a twist. While things that go bump in the night are more traditionally associated with Hallowe’en, an enterprising Glasgow couple have decided to mark the holidays this year by putting some yaaaaaaaargh! into their Yuletide. Ghosts of Christmas, an ‘interactive, theatrical scare attraction’ is due to bring tidings of discomfort to the basement space of the Arches (last year occupied by the guns’n’screams of Alien Wars) for most of December.

‘The same sort of things always seem to happen at Christmas: carol concerts, pantos, Santa . . .’ explains organiser Helen O’Driscoll. ‘It’s a time of year when people are prepared to do something a little bit different they want to go out, feel a bit special. Scare attractions are huge in the States, and are really taking off in England and Ireland too, but even aside from Edinburgh’s history-based ghost tours there isn’t a Scottish equivalent.’ O’Driscoll, and her husband Altas Majeed, have spent the last couple of years really dedicating themselves to the scare attraction business. They go to conferences, and they’ve visited every attraction in the country. To that end, they’ve been enable to enlist one of the top ‘scare consultants’ in the business, Michael Bolton (no, not that one, although we wouldn’t be surprised).

‘We’re writing the story ourselves, with Michael: we

took Christmas as a starting point, then tried to flip it on its head; we’ve just basically made everything about Christmas black and subverted. We really tried to create sets that would speak to people’s phobias, too. People are scared of dolls, clowns, spiders, small spaces, the dark . . .’ Watch out for hellish elves, gore galore, and (of course) a Santa with claws on your way, too. And surprisingly, O’Driscoll says that despite the fright potential, the event is already proving popular with office Christmas parties. ‘We do advise you to have your Christmas dinner after you’ve been to Ghosts of Christmas, though. We don’t think it’s going to help you digest the turkey . . .’

Of course, the right venue helps, and the famously creepy basement caverns at the Arches have long been rumoured to be a site of paranormal activity. ‘When we saw that space we knew it was perfect, but the number of ghost stories we’ve heard from the staff are really something,’ says O’Driscoll. ‘My husband has been to every single scare attraction in the country, and even he doesn’t like walking through the Arches basement space on his own. We’re really hoping that whatever’s down there will just let us get on with our own ghost story maybe see it as a tribute or something!’ Ho, ho, and indeed, ho.

Ghosts of Christmas, The Arches, Glasgow, Fri 10–Fri 31 December (closed 25, 26) £9(£8). Age 12 and up. Please book online at www.ghostsofchristmas.com

✽✽ Macmillan Ski and Snowboard Spectacular Can you ski or snowboard the Xscape slopes 40 times in three hours? They’re running a sponsored faux-snow hoe- down in aid of cancer charity Macmillan, and there are prizes for fastest times, best jumps, and most impressive outfits. Minimum sponsorship £100 for adults, £50 for children, £75 for team members. Xscape Braehead, Glasgow, Thu 9 Dec. ✽✽ Royal Yacht Britannia’s Christmas Weekend Her Majesty’s old dinghy gets its Christmas cheer on. Complimentary mulled wine and shortbread for all loyal subjects coming on board for a nosy. Wills‘n’Kate commemorative tattoos optional. Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Drive, Edinburgh, Sat 4 & Sun 5 Dec. ✽✽ Cryptic Nights: The Cabinet of Sonic Curiosities The latest edition of Theatre Cryptic’s monthly night features music produced on instruments made out of all manner of found objects, curios and junk. CCA, Glasgow, Thu 2 Dec. ✽✽ Great Scottish Santa Run/Glasgow Santa Dash Like a Christmassy take on Twitter trend #ImSpartacus, but with less airport bomb threats and more comedy fun-running. See picture, page 32. Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sun 12 Dec. ✽✽ Marvellous Meteors! No Children Required Follow yonder (shooting) star(s) to Mugdock for a late-night meteor-spotting session for adults only. No, not like that, you perv. Minds and telescopes out of the gutter, please. Mugdock Country Park, Glasgow, Tue 14 Dec. 2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 31