Manchester’s Halloweekend, a free two-day family friendly Halloween festival, organised by Manchester’s Business Improvement District (Manchester BID) on behalf of more than 400 city centre retailers, proved to be a spectacular success last weekend with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to the city centre.

Footfall across the city’s retail district spanning Market Street to Deansgate surged during the weekend with an additional 19,000 visitors reveling in the eerie activities cooked up by Manchester BID compared to 2016’s event. Manchester Arndale enjoyed a 12% increase in footfall year on year, while the city centre retail district showed an uplift of 10% across the weekend.

The Halloweekend activity, which took place throughout the city’s shopping area on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October, helped boost sales by up to 40% at the city’s flagship stores.

Created to both fright and delight, the shopping weekend featured a Haunted Maze in St Ann’s Square, a Trick or Treat Trail, a colourful Day of Dead-style travelling carnival, outdoor cinema, classical concert, gothic catwalk show staged by MMU, themed Dog Parade and free face painting for children. And Bristol artist Filthy Luker’s ten-metre inflatable squid tentacles invaded House of Fraser’s roof, attracting a monster amount of attention.

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City centre retailers got into the Halloween spirit by hosting plenty of activity including appearances from the Ghostbusters and Marshmallow Man at Manchester Arndale; spooky character actors in the windows at Primark; a beauty event and makeovers at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols; kids crafts at Paperchase, Cath Kidston, Paperchase, Virgin Money, Pizza Hut and Bravissimo; complimentary treatments at Kiehls, The Body Shop and Neal’s Yard Remedies; offers, games, themed events, windows and products at Starbucks, The White Stuff, DKNY, Hotel Chocolat, M&S, Disney Store, Next, Office, Build a Bear, Phase Eight, Pizza Hut, Dune, The Perfume Shop, Accessorize, Bags etc, Greggs, HSBC, Supercuts, Jake Shoes, Links of London, Whittards, Wilko and Too Funky Hair.

Manchester BID ran a number of retailer competitions during the event. The winner of the Best Dressed Window Competition was Paperchase. The Best Dressed Team went to Lush inside Manchester Arndale, and the Best Store Event was won by Kiehls on King Street.

The BID also coordinated city-wide decorations that saw the streets awash with spooky decorations and pumpkin lanterns and after nightfall some of Manchester’s most iconic buildings including Manchester Town Hall, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, The National Football Museum, Afflecks and The Printworks were lit up a ghastly green.

Jane Sharrocks, Manchester BID Chair and General Manager of Selfridges Exchange Square said: “Halloween is now the third biggest retail event in the UK with spend across the UK predicted to surpass the £320m mark this year so it was a logical decision for Manchester BID to create a free family friendly festival which drives footfall and spend into the city’s retail core.

This is only the second time we’ve hosted the event but the growth in terms of both sales and footfall this year has been phenomenal. It’s a real testament to city centre retailers working collectively with the BID to create a must-attend event for visitors from across the region.”

Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s city centre spokesperson, said: “I can’t remember a Halloween weekend as amazing as this. Truly one of the best – and scariest – celebrations we’ve ever had. Well done to everyone involved – it was spook-tacular!”