This weekend just gone, I spent a couple of days in London due to a gig on Friday night. As I booked the afternoon off work, I was eager to make the most of my time in London so when the opportunity came up to review The Lift of Doom escape room on behalf of Love Pop Ups – London, I of course jumped at the chance.

We headed straight to Hoxton (my fave) to 104 Hoxton Street which was an edgy bar where the escape room (or rather lift) was situated. After a delicious cocktail each for dutch courage, we were ushered towards the back of the bar and into a small lift, whilst the lovely barmaid explained why we were there.

Formidable Joy | Review | Fun Times Immersive Escape Room: The Lift of Doom | Escape Room | London | Experiences

The storyline goes;

You’ve been imprisoned by evil scientists in an old mental health clinic. You realised your only chance of escaping is through a service elevator and when the security went on lunch you took your chance… But what you didn’t know is that this lift had been cursed..can you cheat the fate and escape alive?… let’s find out!

With the creepy music and hearing her locking us in, I wondered for a split second what we had signed up for. With no radio or anything, I have to admit, I was slightly worried in case we got forgotten about. The experience itself was only 25 minutes long (rather different for an escape room), but having been to a few lately for the first time, I was convinced I was an expert on this subject now.

I was wrong.

The tiny room was ever so basic and we both felt immediately stumped. Bar a couple of signs on the wall and a few props, we were faced with virtually no clues whatsoever. I didn’t even know where to start! I think we wasted a good five minutes just feeling dumbfounded, but once we found our first clue, the ball got rolling.

Unfortunately, we did not get an escape in time (although we were told if we had just a few minutes more we would have been fine!), but had a lot of fun trying anyway!

I did have mixed feelings about this room. The small size and lack of props made it so much more challenging than I would have thought but, also, one or two of the props seemed pointless and had nothing to do with our escape..so I pondered why they were there at all. Other clues at the time seemed silly and confusing, but, thinking back, I can understand why they were necessary and the reason why they seemed silly was because in actual fact, they were quite challenging.

Overall, we both enjoyed our experience – however I think those with more experience or who may have visited more immersive escape rooms with better attention to detail may feel a little disappointed. For beginners, however (which my date was!), it was perfect!

I also enjoyed the fact that we got a couple of free cocktails, making it more of an overall experience rather than just half an hour spent in an escape room! The limited space, delicious cocktails and laidback vibe of the bar made it the perfect date night – I would suggest this escape room is perfect for dates or couples, especially if your boyfriend may be a bit cautious or wary about the idea of an escape room!

Plus, the location is perfect= Hoxton is uber cool for drinks afterwards and the venue itself is close by to Queen Of Hoxton.

Would you be interested in trying The Lift Of Doom? Let me know!

*Please note, although I visited this experience free of charge for honest review purposes, all truthful thoughts and unbiased opinions are entirely my own.

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Last night, I faced one of my biggest fears and attended not only The London Bridge Experience’s super scary Halloween event, Phobophobia…but on actual HALLOWEEN of all nights! Dear god did I feel brave (afterwards, that is. I was very, very scared in the run up to the event..!).

The London Bridge Experience is a really fun place to go anyway; it’s really scary (similar to London Dungeons but scarier, whereas London Dungeons is a bit more ‘fun’. TLBE is fun but just that bit more scarier) and I eventually went last summer just in general and really enjoyed myself. There was a lot of fun history to learn about, followed by the actual scare attraction.

Formidable Joy | Review | Phobophobia at The London Bridge Experience | Halloween | Phobophobia | The London Bridge Experience

I was a little apprehensive heading into London last night because a) it was Halloween so it was either going to be overly busy or overly scary and b) I actually thought it would be a good idea for a first date…!

When we arrived, it was busy and we were advised a maximum wait time of an hour but it took maybe half an hour at most. It wasn’t too bad because we had characters walking down the line to entertain us (one kept reminding us we were from Luton everytime he saw us and kept pointing us out to people, haha). Because it was busy and on Halloween, everyone was really in a great mood so it was actually quite nice waiting because it had such a good atmosphere.

I don’t want to spoil what goes on inside but it really is the right amount of jump scares and interaction. I could tell very quickly that it was aimed at adults with the languages and jokes used but in all honesty, at first I was kind of disappointed…as we went through maybe three scenes of a couple of minutes long before being ushered to run onto the next one..and then suddenly we found ourselves exiting the attraction.

I WAS SO CONFUSED. It felt like it was just a very short event spent running between ‘scenes’…however, I felt that something wasn’t right as when we were herded out I had spotted another tunnel…and it turns out (somehow) half of our group had followed the wrong person and left the attraction missing pretty much the entire thing, do’h! I’m very glad I checked because they let us back in again but I feel bad for the others in the group that were just like ‘oh is this it? Cool’ and left! So if you ever go, just be wary when you’re running through scenes and make sure you’re going the right way! It lasts a lot longer than five minutes so if you feel like your time has been cut short, it probably has and you should definitely talk to someone and not just accept it and go home, haha.

The second time around was much better (obviously because we got to do the entire thing). But I felt the atmosphere had improved a little this time, probably because the first group we went with was filled with really quiet people and overly drunk people. The second group was a nice mix of people who got scared easily (me) and people who screamed a lot (also me, but others too), which added to the whole atmosphere.

What I loved most – other than the great sets – were the parts where they intentionally tried to mess with you a little. With smoky rooms and flashing lights, I was constantly seeing things out the corner of my eye. At some points, I was convinced I’d seen a mannequin in a weird pose beside me and then in a blink of an eye ‘it’ was gone. I know this effect is used at a lot of scare attractions but usually, the actors just run around you and try to disorientate you. At The London Bridge Experience, they bided their time wisely. They posed to fool us, they crept up behind us…it worked really, really well and I was very impressed.

I really, really loved Phobophobia at The London Bridge Experience. In the run-up to the event, I was really nervous and the entire thing exceeded my expectations. I will definitely be looking to go again next year!

Have you ever visited The London Bridge Experience? Let me know!

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I had no idea what to expect when I met with the Love Pop Ups – London team last night for CoLab Factory’s latest immersive experience: a horror show named CopyCat.

All I knew is that it was a murder mystery experience involving the small, intimate audience. The storyline followed helping rogue detective Anthony Lawson who takes the law into his own hands, trying to solve the mystery of three murders and his sister’s murder.

Review of CoLab Factory's CopyCat show

I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers but I can reveal that upon arrival, we left our belongings and headed off to meet Anthony and get down to business with trying to crack the case of ‘The CopyCat’. Part murder mystery, part escape room, CopyCat is the perfext mix of immersive theatre and a real challenge. This was my first experience of an escape room and I can admit I wasn’t very good at it..in fact I spent most of the evening carrying round an old rusty spoon, expecting (hoping) it to be useful later on. It wasn’t.

The rooms were decorated to absolute perfection; no stone was left unturned and the attention to detail was amazing – which I suppose it has to be considering we were rooting around and picking up practically everything looking for clues.

But it was beyond creepy too. Dark lighting, blood stains..again, I won’t reveal all, but if you love creepy stuff like me then this will be right up your street.

If I had to describe the kind of escape room/experience it is, I’d say Crystal Maze meets Saw! The puzzles were spot on (if I’d done it alone I probably would have given up after ten minutes and sat in the corner scared), challenging and each had it’s own creepy twist to it.

It’s also my first experience of The CoLab Factory, who put on other immersive experiences such as The Great Gatsby. I am extremely impressed. They kind of reminded me of Secret Cinema too (in terms of how on point they are with creating a specific world/feel), only without the movie.

The CoLab Factory built up the tension extremely well. I get scared extremely easily anyway, but we began the evening in high spirits, giggling at a few silly names of suspects and it wasn’t long before tensions rose and by the end of the evening we were jumping at every little background sound.

If you’re looking for something unique and immersive to do this Halloween, make sure it’s CopyCat. Tickets are only £22.50 and the show is running until the 11th November.

Would you be brave enough to take on the murder mystery of the CopyCat killer? Let me know..

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It’s that time of year again! For the past couple of years, I’ve written guides to Halloween in London. From the classic and historic attractions to spine-tingling pop ups – there’s never a shortage of ways to get your spook on in the capital this Halloween.

I’ll be updating this post throughout the month of October and to keep up to date with the latest addtions, follow Formidable Joy on Facebook.

So let’s just get into it, shall we?!

Formidable Joy | Halloween | What's on in London 2018 | Halloween 2018 | Halloween in London

THE CLASSICS

More for the faint hearted and history fans, London has tons of historic buildings under its belt – and the majority of them come with their own grusome history and hauntings. I’ll keep this list short and sweet because chances are you’ve probably already visited most of these, but check out the ones hosting special events for Halloween.

SCREAMFEST @ THE LONDON DUNGEON
A personal favourite of mine, The London Dungeon is somewhere that is spooky all year round. I’m a fan of the indulging storytelling, amazing sets and well timed scares – as well as how it all actually relates to the history of London too, of course. This Halloween will see the scary location host Screamfest. Screamfest includes a usual entry to The London Dungeon – but scarier – and, exclusively for October, a new Jack The Ripper show and return of a seance. This is one not to be missed.
Tickets for Screamfast start at £27.00 when booked online.

GHOST TOURS @ HAMPTON COURT PALACE
Hampton Court Palace is already said to be super haunted and has been in the media for many years due to supposed ghostly apparations. From this month, guests can book onto ghost tours – which are pretty self explanatory really. The tours will cover the tale of the Tudor royal nurse who is rumoured to stalk her former apartments and the mysterious figure who was caught on CCTV a few years back. Plus, there’s also a special late night ghost tour taking place on Halloween at some of the palace’s more creepy locations. Also check out the Dusk ’til Dawn sleepver in the ‘One Night Only’ section.
Tickets for Hampton Court Palace’s Ghost Tours cost £27.50, with the Halloween special pricing at £35.00.

PHOBOPHOBIA @ THE LONDON BRIDGE EXPERIENCE
After years of being too scared, I finally faced my fears and attended The London Bridge Experience last year. It was just as scary as I thought and actually quite different than The London Dungeon, although it has the same premise. Here, you’ll learn all about London’s history, before heading down into the basement for the second part of the attraction: a scare experience where you try and make your way through a maze (more stunning sets with amazing attention to detail)..with a few scares along the way. When I went, it wasn’t very busy so scares here were few and far between, although I still found it scary. But, at Halloween, the London Bridge Experience descends into chaos with Phophobia. The terrors are turned to the max and this year brave souls will meet ‘The Hillbillies’ family. What actually happens? I don’t know. But that makes it even more scary, if thats even possible…
Phobophobia is only running exclusively for four nights this October and tickets start at £19.95.

Formidable Joy | Halloween | What's on in London 2018 | Halloween 2018 | Halloween in London

ONE NIGHT (OR TWO) ONLY

From the quirky to the exclusive: you gotta be quick for these exclusive one night only/pop up events – after all, they only come around once a year. This doesn’t mean they’re any less scary though: some of my favourite Halloween events have taken place for one night only in previous years.

DEAD FAMOUS: HALLOWEEN SILENT DISCO @ MADAME TUSSAUDS
I don’t know about you but even though it’s a fun place to visit, I kind of find the idea of Madame Tussauds a little creepy anyway. The attraction is opening its doors after dark this month however, to throw a Halloween Silent Disco! Silent disco’s are rather fun and you’re encouraged to dress up too, obviously. Entry includes a welcome drink and I’m sure there will be a few creepy surprises along the way.
The Dead Famous: Halloween Silent Disco takes place on the 26th and 27th of October – prices are from £29.00.

THE UNSAFE CHURCH AT BROMPTON CEMETERY CHAPEL
Learn all about three gothic ghost stories and what link they have to Brompton Cemetary Chapel during a visit to the site after dark. Tickets also include a Hendrick’s gin cocktail – y’know, to settle your nerves. Get down early for an excuse to wander around the graveyard – one of the most beautiful in the capital.
The Unsafe Church takes place on the 27th of October and tickets cost £12.00.

MIDNIGHT APOTHECARY HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR @ BRUNEL MUSEUM ROOTFTOP GARDEN
Get back to basics with this sweet and cosy (but still creepy) event. Attendee’s will spot intricate carved pumpkings in a spider web roof garden, a firepit, complimentary toasted marshmellows, Halloween cockails and even apple bobbing! Tickets also include an optional guided desent into Brunel’s spooky underground chamber. It’s the perfect event for spooky pre-drinks to get you in the mood for either an evening of being scared silly or a night of partying.
Midnight Apothecary Halloween Spooktacular takes place on the 27th of October and tickets start from £5.00.

SINNER @ DALSTON BOYS CLUB
If you love food like me (c’mon, who doesn’t love food?) then a supper club will be right up your street. enter Dante’s Inferno to find a mythical hellish dining room where you’ll be treated to not one, not two but SEVEN courses, all themed around the seven deadly sins of course; gluttony, lust, greed, vanity, envy, wrath and sloth. There will be post-dinner entertainment and lots of sinful cocktails. Spaces are limited though: there are only 35 tickets available for each date.
Sinner takes place on the 31st of October (with two additional dates added in November) and ticket prices start from £45.00.

Formidable Joy | Halloween | What's on in London 2018 | Halloween 2018 | Halloween in London

OFF WITH YOUR HEAD / DANCE TILL YOUR DEAD

This is a tough area because there are SO MANY Halloween parties to choose from in London – and some take place throughout the month as opposed to just on the actual night. Still, I’ve tried to choose the most quirky and/or fun ones…

THE HALLOWEEN FUN HOUSE @ REGRESSION SESSIONS
My absolute faves, Regression Sessions, are putting on two amazing parties this Halloween – their Halloween weekend event and their Halloween Fun House event (on actual Halloween). You can expect a night of madness (and trust me on this one, I’ve been to many of their events) and things such as a light and laser show, garden food vendors, a ball pit of doom, a haunted bouncy castle, an enchanted glitter bar, crazy space hoppers, fortune cookies of fate, creepy retro games..and more. Yes, it is a giant club night/rave but it’s also really damn fun too, especially if you’ve got a child’s side still.
The Halloween Weekend Event takes place on the 27th and The Halloween Fun House takes place on the 31st. Tickets start from £5.00.

TWISTED CIRCUS HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL @ THE FORUM
I know there are technically circuses on all year round, but this Halloween special is sure to pull in some extra scares and wow everyone in the process. Oh, and did I mention its also a party too? The evening will offer death-defying acts, delivish tricks, confetti drops, LED shows, world class DJ’s and demonic face paint – plus circus classics such as candy floss, cocktails and popcorn: if you can stomach it that is!
Twisted Circus Halloween Festival takes place on the 26th of October and ticket prices start from £12.00.

THE LAST TUESDAY SOCIETY’S HALLOWEEN BALL @ THE SCALA
One of the best parts of this party is that it’s located right at King’s Cross – perfect for an easy commute home. Scala is a great venue too. Even better, it’s a Halloween Ball as opposed to just a party. The theme of the ball is lust and disgust and on the night you can expect live bands, burleqsue, opera singers, life drawing and even a chocolate fountain.
The Last Tuesday Society’s Halloween Ball takes place on the 31st and ticket prices start from £27.50.

EVEN STRANGER THINGS: THE HALLOWEEN EXPERIENCE @ AN EAST LONDON VENUE
Stranger Things fans rejoice: with the iconic series unfortunately not returning this October, we all need to get our fix elsewhere. Thanfully, that’s where Even Stranger Things: The Halloween Experience comes in. The evening will see a venue divided into two parts: The Halloween Snowball dance, a themed prom with blood-soaked balloons, Ouija board chants and a highly disturbing alphabet wall ceremony – and a complimentary champagne and waffle if you arrive early enough. There’s also a prom photo area and an adult ball pit! Then, of course, there’s The Upside Down. This alternate reality is decked out with paranormal mist and lights, and it’s here you’ll be greeted by Dr. Brenner’s evil experiment Lounge – complete with Demogorgon Dancers (I’m not sure how I feel about that: aren’t club dancers meant to be sexy?).
Even Stranger Things: The Halloween Experience takes place on the 26th and ticket prices start from £10.95.

THRILLER HALLOWEEN PARTY @ BLOOMSBURY LANES
If you love retro and scary tunes: look no further. Channeling a more classic Halloween party, you’ll find Top DJ’s playing out all your favourite 80s and 90s , scary, party, pop, cheesey tunes, rock, hip hop, dance anthems and scary tunes plus mass sing-a-alongs and retro giveaways on the night for the best scary fancy dress. All treats and no tricks here: just a good time…
Thriller Halloween Party takes place on the 27th and ticket prices start from £5.00.

THE MANSION’S HALLOWEEN BALL @ A SECRET LOCATION
If voodoo is more your thing then you’ll want to hit this party up. It’ll be set on the streets of New Orleans (in a secret location in NW) and although many of the details are being kept under wraps, what we do know is that you can expect three dancefloors, live DJs, fireshows, cage dancers and hypnotists. It even comes with its own real graveyard – if that’s your sort of thing…oh and did I mention that the prize for the best costume is a flight to non other than New Orleans?!
The Mansion’s Halloween Ball takes place on the 27th and ticket prices start from £30.00.

Formidable Joy | Halloween | What's on in London 2018 | Halloween 2018 | Halloween in London

QUIRK YOUR HEART OUT

Halloween is a strange and unusual time in itself but when you take away the parties and ghost hunts, you’re left with the weird and wonderful. Here’s my personal pick of October’s most off beat and quirky offerings that’ll ensure you won’t forget Halloween 2018 in a while..

HORROCTOBER @ THE PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA
The Prince Charles Cinema is dedicating an entire month to horror movies this Halloween, including double bills, all nighters and all the classics too. But I’m mostly talking about their Teen Horror Pyjama Party here, which sounds AMAZING. There’s just something about teen movies. Back when we were all so young, naive and innocent we all just wanted to live in a teen movie and get the guy at the end (complete with the romantic kiss). Although I wouldn’t say I ever wished I was in a teen horror movie, some of the movies on this bill are some of my all time favourites. The evening begins at 8:45 with a viewing of The Craft, followed by Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, The Faculty and, finally, Final Desintation. The event will end at 8:24am (though that’s a very specific time, no?). And yes, you can wear your pyjamas..in fact it is encouraged as most people do!
HorroOctober runs throughout October and the Teen Horror Pyjama Party takes place on the 26th. Prices vary depending on event.

THE COPYCAT @ COLAB FACTORY
Have you ever wanted to play detective? Now is your chance. The Copycat is a terrifying immsersive experience that puts you right in the heart of all your favourite horror movies. It follows the story of Anthony Larson who needs help solving the mystery of his sister’s kidnap and murder. All we know is that the killer goes by the name of The Copycat. Part murder mystery, part immersive horror and part escape room = good luck finding anything else as immersive this Halloween.
The Copycat runs from the 5th of October until the 11th of November and tickets cost £22.50.

NEON NAKED LIFE DRAWING CLASS @ QUEEN OF HOXTON
Held at one of my personal all time favourite venues in London, try your hand at something creative – not only naked life drawing but neon naked life drawing. Using neon reactive arts materials, you’ll be encouraged to move away from the perfectionist traditional teachings of life drawing to instead sketch a radioactive fluoro zombie! Luckily, these zombies don’t bite…and all art supplies are provided. Plus, you’ll get to experience whatever unique world the venue will be creating for their rooftop area this winter.
Neon Naked Life Drawing Class takes place on the 29th and ticket prices start from £14.00.

JOURNEY TO THE UNDERWORLD @ PEDLEY STREET
Technically not just for Halloween – but ever so fitting in a subtle dark way – Journey To The Underworld offers the greatest love story never told where fantasy, fear, danger, lust, hope and love await in the world of the Dark one. Guests will be treated to a delicious four course meal abroad a luxury train in this immersive theatre. What are you waiting for?!
Journey To The Underworld is running until early November and ticket prices start from £53.00.

Above are just my picks from the many, many awesome events going on in London throughout October. I’ve no doubt missed off so many but do keep checking back as I will be updating this list as I discover more!

Will you be attending any of these events over Halloween? Do you have any to recommend? Let me know!

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London is fast becoming a capital for vegan food and I am constantly surprised at all the amazing vegan restauraunts popping up around the city. Purezza is one I’d wanted to visit for a while now because I adored my visit to their Brighton branch, but unfortunately couldn’t justify going back to Brighton all the time just for their pizza (which I wish I could but it’s rather expensive!). So when the opportunity came up to visit and review their (still slightly new) Camden branch in London (on behalf of Love Pop Ups – London), I jumped at the chance.

I never grow bored of creative vegan food and I definitely never grow bored of vegan pizza so it was really a win-win situation for me. I headed down with my friend Ali recently and found the restauraunt was only a short walk away from Camden Town station – perhaps five minutes at most.

We ducked inside to the slightly small but ever so cosy premsis and were taken upstairs to a smaller more intimate room with only three or four tables. It was so cute and really cosy, although downstairs had been really busy too! The whole restauraunt – downstairs and up – had a nice ambient buzz to it.

With such a vast menu – all pizzas could be made on three different basis and there is non pizza choices too, such as lasagne or a ‘pure bowl’ – we found it hard to pick. I was tempted to go for the delicios Portobello Road again – I do love my mushrooms – but decided to go for something new and settled on the Season.4.Pizza.1 which boasted artichokes, olives, mushrooms, smoked beet and salad cress.

Ali went for the Marinara and between us we chose doughballs and garlic bread as sides. I have to say, despite going in too early and burning my mouth, the doughballs are to die for. I still don’t know how they get the delicious vegan cheese to melt and ooze like real cheese (whenever I try to re-create anything similar, it just ends up rubbery) but somehow they do and it just hit the spot.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I couldn’t fault my choice. Two slices in and I’d already forgotten we were at a vegan restauraunt – the smoked beet, although it didn’t taste of meat, provided the look and texture you’d expect from meat on a pizza and I’ve said this many times before – if it looks like meat but isn’t, you can very easily forget that you’re eating a vegetable. I’m not even a massive fan of beet but it was delicious and my pizza was filled with so much flavour that even if I had a giant pepperoni pizza in front of me too, I’d still choose the vegan one.

I took only a bite of the Marinara (at this point, I was struggling to finish my own) but it was delicious also.

Cocktails were also on the menu for us that night (well, it was for everyone, but you get my point) and whilst Ali chose a glass of prosecco, I went for something that I can’t quite remember the name of but was a take on a cheese cake and was beyond delicious. Normally I find fancy looking cocktails aren’t actually all that nice, but this one really hit the spot.

By dessert we were struggling. My friend went for the very wise choice of a Brownie which was so cute and small (in a good way!) it looked too good to eat. I was drawn in with the choice of Oreos and chose the Oreo Pizza – basically a chocolate pizza – and only managed one small slice before giving up and asking to take the rest home.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I did have some more when I got in but I had mixed feelings about this. It was really tasty, but I couldn’t really get past the fact that it was on a pizza base. I know that’s the point but this really threw me and I struggled to enjoy it as a dessert – that’s not to say I didn’t like it, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t also had a pizza for my main.

Overall, however, the entire meal was mouth watering and so tasty and full of flavour. The food at Purezza is a prime example of a selection of healthy plant based foods that you don’t even realize you’re not having any meat. You either don’t crave any anyway because the options just sound too tasty, or the food is so good it makes you forget you’re eating entirely vegan.

Nestled away in the heart of Camden, Purezza is the perfect treat for next time you’re in London and craving some healthy Italian food.

Have you ever been to Purezza? Let me know your thoughts!

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