Attraction Review: The Howl

*We were gifted tickets to experience this event

After what feels like the blink of an eye spooky season is BACK, and I for one am very much enjoying being back in the throes of scream-accented, bonfire-scented, chainsaw filled nights once more, especially after last year where we weren't able to have a spooky season proper. I wanted to make sure I did two things this year: visit some more new-for-me events and get back to events I hadn't visited in years. The Howl at Mead Open Farm falls into the latter of those two categories, and it's an event I had a scream visiting for the first time back in 2017 so I was pumped to get back and see what had changed. 

Located a stone's throw away from the M1 just outside Leighton Buzzard, The Howl is your typical haunt set on a farm. Boasting five haunts, something I adore about this event is that it anchors most of it's scare mazes around the theme of werewolves, hence the name 'The Howl'. The horror genre is malleable in that way, you have these overarching themes that have a bunch of sub-genres that tie them altogether, and the werewolf genre is no different, and The Howl takes full advantage of that. We've got fairytale wolves, gothic wolves, rustic wolves, teen wolves, cartoonish wolves, werewolf hunters, and everything else in between. It's really clever and shows that the creative thinking behind the place is really clear in their direction which I think comes across in the mazes themselves too. 

And for those who don't like werewolf stuff, there's a piggy/butcher themed horror maze and a clown maze, just to add a bit of variety. Personally I'd love to see those twisted to mix in the wolf theme (wolf circus?!) but I get it, it's nice to add some fan favourites as general crowd-pleasers to keep everybody happy so once again, it's a clever move. 

We headed to the 'back' of the farm to begin our night after chomping down on some delicious and very reasonably priced food (I had a BBQ pulled pork thing and Conor had hog roast in a bun plus two drinks and chips and I think it was less than £20?) We kicked things off with The Shed, which was not a new-for-me maze but one I didn't remember too much about if I'm honest. Personally I really love a rustic farmyard junk themed maze and The Shed is very much that. The set dressing is fantastic, every nook and cranny full of rusty old junk leaving plenty of dank, dusty and dark corners for feral creatures to hide. 

Oh yh, the theme of this is, I think (please forgive me if I'm wrong), The Shed is a hiding place for illegitimate feral wolf-children lest they shame the world with their existence? Something like that? I will say I do wish their make-up were a little more wolf-ish as they do look like general gutter-rat types that wouldn't look out of place in Oliver Twist but it's not the end of the world. I love the smells too, it's all very musty and generally grim - the type of setting that would send a shiver up your spine to wander through even if the creatures were not present. 

Stand-out scare for me was being cornered at all angles whilst trying to navigate the squeeze cushion - a beast at the end blocking our exist and one or two coming in from the sides too, truly relentless and hideous. I screamed the entire way through. 

Easily the most intense maze at The Howl and I'd argue one of the most intense mazes in the country (fight me), Squealers Yard is a piggy/meat locker/butcher themed maze but with a similar feel to The Shed with it's use of found farm objects and barn settings to create the set. Once again the set dressing here is fantastic, it's not dramatically OTT like a movie set or anything but it's real-feeling which I think adds to the horror. It's like the difference between a huge budget horror movie with lavish sets and a low-budget indie horror - sometimes less is more because lower budgets force you to be more creative. 

Squealers Yard is full of horrific hidey-holes that has you paranoid from the minute you step foot inside. Actors literally come at you from every angle to the point you're nervously turning and shaking around every corner like Shelley Duvall in the Shining finale. The actors here are experts in how to use their space to maximise scares and are particularly excellent in working together to misdirect - one will make a noise and have you looking one way so another can creep up over your shoulder to have you absolutely shit yourself the minute you turn your head. It's fantastically effective. 

Horrific blinding rooms full of fog seem to be a theme this year but I believe Squealers Yard is home to one of the originals - nothing strikes terror in me quite like these rooms and I'm yet to make my way through one without panic starting to set in. The chainsaw run out was probably the only slight let-down for me in that we weren't really chased, both times the actor just kind of stood there with the chainsaw. Not sure why, but I suppose just the smell of the petrol and the sight of the thing is enough to spook us to skidaddle our way down the ramp and out of there sharpish. 

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, say it with me: "I don't really like clown mazes". Yes, Jordan, we KNOW, but I think it bears repeating to give a little context. Clowns do not scare me but I do think the general theme of circus/clown is a fantastic arsenal to creatively draw from for scares. Toppers Twister starts off with a disorienting but overdone if you've done a bunch of these things like I have scene where we must find our way through the flaps, each room has four walls, three of which are solid, one of which we can walk through. And every time we move into a new chamber there's a chance we'll meet a creepy clown. It reminds me of the Honeycomb Maze from Takeshi's Castle.

What was really fantastic in Toppers Twister was the actors - the energy and acting from all of them was genuinely unnerving and fantastic, really engaging and lulling you into the storyline, rather than just screaming and giggling in your face like you can sometimes find in these clowny/circussy mazes. Their use of props was fab too - ball pit balls being chucked at us from across the room, a swing indoors (which, WHY is this so creepy? It just is, it works) a bloody AIR GUN that I knew was coming and still had me jumping out of my skin. Just totally fun, very crazy and high energy held up by a cast doing most of the heavy-lifting in terms of bringing the maze to life. I'm just very hard to please when it comes to clown mazes.

I was really excited for Red, it being a new-for-me haunt and me being a huge fan of the dark fairytale aesthetic, this seemed like it would be a home run for sure. Previously this maze had been House of Hounds, and I'd not been too impressed as it had mostly consisted of strobe lights and chicken wire fences and whilst Red is certainly an improvement on that there was just something that left me a little cold. Let me try to explain why. 

The concept of Little Red Riding Hood is rich with material to pull from for a horror maze, and this didn't really feel like it went there. There were allusions to Red Riding Hood...stuff, like Grandma, the huntsman's axe, etc, but it didn't really feel like it came together in a coherent way. It all felt like it could have been heightened so much more and gone so much further and it just didn't? The sets were stunning - I adore an 'outside but inside' set and this maze has a bunch of that, and whilst it all looked very beautiful it was almost the opposite of Squealers and The Shed. These mazes were chock full of dark spots to hide and made excellent use of them whereas Red was gorgeously lit no doubt, but didn't leave enough darkness within which actors could lurk to effectively pull off their scares. 

That's not to say there weren't some cool things to this maze. Like I say the set design was stunning to look at. The swamp squeeze cushion was a fantastic effect (although it only really works if there's a group in front of you for you to see moving through it, which there wasn't for us the first go round) and of course the GIANT WOLF PUPPET that we first saw in the old House of Hounds had been repurposed here as the iconic wolf that eats granny in Red Riding Hood which was still a highlight. I would love to see the scares in this maze taken to the next level as the potential is absolutely huge. 

The last attraction of the night for us was The Attic, previously known as Hotel de Basquervilles. Once again, I absolutely love a general creepy hotel/house theme, especially done in this grim, rustic style. Think The Cellar at Tulley's Shocktoberfest and Belvoir Manners at Xtreme Scream Park - stinky rotten old residences packed full of little intricacies that all work together to tell a story, and have a generally gloomy and unnerving atmosphere. To me this is the epitome of the home grown British haunt, and The Attic was a great addition to this line-up across the country. 

As with the other mazes at The Howl, the set-design is second to none. They just do SO MUCH with the space, including having the attraction span multiple floors of the building and each room of the house having a very distinct look and feel. For some reason I adore rooms where we can see both levels of the building, so the entrance corridor of The Attic really did it for me. This one was rife with revolting smell pods too, which I hate but in the best way (they really repulse me, I absolutely detest them). 

One thing I will say is that whilst the titular attic did not disappoint (I'll get to that in a sec) the rest of the house, whilst dressed stunningly, didn't really make a lot of sense. The creatures in the attic itself had a very clear purpose whereas the residents of the lower floors were more of the 'general ghoul' theme as opposed to having a specific character or purpose, which I think made it quite hard for the actors to really do anything of note with their roles which was a shame. 

Upstairs was another story - quite bluntly, there's possessed demonic children in the attic. Strobe lights aplenty with contorted, Regan-from-the-Exorcist style kiddos skulking about in the shadows. Absolutely horrific and easily the highlight of the attraction. Obviously it's just because of the layout of the maze but I do think this would have been more effective as the finale of the maze instead of descending back down onto the duller ground floor before exiting. 

The street team at The Howl were nothing short of incredible. When I visited previously there were just a handful of the Lycanthorpe family wandering around providing some light entertainment, but in the four years since my last visit this area of the event has come on leaps and bounds to the point where the street team are easily a highlight. The variety is fantastic - we have clowns, chainsaw-wielding maniacs, ghouls on stilts, 80s teen werewolf gangs, Barbara the werewolf hunter and more|! Something I love about them is that they clearly were all living and breathing their characters and weren't just randomly chasing punters about to make them scream - it was real immersive theatre bringing the central bonfire area between mazes to life to ensure that you were never once not entertained, even when between mazes. 


It was so good to be back at The Howl and fantastic to see how the event has developed and improved in the four years since my last visit. Hopefully I won't leave it as long before visiting again, especially as the likes of The Shed and Squealers Yard really had me truly terrified and screaming my lungs out!

Have you visited Tee Howl before? What's your favourite maze? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,


  1. Your scare concepts are much different than in the US. If you ever get back this way during the fall, we have "Field of Screams" in Mountville, PA. You can check is out online.