I moved from the US to the UK. Here are 10 things I miss most about Halloween in America.

A bowl of assorted halloween candy in a spiderweb bowl
The UK doesn’t do Halloween like the US. asife/Shutterstock
  • I moved from the UK to the US years ago. Halloween isn’t as popular here as it is in the states.
  • It’s rarer to find Halloween superstores, decorations, and festive snacks and drinks.
  • Halloween is viewed as a holiday for kids in the UK – and you likely won’t find a corn maze.
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I moved from the US to the UK in 2017. Although I love many aspects of my expat life, Halloween has always been a sore point.

Here are a few of the things I miss most about Halloween in America, plus a few surprising seasonal differences between the US and UK:

I miss seeing pumpkins absolutely everywhere

The arrival of September brings a rapidly rising tide of pumpkins across the front porches, windowsills, storefronts, and grocery stores of the US.

In the UK, there’s often just a single bin of battered pumpkins in the produce section of the grocery store. The gourds sometimes look a little lost, as if they’re not quite sure whether they’re decor or dinner.

To be fair, the US produces hundreds of millions of pounds of pumpkins per year, making it one of the world’s top pumpkin producers. The UK produces a small fraction of that.

Pumpkins on a front porch halloween decor
Pumpkins are a popular item for fall decor in the US. AdamJohnHurley/Shutterstock

For the most part, Halloween tends to be treated as a children’s holiday in the UK

Unlike in the US, where there are plenty of Halloween events for all ages, adult activities for the holiday aren’t as common.

Kids can dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating (also referred to as “guising” in Scotland) but there are far fewer spooky activity options for grownups.

I miss not being the only person over the age of 10 in the pumpkin patch.

Corn mazes are almost nonexistent

In the UK, or at least in Scotland, tracking down a corn maze is almost impossible. If they exist, I’ve never seen one here.

My partner who grew up in the UK had never seen unpeeled corn in its husk until he came to the US. The fact that Americans pay money to get intentionally lost in a maze of corn stalks is perplexing to him.

I miss classic American Halloween movies

Since moving to the UK, I’ve realized that there’s a particular movie genre that only seems to exist in America: the classic Halloween film.

Films that fall under this heading include “Hocus Pocus,” “Halloweentown,” “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “Trick ‘r Treat,” and of course, the “Halloween” series.

There’s nothing stopping me from watching these movies in the UK, but I miss turning on the television at any point in October and being able to reliably find at least one Halloween movie playing.

Major Halloween stores don’t really exist

In America, Halloween mega-stores like Spirit Halloween seem to pop up in retail parks and malls before the first leaf turns.

A massive seasonal store devoted to costumes and Halloween decorations is a completely alien concept in the UK.

In the UK, you’d likely buy your costume or fall decor from a limited selection at the supermarket or order online.

Halloween costume store
I haven’t seen stores dedicated to Halloween in the UK. Tim Boyle/ Getty

Halloween-themed food and drinks aren’t as popular in the UK

In the US, the Halloween spirit seems to possess everything from breakfast cereal to ketchup. Themed snacks and drinks are everywhere.

You can find fall-themed treats in the UK, but snacks that are specifically Halloween-themed are rarer.

There are fewer limited-time Halloween treats on UK shelves and menus. I count myself lucky to find a few pumpkin-shaped cookies or a latte with some orange sprinkles.

… And candy corn isn’t really a thing

Love it or hate it, candy corn is a classic part of the American Halloween experience.

Interestingly, the multi-colored morsels don’t seem to have made it across the pond to the UK.

My Scottish husband reports that he never saw candy corn for sale growing up. Upon sampling his first waxy piece, he was outraged to find it didn’t taste at all like corn.

Halloween decorations
In the US, some people go all out for Halloween decor. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

I miss over-the-top Halloween decorations

If there’s one thing America does well, it’s excessive holiday decorating. Most people in the US wouldn’t bat an eye at a house festooned with spooky holiday decor.

In the UK, covering your home or lawn in giant animatronic skeletons or faux cobwebs to celebrate Halloween would be on par with filling your living room with live rabbits to celebrate Easter. It simply isn’t done.

The US has an entire month of spooky fun

It seems October 1 marks the official start of the spooky season in the US. Brands leverage Halloween to sell everything from cars to crackers, and many areas offer Halloween events throughout the month.

In the UK, you might not see Halloween decor pop up until late October and it might be seen as odd to start planning Halloween fun weeks in advance of the actual holiday.

I also miss having Thanksgiving right after Halloween

With no Thanksgiving holiday to plan and prepare for, people of the UK move directly from muted Halloween celebrations to winter holiday festivities.

This was particularly odd for me the first year I lived in the UK. It felt disorienting to slip straight from pumpkins and ghouls to mistletoe and candy canes with no turkey segue.

On the other hand, dropping Thanksgiving makes fall feel noticeably less hectic.